Tips for Optimizing Your Home Wi-Fi

I want you to imagine for a minute you are a salesman. You are in a zoom meeting with a potential client worth millions of dollars. You worked painstakingly on your presentation, dressed in your best suit, and practiced your pitch in the mirror till you were saying it in your sleep. The time for the meeting comes and just as you are getting in your groove, your

screen freezes and you get bumped from your own meeting. This is at best embarrassing and can take you out of your groove. At worse, it can ruin your chances of making a life changing deal.

In the Covid and Post Covid era, working from home has gone from something enjoyed by a select few, to over half of the workforce. Many employers have found that their fear of a productivity dip was misguided. In fact, over 70% of employers have stated that they will continue to encourage remote working as they have seen a productivity increase, not the expected decrease. That is not to say that working from home is one giant bed of roses. It has it’s perks and it’s drawbacks just like anything else. One of the biggest factors in one’s ability to work from home is their home wi-fi network.

TEST YOUR SPEED

We live in an age of high speed internet, but what about those who live in rural areas, are working in parts of their homes far from their routers, or are otherwise having wi-fi issues? The first thing you can do to make sure that your wi-fi is giving you it’s all to check your wired connection. First bring your laptop over to your modem. From there, grab an ethernet cable and plug one end into your modem and the other into your laptop. Depending on the age of your laptop, you may have to get a converter for ethernet to HDMI. From there, run a speed test. There are many sites available via a simple Google search that can test the speed of your connection. If you have an issue, such as getting less bandwidth then you are paying for, call your Internet Service Provider to get it resolved. Why you have them on the line, check if it’s possible to upgrade to a higher bandwidth service. Usually this can be done without even having to change out your hardware!

LOCATION MATTERS

Check where you have your router in the house. Is the signal being blocked or obstructed by a cabinet it may be in or thick walls? While it may seem like an overly simplistic fix, remember that the signal needs to effortlessly pass through your space to achieve optimal wi-fi. Moving it to an unobscured section of the house could drastically change the quality of your signal. You can also try changing the channel on your router. Like the walkie talkies used by security forces, construction companies, and children around the globe, your router has multiple channels. If one has to many signals passing through it, it can slow your wi-fi signal to a crawl. Think about it like driving to work. You see that one route is full of traffic and will make you late. The alternate route however gives you a clear path to work with far less congestion. Your wi-fi signal is no different, so pick the

path of least resistance as often as you can.

UPDATE YOUR ROUTER

If these steps do not work for you, you may need a hardware update. Usually, a new modem can be obtained from your ISP for no charge, or a small increase to your monthly bill. Routers are technology just like anything else and are updated and upgraded on a consistent basis from the manufacturers. You can also pick up a wireless antenna from an electronics store which allows you to direct the signal. You can even choose between a multidirectional antenna or one that points the signal into the direction of your workstation.

BUY AN EXTENDER

While these steps may help those, who have an issue of placement of their router or their signal direction, it is not going to help those who have offices on the other side of the house. It’s also not going to work all that well if there are a lot of walls to pass through in order for the signal to reach you. In these cases, the best thing you can do is invest in

either a wi-fi extender or a wireless mesh system. These are more costly options than those listed above. However, they are powerful tools for extending the range of your signal when all else fails. A wi-fi extender does exactly what it says it does, stretches your wireless signal so it reaches the far ends of your house, no matter where your router is. It does this through acquiring you signal and rebroadcasting it. The strength of your signal in this case diminishes slightly as anything being received through the extender because you

are not receiving the original signal.

UPGRADE TO MESH

If the extender is not doing the trick, the best solution in your Wi-Fi optimization bag of tricks is something called a mesh system. The mesh system does not work in conjunction with your router like an extender does. It replaces your router. While a router signal comes from a single unit, a mesh system is made of multiple pieces, called nodes. One node plugs into

your modem, similar to how your router is set up. From there, the other nodes are placed throughout your house. They work as sort of an air traffic control system, routing the signal effortlessly throughout the house from node to node. This causes the signal to be spread out over your house, like an invisible blanket of wi-fi. This system makes a mesh your best option for those with larger floorplans or large amounts of walls to pass through.

Working from home can be daunting enough as it is. The last thing you need is to lose a deal because your connection decides to drop right when you are hitting the peak of a presentation. Utilizing these tips, you can work through your day without worry that you’re going to drop an important call or miss vital information. After all, between your kids, pets, and significant others, working from home can be daunting in and of itself. By optimizing your wi-fi, you optimize your workday, and maximize your productivity and potential.


Work From Home Security: 5 Types of Cyberattacks That Target Remote Workers and How to Defend Against Them

Remote work is a way of life for many businesses across the globe. The opportunity to see productivity and workforce satisfaction increase encouraged many employers to keep either partial or fully remote workforces. However, the drastic shift towards remote work left many companies with IT infrastructures that weren’t built to handle work from home security and business data privacy. According to the FBI, cybercrimes have increased by 300 percent since the beginning of the pandemic! This article will explore the most common cybercrimes businesses encounter due to remote workforces and how to properly implement data security protocols to ward of cyberattacks.

#1 Social Engineering:

A study by the Ponemon Institute concluded that cybersecurity prevention measures can save businesses up to $1.4 million per attack! But what exactly is social engineering and how does it affect your remote workforce?

Social engineering is tricky because it can be performed both in person and via digital strategies. This form of cyberthreat is the extraction of critical information or breach of security through psychological manipulation. This threat could appear as harmless as a conversation at a coffee shop or a hacker posing as a potential client.

The Defense:

Just like a conversation with an employee can compromise your data security, it can also protect it. By hosting workforce training, you can reduce the likelihood of human error and help your employees spot warning signs of potential social engineering attempts. As an extra layer of protection, you should also establish the use of a Virtual Private Network (VPN) to act as a gateway extending your private network across a public one. This keeps malicious activity that could threaten private information security isolated at the source.

