What Are the Top Tips for Choosing the Best IT Company?

Two IT Company Professionals Working

Two IT Company Professionals Working

What Are the Top Tips for Choosing the Best IT Company?

Website outages, cybersecurity attacks, and any number of other IT incidents can cost your company hundreds or even thousands of dollars — every minute. For this reason alone, you need an outsourced IT company who is competent and highly qualified to handle your IT needs.

But how do you choose the best IT company?

Naturally, the IT needs of each individual business will vary. A medical practice will need IT assistance that specializes in privacy as well as cybersecurity because they’ll have a tremendous amount of sensitive data in their systems. On the other hand, your industry may require less focus on privacy and more focus on the particular type of software that you use.

Finding an IT company who specializes in your industry is the first step to locating optimal IT support.

Here are some other tips to keep in mind when choosing an IT support company for your business.

1. Look for experience.

As is always the case when you contract out services, you need to look for experience. It may be tempting to work with a brand-new, up and coming IT company in your area, but something as important as IT support warrants hiring a company who’s been in the business for at least a few years.

To establish that the IT companies you are considering have enough experience to get the job done right, ask to speak with their current or past clients. Also, ask for the list of credentials that their support staff possesses. These are the individuals you’ll be working with regularly, and you want to look for certifications and schooling in IT-related fields.

Lastly, make sure the experience that these companies have is related to your industry, specifically. We’ve already touched on this a bit, but it’s important to reiterate that it’s better to find an IT company who specializes in your industry than to find night one who claims they can “do it all.” Many IT companies specialize in healthcare IT, transport IT, or other specific industries, which means they know and understand these industries inside and out. That wants you want.

2. Choose a local company.

Some IT companies will claim they can take on your business from across the state or the nation. While this is possible, it’s unlikely you’ll get the level of quality service you actually deserve. It’s much better to go with a local IT company who you can work with directly.

In many situations, you’ll actually need IT support staff from your MSP (managed service provider) to come to your business for installations, troubleshooting, or network setups. This shouldn’t have to be a huge production. Having a local IT company available for quick service calls is a huge advantage.

3. Look for forward-thinking companies.

Not only do you want your IT company to focus on maintaining your current network and system structure, but you also want them to propel your business forward. Whether fast or slow, growing should be a primary concern for any business.

Some IT companies are more capable at scaling their services than others. Essentially, you want to find a company who will propel your business forward with their own IT ideas. They also need to have the employee-power and IT resources to scale your business up with ease and efficiency. As you expand, you don’t want to have to switch IT companies.

4. Make sure you can choose your level of service.

Again, needs vary where IT is concerned. You certainly do not want to pay for services you don’t need and won’t use. For this reason, look for an IT company who offers a range of service levels.

Most IT companies offer at least two or three levels of service. For example, they may offer an entry-level fee for simply monitoring your systems and alerting you as soon as possible if there’s a breach. If you require network setups, software installations, and other management services, you‘ll naturally want a higher level of service. Having options is the main concern here.

No matter what IT company you choose, it’s important to take your time, and do your research. Your IT company will be one of your business’s most important assets. Hire well, and you’ll reap the benefits of easier daily operations, higher returns on investment, and ultimately, more business opportunities.

Your MacOS Is Under Attack: 2019’s Biggest Malware Threats

MacOS and Malware

Your MacOS Is Under Attack: 2019’s Biggest Malware Threats

MacOS and Malware

The Mac operating system (MacOs) has frequently been hailed as one of the best systems for its resiliency to malware and typical viruses. But the days of MacOs standing strong and tall with no worries have really always been a misconception. Mac systems are just as vulnerable to the beefed-up, intelligent malware threats that are out there today.

SentinelOne published a lengthy review of the MacOs malware at the end of 2018, but in a new release, SentinelOne also stated that there has actually been an uptick in the numbers of new types out there attacking users. Here is a look at some of 2019’s biggest MacOs malware threats that every Mac-reliant business owner should know.

1. OSX.Siggen: A Malware Download from a Malicious Domain

Masquerading as a helpful app called WhatsApp, OSX.Siggen is actually a latched-on malware that slips in during a regular app download. WhatsApp is a fake social media platform, and the download looks super enticing when users come across it. However, once added to MacOs, the app runs with a backdoor designed to take administrative control over the system.

