5 Things You Should Never Do on a Work Computer

Whether you work remotely or in an office, the line between personal and work tasks can become blurred when working on your company computer. If you’re in front of a computer for most of your time during work, then it’s not unusual to get attached to your desktop PC.

Over time, this can lead to doing personal things on a work computer. At first, it might just be checking personal email while on a lunch break. But as the line continues to get crossed, it can end up with someone using their work computer just as much for personal reasons as work tasks.

In a survey of over 900 employees, it was found that only 30% said they never used their work PC for personal activities. The other 70% admitted to using their work computer for various personal reasons.

Some of the non-work-related things that people do on a work computer include:

  • Reading and sending personal email
  • Scanning news headlines
  • Shopping online
  • Online banking
  • Checking social media
  • Streaming music
  • Streaming videos/movies

It’s a bad idea to mix work and personal, no matter how much more convenient it is to use your work PC for a personal task during the day. You can end up getting reprimanded, causing a data breach at your company, or possibly losing your job.

Here are several things you should never do on your work PC.

1. SAVE YOUR PERSONAL PASSWORDS IN THE BROWSER

Many people manage their passwords by allowing their browser to save and then auto-fill them. This can be convenient, but it’s not very secure should you lose access to that PC.

When the computer you use isn’t yours, it can be taken away at any time for a number of reasons, such as an upgrade, repair, or during an unexpected termination.

If someone else accesses that device and you never signed out of the browser, that means they can leverage your passwords to access your cloud accounts.

Not all older PCs are stored in a storeroom somewhere or destroyed. Some companies will donate them to worthy causes, which could leave your passwords in the hands of a stranger if the PC hasn’t been wiped properly.

2. STORE PERSONAL DATA

It’s easy to get in the habit of storing personal data on your work computer, especially if your home PC doesn’t have a lot of storage space. But this is a bad habit and leaves you wide open to a couple of major problems:

  • Loss of your files: If you lose access to the PC for any reason, your files can be lost forever
  • Your personal files being company-accessible: Many companies have backups of employee devices to protect against data loss. So, those beach photos stored on your work PC that you’d rather not have anyone else see could be accessible company-wide because they’re captured in a backup process.

3. VISIT SKETCHY WEBSITES

You should assume that any activity you are doing on a work device is being monitored and is accessible by your boss. Companies often have cybersecurity measures in place like DNS filtering that is designed to protect against phishing websites.

This same type of software can also send an alert should an employee be frequenting a sketchy website deemed dangerous to security (which many sketchy websites are).

You should never visit any website on your work computer that you wouldn’t be comfortable visiting with your boss looking over your shoulder.

4. ALLOW FRIENDS OR FAMILY TO USE IT

When you work remotely and your work computer is a permanent fixture in your home, it can be tempting to allow a friend or family member to use it if asked. Often, work PCs are more powerful than a typical home computer and may even have company-supplied software that someone wouldn’t purchase on their own.

But allowing anyone else to use your work computer could constitute a compliance breach of data protection regulations that your company needs to adhere to.

Just the fact that the personal data of your customers or other employees could be accessed by someone not authorized to do so, can mean a stiff penalty.

Additionally, a child or friend not well-versed in cybersecurity could end up visiting a phishing site and infecting your work device, which in turn infects your company cloud storage, leaving you responsible for a breach.

At least 20% of companies have experienced a data breach during the pandemic due to a remote worker.

5. TURN OFF COMPANY-INSTALLED APPS LIKE BACKUPS AND ANTIVIRUS

If you’re trying to get work done and a backup kicks in and slows your PC down to a crawl, it can be tempting to turn off the backup process. But this can leave the data on your computer unprotected and unrecoverable in the case of a hard drive crash or ransomware infection.

Company-installed apps are there for a reason and it’s usually for cybersecurity and business continuity. These should not be turned off unless given express permission by your supervisor or company’s IT team

HOW SECURE IS THE DEVICE YOU USE TO WORK FROM HOME?

Whether you’re working remotely and worried about causing a data breach or are a business owner with multiple remote team members to secure, device protection is important. Schedule a device security checkup today.

 

Article used with permission from The Technology Press.

Alarming Phishing Attack Trends to Beware of in 2022

In 2020, 75% of companies around the world experienced a phishing attack. Phishing remains one of the biggest dangers to your business’s health and wellbeing because it’s the main delivery method for all types of cyberattacks.

One phishing email can be responsible for a company succumbing to ransomware and having to face costly downtime. It can also lead a user to unknowingly hand over the credentials to a company email account that the hacker then uses to send targeted attacks to customers.

Phishing takes advantage of human error, and some phishing emails use sophisticated tactics to fool the recipient into divulging information or infecting a network with malware.

Mobile phishing threats skyrocketed by 161% in 2021.

