Tag Archives: IT

Why Hiring The Cheapest Computer Support Company Will Actually Cost You More

13 Dec 17
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As anybody working in IT will tell you, the most common question we get isn’t, “Why is my computer running so slowly?” or “Why is my Internet not working?” It’s, “What do you charge for your services?” With so many IT companies clamoring for your attention, it makes sense that you’d want to look for the most inexpensive, cost-efficient option, right?

The problem is that this question doesn’t get to the heart of the issue. Sure, any IT company can offer rock-bottom prices, but as with anything else, those savings are going to come with fewer, lower-quality IT services. Also, many cheaper services say they are inexpensive, but they typically have slow response times and nickel and dime you over everything.  Instead of asking about price right off the bat, the better question is, “What will I get for my money?”

With cheapo IT companies, the answer is not much. Maybe they’ll be there when the server breaks down or if Microsoft Word is acting weird on your computer. But you can bet they won’t help you implement IT systems that will prevent real, catastrophic issues from arising – the kinds of things that determine the success or failure of a company at the most basic level.

Today, business and technology go hand in hand. It’s an inescapable fact that good tech forms the pillars upon which successful companies stand. Many business owners still insist on cutting corners with IT, hiring cheap and inexperienced “professionals” to protect and support the most fundamental aspects of their operation.

Of course, it’s hard to fault them for doing so. Without a firm grasp of a business’s IT needs, it’s all too easy for a subpar, would-be IT partner to convince an owner they meet the company’s requirements. That’s why the question, “What will I get for my money?” is so important. IT support coverage needs to be comprehensive, addressing every potential sink-or-swim crisis before it actually happens. The integrity of your network infrastructure should support your business, rather than force you to run around putting out fires.

A downed server or temporarily unreliable network might seem like minor issues, but even the smallest of IT problems can easily snowball into an expensive nightmare that threatens your company’s very existence.

Take a company that stores all its data on a central, networked server, for example. Maybe they’re a content creation firm, with terabytes of custom-designed client marketing materials stashed away, or a large law practice with thousands of vital case documents. They were reluctant to spend much on IT support, so they went with the cheapest option available. Of course, regular server maintenance wasn’t included in their package, but they assumed their trusty hardware would keep kicking for at least a few more years. But when an employee tries to access the database, an error pops up. Upon further investigation, it turns out the outdated server has finally broken down, apparently for good. All those documents, all that data instrumental to the basic functionality of the company, is irrecoverable – thousands of hours of work (and thousands of dollars) down the drain, and all because of an issue that would easily have been caught and prevented by a team of qualified IT experts.

When technology works, it’s easy to imagine that it’ll continue working without issue. But the fact is that a computer network requires constant, behind-the-scenes monitoring and maintenance to ensure it stays up and running, not to mention secure.

From hordes of hackers waiting in the wings for you to slip up, to hardware failure, to natural disasters, rogue employees and a million other IT threats, it’s important to ensure the stability of your network before a problem comes knocking. Cheap Band-Aid solutions work great until the day they cost you thousands. It’s better to invest in a team of real IT experts, and avoid crisis altogether. It’s much cheaper to prevent something from breaking than it is to replace it altogether.

Top Tricks Cybercriminals Use To Hack Your Computer Network

16 Nov 17
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There’s no denying that cybercrime is on the rise. All it takes is a glance at a few big news stories from the past couple years. Equifax gave up the information of over 100 million people, many of them not even users, to a surgical hacker attack. Last May, over 57,000 infections spread from a single ransomware source across 99 separate countries, with damage reaching everything from hospitals and businesses to vital public utilities like the German railway network. And how many high-profile celebrities have had their phone’s picture feeds hacked and had to deal with the scandal of some maliciously leaked photographs, some of which they’d deleted years before?

But it’s not just massive corporations like Equifax or JPMorgan or actresses like Jennifer Lawrence that are being targeted day in and day out. It’s small businesses, many equipped with far less robust security measures in place. In fact, if you’re an entrepreneur, it’s almost a statistical guarantee that hackers will target your business at some point down the road.

