Five Things You Should Do Right Now to Preserve Your Network and Systems

2. Ensure Backup Procedures Are Checked Regularly – Many times business owners think that they have a backup system in place only to find out after it’s too late that it hasn’t been working properly. It may seem like your files are being backed up daily, however, the backup could have become corrupt or it is not backing up huge chunks of critical data. Check your backup procedures regularly to ensure they are working properly in order to be sure that ALL of your data can be recovered. In the age of BYOD (Bring-Your-Own-Devices) it is also important to frequently backup data on your employee’s personal laptops, iPads or Blackberrys, so make sure you have a procedure in place to check those backups as well. 3. Make Sure Updated Virus Protection and Firewalls Are Always Enabled – Far too many companies either have no virus protection, expired virus software licenses, or disabled virus programs that aren’t running at all. This makes their business technology vulnerable to virus attacks from emails, spam, data downloads, and unreputable websites. Further, because of inadequate firewall protection about 40% of small to medium businesses will have their network accessed by a hacker. Chances are, when these businesses are attacked they will be entirely unaware it is happening. In order to protect your valuable data and assets, ensure your virus protection is adequate, up-to-date and functioning properly and that your firewall is intact. Finally, don’t forget to update security patches and change passwords when an employee leaves in order to deter hacking attempts. 4. Monitor Server Drives – Dangerously full server drives can bring their own set of problems – ranging from program and server crashes to sluggish email delivery. Proactive monitoring and maintenance of your server can spare your business a lot of problems down the road. 5. Regularly Check Critical Built-In Logs – Very few problems with technology emerge suddenly. These problems typically progress over time and evolve into more serious problems. Frequently review your critical built-in log files to help identify the problem before it has gotten out of control and wreaks havoc on your business infrastructure.

Can You Really Afford Not to Have a Backup Plan?

1. How often is employee productivity and customer accessibility or service stalled each day from a downed network or system? 2. How much downtime can your business truly afford and what kind of backup or recovery solutions are in effect when systems are unavailable? 3. What level of IT support can be accessed? Can it be accessed quickly enough to minimize damage? Are you confident that your business can either be back online or be able to access lost data with minimal disruption, no matter what? 4. Is your most critical data frequently backed up? Is the data on the personal laptops, iPads or Blackberrys of employees backed up? Are all backups stored in a location off-site and quickly accessible in the event of theft, fire or flooding? Are you using any custom installed software and is the supplier still in business should this software need to be re-installed or updated? Are account details, licensing agreements, and security settings somewhere on record, and is it duplicated off-site? 5. Are your systems truly protected from theft, hackers, and viruses? Are passwords to sensitive data changed whenever employees leave the company or business unit? 6. When was the last time you tested backup processes to ensure they are working properly? How quick were your back ups? Answering these questions will help you understand if you are needlessly bleeding money every day by subjecting your business to the high hourly rates, service charges, trip fees and wait times of on-call IT support. If you are an SMB, you don’t have to fear technology failure. A trusted MSP can help you resolve these challenges in a more effective and efficient manner.

Data Loss Can Cause You to Shut Down

While corporate-level data losses and insider theft are well publicized, many smaller businesses have also become casualties of data loss and theft. Following a significant data loss, it is estimated that a small-to-medium sized business can lose up to 25% in daily revenue by the end of the first week. Projected lost daily revenue increases to 40% one month into a major data loss. According to The National Archives & Records Administration in Washington, 93% of companies that have experienced data loss, coupled with prolonged downtime for ten or more days, have filed for bankruptcy within twelve months of the incident while 50% wasted no time and filed for bankruptcy immediately. Finally, 43% of companies with no data recovery and business continuity plan actually go out of business following a major data loss. Still, a survey conducted by Symantec SMB revealed that fewer than half of SMBs surveyed backup their data each week. Only 23% of those surveyed said they backup data every day and have a business continuity plan in place. Businesses play on a much bigger playing field than they did two decades ago. Any disruptive technological event – even the smallest of incidents – can have an amplified impact on day-to-day business and profitability. Being proactive with data recovery solutions, and having emergency response procedures in place prior to a disruption or data disaster, is the only way to minimize downtime and soften the impact of such events.

