Cyberattacks and data breaches: best practices for protecting your SMB

Cyber attacks and data breaches prevention tips best practices

Small businesses or SMBs are the lifeblood of any economy and Canada is no different. If you’re a small business owner thinking that you’re too insignificant for cybercriminals, you’re wrong. Experts believe that cybercriminals typically need very little resources for mass-producing attacks. SMBs tend to be more vulnerable to cyberattacks and data breaches since they generally spend less on cybersecurity.

This article explores the best practices you should consider adopting to protect your business from cyberattacks and data breaches. 

6 Best practices for preventing data breaches in your small business

Here are six of the simplest ways you can prevent data breaches in your business.

Improve user awareness

The first step towards protecting your business against cyberattacks and data breaches is improving user awareness about the cybersecurity landscape. With over a third of cyberattacks and data breaches involving internal threat actors, this cannot be overemphasized. Experts believe that improving user awareness within your organization can overall establish your employees as a human firewall.

By improving cybersecurity awareness within your business, you’d be ensuring that your employees understand the threats likely to affect them. They’d also be able to understand how to keep themselves protected or stay away from activities that are likely to prevent a breach. 

For instance, understanding how to spot phishing attempts or tackle business email compromise from vendors would be a great start. Improved awareness will also help your employees understand the need for strong passwords and the use of multi-factor authentication. You should also consider setting up Privileged Access Management to understand and manage all the user accounts within your enterprise.

Update all systems promptly

Leaving your systems and applications running with outdated firmware or software essentially make your business vulnerable to cyberattacks and data breaches. Remaining protected will involve you taking steps like regularly installing security updates, upgrading to newer software or discarding obsolete systems. By installing updates promptly, you’d be patching up any known vulnerabilities and preventing zero-day exploits by hackers.

A quick look into the WannaCry ransomware of 2017 shows that the majority of victims could have easily avoided the cyberattack by either updating their operating system or abandoning an obsolete version of Windows.

Backup your data frequently

However hard you prepare, there’s always the chance that something may go wrong. From hardware failure to ransomware attacks, backing up your data can help you ensure that you never have to start from scratch after an incident. However, you should aim to create backups the right way. Creating backups without validating them may give you a false sense of security if you’re unable to retrieve them.

Check out our detailed backup recommendations for small businesses here.

Use Intrusion Detection and Prevention (IDS/IPS) systems

Intrusion detection/prevention systems are an essential cybersecurity component for small businesses in the digital age. They generally listen to your network for bad traffic or potential attacks and prevent your systems from communicating with bad threat actors. If you’re looking to take your small business cybersecurity a notch higher, this is one practice you should adopt.

From preventing malware attacks across your network to stopping trojans and even phishing, IDS/IPS generally stop malicious activity against your business by dropping or resetting connections.

Furthermore, you should consider setting up firewalls with IDS/IPS rather than ISP-provided routers. Home-grade routers are built to allow users to connect easily and do not generally offer any firewall protection or monitoring. However, a firewall with built-in IDS/IPS can monitor your traffic to prevent malicious activity.

Consider getting cyber insurance

If you’re wondering why we’re talking about insurance as a way of protecting your business from data breaches, don’t fret. Cyber insurance can be a vital tool in your SMB’s cybersecurity arsenal. With 60% of businesses (mostly SMBs) closing within six months of a data breach, cyber insurance can be the difference between going bust or surviving in the unfortunate event of an attack.

Cyber insurance aims to protect businesses from the consequences of cyberattacks and data breaches. Some of these consequences can include fines, compensation and loss of business. As the cyber threat landscape continues to evolve, you’ll need to understand the benefits of cyber insurance as well as its limitations for your business and industry.

Boost your vendor and endpoint security

As you probably already know, no business can operate in this digital age without relying on support from third parties or vendors. Third parties like cloud service or application providers are typically granted privileged access to your IT infrastructure to enable them to support you seamlessly. 

However, this constantly increases the risk of a cyberattack or data breach of your business. The danger here is that if there’s a cyber attack on any of these vendors, the hackers may be able to access your systems using the privileged access already granted.

Similarly, the rise of BYOD policies and culture across Canada ultimately means that your small business now has to deal with more data endpoints than ever. Without adequate endpoint security and management, you may be leaving your business vulnerable to data breaches and cyberattacks. The average cost of an endpoint cyberattack in 2019 was $9 million and zero-day attacks show no signs of slowing.

Why MSPs and MSSPs are essential for preventing and recovering from data breaches in the digital age

The costs associated with getting numerous disparate cybersecurity tools is usually a discouraging factor for Canadian SMBs. MSSPs essentially overcome this problem by offering specialized services that meet the very needs of small businesses. They also provide solutions capable of overcoming the typical challenges that businesses face today. Overall, MSSPs can help your small business by reducing and managing their cyber risks as well as offering recovery support in the event of a cyberattack or data breach.