In your company’s battle against cybercrime, it’s essential to stay abreast of the rapidly shifting digital landscape. Only the most up-to-date security technology can even hope to protect you from the ever more sophisticated thieves pounding at your digital door.

However, it’s also important to stay informed. Here are a few of the sneakiest and most common tricks thieves use to snatch your vital data:

Social Engineering Hacking, though it can cost you thousands and thousands of dollars and do just as much damage as its digital counterparts, doesn’t require a single line of code. Instead, they find weaknesses in the “human network” of a business. For example, skilled scammers can call your business’s cell phone provider, posing as the CEO’s spouse, and convince the customer service rep to hand over passwords, Social Security numbers, and sensitive personal information. Many IT departments are susceptible to this same scam.

Often, social engineering is used to gather information that will later be used for a different strategy. Such as …

E-mail Phishing, which hijacks (or fabricates) an e-mail account with trusted authority and sends users an e-mail requesting they click a particular link. Maybe the e-mail looks like it’s from the service department of your company’s time-tracking software, seeking to remedy an error. But when the link is clicked, ransomware or other malware spreads like wildfire through the system, and the user is at the mercy of the hackers. Usually, this is used to extort exorbitant sums of money out of small businesses or individuals. Symantec reports that just last year, over 7,000 businesses of all sizes fell prey to some form of phishing scam, costing them more than $740 million in total.

Brute-Force Password Attacks Or Password Guessing are just what they sound like. Either a hacker uses a software that, after putting in some data about the target (for example, the name of their dog or their anniversary), runs through potential keys ad infinitum. With sufficient information about the target, it’s only a matter of time before the software breaks through. Or, more often than you might think, hackers can simply guess the password. Infiltrators have common passwords that use real words or common structures memorized and can run through hundreds before giving up.

Fault Injection is a different story, usually only used by the most dedicated, sophisticated hackers around the world. Cyberthieves will use a complicated software to scan the source code of their internal software or network, noting every potential weak point in the system. Then, by splicing in strings of code, they can penetrate through and steal data, inject a virus, or employ other digital mischief.

How To Protect Yourself Against These Threats

As they say, forewarned is forearmed, but it’s not enough to keep your eye out for common hacker strategies. As the progress of technology marches on, so do the techniques and softwares used by hackers, resulting in an infinite number of permutations of ways they can penetrate your system.

The only way to be truly secure is by utilizing bleeding-edge security solutions to ensure you stay ahead of the breakneck developments in hacker technology. With constantly updating software dedicated to security, along with some know-how, you can rest a lot easier knowing your data is safe.

Natural Disasters Can Destroy, But Your Data Is Safe If It’s In The Cloud

02 Nov 17
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This past hurricane season has brought some of the most harrowing, widespread destruction the southeastern United States has ever been forced to weather. But, despite the enormous, tragic cost of these natural disasters, the people of these communities persevere. In the wake of widespread wind damage and flooding, communities have banded together. Thousands of volunteers and neighbors are working as one to rebuild and find the way forward. There is no doubt, however, that the havoc wreaked by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma will produce aftershocks that will echo through affected areas for decades.

To anyone who turtled up in their attic in the middle of the storm or just saw a picture of the wreckage in the news after the hurricanes departed, the physical damage caused by the storm is obvious. What’s less obvious is the effect these storms have on the futures of the survivors, the reverberating impact that cuts thousands of life plans short and forces individuals to completely change their course in a cruel reversal of fate.

“Forty percent of small businesses don’t survive these events,” said Russel Honore, the previous Joint Task Force commander for Hurricane Katrina. The electrical grid is knocked out for days, and businesses are forced to close the office for what they hope is a temporary period due to flooding.

Each day that a business can’t provide service, it’s bleeding money — a cost that many businesses, especially the little guys, can’t absorb. So, they close for good, their buildings go up for lease and those who were once the heads of promising young businesses are now unemployed, in the market for a job in a city up to its neck in water.

Just as common is a business that finds its central data structures wiped out by physical damage. Following a hurricane, most businesses near the storm should have little trouble cleaning up and remodeling following nasty flooding, but if their servers, computers and network infrastructure have been wiped out, it’s a completely different story.