2. KeyStealDaemon: Password Hijacker

This dirty malware showed up in February of 2019, but by June it was still running strong. Apple allowed a patch several years ago designed for another purpose, but KeyStealDaemon can create administrative privileges for itself by slipping through. Unfortunately, this malware allows the person behind the scenes to get into the system and steal pretty much any password you have stored. The good news is, if you have properly updated your system, KeyStealDaemon can be booted out because it cannot break through.

3. CookieMiner Slips In and Steals Credentials

Toward the end of January 2019, a cryptominer showed up with its own installed backdoor to induce a threatening combination of technologies to steal cryptocurrency exchange cookies and passwords for Google Chrome. The worrisome thing about CookieMiner is this: experts believe that the malware could potentially have the rare ability to bypass things like authentication processes that involve multiple factors. If CookieMiner is capable of gathering enough cookies and credentials, cryptocurrency wallets can be virtually pickpocketed right in plain sight.

4. Mokes.B Puts On a Good Act

Persistence agents running amuck on your MacOs with familiar names may never be spotted, especially if they are calling themselves things like Firefox, Skype, or Chrome. This is precisely how Mokes.B avoids suspicion when it latches onto the operating system in application support folders and tracking files. Mokes.B is super-scary because it can gain the ability to take actual screenshots whole you are on pertinent screens, but it can also record keystrokes to steal date you are keying in.

5. A Variant of OSX.Pirrit Has Shown Up

OSX.Pirrit caused a lot of problems a few years ago, but this malware never really disappeared altogether. Instead, new family members under the old parent app are still being found on MacOs, and they are not being detected as they would otherwise be when acting as OSX.Pirrit. The aim of this malware is to make money from redirect actions that occur as a result of a browser infection, but there are rumors that PIRRIT is potentially capable of stealing data as well.

6. OSX.Dok Reroutes User Traffic

OSX.Dok gets into a system and installs a securely tucked-away Tor version location on a Mac system. User traffic hitting a site gets sent to an onion server instead of where it should be, which is a major problem for business owners needing to protect sensitive customer actions when they think they are on an e-commerce website. One of the scariest things about OSX.Dok is the fact that it can steal even SSL encrypted internet traffic maneuvers. Older versions of this software were thought to be banished, but new versions continually pop up.

Even though there are so many Mac users who think they are covered by some unseen immunity from malicious software, these risks are there and the growing list of 2019 proves that fact. Attackers deploying these software programs are targeting those easy-to-break barriers, so something like an improperly updated computer or even an unsuspecting employee can leave a business computer wide-open for an attack.

How Does Windows 10 Improve Security and Data Protection?

Windows 10 Data Protection

Windows 10 Data Protection

Windows 10 comes a step closer to preventing cyberattacks and privacy threats facing users. It’s a next-generation solution that helps you fight threats from hackers and criminals who target your business. This is a big plus for cybersecurity managers. The past several years have brought some of the worst and most frequent cyberattacks in history. Security professionals are constantly on the lookout for new ways to prevent network breaches and safeguard the data of clients and the enterprise. Let’s take a closer look at how Windows 10 can help.

What Are the Security Advantages of Window 10?

Microsoft introduces Windows as a service in this version of their OS. It includes a unique way of creating, implementing and maintaining Windows. Each update adds new features to protect the security and privacy of users. The idea is that protection is layered into the functionality so that it doesn’t affect performance or distract users.

Windows; Core Services Engineering and Operations is thus better able to protect data and privacy. Built-in features identify suspicious activity that can put your business in jeopardy. This helps your security team detect and block sophisticated attacks faster. Releases focus on adding new features that combat new or anticipated risks. This is all possible thanks to the software giant’s finger on the pulse of the latest ransomware and malware hitting around the globe.

Windows 10 is considered to be the most secure version yet released. Because Microsoft has addressed cyberattacks during the engineering phase, improved security itself becomes a major bulwark, protecting your system from files and executables sent by hackers.

How Does Windows 10 Protect Your Data Better?