The bottom line

With SMBs making up 98% of all businesses in Canada, it’s fair to say that they will continue to be attractive targets for cybercriminals. The relatively limited budgets SMBs allocate for cybersecurity also means that they may be falling short. However, hiring MSPs and MSSPs can help bypass this challenge. 

Contact us today to discover how our small business cybersecurity solutions can help you with preventing, detecting or responding to cyberattacks and data breaches.

Trades Should Add Technology to Their Tool Belts

There are many hands-on trades that haven’t traditionally needed technology. Yet modern tech tools help the plumber, carpenter, welder, or other trade improve productivity and competitiveness.

There are certain common tasks tradespeople face daily:

  • scheduling appointments with clients, suppliers, or inspectors;
  • tracking project deadlines and budgets;
  • communicating with project managers, customers, trades, office administrators;
  • paying employee salaries;
  • invoicing and tracking payables, receivables.

These can all be done with pen and paper, sticky notes, and forms in triplicate, but technology cuts the time spent and lets you focus instead on increasing your bottom line.

The Difference Technology Tools Make

Most of us carry small, powerful computers around in our pockets every day, whether it’s a smartphone or a tablet. Internet-connected devices give tradespeople access to tools to enhance productivity.

Let’s start with scheduling apps, as tradespeople are often on the move throughout the day. Signing up for a scheduling tool (e.g. Doodle) makes it easier to set appointments, and you aren’t involved in the booking process. Customers simply go to your website or link to the app and choose an available time that works best for them. You can even set it up to ensure you have buffers between appointments or prevent someone from scheduling a new, big project to start at the end of your day.

Integrating the scheduling app with your website helps customers reach you. Also, connecting also to a shared cloud calendar can help your team work together better. Everyone invited into the calendar can see who is out on a call, and where.

You can make changes to a cloud-based calendar on any connected device. Others will see the alterations in real-time. This helps you avoid scheduling conflicts. You can set a follow-up meeting with an inspector while you’re out in the field. The office secretary sees your availability in real-time to set up a new customer visit.

Your Trade Office On the Move

With cloud-based office software also available online, you can get more done out of the office. You don’t have to make a trip back to the office to enter your invoice slips and make photocopies of receipts. Instead, take pictures on your phone or tablet, and attach them to the project file in the cloud, or invoice directly from a secure cloud-based processing site. You won’t have to worry about any paperwork getting lost in the back of a truck or bottom of a toolbox.

The Microsoft Office suite, Google Docs, and cloud storage are available from iOS and Android devices. This lets you monitor project timelines, view budgets, and track invoices and payments in the field. Cloud-based accounting packages let you see cashflow or outstanding balances, and pay contractors or suppliers on the spot.

Cloud-based software also gives every employee access to business tools in the office. With a virtual desktop, they can collaborate easily (out on a job or in the office) and make changes in real-time. For instance, a contractor could access software to edit a building plan, then actually see the new design in 3D modelling software.

The great news is that technology is ever more accessible and easy to use. Embracing modern digital tools can improve customer service and trade business efficiency.

Your skill set may not extend to technology, but that’s where we come in. We can help you find the right technology for your business needs.

Feeling the Budget Pinch? Here’s How Managed IT Can Help Save Your Business.

When it comes to running a modern business, technology is always a growing line item in the budget. Costs seem to creep up every quarter, along with a new learning curve for simply keeping everything running along smoothly. It’s no wonder then that budget restrictions for tech were recently found to be a universal concern for small/medium businesses.

You’re balancing the outlay of maintenance with replacement, plus securing against a steady stream of threats – all while making sure every dollar gives maximum return on investment. It even sounds exhausting! What typically happens is the tech budget gets stripped to a bare minimum, hoping nothing unexpected pops up and everything keeps moving along nicely. After all, everything is working just fine and that money could make a real difference elsewhere… except as soon as an IT emergency strikes, that tiny budget is obliterated and you’re left to either limp along with insufficient tech or dip into another budget area.

Now imagine if budget wasn’t an issue. Imagine all your tech expenses were predicted and capped, and you got everything you needed without resorting to financial magic tricks. Sounds good, doesn’t it?

Put simply, that’s how a Managed IT Service works. It’s a service designed for businesses with a limited budget who don’t have time for tech issues. For a fixed price each month (which is no doubt less than you’re thinking), you get a team of IT technicians actively monitoring your systems in order to catch issues before they occur, repairing problems on the fly, and ensuring your business is always as secure as possible. Included as part of your Managed IT Service, you also get expert business consulting around the solutions you need now, which solutions will help you rapidly scale, and which technology you don’t need. All for one predictable, fixed price each month.  It gets better:

You’ll reduce downtime and associated revenue loss.

