Who Wants to Become Part of an Elite Group of Business Executives?

Elite Business Group

Who wants to move past being a typical company with lackluster cybersecurity measures that WILL eventually lead to a data breach?

Elite Business Group

Welcome to the progressive group of business executives who take their reputation, their customers, and ultimately, their livelihood seriously. At this point in time, only 32% of executive board members are briefed on their company’s cybersecurity on a quarterly basis. What difference does their involvement make? Studies show 70% of breaches result from people and process failures within the company. This 32% of executive board members account for a unique group of people who want their business to thrive. They don’t settle for lackluster cybersecurity measures that will be their downfall.

And now we welcome you to join them…

Your internal information technology person or team will certainly thank you for advocating for more when it comes to cybersecurity. Why? Because they know the risks. Sophos found that the average cost of a ransomware attack on businesses is $133,000. Investing in cybersecurity now can save you hundreds of thousands later on.

{company} will help you reach a level of advanced cybersecurity wherein you can rest assured knowing you’re at a low risk for becoming yet another victim of an attack. If you are seriously motivated to become part of an elite group of business owners, you will be glad to hear that we’re able to make sure:

  1. Your board of directors is fully involved in all of your cybersecurity efforts
  2. Your entire staff (everyone on your payroll) is aware of proper policies and procedures
  3. Your complete infrastructure is protected with the right cybersecurity solutions

These 3 simple factors are absolutely crucial to setting you apart from the majority of companies with lackluster cybersecurity measures.

Our offering is based on more than simply implementing the right cybersecurity controls controls, but on helping a select group of business executives set themselves apart from the rest.

We are well-aware that this offering is not something every business executive will respond to, but the ones who do will learn the behaviors, strategies, and policies necessary to persevere for years to come.

Cybersecurity Ventures found that another organization will fall for a ransomware attack every 14 seconds. We looked at the average cost of those ransomware attacks above: $133,000. For many, this is a hard cost to bounce back from. Our team will help you learn the behaviors, strategies, and policies necessary to persevere for years to come. You’ll stay safe from:

● Malware

● DNS attacks

● Email scams and phishing

● Spyware

● Viruses

● Data leaks

● Ransomware

● Internal threats

What makes us the right choice to help you achieve all of this? Since 1988, we’ve been combining all of our expertise, experience, and different perspectives with the information we’ve gathered working with a multitude of companies to create an offering that works. We’re backed by:

  • Multiple industry awards, including MSP501, the Inc. 5000, the CRN MSP 500, and more.
  • Multiple industry certifications, including Microsoft, HP, VMware, EMC, Fortinet, and more.

So what do you need to do?

If you’re ready to become part of an elite group of business executives, call me right away at {phone} or send me an email at {email} to talk about our offering. The behaviors, strategies, and policies necessary to persevere for years to come are YOURS if you’ll take them.

P.S.

If you’re not ready to become part of an elite group of business executives, at least take advantage of our FREE dark web monitoring – available only to the next 14 companies that request it.

This is a HUGE opportunity to find out what sensitive data of yours might be lurking on the dark web:

  • Leaked data from employees
  • Financial information
  • Trademark and copyright infringements
  • And more

Call {phone} or email us at {email} to claim your FREE dark web monitoring before we run out of availability.

 

How to Protect Your Business from SHTML Phishing

Email Phishing

Email Phishing

Protecting Your Data from SHTML Phishing

Data security is vital to any business. Learn how SHTML phishing works and how to minimize the risk of your data falling into the hands of attackers.

Email phishing has been in the playbook of hackers since, well, email. What’s alarming is the scope in which criminals can conduct these attacks, the amount of data potentially at risk, and how vulnerable many businesses are to phishing attempts. Here’s what you need to know to spot the hook and protect your data from being reeled in.

How Does Email Phishing Work?

A phishing email typically contains an attachment in the form of a server-parsed HTML (SHTML) file. When opened, these shady files redirect the user to a malicious website often disguised as a legitimate product or service provider. The website then requests sensitive information such as the user’s address, date of birth, social security number, bank account number, etc. in exchange for providing said product or service.

Users who comply end up giving their information to a criminal who may then sell it to various illegal organizations. Victims may end up losing money and having their identity connected to criminal activity. The attackers may even offer to sell the information back to the owner for a hefty ransom. For businesses, the damages can be irreparable. Phishing is often the launchpad for large-scale cyber attacks, and businesses that fall victim can lose not only cash and assets, but the trust of current and would-be customers.

