20 Feb

Understanding Cyber-Security

As technology consultants, we’re stuck between a rock and a hard place. We want to provide our clients with enterprise-level IT, but that requires that we specialize in overwhelmingly intricate technology. Explaining even the most foundational aspects of our cyber-security would most likely put you to sleep before convincing you of our expertise. But if you really want to know, here are a few summaries of how we focus on proactive strategies rather than reactive ones.

 

Understand the threats you’re facing

 

Before any small- or medium-sized business can work toward preventing cyber-attacks, everyone involved needs to know exactly what they’re fighting against. Whether you’re working with in-house IT staff or an outsourced provider, you should review what types of attack vectors are most common in your industry. Ideally, your team would do this a few times a year.

 

Reevaluate what it is you’re protecting

 

Now that you have a list of the biggest threats to your organization, you need to take stock of how each one threatens the various cogs of your network. Map out every device that connects to the internet, what services are currently protecting those devices, and what type of data they have access to (regulated, mission-critical, low-importance, etc.).

 

Create a baseline of protection

 

By reviewing current trends in the cyber-security field, alongside an audit of your current technology framework, you can begin to get a clearer picture of how you want to prioritize your preventative measure versus your reactive measures.

Before you can start improving your cyber-security approach, you need to know where the baseline is. Create a handful of real-life scenarios and simulate them on your network. Network penetration testing from trustworthy IT professionals will help pinpoint strengths and weaknesses in your current framework.

 

Finalize a plan

 

All these pieces will complete the puzzle of what your new strategies need to be. With an experienced technology consultant onboard for the entire process, you can easily parse the results of your simulation into a multi-pronged approach to becoming more proactive:

Security awareness seminars that coach everyone — from receptionists to CEOs — about password management and mobile device usage.
“Front-line” defenses like intrusion prevention systems and hardware firewalls that scrutinize everything trying to sneak its way in through the front door or your network.
Routine checkups for software updates, licenses, and patches to minimize the chance of leaving a backdoor to your network open.
Web-filtering services that blacklist dangerous and inappropriate sites for anyone on your network.
Antivirus software that specializes in the threats most common to your industry.

 

As soon as you focus on preventing downtime events instead of reacting to them, your technology will begin to increase your productivity and efficiency to levels you’ve never dreamed of. Start enhancing your cyber-security. Give us a call at 1-866-BIT-WISE or email us at sales@eitnetworks.net.

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22 Oct

The Pitfalls of Technology and How to Avoid Them

Technology can bring a world of productivity and ease to your business, but it also comes with many disadvantages. If you don’t use technology wisely, it can become a constant distraction that prevents your business from moving forward. So how can you use technology more effectively? And what are the IT issues that are holding you back? Let’s look at four of these issues and what you can do to minimize them or prevent them outright.

 

Broken Flow

 

To grow your business, boost profits, and create a valuable product that people will love, you need to develop an extreme amount of focus. Psychology refers to a process known as Flow, where the brain gets into a positive psychological state and people not only become incredibly productive and creative, but also perform at their best. They achieve both quicker and higher-quality results. In fact, a study by the global management consulting firm McKinsey & Company revealed that top executives were five times more productive when they were in a state of flow. So what does this have to do with IT? Technology that constantly breaks or malfunctions will prevent you and your employees from getting into a state of flow. An MSP (Managed Services Provider) can help get you back up and running much more quickly or even prevent the problem from happening in the first place.

 

Distraction

 

Let’s face it, broken technology is a distraction for many small to medium-sized business owners and their employees. And between the daily onslaught of internal email, social media, and meetings, staff are already distracted enough. If you throw faulty internet connections and servers into this equation, it obviously makes the problem even worse. One researcher from the University of California even found that once an employee is interrupted from their original task, it can take around 23 minutes for them to return to it. That adds up to not only a whole lot of wasted time, but also wasted money. Do your business, yourself, and your employees a favor: get your technology working seamlessly, because it’s one less distraction for your staff to deal with. An MSP can help keep things on track.