Your best safeguards against the continuous onslaught of phishing include:

  • Email filtering
  • DNS filtering
  • Next-gen antivirus/anti-malware
  • Ongoing employee cybersecurity awareness training

To properly train your employees and ensure your IT security is being upgraded to meet the newest threats you need to know what new phishing dangers are headed your way.

Here are some of the latest phishing trends that you need to watch out for in 2022.

PHISHING IS INCREASINGLY BEING SENT VIA TEXT MESSAGE

Fewer people are suspicious of text messages than they are of unexpected email messages. Most phishing training is usually focused on the email form of phishing because it’s always been the most prevalent.

But cybercrime entities are now taking advantage of the easy availability of mobile phone numbers and using text messaging to deploy phishing attacks. This type of phishing (called “smishing”) is growing in volume.

People are receiving more text messages now than they did in the past, due in large part to retailers and service businesses pushing their text updates for sales and delivery notices.

This makes it even easier for phishing via SMS to fake being a shipment notice and get a user to click on a shortened URL.

BUSINESS EMAIL COMPROMISE IS ON THE RISE

Ransomware has been a growing threat over the last few years largely because it’s been a big money-maker for the criminal groups that launch cyberattacks. A new up-and-coming form of attack is beginning to be quite lucrative and thus is also growing.

Business email compromise (BEC) is on the rise and being exploited by attackers to make money off things like gift card scams and fake wire transfer requests.

What makes BEC so dangerous (and lucrative) is that when a criminal gains access to a business email account, they can send very convincing phishing messages to employees, customers, and vendors of that company. The recipients will immediately trust the familiar email address, making these emails potent weapons for cybercriminals.

SMALL BUSINESSES ARE BEING TARGETED MORE FREQUENTLY WITH SPEAR PHISHING

There is no such thing as being too small to be attacked by a hacker. Small businesses are targeted frequently in cyberattacks because they tend to have less IT security than larger companies.

43% of all data breaches target small and mid-sized companies, and 40% of small businesses that become victims of an attack experience at least eight hours of downtime as a result.

Spear phishing is a more dangerous form of phishing because it’s targeted and not generic. It’s the type deployed in an attack using BEC.

It used to be that spear-phishing was used for larger companies because it takes more time to set up a targeted and tailored attack. However, as large criminal groups and state-sponsored hackers make their attacks more efficient, they’re able to more easily target anyone.

A result is small businesses receiving more tailored phishing attacks that are harder for their users to identify as a scam.

THE USE OF INITIAL ACCESS BROKERS TO MAKE ATTACKS MORE EFFECTIVE

We just discussed the fact that large criminal groups are continually optimizing their attacks to make them more effective. They treat cyberattacks like a business and work to make them more profitable all the time.

One way they are doing this is by using outside specialists called Initial Access Brokers. This is a specific type of hacker that only focuses on getting the initial breach into a network or company account.

The increasing use of these experts in their field makes phishing attacks even more dangerous and difficult for users to detect.

BUSINESS IMPERSONATION IS BEING USED MORE OFTEN

As users have gotten savvier about being careful of emails from unknown senders, phishing attackers have increasingly used business impersonation. This is where a phishing email will come in looking like a legitimate email from a company that the user may know or even do business with.

Amazon is a common target of business impersonation, but it also happens with smaller companies as well. For example, there have been instances where website hosting companies have had client lists breached and those companies sent emails impersonating the hosting company and asking the users to log in to an account to fix an urgent problem.

More business impersonation being used in phishing attacks mean users have to be suspicious of all emails, not just those from unknown senders.

IS YOUR COMPANY ADEQUATELY PROTECTED FROM PHISHING ATTACKS?

It’s important to use a multi-layered strategy when it comes to defending against one of the biggest dangers to your business’s wellbeing. Get started with a cybersecurity audit to review your current security posture and identify ways to improve.

Article used with permission from The Technology Press.

Onboarding an IT Provider: What’s Realistic?

When you hire a managed service provider, you want instant results: you want all your technology to run faster and more smoothly, and everyone to be more productive. And there will be no problems again, ever, right? But that’s not realistic. Managed service providers are pretty great (even if we do say ourselves), but we’re not miracle workers. So, let’s discuss what you might realistically expect when onboarding a new IT provider.

Sometimes, quick wins are achieved. The managed service provider (MSP) may be able to immediately get that server powered up again or fix that printer on the second floor that’s only been taking up space for the past three months. Yet there is no magic wand that allows these IT experts to solve every issue instantly.

What should you expect?

If there is a pressing issue, the MSP will start there by looking into what has gone wrong. Then, they’ll be able to make plans for addressing the concern. Maybe a part failed, or your hardware has reached the end of its life. They’ll look into how you use that technology and provide suggestions to make a fix.

Otherwise, if nothing is immediately wrong, your MSP will begin the engagement by learning about your business tech. They’ll want to talk with your stakeholders to discover:

  • where you are now;
  • where you want to be the future;
  • how you use your IT;
  • what your IT budget looks like.

