Where Can You Find On Time Tech Online?

As your trusted San Francisco IT Service company, On Time Tech takes pride in helping local businesses with a wide range of IT services and IT support.

Here is a list where you can find On Time Tech online:

Feel free to leave us a review on any of these sites.

As your trusted San Francisco IT Service company, On Time Tech takes pride in helping local businesses with a wide range of IT services and IT support. Here is a list where you can find On Time Tech online: 2FindLocal AmericanTowns Bing BizWiki Citysearch Credibility Review Cylex EZLocal Find Open Foursquare Google My Business HotFrog […]

SD-WAN and MPLS Battle: Which Is Better?

SDWAN or MPLS

What’s your favorite: red or blue? Sometimes there are no wrong answers to a question, and that may be the case when you consider the various infrastructure options of SD-WAN vs. MPLS. Can one be truly considered “better” than the other? It depends on the goals and requirements of your organization as well as the existing infrastructure that you are working with. Let’s unpack whether SD-WAN or MPLS is the winner when it comes to selecting a protocol for your network traffic. With the growth of SaaS platforms and cloud-based storage and computing, this question is looming large in the mind of IT leaders throughout the world.

Understanding SD-WAN: The Frisky Upstart

Wide Area Networking (WAN) has been around for decades, with a centralized bandwidth controller that is used to direct traffic within your organization. Policies and procedures are fed into traditional branch routers that then find the most efficient method for providing your application with the connectivity that you need. Expanding WAN can be expensive and configuration can be fiddly, which makes SD-WAN all the more attractive due to its flexibility for deployment. With SD-WAN (Software-Defined networking in a WAN), virtualization is leveraged to reduce the physical footprint and reduce the overall complexity of your networking practices. To keep it simple, you are much more likely to meet the expectations of your employees and customers with SD-WAN because you’re relying on a more flexible method of delivery for your business networking rules.

Understanding MPLS: The Hardened Contender

Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS) has been driving the business of doing business for many years and is a stable system for carrying data in high-performing networks. While it’s traditionally been used in telecommunications, there are plenty of organizations using MPLS to direct internet traffic, too. Where MPLS really shines is in applications such as VoIP, video conferencing or virtual desktops due to the high packet availability and low loss of quality. Sound and video quality are exceptional, and the protocol is highly predictable in nature. There are some key disadvantages such as bandwidth cost and the potential that lower-rated applications or services could be slower or have slightly degraded quality due to de-prioritization by the “traffic cop”. This protocol was great in a time when there were fewer demands on overall bandwidth, but today’s hungry cloud-based applications can quickly eat through your monthly allotments.

Advantages and Disadvantages of MPLS and SD-WAN

Without a full understanding of the particular needs of your business, it would be difficult to pick a winner between these two contenders for Top Protocol. SD-WAN offers the global availability, scalability and control that you need at a more reasonable price point, while MPLS allows you to boost the priority for crucial traffic moving through your network. MPLS practically guarantees a higher level of quality for the most important traffic within your business, while SD-WAN offers an added layer of security that might be a big selling point for organizations in today’s climate of rampant cybercrime. SD-WAN is generally considered to be more cost-effective and scalable — even though it is slightly less reliable than MPLS implementations.

Which Is Better for Your Business?

There is no clear and true winner in this battle, but you might be interested to know that Gartner released a recent whitepaper entitled: SD-WAN is Killing MPLS, So Prepare to Replace It Now. That seems like a pretty strong statement, especially considering that the research firm also notes that MPLS still far outstrips SD-WAN in terms of usage. Hybrid and internet-only WANs are on the rise as infrastructure leaders continue to look for ways to boost network efficiency and speed while reducing the possibility of a devastating security event. SD-WAN allows for an additional measure of control when it comes to security, which may be one of the reasons that IT leaders are moving in this direction.

There are no perfect answers that will fit the needs of every organization, but SD-WAN comes out on top in terms of price and scalability, while MPLS edges out the competition when it comes to overall reliability and reduced packet loss. One thing is for sure: this conversation will continue!

What’s your favorite: red or blue? Sometimes there are no wrong answers to a question, and that may be the case when you consider the various infrastructure options of SD-WAN vs. MPLS. Can one be truly considered “better” than the other? It depends on the goals and requirements of your organization as well as the […]

Why CEOs Must See Information Technology As Strategic

For far too long, CEOs have seen information technology as a sunken cost that needs to be absorbed and reluctantly accepted. New platforms, upgrades, platform conversions, hardware, software and other technologies are a financial pain point that needs to be endured.