Here are some of the ways that Windows 10 improves its protection, including the new tools that can detect threats:

  • Windows 10 disrupts malware and thwarts hackers by changing the playing field. Bad actors can’t attack systems in the same old ways.
  • Device Guard acts as a shield against malware by allowing you to block unwanted apps. This gives users a proactive way to prevent ransomware and malware attacks as well as spyware.
  • Windows Defender uses machine learning, the cloud and behavior analysis to respond to new threats. This is like having a smart guard dog that not only prevents intruders from entering but smells them coming a mile away.
  • Microsoft Edge systemically disrupts malware, phishing and hacking attacks so that fewer threats make it through the system to trick users.
  • Windows 10 has aggressive data protection that meets compliance requirements without slowing down users, who expect the same solid performance Windows has always offered.
  • Windows Information Protection contains business data so it cannot be leaked to unauthorized users via apps, docs and the web.
  • BitLocker helps your security team protect sensitive data from prying eyes. Military-grade encryption takes over when a device is lost, stolen or otherwise compromised.
  • Azure Information Protection partners with Windows Information Protection to assign permissions that govern how certain data is shared.

What Ways Does Windows 10 Protect User Identify?

Windows 10 has built-in identity and access management protocols. This advanced technology safeguards user identities. For example, Windows Hello presents an alternative to passwords. It uses many factors to achieve solid security, such as a PIN, biometrics and a companion device.

Credential Guard uses NTLM-based authentication protocols, while Windows pass the hash (PtH) method authenticates without displaying the user’s text when a password is being entered. There’s also a hardware-based component that also limits access.

What Does This Additional Protection Mean for Security Teams?

While 57% of organizations offer training and incentives to security recruits, it’s hard to keep these resources for very long. This is due mainly to the high demand for qualified candidates. With additional protection built into applications themselves, busy cybersecurity teams can concentrate on other crucial tasks to protect the company’s data and reputation.

Old School Meetings Revisited

Microsoft Teams

You know running a successful business requires much more than just offering a great product or service. It takes constant engagement and collaboration of all of your employees to produce the best results, and it takes your best effort to remain competitive in a crowded marketplace. Collaboration between employees used to mean lots of daily and weekly meetings. Those long hours stuck in the meeting room often wind up taking a toll on productivity, and this loss of productivity is quite often negatively reflected in a company’s bottom line.

Microsoft Teams

The good news is that modern technology now provides an alternative to the traditional meeting: Online meetings. Conducting meetings online not only saves employees travel time and the expense of attending a meeting in person, but quality online meeting software provides the tools that make hosting a meeting more convenient and more efficient than ever before.

Many companies used to avoid online meetings because they were complicated to set up, time-consuming to maintain, riddled with technical problems, and expensive to purchase. But now there are no more excuses. Microsoft offers businesses of any size a quick, powerful, and inexpensive way to streamline meetings: Microsoft Teams and Microsoft Teams Rooms.

What is Microsoft Teams and What is Microsoft Team Rooms?

Microsoft Teams is an ideal way to keep everyone who works at your company, as well as your partners and shareholders, in the loop and working in concert. Microsoft Teams is a suite of communication tools, including web-based, allow employees access to secure and private chat, file sharing, critical business apps, and the video meeting software, Team Rooms. Microsoft Team Rooms eliminates many of the hassles and time-sucking aspects of face-to-face meetings while still allowing them to be productive.

Whether you are having a 1-to-1 meeting or hosting a webinar for hundreds of people, Microsoft Team Rooms goes beyond many of the standalone online meeting solutions to give you the features which really matter to you. A few of these standout functions are easy scheduling, one-click joining, automated note-taking, extensive whiteboarding tools, along with the ability uploading files and share desktop screens. The best part is that Microsoft Teams and Microsoft Team Rooms is part of the Office 365 subscription you probably already use!

How Can Microsoft Teams and Microsoft Team Rooms Help to Make Your Next Meeting Better?

When it comes to hosting a productive meeting, you need a system that you can depend on no matter what. Microsoft Team Rooms has you covered by:

  • Offering a single platform accessible through desktop computers, mobile devices, and dedicated video conferencing systems. Whether your meeting attendees are at your home office, in the field or even at home, accessing Microsoft Team Rooms is a breeze. Everyone will be able to participate fully using one seamless and secure application.
  • Securing your data. As part of the Office 365 suite of applications, Microsoft Team Rooms reduces the security risk of transmitting your private data using another video conferencing solution. Microsoft is dedicated to protecting your information.
  • Making administration and maintenance a snap. Even if you have a dedicated in-house IT department, you want it to concentrate on running your business, not your video conferencing software. Setting up Microsoft Team Rooms is intuitive, and if your employees ever run into problems, assistance is always available.
  • Providing almost infinite scalability. Do you host a variety of meetings from small groups to large webinars? You don’t have to spend thousands of dollars on dedicated video conferencing equipment, use any smart monitor or computer-attached screen. Do you have a lot of new hires? They can immediately access Microsoft Team Rooms meetings with their Office 365 account through their computer!
  • Supporting post-meeting follow-ups. Since Microsoft Team Rooms is part of the Office 365 suite of applications, if you choose, your employees will continue to have access to notes and files after the meeting. This accessibility makes it a snap for your employees to work together and reduces the amount of time it takes to complete a project.

