Blog by ComTech ActiveCare

Protect Your Data, Protect Your Business

Most businesses are now technology dependent. This means security concerns aren’t just worrisome to large corporate enterprises anymore, but also the neighborhood sandwich shop, the main street tax advisor, and the local non-profit. Regardless of size or type, practically any organization has valuable digital assets and data that should not be breached under any circumstances.

This makes it the responsibility of every business, especially those collecting and storing customer/client information, to implement a multipronged approach to safeguard such information.

Yes, we’re looking at you, Mr. Pizza Shop Owner who has our names, addresses, phone numbers, and credit card information stored to make future ordering easier and hassle free.

Today’s SMB Needs a Robust Security Plan

Everyone in the office loves Eric. Sporting a different ironic t-shirt everyday, Eric is the one we call when technology spits in our face. Whether it’s a slow system, a bug that needs to be squashed, a website issue, or a crash that results in unexpected downtime and data loss, Eric is right there. Not only does he get to the bottom of any issue but he also rights the ship like he’s some sort of miracle-working captain who just happens to have a pretty wickedly funny Peter Griffin from Family Guy impersonation.

But business is growing and Eric is overworked. Eric has certain skills that you’d love to use to develop innovative applications and revenue-generating projects-- but he’s too busy running around fixing things that break. Or he’s performing the most mundane and routine tasks day-in-and-day-out just to keep things secure and running smoothly.

There has been a lot of hype about cloud computing transforming the way small-to-medium sized businesses do business. Proponents of the cloud say that cloud computing has leveled the playing field, allowing SMBs to finally compete with bigger companies despite their limited financial resources and staffing.
Still, many are apprehensive to make the jump. They’re hesitant to give up control and they fear the cloud will expose them to greater security risks. Moving to the cloud definitely requires a leap of faith, but a recent ComScore study, completed on behalf of Microsoft, suggests that those who are froggy enough to take the leap (sorry) have no regrets once they do.

In fact, more than half of those surveyed wish they had adopted it earlier and feel that the benefits far outweigh their initial worries.

What are those benefits?

Monday, 02 April 2018 00:00

5 Ways SMBs Can Save Money on Security

Small-to-medium sized businesses and large enterprises may seem worlds apart, but they face many of the same cyber-security threats. In fact, in recent years, cyber-criminals have increasingly targeted SMBs. This is because it’s widely known that SMBs have a smaller budget, and less in-house expertise, to devote to protection. Thankfully, there are several things SMBs can do today to get more from even the most limited security budget. And, no, we aren’t talking about cutting corners. Far too often, SMBs cut the wrong corners and it ends up costing them more money in the long run. It’s a matter of taking a smarter approach to security. Here are five smart approaches to take.

  1. Prioritize – Every business has specific areas or assets critical to its core operations. Seek the input of valued staff and team members to determine what these are. Is there certain data that would be catastrophic if it was lost or stolen? If hackers compromise a network, or prevent access to certain applications, how disruptive would it be to daily business operations? What kind of potential threats or vulnerabilities pose the greatest risk to the company or your customers/clients? Focus on the most likely risks, not theoretical risks that “could happen.” Asking such questions gives you a clearer more complete perspective as to where to focus available security resources.
  2. Develop and Enforce Policies - Every SMB needs to implement a security policy to direct employees on appropriate and inappropriate workplace behaviors relative to network, systems, and data security. Merely drafting this document isn’t enough. Employees must be held accountable if they fail to adhere to policy. Such policies should be updated regularly to reflect new technology and cultural shifts. For example, a document written before social media took off, or before the BYOD (Bring-Your-Own-Device) movement, doesn’t necessarily apply today.
  3. Education - Ongoing end user training must be provided. Many security breaches happen because employees fail to recognize phishing schemes, open emails from unknown sources, create poor passwords that are seldom changed, and don’t take proper precautions when using public Wi-Fi connections on personal mobile devices also used for work.
  4. Take to the Cloud - Running applications and servers in-house is a costly endeavor. Leveraging the cloud today allows SMBs to cut costs while also strengthening their security. Cloud operators typically have built-in security features, alleviating SMBs of the burden of maintaining security themselves.

