Improving Collaboration to Improve Productivity

Team collaboration has never faced more challenges than the present day. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many businesses closed their doors. Others were required to move online and rely on remote capabilities. It’s easy for employees to feel disconnected when they’re anywhere from six feet to thousands of miles apart. Businesses can keep their workforce closely connected by maximizing the latest technologies, tools and applications to enhance collaboration between team members. Let’s discuss the impact that new technologies can have on organizational productivity in 2020. 

What’s Zoom?

A year ago, you may have asked this question, but today, you’re probably familiar with Zoom. Businesses have moved to virtual conference rooms offered by Zoom and Skype because they allow their entire staff to collaborate like never before. Video conferencing software not only personalizes the virtual meeting experience with live video chats, but it also enables instant messaging between team members, screen-share and recording capabilities, among other helpful features. When people can’t sit in the same conference room, video conferencing technology gives colleagues an outlet to connect, collaborate and improve their work culture.

 

My Apps Can Do That?

Most people are extremely familiar with Microsoft Office products. What they may not know is that they can take these applications to the next level through integration with a cloud-based system. Microsoft Office 365 offers a convenient, easy-to-use workspace that can be accessed anywhere. Employees can seamlessly access shared worksheets, utilize online storage space and get the most out of productivity applications that enable simultaneous collaboration. With Microsoft Office 365, your team can work smarter, more efficiently and stay connected thanks to innovative collaborative tools.

Why Do I Need a Chat Room?

You may think that a workplace chatroom would pose as a distraction to your team. The truth is that group chatrooms can increase productivity. When the physical workspace is compromised during a pandemic, businesses can move their communication and collaborative efforts to a centralized, virtual workspace where employees can connect in seconds. Business communication applications like Microsoft Teams and Slack allow employees to share files, communicate through group chats or video conferencing tools and collaborate easier. You can connect your favorite apps, create automated workflows, schedule calendar events and work together more efficiently. 

Although businesses in every industry have faced many challenges in 2020, one lesson we have all learned is that business-related technology is no longer a luxury — it’s a necessity. With the “new normal,” companies that adapt and evolve through innovative communication tools will continue to thrive in the future. The newest technologies can increase collaboration, which in turn, will increase operational productivity. Contact our team of experts today to get IT support that can connect your team from anywhere. Get connected remotely. Contact us to get started.


Conquering Compliance: The Essential Checklist

When you think of data breaches, the first thing that comes to mind might be personal privacy concerns: Has my data been leaked? Did someone get my credit card number? My Social Security number? My medical records? But if you’re a small to medium-sized business, cybercrimes can wreak havoc on your compliance standing, ruin your finances and even force you to close your doors for good. To avoid expensive fines and lost time, it’s important to start thinking through compliance and taking proactive steps to see where you stand. 

Getting compliance in order is easier when you consider a few key things. Addressing noncompliant behavior within your workforce is a good place to begin, but the next step is to get everything tech in check to secure your network and system. Doing so is the only way to protect data, prepare for a compliance audit, avoid hefty penalties — and protect your good reputation. 

“Changes in the regulatory environment and risk landscape are constant and unpredictable, while businesses are making big bets on digital transformation and renewing focus on innovation. As a result, the consequences of poor risk management strategies are no longer confined to just settlements and fines, but include damage to brand and business growth.” - Gartner.

Get a handle on compliance. Contact us today.

A Recipe for Compliance Success

Read Up on New Regulations: If you know anything about HIPAA, PCI or SOX, you know regulations are always evolving. Being aware of critical changes to privacy policies is essential to compliance, so pay attention and skim tech blogs regularly. .

Invest in Security Awareness (SAT): If human error is responsible for the majority of data breaches, then training employees about cybersecurity and cyberthreats is paramount. Avert disaster by taking time to talk about technology and best practices. .

Consider Mobile Device Management (MDM): If you’re managing a remote workforce and using technology to support mobile employees, a large number of personal devices, such as laptops, smartphones and tablets will need to be protected. Secure them now.