With the quality tools you need to host an online meeting, the collaborative tools you need for your employees to be productive, and a price point you can’t believe, Microsoft Teams and Microsoft Team Rooms are a comprehensive online meeting solution.

Which Office 365 Plan Works Best for Your Organization?

Microsoft Office 365 Plans

Microsoft Office products have become ubiquitous throughout a range of industries, and there are more choices than ever before to find the suite of professional office software tools you need to run your business effectively.

While you can still find Office products available for a single licensing fee (Office 2019, for example), most businesses are turning to Office 365 as a subscription software solution that offers a range of powerful tools, including cloud storage and seamless sharing integration across devices.

Microsoft Office 365 Plans

But if you’re ready to move forward with a subscription-based Office 365 solution, you’ve still got to narrow it down for the right product. Will your business benefit from the Business or Enterprise option? If you choose Enterprise, which level makes the most sense for your organization? Read on for a breakdown on how to choose the best Office 365 product for your team [OPTIONAL CTA] and feel free to reach out to us at any time for support or guidance in making the transition to Office 365.

Choosing Between Office 2019 and Office 365

The key distinction between Office 2019 and Office 365 is connectivity. Office 2019 is different in the way you purchase and use it, but more importantly, it does not offer any of the cloud-connected features of Office 365. For businesses wishing to utilize the power of cloud storage as well as greater choice in terms of features and connectivity, the subscription-based Office 365 is the way to go.

Business vs. Enterprise

If you operate a small business, you can find several Office 365 Business options that provide licenses at a set rate per user for up to 300 users. Select either basic plans that focus on cloud storage solutions to more advanced options that also include desktop access to products like Microsoft Word and Excel, as well as cloud collaboration system, SharePoint. Opting for Office 365 Business is a good move if you’re keeping an eye on your budget, but still want to access many of the staple features that Office has developed over several decades. To take full advantage of the cloud tools, larger businesses will want to opt for Office 365 Enterprise options, which offer unlimited data storage, including archive and mail storage. Enterprise plans also allow for greater interaction and collaboration across platforms like SharePoint, which is another bonus for larger companies with employees in multiple sites.

Which Enterprise Level is Right for Your Business?

If you run a larger business, or have a small business with high data storage needs, then choosing Office 365 Enterprise is probably the right choice. Microsoft currently offers 3 levels of service: E1, E3 and E5.

The first level, E1, offers basic office tools, including Word, Excel, and SharePoint, at a reasonable monthly rate. E3 includes these tools as well as additional connectivity–and the protection to go with it. Data loss prevention and encryption are among several tools that Office 365 customers at the E3 level will be able to take advantage of. To consolidate your entire suite of digital solutions into one overarching tool, the E5 level of Office 365 Enterprise includes advanced protection for your company’s data, plus communication tools and video conferencing platform options to best accommodate larger business and keep them in compliance.

As you find the right next move for your organization, feel free to reach out to {company} today to assess your needs and the potential solutions that today’s Office products can provide.

What Are the Chief Benefits of Cloud Computing?

Cloud Computing

Cloud Computing

Chances are, you already use cloud computing in your personal life with applications such as Facebook, Gmail, and Dropbox. But what about your business?

According to a recent study, 31% of companies still don’t use cloud computing to organize and operate their business. Although some of these companies stated they plan to implement cloud computing at some point in the future, this still leaves a large margin of businesses who are, dare we say, living in the dark ages of information technology.

Numerous misconceptions about cloud computing are usually to blame for this. Ahead, we’ll dismantle these concerns by detailing the most potent benefits of using cloud computing in your business or organization.

Top Benefits of Cloud Computing

1. Access From Anywhere

One of the most useful benefits of the cloud is the ability to access your company’s data, software, applications, and more from anywhere in the world. As long as you have an Internet connection, you’ll be able to access the cloud.

For certain businesses, this provides the ability to hire remote workers. Employees, likewise, generally enjoy the ability to work from home or remotely at their leisure. On business trips, huge amounts of equipment aren’t necessary when all necessary data and services can be accessed via any WiFi connection.