Today, not only can SMBs shift much of the burden of IT to the cloud, but they can also outsource much of their security by taking advantage of the remote monitoring, maintenance, and security tools provided by Managed Service Providers (MSPs).


Don’t Aim for Perfection – There is no such thing as perfect security. Striving for perfection is expensive and can prove to be more costly in the end. Improving protection and response would be a more ideal allocation of funds. It can take a hacker several months to figure out your systems and do real damage. Having the ability to quickly detect their presence, and mitigate any potential damage they may cause, is a more realistic and less expensive approach than thinking you can completely remove any probability whatsoever of a hacker breaching your system.

Whenever we as humans use the computer, or go to a website, we expect it to just work. We expect the computer is going to turn on and boot flawlessly, that the webpage is going to open without problems. We expect our files to always be right where we left them at all times. We believe that to be a dangerous comfort zone, just like anything else in this world, everything decays, everything ages. It’s not an ‘If this will happen’, it’s a when.

Tuesday, 13 March 2018 00:00

World Backup Day (March 31st) 2018

 March 31st has been set aside as World Backup Day

World Backup Day is a day for people to learn about the increasing role of data in our lives and the importance of regular backups.

 

Questions were raised last year about whether FBI agents were actively recruiting technicians at Best Buy’s Geek Squad to search for illegal content on customer devices. According to newly released documents, however, prior reports only scratched the surface: Best Buy’s ties with the FBI appear more complex than once surmised.

The existence of the Geek Squad informants was first revealed via the prosecution of a California doctor named Mark Rettenmaier. After Rettenmaier sent his computer to Geek Squad for repair in 2011, technicians working out of a massive Kentucky repair shop discovered thousands of images depicting child abuse on Rettenmaier’s device. Court filings later revealed that there were “eight FBI informants at Geek Squad City,” and a number had received $500 to $1,000 payments in exchange for acting as confidential sources.

It was unclear at the time how much Best Buy knew about the arrangement. However, documents recently acquired by the Electronic Frontier Foundation—which last year sued the Justice Department under the Freedom of Information Act after the FBI denied the group access to records—show that Best Buy has, at least at certain times, maintained a relationship with the feds, at one point hosting a meeting with the FBI’s Cyber Crimes Working Group at its Kentucky repair facility.

Outsourcing your IT services can lower your expenses and give you access to today’s most advanced technology. These are common reasons why businesses large and small choose outsourced IT providers. However, there are pros and cons of outsourcing. For instance, while you can definitely lower your costs, you also lose control of one area of business that can significantly affect your daily operations.

IT Service Provider

A recent study conducted by the Everest Group revealed that 48 percent of all business owners are unhappy with their current IT service provider.

In spite of the drawbacks, many of today’s small business owners see the value in outsourcing their IT infrastructure. However, the most discriminating business owners do quite a bit of research before selecting an IT service provider. This practice is highly recommended. It helps you avoid companies that don’t provide value-added services and are only in it for the money. Business owners need to know some very important things about their IT provider before ever signing a contract.

In spite of extensive research, business owners and managers still find themselves in relationships with IT service providers who simply aren’t doing their jobs. This can be a troubling area that fuels a great deal of frustration among business members.

Why Stay in a Bad Relationship?

Given that choosing a new provider is such a big deal, small business owners have been known to drag their feet when it comes to searching for a better IT provider. We all do that. We tend to think that a business relationship will improve if we just give it time. But eventually, that gnawing feeling in your stomach gets the best of you and you begin to ask your colleagues how they like their IT service provider.