Tighten Up Privacy Settings: If your chief concern is concealing personal identifying information from hackers and cybercriminals, secure your network with two-step authentication, restricted user access, strengthened firewalls and more. .

Think About the Consequences: If all of this sounds overwhelming, take a moment to visualize the consequences you’d suffer if you’re caught breaking the rules. Nothing ruins your bottom line like costly fines that stem from ignoring regulations. 

Seek Out Professional Guidance: After taking these factors into consideration, you should have a better idea about your risk for noncompliance and what you need to do next. At this point, businesses often find that a professional assessment is in order.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed, know that you’re not alone. Regardless of how long you’ve been in business, how big your organization is and how much data it handles, it’s never a bad idea to prioritize compliance concerns now and avoid trouble down the road. You don’t need an entire IT department to get the job done, but staying compliant is definitely easier with a trusted tech partner in your corner. 

Need Some Help?

If you’re ready to get serious about compliance, partnering with IT professionals who can step in and provide expert IT support is always a responsible decision. Every business is unique, which is why you’ll want to work with someone who possesses in-depth knowledge of your industry and understands what it takes for your business to stay compliant. Contact us to learn more about how we help businesses like yours conquer compliance and cybersecurity concerns for good.


Steer Clear of Compliance Roadblocks

When it comes to compliance, it doesn’t take long for business owners to realize that there’s a lot to keep track of — in some industries more so than others. With so much going on, there are a lot of opportunities to make simple mistakes that could lead to devastating fines and result in a damaged reputation. Unintentional oversights can result in devastating penalties, seemingly overnight, which is why smart leaders seek out guidance about how to comply with both federal and global regulations before things get dicey.

After all, running a professional organization is a huge undertaking, and the last thing you want to do is make a simple mistake regarding HIPPA, PCI, SOX or any other regulations that govern your industry. Think about the consequences that can be avoided with just a bit of planning and training. Being proactive and staying abreast of potential roadblocks is the easiest way to maintain compliance in a quickly changing regulatory landscape.

Stop Worrying About Compliance.

What Should I Be Paying Attention To?

Personal Phones and Laptops: As people continue to use their personal devices to conduct business, your organization’s exposure grows and your cybersecurity concerns become more complex. While the bring-your-own-device (BYOD) culture is good in many ways, it does open the door for more things to go wrong in terms of compliance. If you haven’t taken time to consider what sort of obstacles these devices introduce, don’t put it off any longer.

The Internet of Things (IoT): As smart devices become the norm, businesses are adopting new technology that allows them to thrive in an efficient and highly automated environment. But just as organizations figured out how to handle mobile devices, smart homes and offices started gaining in popularity and presenting their own compliance challenges. Since the heightened transmission of electronic data opens up new possibilities for breaches, ignoring the IoT is not an option for the modern business owner.

Software Notifications: Sure, you may think that skipping an update alert or forgetting about a software patch is no big deal, but eventually, on a wide-scale level, this sort of minor carelessness adds up, and it could lead to consequences related to compliance. Following directions is important, especially when you need to protect your data and devices from cyberthreats that could compromise your ability to comply with federal and international regulations.

Vendor Management and EDI: When you’re the guardian of patients’ personal healthcare records and customers’ sensitive financial information, you understand that regulations are in place for a reason. But since regulations are constantly evolving, your protection has to evolve alongside it. If you are transferring information between computers and need to focus on EDI compliance, selecting the right software and IT professionals is key. Protect confidential data with the right cybersecurity measures or risk falling into noncompliance, accruing costly fines and even losing your good name and hard-earned clientele.

Privacy and Personal Details: With more and more transactions occurring online, digital risk management is becoming a huge part of staying compliant with federal and international regulations. Customers and patients are trusting you with a lot of valuable data when they hand over their information. As transmitting data becomes quicker and simpler, the information also risks being mismanaged or hacked during a cyberattack. Protecting sensitive data should always be your chief concern when it comes to compliance, so having the right security measure in place is critical.