CEO Information Technology Strategy

However, for success today, company leaders need to take a completely different approach. Information technology should be viewed as essential for companies wanting to achieve their strategic goals. The premise that technology teams should just “keep the lights on,” upgrade the software and support the other business units is an outdated approach.

Who Is Responsible for Changing the CEO Mindset?

Some companies may have a CEO who profoundly understands the nuanced approach to technology that is imperative to achieve digital transformation. However, such leadership is rare today despite the growing reliance on disruptive technologies such as artificial intelligence, machine learning data analytics, automation and the Internet of Things.

That’s why the chief information officer’s role is increasingly critical. The CIO needs to be included in high-level strategic conversations to help shape the needs (for financial resources, technologies, systems and people), opportunities and desired outcomes. It’s also incumbent on the CIO to play an important role in educating, influencing and empowering the CEO.

According to a recent CIO.com article, CIOs need to help CEOs and other senior leaders in the following ways:

  • Having a keen understanding of new technologies, innovation trends and strategic opportunities
  • Working with leadership in tandem with vendors to co-create innovative solutions
  • Educating C-suite executives and board members about disruptive industry trends and possibilities
  • Introducing collaborative tools and self-service portals to reduce human capital costs.
  • Building innovation hubs that benefit the business
  • Championing digital business strategies at the industrial and organizational levels
  • Promoting a lean approach a la a start-up for fostering new products, services and ideas

What Work Should the CIOs Focus On To Change a CEO’s Mindset about Technology?

One of the most important tasks the CIO should focus on is understanding customers. Learning more about their needs, challenges, interactions and preferences will inform the CIO’s insights shared with the CEO. The CIO has to spend more time with customer-facing units, such as sales and marketing, learning about their needs and how the most effective salespeople and campaigns are built.

The key is getting out of the office. Yes, a CIO, especially of a small company, may be pulled into the weeds more often than they want, but time needs to be made for this outreach,

Why is it so important? The next time the CIO is in a strategy meeting or 1:1 with the CEO, they can provide insights on what directly impacts customers, backed up by data and IT knowledge.

CIOs should champion teams focused on innovation, development of new products and services and leveraging collected data.

CEOs are paying attention too.

“The proliferation of digital technology has given IT the ability to directly impact an organization’s bottom line,” said GE Digital CEO Bill Ruh.

“Smart CEOs now see IT not as a cost center but as a differentiator, a source of innovation, and an enabler of revenue growth and market differentiation,” notes a recent article. “As CEOs increasingly turn their attention to digital innovation as a top priority, they are counting on CIOs to drive it.”

What Are CEOs Asking of their CIOs?

“CEOs need CIOs to be more than service-oriented order takers. They expect IT leaders to work with business leaders to co-develop technology-related capabilities that will enable the business to innovate and grow,” notes Gartner in its 2019 CEO survey. A look at key data from that report shows just how much CEOs are starting to recognize the importance of IT. Consider:

  • A third of CEOs ranked IT-related priorities in their top 3
  • 49 percent of CEOs believe the business and technology sides of the business are equally responsible for the performance and quality of digital products and services
  • 47 percent of CEOs saw technology enablement as one of the top two ways to improve productivity

Korn Ferry survey of corporate technology offices illustrates the shift of roles and how CEOs value CIOs differently today. Among the findings:

  • 83 percent say their role is perceived as more strategic than it was 4 years ago
  • 81 percent say they have more exposure and play a more significant role with customers, products and services
  • 55 percent believe the CEO and board see the lead technology officer’s role as a revenue generator and not a cost center

The data are clear about the changing role. In a 2017 Harvey Nash/KPMG CIO survey, 62 percent of CIOs said they are a part of the executive team, compared to 38 percent in 2005. The likelihood that a CIO reports to the CEO rather than the CFO or someone else is increasing 10 percent annually.

CEOs today have an incredible opportunity to use ever-evolving technologies to change business models, introduce new products and services and deliver what customers crave. How? By understanding these technologies, elevating the CIO’s role and seeing IT as a revenue-generating part of the business.