 

Lack of expertise

 

People are most productive when they focus on what they do best. If your staff is not equipped to handle your IT problems, they shouldn’t be dealing with them. And if IT issues are killing your productivity on a daily basis, then your tech department is likely understaffed or not knowledgeable or effective enough to handle your problems. This is where an MSP can come in. MSPs focus on cleaning up IT issues for dozens of companies day in, day out. This is all they do, and that means they are specialists. So why not hand off the chore of technology to someone who knows what they’re doing? Then you can focus on what you do best: managing, leading, and growing your business.

 

Email

 

As already mentioned, email is undoubtedly a distraction that is a bane for many modern-day businesses. Email can consume you and your employees’ day if you let it. So doesn’t it make sense to try to get it under control? A few ways you can do that include checking your email only at specific times of the day, unsubscribing from email lists that you don’t often use, and signing up for email and spam protection with your local MSP, who can help you keep the unnecessary emails out of your inboxes.

 

If you’re interested in learning how an MSP can help resolve your technology problems, get in touch with our experts today at 1-866-BIT-WISE or sales@eitnetworks.net. We’re ready to help your business become more productive!

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29 May

IT Pitfalls to Avoid

As a small or medium sized business owner, you likely have your hands full. Between managing your staff, looking for growth opportunities, and keeping clients happy, you probably have little time to dedicate to new technology purchases. Being so busy, it can be easy to make a mistake when choosing an IT solution. That’s why we’ve compiled a list of common IT investment missteps that every business owner needs to avoid.

 

Investing in the newest technology instead of the best fit

It’s the job of every marketer to make you believe the newest technology on the market will resolve all your problems. And while the latest cloud or virtualization offering is likely to make things better for many individuals and organizations, it isn’t going to work for everyone.

Don’t let the flash and hype of a new product deceive you. Take the time to think about the results you’re trying to achieve with technology. Make a list of them, and when you’re done match those criteria with the product that fits. Any good IT provider will be happy to serve as your consultant to ensure you make the best choice.

Believing everything will magically work together

As technology evolves, it is inevitably becoming simpler to use. Consumers want user friendly products and solutions that are easy to implement, and nowadays that’s what they’re getting – at least most of the time. Because of this belief that all products are going to be plug-and-play, many business owners hold the misguided assumption that any new technology they implement is automatically going to synchronize with their other IT. It is simply not true.

Though many technologies are compatible with one another, your business is taking a big risk – that could result in massive downtime and wasted money – if you implement a new tool that doesn’t integrate well into your current system and workflow. Be smart, do some research or consult with an IT professional before making a purchase.

Assuming your team doesn’t need support and training

Now that you’ve found the perfect fit technology and you’re sure it will integrate into your current IT setup, you go ahead and purchase it. You let out a sigh of relief as you kick back and let your sparkly new IT solution power your company to new levels of success and profits in a SMB “happily ever after” fantasy. Sound too good to be true? That’s probably because it usually is.

Don’t forget that not all of your employees are going to instinctively know how to use the new technology. Consult with your IT provider to see if they offer support and training. If not, you may want to look elsewhere or find an alternative solution before you buy.

Forgetting to create a budget

More and more IT solutions are packaged with pay-as-you-go monthly pricing. While this is a great way to help you avoid large upfront capital investment, if you implement too many different technologies too fast – and without thinking about the recurring costs – you could quickly run out of money before having properly created a complete technology platform.

Think about what you’re comfortable spending on IT before you open your wallet. Do some research, and either draft a budget on your own or acquire the assistance of a consultant to help you along.

Failing to get staff input

It’s wise to consult with the employees who will be using the new technology you implement, on a daily basis. It’s even wiser to do it before you purchase it.

The truth is that not all of your employees may be on board with the new product. They may actually even know some downsides to it you weren’t aware of. Regardless, it’s smart to consult with them beforehand, or you may find yourself in a constant fight getting them to adopt it.

Need to consult with an IT professional to create a complete technology solution for your business? We at EIT Networks are happy to serve you in any way possible. Contact us at 1-866-BIT-WISE or sales@eitnetworks.net!