Who Does SHTML Phishing Target?

While many individuals fall victim to phishing, the main targets are businesses in the banking and finance sector. The sender may use a seemingly legitimate email address, often posing as a trusted, reputable organization. They may goad users to open attachments by claiming to be the IRS, a wealthy businessman offering a lucrative deal, or, ironically, a security provider offering to scan the user’s computer for vulnerabilities. While many phishing attempts are obvious, some can be convincing, and all it takes is a hasty click to give the phisher what they want.

Types of SHTML Phishing

Depending on the attacker, a phishing attempt can range from simple and generic to detailed and personalized to fit the target. For businesses that conduct large quantities of transactions, a phisher may send a simple email claiming to provide a receipt for their purchase. Others may send invoices. Sophisticated attackers may gather information about the business including its suppliers, partners, and even names of individual employees. They may then create fake accounts disguised as these trusted entities, fooling the target into giving away sensitive data. While most phishing attempts fail, a convincing premise combined with a busy, distracted user can equal success – and disaster.

Potential Signs of SHTML Phishing

Being proactive and training your employees to spot phishing is the best line of defense. Here are some potential red flags that may, but not always, indicate that an email is a phishing attack:

  • Poor spelling and grammar
  • Strange characters and punctuation
  • Email addresses comprised of a seemingly random combination of letters and numbers
  • Emails claiming to offer large sums of money
  • Emails claiming that you owe a large sum of money
  • Emails claiming that your data is at risk and offering protection
  • An overly lengthy or short email body
  • Attachments with file types you don’t recognize

How to Protect Your Business from SHTML Phishing

While there’s no way to guarantee that your business will be 100% safe from phishing attacks, you can take precautions to greatly minimize your risk of becoming a victim. Many email clients have rules that automatically filter out suspicious or spam emails. Savvy IT professionals can create additional rules to identify and block phishing emails.

The greatest defense is training every employee to recognize the red flags, especially the not-so-obvious ones. Make basic data security a part of the onboarding process, and hold presentations and seminars several times a year to keep employees aware and bring to light any new threats they should look for.

Data security is more relevant than ever, and businesses need to stay up to date on the latest cybersecurity threats. Is your business taking the necessary precautions to keep phishers away?

Why Every Business Needs Cybersecurity

Business Investment in Cybersecurity

Business Investment in Cybersecurity

Why Every Business Should Invest in Cybersecurity

Cyber security is essential to businesses of all sizes. Learn how to keep your business up to date and protected from the most common digital threats.  

Cybersecurity is no longer a concern exclusive to large corporations. Since the infamous attacks on Equifax, Target, and Apple, cybercriminals have started to shift their focus towards smaller businesses. Without proper security protocols, small businesses are sitting ducks even for novice hackers.

In recent years, the cost of data theft targeting small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) has risen significantly. The Ponemon Institute reports a 17% increase in the average cost of theft and damages, and a 26% increase in the average cost of disruption to operations. The threat has prompted many SMBs to invest more heavily in third-party data security services.

Cybersecurity in a Continuously Evolving Digital Space

Ever-evolving technology makes the world more connected, but also makes data more vulnerable to attackers. Gone are the days when an antivirus, firewall, and email filter were enough to earn a passing cybersecurity grade. As criminals refine and improve their methods of attack, businesses and IT professionals must step up their defenses.

The most recent trend in cyberattacks is a shift towards SMBs, many of which lack the breadth and depth of data security that larger corporations are likely to have. Illicit tactics such as email phishing, direct hacking, and installing ransomware can spell big trouble for SMBs. If your data is compromised, the results can extend to your customers and other members of your supply chain.

Consequences of a Data Breach

The fallout from a data breach depends on the scale of the attack and the value of the data stolen. Hackers may be able to seize control of accounts, drain funds, freeze assets, and access sensitive customer information. If you operate in the healthcare or financial sectors, you may be liable to pay reparations in addition to suffering the cost of stolen capital and the inability to continue operations. The cost of a large-scale data breach can devastate even the wealthiest of corporations, and will most certainly overwhelm a small business.

How to Improve Cybersecurity

A common misconception is that only large corporations can afford effective cybersecurity. In most cases, implementing cybersecurity isn’t merely a matter of money, but of proper training and awareness. A Ponemon Institute study linked 54 percent of data breaches to employee or contractor negligence. This includes email phishing, which is often the first step attackers use to conduct large scale theft of usernames, passwords, and other sensitive data.