For far too long, CEOs have seen information technology as a sunken cost that needs to be absorbed and reluctantly accepted. New platforms, upgrades, platform conversions, hardware, software and other technologies are a financial pain point that needs to be endured. However, for success today, company leaders need to take a completely different approach. Information […]

Top Questions CFOs Have Regarding Backup & Business Continuity

If your organization is large enough to have a CFO, it surely has some kind of backup and business continuity plan in place. Do you understand how this system works? More importantly, is the system your business has in place actually sufficient to protect you in the event of a disaster? These are questions every business needs to ask, and you as the CFO need to be a part of that conversation. To get prepared, here are a few of the top questions CFOs have regarding backup and business continuity, answered.

CFO Disaster Recovery

 

Aren’t Backups Enough?

The short answer is no. The longer answer gets into the wide range of backup formats. On-site backups are a part of the solution, but they don’t protect against natural disasters or physical site breaches. Off-site backups have their limitations, too. The farther away the site, the more logistically challenging data transfer and physical storage can become. On the other hand, if the off-site backup is just down the street, it may be just as vulnerable to the natural disaster that hit your business.

Is the Cloud the Answer?

Cloud backups are a great new innovation in the industry, but they alone won’t save your business, either. Restoring from a cloud backup takes serious bandwidth, and bandwidth could be an issue following a catastrophe. Consider that not all business disasters are natural. If your business suffers a crippling cyber attack, cloud backups may complicate the restoration process.

What is Backup and Disaster Recovery?

Backup and disaster recovery, sometimes shortened to just backup disaster recovery or BDR, is the term for a comprehensive system that includes both data backup and a disaster recovery plan. These two components are designed to work in tandem, allowing a business to remain operational through or quickly restart operations following a disaster. Having a strong BDR plan is the real solution for backups and business continuity.

Backups in BDR

The backup component of your BDR plan should be multifaceted. Most companies benefit from having at least two forms of backup: on- or off-site as well as cloud backup. With backups, redundancy is a desirable feature, not a place to cut costs. Storage drives (whether at your location or in some server farm far away) can fail without warning.

Disaster Recovery in BDR

The disaster recovery component is just as crucial as the backup component. This is security planning, in a nutshell. If your physical office building gets wiped out by a natural disaster, you need more than your data. You need replacement computers, servers, and networks to use that data on, not to mention a place to do that work. Your disaster recovery plan finds the solution to these problems. Develop a recovery time objective, a measurement of the amount of time you’ll need to resume operations. From there, build out a plan for sourcing equipment and facilities.

Your disaster recovery plan is closely tied to your business continuity plan, which outlines how essential functions will keep running or be restored.

What Does a BDR System Accomplish for the Business?

Implementing an effective BDR system has many advantages for your business, including faster recovery time, lower risk, and lower costs.

Faster Recovery

Your business’s recovery time will be much shorter if you have both a detailed plan for what to do in the event of a disaster and a complete, usable backup of all critical systems. There’s no real way to put an exact figure on it, but working a plan is always going to turn out better than winging it, especially when in disaster mode.

Lower Risk

Every step you take toward a well-planned BDR system lowers your business risk. Having an on-site backup is safer than having none. Having on-site paired with off-site is safer still. Adding cloud backup to the mix does the same. Similarly, the more thorough your disaster recovery plan, the lower your risk.

It may sound overly simple, but “be prepared” is a pretty great motto. No business can completely mitigate all risk, but implementing a BDR system lowers your business’s risk profile greatly.

Lower Costs

Companies implementing BDR systems often contract with managed services firms to create and/or execute those systems. It’s worth taking a look at what’s available. You may find that your costs with a managed service provider are lower than the costs of building a BDR in-house.

Even if you determine monetary costs aren’t lower, there’s also an opportunity cost to consider. How confident are you in your in-house plan (or the team that built it)? Is that team made up of dedicated experts, or is everyone involved working just a bit outside their expertise? There is a real opportunity cost to not getting this right. Contracting with a quality MSP reduces the risk of missed opportunities due to an overly long outage or recovery.

Conclusion

If you haven’t yet implemented a BDR system, it’s time to do so. If you need help developing or implementing a BDR at your firm, contact us to get started.

If your organization is large enough to have a CFO, it surely has some kind of backup and business continuity plan in place. Do you understand how this system works? More importantly, is the system your business has in place actually sufficient to protect you in the event of a disaster? These are questions every […]

How to Share Screens with Microsoft Teams

 

Microsoft Teams is an amazingly powerful collaboration tool that’s available as a part of the Microsoft Office suite.
At its core, it’s kind of like Slack on steroids, but that core functionality is just the tip of the iceberg. Because it’s integrated with the rest of Microsoft Office, it has so many powerful features.