In getting up to speed, this outsourced IT team should be making a great impression on you. This is the beginning of your relationship. They have won your business, but you can expect them to be proving that you made the right choice. Still, this doesn’t mean they can get everything perfect right from the get-go.

The timeline depends on the context.

There could be issues that will take longer to resolve. They may need to do diagnostic work to get to the root of the problem. Solving the issue could take creative problem-solving and a lot of research legwork.

We’d love to say that every business we work with comes to us with pristine IT. Everything is in great shape, and we can immediately step in and make everything work even better. But there can be lingering or unidentified concerns. The business may not have the IT depth to recognize the problems that the MSP will quickly diagnose. Perhaps you’ve been ignoring security warnings or network errors or you’ve been bombarded with access requests from malicious IPs. The MSP is going to have to take on those outstanding concerns.

Again, there is no magic wand. The MSP can’t instantly turn the ship around if it’s been sailing toward a massive iceberg for the past year.

Expect to give your MSP team some time to learn your business and get up to speed with your IT. However, don’t give them forever. If it has been six months, and they’re still “figuring it all out,” you may want to reconsider that partnership. But be aware that cutting those ties means starting from scratch to build a relationship with a new MSP.

The better approach is to expect ongoing, informative communication from your new MSP. They should be letting you know what they are learning about your technology needs along the way and making suggestions to improve usage, boost security, increase productivity, and drive efficiency.

One thing you can realistically expect? Your MSP will make a real contribution. These experts should be more than a vendor and more like a partner in your business success.

Contact us at 317-497-5500.

The Business Risk of Abandoned Domain Names

When setting up your small business website, you want a memorable name and sleek Web design. You know your website is an important online calling card. Then, when you grow or your business evolves, you might rebrand and add a site. But wait, don’t abandon the old domain name.

When you set up your Web presence, you select a domain name, and it’s part of all your URLs (FYI: URL stands for uniform resource locator). For example, you have created stylish caps and coats for small dogs. You pick the CoutureCanine.com domain name for your business. Your emails come from TheBoss@CoutureCanine.com. Then, off you go building Web traffic to your cool dog duds.

Maybe you even think ahead and buy similar domain names. You can redirect traffic and avoid losing customers to misspellings or typos.

The domain name, after all, establishes the business and provides you with a foundation to grow. As you build the business, you may expand to new verticals and outgrow the dogs-only website. Or, perhaps you wrap up your line for pups and move on to dressing parakeets. Whatever your reason, don’t abandon those old domain names.

Abandoned Domain Name Security Risks

To keep your domain name, you must continue to pay annual registration fees. If you have multiple domains, that can be a lot of small renewals to track and pay. Along the way, a domain renewal gets overlooked. So, the domain name is abandoned.

Domain names can also get abandoned as a result of a business rebranding or company restructuring. Or you might decide a domain is no longer worth continued renewals.

Your hosting company should tell you the Internet domain name is due to expire. After you stop paying, after a certain grace period, anyone can buy that abandoned domain name.

That doesn’t sound so bad. You didn’t want it anymore anyway, right? But you don’t know who might snatch up your old online calling card. Bad actors buy up abandoned domain names and re-register them with catch-all emails.

What’s a catch-all email? Well, remember TheBoss@CoutureCanine.com? That was you. But maybe you also had distinct emails for accounts, info, sales, support, James, and Shauna. All of them were going through CoutureCanine.com. If someone emails someone at the previous domain owner’s business, it goes instead to the new owner. Having seized control of your old site, they gain access to all incoming emails, and they could see the information you don’t want them to see.

The bad actor could also access online services once used by james@CoutureCanine.com. All they would need to do is reset the password to hijack that account.

Security researchers have seen criminals claim abandoned domains to:

  • access confidential email correspondence;
  • access personal information of former clients and current or former employees;
  • hijack personal user accounts (e.g. LinkedIn, Facebook, etc.) linked to old domain e-mail addresses.

What to do with domain names

Especially if you use a domain name for email, don’t let the renewal expire. We didn’t even mention pirates who look for business websites that have lapsed so they can charge exorbitant ransoms to return that domain.

When you move to a new domain address, communicate the change with all your clients and vendors. Close any cloud-based user accounts registered with the old domain email address. Also, unsubscribe from email notifications that might share sensitive data.

Not sure about your domain name registrations, renewals, and what’s set to expire? An IT service provider can handle this for you. Our experts can make sure you don’t abandon domain names. Or we can ensure you close any associated accounts properly to protect your security.

Contact us now at 317-497-5500.

Psst … What’s Your Master Password?