After they spend ten minutes raving about their optimized infrastructure, you have to finally admit that it may be time to break up with your current IT service provider and look for greener pastures. It happens to all business owners and often it results in your company getting much stronger managed IT services for about the same money. Instead of dreading the process, why not dive in? What have you got to lose? Just be sure it’s time to take that leap.

Below, we go over seven effective ways you can tell whether you need to hire a new IT service provider:

One: Are They Proactive?

For an organization to be successful, critical goals of all team members involve a shared investment in its future. Is cybersecurity a shared priority?

Cyber Security Trainng

How invested is your team in the success of your company? How careful is your team when it comes to network protection and cybersecurity? How aware are team members of your security protocols and risks? Basic information assurance training is no longer effective as a means of self-awareness and protection, nor is it a reliable indicator of the level of awareness of your collective team.

  • What is information assurance? Processing, storage, and transmission of information (data) involve systems – and risks. Information assurance is the practice of protecting this data and these systems to ensure its security and to minimize risk.

It’s no longer enough to include a combination of letters and numbers in your passwords. Today’s sophisticated cybercriminals have an arsenal of tools that can crack a password in a matter of moments, and we need to be far more vigilant with our data.

What is the greatest threat to every organization in the world? It’s no longer the threat of someone picking a lock or breaking a glass window to get inside an office building; the only assets to gain are low-end computers that burglars can’t re-sell quickly. To say cybercrime is on the rise is the proverbial understatement of the year. Cybercrime tools and services are being marketed on the Internet – and there’s little we can (successfully) do to stop it at the grassroots level.

Cybersecurity facts you might not already know, that are affecting you right now and what you need to know to protect yourself and your business.

Cyber Security

With the benefits of the Internet came negatives as well, like one of those group bundles that you have to buy together. In order to protect yourself from the negatives of the Internet, you need to know the cost of cybercrime, and how it can impact your business. These are 5 startling statistics about cybersecurity in 2018 and what they mean for companies of all sizes

Cybercrime will inflate to $6 trillion

Cybercrime will cost us $6 trillion annually within the next three years, which is twice what we paid in 2015. The Wall Street Journal estimated that the cost of cybercrime in the U.S. in 2015 was $100 billion. With cybercrime growing at this rate it is essential to ensure that your cybersecurity is rapidly progressing as well. This is more than the amount of money we spend combating all illegal drugs combined, which is a whopping $44 billion, just this year. In 2017 WannaCry ransomware worm held companies, large and small, to more than $100,000 in ransoms.

Cybersecurity costs are similarly inflating

Although the latest version of Windows 10 isn’t a “game changer” you should appreciate some of its newer options and enhancements like the new Start Menu, OneDrive, Action Center, Cortana and ability for it to adjust its interface according to the device you use. Read on to get up to speed with Windows 10.

Windows 10

Before we begin, it’s important to note a few things: Be sure to sign in with your Microsoft ID when you first set up Windows 10. This way you can sync settings across all your devices.

You’ll also see a change in terminology from Windows 8. All applications are now referred to as Windows apps as opposed to Metro, Modern or Windows Store apps. However, the term Universal app is still used to designate the ability to use an application across all your devices (desktop, tablet or smartphone).

Let’s Start with the Start Menu: Windows retired the cumbersome Charms Bar and brought back the much-loved Start Menu. The Start Menu is where you go to operate everything in Windows 10. You remember how to do this, right? Go to the lower left of your screen to bring up the Start Menu. You’ll see that it’s now separated into sections. Plus, it’s more customizable than ever before – change from partial view to full view, customize the color, pin and unpin tiles and more.

Tuesday, 27 February 2018 00:00

The FCC Reveals Weaknesses In Small Business

Is Cybercrime Keeping You Up At Night? Check Out These 20 Key Cybersecurity Tips To Help You Stop Stressing Out

Small businesses are often unprepared for the latest cybercrime tactics used by hackers today. The FCC recently published a helpful Cybersecurity Tip Sheet to help small business owners strengthen their defenses. 