One feature area in Microsoft Teams is the ability to host and join virtual meetings. Users can join or host meetings from desktop or mobile. Mobile users can share files with the group, and we covered that in a previous post. Desktop users can share screens with other users, and with a surprising degree of control. Here’s how to take advantage of this feature.

Step 1: Create a Meeting

The Share Screens feature works from within the Meetings function, so the first step is to create or join a meeting. Locate the tabs bar (usually on the left side), where you’ll see icons like Activity, Chat, Teams, Meetings, and Files. Select Meetings, and then create a meeting (or join a meeting that someone else is hosting). The Meetings tab is tied into your Outlook calendar, allowing you to see potential conflicts.

Quick note: Teams features can be enabled or disabled at the enterprise level. If you don’t see a Meetings tab at all, your IT department hasn’t enabled it yet. Contact IT and plead your case for enabling this awesome feature.

Step 2: Click the Share Button

Once the meeting is in progress, you’ll see a series of buttons in the bottom middle of your screen. If you don’t see them, move your mouse to that location to make them show up. You’ll see buttons for video (if enabled), microphone (for muting yourself), ending the call, and more. The one you want looks like a rectangle with an upward arrow. This button, aptly named the Share button, represents screen sharing. Click it to continue.

Step 3: Choose What to Share

Screen sharing isn’t exactly new technology, but the implementation here is particularly well done. When you click the Share button, Teams doesn’t immediately share your entire screen. Instead, you have options. “Desktop” allows you to share one of your desktops. “Window” lets you choose a single window or app to share. “PowerPoint” shares the presentation you choose. There are even more options available under “Browse”.

Conclusion

This level of granular control makes screen sharing in Teams a killer feature, and there’s so much more that Teams can do for you. Team-based chat, productivity tools, and real-time collaboration on nearly any Office file are a few more ways it can help. If you’re ready to keep exploring, contact us to keep learning.

Microsoft Teams

  Microsoft Teams is an amazingly powerful collaboration tool that’s available as a part of the Microsoft Office suite. At its core, it’s kind of like Slack on steroids, but that core functionality is just the tip of the iceberg. Because it’s integrated with the rest of Microsoft Office, it has so many powerful features. […]

Is The CFO Today’s Technology Champion?

CFO Tech Champion

It’s always been important for the C-suite to understand the cost benefits and value associated with technology projects, but today’s complex infrastructure needs are requiring greater levels of input from financial executives, in particular. Technology spends are increasing dramatically, and there’s a need to balance the shorter-term benefits of specific tactics with the long-term strategies that will help move the organization forward. The days of technology teams making do with the funding that they are allowed are over, as technology becomes more tightly intertwined with business strategy. It is crucial that the big dollars invested in technology and innovation are tied to true business value in a way that can be communicated throughout the organization — making the CFO an integral part of the decision-making when it comes to determining the IT spend.

Funding Sustainable Growth

Technology is advancing at an unbelievable rate, with new software applications and methods of reaching customers coming at breakneck speed. Making several poor decisions around technology can create a miasma of problems that can take years to resolve, but that risk is mitigated when financial leaders work closely with technology teams to ensure that there are adequate measures and milestones in place. CFOs must ensure that the organization has the funds available to budget for items that are critical for continued business operations that support corporate strategy and sustainable growth initiatives. This has to be balanced with the additional risk that can be assumed by waiting for “something better” (an application, a way of controlling data or reduced legislation) to come along. According to Gartner, worldwide IT spending is set to reach $3.8 trillion this year, with ongoing increases in spending attributed to IoT, shifting on-premise computing to the cloud, software applications and maintenance fees. With this shift comes a fundamental change in the way technology dollars are budgeted: from capital expenditures to a SaaS model that is billed as an operating expense.

Aligning Technology Spend with Strategic Initiatives

Starting with the strategic initiatives of the business and slotting in technology where needed may be the way CIOs and CTOs are familiar with budgeting, but the new paradigm requires additional work. The risk potential of having business systems vulnerable to a cyberattack is an ongoing concern and one that can require a significant amount of spending in any given year. Data silos are being broken down and consolidated as older legacy systems reach their sunset years. This tension between supporting an often-aging infrastructure and providing a stable base for the future creates a need for creative budgeting throughout the organization. Having the CFO work with technology executives can help bring greater visibility to the IT needs of the organization and how they align with specific strategic initiatives.