#2 Cloud-Based Vulnerabilities:

In Q2 2020 alone, McAfee reported seeing a steep 7.5 million external attacks on cloud accounts, a growth of over 250 percent from 2019. These attacks especially targeted cloud servers that weren’t password protected. While motivations once the cloud security was breached vary between ransomware, brute-force entry, DDoS attacks and more, the results are all ones to avoid! With businesses utilizing cloud-based systems more with remote workforces, this is an area of work from home security that oftentimes needs attention.

The Defense:

As the vulnerability above illustrated, simply adding a unique, random character password that changes regularly can be enough to halt many attacks on data security. Finding cloud-based systems that provide extra layers of data security can also protect your data privacy. An additional measure you can take with remote employees is requesting cloud collaboration tools only be accessed on secure, company-based devices and that all files are securely stored in the cloud system. You should also work with an IT expert to ensure regular updates are being maintained on all software and technology, as unpatched technology leaves a door open for hackers to enter otherwise secure systems. By taking these steps, your cloud system’s security will be far more reliable.

#3 Ransomware and Malware:

For 2021, Cybersecurity Ventures predicts that businesses will be attacked with ransomware every 11 seconds. Even worse, a study by the Ponemon Institute calculated out that the average cost for a business to clean up the aftermath of a cybersecurity breach to be approximate $690,000 per small business, and over $1 million for middle-market companies! With your private information security and ROI on the line, it’s critical to bolster work from home security to prevent these costly attacks to your profit, brand reputation and data privacy.

The Defense:

There are a few strategies you can implement in unison to provide your business with 360-degree protection from ransomware and malware threats. The first strategy is the provision of company-owned devices rather than allowing employees to use personal devices. This allows you to control the security measures in place and monitor access points from potential hackers. Another strategy is the use of Data Loss Prevention (DLP) plans. When an IT expert is consulted, a DLP is a robust defensive plan that can tighten preventative security measures, backup valuable data, isolate potential attacks from the main network and react swiftly to active threats and data breaches. These plans should be disseminated to all employees so that everyone is on the same page regarding appropriate digital behavior, potential risks and how to react if they see something suspicious occurs or arises.

#4 Password Attacks:

This is a simple vulnerability that many businesses can potentially overlook. If you reflect on your own password usage, odds are you use a specific set of passwords that you’ll remember across many of your digital accounts. This could be your social media passwords, subscriptions, billing accounts and workplace device passwords. However, this is a worst-case scenario for businesses if an employee’s personal account information becomes compromised. This can create an entryway into your business’s secure network, servers and data that can wreak havoc before anyone realizes it’s happening.

The Defense:

Luckily, as easy as it is to overlook, it’s a quick fix. Establish security protocols surrounding passwords, like random character strings, the use of varied symbols, letters and numbers, a set timeframe that all passwords are required to be updated and the prevention of using old passwords for account access. If you want to take your security to the next level, you can also require things like multi-factor authentication and session locking mechanisms. These will aid in detecting suspicious traffic and activity within your network and deter hackers from infiltrating your system.Coupled with a vigilant team, data loss prevention (DLP) strategies are measures that can be set in place to preserve your data in the event of a natural or manmade disaster striking. These plans work to prioritize data, learn risks, closely monitor data movement and ensure that backups are regularly implemented to swiftly restore order back to your business.

#5 Business Email Compromise:

Business Email Compromise (BEC) comes cloaked in various forms. BEC could be executed through phishing attempts, spoof domains, malware or many other hacker strategies, all with the intent to obtain entry into secure networks, money or private data. And with remote employees, they can be targeted in calculated ways that many aren’t expecting. In fact, IBM noted across their studies that human error is the leading cause of 95 percent of cybersecurity breaches and the average time businesses took to identify data breaches was 207 days! Once the hacker enters a secure network, they can do anything from establishing wire fraud, SQL injection, DDoS attacks, session hijacking and more! This information should be startling, considering Cisco predicts that DDoS attacks alone are estimated to reach 15.4 million by 2023!

The Defense:

External network security with remote access to secure, cloud-based tools and VPNs should be staples in a business’s work from home security strategy. Also, employees should be instructed on vigilance and precautionary measures when using public networks, such as coffee shops or co-workspaces. The ability to isolate a hacker’s breach to a single device allows your business to respond quicker to the threat! Another action step you can take to improve data security, especially if your employees are required to travel, is mobile device protection. This, again, can be done either by the provision of the device or by crafting a mobile device management solution that can take control of any lost or stolen devices.

Preventative Measure for Work From Home Security Success

While this information seems straightforward, it can be challenging to implement and maintain for businesses. Bringing on a team of technology experts whose sole focus is to provide exceptional managed IT services, 24/7/365 support and innovative thought leadership can remove the stress and worry from your digital security implementation. Many of our clients enjoy the luxury of being able to focus on the success and growth of their businesses, knowing that we are standing behind them as their partner against cyberthreats. If you’re interested in learning how your current cybersecurity measures stack up, potential vulnerabilities and ways you can effectively implement advanced technology solutions that won’t break your budget, give us a call or contact us for a free assessment today!


How The Microsoft Exchange Hack Can Effect Your Business

This past year we have heard a lot about ransomware, phishing attacks and other exploits by those in the hacker community. Solarwinds, Office 365 local governments and huge corporations such as Marriot being hit with ransomware, it has been a great year for cybercriminals but not so much for those who got attacked. Now you may be reading this and saying “Well, those all hit government agencies and giant corporations.”, and you would be right. However that doesn’t mean that your firm or business is immune. In the case of the

latest hack, the Chinese attack on Microsoft exchange, these hackers switched their targets, among them are law firms, banks, medical and bio-tech firms and non-profits.