As you can see, meeting federal regulations is easier when you have the right tech partner in your corner.

We’re Here to Assist

Maintaining compliance is a huge responsibility for any business owner, but by optimizing your technology today, you’ll be setting yourself up for long-term success. Let our team of experts provide comprehensive compliance services that will relieve stress and let you get back to work. As your MSP, we’ll take compliance off your plate so you can grow your business. Contact us today, and start simplifying things without delay.


Are You Taking Advantage of Compliance as a Service Yet?

If you’re working in certain industries, you’re bound to spend a lot of time and energy making sure you stay compliant and keep important data stored and transmitted in a secure manner. Doing so is easier with Compliance as a Service (CaaS), an invaluable option for organizations that want to relieve themselves of the burden of keeping up with the latest regulatory changes and enjoy state-of-the-art monitoring. But a reduction in stress is not the only reason people get CaaS and soon wonder how they ever lived without it.

When it comes to compliance, more is at stake than you think. If you’re conducting business or storing files online, you’ll need to examine whether your operations are HIPAA compliant and PCI compliant. If you think losing your good reputation is costly, just wait until you see what other kinds of problems arise due to lapses in compliance. This is where Compliance as a Service comes in.

Keeping up with regulatory changes is hard, but with Compliance as a Service, you don’t have to worry about that anymore. Contact us and learn how to handle compliance the modern way.

What Are the Benefits of Compliance as a Service?

Avoid Costly Fees: Prevent penalties and headaches with CaaS. Not only will this important service help you avoid paying fees for violating government-issued regulations, but it can also reduce your chances of having to enlist the help of an expensive attorney down the road. By reducing your chance of making a mistake due to human error, investing in Compliance as a Service now could save you a lot of money in the future.

Stay Up To Date: Enjoy peace of mind with automatic updates that help you maintain compliance without lifting a finger. Changes to HIPAA or PCI regulations can catch healthcare organizations and retail shops off guard and missing even a single update can wreak havoc on your business. CaaS eliminates those problems by doing the hard work of staying up to date and compliant for you. With CaaS, you’ll enjoy automatic updates on a routine basis that happen in the background while you go about your day. Stay one step ahead with this important service.

Improve Cybersecurity: Compliance and security go hand-in-hand, and CaaS is a proactive way to manage data and keep it out of the wrong hands. Changes to government-issued regulations happen for a reason, and when it comes to cybersecurity, you don’t want to be left behind and risk getting a hefty penalty. Storing data in a secure way is a mission-critical task, and keeping financial, health or other sensitive information about individual clients or patients is not optional.

You have no choice but to respond to regulatory changes on the fly, and when a single mistake can have costly consequences, it’s time to consider your options. You don’t want to miss out on this stress-free way to meet your industry-specific compliance needs. Contact us today to start enjoying the benefits of Compliance as a Service right away.


Why You Can’t Skip on a Disaster Recovery Plan

You’ve seen the headlines. You know the risk of cyber breaches. You’ve seen the effects of natural disasters. So, what’s holding you back from protecting your company? The solution is simple – a disaster recovery solution protects you from the inevitable, yet many companies fail to implement them. Why? Because they don’t think a disaster will happen to them. It’s time for companies to get their heads out of the sand and realize the real risk involved in not having a disaster recovery plan. Here are the top four disasters companies face every year.

The “it won’t happen to me” mentality won’t protect you – let’s make a plan. Contact us today.

Machines and Hardware Fail

No matter how new or innovative your technology is, all forms of technology have a lifespan, and hardware failure is bound to happen. According to a study conducted by Backblaze, the average lifespan of a hard drive is only four years. A comprehensive disaster recovery plan not only means backing up your data, but it also incorporates asset management to inventory and track your hardware’s lifespan to ensure a failure doesn’t interrupt your service or cause data loss.