Constantly Examining Technology ROI

Part of the budgeting process involves being intentional about determining business ROI for the various technology initiatives and being unafraid to boldly cut or fund projects based on the changing needs of the business. New threats occur on a regular basis — as well as new opportunities to seize dominance in a particular market. Having the flexibility to pivot and create revenue may require a continual review of the various projects as well as a fundamentally different approach to what have traditionally been multi-year IT projects. Vigorously defending projects that no longer provide business ROI can put a major drain on limited organizational resources, especially in light of changing features and functionality for even the most stable business platforms.

Now more than ever, CFOs must have a solid understanding of the business value that IT projects plan to deliver and a solid review of milestones. This shared responsibility with CIOs and CTOs creates not only a greater accord in financial decisions but also a deeper understanding of the value that various projects have for the entire business.

It’s always been important for the C-suite to understand the cost benefits and value associated with technology projects, but today’s complex infrastructure needs are requiring greater levels of input from financial executives, in particular. Technology spends are increasing dramatically, and there’s a need to balance the shorter-term benefits of specific tactics with the long-term strategies […]

What Role Must The CMO Play In Technology Decisions?

CMO Technology

The role of the CMO has been evolving at a rapid pace in recent years due to the constant addition of new marketing technologies or martech. You only have to compare the tech budgets of marketing departments today to those five years ago to see a drastic increase in spending.

Companies know that they need to embrace and leverage the right martech to remain competitive, and they are willing to invest substantial sums to do so. That leaves companies and key decision makers with a challenging question: What kind of role should the CMO play in tech decisions? The answer depends on the industry vertical, but there is an overall trend that is worth paying attention to. With each passing year, CMOs are becoming more and more involved in tech decisions.

How Involved Should CMOs Be in Tech Decisions?

To understand the answer to this question, we need to look at a few different factors. These include:

The Changing Role of CMOs

The traditional CMO role was already filled with important decisions. Chief Marketing Officers have always been responsible for things like brand management, communications, campaigns and advertising. But today, with the rise of data-driven decisions—which offer more predictability and accuracy than opinions ever could—the role of the CMO has had to evolve to encompass more and more tech.

Consider the options for understanding the customer experience available to marketing teams today:

  • Artificial Intelligence (AI)
  • Big Data
  • Marketing Automation
  • Internet of Things (IoT)
  • And more…

Incorporating these tools into the company’s marketing mission requires a whole new skillset that includes customer service, data analysis, user experience (UX) and more. Of course, not all CMOs need to be experts in any one of these particular areas, but they do need to know how to manage and organize professionals who do understand these areas to fully realize the potential of their marketing efforts.

The Importance of Company Objectives

If you have recently found yourself feeling overwhelmed with the number of tech tools available, you have some idea of what it feels like to be a CMO in today’s tech-heavy environment. A visit to your favorite app store will give you the opportunity to pick from sometimes thousands of apps to accomplish the same goal, whatever that goal may be. And while the martech options available to CMOs are perhaps less numerous, they are also being pushed by sales people on a daily basis—so CMOs are being constantly bombarded with new “solutions” that are touted as the newest answer to common problems. Even more confusing, there are plenty of martech offerings that are more like solutions looking for problems than the other way around.

One of the key ways that CMOs can avoid overwhelm when it comes to martech is to always keep company objectives at the forefront of their minds. The company objectives can vary by organization, but most marketing organizations are focused on things like Market Presence, Revenue Growth and Efficiency. These goals can be more easily achieved using the right martech, but not all tech tools are going to offer significant benefit in the seeking of such goals.

Company objectives offer a guiding light in the complex world of martech. CMOs, above all others in the marketing organization, need to remain aware of company objectives and ensure that the tech budget is utilized as efficiently as possible—on technologies that will achieve measurable progress towards the achievement of the goals of the company.

CMOs Can Use Data to Drive Tech Decisions—Especially if They Ask Questions

One of the best ways CMOs can target the tech that is right for their organization is to utilize data in the decision making process. And that does not mean the CMO needs to be an expert in data analysis, either. They just need a team that can help them understand the data that they are looking at. Subjective decisions are not necessary—at least not in most cases—with the use of the right data.