2. Always-Up-to-Date Software

Many programs that your business may require will need occasional (or seemingly daily) software updates to continue to run properly. Instead of having to allow and wait for these updates every time you log on to your computer or an individual program, cloud-based software automatically updates and refreshes (unless you tell it not to).

For employees and your entire business, this means valuable time saved. Furthermore, as a result, fewer IT resources and in-house specialists are required to oversee updates and server maintenance.

3. Loss Prevention & Reliable Backup Protection

With cloud-based storage and computing, much less data will be lost from careless errors, computer glitches, or malicious software (malware). Furthermore, in the event of an emergency, cloud-based storage allows for immediate backups to be procured and implemented.

Formerly, backing up entire collections of data and programs would take an immense amount of time and take up valuable space. As a result, many companies did not perform routine data backups and were thusly in big trouble when problems would inevitably arrive.

4. Added Security

Security is a major issue when it comes to cloud-based storage and cloud computing as many company heads and managers falsely believe that the cloud is more susceptible to security problems than in-house data storage on servers.

Actually, cloud security is extremely effective and robust. That’s because maintaining adequate security is one of the most important responsibilities that a cloud host has. Likely no one is more efficient at security than the leading cloud hosts.

Furthermore, many security issues actually arise from internal theft. In these situations, off-site data storage is much more effective than on-site server storage.

5. Saved IT Costs

While it is true that switching from in-house data storage to a cloud-based data storage system does come with an initial price tag, the long-term cost benefits of this switch will surely be in your favor. In fact, cloud computing comes with a huge return on investment (ROI) across the board.

For example, starting any new project, backing up your data, and implementing new services and programs can all be completed much more easily with the cloud. Of course, in this way, easier means cheaper.

Instead of having to install important programs and applications on all of your employees’ computers, for instance, the cloud enables you to purchase one cloud subscription for everyone. Within reason, no matter the device, no matter the location, your employees (or clients, customers, etc.) will always be able to access the services of that program as well as up-to-date data.

Furthermore, you only have to pay for the cloud storage you actually need. If you’ll simply be backing up files and keeping inventory information on the cloud, for example, you won’t need to pay for the larger amount of space that might be required to store massive amounts of sensitive data. The price tag of your cloud services will always be catered to your unique needs.

If your company or organization hasn’t made the switch from in-house servers to the cloud yet, consider it a must for your 2019 to-do list. As the business world moves further and further toward complete cloud and Internet reliance, your business will certainly go the way of the dinosaur if you’re not on board.

How Canada Is Seeking a Private and Equitable Digital World

Canada Digital Information Technology

Canada Digital Information Technology

As in so many areas, Canada is now pushing to make the online world a more equitable one. It also wants Canadians to have their privacy online instead of having their information sold by whoever can get ahold of it. The use of the data that companies do collect about you is now being regulated by the expanded Canadian Digital Charter. Here’s how it seeks to create a better experience for Canadians.

Technology in Canadian Ecommerce

Using up-to-date technology is increasingly a part of daily life, and innovators who don’t have it will be left behind by those who do. Canada’s Digital Charter is a way to protect Canadians from some of the ways their data could be used as well as to make it easier for everyone in the country to have internet access. E-commerce is a larger and larger portion of the economy all over the Western world, and Canada would fall behind this march to the future if Canadians had trouble getting online and feared for their very privacy if they were to do so.

Canadian Access to Internet Connectivity

With so much of the world now online, keeping Canadians able to connect is a key factor in keeping them competitive. Part of the Canadian Digital Charter is to give universal access to all Canadians, no matter where they live or how much they know about computer use. The charter seeks to ensure that every Canadian is not only offered connectivity but is given the computer literacy they need to be able to use one. In addition, the charter rolls out a new standard for safety online. With so many new internet users about to join the online sphere, the government is focused on making sure they don’t get taken advantage of, threatened or targeted with scams. To help create a better atmosphere of safety, the government plans to put multiple laws in place to deliver punishments for breaking cyber-safety laws.

Data Privacy Compliance in Canada

The charter further calls for every online user in Canada to have their privacy protected by the sites they use. If a company wants to use their personal data for any reason, the internet user should know exactly what it will be used for and must consent to share it for that purpose. In addition, Canadians are declared to be free to see their own personal data as well as to move it or share it easily. Websites that have Canadian visitors must comply with these privacy laws in order to stay compliant and available to online users in Canada. Clear, open disclosure of data collection, usage and storage will be needed to maintain that compliance.