Mistakes Happen, Nobody’s Perfect

Human error comes in many forms, from accidentally deleting a major file on the server and clicking on malicious email links to spilling coffee on a machine – nobody’s perfect, and human error is bound to happen. In fact, 47 percent of major IT incidents in small and medium businesses were caused by human error. A disaster recovery plan can make sure your data is backed up and protected as well as ensure firewalls and antivirus is up to date.

Customers Have High Expectations

In today’s competitive world, customer service can be the deciding factor of why someone would do business with you over another. You can’t let them down because it’d be too easy for them to take their business elsewhere and regaining their trust and confidence once you’ve lost them can be nearly impossible. A disaster recovery plan can keep the relationship between you and your customers strong with little to no gaps in service in the event that a disaster happens.

You’re Only as Strong as Your Weakest Link

No business is completely immune to disasters but having a plan in place today will help you tomorrow. Why would you even risk it? Having a plan and redundancies to protect your data will protect your people and your business. Even in your worst-case scenario, your disaster recovery plan will keep you protected from data loss and minimize downtime.Disasters are bound to happen – and we can help. Our disaster recovery experts are here to give you the support and knowledge you need to protect your people and your business. Contact us today to learn more and get started.


Developing New Habits During COVID-19: Data Backup Essentials

Running your business during COVID-19 is hard, period. The last thing you need to experience during this crisis is a devastating loss of data—in fact, there’s a chance that a significant breach could damage your reputation or even put you out of business. Now is the time to make sure you have a plan in place that handles data backup for your employees and ensures information on your devices remain safe no matter where they are.

It’s time for secure and affordable data backup services. Contact us today.

Here are four ways to improve your data backup strategies during COVID-19:

  1. Get into a New Routine – Default settings might be good enough most of the time, but not during COVID-19. If you want to ensure you never lose data again, you’re going to need to optimize your parameters for automatic backups, making specific adjustments to the settings that suit your business needs. While you’re at it, you might want to revert to backing up some of your most important personal and professional files outside of the cloud.
  2. Adjust Your Settings – As your digital footprint grows, your data backup strategies should become more sophisticated, too. Everyone has experienced a time when they’ve lost something important, but honestly thought that they’d backed it up correctly. Whether you want to admit it or not, there are probably some default settings that your employees have never even looked at on their work devices. Failing to adjust your default settings could cost you time and money, so be sure to update them as your company’s needs change.
  3. Train Your Team Members – Chances are you’re going to experience some turnover in the next few months due to circumstances outside of your control. While some employees are used to working remotely and can operate with little-to-no tech supervision, others will need education about best practices for storing and backing up information in a way that is both secure and accessible. Setting aside time to educate your employees about some data backup essentials now could prevent you from suffering the pain of a major disruption down the road.
  4. Encrypt Your Data - By now, you’ve probably guessed that backing up your data is only one piece of the puzzle. If you want to make sure that your data is not only stored properly, but that it couldn’t be accessed even if it was lost or stolen, it’s time to invest in better data encryption. Being able to retrieve and restore your sensitive information is important—but making sure it stays secure is another story. It’s time to start asking questions about where your data is stored and how it is being protected.

In a time of crisis, your staff will be turning to you for direction—and your customers might, too. Don’t get caught off guard by something you can easily avoid, like losing data due to human error or a failed automatic backup. That’s why, as a managed services provider, we’re prepared to guide you through the COVID-19 crisis with trusted IT advice that will help you back up your data today and keep it secure well into the future. Contact our team of experts today to learn more about data backup essentials that support your business continuity plan.