All of us like to think we are unique. That thinking extends to our passwords too, right? We’re special and distinct, so no one could guess our chosen collection of letters, numbers and symbols. Well, it’s surprisingly easy for algorithms to determine passwords and to do so extremely quickly. So, a password manager is a smart move, as you’ll have more complex, different passwords stored. Still, it’s important that your master password for that manager be 100 percent original.

Sure, your password may be difficult for a human to guess – it would take forever. But, computers can run through the possible combinations in seconds. Password Depot found that a password consisting of five characters (three lowercase letters and two numbers) can be hacked in 0.03 seconds.

Add characters and the volume of possible configurations increases, and that adds time. A seven-character password (one capital letter, six lowercase letters) will take approximately nine minutes. At eight characters (four lowercase letters, two special characters, and two numbers) things get more complicated. Trying all the possible permutations will take 2.6 days.

That’s a data-driven argument for complex passwords with many letters and numbers. But the problem is that they are so much more difficult to remember, and that’s why it’s a good idea to use a password manager.

The power of a password manager

A password manager offers top-notch encryption to protect passwords. You can use a password manager as a vault for all your passwords. When you want to log in online from your desktop, it can prefill your username and password. Often, there is also an app that allows you to do the same on mobile devices.

Industry-leading password managers also notify you if credentials are weak or get compromised. They may also flag that you are repeating access credentials, which is not a good idea.

Don’t forget your master password

Part of the appeal of a password manager is its zero-knowledge approach. They are set up so that they can’t see your stored passwords. The password is encrypted before it reaches the manager’s server and can’t be deciphered.

This means you have to be careful not to forget your master password. The master password is the one you use to access the password manager. Without it, you’ll have to try to recover your account using several stages of authentication.

Make your master password unique, and don’t use it anywhere else. Repeating passwords, as mentioned above, increases your risk of getting hacked. If the other site is hacked, the bad guys could try that same password on other sites, too. It’s low-hanging fruit for them.

The current best practice as far as passwords go is to use a passphrase with a mix of alpha-numeric symbols. This gives you a length of between 20 and 30 characters. You can use a variety of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols. Some examples of passphrases include:

  • My_Fave_Person_is_My_Fish_761
  • Mytrip-2-Paris-Was-Magnifique
  • YouRemindMeoftheBabe!!

The passphrase means something to you, so it is more memorable. Yet it isn’t easy for hackers to crack. Also, you’re not using specific personal details that you may reveal on social media (unless you are constantly posting pics of your fish, and its name is actually 761).

Protecting your online identity

Want to know more about protecting your online identity? Need help with setting up security procedures for your network? Our tech experts are available to help. Call us today at 317-497-5500!

Understanding the Cost of Business Downtime

Business downtime is costly. Research abounds on just how much it can set a business back. Some small businesses can’t even rebound from the expenses associated with downtime. This article outlines the many expenses a business can encounter as a result of downtime.

What do we mean by downtime? There are many reasons a business might experience IT downtime. Say, the Wi-Fi goes down or there’s a simple power outage. Either could lead to a small-scale, short-term downtime.

Worse, you could be the victim of a cyberattack that sees criminals encrypting your data. A data breach or malware infection could force you to take systems offline to solve the problem.

Severe weather events such as tornadoes or hurricanes can also cause downtime. Or maybe the building suffers a gas leak or a fire, and your business isn’t immediately able to get back on-site. If you don’t have cloud-based access to your applications, you could suffer downtime.

Every minute you are without your business technology can add up. Let’s consider the various costs you could encounter.

Loss of business revenue

If your people can’t access business systems or network applications, productivity drops. Your sales team can’t close deals, or your product development team can’t access schematics. Perhaps someone in client development can’t get to their pitch presentation.

Remediation costs

Fixing your business technology after downtime takes extra work, which means added resource costs. You may have to pay overtime to the IT team working round the clock to get you back up and running, or there could be places you need to catch up when you had to spend time doing things manually. This disrupts efficiency and costs money.

Customer dissatisfaction

How often do you hear someone apologize for their computer running slowly? When you call a customer service line it’s a familiar frustration. Imagine telling someone instead, “our systems are down, and we are unable to help you right now.” You will be compounding customer aggravation. They don’t want to wait for your downtime to end to resolve their issue.

If there’s a data breach, customers will worry about personal data or compromise of proprietary information.

Legal and compliance fees

Your business could run afoul of compliance or face legal action. For instance, if you are in the health services industry and are breached, you could be hit with hefty fines for jeopardizing personally identifiable information.

Brand reputation

Say your payment processor goes down, and you’re not able to take any orders. Some customers will get impatient and order from a competing website. They may end up switching to that company permanently.

There’s also a misconception that any press is good press. But you do not want your business to make headlines for having fallen victim to a cyberattack.

Employee engagement

Every business owner recognizes the importance of retaining motivated and skilled staff. Employees frustrated by downtime may start looking elsewhere.

Morale and your business culture could decline. Turnover could rise. You’ll need to invest time recruiting, training, and retaining fresh new hires.