The secret to utilizing data is to ask questions, as many questions as necessary to gain an understanding of what you are looking at. Over time, a CMO can come to understand quite complex concepts as he or she repeatedly comes into contact with them. But as with any new information, the fastest way to gain an understanding is to ask questions. It can be difficult at first for someone in a position of authority to admit that they do not know something right off the bat, but eventually asking questions becomes easy.

While it may not be apparent initially, employees will feel respect for the leader that is willing to admit a lack of understanding and ask for help. After all, the employee gains a sense of value when they can help higher-ups and the company as a whole with their knowledge.

CMOs Should Be an Integral Part of Tech Decisions

Ultimately, CMOs should strive to be an integral part of tech decisions in the company. They should work with their team, as well as with other key decision makers like the CIO and CTO, to guide the company in the right direction.

The role of the CMO has been evolving at a rapid pace in recent years due to the constant addition of new marketing technologies or martech. You only have to compare the tech budgets of marketing departments today to those five years ago to see a drastic increase in spending. Companies know that they need […]

5 Crucial Elements to Training Your Employees in Optimal Cyber Security

Cyber Security Training

Cyber attackers are highly motivated to obtain or corrupt your company’s data. But whether their motivation is to steal your funds outright, hold your data for ransom, practice espionage, or simply disrupt your business, most hackers cannot access your network without an “in.”

In other words, they require a login, personal access codes, or network access through malware to initialize their breach. Unfortunately, a recent report released by Verizon has concluded that 93% of the time, a cyber attacker’s “in” comes to them in the form of a social engineering attack on your employees.

The only way to prevent such breaches in your security is with proper cybersecurity training.

What is a social engineering attack?

Social engineering attacks are frankly less high-tech than traditional cyber attacks by highly knowledgeable tech criminals. In other words, they don’t require the extensive knowledge and tools needed to directly hack a highly protected computer system out of nowhere.

Social engineering attacks are more like street scams — only they’re usually done online or sometimes, over the phone. These scams use human psychology to fool individuals into willingly giving up sensitive information. In the case of your business, the targets are your employees.

There are several types of these attacks, including “phishing” and “pretexting,” which are quite similar and often go hand-in-hand. Phishing emails, however, remain the most common type of social engineering scam.

What are phishing emails?

In short, a phishing scam might be an email sent to the employees of your company that looks legitimate. It might (appear to) be from the employee’s bank, for example. It might request that your employee “click here” and login to (what looks like) the bank website so that the bank can “update your information” or “confirm your identity.”

A phishing email might also promise something to the recipient: “Here’s your free 50% off coupon! Click here!” or use a so-called emergency to illicit fear: “Someone has hacked your account. Click here to get it back.”

If your employee does indeed click on the malicious link of a phishing email, they will likely be taken to a blank or uninteresting page. In the meantime, however, the link click will have initiated the installation of malware onto the employee’s computer. This malware then enables the hacker to obtain sensitive information or disrupt or damage your company’s data.

How can company’s prevent phishing scams?

The reputational implications of any type of security breach — even one that doesn’t actually corrupt or steal your data or funds — can be enormous. Of course, it goes without saying that if you are caught in the crosshairs of a data ransom or cyber theft, the financial implications will be equally devastating.

As we’ve learned from the Verizon report, most security breaches are linked with phishing. Therefore, cybersecurity training for your employees is the best preventive solution you have for stopping security breaches before they start.

Employee training is not expensive, yet it is highly effective. Your employees should learn the following throughout their ongoing training:

  • How to identify a range of phishing and pretexting scams
  • How to proceed should they find an email, phone call, or social request suspicious
  • Your company’s strict policies and procedures for communication (for example, “We would never send emails requesting personal information from our employees as this would only be done in person.”)
  • Notice of increased risks for phishing scams around the holidays
  • Notice of the most recent and common scams currently trending

Cybersecurity training should be frequent and come at regular intervals throughout the year as attack strategies often come randomly in spurts and habitually change tactics.

While cybersecurity training is your best line of defense when it comes to phishing and security breaches, it’s also important to hire a reputable IT managed service provider (MSP) to handle your network and security. Your MSP should have experience and broad skill in protecting their clients from network breaches. Contact qualified MSPs in your area today to learn more about protecting your business from cyber attacks.