In early March, it was revealed that Microsoft Exchange servers were hit by not one, but four Zero Day exploits by Chinese hacker group Hacnium. Zero Day refers to the amount of time between the exploit being discovered to the exploit being hacked. After Microsoft announced they would be patching the exploit, no less than 5 more hacker groups from around the world began to use these exploits to go into various organizations Exchange servers and create fake logins under radar to gain access. Once they are in they leave a webshell, a password protected hacking tool which basically allow for a malicious user to login to the network undetected remotely from anywhere. To date, 30,000

organizations, mostly in the United States, have been breached through this exploit, nearly double the amount of the SolarWinds breach. On top of that, it is estimated that the actual total including those networks that haven’t been identified is in the hundreds of thousands.

The first issue we come across is that these exploits aren’t new. What we know, is that it was recognized and officially reported to Microsoft and became known in January of 2021, two months before a patch was created. What we don’t know is when the first breaches actually occurred. These exploits are seen in Exchange 2013-2019. Potentially, one could have made themselves an admin and created an entire group of users that shouldn’t have had access to an organizations system undetected for years before the problem was identified. This can fly under radar for months if not years as most companies don’t look at their directory’s and what functions they are utilizing with a fine tooth comb. Which brings us to the second issue.

In early March, Microsoft issued a statement that they were working on a patch. This caused a flood of new attackers to hit basically any exploit they can find indiscriminately.

According to Ben Read of Mandiant the hack hit "tens of thousands of targets, most of which really don't have any intelligence value… they're just sort of small towns and local businesses”. What started as looking for certain types of data became basically a free for all. A patch for these exploits was issued, which can keep future attackers out. However, and this is a big issue, a patch doesn’t expel the unauthorized users, meaning that anyone who was already in, is in. In fact, the Canadian government just issued a warning about a piece of

ransomware similar to the WannaCry software that plagued Europe last year.

According to Steven Adair, the president of security firm Veloxity, who discovered these breaches “Even if you patched the same day Microsoft published its patches, there’s still a high chance there is a web shell on your server. The truth is, if you’re running Exchange and you haven’t patched this yet, there’s a very high chance that your organization is already compromised.”

WHAT CAN YOU DO?

If this is your first time hearing about this hack and this patch, you aren’t alone. According to Katie Niccols of security firm Red Canary, “"The most concerning victims by far are small- and medium-sized businesses who don't follow security news everyday, who may not be aware that there is this massive patch." We here at Delval Technology Solutions suggest you start there. Download all available patches from Microsoft, and make sure you stay up to date.

PASSWORDS

Changing passwords regularly is always recommended security protocol, but if you are running an on site Exchange server, the best course of action is to reset all passwords in the directory. From there, reassign all authorized personnel new passwords. Using randomly generated passwords and using multifactor authentication will help you ensure that the person you want to have access is actually the person who has the access to your network.

TRAINING

You aren’t the only person looking at your network. Having a staff that is properly trained to spot red flags is imperative to operating a secure system. MSP’s such as Delval Technology Solutions, usually offer security training for your entire enterprise. This helps you ensure that your team is on guard and ready to report any indiscretion that they come across.

A PROPER PARTNER

Here is where an MSP such as Delval Technology Solutions can help. Partnering with a strong MSP gives you a team of experts who know what to look for. They can run a full diagnostic on your system to assess any vulnerabilities and can scan your directories for unauthorized users. From there, they can unleash software that can track and disable these webshells and find other unpatched holes in your system. A proper MSP partner will stay on top of both the goings in in the cyber security world to make sure you are up to date and continuously monitor your system to make sure your business and your data is protected.

Unfortunately, attacks such as these are becoming more and more prevalent. However, it doesn’t mean that your company needs to be at risk. The most important thing you can do is to have a plan that addresses the three universal security elements: awareness training for end users, responsible systems management, and detection of system failures and incidents. Start by asking your IT service provider for a risk assessment and an internal vulnerability scan.


Compliance and You

Compliance and You

As a business owner, you have to look at the cost of every decision you make. Cutting corners may save a few dollars up front, but in the long run can have disastrous consequences. If you have an office space or warehouse, you need to get proper permits, do proper maintenance and be compliant to local laws or face steep fines. When hiring and dealing with employees, you have to follow rules, guidelines and laws set out or face fines and lawsuits. It is no different when dealing with the digital realm of your business. Lapsed security, improper record keeping, and inconsistent reporting can lead more than loss of revenue, it can lead to heavy fines and perhaps even criminal prosecution.

For companies such as financial services, banking, or medical companies, the data you are entrusted with is of utmost importance. Your customers give you access to their most vital information to utilize your services, and trust that it will remain safe, and if a breach does occur, they will be notified as quickly as possible. Breaches happen, how they are dealt

with can make the difference between understanding customers and heavy fines.

Equifax is one of the largest credit reporting agencies in the country, making their network ripe with information that could have dangerous consequences in the wrong hands. In 2017, they were breached, with over 150 million customer accounts being compromised. That wasn’t even the worst of their troubles. It was revealed that they were non-compliant in two areas. They knew about a vulnerability within their system and didn’t act on it, and also failed to alert their customers in a timely matter. The consequences? In 2019, they settled with the Federal Trade Commision to the tune of 700 million dollars.

Retail companies deal with hundreds to thousands of transactions a day. Part of their unspoken agreement with customers is that their credit card and personal data are secure. In the case of Home Depot, a breach cost them more than unhappy customers. In 2014, hackers used stolen credentials to get into Home Depot’s network. From there they stole over 50 million credit card numbers and email addresses. Due to their lack of compliance when dealing with their network and the breach, Home Depot was ordered to pay over 200 million dollars in restitutions and fines to it’s affected customers and financial institutions.