Free Speech Online for Canada

As in most countries, free speech is not an absolute right in Canada. The charter spells out the kind of speech that Canadians shouldn’t have to come across online. These include hate speech, threats, extreme views advocating violence and content that is otherwise illegal. The government also seeks to keep false news stories away from readers who may not realize that what they’re reading isn’t factual. Keeping Canadians safe from these problems is considered a right that Canadians have in order to create a better online experience and to encourage more people to use the internet to make their lives easier.

With this charter, Canada is expected to become more competitive on a global scale. Unburdened by false news stories and hate speech, the government hopes that the online atmosphere will be more conducive to Canadian innovation.

Ransomware’s Cruel Greed: Proven Security Protects Your Business

Ransomware

Ransomware

Cybercriminals lock victims out of computer and network files – sometimes destroying data – and extort cash to get that data back. That’s a ransomware attack, costing businesses billions worldwide.

Ransomware can spread by the simplest of user actions. Email phishing, or Business Email Compromise (BEC) – fraudulent and deceptive emails posing as legitimate messages – is perhaps the most common propagation method. Social media clickbait, particularly using fake accounts masquerading as friends or colleagues, is common also. Simply visiting an infected website can corrupt your system, even if the user doesn’t click anything on the web page.

How common is ransomware? There’s bad news and good news. The bad news: attacks are extremely common, with thousands of organizations being probed every day. The good news: savvy IT professionals are fending off attacks, so infections are still comparatively rare. However, attacks are on the rise and cybercriminals are growing more sophisticated.

Ransomware attacks are hitting businesses of all sizes, from a few employees to enterprise corporations. Individuals get infected also, especially those without good antivirus protection. Government agencies and health care organizations have become prime targets.

Data Loss and Financial Risk

Ransomware encrypts computer files and network drives, then demands a ransom in exchange for a decryption key. Most victims end up paying the ransom. Ransomware can be difficult, if not impossible, to crack, and paying the ransom can be the only way to get data back.

Costs of recovery can be enormous. The ransom itself can run from thousands to hundreds of thousands of dollars, even approaching $1 million dollars. The real cost of recovery runs easily into the millions. FedEx reported losses of more than $300 million before operations were fully restored. The total cost to US business is estimated at $75 billion or more per year, with downtime costing around $8,500 per hour.

Cybercriminals typically demand payment in Bitcoin. Cryptocurrency affords substantial anonymity, making it nearly impossible to track perpetrators. Even if they could be identified, cybercriminals often work over international borders. Jurisdiction issues makes prosecution almost impossible.

Preventing Ransomware

Ransomware protection is a complex endeavor involving technology, education and best practices. You need the right tools – the right information – and the right business processes.

Key steps to protect your data include:

  • Maintain up-to-date antivirus/malware protection, especially on email. Do your research for best programs, including buyer reviews on popular online retail sites.
  • Perform regular external backups, and quarantine them from your network as soon as they’re completed. Keep archival history as much as possible.
  • Train employees. Malware is most often spread by human behavior, e.g. clicking an email phishing link or social media clickbait. Proper training can minimize risk by educating staff about the risk of suspicious links.
  • Maintain strong firewall protection to minimize the risk of a single infected machine spreading malware into your network.
  • Keep all enterprise software updated with the latest releases and patches. Software firms are constantly improving security, and outdated software is riskier.
  • Administer IT user permission security so employees have access only to the software and functionality required for their job roles.
  • Disable macro scripts on files shared via email – an important component of training.

Along with preventative measures, create a contingency plan. If you are hit with ransomware, you’ll be better prepared to cope if you have plans in place to continue operations and speed up recovery.

Setting up a cryptocurrency wallet should be part of the contingency plan. If your business is hit – and you decide to pay the ransom – you’ll be able to pay much sooner if you already have this in place.

See these resources for more detail on what you can do to protect your business.

What to Do If Infected

More than half of targets don’t report ransomware attacks, according to FBI estimates. This is likely driven by concerns over bad publicity. Financial and business process recovery is bad enough without adding in a PR nightmare.

However, it’s critical to notify the FBI if your systems are infected. The FBI is the lead federal agency for cybercrime. Their investigative and technology capabilities are state-of-the-art, and no one is better equipped to help you understand your options and recover your data.

The FBI suggests that you do not pay the ransom. The decision is up to your company leadership, and it’s true that most victims do pay. In many cases, the cost of paying the ransom is far less than the potential losses from operational downtime.