Educating and training your employees on cybersecurity minimizes the risk of data theft at the point of contact. Your business should have protocols to identify signs of phishing, choose secure passwords, and grant or deny access to information. You can also inform your customers about how to keep their information secure. Taking this two-pronged approach shows customers how committed you are to keeping their data safe.

Being proactive and spreading the word on cybersecurity threats will help you protect your business from hackers. Whether you’re a multinational corporation or a two-person mom-and-pop shop, your customers rely on you to safeguard their data. Implementing the latest security practices lets them know that you value their trust.

Everything You Need to Know About the Dark Web

The Dark Web

The Dark Web

What Is the Dark Web and How Can You Stay Off It?

Ever heard of the dark web? It’s definitely not a place you want your company’s information to be. Learn everything you need to know about the dark web here.  

Most people have heard about the dark web in one form or another. It’s a place where criminal activity happens — from the purchase of illegal drugs to the hiring of assassins.

Of course, there is a legal side to the dark web as well; though, most people don’t know about. In fact, the origin story of the dark web is entirely legitimate and is even linked to the government.

Still, as a business owner or CEO, your relationship with the dark web (should you unfortunately have one) will not likely be good. It’s a bad sign if any of your information is found there. That’s why it’s important to know about what exactly the dark web is: Where it came from, what’s on it, and what you should do to stay as far away from it as possible.

What Is the Dark Web?

The dark web is essentially one “section” of the Internet. Specifically, it’s a section that isn’t included in mainstream search engines like Google. So, when you search a normal search inquiry, such as, “Where’s the best hamburger joint in downtown Pittsburgh?” you don’t get results from the dark web.

Instead, this section includes all sorts of illicit goings-on. Mostly, it’s a marketplace for things you shouldn’t be buying because they’re illegal to sell and/or buy. For instance, you can buy lifelong access to Netflix for a small price (six bucks). You can hire someone to hack into someone else’s computer for you and download their data or track their keystrokes. You can purchase credit card credentials. You can obtain prepaid debit card numbers and security codes.

How Does One Access the Dark Web?

We’ll reiterate again that the dark web is not a place you want to find yourself (or your information). However, for the sake of knowledge, we’ll explain that in order to access the dark web, you must download what’s called the Tor browser.

Tor stands for The Onion Router. This is basically the software that makes the dark web operate in the dark.

Where Did the Dark Web Originate?

The dark web began in the late 1990s as a way for the United States Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) to better hide their online communications. At this time, The Onion Router or Tor was brand-new.

Soon after its initial creation in 2004, the dark web’s Tor software was released for public use. Since that time, it has ceased to be solely a government resource and has turned into the “back alley” of the Internet.

How Can the Dark Web Affect Business Owners?

The dark web is a potential danger to all businesses of all sizes and in all industries. In fact, it can be a potential danger to individuals as well. But let’s talk about your business and the dark web.

Basically, it has been found that 60% of the web listings on the dark web could harm a business. That’s because, these listings offer individuals searching the dark web ways to obtain things like the following:

  • Customer data
  • Tips for hacking computers
  • Tips for hacking networks
  • Malware
  • Financial data
  • Phishing advice
  • Operational data
  • Intellectual trade secrets
  • Tutorials for cyber crime
  • Remote access Trojans (RATs)
  • Espionage services
  • Credentials access

How Can You Keep Your Business Safe From the Dark Web?

The best way to keep your business safe from the dark web is to have the proper cybersecurity measures in place. This means hiring a cybersecurity team or a managed service provider (MSP) to handle your company’s cybersecurity. Even if you’re a small business, hiring an MSP to have on retainer is a good idea.

They will make sure that you have firewalls and other detectors of malware in place for adequate security. It’s also essential to back up your data and to make everyone who works for or with your company aware of how to avoid phishing attempts.

Lastly, your cybersecurity team should be monitoring the dark web to make sure that none of your information lands there. This goes for personal information for you and your employees, as well as overall company information. Taking these measures is the only surefire way to ensure that your company does not end up on the wrong end of the dark web.