These are just a few examples of companies that have been hit with massive regulatory fines and fee’s for not maintaining proper security measures, not alerting customers in time, and other corner cutting measures. Most of these fines are levied by record, meaning the more records get breached, the more you pay. In fact, in the medical industry, the average cost per record is $439, meaning that even for smaller firms, the cost could be in the hundreds of thousands.

DIFFERENT TYPES OF COMPLIENCE

Now I’m sure in reading this and seeing these numbers, you understand the importance of compliance to your network, your business and your customers. However, identifying the areas that you need to maintain compliance in are not as easy to figure out.

HIPAA

For those of you in the Health and Human Services industry, you are familiar with this one. HIPAA stands for the Health Insurance Portability and Accessibility Act, and was established in 1996 as a way to protect consumers as the health care industry entered the digital age. With this was also the implementation of the HITECH or Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act. Agencies are constantly auditing providers and there are mandatory minimum fines for those who fail to secure

data that could cripple your business. Not only is keeping up on your systems, security, and procedures the right thing to do for your business and customers,

it’s also the way to ensure you are on the right side of the law when it’s time for your audit.

PCI

Does your business handle credit cards? If so, you need to stay PCI compliant if you want to continue doing business with the major credit card providers and avoid fines. PCI fines are leveled monthly until your business is up to code and range form $5,000 to $100,000 dollars per month! PCI has twelve requirements that are separated into 6 groups. These groups are simply worded to avoid confusion as to what you need to do to maintain PCI compliance. They are:

1.  Build and Maintain a Secure Network

2.     Protect Cardholder Data

3.     Maintain a Vulnerability Management Program

4.     Implement Strong Access Control Measures

5.     Regularly Monitor and Test Networks

6.     Maintain an Information Security Policy

SOX

When it comes to your accounting and finances, SOX compliance is key to keeping out of the crosshairs of regulatory agencies. SOX refers to the Sarbanes Oxley Act of 2002, and was created to ensure that consumers were protected from improper reporting of financials and other accounting fraud. Much of SOX is about protection of digital data. As more companies move to the cloud, SOX compliance is increasingly more of a prevalent issue. Another facet of SOX is ensuring companies maintain financial transparency with the

public, ensure investors and customers are not mislead by hidden accounts and other shady accounting practices. This is not an area you want to be found non-compliant in, as not only could the fines be in the millions, but there is the potential to be incarcerated for being non-compliant.

HOW PARTNERING WITH AN MSP CAN HELP

Compliance and the laws surrounding it can be very tricky things. Just like tax codes and laws, these are living, everchanging codes that you do not want to be on the wrong side of. Having to personally stay on top of these codes and protocols can take time, cost money, and if you aren’t a tech expert, have a steep learning curve. This is where a strong partnership with a managed service provider, such as Delval Technology Solutions comes in. An MSP gives you an expert to aid you in approaching your compliance needs before they become compliance problems. They will train your staff, monitor your network and practices, and preform audits on your system similar to those done by the auditing agencies. They stay up to date and in the know on any changes to these laws and can implement necessary changes to your network to keep you up to date and compliant. An MSP can track tickets to keep a record of issues within the system to patch any needed holes and keep your data safe and your business up to date.

Remember, compliance requires diligence, oversight, and proper organization. While it may seem daunting, by keeping your network compliant and up to date, you can save yourself and your customers headache and heartache. Find a great partner like Delval Technology Solutions and make your network work for you, not against you, and never have to worry that your data is exposed.


Is An MSP Right For Me? What to Look For In Choosing an MSP

Before we get into everything else, let me take a second to introduce you to Luis. Luis is the managing partner at a successful law firm. He spent decades studying and practicing law. He has assembled a team that is a force to be reckoned with in and out of the courtroom. He spends his days working with his clients, reviewing case law, and building the best arguments he can, all while managing his team. In short, when it comes to law, Luis is an expert. However, things aren’t like they were when Luis began practicing law

decades ago. Gone are the days of giant filing cabinets and one or two computers. Now all of his important documents are in cyberspace, and his team all uses computers for everything. Luis knows he needs to always have his network in tip-top condition, but he isn’t a computer expert, he’s a legal expert. His partner told him about outsourcing with an MSP, but what does Luis need in an MSP?

An MSP or managed service provider is at it’s best, a company that partners with you to manage all of your network needs. The cost of an MSP is usually far less than it would cost to hire a full time IT department. An MSP also gives you access to cutting edge technology at a fraction of a cost, as well as experts on hand when you need them. However, not

knowing what to look for in an MSP can cost you in the long run. What should you look for when partnering with an MSP?

CUSTOMER RETENTION/SATISFACTION

When it comes to choosing the right MSP for your business, looking at their other customers is key. Some offer case studies, which you can read to see if the problems the MSP has solved for others is relevant to your business. Read testimonials and reviews. See if they are from other business owners in your sector. Remember, not every MSP specializes in your field, so you want to choose a partner that is right for your business. Like any other services, MSP’s are not immune to turnover. What is their customer retention rate? On

average amongst managed service providers, the retention rate is about 81%. Some go lower, others such as Delval Technology Solutions which boasts a 98% customer retention rate, go much higher.

RESPONSE TIME

When your network goes down or you run into other tech issues, an expedient response could be the difference between a minor inconvenience and a catastrophe. A delayed response to an inquiry or a problem can cause downtime that costs you money and productivity. It can also give enough of a gap to allow a small problem to snowball into a major one. Luis and business owners like him and yourself need a partner that treats you like their only customer when you have an issue. Many MSP’s offer a dedicated help desk

that your employees can send any issue they have be it a lag, a forgotten password, or a system outage to and get a real time response. You want to find out if your MSP offers onsite technicians and where they are located. This is why working with a local outfit, such as Delval Technology Solutions, can be beneficial to your enterprise. A local MSP will have local technicians, meaning they can get out to you when you need them to, not hours or days later.