Oftentimes, a catastrophic loss of data will shutter a business for good. A 2010 report by technology research firm Gartner Group stated that 43 percent of businesses went belly-up almost immediately after a “major loss” of data, while 51% shut down within just two years. That leaves a measly 6% survival rate for businesses that suffer company-wide data loss.

These are scary numbers, to be sure, but there is good news: Businesses that migrate their data to the cloud are at significantly less risk of losing vital data. This is not only because your typical cloud service will back up your up-to-date data with several levels of redundancy, but because most cloud services are actually more secure than their on-site counterparts in general.

And make no mistake, businesses with on-site data are susceptible to loss far beyond physical disasters like hurricanes, flooding, earthquakes or solar flares. Don’t forget the risks disgruntled employees, freak accidents and, especially, hackers pose to your precious data. While it’s true that all of these risks still exist with cloud-based services, they’re much reduced. A 2012 Alert Logic report stated that “on-premises environment users actually suffer more [hacking] incidents” than cloud-based users, while also being subjected to “significantly more brute force attacks.” When you think about it, this makes sense. With your entire system backed up on a number of off-site locations, it’s much more difficult for hackers to encrypt the entirety of your data and hold it for ransom.

That said, not every business absolutely needs the cloud to stay secure. Certain business models need on-site structures for various reasons, and a few find it more cost-effective. Still, the cloud is definitely something that any savvy business owner needs to examine closely as a potential option. It could mean the difference between flourishing in the next fiscal quarter and going under.

Skimp On Data Protection And Pay The Price

10 Oct 17
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We’ve said it time and again: Today’s cybercriminals are using more advanced technology than ever. And those malicious tools are becoming even more sophisticated at a breakneck pace. To top it all off, new software developments are enabling these criminals to cast wider and wider nets, targeting businesses that, before, would have flown under their radar. Companies small and large, of every type, are being infiltrated by vicious cyber-attacks across the world each and every day.

Even knowing this, business owners are tempted to cut costs and corners. When you’ve never had a breach, data security can seem like a distant concern, especially for a limited budget. But regardless of which digital barriers you put in place to protect your business, you can bet on one thing: One day, your security will be tested by an attack. Whether or not the hackers punch through could mean the difference between your company shutting down for good — as 60% of small businesses do in the six months following a cyber-attack, according to the Denver Post — and remaining solvent and secure in your position.

When you’re struggling to stay afloat or simply wanting to be a savvy spender, you may think the best way to lock down your data is to put one of your staff on the task or to do it yourself.

And sure, your team can conduct hours of research searching for inexpensive security. And you’ll almost certainly find something cheap with good reviews and a decent track record. You’ll figure out how to install the software across your system, complete with firewalls, server protection, antivirus and maybe a bell and a whistle or two. Perhaps you’ll even hold a meeting to educate your staff on the do’s and don’ts of cyber security.

“Use intricately constructed passwords,” you’ll tell them. “Don’t click suspicious links in your email.”

Then, after a few days of fiddling with settings and ensuring the security software is properly in place, you’ll forget about it altogether. After all, it’s already installed, and you’ve checked to make sure there aren’t any gaps in the system. It’s not something you need to constantly monitor.

A year later, your business has — miraculously — doubled in size. You’re finally reaping profits. Best of all, a recent news story has brought your company into the public eye, and brand-new leads are contacting you every day. For the first time since the company’s inception, you can breathe easy.

Then, one Monday morning, you log into your computer. For a second, everything seems to be normal, until an innocent-looking pop-up fills your screen. “Attention!” an eerie robotic voice barks from your speakers, “Your documents, photos, databases and other important files have been encrypted!”

Thinking it’s a hoax, you click into your server drive. To your dismay, you really are locked out of everything. So, palms sweating, you read the rest of the pop-up. It provides instructions to install the deep web browser Tor as well as an address for you to visit. When you go there, you learn that in order to recover all your data, including the credit card information of your customers, you’ll need to dish out $50,000 in bitcoin.