How to Know When to Outsource IT

Group of people discussing Outsourcing IT

Nearly every company must now rely on technology on a daily basis. For most companies, the role of technology will only grow in the future, making it even more important for all companies to have the tech support they need at all times. Depending on the situation, companies may hire employees to handle IT in-house, or they may outsource IT to a third-party provider.

Group of people discussing Outsourcing IT

The information below will help you determine whether it is time for your business to consider IT outsourcing.

Benefits of Outsourcing IT

Before you can decide whether outsourcing is right for you, you must first understand the reasons you might choose this path. Below are some of the potential benefits of outsourcing IT:

  • Fewer headaches – When you outsource IT, you no longer have to worry about maintenance, upgrades, repairs or any other technological problems.
  • Fewer expenses – Outsourcing IT is cost-effective, as you won’t have to pay for full-time employees to handle IT.
  • Scalability – Outsourced IT services can be scaled up or down to meet your needs as your company evolves.
  • No interruptions – When IT is outsourced, you won’t need to deal with downtime or other workflow interruptions related to IT issues.
  • Better use of in-house resources – Many businesses delegate IT responsibilities to existing employees when they can’t afford to hire full time IT personnel. With outsourcing, you will no longer need to split your employees’ focus in this way.

Downsides of Outsourcing

Although outsourcing IT offers several benefits, there are downsides as well. For example, you won’t have as much control over your operations as you would have if you kept IT in-house. In addition, if your provider is in a different time zone or has a heavy workload, communication can be problematic. Finally, if your business is small, outsourcing may be too expensive.

Should You Outsource?

Deciding whether to outsource IT to a third-party provider can be a challenge for any company, and there are many factors to consider. If you aren’t sure whether outsourcing IT is right for your company, simply compare your options and weigh the pros and cons. Remember to evaluate the potential for cost savings, as well as the impact on your day-to-day operations. It’s also a good idea to learn about the services available to you so you will know what you should expect if you choose to outsource.
If you decide to proceed with outsourcing, it is important to consider multiple providers before making a selection. Choosing the right IT provider can make all the difference in the success of your company. Remember that the cost of outsourced services is not the most important factor. Making sure that you are receiving reliable, high-quality services is essential. Interview each of the providers you are considering and ask them about the services they provide, the fees they charge and the customer support they offer. You should also read reviews from past customers to find out how others have felt about the services they received from the provider in question.

Microsoft’s Hyper-V Server 2019 Finally Released: Here’s What You Need to Know

hyper-v to amazon

Microsoft’s Hyper-V Server 2019 Finally Released

After being plagued with everything from data loss issues to a lack of available hardware, Microsoft finally released their long-awaited Hyper-V Server 2019 to their Evaluation Center approximately eight months after the expected release date of October 2, 2018. This is even after the Microsoft team skipped the crucial RTM (“release-to-manufacturing”) stage that allowed hardware developers to deploy and test adequately, forcing a holdup before organizations could even utilize the update. The mysterious delays of this free enterprise-class server virtualization solution may make users a little wary, but the functionality offered may simply be too tempting to overlook the release.

hyper-v to amazon

What Is Microsoft Hyper-V Server 2019?

Microsoft’s Hyper-V Server 2019 is a free product that is meant to compete directly with VMWare, providing enterprise-class virtualization for your datacenter and hybrid cloud, according to Microsoft’s Evaluation Center website. Essentially, you’re able to quickly scale and balance workloads to meet the demanding performance requirements of today’s data-heavy businesses. The release contains the Windows hypervisor technology as well as a simple and reliable virtualization component and a Windows Server driver model. The product is intended to help reduce costs and improve overall server utilization. You can easily compare Windows Server versions in this free online tool from Microsoft.

“We Found Some Issues with the Media”

Microsoft’s bland explanation of why they quickly pulled Windows Hyper-V Server 2019 from the Evaluation Center almost immediately included this note on their blog: “As we were getting ready to publish Microsoft Hyper-V Server 2019 in the Evaluation Center, we found some issues with the media. We are actively working on resolving it”. This was after the software giant released the Windows Server 2019 evaluation media, minus the Hyper-V Server portion of the package. While it’s fortunate that Microsoft immediately discovered these issues before the software was widely implemented, there were still some critical features that users had been anxiously awaiting for many months. It appears there were some issues with Remote Desktop Protocol and media installation problems, too.

While it seems that all of the glitches have been safely ironed from Microsoft’s latest release, wary users may want to give the platform a few months before launching into full utilization. After more than seven months of delays, Microsoft has left fans wondering if they’re preparing to phase out the popular — and free — tool in the future.