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27 Mar

Why Managed Services Makes Sense

So you’ve been using your break/fix contractor for years. For the most part, it has been a good arrangement, and the contractor has been able to fix issues to keep your networking devices running smoothly. But you’ve been hearing more and more about the benefits of a Managed Services solution, and it’s peaked your interest. It’s not that you have anything against the IT contractor, but business is business, and Managed Services brings much more to the table. If you’re thinking about making the jump from break/fix to Managed Services, here are a few compelling ideas to consider.

The ultimate break/fix nightmare

Your business is running smoothly. Profits and staff productivity have been up, and you haven’t had a single IT expense in months. Times are good. Since everything is running so smoothly, you kick back in your leather chair and start watching your favorite show, MythBusters (the older ones with Kari, Grant, and Tori).

But then the BIG ONE hits. Your servers crash. No, not just one – all of them! Your business comes to a grinding halt. None of your staff can work. You call your go-to break/fix IT provider, but he’s overloaded with work and can’t make it out to your offices till next week. Next week?! In a panic, you call the first IT contractor you find on Google. Thankfully he’s available. But since you need this work done immediately, he charges an unbelievable fee for a last minute fix. You have no other choice, you hire the contractor. You’re left hoping that he fixes everything properly and that none of your crucial data is lost in the process.

This is the precarious nature of break/fix IT services. And while this is a worst case scenario, situations like this can and have happened. So let’s look at the reasons why it pays to hire a Managed Services Provider (MSP) instead.

MSPs prevent problems. Break/fix profit from them.

Think about the relationship dynamics of Managed Services compared to break/fix. If you’re a business owner who currently uses a break/fix contractor, when your IT goes down your contractor gains profit. Your problem equals his reward.

How motivated do you think he is to do an effective job of fixing your issue? If that problem pops up again later, it equals more reward for him. Now that’s not to say all break/fix contractors aren’t fixing your IT to the best of their abilities. But think about the basic mindset of a break/fix contractor: problem=profit.

The MSP system works differently. You pay a set fee every month to your IT provider. So the reward for the MSP comes every month. If something covered under the agreement goes wrong during that month, you don’t pay any extra. Yet it costs the MSP more money, and therefore affects their profit margin. Because of this, the MSP is rewarded for taking preventative measures to ensure your IT is working as effectively as possible, always. This philosophy creates a more balanced relationship between you and your IT company; they share your desire to have a fully functional network at all times.

That’s not to say problems won’t happen with an MSP. We are talking about electronic devices, after all! But when they do, they’ll end up costing the MSP provider, and they certainly don’t want that. So for an MSP, the basic mindset is: healthy IT=profit.

MSPs extinguish budget surprises.

Everyone likes surprises, except when it comes to losing money. And when you have a break/fix IT service provider, big surprises can and do happen – and not the good ones, either, unless they decide to throw you a birthday party….

An MSP is working to prevent problems from happening in the first place. You pay a monthly flat fee, so you always know what you’re paying. You can plan and predict your budget accordingly.

With break/fix, it’s true that some months you won’t have any IT expenses from your contractor, which is great. But other months, you could have bills that are astronomical. So you never know just what you’ll be paying for your IT budget in any given month. And if you don’t have that money set aside, then what? You may have to take funds from a really important project to fix a problem that may have been avoided in the first place under the ever-watchful eye of a Managed Services Provider.

MSPs might just make you happier.

Yes, as silly and simple as it sounds, with an MSP you’ll probably be happier. The main reason is you won’t have to deal with the frustration of unexpected IT problems eating away at your budget and the downtime that comes with it. Your IT will run more smoothly (which will create a foundation for your business to do the same) and your budget will be predictable. As an example, EIT Networks offers unlimited remote support, which means that virtually any software-related problem can be fixed in a very timely manner and is covered under the service agreement. In the olden days of IT support, even small issues could cost you money, which meant that many people suffered through nagging troubles rather than call the helpdesk. With EIT’s Managed Services, however, you can call at the first sign of an issue before it becomes a huge headache.

Another reason why you may be happier is that you’re more likely to have a fruitful relationship with your MSP provider since you both have the same goal: effective, smooth running IT for your business. What business owner doesn’t like the sound of that? This type of relationship truly is symbiotic.