Key takeaway

Don’t think business downtime can’t happen to you. When it comes to technology, threats are ever-evolving. Keep current with updates and software upgrades, and be vigilant about fresh threats.

Partner with an MSP to develop backup plans. An IT vendor can help move systems to the cloud to ensure mobile access. MSPs can also be proactive. They perform preventative maintenance and help cut your cybersecurity risk.

We can’t promise downtime won’t happen, but we can make sure you are resilient and able to bounce back more quickly should problems arise. Contact us today at 317-497-5500.

Supply Chain Shortages Making It Hard to Buy IT

Have you somehow missed the ceaseless news about the current global supply chain challenges? Probably not. You could be experiencing it firsthand. This article highlights business technology supply chain challenges and how to handle them.

The computer chip and semiconductor shortage is an IT supply-chain stumbling block. Take, for example, Marvell Technologies, which develops and produces semiconductors and related technology. In late 2021, they were offering customers a 52-week delivery time.

Meanwhile, Intel’s chief warned the chip shortage could last into 2023. The founder of Dell said even cheaper components are proving difficult to source. In a Reuters report, Michael Dell said that “the shortage will probably continue for a few years” and that “even if chip factories are built all over the world, it takes time.”

What’s causing the shortages?

For one thing, more people bought computers during the pandemic for remote work. Meanwhile, COVID-19 created a logistical nightmare for technology production and shipping and continues to do so. In March, the major Chinese tech hub of Shenzhen, went on lockdown to combat an outbreak of virus cases.

Critical international ports are also struggling to stay open amidst COVID-19 outbreaks. In March, trucks couldn’t reach container ships at the port city of Yantian due to lockdown. The port had already closed last June for a week, and it took months to deal with the shipping backlog.

Many manufacturers need Chinese components before they can start building their products. Thus, the shortage stops an entire production line.

None of this is helped by people hoarding products to take advantage of supply-chain shortfalls.

Plus, business tech manufacturers aren’t the only ones needing semiconductors and chips. If it’s got an on-off switch (e.g. your phone, your car, or any other electronics), it’s hit by this supply chain shortage.

What does this mean for your tech?

Business technology is going to cost more. No surprises there. It’s basic supply and demand. Not only is technology more expensive, but it’s also going to take longer to reach you.

What can you do? Plan ahead. If you’ve been thinking about a hardware upgrade, don’t wait to make your purchasing strategy. Anticipate your IT needs in advance to accommodate buying challenges.

You’ll also want to prioritize maintenance of your existing technology. You can’t risk a critical piece of your network failing. You might have to wait weeks (months even) for a replacement.

With hardware in short supply, a repair can also take more time and money. You’ll want to take care of what you currently use to make sure it lasts as long as you’ll need it.

Working with a managed service provider can help. Our experts can do preventative maintenance and support your long-term IT strategic planning. Our established vendor relationships could also help us access the technology you need. Let us take care of your short-term and future technology issues. Contact us today at 317-497-5500!

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What Is an MSP (And How to Choose the Right One for Your Business)

Managing data and IT solutions in-house can be challenging and expensive. That’s why many organizations turn to MSPs.

Digitalization has forced businesses to alter their operations and make IT a huge part of their day-to-day affairs. Still, some owners can’t cope with the change effectively, so they hire a managed service provider, or MSP, to take care of the work.

But what exactly is an MSP?

Simply put, this is a third-party company you can collaborate with to help manage parts of your business, such as your IT or cloud needs. It provides technology and expertise to boost your organization’s scalability.

Working with MSPs can have tremendous benefits for your enterprise.

For instance, their profound understanding of cutting-edge technology can help you improve performance, operations, and security while reducing overheads. In addition, they can offer several creative solutions to help you navigate the evolving landscape of the big data world.

But the strongest suit of any MSP is usually their ability to deliver tailor-made solutions that fit your company perfectly.

Their expertise allows them to analyze your business thoroughly and render their services according to your strengths and weaknesses. Plus, they consider the regulatory environment and compliance to safeguard against legal issues.

Another great thing about MSPs is that they can support your business even after hours.

They offer support measures and staff to maintain and protect your organization 24/7. MSPs can even tap into your system to resolve issues and deploy updates without going to your office using remote technology.

Overall, MSPs can help take your company to the next level. However, you can’t work with just any service provider. You need to select the right team for your enterprise, and this article will show you how.

CHOOSING AN MSP – WHAT TO LOOK FOR

Hiring an MSP shouldn’t be a hasty decision. Instead, you want to take a variety of factors into account.

Here are the six important factors to keep in mind:

FACTOR #1. THE MSP’S TRACK RECORD

Prospective MSPs should provide case studies and success stories to demonstrate they’re suitable for your business. You can also look for testimonials, references, and endorsements. These will help you determine if the team has been operating for a while and if their reputation is solid.