Cyber attackers are highly motivated to obtain or corrupt your company’s data. But whether their motivation is to steal your funds outright, hold your data for ransom, practice espionage, or simply disrupt your business, most hackers cannot access your network without an “in.” In other words, they require a login, personal access codes, or network […]

Small Business Guide to Protecting Critical Data

Small Business data protection guide

Small businesses technology and business leaders may feel as though their data is safe, but nothing could be further from the truth. According to SmallBizTrends.com, nearly 43% of phishing campaigns are targeted specifically at small businesses, a dramatic increase from 18% in 2011. Unfortunately, a 2017 report from Keeper Security also shows that the greatest cybersecurity threat to small businesses is their employees, with more than 54% of data breaches caused by employee or contractor negligence. Protecting the data within your organization is crucial, and the costs that are associated with a data breach continue to rise. Small businesses are increasingly focused on ways to mitigate the risk associated with data storage and use and that often starts with having a comprehensive backup and data recovery process in place. Here are some suggestions from industry leaders on how to protect your critical small business data from a cyber attack or other loss of access.

Importance of Immediate Data Access

Your business data is arguably your most important digital asset and one that is accessed hundreds or even thousands of times each day. Your employees utilize business data from a variety of systems to look up customer orders, create POs and track shipments while consumers are online placing orders and tracking status. Until you truly experience a major loss of data access, you may not realize the crippling effect that it would have on your organization’s operations.

Dangers of Data Loss

The first hit that you would feel with the loss of access to your data is in the productivity of your teams. Workflows grind to a halt as employees scramble to figure out how to perform their daily activities without access to the information that they take for granted. In many businesses, the data stored within your CRM or other data repository is driving your website, meaning ordering comes to a crashing halt should the secure connection to your data falter. Technology teams scramble to figure out where the problem lies, putting all other IT needs on the back burner for the foreseeable future. Plus, your team may need to call in consultants to help identify a breach and begin remediation as quickly as possible. If your team identifies that a breach has occurred, you may have to report to customers and stakeholders that sensitive data has been accessed by unauthorized parties. This can devolve into trust issues with your business, negative publicity and ongoing loss of revenue even while you’re attempting to return to operational readiness.

Data Consolidation Makes Protection Easier

Business data structures often grow organically, with additional databases and information structures added over time. While this may make sense as you’re bolting systems together, eventually it can become an unruly tangle of disparate systems that makes security and data integrity more challenging for your teams. A regular review of business systems with an eye towards data consolidation is a project well worth considering as your timeline permits. It’s often helpful to work with a trusted technology partner to ensure that you are considering all the options that are available for the security of your data both in transit and at rest.

Protecting Business-Critical Data

There are a variety of protections that you can put in place to maintain both access to your data as well as its integrity. Creating a robust backup and disaster recovery process allows your team to define the best case scenario for data backups — local only, short-term local with a regional cloud-based backup or cloud only. There are dozens of different ways you can configure your backup process, but what’s important is that it meets the needs of your business both now and in the future. When you have a documented backup and disaster recovery process in place and test it on a regular basis, you have added peace of mind that your small business data is protected and quickly accessible in the event of a cyberattack or natural disaster.

Assessing and Managing Cybersecurity Risks

As your business matures, it’s imperative that you create a review schedule to assess and manage your cybersecurity risks. This includes everything from monitoring employee activity logs to protecting passwords to educating staff members and contractors against tapping, clicking or interacting with suspicious website content or email attachments. Data encryption, email and web filters and the regular application of patches to your servers and applications can also help reduce the risk of a cyberattack on your small business. Sometimes, the challenge is as simple as assuring that you have redundancies on your power supply so you don’t run the risk of losing servers during a power surge. Other remediation issues can be much more intensive, but putting together a full list of options helps you understand and ultimately reduce the risk to your organization.

Your data is being bombarded with threats on all sides, and it’s up to your technology team to help protect your organization. Creating a robust backup and disaster recovery plan with a trusted technology partner can help you walk through an audit of all pertinent systems and quickly identify problems that can be resolved quickly and define a strategy for ongoing review and support. Without access to your data and business information systems, you can quickly find that your organization is grinding to a slow and painful halt.

Small businesses technology and business leaders may feel as though their data is safe, but nothing could be further from the truth. According to SmallBizTrends.com, nearly 43% of phishing campaigns are targeted specifically at small businesses, a dramatic increase from 18% in 2011. Unfortunately, a 2017 report from Keeper Security also shows that the greatest cybersecurity threat […]

Can Your IT Company Handle Your Business Growth?

A healthy, growing business is almost always a good thing. Still, expansion brings with it certain responsibilities on your part.