Want to learn more about Managed Services? Contact EIT Networks today at 1-866-BIT-WISE or sales@eitnetworks.net to learn more about this effective alternative.

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30 Jan

Boost Productivity with Technology

Does it seem like every day another PC breaks down or your IT contractor interrupts you with questions about your software budget? In today’s world, technology shouldn’t be slowing down your business, it should be speeding it up. If it’s not helping you, it’s time to admit you have a problem before your employees organize an intervention. Here are four ideas on how technology can blast your business into the future.

Work together from anywhere

With the onset of Cloud technology, it’s now possible for your employees to work easily from anywhere – be it Bangkok, Belize or Boston. With Cloud-based suite products, employees can log on from remote locations and access company files. All they need is a web-enabled device.

Cloud-based technology also makes it easier than ever for your staff to collaborate. While one employee is in a coffee shop in Vancouver and another is at a desktop in your office, they can both be editing the same document at the same time. This makes it easy for your staff to remain on the same page, both literally and metaphorically, which in turn boosts both productivity and profits.

While many SMBs use public Cloud applications like Google Drive, Dropbox and Evernote, private pro-level options are available, which come with more security and more features.

Keep all your data in the Cloud

The fact is that searching through spreadsheets for information stored in bloated data sets can be a huge waste of time. By having all your data in the Cloud, all your information will be in one place. So when you’re looking for that critical client receipt for your taxes, you’ll know where it is immediately.

Thanks to its remote access and collaboration possibilities, the Cloud also gives you and your staff easy access to all of your data wherever in the world you are.

Identify bottlenecks and upgrade your technology

Facing the facts about your current technology is key to increasing productivity. Yes we know you love your tablet from way back in 2008. You even named her Susie, after your niece, because they’re both so incredibly creative. But let’s face it, Susie is old now and is slowing down your business. She’s served you well, but it’s time to upgrade.

And desktops aren’t the only technology that can slow you down. There are also unreliable internet connections, obsolete software and outdated email providers. The list goes on…

The solution is to take a careful inventory of your current IT technology and see what’s keeping your business from reaching its true productivity potential. After you have your list, update your technology accordingly. Then create a plan to regularly upgrade your IT resources, so your employees are never being slowed down.

Outsource your IT

As the old saying goes, ‘out of sight, out of mind’. Whether you have a part-time contractor or a fully-staffed IT department, the mere presence of tech staff onsite in your workplace can be a distraction. When you’re focusing on sales or setting up meetings with potential clients, a knock at your door from your IT colleague – because he or she has just discovered a glitch in your system – can take you out of the flow of the task at hand.

On the other hand, outsourced IT departments are proactive in preventing technical issues from popping up in the first place. They’ll fix problems without you even knowing they existed, and without distracting you from your core work. All of which means a great boost to your day-to-day productivity – and therefore profitability.

Want to know more ways IT can enhance your company’s productivity? Contact us today at 1-866-BIT-WISE or sales@eitnetworks.net to learn how.

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16 Jan

Learning From Sony’s Security Breach

The scale of the recent security breaches at Sony, which led to the cancellation of The Interview’s theatrical release, can make the company’s problems seem beyond the realm of the average small business. But the security mishaps that created the circumstances for the hack are as applicable to modest local and regional companies as they are to multimillion dollar corporations. These three tips will take you back to security basics and help avert your own big-screen drama.

Don’t let basic security habits slip

Our modern-day instinct tells us that the answer to potential security breaches is to install new layers of antivirus software, firewalls and further encryption systems. While these are all worthy additions to your company’s armor of security shields, they will do little to help if good old-fashioned protective habits are allowed to slide.

Instill a disciplined, security-conscious mentality in your organization, and keep the messages simple so that staff remember and follow them. Focus on regularly changing passwords and keeping them secret, being vigilant about avoiding unexpected links in email messages, and limiting network access for the likes of external contractors to that which is absolutely necessary.

One of the ways hackers made their way into the Sony network was by tricking administrators into thinking they had a legitimate need for access. In IT terms, this is called “social engineering.” To avoid this tricky tactic, teach your staff to be careful, and praise cautiousness even if it turns out access is warranted. Encourage staff to flag potential security lapses, and make sure they know that reports will be followed up and loopholes closed.