Working with a reputable MSP can give you peace of mind with the knowledge that your system will be appropriately managed. Moreover, you’ll feel confident that the MSP will do all in its power to preserve its name.

The MSP’s success hinges on yours in some respect, which is why they’ll view you as a valuable partner.

FACTOR #2. THE RANGE OF SERVICES IT PROVIDES

MSPs offer a wide array of services. Some teams are full-service companies, meaning they address your cloud and IT needs comprehensively. In contrast, others may help you with different pieces of your tech puzzle.

Therefore, consider your needs carefully and ensure your MSP can meet them.

Regardless of your service package, the MSP needs to keep up with the latest technology trends. Otherwise, numerous security issues may compromise your company and allow the competition to prevail over you.

FACTOR #3. SUPPORT

As previously indicated, MSPs can work round the clock to ensure your business is compliant and maintained adequately. However, they should also increase their support quickly and adjust staff schedules as your company grows.

That’s why you should consider an MSP that offers training for your employees.

It lets them understand the necessary changes and encourages them to train other team members as they join your business. But if your employees are too busy, you can instruct the MSP to carry out all the training.

FACTOR #4. RESPONSE TIME

Your network can go down for any number of reasons, preventing your employees from working and your clients from reaching you. This situation can even cripple your reputation, customer base, and revenue. In the worst-case scenario, it can even make you shut down your business.

Fortunately, a high-quality MSP can help you avoid this scenario. They can identify threats to your system and neutralize them before hurting your company.

Moreover, if an incident takes place, they should respond immediately. They need to mitigate the risks as soon as possible to keep your organization from crumbling.

FACTOR #5. SECURITY AND BACKUP

One of the most important duties your MSP should perform is to shield your data from cyberattacks. This is critical to protecting your company and customers. Besides, safe data storage might be mandatory in your industry, which is why your IT department could use all the help they can get.

Once you work with an MSP, they should recommend robust security solutions and endpoint protection to combat harmful software. And throughout their engagement, they should consider compliance to help prevent legal issues.

Another major part of their mission should be the implementation of backup software. It enables you to retrieve your data in case of a breach. Such implementation may involve automation, a restoration plan, and a no-downtime policy.

With a failproof backup and security strategy in place, you should be able to run your company more confidently. The risk of downtime will be drastically lower, allowing you to operate smoothly, maintain high sales, retain customers, and preserve your brand.

FACTOR #6. GUIDANCE ON WORKFLOW OPTIONS

Your MSP shouldn’t just deal with cybersecurity – they should also suggest adopting the best practices across the entire tech landscape.

For example, they should advise you on various CRM solutions and project management applications. They should also help you revamp your approach to workflow and data to create efficiency in all departments.

The fact is, you can yield tremendous results from their guidance. Your team can work faster, collaborate in real-time, and be more tech-savvy.

RECRUIT YOUR MSP CAREFULLY

While price is important when selecting an MSP, it pales in comparison to all the factors listed above. Be sure they’re a perfect fit for your enterprise, even if you need to pay more.

With high expertise, customized services, and an understanding of threats, a reputable team can help you stay ahead of your competitors.

If you need more assistance choosing your MSP, get in touch with our experienced team. Let’s schedule a quick 15-minute chat and figure out the ideal MSP for your company. Contact us here.

 

Article used with permission from The Technology Press.

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Why Having a Continuity Plan Is a Sign of Great Leadership

Your business faces all sorts of threats that can disrupt your operations. A comprehensive continuity plan can help address them.

Carrying on with business as usual is easy when nothing out of the ordinary is happening. But the fact is, crises can strike anytime. And when it happens, you need to be ready to pivot your operations quickly, safely, and efficiently.

That’s where a well-thought-out business continuity plan comes into play.

It prepares you for the worst, such as market nosedives and governments shutting down entire countries. And in these cases, your plan allows you to embrace remote work, enabling you to keep functioning and servicing your clients. It also lets you support your team at home and make them feel comfortable through various predicaments.

These are just some of the key benefits that a business continuity plan can bring to your business. And this article will delve deeper into its significance and explain how to create one for your company.

WHY YOUR BUSINESS NEEDS A CONTINUITY PLAN

A business continuity plan details a process that your company should take to neutralize and recover from different threats. It can also help protect your business’s assets and personnel during disasters, allowing them to function uninterruptedly.

Business continuity plans are usually developed as part of a company’s overall risk management. This means you should consider creating this plan ahead of time, not in the middle of a crisis.

The most significant benefit of creating a business continuity plan is that it provides a clear picture of how to proceed should those threats happen. It also tells you how those circumstances can impact your operations and how to implement procedures to mitigate them. Furthermore, it helps you check if the systems work and are up to date.

Another tremendous advantage of having a continuity plan is its ability to ensure secure and continued access to your systems. It dictates how your team and IT service provider can reach critical platforms, the available bandwidth, and whether you need to boost their network capacity.