FCC Cyber Security Tips

The U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) reports that “theft of digital information has become the most commonly reported fraud, surpassing physical theft”. Hackers are constantly working to break through cyber defenses. Even worse, your small business is attractive to them because you’re an easier target than larger organizations.

Here are some shocking statistics:

  • 43% of cyber attacks target small businesses.
  • 60% go out of business within six months of a successful cyber attack.
  • 48% of data breaches are caused by malicious acts. Human error or system failure are the cause of the remaining 52%.

While small business owners worry about cyber attacks, many aren’t allocating money in their budgets towards risk mitigation. Unless you take precautions to block hackers and computer viruses, you’re opening the doors of your business to cyber theft.

The FCC produced a one-page Cybersecurity Tip Sheet with the following advice for securing your small business:

Warning! Running Windows XP Software Expose You To These 5 Serious Threats

Business Security Threats

 

We’ve all done it before – you find a program that you love, and you use it every day until it’s so old it stops getting support from the developer – in the case of Windows XP, that could be extremely dangerous for you and your business.

SanDisk reported in 2015 that roughly 25% of organizations were still using old versions Windows and didn’t plan on migrating until the software’s end-of-life. Windows XP was first introduced in 2001, and since then it has been one of the most popular operating systems with millions of users even two years after the end-of-life.

However, just how dangerous is it to just keep using the same program? It can’t be that bad, can it? In reality, it is incredibly dangerous. Here are the facts you need to know if you plan to keep using geriatric versions of Windows software:

No More Updates Or Patches… You Are On Your Own

Looking for quick tips to optimize your Microsoft Outlook experience? Check out this article that includes all you need to know to get the most out of Microsoft Outlook.

Outlook Tips and Tricks

With over a billion users worldwide, Microsoft Outlook is the preferred email program for business owners. Though other email programs have some of the same features, no single one of them addresses the everyday needs of business professionals better than Outlook.

In spite of its popularity and its versatility, many users are not getting the full range of benefits Microsoft Outlook has to offer.

This program provides a rich array of valuable features. It allows users to sort, filter and categorize all emails. In addition, there are numerous other email shortcuts that can save users time and reduce their daily frustration. Below, we discuss some of the biggest time-savers. Please note that these shortcuts are based on Outlook 2010, but most will work on later versions, as well as earlier ones.

Learn the Keyboard Shortcuts

How Businesses Are Accidentally Exposing Cloud Services – Don’t Make The Same Mistakes

The Dark Web

There are countless hackers out there just waiting for your business to leave your data vulnerable. With the introduction of the cloud, you felt a bit more secure and slept slightly better at night – but now, it seems that was precisely what hackers wanted us to do.

It’s reported that 53% of businesses using cloud storage accidentally expose their data to the public. This is like securing your whole house, locking all doors and windows, and then going to sleep with the garage wide open.

This doesn’t just point the finger at small businesses either. The study showed that even big-name companies such as Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) had inadvertently exposed one or more of these services to the public. The scary thing is that the previous survey showed this was occurring only 40% of the time. Now, this number has grown to 53%.

This study was conducted in 2017 between the months of June to September. Within those two months, they found that businesses are not only exposing their own data but they are also neglecting vulnerabilities in their cloud. When you ignore these things, you put not only your customers at risk but also the livelihood of your company as well.

What Are You Exposing?

There are plenty of options when it comes to finding a Managed IT Services provider for your business – how can you tell which is the right choice for you?

Managed Services

These days, business owners are searching for every advantage to put their company on top. With so much competition out there, just a few small issues here and there can result in costly slow-downs to daily work. One of these resides in your IT department. Nothing is more frustrating than broken computers, slow internet service, and expensive service calls.