How to Define Security During COVID-19

COVID-19 and social distancing have quickly forced a change in how we conduct businesses. With many organizations shifting some – or all – of their business to a remote workforce, people are facing unprecedented challenges. Business IT departments realize this is their moment to shine by putting together a continuity strategy that will keep fundamental business objectives functioning. In order to do so, organizations need to rethink how they’ll conduct business outside of four-walls. Here are four areas of IT that you’ll need to consider:  

  1. Remote Access – Remote access is how your team accesses company information, documents, applications and more when they’re not connected to the company Wi-Fi network. You want to make sure your employees have seamless access to the information they need, but more importantly, that information needs to be secure, too.  Those who fail to secure remote access leave their systems vulnerable for cybercriminals to get their hands on customer information, which they can hold for ransom. The best way to protect your data is with a secure virtual private network.   
  2. Endpoint Security – Endpoints are your laptops, tablets, mobile phones and wireless devices that connect to your networks. With endpoint security software, you’ll gain a better view of all user-devices to monitor and block risky activities and security threats. Endpoint security also includes making sure your firewalls, antivirus and other applications are up to date.
  3. Day-to-Day Operations – The best way to keep business running as usual when you’re working from a remote environment is to make sure your employees can do exactly what they do in the office, at home. Have a few employees take their laptops home to make sure they have access to the VPN, business documents, email and more. Ask them what worked and what didn’t – you’ll want to make sure you get everything sorted out before a potential disaster or crisis occurs.
  4. Awareness Training – Cybercriminals like to take advantage of weaknesses. As more and more businesses transition to remote workforces, not all of them are taking the security precautions they should be, and cybercriminals are at the ready to steal information. There’s no better time than now to revisit security awareness training with your team. Let them know what’s appropriate and teach them about how to spot suspicious emails and warn them about malicious email links.

A business continuity plan covers all these security tactics and more to ensure your business can get back up and running as quickly – and securely – as possible. We know these past months have been difficult. We don’t want you to have to face these challenges on your own. Our expert team knows all the ins-and-outs of business continuity and we want to help. Contact us today to learn more.


Preparation Is Key

Your employee just opened an email that looked like it was from you and clicked an attached link. Your data has been infiltrated, and you are under a cyberattack. According to CSO Online, 92 percent of malware is delivered by email. Considering that email is a major tool for your business, you may have an attack waiting to happen right now. If this scenario seems a little too plausible, then you need a digital risk management plan.

Don’t wait till after the attack, start building a plan now.

Digital Risk Management

You may be asking yourself, what is digital risk management? It is a security solution made to fit each unique business. You may have threats specific to your industry. There may be certain local, state and federal regulations to follow. You may even have certain budgetary restrictions. An MSP will create a digital risk management plan that addresses each of these concerns, along with creating an action plan that changes as your business does. By being vigilant of threats to your system and having a plan in place for an active attack, you can rest easy knowing that your MSP is there to protect your business.

Evolving Technology, Evolving Threats

 

You know that technology is evolving at an incredible speed. With that comes the evolution of threats to that technology. Email phishing scams, cybercriminals, ransomware and good old-fashioned human error are just a few of the risks your business faces every day. By assessing your vulnerabilities, an MSP can provide your business with the specific security solution your business needs. If you can invest in new technology, why not invest in a protection plan that grows with your business.

 

 

 

Invest in Your Future

 

We know that you want to spend your money wisely. From improving your employee's workspaces to a new coffee maker in the breakroom, every decision has been carefully thought out. Why not devote that same energy into a security solution? Your MSP will work with you to make a tailored action plan for your business, that’s within your budget. They will guide you through what is necessary in a plan, and what types of protection your business may or may not need. Investing in a quality digital risk management plan now will save you money later.

 

 

 

We’re Here to Help

 

Running a company can be overwhelming. Let us take something off your plate. With our expertise on your side, you can rest easy knowing that your information is protected. Contact us today to start building a plan and be one step ahead of the hackers.


Every Second Counts: What to Do Following a Cyberattack

Nobody wants to think about the worst-case scenario, but if a cyberattack hits your business, every second counts when it comes to figuring out the extent of the damage and stopping it from spreading and costing you more in damages.