Ransomware removal often involves wiping systems clean and restoring uninfected files from backups. It’s a delicate business best left to a professional cybersecurity company.

It Can Happen to Your Business

Ransomware and cybercrime are on the rise. Costs to businesses are going up.

Education and preparation are the best defenses against cybercrime. Responsible management needs to be proactive. Threats are real, cybercriminals are serious, and today’s IT professionals are armed with the tools and the knowledge to keep their companies safe.

Introducing Canada’s Digital Charter

Canadian Digital Charter

Digital Technologies in Canada

Technology is rapidly entering all areas of commerce, banking and society due to increased digital communications both in person and online. Much of the business that Canadians do every day is assisted by technology including shopping for groceries, promoting a brand and socializing with friends and family. “Data is a resource that companies use to be more productive and to be more productive and to develop better products and services, unleashing a digital revolution around the world.” according to the Canadian Digital Charter website. Due to this expansion of data access worldwide, Canada has set up the Canadian Digital Charter (CDC) to ensure that “privacy is protected, data will not be misused, and companies operating in this space communicated in a simple and straightforward manner with their users.” The goal is to inspire trust in the government and businesses who handle private data.

Canada’s Digital Charter is Built on Ten Principles

The CDC was developed after the government conducted numerous conversations and surveys with Canadians from all walks of life. These discussions emphasized specific issues that Canadians were interested in and worried about. The result were the following ten principles that form the foundation of the CDC.

1. Universal Access:

All Canadians will have equal opportunity to participate in the digital world and the necessary tools to do so, including access, connectivity, literacy and skills.

2. Safety and Security:

Canadians will be able to rely on the integrity, authenticity and security of the services they use and should feel safe online.

3. Control and Consent:

Canadians will have control over what data they are sharing, who is using their personal data and for what purposes, and know that their privacy is protected.

4. Transparency, Portability and Interoperability:

Canadians will have clear and manageable access to their personal data and should be free to share or transfer it without undue burden.

5. Open and Modern Digital Government:

Canadians will be able to access modern digital services from the Government of Canada, which are secure and simple to use.

6. A Level Playing Field:

The Government of Canada will ensure fair competition in the online marketplace to facilitate the growth of Canadian businesses and affirm Canada’s leadership on digital and data innovation, while protecting Canadian consumers from market abuses.

7. Data and Digital for Good:

The Government of Canada will ensure the ethical use of data to create value, promote openness and improve the lives of people—at home and around the world.

8. Strong Democracy:

The Government of Canada will defend freedom of expression and protect against online threats and disinformation designed to undermine the integrity of elections and democratic institutions.

9. Free from Hate and Violent Extremism:

Canadians can expect that digital platforms will not foster or disseminate hate, violent extremism or criminal content.

10. Strong Enforcement and Real Accountability:

There will be clear, meaningful penalties for violations of the laws and regulations that support these principles.

Canadian Digital Charter

Digital Technology’s Impact on Canada

The ten principles listed above clearly display the Canadian Government’s vision of integrating ethics and law with digital access. In the discussions with Canadians that led to the CDC, three main issues came to the forefront.

A. How Can Canada Prepare for the Technology of the Future?

Canadians are concerned whether they will be trained for skills needed in the technology of the future. Examples of these are digital skills, including knowledge of coding, data analytics, AI, and machine learning as well as future technologies that have not yet been developed. Although not all careers require a special knowledge of technology,

Canada must instill comprehensive digital literacy and exposure to STEM skills from a young age, particularly for under-represented groups including women, Indigenous people, and people with disabilities. To build digital resilience, Canada must take a multidisciplinary approach to skills development and training that encourages a life-long learning mentality.

Other key issues include retraining workers to build skills that relate to STEM fields, and opening access to training in non-traditional formats including flexible, cost-effective options for attaining new skills in short time frames.

B. How Will Canada Support Growth of Competitive Canadian Companies?

In order for Canadian companies to be competitive on a global scale, they need to “adapt their traditional approaches, and identify, adopt and implement digital and data-driven technologies.” There are several issues that are obstacles to this type of growth including most notably affordability, access for remote, rural and Indigenous communities. Canada ranks among the most expensive countries in the G7 for many telecommunication services including mobile wireless and Internet.1 Other obstacles include awareness of how technology can improve and scale business in traditional sectors, and that technology implementation isn’t a “one-size-fits-all” solution. Recognition of the need for individual, personalized implementation is crucial to moving forward.