Take a flexible and agile approach to IT

IT changes, and so do the ways best suited to keeping it safe. This means it is vitally important to keep your IT systems up to date, and where necessary to do away with outdated practices that could leave your business technology exposed. This involves more than just ensuring that your network is running updated antivirus software to catch the latest bugs and worms – it means staying abreast of emerging methods to mitigate potential threats from hackers worldwide.

All of this uses staff and resources that your small business might not have – which is where outsourced managed services come in. Using a managed service provider as an add-on to your own IT team can give you extra flexibility and the ability to keep abreast of industry security developments, even when you lack the time to do so yourself.

Equally, know when it is time to ditch data – think of emerging social networks like Snapchat, which set messages to self-destruct after a set time, as your cue to make your data retention policy less permanent, particularly in relation to email. If you no longer have a business need or a regulatory requirement to retain information, then delete it – in the process you can limit the possible damage even if the worst should occur and you fall victim to an external attack.

Backup, backup, backup

The last thing you want in the event of a security breach is for it to hit your day-to-day operations – the potential damage caused by the hack itself is likely to give you enough to worry about. But that is exactly the situation Sony found itself in after its latest hack, with its email system down and staff forced to return to the days of pen, paper, and even the fax machine.

As well as ensuring alternative means of communication remain open to your business in the aftermath of a possible attack, it is also vital to make sure that you retain access to the information most critical to your work. Regular, secured backups help ensure that, whatever happens, the show is able to go on and your firm’s productivity and revenue are not unduly hit. Engaging professionals to undertake your backups on a managed service basis also means this can happen routinely and without fail, while you stay focused on running your business.

Want to learn more about how to reduce your IT network’s vulnerability to attack? Get in touch with us today at 1-866-BIT-WISE or sales@eitnetworks.net.

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02 Jan

Antivirus: Keep it up to Date!

If you want to keep your business data and systems secure, it is essential that you have an antivirus or antimalware scanner installed on every system. While the install rates of these programs in businesses is nearly 100%, there is an increasing trend where some companies are letting their subscriptions expire. So, if your antivirus subscription expires is this really a big deal?

What happens when an antivirus subscription expires?

While each program will treat an expired subscription differently, generally speaking, most will still function in some way. You will normally be able to run a scan, but you likely will not be able to deal with any malware or security threats. Features like automated scanning will also be turned off.

Other programs will stop updating the essential virus and malware databases that are used by the program to identify and clean new malware. This means that while you will be secure from known viruses and security flaws up to the date of the last database update, you will not be secure against newly discovered viruses. New forms of malware are popping up constantly, so keeping your database updated is extremely important.

Some popular programs like Kaspersky offer an antivirus scanner trial version or a program that comes with a newly purchased computer. With programs like these, they will normally stop functioning once the trial period is over. Yes, they will still open, but you won’t be able to scan or perform any tasks.
In short, when your subscription expires, your systems will no longer be secure, or as protected as they should be.

What do I do if my subscription is about to expire?

Before your subscription expires, you should take steps to back up all of your systems and data. The reason for this is that should something happen you have a clean backup to revert to. Once this is carried out, then consider renewing your subscription. Most programs allow you to do this directly from the scanner itself, so it is often fairly straightforward.

As a business owner however, you are going to need to keep track of your systems and licenses. What we recommend is creating a spreadsheet with information on the subscription applied to all systems. Take account of when the scanner was installed on each system, how long the subscription period is for, and when it will expire.

What if my subscriptions are about to expire, but I don’t like my current program?

There may come a time when the scanner you have selected simply isn’t living up to your expectations. Maybe it takes too long to scan, uses too many resources, or simply isn’t able to protect all of your systems. Regardless of the reason, switching scanners is always an option.

If you are thinking of moving to another scanner, we strongly recommend that before you do anything, you back up your systems. You can then start looking for other systems. We encourage you to contact us, as we can help identify a solution that will work for your business and systems. We can then help ensure that the transition is carried out in a way that will not leave your systems open to attack.