A year ago, you couldn’t afford adequate cyber security. Can you afford $50,000 in cash today?

Identical situations are unfolding every day, with people exactly like you. Back in April, CNBC reported that across the previous 12 months, half of all small businesses had been infiltrated by malicious hackers. “Cyber security is clearly a concern that the entire business community shares, but it represents an especially pernicious threat to smaller businesses,” wrote the Securities and Exchange Commission in a 2015 report. “The reason is simple: small and midsize businesses are not just targets of cybercrime; they are its principal target.” Cheapo security solutions might be fine for a lone browser surfing the web at home, but they are shockingly inadequate resources on which to base the entire success of your company, your livelihood and the livelihood of your employees.

Frankly, it’s irresponsible to lock your data behind a flimsy $5 firewall. Invest in robust cyber security solutions and secure the future of your company.

Why Your Current Antivirus, Backup, And Firewall Have Been Rendered Completely USELESS (And What You Need To Do About It)

16 Aug 17
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At the end of World War I, German engineer Arthur Scherbius constructed a device that would become central in another worldwide conflict of unimaginable magnitude over 20 years later: the Enigma machine. The machines, which steadily became more complex with each iteration, consisted of a series of rotors that, by themselves, encrypted messages input via the attached typewriter. Each rotor performed a simple substitution cipher, but when run through multiple rotors, the encryption reached a staggering level of complexity.

Initially used for transmitting sensitive company secrets in the commercial sector, the technology was eagerly adopted by the German military machine prior to World War II. After war broke out across Europe once again, Enigma encoding became central to the operation of the Axis powers, used for sending vital, sensitive intelligence across the airwaves. Due to the complexity of the Enigma system, the Germans were certain that the code would not, and could not, be broken.

But the Germans were wrong. Using photographs of stolen Enigma operating manuals obtained by a German spy, the Polish General Staff’s Cipher Bureau managed to construct an Enigma machine of their own, enabling them to covertly decrypt substantial amounts of Axis intercepts. Ahead of the impending invasion of Poland, the Poles shared their knowledge with the French and British military to expedite the defeat of the Germans. A massive team at Bletchley Park in Buckinghamshire, led by code-breaking master Alan Turing, became the central location for Allied efforts to keep up with Enigma operations.

Germany, still convinced the code was fundamentally unbreakable, continued using Enigma for a wide array of communications. But even the most complicated four-rotor Enigma systems were eventually decrypted. Great pains were taken to ensure the Germans never learned their precious code had been broken, labeling any intelligence gained from Enigma as “Ultra,” keeping the significance of Bletchley Park’s operations under wraps. Ultra-intelligence was used sparingly to avoid German suspicion.

The efforts of the Polish Cipher Bureau, Alan Turing, Bletchley Park, and the hundreds of men and women who contributed to the cracking of the Enigma code were described as “decisive” in theshortening of the war, and, at the high end, are estimated to have saved over 14 million lives.

Much like the Germans who assumed Enigma was uncrackable, most business owners believe their current, potentially outdated, cyber security measures will keep their data safe. But, in the contemporary age where digital information is as precious as gold, cybercriminals are working around the clock to penetrate even the most robust security solutions. You can bet they’ve already created a workaround for your current antivirus. What was good enough before may not be good enough today. After all, it’s simply impossible that a security solution from even two years back could be equipped to defend your precious data from a cutting-edge hacking technology that didn’t even exist when it was created.

Today, companies that fail to stay abreast of the latest cyber security trends — clinging foolishly to their own Enigma — are certain to pay the price down the line. Once the lock is picked, you need a new lock, and criminals are cracking new locks each and every day.

Luckily, as your IT provider, we’re cyber security experts, and we constantly seek the latest and most robust security solutions. Don’t leave your company’s security up to a false sense of confidence. Always be looking at options to upgrade your digital security and make it a sure thing.

The ONE Thing You Must Do to Keep Your Data Safe in the Cloud. Is Your IT Guy Doing This?