Forget scrambling while systems are down, with Managed IT Services you’ll know which tech is failing and can proactively repair or replace before it impacts your business. Downtime is planned/minimized and your staff are working uninterrupted by tech drama.

You’ll skyrocket efficiency.

You’ve probably been responding to your IT events in ‘firefighter mode’, essentially dealing with problems as they arise and switching to new, improved tech only when you must. With Managed IT Services, problems are automatically reported and optimal solutions designed in advance. Even the small issues that have been slowing your business down and limiting progress come to light, ready to be solved for greater efficiency.

You’ll secure against data loss.

Whether you’ve been following the news and worrying about the next cyber-attack, or you’re working with confidential customer or proprietary data, your Managed IT Service has you covered. Our technicians secure your business against attack using the latest technology, full backups, software updates and leverage every drop of their know-how to keep your valuable data safe.

Learn more ways Managed IT Services can benefit your business.

The biggest data breaches in Canada and their impact on businesses

Data breaches in Canada

The digital landscape is evolving faster than anyone could have predicted and so are data breaches. As newer technologies continue to emerge, hackers have steadily improved their sophistication. From the Equifax breach to the Yahoo saga, you can easily find numerous cases of data breaches on the internet.

This article offers you insights into some of the biggest data breaches in Canada so far. You can also find out how these businesses were impacted over time. You should also expect some useful tips on how you can prevent data breaches in your small business.

Top 4 data breaches in Canada

Before delving into the top data breaches in Canada, you should understand the law surrounding the issue in general. While it was legal to avoid reporting data breaches in the past, everything changed in 2018. The Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA) makes it compulsory for businesses to report breaches to the authorities.

Here are some of the top four data breaches in Canada and the impact it had on businesses.

Medicentres data breach

Founded in 1979, Medicentres Canada Inc is the largest group of clinics in the country. The company is trusted by millions of patients to provide reliable healthcare services. However, Medicentres disclosed in 2014 that some of their data had been exposed to cybercriminals. So how did this really happen?

In September 2013, a laptop belonging to a consultant who works with Medicentres was stolen. The laptop contained a database of 620,000 patients who had visited Medicentres clinics in Calgary and Edmonton. Patients were even more surprised that information about the breach only came to light about four months after in 2014.

Impact of the data breach on Medicentres

Years after the lost laptop and data breach, Medicentres continues to feel the impact of the incident. When some patients found out, a class-action lawsuit for $11 million was filed against the company. This case remained in the courts until July 2016 when a settlement was agreed upon. The courts decided that Medicentres should pay out just over $700,000 for credit repair services for those affected in 2016.

The deadline for claiming compensation from this settlement was November 2016. If you were affected by this breach, you’d be unable to make a new claim now. The damage to the healthcare provider’s reputation would remain at the forefront of patients’ minds for a long time.

Since this data breach, the government has made efforts to improve Canada’s health information act as well as its privacy law.

Desjardins Group’s credit unions’ data breach

You can generally consider the data breach against Desjardins as the biggest in Canada. The company was founded in 1900 and is the largest federation of credit unions in North America. The company announced that 4.2 million individual customers and 173,000 businesses were exposed in a data breach. This figure represented the credit union’s entire clientele base.

An employee unlawfully collected data from the company and leaked them to a third-party. When the data breach occurred, there was only one suspect – a former employee. Desjardins also confirmed that personal information like names, social insurance numbers, addresses and payment information was compromised in the breach.

The company claims that this wasn’t as a result of failure in their systems. Seeing that it was from an employee, we’ll let you be the judge.

Impact of the data breach on Desjardins Group

You’d have to be invincible to experience a data breach of this magnitude and not feel any impact. Since the breach, Desjardins has improved its identity protection and now offers all customers lifelong protection including access to Equifax. There’s also a class-action lawsuit in the works although it’s yet to be certified by a Judge. Certification by a Judge is a requirement before the case can proceed.

The increase in fraud lately has also been linked to this breach since the victims’ sensitive data were exposed. 

Lawmakers are yet to determine how to respond to this data breach. In response to the breach, some believe that more should be done and others claim that the group’s response so far has been satisfactory.

If you’re a Desjardins client, you can view the steps they’re taking to protect you and your data here. You can also find details on how you can access lifelong credit protection with Equifax there.

Capital One breach

Card services provider Capital One recently experienced a data breach that exposed sensitive information related to six million Canadians. The bank holding company disclosed the breach on July 30th, 2019 and noted that it includes one million social insurance numbers in Canada.