According to the National Small Business Association, from phishing scams to data breaches, the average attack costs $9,000. This number can get a lot higher the longer your network remains down. One of the ways to help minimize the damage is by having a technology service provider (TSP) working with you. Let’s break down the essential steps you and your TSP will do following a cyberattack.    

Stop wasting time. Get your network safe and secure. >>

Contain the Breach

The very first step you and your tech team need to take after confirming a cyberattack occurred is isolating the compromised servers. Figure out which servers are affected and quarantine them. You can do this by disconnecting the servers from the internet, disabling remote access and changing all passwords.  

Determine the Extent of the Cyberattack

Once the hacked servers are isolated from your network, it’s time to figure out what’s compromised. Also, find out who was affected by the breach, including the personal data of your employees, customers and professional partners.

If You Have Data Backups, Use Them

After completing your assessment of what data and pieces of your infrastructure are affected, you need to use your backup data to keep your business operational. The longer your IT is down, the more money your business will lose. However, check to make sure the hackers haven’t compromised your backups before turning them on. Otherwise, you’re back to square one. 

Inform Everyone Affected

When things start to settle down, you need to let people know your business was hacked. This step can be difficult for many business owners because sharing bad news is never easy. However, you must inform your business partners, customers and everyone else on what happened because trying to cover it up will only make things worse. Also, keep in mind that you should also inform your local authorities and governing bodies within your industry to stay compliant with any regulations. 

How We Can Help

Now that you know what to do during a cyberattack, hopefully, you never have to follow these steps. The best time to stop a cyberattack is before it occurs. If you realized while reading this that you don’t have data backups, a contingency plan or a disaster plan in place, then we can help save your data. Our team of cybersecurity experts can audit your network and determine what you need to meet and exceed industry data compliance regulations. Keep your essential data safe.

Don't Wait Until After the Hack

Get your network protected with the latest cybersecurity tools. Contact us today >>


4 Tips for Protecting Your Business from Ransomware Attacks

Cybersecurity attacks are becoming more common as the business world continues doing more online. It can seem like every time you turn on the news, there’s another major company announcing they were hit by a ransomware attack or data breach. 

These stories of high-profile companies being the victim of hacks can give small business owners a false sense of security, thinking criminals only go after big fish. However, small businesses need to be on the lookout for ransomware attacks, too. According to Verizon’s 2019 Data Breach Investigations Report, 43 percent of breaches involved small businesses. 

While the thought of trying to defend your business from hackers can feel overwhelming, there are ways to reduce the risk of becoming a victim. Here are four tips for keeping your small business safe from ransomware attacks.   

1. Educate Your Employees

All it takes for a hacker to gain access to your network is one employee opening a phishing email and clicking on the wrong link. By teaching your employees safe web surfing practices, they’ll be less likely to open those unsolicited emails or download software from shady websites.   

2. Limit Administrative Access

How many employees have administrative access to your entire network? If that number is more than a select few, then you need to start limiting privileges. No users should be granted admin access unless they need it.  

3. Keep Your System Updated

Don’t ignore the prompts to update your software. Hackers often target vulnerabilities in older versions of computer programs. The easiest way to prevent that from happening is to keep your system patched and updated with the latest program version. 

4. Audit User Access

Whenever an employee leaves your company, it’s good practice to remove their user accounts from your network. Many businesses forget to clean up their user account lists. Develop a routine of deleting user accounts on the employee’s last day. This will help prevent hackers from using these accounts to spread malware or cause data breaches. 

By following these four tips, you can immediately reduce the risk of your small business being affected by a cybersecurity attack. However, keeping your network safe can be a time-consuming task. If time is an issue, then let us take care of your tech.

How We Can Help

We are the IT experts you need to keep your essential data safe from digital threats now and into the future. We’ll create a customized security package that best fits your needs while staying within your budget. Don’t wait until you’ve lost your data in a ransomware attack. Call us today to find out how we can keep your business safe.