26 Jul 17
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How secure is your data? Cloud data storage is becoming a massive industry in this country, and many businesses and other institutions are putting their data into the cloud. Some of this data is pretty harmless. Other stuff — like hospital records, banking information, or company payrolls — are prime targets for bad actors. Is the cloud storage tradeoff worth it?

The short answer is yes, but only if your IT guy is encrypting your sensitive data.

Every cloud storage company you talk to will claim to take top-of-the-line security measures on behalf of your data. But that, in a nutshell, highlights the problem with cloud storage. Your data is entrusted to a third party for safekeeping. It’s possible that they’d do everything in their power to safeguard your information. But bad things, like ransomware, phishing, or just plain going out of business, do happen. And when they happen, it’s not the cloud storage company whose data is on the line; it’s yours.

Even if that doesn’t occur, let’s be honest. Most of the major cloud storage companies are based in the United States, the U.K., or France, where they could be subject to NSA snooping (or questionably legal surveillance from any other government entity). Despite the best efforts of many storage companies to  prevent government intrusion, your data could still be at risk, even when it’s locked up tight.

This brings us back to encryption, which is the hands-down best way to protect your data, period. It’s just like locking sensitive data in a box, with a password needed to reopen it. Even if someone gets ahold of the box, if they don’t have the password, there’s nothing they can do with it. There are a lot of encryption tools out there and you’ll want to make sure that you have the right one for your specific needs. If you ever need a recommendation, don’t hesitate to reach out and ask! We’ll be happy to provide you with the specific recommendation (free or paid) that fits your needs.

In addition, most cloud storage companies protect your data with their own encryption, but this isn’t as secure as encrypting your own information. That’s because the cloud storage company has the encrypted data in its possession, but it also has the keys to that data. If someone can get in, they can probably get the information they want. And a disgruntled employee — or just a hapless one — can also provide hackers access to the system through good old-fashioned human engineering.

If the cloud storage company is compromised (and it happens quite often), will your data be secured or unsecured? Well, if you’re encrypting your own data before uploading it, then the bad actors will open up the safe to find … a bunch of locked boxes. Pretty frustrating, right?

On the other hand, if you’ve trusted the cloud storage company to take care of everything, you’re going to have a bad day.

As you can tell, it makes sense to have your IT guy encrypt everything that gets put on the cloud before it gets there. But remember, just as your cloud storage provider is vulnerable, you can be vulnerable as well. It’s less likely that bad actors will target your company specifically, but if they want your data bad enough, they’ll go to great lengths to get it.

Many people have a misconception that these criminals will just use a magic program to crack your encrypted files. Decryption does exist, but it requires a lot of time and processing power. It’s far more likely that hackers will target your email or other aspects of your system and try to find out the encryption codes that way. And never forget that people are the weakest part of your IT security. Educate employees so they aren’t vulnerable to phishing scams, downloading questionable software, and visiting the wrong websites.

The Hidden Dangers Of “Shadow IT” To Your Business

14 Jun 17
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We all know that using information technology — programs, apps, or internet browsing — carries a certain amount of risk. Nobody wants to have their secure data compromised, but technology brings enough benefits that the risk is worth it. So you vet certain systems, you establish protocols, you update and patch your software, and you keep track of the technology used at work.

But what about the technology your employees are using that isn’t part of your official plan? We’re talking about messaging apps, Excel macros, cloud data storage, collaboration spaces, and even hardware like USB drives, smartphone storage, and personal laptops that you don’t control.

We call this “shadow IT,” and that’s a whole lot of potential holes to cover!

Even if you ignore the dangers of having accounts hacked, data stolen, and websites vandalized, shadow IT can be very inefficient. You don’t control it, so you don’t know where important information is or what work is being done. It makes it hard to avoid duplication of efforts and even harder to manage employee productivity. What are you to do?

Well, your gut reflex might be to “crack down” on using unauthorized technology for work purposes. Swallow that reaction, though — you can’t stop it, and you’ll just harm morale. You’ll also drive usage even further underground; your people won’t be honest with you for fear of reprisal. That means that if a compromise occurs, you’ll be the last to know.