The overall effect can be a reduced risk of losing your business and team members.

It can safeguard against financial loss, lost productivity, and a damaged reputation. On top of that, it helps protect your employees from injuries or death in case of threats.

But what specific threats can you address with a continuity plan?

Here’s a quick list:

THREAT #1. PANDEMICS

Pandemics can affect your business plans in numerous ways.

For example, they can force your employees to work from home, increasing demand for some services, and reducing demand for others. Moreover, they can prevent you from distributing your offerings due to supply chain problems.

A business continuity plan can help you overcome these bumpy periods.

It formulates how your team will communicate throughout the period and perform business off-site. And it can also provide several options in terms of service distribution.

THREAT #2. NATURAL DISASTERS

Natural disasters are extreme geographic phenomena, including tornados, tsunamis, volcanic eruptions, wildfires, and earthquakes. They’re tricky because they’re hard to predict and can leave disastrous consequences within seconds.

Like global pandemics, they can disrupt the supply chain in affected areas, which is why you need a business continuity plan.

THREAT #3. UTILITY OUTAGES

Water shutoffs and loss of communication lines or power can hinder your daily operations. It’s especially true if such outages are predicted to last long.

Without a continuity plan, the risk of asset damage and productivity loss is drastically higher.

THREAT #4. CYBERSECURITY

Cyberattacks are computer-based attacks on your technical assets. The most common examples include data theft, ransomware, distributed denial of service, and SQL injections.

In the best-case scenario, your infrastructure will function less efficiently until you resolve the issue. But in the worst-case scenario, you could lose access to all business data.

CREATE THE BEST CONTINUITY PLAN FOR YOUR BUSINESS

Developing a foolproof continuity plan requires a systematic approach. Here’s what your strategy should involve:

#1. IDENTIFYING GOALS

Business continuity doesn’t just comprise your IT systems. It encompasses all essential business functions, like public relations, human resources, and operations.

Since your company is unique, you’ll need to create a plan according to your specific goals.

So, determine the most important processes and figure out how to back them up with recovery strategies.

#2. SETTING UP AN EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS GROUP

Choose several cross-functional managers and anyone else who can contribute to the plan, such as your IT service provider.

Determine the emergency response leader and make it clear they’re in charge of moving things forward when disaster strikes.

#3. BUSINESS IMPACT ANALYSIS AND RISK ASSESSMENT

Identify, research, and analyze your potential threats thoroughly. Discuss them with your team and see what would happen if you had to reduce, eliminate, or modify certain services.

Make sure to document all issues along the way.

#4. FOCUSING ON CUSTOMER SERVICE

Your clients need empathy and transparency during crises. And the only way to meet their expectations in such trying times is to ensure your customer support team understands your continuity plan.

If necessary, hire more people to answer client inquiries.

#5. ADDRESSING BUSINESS FUNCTION

Your plan should incorporate critical business functions. These include business risk, impact on customers and employees, emergency policy creating, community partners or external organizations, and financial resources during disasters.

This is vital to ensure business operations are functioning asap.

#6. STAFF TRAINING AND PLAN UPDATES

Present your continuity plan to stakeholders and promote a proactive approach through trial runs to verify the plan works. This way, you can pinpoint any weaknesses or missing aspects. Then, based on your findings and feedback, train your staff to make the implementation smoother.

Following this tactic doesn’t leave much room for error.

Besides helping you maintain business operations and the supply chain, it also builds customer confidence. If your response to emergencies is effective, your customers will appreciate it. This allows you to preserve your brand, prevail over your competition, and mitigate financial loss.

DON’T LET CRISES CRIPPLE YOUR BUSINESS

Disasters can be the ultimate test of your leadership abilities.

That’s why instead of leaving your company to chance, create an in-depth business continuity plan before emergencies arise. Make sure everyone is on the same page, and you’ll be able to come out stronger after any predicament.

If you need more insights into developing a continuity plan, get in touch with us today. Let’s set up a 10-15-minute chat to determine your goals and how to achieve them. Contact us here.

 

Article used with permission from The Technology Press.

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It’s No Internet Explorer – 7 Features of Microsoft Edge That Make the App a Productivity Powerhouse

Many business owners shy away from Microsoft Edge, thinking it’ll slow down their operations. However, the browser has been massively upgraded and can help boost productivity.

Microsoft has made great strides since the introduction of Internet Explorer. The company now offers Microsoft Edge, a refined version that arguably provides the best web experience for business users.

Unlike the old Internet Explorer, this browser now relies on Google’s Chromium engine to provide faster loading, better compatibility, and enhanced support. Plus, Microsoft releases regular updates to tweak various features of the browser.

With Microsoft Edge, you can now surf the internet more privately, optimize performance, enable cross-device support, and enjoy many other neat functions.