Tip of the Week: How to Create a Thread on Twitter

Defining a Twitter Thread A Twitter Thread is pretty much what it says on the box: a chain of tweets, posted one after another, all continuing a connected train of thought. Because Twitter was founded on a principle of sound-byte sharing, this capability to string thoughts together makes a lot of sense, especially to the business trying to get their message across. Think about it—not only are you able to share a lot of information with your audience, you are able to do so in a way that encourages them to read into it, and is easily followed. Let’s review the process of creating one of these threads. Open Twitter on your preferred platform (whether that’s the website, the Android application, or the iOS application) and select Tweet. This button will be in the left-hand sidebar on the web, while it will be on the bottom right-hand corner of the application timeline. Write your tweet, taking care to number it somehow to make it clear where it falls in your thread. Once your tweet is completed, select the Plus (+) button at the bottom right-hand corner of your display.  A new tweet box will appear, and you can continue your thoughts by repeating this process. You can also go back to your previous tweets to edit them as needed. There is also the option for you to create a thread from one of your past tweets as well. Visit that tweet in the mobile application and select the Add another Tweet button, and repeat the process outlined above. In this way, even a social media platform can serve your business well. For more technology tips for business success, subscribe to our blog!

Macs Are Not Immune to Cybersecurity Threats

Do Macs Get Viruses? In short, the answer is yes, absolutely. Apple computers can get infected with malware like viruses and ransomware. Macs can also suffer from other typical PC problems, such as hardware failure, data loss, slowing down over time, crashes, and more.  So where did this misinformation come from? Why do so many casual users tend to think that Macs don’t suffer from the same issues as the Windows PC? Once place to start is Apple’s own (brilliant) advertising. You have to admit, Apple has had some very memorable advertisements over the years. In fact, one of my favorite ad campaigns may be one of the reasons that so many people think that Macs are immune to viruses.  Check out the Mac. Vs PC commercial here. These ads are cute and charming and feel honest enough to be true. To Apple’s credit, no lies are being told in the ad. Swarms of new viruses are created for Windows PCs every year, and many of these viruses can’t infect Mac computers. Macs still get viruses, but there are definitely more variants out there for PC. Why is this? PCs Vastly Outnumber Macs In 2018, it was estimated that for every 10 active PCs on the Internet, there was only one Mac. If roughly 90% of the world runs on Microsoft Windows, it makes much more sense for hackers to develop viruses that would affect this broader target. Most businesses use PCs. Most schools and universities use PCs. In fact, most industries tend to use PCs. Most home computing is done on PC as well.  That isn’t to say that there is anything wrong with a Mac. Apple makes incredibly solid laptops, and extremely capable desktops. The problem lies with third-party developers. For many businesses, certain core applications don’t have Mac versions. On top of that, when compared to the PC market, Apple doesn’t have a low-end tier for hardware. Your billing department doesn’t need the same computer that your video editor would use, and there isn’t a reason to spend that kind of money on a high-end Mac when a mid-range PC will handle the workload just fine. There really isn’t anything that you can do on a $2000 MacBook that you can’t do on a $2000 Windows laptop – at that point it’s just about preference and what works for your business. On the flipside, there are some limitations to what you can do on that Mac; when it comes to easily connecting and using a business network that’s designed for PCs, and when it comes to the software mentioned above. So, Mac Owners Do Need to Worry About Viruses? Yes sir. Although historically, there haven’t been as many viruses targeting Macs over the years, and it’s always felt like Macs might have a slightly lower risk, that has been changing. According to a recent report by Malwarebytes, the amount of malware on Macs is actually outpacing PCs for the first time ever. It sounds like hackers are relying on the complacency of Mac users. Malwarebytes goes on to report that there was a 400 percent increase in threats on Mac devices between 2018 and 2019.  Mac users need to worry about the same threats, and practice the same security hygiene as any other computer user. Whether you […]