Instead, keep an eye on the situation. Make it clear that you support employees using the tools they need to get the job done, as long as they let you know what those tools are. If your people start using cloud storage apps, that’s fine — but have them explain how they’ll keep that data secure. Just as you empower them to find their own tools, empower them to keep things secure.

You probably can’t come up with a list of all the shadow IT that’s being used at your work, but you can keep an eye on the trends as they develop. Research the technology that’s being used and watch the headlines for data breaches or other compromises.

In some cases, you will have to crack down on specific apps, programs, or devices being used at your work; they’re just too risky. If you’ve worked with employees and fostered good communication, this shouldn’t be an issue. Remember to avoid blaming employees when shadow IT becomes a problem — especially if they bring the issue to your attention themselves. There’s nothing wrong with asking your people to stop using a specific program or device, as long as you’re transparent and have good reasons.

Last, but not least, try to look on the bright side. Shadow IT may be a little risky, but it also presents opportunities for employees to drive productivity and try out new best practices. If they’re using a piece of technology, it’s probably doing something that the currently “approved” tech is not. They’re also showing self-starter tendencies and trying to do their job better. And that’s always something you should support!

The Latest Malware Threat Will Make You Wanna Cry

24 May 17
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Wannacry, Wannacrypt, Wannadecrypter, these are just some of the names of the latest string of malware circulating both the news cycles, and the internet.  They are all part of a Major Ransomware sting that hit the scene last weekend.  In case you don’t know Ransomware is a bug that infects your computer and then encrypts whole drives with an encryption key, making them useless unless you have the key to un-encrypt them.  The bad guys then offer to “Sell” you the key for $300 Bitcoin.  (Bitcoin is an internet currency that is untraceable, and gaining popularity as a global currency, and not just by the bad guys).  Wannacry exploited a vulnerability in Windows to encrypt the computers.  Microsoft had released the Patches back in March, and we had them set up to go out then.  We checked through our software and found that all of our clients that are on the Advantage Care Monitoring packages were already patched (there were a couple of un monitored computers that didn’t have the patch, but we took care of that).  We just wanted to let you know that we are taking these security threats serious, and are doing what we can to help protect you.

Things to watch out for:

  1. Strange attachments that you are not expecting in an email. If you get an email with an attachment that you are not expecting.  Before you open it, reach out and see if the individual actually sent something to you.  It was said that the Wannacry was being distributed via email (worm where bug would replicate itself and email it out to everyone in your contacts list).
  2. If you get that pesky window that pops up saying that it wants to run windows updates… let it.
  3. If you are on a maintenance plan with us, but you shut your computer down every night, we can’t push out the updates to you, and end up trying to push them out during the day, disrupting your work flow. This can be avoided by leaving your computers turned on at night, when we do the updates, and other housekeeping duties to ensure that your computers are up to date, and fresh for you the following day.
  4. Be mindful of where you are going on the internet. The internet is full of corrupted web sites, some are just malicious, and others are corrupt and could infect you just by visiting them.
  5. Nothing on the internet is “Free”. Free games, and Free coupons come with a catch.  They get to install stuff on your computer that sends them info, and leave you vulnerable.  Once these things get on your system, they reach out to their “Paying” friends and invite them to the party on your computer, and now all of a sudden your computer is crawling because all of this unwanted software is clogging everything up, and potentially doing harmful things in the background.
  6. Backup, Backup, Backup!!!!!! The best defense against Ransomware is just blow away the infected computer/files and rebuild it. A backup is essential for this.  An offsite, disconnected version is essential these days as well.  There have been cases where an external hard drive with all of the companies backup files were encrypted also (because they were connected to the computer when it was infected). So just having a backup file may not be enough.

We are taking extra steps to ensure all of our client’s security.  If you have any questions, feel free to contact us and we can  discuss this more.

4 E-mails You Should NEVER Open

17 May 17
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No matter how “bomb-proof” we make your network, you and your employees can still invite a hacker in if you click on a link or open an attachment in an e-mail sent by a cybercriminal. Some spam is obvious (can you say, “Viagra at a discount”?) but others are VERY cleverly designed to sneak past all the filters and trick the recipient into opening the door. Known as a “phishing” e-mail, this still is the #1 way hackers circumvent firewalls, filters and antivirus, so it’s critical that you and your employees know how to spot a threatening e-mail. Here are four types of e-mail ploys you should be on high alert for.