No login credentials were exposed during this breach. However, the kind of data compromised could be used to perpetrate havoc in the long term. The FBI subsequently caught the cybercriminal involved.

How did the data breach affect Capital One?

Apart from damage to reputation, the cost of managing the blowback from this incident would no doubt be heavy. For instance, all the customers involved have had to be notified since the breach occurred. The Card provider has also had to invest heavily in cybersecurity after the incident. 

Furthermore, there’s a class-action suit that was filed in Vancouver against Capital One. It’s still early days and the suit is yet to reach the settlement stage. If you’re a Capital One customer, you can check out all the facts related to this breach and what you can do to protect your data with them here.

TransUnion breach

Just like Equifax, TransUnion also recently experienced its own breach. The nature of the information compromised and the impact they could have on the victims’ lives in the long term are some of the reasons why this breach makes the list. TransUnion announced in October 2019 that an unauthorized party was able to access the credit information of around 37,000 Canadians.

The attacker used the login details of the Canadian Western Bank in accessing the data on TransUnion’s database. This is perhaps why you should consider stepping up your endpoint security efforts. To illustrate this, when Banks request your credit information from TransUnion or Equifax, they could potentially access your former addresses, social insurance number and even existing debt information. As a result, the type and amount of data exposed could vary greatly.

Impact of the data breach on TransUnion

While they claim the breach was not as a result of failure on the part of their systems, one can only wonder whether a firewall would have prevented the third-party from accessing the service even with genuine login credentials.

Although TransUnion continues to improve its security, there may still be some fines or penalties from the government or regulatory bodies. You can also expect their reputation to suffer greatly.

Overcoming data breaches in Canada with Abrisuite

If you own or run a small business, you’d agree that preventing data breaches is essential for your survival. With Abrisuite, you can expect cost-effective managed security services solutions that help protect your small business from data breaches. With or without an IT department, we can upgrade your security to enterprise-grade at a fraction of the cost.

Our ability to provide a security solution that includes endpoint protection and network monitoring easily sets us apart from others. Here’s an outline of some of the ways we can help you prevent data breaches in your small business.

  • Advanced firewall.
  • Intrusion detection and prevention services.
  • Endpoint protection via HIPS.
  • Security Operations Centre (SOC)
  • Network monitoring.
  • Anti-virus and Anti-malware. 

Closing thoughts

As you continue to guide your small business towards success, you’ll need to understand the importance of protecting your data. You’ll need to consciously aim to limit unauthorized exposure as well as understand the consequences of failing to do so. You’ll also need to recognize the value behind working with MSSPs to deliver a solution that’s custom-built specifically for you.

Why cybercrime is the new organized crime in Canada

Cybercrime is the new organized crime

One quick thought about organized crime and you’re likely to start thinking about the New York Mafia. This is no longer the case for businesses as cybercrime is rapidly overtaking conventional crime in reality. In the past, Canadian businesses typically sought after offices in the best neighbourhoods hoping it would keep criminals away. Back then, it was safe to leave your windows open all night and return the following day without any incidents.

This mindset overtime has forged an attitude that security isn’t a major concern. The business world has however changed rapidly and having such a mindset can be very costly nowadays. The business frontline has shifted online and so has the crime. Since the internet connects everyone together, cybercriminals can easily launch attacks at any business at will.

Regardless of origins, every type of crime eventually becomes organized and cybercrime is no different. The following shows how cybercrime against small businesses has shifted online and is now more organized and targeted than ever.

The impact of cybercrime on Canadian businesses in recent times.

In 2017, Canadian businesses officially spent around $14 billion in preventing, detecting and recovering from cybersecurity incidents. On average, businesses spent between $46,000 to over $900,000 depending on their size and nature of business. 

With 88% of Canadian businesses admitting that they experienced a data breach in 2019, the cybercrime challenge is huge. It’s fair to say its impact has been far-reaching. Although many of these breaches may have gone unreported, they haven’t gone unnoticed. They definitely influence your decisions and actions as a small business owner. For instance, 95% of Canadian businesses already have some form of basic cybersecurity protection in place. However, advanced measures like intrusion detection, firewalls, and even anti-malware are more prominent in larger organizations.

What does this really mean for your small business and how does cybercrime really affect you?

Without beating around, it now affects your small business in every single way. From how you secure your website to how you store data, there’s no limit to the influence that cybercrime has on your business policies. The overall consequence of the different breaches that have occurred in the past decade is that businesses now have to think about protecting their data and systems at every given moment.

The following are some cybersecurity stats you should be aware of as a small business owner in Canada.