GROWTH POTENTIAL

Scalability is a word that suggests rapid growth for your business. For someone like Luis, it’s being able to add junior partners, assistants and paralegals without sacrificing network quality or using more resources than needed. For your business it could mean the need for more licenses for new hires, more bandwidth, faster connections, and better software

and the ability to house more users. A proper MSP like Delval Technology Solutions backs you as you grow by providing you the tools needed for seamless scalability.

SECURITY

When choosing an MSP you want to partner with a company that is as dedicated to your security as they are theirs. Every week, the newswire is filled with cases of malware, spyware, hacking, and breaches. These are problems that require expertise to solve and a focused proactive approach to avoid. As we said before, like Luis that most likely isn’t your area of expertise. An expert partner can assess and monitor your system, properly train your staff, prepare your protocols and compliance, and help you turn your

network into a nearly impenetrable fortress.

That’s only part of the security equation. Just as the relationship you have with your clients is built on trust, so should be the relationship between your company and your MSP. After all, all of your company and customer data, your financials, and proprietary information are on your network, which you have entrusted them to run. Fact of the matter is that hacking attacks on MSP’s have increased since the beginning of 2020. Making sure you have an MSP, such as Delval Technology Solutions, that is diligent about their security is paramount to your security. They should have multifactor authentication in place on their network, should monitor their own systems, run tests for their vulnerabilities, and constantly update their own security, just as they do for you.

SAVINGS

Employing a fully staffed IT department is a costly endeavor. In fact, the average IT Manager alone will run you around $125,000 annually to keep them in house. Having a full staff that includes auditors, technicians, and a helpdesk can run you upwards of a quarter of a million dollars a year. With a proper MSP like Delval Technology Solutions, at your disposal gives you all of the perks of having an in house staff at a fraction of the cost. A great MSP is like having a team of experts, auditors, technicians and specialists at your side, without having to break the bank on personnel.

Luis looked hard for the best MSP he could find. When he found them, his network of headaches became a network that made headway. He didn’t have to worry about downtime, breaches, and other issues like he did in the past. He was able to focus on his expertise, his business and his clients,and so will you.


The In's and Out's of Microsoft 365

The Microsoft Suite has perennially been the favored tool for administrators across all facets of business. In the past, licenses would need to be purchased up front, and updates would need to be purchased annually. That all changed with the advent of the subscription-based Microsoft 365. It contained all your favorite MS Office products, and was scalable to your business. At this point we all know the basics of MS Office. Microsoft Word handles all of your word processing needs. For writers such as myself, as well as everyone from secretaries to CEO’s, Word is our go to for everything from writing blogs to internal documents. PowerPoint is industry standard for all of our presentation needs. Excel is still the most widely used tool for spreadsheets and other administrative functions. Checking your email, probably doing it through Outlook. What other goodies does 365 have? Let’s explore!

TEAMS

Since the pandemic started, many of you have had to work from home. That also means your meetings and collaborative projects are done away from your coworkers. Zoom burst on the scene at the beginning, but it is far from the only product, or most effective product for internal communications or collaboration. This brings us to Microsoft Teams. Just like Zoom, you can virtually congregate with your coworkers, up to 250 members can be on a single call. However, it does much more than that. Teams was created as a one stop collaboration tool, making it perfect for a remote office setting. You can create channels that are dedicated to the project or topic you are working on, helping your team stay organized while working on multiple projects at once. Its chat tool allows for messages to be sent both privately and to the group as a whole. If your team uses multiple apps for a project, you can integrate them into the Teams system as well. You can voice call making it easy to communicate when on the go through a mobile device. Screen sharing is easy with Teams, one click and you can make sure that your colleagues can see the file you want them to, when you want them to. Every file you send, or share is saved to the cloud, allowing you to utilize Teams search tool to quickly find what you are looking for. Best of all it’s included in your Microsoft 365 plan!A

ONEDRIVE and SHAREPOINT

OneDrive is a fantastic tool to both share files and backup data. Included with teams, this cloud offers you over 6TB worth of storage, allowing you to save and backup files large and small. Larger files such as software or video, that are normally to big to share through email, are easily sent and accessed via OneDrive. OneDrive also offers a powerful synch feature. Not only can you back up multiple devices to the same account, but it gives you the ability to access your synched files from any device almost instantaneously. For team sharing, 365 offers Sharepoint, which gives you all the features of a Onedrive account, but accessible to a whole team, not just a single user, as well as numerous metadata trackers and backend security protocols to keep your office safe and your workflow flowing. You can even create intranet sites for your staff and subdivisions using Sharepoint. This can give each an organized landing site to build off of and get alerts internally.

ONE NOTE

Be it working on a project or doing research for a paper, keeping organized notes and lists will help you reach your goal faster and more efficiently. This is where OneNote comes in. You can use the ink feature to write with your stylus instead of typing. It includes collaborative features allowing others you allow access to your notes to make edits or share ideas. It’s not just limited to text either, you can include videos, images and voice notes as you see fit. Organization is made easy with OneNote as well. You can create

subsections, chapters, and even different notebooks for each endeavor you are working on. It even includes a highlighting tool so you can highlight the important aspects of each section, making it simple to navigate and find your information.

PUBLISHER

Now, what if you are working on something a little bit flashier than a standard text document. This is where Publisher comes in.  Think of it as a simpler version of the Adobe

suite of products. It allows you to produce everything from newsletters, to greeting cards, to pamphlets without needing a degree in graphic design. Publisher offers various templates and features to help you get what is in your head, on your screen and in print for the world to see.