Things like this can ruin your week and take a huge chunk out of the budget. Though there’s no way to stop computer and network problems from happening, there are ways to minimize your exposure. For small and mid-sized businesses, the solution is Managed IT Services. With Managed IT Services, you can forget about setting up an expensive Server Room and hiring a bunch of highly trained IT people. You’ll probably only need a handful of IT people on staff to handle simple issues that crop up in day-to-day business.

The problem comes with the fact that there are so many IT service providers these days and so it can be difficult to find the one that works best for your company. To help, check out these five timely tips to help you find the right IT service provider so you can get back to the job of running your company.

Tip One: The Budget

Addressing cyberattack threats, breach points, policies, company readiness, and recovery.

Cyber Attacks

When we asked businesses about cybersecurity threats, breach points, policies, company readiness, and recovery, we were surprised at the responses that we received. The most frightening response of all was the following:

“We have no formal process for assessing readiness to deal with a cyber attack of any sort.”

Hindsight is always 20/20 – how many times has something happened that you could have and should have prevented? There are five questions every company should ask themselves, at least twice a year:

  1. What are our current cybersecurity threats?
  2. What are common breach points within our company?
  3. What are our current cybersecurity policies?
  4. What is our company’s readiness for a cyber attack?
  5. What are our recovery policies in response to a cyber attack?

Cybersecurity Threats

Partnering with a Managed Service Provider can offer business owners a way to limit risks and increase productivity.

IT Managed Services

Running a business is hard work, but thankfully there are a lot of tools that can help make it less burdensome. Managed Service Providers are an IT service provider that manages and assumes responsibility for delivering a defined set of services. In short, Managed Services Providers give businesses back their staff that would have otherwise been tied up in time-consuming IT projects.

A Brief History of Managed Services Providers

Thursday, 15 February 2018 00:00

10 Microsoft Office Features You Will Love

Microsoft has dominated the business world for a long time. It is on every computer, in every office, no matter if that is a library or a Fortune 500 company. We use Microsoft Word to create the newsletters for our businesses and collate our data with Microsoft Excel. As familiar as we are with these programs, you should know that they’re always being improved in order to help us do more. The latest features for Microsoft Office 365 not only maintain the comfortable framework that we are used to, but they also bring with them incredible new features that we never knew we needed. These ten new features of Microsoft Office will raise your productivity, creativity, and efficiency in the workplace and at home.

Microsoft Outlook Features

Simultaneous Collaboration

This feature allows you to collaborate in real time with your colleagues and staff and is available through Microsoft Word and PowerPoint Presentations. Simultaneous Collaboration seamlessly shows what each team member is doing on the document. It is important to note that while PowerPoint is compatible with Simultaneous Collaboration, real-time typing is not yet available in PowerPoint presentations.

Simple Sharing

Sharing documents should be easy. Microsoft Office new feature offers straightforward document sharing with a simple share button. This button is in the ribbon in Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint. Now your team members can not only quickly share documents, spreadsheets, and presentations but it also allows you to access and change permissions. It is essential to note that co-authored files must be shared through SharePoint or OneDrive.

Share Large Files As A URL

There are few things worse than feeling trapped in an unfulfilling relationship – especially when it’s a vital business relationship.

Technology is an integral part of everything your business does, which raises a few important questions about your current IT set up. For starters, what is your relationship like with your technology systems – rock solid, or more than a little rocky?

How about with your technology service provider – are they always there for you when you need them the most? Do you still love your technology service provider the same way that you did the day you first met? Does your relationship with them still make you happy, and leave you feeling confident and supported in everything your business does? Can you count on them to help you reach your goals and achieve your dreams for the future?

 

One last question – has your passion for your network faded, leaving you frustrated, disappointed, and longing for happier times? If the answer is yes, then we have some good news for you… Your IT cupid is here to help you get back that lovin’ feeling. Let ComTech Computer Services, Inc. rekindle your passion for your business technology. Something that is such a core part of your daily life shouldn’t be a constant drag on your mood, your productivity, and your success.

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Microsoft Office 365

 

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