  • 60% of small businesses will most likely shut down within 6 months of experiencing a cyber attack.
  • Only 13% of businesses have a written policy in place for managing and reporting cybersecurity incidents. However, organizations in the banking and transportation sectors averaged over 50%.
  • Only 10% of Canadian businesses that experienced a cyber attack went on to report to the Police.
  • Canadian businesses are already losing over $3 billion annually.
  • SMEs make up 98% of Canadian businesses.

How big is the cybersecurity challenge in Canada today?

The cybersecurity challenge is so huge that not even government institutions are left out. According to Accenture, the average cost of a cyber attack in Canada is just over $9 million. From elections and military operations to business email compromise, cybersecurity challenges can be felt in all corners. So much that many already believe it’s a bigger concern than even terrorism.

The increasing frequency of cyberattacks in Canada today consequently means that you or your CISO will need to do more. You’ll need to do more to proactively protect the business from potential attacks. As more businesses continue to go digital, so will cybercriminals who continue to find ways to breach your data.

Top cybersecurity threats affecting Canadian businesses

Here are the top cyber threats that are most likely to affect your Canadian business in 2020. 

Malware and Ransomware

Ransomware attacks are widely considered as the biggest cyber threat facing businesses today. Attackers would usually use software or malware to prevent victims from accessing the files on their systems. Since the WannaCry attacks of 2017 that affected businesses worldwide, there’s hardly any week without new attacks. 

In November 2019 for instance, the Nunavut government in Canada experienced a ransomware attack. Its security systems were not trained to detect hacks like this, forcing them to shut down parts of their network. In 2019, ransomware attacks reportedly resulted in damages of over $11 billion.

DDoS attacks

Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks are also very common nowadays. It can be especially problematic without the right tools and measures. DDoS attackers typically flood their victims’ websites or services with so much traffic until it becomes overwhelmed and crashes. Alternatively, cybercriminals may also use this type of attack to redirect your web visitors to other websites.

Endpoint attacks

As more businesses move to the cloud, they’ll need to grand third-parties privileged access. These additional data endpoints, however, come with associated risks. A breach in any of their systems will most likely leave your data exposed without the right tools in place. An example of this is the Marriot attack which was the result of a booking system breach. 

With so many businesses shutting down because of ransomware attacks, it’s important to understand the true extent of their impact. For instance, The Heritage Company in the US had to shut down in December 2019. The business had failed to sufficiently respond to a ransomware attack it experienced two months earlier. This closure meant that around 300 staff were suddenly without a job.

Business email compromise fraud

If you’re a Canadian business decision-maker, you can automatically expect that you’re a target for business email compromise fraud. This threat relies on gaining unauthorized access to a business email and intercepting financial transaction communications. According to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (CAFC), businesses globally (including Canada) lose over $5 billion to this fraud.

One example to remember is the City of Burlington which fell victim after hackers posing as a trusted vendor sent new payment instructions. The City had already sent over $500,000 before it realized it was a scam.

Phishing attacks are becoming more targeted

Phishing remains the cheapest method for compromising business credentials and is the topmost cyberattack vector for hackers. It typically appears as an email with links that either deliver malware to a victim’s computer or network. Hackers can also use phishing attacks to lure you into giving them your credentials.

5 reasons why you need a Managed Security Services Provider (MSSP) to tackle cybercrime

With 43% of cyber attacks now aimed at small businesses, you should need no further incentives to protect your business. Managed Security Service Providers (MSSPs) offer unparalleled benefits when it comes to securing your IT infrastructure from cybercriminals. The following highlights the top five reasons why you need an MSSP for your small business.

Cost savings

The costs associated with deploying the relevant technologies and tools required for combatting cybercrime can quickly add up especially for small businesses. However, MSSPs ensure that you do not have to break the bank by getting all these tools on your own. Similarly, hiring a complete IT team may be unthinkable for a business that’s just starting out but MSSPs ensure that you can remain protected regardless of your size or budget.

Unrivalled expertise

The exposure that comes with providing protection for a wide range of clients means that you will ultimately benefit more from using MSSPs than an in-house IT team. Nevertheless, MSSPs are also known for being an extension of your IT team so if you have one already, they can seamlessly work closely together.

Reliable support and training

From providing technical support to organizing training for your staff or in-house IT department, MSSPs can be at your beck and call when you need them.

Improved cybersecurity insights

As your business continues to generate relevant data about its security, MSSPs can help you use SIEM to analyze the data gathered from a single point of view.

Customized security solutions

Rather than getting numerous disparate cybersecurity tools that may or may not be fully relevant to your enterprise, MSSPs generally ensure that you get a fully customized security solution that meets your specific security needs.