PLANNER AND PROJECT

Both the Planner and Project tools allow you to post reminders, new projects, and delegate responsibilities for your whole office. Think of it as a virtual version of the old corkboard system where reminders and notes were pinned. This makes it easy to keep track of who is supposed to be doing what and when it is due. Adding Flow to the mix, you can go as far as synchronizing alerts across your email and messaging systems so a notification can come up as soon as something goes up.

SWAY

Powerpoint has been the industry standard for slide based presentations for decades. It allows for text and images to be put together in slides and is a great way to convey information. However, it is a limited tool. If Powerpoint is not enough for your presentation needs, let me introduce you to Sway. Sway is the perfect tool to create streaming presentations. It includes a video editor, allowing you to turn your presentation from slides into dazzling motion. Utilizing the canvas-style system, you can drop and drag videos, images, and text with ease to make your presentation everything you want it to be and more!

POWERBI

One of the best tools for tracking data exists in Microsoft 365. It’s called PowerBI. The BI stands for business intelligence and is a perfect name for a smart tool like this. PowerBI allows you to see fully visualized data. This goes beyond the data accrued on through Microsoft 365, as you can integrate data from several platforms both inside and outside of your business. In short it allows you to transform your data from numbers on a spreadsheet to charts and graphs you can manage, understand, and most importantly use to track and improve your business.

With Microsoft 365, you get a combination of Microsoft’s award-winning business suite, combined with cloud technology and cutting edge editing and analytics. As with any new tools, there is a learning curve. Microsoft also provides you with a dedicated help center ready to answer your questions and guide you in your journey. With so many tools at your disposal via 365, you have a perfect platform to not only streamline, but transform your workforce!


Sky is the Limit: Bringing Your Business into the Cloud

When the Covid-19 pandemic hit, many businesses were faced with a choice, either have their employees work from home, or shut down business. Now, that was easier said than done as their network infrastructure and data were often tied to the hardware and software that is in-house. Many business owners knew it was time to forge ahead, and they chose to move their onsite infrastructure and systems into the cloud.

If you have paid any attention to the world over the past decade, you have heard the term “The Cloud” used constantly. On a personal level, you probably have pictures, music, and your important documents saved there so all you must do is log in and all your treasured data is accessible anywhere. For your business, the cloud is a powerful tool to keep your technology up to date, and your team up and running from anywhere, at any time.

WHY THE CLOUD

Technology

The benefits of the cloud go beyond having your data accessible from anywhere. Cloud services keep costs down and innovations up. It gives you access to new technology and software at a fraction of the cost of keeping everything on site. The cloud gives you access to innovation and cost savings from the efficiencies gained when multiple tenants share infrastructure on a larger scale. In fact, in terms of software, most are offered at a fraction of the cost on a subscription service, just like Spotify and Netflix are offered for your entertainment needs. For hardware, you no longer need to dedicate rooms to gigantic servers to store your data and infrastructure, as they are now stationed offsite, available when and where you need them. On top of all of that, think about how good you will look to investors with the reduced energy costs and carbon footprint now that you no longer need a server farm on site.

Scalability and Flexibility

Scalability is simple with proper cloud services and management. As your enterprise grows, so does your bandwidth requirements and storage needs. Cloud solutions, like those offered by Delval, give you access to high bandwidth and large storage arrays, making sure that your infrastructure needs are met as your business grows. The cloud also allows your workforce to be flexible and fluid. They can work from anywhere that has internet access. They can collaborate with ease as they can share and access documents, data, and applications in real time .

Protection

One of the main benefits of having your infrastructure in the cloud is that you get to enjoy the benefits of high availability and decreased downtime.. In the old days if a server malfunctioned or was hit with a cyber-attack, the best-case scenario was spending massive amounts of time and money to recover the system data, buy new hardware to house the data, and pray to the data gods that everything transitioned smoothly. The worst-case scenario, a total loss of your most valuable asset, your company’s data. Manually

backing up your data takes time and investing in a high-end disaster recovery plan is costly. However, with your infrastructure in the cloud, your data is backed up across multiple servers automatically, to make sure that your data and systems remain accessible, and your downtime is eliminated so you can keep operating your business and moving forward.

MIGRATING TO THE CLOUD

I’m sure you are reading this and saying to yourself “All of this sounds fantastic. If I’m going to do this, I need to do it right, and it is a bit confusing”. Think of your trip into the cloud as a journey, and just like any journey, a proper roadmap is a key factor in getting to your destination safely and in good time. Start by figuring out where you are. Are

your systems and applications compatible with the cloud? What is the cost benefit of moving to the cloud? How long will it take to get there? What needs to stay onsite,

and what is no longer needed after migration? Set your goals, be it saving money, growing your business, backing up your data or having a remote workforce.

In fact, it can be all these things. A proper Cloud Service Provider such as Delval Technology Solutions can help you answer your questions, avoid potential

pitfalls, and navigate you through them, giving you a cloud system that is right for your business.

An additional question you may be asking: Are all my licenses up to date and can they be carried over? Your cloud provider will often have current operating systems licenses available for you, but you may have to consider your 3rd party licenses for proprietary. Many companies offer subscription models allowing you to pay for licenses as needed. It is important to make sure all your licenses are both up to date and compatible to moving to a cloud system, so you remain compliant and your software remains accessible

to your team.

From there, it’s time to pick your Cloud Service Provider. Consider all your concerns, hopes and goals for your new system. Compare prices and features. Look at where they store your data, do you want a huge conglomerate that has servers across the globe, or a local solution like Delval Technology Solutions provides, so you can see where your data is backed up, and have a personal relationship with the company handling your cloud services. When you hop in a plane and fly into the clouds, you want to be as comfortable as possible, and the same goes for when you move your network into the cloud.