The Authority E-mail. The most common phishing e-mails are ones impersonating your bank, the IRS or some authority figure. The rule of thumb is this: ANY e-mail that comes in where 1) you don’t PERSONALLY know the sender, including e-mails from the IRS, Microsoft or your “bank,” and 2) asks you to “verify” your account should be deleted. Remember, ANY important notification will be sent via old-fashioned snail mail. If it’s important, they can call you.

The “Account Verification” E-mail. Any e-mail that asks you to verify your password, bank information or login credentials, OR to update your account information, should be ignored. No legitimate vendor sends e-mails asking for this; they will simply ask you upon logging in to update or verify your information if that’s necessary.

The Typo E-mail. Another big warning sign is typos. E-mails coming from overseas (which is where most of these attacks come from) are written by people who do not speak or write English well. Therefore, if there are obvious typos or grammar mistakes, delete it.

The Zip File, PDF Or Invoice Attachment. Unless you specifically KNOW the sender of an e-mail, never, ever open an attachment. That includes PDFs, zip files, music and video files and anything referencing an unpaid invoice or accounting file (many hackers use this to get people in accounting departments to open e-mails). Of course, ANY file can carry a virus, so better to delete it than be sorry.

4 Must-Have, Low-Risk Cloud Solutions

05 Apr 17
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Let’s face it, your business has more competition than ever. And they’ll eat you alive if you fall behind in today’s technology “arms race.”

Maybe your network needs greater security. Or you haven’t yet taken advantage of new cloud-based apps that help your team get more done in less time. Today, the action is in the cloud. And if you don’t know what’s out there, it’s just that much easier for competitors to pull ahead.

To help you stay on top, here’s a quick survey of four ways to put the cloud in your corner, along with examples of each.

Network Security

As devices on your network become more diverse and mobile, monitoring them in real time is absolutely critical to averting cyber-attacks. A good network-security tool probes for weak points and alerts you to potential threats. It can employ both hardware and software technologies. And today’s environment demands a bevy of checkpoints, from access control to WiFi-intrusion monitoring.

But how do you protect against threats that evade your monitoring efforts? Due to the recent spread of “fileless” malware, no antivirus program is 100% “bullet-proof.” However, you should be able to find basic software protection for around $40 per user. Look for features such as e-mail security, data loss prevention, network segmentation and behavioral analytics. And ideally, it scans quickly, takes up little space on your devices and may even be able to recover files encrypted by ransomware.

Collaboration

Giving your team the right cloud collaboration tools can be almost as good as giving them steroids… (Except, of course, it’s legal.) With the wide array of apps available today, the trick is finding the best one – or the best combination – for your company. Top contenders include Asana, Slack, Teamwork, Trello and Google Drive. These and similar apps can improve efficiencies in areas like project and task management, team communications and collaboration, brainstorming, document processing and storage, and more. And with cloud collaboration, you’re no longer restricted to bringing aboard talent from your local area alone.

Contracts & Accounting

Contracts and proposals that get bogged down in logistics can hurt monthly revenues. Is your sales team still asking customers to sign and fax back important documents? If so, they’re losing precious minutes every day. Then there’s the cost of storing and managing physical files. It all adds up. It’s no wonder so many companies now use electronic signature apps, such as DocuSign, Adobe Sign and RPost. They’ll let you manage the signing of important documents entirely online, and will encrypt and store files for you. Some are even court-approved and create a full audit trail.

For small business accounting, industry veteran QuickBooks, now with an online version, and upstart Xero can help you keep the books with relative ease. They both offer a clean, intuitive UI and affordable pricing with a comprehensive set of features. And, of course, being cloud-based, they can be accessed from a variety of locations, adding flexibility to your workforce.

If you’d like to know how well your company is (or isn’t) taking advantage of today’s cloud, contact us.