What’s the Future of Cybercrime?

As the threat landscape continues to evolve, so will hacker sophistication. You can expect that hackers will continue to adapt to newer technologies or innovations as they come up. For instance, as the adoption of machine learning and artificial intelligence become more universal, you can expect a shift. You should also fully expect cybercriminals to swiftly adapt and become even more organized and targeted in their approach.

Closing thoughts

As cybercrime continues to be even more organized, SMEs and all businesses at large must respond decisively. A good start is by being preemptive and calculative in your approach towards preventing, detecting and responding to these threats. Over the past decade, MSSPs have proven to be reliable allies for Canadian SMEs in the fight against cybercrime. Contact Abrisuite today to experience how our suite of solutions can help your business stay one step ahead of cybercriminals.

Outsourcing vs Managed IT – What’s the Difference?

Outsourcing vs Managed IT – What’s the Difference?

Outsourcing has become a dirty word. It implies you’re taking jobs offshore or giving up oversight over a key part of your business. Managed Services is the complete opposite of that, yet it’s often put under the same umbrella, despite being a local solution. Your business already looks for help in various places, hiring consultants, agencies and other contractors, all so that you can focus on hitting your goals. Managed IT is simply another of those specialized services, designed exclusively to help with your technology needs.

A True IT Partner

Our Managed Services team act as consultants dedicated to achieving your business success.  We’re able to analyze your technical and strategic needs to tailor solutions specific to your business. We work hand-in-hand with you to design, implement and maintain your tech, keeping you involved at every step of the way. We’ll also keep track of relevant industry news and apply it to your business so you don’t lose your edge. As new software versions are released, we’ll help you make informed decisions about whether to upgrade, stick with current for a little longer, or switch to an alternative. You’ll have a true partner on your team that’s always looking out for your business.

Better Results

Since our Managed IT get to know your business so closely, we’re also able to ensure all your tech support and maintenance is handled quickly, without disruption to your daily running. We have specialists across multiple areas who have seen almost every scenario and know exactly how to solve them. You’ll be able to keep your employees on task while our experienced technicians work through the issue, often remotely so you’re not disrupted at all. Tech help is also available to your staff with rapid turnaround support.

Visible and Accountable

Unlike standard outsourcing where you lose control of certain elements and are left to hope for the best, Managed IT Services are completely transparent. You’ll get reports on the status of your computers or networks, the number of support tickets we’ve answered and exactly what we’ve been doing to keep your business tech up and running. This level of visibility also means you’re able to see IT trends across your business and make strategic decisions to improve productivity and efficiency.

It’s a Local Solution

At one time or another, we’ve all called a support number and found ourselves stuck in a frustration loop with an overseas call center. It’s almost the entire reason outsourcing earned a bad name. Fortunately, our Managed IT is actually a local service, a real-life business near you who employs local people and supports the local economy. Keeping your IT support nearby means you can get the tech assistance you need, with local ethics, customer service standards and even accents that make the process easier.

You Stay Protected and Prepared

Part of any Managed IT service is ensuring your computers, network and digital devices are secure against threat. This means updates are rolled out for you, patches are done, plus all scans, tweaks, backups and system maintenance. Your employees no longer have to worry about making time for (or learning) these tasks, and you don’t have to worry that they’re getting skipped. Very often, this level of proactive support ensures problems are stopped before they occur and your business is able to surge ahead when others fall behind. If anything ever goes wrong, your Managed IT will have prepared disaster recovery and continuity plans so that you’re up and running asap.

It’s Cost-Effective

With Managed IT, you’ll be able to reduce infrastructure costs very quickly as your specialist is able to recommend better, faster solutions such as cloud storage and mobile technology. Instead of replacing hardware and software simply because it’s on the schedule, your Managed IT experts will present multiple cost-saving options and strategies. Very often, these extend to licensing and training too. Productivity gains are made as the tech begins to work with your processes and employees, not against them.  Predictable costs are important to every business, which is why Managed IT is the right choice. You’ll know your monthly expenses are capped, and you’ll be able to avoid expensive tech surprises.

If you’re considering Managed IT, reach out to us today.

5 Ways Managed Services Can Grow Your Business

5 Ways Managed Services Can Grow Your Business

Managed Service Providers (MSPs) help businesses take a proactive approach to managing their technology without the expensive step of hiring an in-house team. Your MSP is essentially a collection of niche technology experts working behind the scenes to keep your data safe, generate solutions to IT problems and keep your software updated. Even larger businesses who already have an IT person will often call in an MSP when daily support becomes overwhelming or a specific certification is required.

Let’s explore 5 specific business breakthroughs an MSP can give you:

1. It’s extremely cost-effective:  There’s only so much in the budget for IT and responding to events on a break/fix basis will quickly exhaust your accounts.