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.

What Is Managed IT Services & Who Provides Services

Managed IT Services

As managed IT services have grown in popularity, you’ve probably heard the concept touted often as the answer to your business’s IT woes. Still, there can be plenty of mystery on the topic. What is managed IT services, exactly? How do organizations integrate managed IT services into their existing business and workflows? Also, who provides these services? In today’s business blog we’ll answer these questions and more.

What Is Managed IT Services Exactly?

Managed IT services is a broad term describing any scenario in which a company (that’s you) partners with a vendor, called a managed service provider (or MSP), to handle some or all IT responsibilities for the company.

The exact services that MPSs offer range pretty widely. Companies, too, vary widely in terms of their IT infrastructure and needs, as well as exactly which IT responsibilities they choose to outsource to an MSP. Some firms may contract with an MSP to handle absolutely everything about their IT infrastructure. More commonly, companies will outsource only certain portions of their IT workload.

It’s a little easier to understand the concept of managed IT services by looking at some examples of how they are currently being used in several types of organizations.

How Do Organizations Utilize Managed IT Services?

Businesses implement managed IT services in a whole host of ways. Here are a few examples.

Some companies look to a managed service provider to handle all or nearly all its IT needs. Growing small businesses, for example, may not have much (or any) in-house IT presence. They need capabilities that they don’t have, and they find it simpler and more affordable to contract with an MSP than to build out their own in-house IT team.

On the other end of the spectrum, a medium or large business with an established in-house IT team might look to a managed service provider to alleviate some stress on that team. A larger firm might outsource helpdesk-level support, for example. In doing so, the company would empower its in-house team. Free from the distractions of troubleshooting workstations and managing software installs, the in-house IT specialists can focus their attention on the higher-level tasks they were hired to do.

Businesses of any size can also look to an MSP to fill a specialized need. Some areas of IT have unpredictable costs, and others are simply cost-prohibitive for many smaller businesses to build on their own. Some areas can be difficult to hire for, too. Examples of specialized needs that can be met through managed IT services include cyber security, information security and compliance, and cloud services.

What Are Reasons to Choose a Managed Service Provider (MSP)?

Businesses who have embraced the managed IT services model do so for a wide variety of reasons. Some are unique to specific industries, but many are universal. Here are a few reasons it likely makes sense for your business to choose a managed service provider for your managed IT services needs.

Scaling for Growth

Scaling your IT infrastructure has real costs when you do it in house. You need additional equipment, additional floor space to house the equipment, and additional personnel to install, run, and monitor the equipment. Managed service providers, on the other hand, already have the equipment. They’re running servers for dozens of businesses, so they have automatic capacity when you need more. They can leverage the economy of scale in a way you can’t.

Growth isn’t just measured in headcount, either. Device count continues to increase, too. Employees expect to be able to interact with systems using their work computer, laptop, tablet, and phone—both on site and off. Your in-house team doesn’t have the time to support all these device issues. A managed service provider does.

The Talent Gap Is Real

If you have an in-house team, are you having trouble keeping it fully staffed with well qualified people? You’re not alone. One reason is that the US has reached full employment, making domestic hiring more difficult than ever before.

Another more serious reason is the digital talent gap. In 2017 (that’s before we reached full employment), 54% of companies were having difficulty finding workers with the right digital skills. It’s not gotten better.

Fill your business’s talent gap by partnering with an MSP. The right MSP will have the specialties you’re missing and will be able to work in harmony with your in-house team.

IT Managed Services

Who Provides Managed IT Services?

If your business is looking into working with a managed service provider, you may be asking who provides managed IT services. The good news is you have plenty of options. There are quite a few local providers offering managed IT services in every metropolitan area, and there are a few global players as well. We’ll get to that distinction, but first, a word on services offered and specialization.

Services Offered and Specialization

The first question businesses should ask is whether an MSP offers the services they need. Not every MSP has exactly the same offerings or experience, so don’t be afraid to ask pointed questions. Don’t just ask whether they offer a given service; ask how many clients they’ve served with it.

Some industries, like healthcare or finance, have developed specialized IT needs. Accordingly, some MSPs specialize in specific industries or technologies. In short, look for niche players if you’re in a niche industry.