If your business is growing quite quickly, it’s important to understand that large changes or adjustments may need to be made. This could mean hiring more employees, starting to provide employee health insurance, advertising more and spending more on marketing services, or obtaining more physical office space.

Business Growth

One area that you certainly won’t want to ignore as your business expands is your company’s information technology provider.

Many businesses who start small assume they can keep their IT provider as they grow. However, it’s important to realize that some providers aren’t equipped to handle larger businesses — those who often necessitate sprawling networks and extensive security needs.

To determine whether your company will soon require new IT services, consider the following questions about your current IT provider.

How familiar are they with your specific industry?

Often, when you’re just starting out, you’ll hire an IT provider who handles information technology services for a broad range of industries. Without a doubt, working with these types of providers will help your growing business by cutting costs. At the same time, you’ll still have your IT taken care of.

But as your business grows, you’ll want an IT provider with unique expertise in your industry. Niche IT providers who specialize in IT for hospitals, transportation services, or optometry offices, for example, are much more likely to provide you with better-quality service and improved security.

They are knowledgeable about and regularly brush-up on industry standards. They keep up with new and cutting edge technologies in your industry. And most of all, they are constantly aware of common security threats (and solutions) to businesses like yours.

Do they service other companies of similar size?

Take a look at who else your IT company serves. Are there any clients who match your company’s size? If so, do you believe those companies would also necessitate the same amount of attention and security as your company?

Even if your current provider services a company comparable to your size, if that company is a greeting card business and you own a chain of dental offices, you may have more to think about than just size. Namely, you’d have personal medical information within your network and a unique and crucial need to avoid breaches, scams, and possible liability catastrophes.

How often do you require troubleshooting services?

Are you already in near-constant communication with your IT provider for recurrent outages, network errors, slow-downs, and other problems?

Certainly, troubleshooting is one of the reasons you have an IT provider in the first place. However, the best providers should be able to set-up a network that requires infrequent service.

Moreover, preventable errors that happen once should not happen again. The downtime that results from problems in your network will inevitably hinder your business’s success. Moreover, as a company that’s growing, things will only get worse if you do not improve your service now.

How have they handled network problems to date?

When you have needed to make a service request in the past, what’s been your current provider’s track record?

Consider how easy they are to get in touch with. Are you able to speak with your own account manager or at least a representative who’s knowledgeable about your business?

How fast is your request handled? If it’s an emergency, such as a security breach or a system failure, how fast do they respond? If it’s a routine question or small system error, how fast do they respond?

Larger businesses need IT providers who know their business and are at-the-ready when a problem occurs. In fact, you should have a direct line to call when problems arise — one that answers to a live person.

Furthermore, as a growing business, you’ll want to anticipate that future problems will inevitably be more calamitous, especially when left unhandled for even a day or two. As your business expands, your IT provider must be immediately responsive, fully capable of handling any problem, and prompt in their service calls.

Have they presented a plan for accommodating your company’s growth?

First of all, have they taken notice of your company’s growth? A quality IT company will come to you first, noting that your company has been expanding and ideally, presenting a plan for your extended IT needs.

However, even if it’s you who needs to take the knowledge of your company’s expansion to your IT company, you’ll want to look for signs that they have a plan in mind to accommodate your anticipated needs.

They may, for example, suggest that you move from an as-needed payment plan to a monthly or yearly management plan. Many of the best IT providers who handle a range of company sizes will have at least these two options for their clients. When moving to a managed plan, you’ll be able to request assistance whenever necessary, paying a flat rate for their on-call care.

Find an IT Company Who Will Help Your Business Flourish

If, by evaluating the questions above, you’ve determined that it may be time to hire a new IT company, this certainly doesn’t mean that your current provider is entirely insufficient. It simply means that you’ve outgrown them, which in turn means that it’s time to move on to a more capable provider.

Taking the time to assess and realize your business’s extent of growth and possible outgrowth of an IT provider is an important step in your business’s expansion. Hiring an IT provider with adequate resources and capabilities to handle your expansion will ensure you’re fully prepared when it comes to your information technology — a foundational element that is, today, an invaluable component to businesses of all kinds.

A healthy, growing business is almost always a good thing. Still, expansion brings with it certain responsibilities on your part. If your business is growing quite quickly, it’s important to understand that large changes or adjustments may need to be made. This could mean hiring more employees, starting to provide employee health insurance, advertising more […]