An MSP works by getting ahead of problems before they occur – making equipment last longer, defending against costly security breaches and keeping the business up and running. Instead of calling for a repair at a high hourly rate, you get a wide array of expert services for one predictable monthly fee.

2. You have access to multiple experts: Businesses usually end up adding extra tasks to an unqualified but enthusiastic employee’s workload, resulting in costly problems. With MSPs, you have access to many people who are experts in very specific areas, and your existing staff can focus on tasks within their job description.

3. Speedy problem resolution: Downtime and business don’t mix, so your MSP will provide a reliable expert on call (usually with 24/7 options) to troubleshoot and resolve any problems. Much of the time, you can also skip the delay of an on-site repair with rapid remote support available in just moments.

4. Fewer problems: A large part of your MSPs service is fixing problems before they happen. While fixing things as they break isn’t the worst approach to IT management, it generally means you’re also suffering productivity losses, downtime and losing money by the second.

Your MSPs primary goal is to ensure these problems are avoided completely, through system monitoring and robust security measures. They’ll also make sure every important software update and security patch is applied immediately, closing breach points and keeping your business safe.

5. Shared responsibilities: As your business grows, so will your IT systems. A good MSP is on top of what your future needs will look like and knows which products and infrastructure are suitable to help you get there. Your MSP doesn’t just monitor your system and repair as required; they share responsibility for your system. This means measuring, reporting, analyzing and optimizing, working with you to introduce new technologies and processes.

Depending on your level of contracted services, your MSP can actually become a catalyst for growth.

Sounds good, doesn’t it? With managed services, your business always has the maximum security against threats, downtime and productivity drops. But for the savvy business owner, it’s also a way you can afford to leverage cutting-edge technologies, with complete peace of mind and ongoing support.

Boost your business with managed services.

Cyber Security: 4 Ways To Travel Safe For Business

So your desk is buried in paper, your shelves are overcrowded with stacks of documents, and you’ve carved out just enough space for your keyboard, mouse and coffee? It’s time to go paperless, not just for your own sanity, but to streamline the entire business. It’s the one move that saves time and space while gaining flexibility for your mobile workforce. When you’re ready to adopt paperless processes, consider these 4 steps:

Working from anywhere is now as simple as accessing the internet on your device. Managers, owners, and employees are all embracing the flexibility of working while traveling, making it the new global norm. But while you were in the office, you were protected by professionally designed firewalls, security infrastructure, and robust software. As soon as you step away from the building, those protections disappear, leaving your device and the data inside at great risk.

Cyber attackers love to collect any data they can obtain, often preferring to hack first, assess value later. It doesn’t help that almost all data can be sold, including your personal details, those of your clients and suppliers, as well as your proprietary business data. These days, the information stored on your device is usually worth much more than the device itself.

Here are 3 ways a hacker will attack:

Flaunting Opportunity: Whether your employee left their laptop at a café or a thief stole the phone from their pocket, the outcome is the same – that device is gone. Hackers will take advantage of any opportunity to gain access to a device, including taking them from hotel rooms and even asking to ‘borrow’ them for a few minutes to install spyware, before handing it back.

Spoofing a Wi-Fi Hotspot: We’ve all come to expect free Wi-Fi networks wherever we go. Hackers will take advantage of this trust to create their own free, unsecure network, just waiting for a traveler to check a quick email.

Intercepting an Unsecure Network: Hackers don’t need to own the Wi-Fi network to steal content from it. Data traveling across an unsecure network is visible and available to anyone with the right software.

It’s okay, you don’t need to lock all employees inside the building or cancel all travel plans. Taking these four precautions will increase cyber safety and help protect your business data while on the go.

  1. Make a backup before you travel: In the event your device is lost or damaged, you’ll be able to replace the device with a new one and quickly restore all the data from a backup, all with minimal downtime.
  2. Don’t use public Wi-Fi: Wait until you have access to a secure network before going online – even just to check email.
  3. Use passwords and encryption: At a minimum, make sure you have a password on your device, or even better, have full drive encryption. That way, even if your data storage is removed from the device, the contents are inaccessible.
  4. Act fast after loss: If your device is lost or stolen, immediately notify the appropriate people. This might include your IT provider so they can change passwords, your bank so they can lock down accounts, and any staff who need to be aware of the breach so they aren’t tricked into allowing further breaches.

Need help with mobile cyber security? Call us today!