Not All Cybersecurity Efforts Work to Keep You Secure

“Security Theater” Coined by cybersecurity technologist Bruce Schneier in the early 2000s, “security theater” describes any security efforts that make one seem more secure but do very little to enhance security in the practical sense despite the costs associated with them. The concept is reliant upon the notion that security exists in two forms: the emotional feeling of being secure, and the quantifiable mathematical and scientific improvements that one can make to their protections. For an example, let’s look to a personal anecdote that Schneier shared in a 2007 blog article. In this article, Schneier shared an observation from his visit to the maternity ward after a friend’s child had just been born. The infant had been outfitted with an RFID tag bracelet, the purpose of which being cited as a preventative measure against infant theft. However, at the time that Schneier visited the ward, infant abduction was remarkably rare. This led Schneier to hypothesize that the bangles weren’t adopted as an actual security measure, but instead as a performance of security theater. By “protecting” an infant against “abduction,” the new parents could spend a few moments away from their baby without too much worry. Let’s review the hospital anecdote. While they certainly weren’t free, the tags that were used to “track” the infants were available at an extraordinarily low cost. As a result, making the investment to mitigate an incredibly unlikely issue was considered more acceptable, because it improved the experience of the parents. Schneier also cites an even more recognizable example: the tamper-resistant packaging that was introduced on over-the-counter medications in the 1980s. Poisonings were getting a lot of attention in the press at the time, and despite the statistical likelihood of an actual incident being so low and the tamper-resistant packaging not being all that tamper resistant, the impression it made was thoroughly positive. This is because, in both cases, the performance of security theater helped to make the perceived threat level more in line with the actual threat level. Of course, while the benefits that security theater can offer are very real, so are the costs of putting on such a show. Is Security Theater Worth the Price of Admission? I want you to consider a very real potential outcome of these kinds of displays: what if the piece of security theater you invest your money in is actually making your real security measures less effective? Consider what happened to Target in 2013. The company was hacked when their security teams overlooked the warning signs of a breach as they were buried in a deluge of other notifications. Let’s dive deeper into the threat of “overacting” in your security theater, starting with the situation that Target created. Too Many Alerts I want you to consider what happens when your company chat is a flurry of activities that ultimately don’t involve you. Eventually, you tune out the notifications to try and stay productive, right? The same thing happens with your security notifications if there are far too many of them that ultimately mean nothing. As a result, you and your team will gradually stop paying attention to them, allowing the actual threats to come in. Recruiting an MSP to assist you can help sort out these notifications, with the real threats attended to and interruptions minimized. Too […]

Tip of the Week: Changing Your Notification Settings on Android Devices

To begin, check the version of Android that you  have installed. A few of these tips will require that you’re using Android 10, and some may not work on all devices. Interacting with Your Android Notifications How to Clear Your Notifications Once a notification has, well, notified you of something, its job is done, so it can be dismissed. Doing so is as simple as swiping it to the right or to the left. Dismissing all your notifications at once only requires you to scroll to the bottom of the notification list and select the Clear all option. Silent notifications can be cleared by tapping Close. Some notifications will only dismiss if the process it describes is no longer active. For instance, a notification that informs you that your music player of choice is active will require you to stop the music before the notification will go away. How to Snooze Your Notifications You can also “pause” your notifications by snoozing them. This will require you to activate snoozing in your Settings. Under Apps & notifications, Notifications, and Advanced, you’ll find the option to Allow notification snoozing. Once you’ve done so, you can snooze an individual notification by slightly dragging it to the side and selecting the Snooze option (which is presented as a small clock icon). The Down arrow allows you to select the time that the notification will be postponed. How to Review Your Options Some notifications have multiple options for you to act upon. Expanding these notifications is just a matter of pressing the Down Arrow and making your selection from the options that pop up. Selecting Your Notifications How to Change Your Device’s Notifications In your Settings, select your Apps & notifications and in there, Notifications. You can then select your default notification options from the following options:       On lock screen       Allow notification dots       Default notification sound       Swipe fingerprint for notifications       Do Not Disturb Activating and Deactivating Notifications for Certain Apps There are multiple options available to you in terms of setting your notifications. In your Settings application:       Select Apps & notifications, and from there, Notifications       Under Recently sent, you can see all the applications that recently sent you notifications. From there, you can turn off all an app’s notifications, among other capabilities. From the notification itself:       Tap and hold your notification, and then tap the gear icon that appears to represent the Settings.       You can then select the settings of your choosing, either to Turn off notifications or to select which notifications are Alerting or Silent. In the actual app, you may have the option to change your notifications in the settings as well. Selecting which Notifications Can Interrupt You Some Android devices enable you to select the notifications that an app will provide. Alerting will alert you with a sound, a lock screen message, and a status bar icon. Silent will obviously not provide a sound or vibrate but will still provide a notification if you swipe down on your screen. You have a few options as to how to select these settings. In the Settings application:       Tap Apps & notifications, and then Notifications     […]

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