Best of all, these features have been introduced conveniently. They don’t clutter the interface and are easy to find. They’re also user-friendly, which means your team won’t have to rely on your IT service provider for help with simple tasks involving the browser.

Overall, Microsoft Edge has come a long way since its release and boasts several features you can use to boost productivity. This article will list the seven main ones.

THE FEATURES

FEATURE #1 WIRELESS SHARING

One of the most attractive features of Edge is Share. It allows you to transfer browser content to nearby devices without leaving the website you’re viewing.

The Share feature is simple and clean. It works like social-sharing buttons but contains more customization options and controls.

Wi-Fi sharing might be the most practical option, but you can also choose between other services, such as OneNote and Mail.

FEATURE #2 MULTIPLE PROFILES

Microsoft Edge provides another convenient feature – setting up multiple profiles.

This well-designed function lets you share your browser with other team members without disclosing your preferences or information. Such a feature makes the browser a practical tool for separating your work and personal stuff.

To make this work, you won’t even have to ask your IT service provider to do the task.

When adding a new profile to Edge, you do it by simply linking to a different Microsoft account. This newly-linked account has a unique history, favorites, and other relevant settings compared to other profiles on the same browser.

There’s also the option to switch between connected profiles automatically. To do that, the browser will prompt you to use the correct profile when launching a page.

Users save time and increase productivity as a result.

FEATURE #3 WEBSITE PINNING

Most browsers have the Pin feature to help users access their favorite websites quickly. They need only to launch the program to load the pages automatically.

However, this function can be problematic.

If you close the window with pinned sites before closing the remaining windows, the pinned sites are lost. This can be a massive problem for your workers, especially when working on a critical project. Their productivity suffers since they often need to re-pin sites.

Microsoft Edge solves this issue with the Pin to Taskbar option.

As the name suggests, it lets you pin sites to your computer’s taskbar. Once you open the desired page, click this feature in the ‘More’ menu. So the next time you need to access the website, clicking the icon on the taskbar should do the trick.

FEATURE #4 PRIVACY CONTROL

Tracking Prevention is a Microsoft Edge feature that helps prevent social media, advertisers, and other trackers from tracking your online activity. It can protect your privacy and make your browsing less personalized, which is essential for any professional environment.

This feature consists of three privacy levels:

  • Basic – This level permits most trackers. Therefore, ads and content are personalized based on your team’s activity, but known harmful trackers are blocked.
  • Balanced – The second level blocks trackers from unopened websites, leading to fewer ads and less personalization. Like the first level, this one also blocks known trackers.
  • Strict – The final level promises the most privacy. There will be minimal personalization, with some parts of websites disabled to fend off threatening trackers.

FEATURE #5 READING LIST

Your team often marks articles for later revisiting but end up cluttering their bookmarks. Fortunately, Microsoft Edge has a powerful feature to overcome this obstacle:

The Reading List.

This feature allows you to save articles and synchronize the saved list with other devices. More importantly, it doesn’t mess up the Favorites or Bookmarks tab, allowing your team to get back to them in no time.

If they come across an interesting webpage, they need only click the Star symbol in the address bar, choose the Reading List and press Add.

There’s also a convenient Reading Mode that helps remove any clutter to further improve workplace efficiency.

FEATURE #6 TAB PREVIEW

You and your team probably perform a lot of research daily. This means you often need to use a bunch of tabs, and the number can quickly get overwhelming. As a result, you get lost in all the clutter, hindering your progress.

Microsoft Edge lets you avoid this scenario through the Tab Preview feature. It shows a preview of any open tab through a panel located at the top of your screen.

Launched after the Creators Update, it can be activated by clicking the chevron icon. Once you locate your tab, tap on your chevron icon to make the panel disappear.

You’ll hardly find a simpler yet more effective tool.

FEATURE #7 MUTE TABS

You may enjoy listening to music to improve your focus. But as you’re invested in your work, a newly opened tab can start playing a high-pitched dialogue, breaking your concentration.

Luckily, you can get back on track by enabling the Mute Tabs feature on Microsoft Edge.

Just find and right-click the annoying tab to reveal the function. Activating it allows you to work without noisy distractions and maintain high productivity.

STICK TO MICROSOFT EDGE, AND YOU WON’T LOOK BACK

One of your primary duties as a business owner is to ensure productivity across the entire team. If your employees underperform, customer satisfaction may plummet, and the competition may grab your clients.

We’ve listed seven key Microsoft Edge features to help you boost productivity, but this browser has a lot more to offer.

And there’s no need to think you’ll face the same issue as Internet Explorer users. This program is a massive upgrade designed to streamline your experience and help your team conduct their duties more efficiently.

If you’re looking for more tips to take your productivity to the next level, give us a call today. We can arrange a 15-minute obligation-free chat to determine how to improve your business.

 

Article used with permission from The Technology Press.