When it comes to moving your network to the cloud, keep in mind the phrase “Rome wasn’t built in a day.” While many companies had to rapidly migrate at the beginning of Covid-19, you may want to start small and expand as needed. Hasty decisions can cost you valuable time and money. Work with your cloud service provider and your team, be it an MSP such as Delval Technology Solutions or your in-house IT team to make sure that you are moving at a pace conducive to growth and not causing unneeded headaches and issues.

Having a backup plan ready to employ is also a key to successful navigation. Just as if you are going to visit friends and family, you have an alternate route in case of encountering accidents and road closures, you should have a contingency plan in place. As with employing any new technology, you are bound to encounter some hiccups and bumps in the road. However, by having a team that is ready, be it in house or a Cloud Service provider, you can minimize the effects of these hurdles on your business.

When choosing your provider, keep security in mind.. By teaming with a company that is known for Cloud Security, such as Delval which has been named in the Top Ten twice by Enterprise Security Magazine, you can rest easy knowing that your network can be even more secure when you move to the cloud. Your cloud security provider can also easily perform regular audits, run tests, and build layers of encryption to ensure that the only people with access to your cloud system are the people you want to access it.

Once you have all of this in place, making sure that your cloud systems are routinely maintained an audited is paramount to ensuring that your operation continues to run smoothly after migration. Think of your network as the highway. In order to keep the traffic flowing safely, securely, and efficiently, it is constantly being monitored for everything from potholes, to blockages, to new interchanges that are needed. Your cloud system is no different. You want to make sure that your in-house team or cloud service

provider is on top of your system, monitoring, patching and fixing problems of all sizes.

Remember, you never want to go into a situation where your business infrastructure is at stake without a proper guide and roadmap. By keeping these things and mind and employing the right cloud service provider, such as DelVal Technology Solutions, you have a guide through the cloud and a roadmap to follow, guaranteeing that not even the sky is the limit for your business.


Human Firewalls: Your Frontline Protection

Meet Donna. Donna works in the accounting department at a mid-size business just like yours. She is smart, diligent, and a whiz with numbers. However, Donna isn’t the most tech savvy person on earth. One day she receives an email that looks like it came from her boss. At first glance she sees what looks to be his email address and email signature, but something is off. The email is telling her that he is stuck in a foreign country and needs to get home. In order to get a flight, he needs $5000 in Visa Gift Cards sent to him.

While Donna thinks something is strange about this request, she wants to ensure her boss can get on that flight and get home safely. She gets the online gift

cards with the company credit card and sends them. Five minutes later her boss calls, from his office. Donna got caught by a hacker in a phishing scam.

When thinking about what you can do to protect your business against hackers, things such as anti-virus software, a great security partner like Delval Technology Solutions, and strong firewalls comes to mind. However, one of the biggest assets at your disposal when it comes to protecting your network and your business is your employees. While they can be the way in for cyber-attackers through phishing, spear phishing and ransomware attacks, they can also be weaponized against them. With proper training and diligence, you team can be transformed from ordinary employees to human firewalls.

TRAINING

The first place to start is with proper training for your employees. After all, how does one know how to spot a threat when they do not even know what to look for. “Well, paying for all my employees to get training seems like a costly endeavor.” Not only is training less costly than you think, but it can also save you hundreds of thousands of dollars if not millions of dollars in cleaning up a breach and lost business. Companies such as Delval Technology Solutions, offer training that will not overwhelm your employees

with technical information but will show them what to keep their eyes peeled for. These courses include games, quizzes, and other ways to track how well

your employees are retaining the information.

RECOGNIZE AND INCENTIVIZE

People love recognition and being shown they are appreciated, and your employees are no different. That is why another great method to building strong human firewalls is to incentivize your workforce. Stress to them how important it is to be vigilante when it comes to these threats. After all, if it costs the company money and loses them business, it costs them money as well. A breach can even impact them personally, if social security numbers or credit card information is leaked. Give a small bonus to your secretary who

caught that phishing email. Buy your IT department a fancy lunch for shutting that malware attempt down. Send out a company email recognizing those that went

above and beyond internally to protect your business.

GO ALL IN

You may be reading this and think “Ok, I need to make sure a few departments are in on this.” It is important to remember that these cyber-criminals don’t discriminate when it comes to social engineering attacks. Everyone on your staff, from your accountants down to the custodial staff and mail room need to be in the loop when it comes to being human firewalls. These crafty hackers do everything from using cloned or even stolen key cards to get into secure areas, to disguising themselves as repair men to look over the

shoulder of your receptionist. You would never get a home security system to cover the whole house but the back door, would you? Use the same diligence when

it comes to your network security and your human firewalls. Keep in mind there is no such thing as over-prepared for a social engineering attack, only prepared or vulnerable.

TEST YOUR SYSTEM

Once you have all these tools in place, the final piece of the puzzle is testing your human firewalls. Utilize your security partners and send out test phishing emails. Leave a usb drive around to see if anyone turns it in. You want to keep your team of human firewalls aware and alert and all times so they stay focused on the threats and you can know where your weak points are and can strengthen them.

Let’s go back to Donna for a minute. Donna has undergone all the training and is becoming a stronger human firewall by the day. She gets an email from what appears to be HR asking her to click the link and reconfirm all of her login credentials. However, Donna is savy to the games of these hackers now. She hovers over the link and see it’s not connected to the company. She takes another look at the email and sees all the grammatical issues she would have once over-looked. She realizes the return address doesn’t go to HR, but to some random domain that looks similar. This time, Donna doesn’t respond, she forwards the email to IT and HR, thwarting the potential threat. Give that woman a bonus!