6 Brilliant Ways Managed Services Can Work For You

Wouldn’t it be great to know you could access the internet from every room in the house – including the outdoor entertaining areas? How about printing wirelessly from wherever you happen to be? Many homes are embracing the flexibility of having multiple devices and users, but with each new addition come increased headaches when trying to make it all work together. They know what experience they want, but actually assembling a complex network can be like trying to juggle a live, angry octopus!

Most people don’t realize just how complex their tech setup has become. Ask around and you’ll discover homes commonly have 4 mobile devices, 2 tablets, a desktop or laptop, a printer…plus a smart TV, media streamer, and a games console …ALL of which need access to the same secure internet connection, backup systems, and protection from digital threats. Yikes!

While businesses immediately default to calling in the tech experts to make sure their system works exactly the way they need it to, residential users haven’t had that option – until now. Our managed IT services can assess your unique needs and create the perfect solution for you –everything working the way you want and within budget.

Using managed residential services has the added benefit of providing one, predictable bill for every part of your technology services, including:

Advice and setup: Our experts love to talk tech and can help you make product decisions, plan and create your ideal network environment – building in all the parental controls and security your unique situation needs. They’ll even help educate your family on best practices, cyber safety, and common threats.

Remote support: Save time and energy if something goes wrong, our experts can securely log in to remotely diagnose and repair many issues – just let us know and we’ll take care of it.

Backup: You’ll never have to worry about losing all your personal files, photos, video and music if your device is broken or stolen. Our experts will make sure everything that’s important to you is backed up regularly.

Maintenance: While your devices are pretty durable, they still need regular maintenance and cleaning. This extends the life of your device greatly and has the added benefit of making it run like new again.

Security: Every device under your managed IT plan will be automatically monitored for security issues and updated regularly. Our tech experts will ensure your network is secure, protecting you and your family on autopilot.

Cloud: We’ll make sure you have access to all your files, no matter which device you’re on, giving you true digital flexibility and (a safeguard against forgetting homework!).

With new connected devices finding their way into homes each year, it’s more important than ever to ensure your network can grow easily, with security at all levels. Remember, it only takes one unprotected device to let the malware in, even something as innocent as a remote-activated lightbulb! Our managed IT services will free you from worrying about security and maintenance, while at the same time giving you the performance and flexibility your family needs.

Find out how Managed IT Services can help you by calling us!

When And Why You Should Use Remote Support

If you’ve ever had a sudden computer problem, you know it can be very stressful. So much of our day-to-day life requires having access to a working computer.

Homework, budgeting, bills, even browsing dinner recipes all have a degree of urgency that mean dealing with a broken computer isn’t comfortable for long. Your computer technician offers two options: remote repair or bring it in. Which is the best choice for you?

Benefits of Remote Support

Speed: If remote repair is a possibility, your technician can connect via the Internet and have you operational in no time. You might also choose to just leave it turned on in the morning and go to work as normal, while the tech logs in to conduct the repair, ready for your return. Without this option, you’d need to juggle time in your diary to drop the system off as most in-store techs only work 9-5.

Many large-scale remote support services are even available 24/7, eliminating all unnecessary delays.

Convenience: You get to skip the unpleasant tasks of unplugging the PC, untangling the cables and carting it into the repair store. Even then, once repaired, you’d still be privileged with carrying it back home and playing a game of which-plug-goes-where.

Computers may be getting smaller, but they’re still heavy and fiddly! Laptops are designed to be moved around often and it may not be a problem to stop at the repair store, but traveling with a desktop PC requires a little more effort and a lot more inconvenience.

Negatives of Remote Support

Limited repair options: A remote connection can only repair certain software problems, not hardware problems. It’s impossible for the technician to swap out a failed part remotely, and unless you’re confident in your own repair skills, guided physical repair isn’t viable either.

Occasionally the problem will also be outside the computer, perhaps a troublesome peripheral or connection. Your technician may be able to walk you through correcting some of these minor problems yourself, but most invariably require a physical call-out or taking your computer in-store.

Connection speed: A slow or unstable connection will make a remote repair take longer and increase the difficulty of the task. The extended time impacts the cost for the call, and in extreme cases, can negate any benefits of skipping the physical inspection. Your connection needs to allow the technician to see real-time responses as if they were sitting there in person.

Accessibility: If your computer won’t start or can’t connect to the Internet at all, your technician can’t log in. This includes seeing a ‘blue screen of death’, boot failure and Windows load failure. As much as they’d like to help you, being able to log in to your system is a vital step in the remote repair process.

Remote support and repair is the ideal situation, purely for speed and convenience. As a bonus, in the event the remote repair is unsuccessful, it also means your tech now has a better idea of the problem and can speed up any on-site or in-store repairs.  Remote support is the best option for many repairs and gets your computer working again with minimal disruption and lowest cost.

Need a repair? Call us for rapid remote support.