C. How Can Canada Be a Leader in the Digital Age Regarding Privacy and Trust?

The digital age has ushered in the usage of an explosion of data “helping to fuel innovations like AI, machine learning, and the Internet of things, however, the rapid acceleration of data being created, and its use as a commodity means Canada must re-evaluate the frameworks it has in place.” While laws such as the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA) help to keep personal data private, there needs to be an ongoing effort to keep frameworks transparent and private data protected against hacking and other data breaches.

Trust and privacy of personal data is a key element in any future growth of technology in Canada.

The issue is complex with important questions around data access, ownership, use, and the consent and controls available to both citizens and providers. . . Canada has a mature regulatory environment, however with the growing complexity of vast amounts of data flows, privacy, and cross-border markets, many Canadian companies, in particular SMEs, expressed difficulty understanding how best to comply with existing data and privacy legislation and the corresponding regulations.

To continue to protect privacy, Canada needs to modernize PIPEDA and continue to offer effective and clear guidance on privacy issues, and at the same time effectively enforce any players appropriately to build trust with Canadians.

Should Your Business Outsource IT Operations?

Outsourced IT Operations

There never seem to be enough hours in the day to get everything accomplished, and that goes double for small business owners. When you’re top dog in charge, every small problem or frustration heads your way. Technology support is one of the key complaints from staff members, especially when there are problems with slow network connections or aging computers. You need your staff members to be contributing 110% every day, and that goes for your network infrastructure as well. If you’re struggling with finding the time to respond to dozens of IT challenges while also driving your business forward, it may be time to consider outsourcing your IT operations so your internal teams can focus on the future.

Outsourced IT Operations

Predictability in Pricing

Whether your business is running on a shoestring or you have a healthy budget, it is tough to get hit with an unexpected bill that can reach tens of thousands of dollars. If your business experiences any type of disaster event that affects your technology, the cost to get everything back up and running can be staggering. The word “disaster” makes you think of something that won’t happen to you, but the reality of technology disasters is much different. Malware and ransomware are rampant in small businesses, with approximately 60% of all data breaches occurring in a small business. When you work with an IT managed services provider, you have an added layer of support for your team that is priced consistently throughout the year. Plus, you have the peace of mind knowing that you have experts that are an extension of your business who already understand your infrastructure — a great step towards being able to rebuild it successfully.

Reducing Overhead — and Improving Quality of Service

Technology is extremely complex and hiring all of the specialists that you truly need to run a complex business would be exorbitantly expensive. With outsourced IT operations, your staff has a platform of consistent support that they can trust to always be there when they are needed. Response times are guaranteed so staff members can focus on doing their job instead of stressing about whether their technology is working properly or quickly enough for their needs. An added benefit is the access to a stable of trained professionals with a broad range of technical knowledge in fields such as cybersecurity, network engineering, customer support, data utilization and more.

Scale Your Business With Ease

Growing your business technology used to be expensive and stressful: how can you make a major purchase of hardware and software based on the scale you think your business will be for the next few years? If you’re in an active growth stage, a poor decision could be disastrous. Either you end up with inadequate hardware that won’t support your business, or you overspend and have crucial capital reserves tied up in resources that aren’t being fully utilized. With IT managed services, scaling your business couldn’t be easier. Bringing a new server online is no longer a tortuous process of weeks, but can be accomplished very quickly by your external support team. Adding software licenses and data storage capacity is also easier, allowing you to focus on growing your business and providing exceptional service to your customers.

Enterprise-Level Technology — Sized for Your Business

It would be difficult for a small business to afford to implement the same type of advanced help desk software, cloud-based software and security measures that you would receive as a client of a managed IT services company. IT support companies are able to afford enterprise-level technology as they are spreading the costs between a variety of clients. You benefit from the advanced tech at only a fraction of the price. Your help desk support requests become more predictable and your business becomes more secure — all while you’re gaining the benefits of an enhanced network infrastructure to power your business.

Outsourcing your IT operations may not be for every business, but the majority of small businesses can see a significant benefit by reducing the burden on internal technology professionals. As an added bonus, the active monitoring provided by IT support specialists can help ensure that your business is protected from cyberattack, with quick remediation and support if you do experience an attack. Accelerate your business growth and support the innovative ideas of your teams when you rely on trusted, experienced technology professionals to provide support for your business.