So You Got Breached: The Real Cost of A Data Breach & How to Protect Yourself

No matter the size of your business, trust between your company, your employees and your clients is paramount to a successful organization. That trust extends beyond the trust that your employees will get their checks on time. It goes further than your clients and customers trusting that your products and services will be delivered on time. It even goes beyond the trust that they will receive an amazing experience with your product or your service. They trust that their most confidential information is safe in your hands. They give you access to everything from their social security numbers to their credit card information and even their medical and legal records. When that data, their most personal information, is compromised, it’s not just losing some passwords and credit card information or some medical diagnosis, it’s losing the trust your clients and employees have placed in you. Not only are we going to explore the true cost of a breach, but we are also going to give you a few tips and solutions to ensure you maintain the most valuable contract you have with your people, the contract of trust.

Unless you have a dedicated partner in cyber-security, such as Delval Technology Solutions, or an in-house cyber-threat specialist, chances are you are waiting for something to break before you fix it. You are going about your day-to-day operations and then you get a call from accounting telling you they have noticed some abnormalities. Your employees are alerting you to strange emails or your third-party authentication is sending you notifications that someone is trying to log on from unknown devices. These are just a few, albeit smaller examples of red flags you may see to let you know of a possible breach.

IMMEDIATE COST

From there you have to hire professionals to determine the scope of the breach Hiring a Cyber-Forensics-Investigator to determine the true nature of the attack can cost you between $10,000 to $100,000 alone! It’s not just hiring an investigator to deal with the breach that will cost you money, the loss of productivity is a huge hit also. The average time to determine the nature of a breach, and this is for billion-dollar industries that are flush with resources is 197 days. On top of that, the average amount of time to address and seal the breach is 69 days. That’s 266 days from beginning to end. In dollars and cents, 266 days can cripple or bankrupt your business depending on the nature and severity of the breach. You are familiar with the phrase “What they don’t know can’t hurt them.” In the case of a data breach, it can hurt you. There are strict laws regarding disclosing a breach to your customers and to the authorities. Just like any other laws, there are fines and penalties that are associated with failing to disclose a breach in time that can cost your business tens of thousands of dollars. On top of that the notification process is a timely and costly one. On average the cost of notifying your customers of a breach is over $700,000. Now you may see this number and say “Well that’s an average and I’m sure it’s offset by massive companies spending millions. What about my small to midsize business?” While you are correct that these huge corporate entities do skew these numbers, it can still cost you tens of thousands of dollars to notify your customer properly of a breach.*

LONG TERM COST

The long-term damage of a breach, and more importantly a slow and incorrect response to one, isn’t just finding and fixing the issue at hand. It’s dealing with the damaged reputation in the marketplace. Oftentimes, while not immediate, the long term consequences can cost you dearly. According to a report by Comparitech*, which compared 40 companies stock prices before and after reporting a breach, the effects are lasting. They found the companies value decreased by 3.5% per share and underperformed Nasdaq by 3.5% in the first 110 days, 8.6% and 8.6% after the first year, 11.3% and 11.9% in the second year and 15.6% and 15.6% in the third year.

THE HUMAN COST

The biggest loss that you could experience due to a data breach isn’t a financial risk, it’s a human risk. You could lose your trust with you customers, your investors and your team. Not all of the trust they have with you is whether they get paid fairly and on time or whether your product or services work. This is their trust that their confidential information they entrusted you with will be safe and confidential. That is the kind of trust that is the most difficult to rebuild. Identity theft can destroy lives, and the thought that the bad guys could get their hands on their social security card numbers, credit card numbers, home and personal email address and passwords is scary. The fact that in their minds it happened because they trusted you with their information is scary enough to send them straight to your competition or in the case of your employees back to the job market.

PROPER TRAINING

While improper security protocols can cause breaches that can crush your business, proper protection and protocol can save, time, money and more importantly, your reputation. Your employees are the first line of defense. Train them and educate them as to what to look for in case of a breach and have a plan of action in case they come across one. Companies, such as Delval Technology Solutions, offer monthly employee training on cyber-security measures to ensure that your team knows what to look for and what to do.

A PROPER ASSESSMENT

Having a trained eye assess your system is a key component to proper security protocols. It’s just like when you were buying that diamond for your spouses engagement ring, you went to an expert who knew what to look for to make sure you were getting your moneys worth. This time you are making sure you have an expert to take an in-depth look at your system and testing it so you know where you are vulnerable and how to strengthen your weaknesses.

PROPER TOOLS

The technology you use, from hardware to software, can make a big difference in your security as well. You want to ensure that all of your programs are updated, as these updates don’t only fix glitches, but they also patch holes in the software that can lead criminals directly to your data. Multi-factor Authentication sends a call, text or email to the person trying to log into your system to ensure that the right person is accessing it and is an amazing tech tool to help protect you against vulnerability. Employing automated security systems allows you the benefit of a system that utilizes machine learning. This not only cuts down on human error, but it also frees up your IT partners and professionals to focus on the bigger issues at hand.

A PROPER PARTNER

I know these last one’s seem a little tech heavy and chances are, you aren’t a technology expert. Your expertise lies in running your business, not securing your network. Therefore the best thing you can do to keep your data safe is aligning yourself with a strong Managed Securities Solutions Provider (MSSP) like Delval Technology Solutions. With a strong MSSP partner, you have a team of experts monitoring your system in real time, using state of the art threat assessment technology. If you have IT personnel, anMSSP can enhance your IT guy into an IT team, giving you an edge in protecting your network, staff and customer’s data. Navigating the waters of technology can be treacherous, and a breach in the hull and holes in the boat can sink your ship. However, following proper practices and having a trusted team, their technology and expertise on board can help you fill the holes, protect against breaches and help you captain the ship that is your business to the promised land.

https://www.comparitech.com/blog/information-security/data-breach-share-price-analysis/

https://www.varonis.com/blog/data-breach-response-times/