We have a managed antivirus solution that will work for your business. By using a program like this, we can help protect your systems, keeping them secure and always up to date, all without you having to get involved. All you need to do is contact us at 1-866-BIT-WISE or sales@eitnetworks.net to find out how!

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03 Oct

Common Security Issues

It’s probably safe to say that the security of your networks and systems is something you are concerned about. In truth, the majority of businesses do have security measures in place. The question you therefore need to ask yourself is if the measures you have implemented are sufficient enough. To help answer that question, here are five common security flaws business owners should be aware of.

1. Open wireless networks

Wireless networks are one of the most common ways businesses allow their employees to get online. With one main Internet line and a couple of wireless routers, you can theoretically have the whole office online. This method of connecting does save money, but there is an inherent security risk with this and that is an unsecure network.

Contrary to popular belief, simply plugging in a wireless router and creating a basic network won’t mean you are secure. If you don’t set a password on your routers, then anyone within range can connect. Hackers and criminal organizations are known to look for, and then target these networks. With fairly simple tools and a bit of know-how, they can start capturing data that goes in and out of the network, and even attacking the network and computers attached. In other words, unprotected networks are basically open invitations to hackers.

Therefore, you should take steps to ensure that all wireless networks in the office are secured with passwords that are not easy to guess. For example, many Internet Service Providers who install hardware when setting up networks will often just use the company’s main phone number as the password to the router. This is too easy to work out, so changing to a password that is a lot more difficult to guess is makes sense.

2. Email is not secure

Admittedly, most companies who have implemented a new email system in the past couple of years will likely be fairly secure. This is especially true if they use cloud-based options, or well-known email systems like Exchange which offer enhanced security and scanning, while using modern email transition methods.

The businesses at risk are those using older systems like POP, or systems that don’t encrypt passwords (what are known as ‘clear passwords’). If your system does not encrypt information like this, anyone with the right tools and a bit of knowledge can capture login information and potentially compromise your systems and data.

If you are using older email systems, it is advisable to upgrade to newer ones, especially if they don’t encrypt important information.

3. Mobile devices that are not secure enough

Mobile devices, like tablets and smartphones, are being used more than ever before in business, and do offer a great way to stay connected and productive while out of the office. The issue with this however is that if you use your tablet or phone to connect to office systems, and don’t have security measures in place, you could find networks compromised.

For example, if you have linked your work email to your tablet, but don’t have a screen lock enabled and you lose your device anyone who picks it up will have access to your email and potentially sensitive information.

The same goes if you accidentally install a fake app with malware on it. You could find your systems infected. Therefore, you should take steps to ensure that your device is locked with at least a passcode, and you have anti-virus and malware scanners installed and running on a regular basis.

4. Anti-virus scanners that are not maintained

These days, it is essential that you have anti-virus, malware, and spyware scanners installed on all machines and devices in your company and that you take the time to configure these properly. It could be that scans are scheduled during business hours, or they just aren’t updated. If you install these solutions onto your systems, and they start to scan during work time, most employees will just turn the scanner off thus leaving systems wide-open.

The same goes for not properly ensuring that these systems are updated. Updates are important for scanners, because they implement new virus databases that contain newly discovered malware and viruses, and fixes for them.

Therefore, scanners need to be properly installed and maintained if they are going to even stand a chance of keeping systems secure.

5. Lack of firewall

A firewall is a networking security tool that can be configured to block certain types of network access and data from leaving the network or being accessed from outside of the network. A properly configured firewall is necessary for network security, and while many modems include this, it’s often not robust enough for business use.

What you need instead is a firewall that covers the whole network at the point where data enters and exits (usually before the routers). These are business-centric tools that should be installed by an IT partner like us, in order for them to be most effective.

How do I ensure proper business security?

The absolute best way a business can ensure that their systems and networks are secure is to work with an IT partner like us. Our managed services can help ensure that you have proper security measures in place and the systems are set up and managed properly. Tech peace of mind means the focus can be on creating a successful company instead. Contact us today at 1-866-BIT-WISE to learn more about our services.

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