Local vs. Global MSPs

Choosing a local firm means getting local, boots-on-the-ground support. The best local firms offer a wide spectrum of services, including extended hours, and have the infrastructure and personnel depth you need. You’ll get individualized attention and you’ll support your local economy.

Choosing a global firm like Amazon’s AWS gives you access to more raw power and, often, innovative technology others can’t match. Customer service, on the other hand, can be a bit impersonal, and fixing on-site problems can take time.

Conclusion

If you’re looking for a quality local managed services provider, we’re here for you. Contact us today to get started.

Outsourcing IT Makes Sense for Small Businesses: 7 Reasons

Woman Outsourcing Technology Support

Woman Outsourcing Technology Support

If you’re a small business owner, you have plenty of things to worry about. IT shouldn’t be one of them. We think it makes complete sense for most small businesses to outsource their IT needs to a managed service provider (MSP). Here are 7 reasons.

1. Focus on What Makes You Unique

This first reason is a big one. Small businesses have limits on how many people they can hire. If you try to keep all your IT in house, you’ll devote a decent number of your hires to IT once you reach a certain size.

Here’s the problem: your business isn’t IT. (If it is, you probably don’t need this guide!) Outsourcing your IT frees up capital and office space that you can instead devote to your core business. Outsource your IT so you can better focus your staff on whatever it is that makes you unique.

2. Access More Skill

With an in-house IT team, you’re limited to whatever number of specialties you can afford to hire. Your IT team will work hard, and its members will stretch their skills and find a way to accomplish things outside their skill set. Their work won’t always be done in the best way, though. By outsourcing your IT, you gain access to a broader range of skills and certifications. You can rest easy knowing that it was done right from the get-go.

3. Do More, Faster

Related to the previous point, your IT needs will be met faster by a dedicated team of experts than by a small but well-intentioned in-house team. All that time the in-house team spends poking around looking for answers to problems that lie outside their specialties is the time you’re paying for. With an MSP you’ll usually get the right answer, right away.

4. Reduce Personnel Costs

When you hire in-house IT staff, you’re on the hook for all the associated personnel costs, like insurance, FICA, and so forth. These costs are often hidden and can be burdensome for small businesses. With an MSP, you pay a fixed monthly rate, and you don’t have to worry about administrative personnel costs. The MSP takes care of those for its employees.

5. Reduce Infrastructure Costs

Outsourcing IT to an MSP isn’t solely about reducing IT headcount and the costs associated with personnel. You can also save IT infrastructure costs by using an MSP. Service agreements vary, but some will include some or all hardware in the monthly fee. You can avoid large spikes in expenses for new equipment by choosing this kind of service agreement.

Your MSP can also move much of your IT infrastructure to the cloud, eliminating the need to house costly servers at your business. The less IT infrastructure you have on site, the less you pay to power and maintain that equipment.

6. Free Your Existing IT Team to Focus

For larger small businesses, outsourcing IT usually isn’t done with the intent of drastically reducing or eliminating IT headcount. It’s more about allowing your existing IT team to focus in and specialize.

If your IT staff has grown beyond just one or two generalists, you likely have some highly capable, highly qualified individuals on your team. Here’s a scary proposition: go ask those people how many hours a week are eaten up doing low-level IT errands like helping John in Accounting with basic computer questions or reminding Sarah from Accounts not to reply-all to emails?

Outsourcing your basic IT functions to an MSP allows your existing IT team to focus on their areas of specialization. You’re also free to assign in-house assets to IT functions that are core to your business or are proprietary.

7. Gain After Hours Support (Without Paying Overtime)

Outsourcing your IT needs to an MSP with a 24/7 service agreement means instant access to support anytime. With an in-house IT staff, you’ll end up paying overtime if a system goes down after hours. You may also have to wait for that IT staffer to physically arrive to fix the problem.

When you outsource, you get near immediate remote support, without the overtime. This is a great benefit to small businesses of all varieties and sizes. You’ll benefit even more from after-hours service if you have virtual team members or even satellite offices in far-flung time zones.

Conclusion

We’ve covered just 7 of the many reasons that outsourcing IT to a managed service provider is the right choice for small businesses. Do you have questions about specific aspects of working with an MSP? Let’s chat. We’re ready to answer.

Are You Prepared? Your 9 Step Local Business Disaster Recovery Plan

Data Backup Plan

Data Backup Plan

Are you prepared for disaster to strike your business, whether natural or manmade? Many businesses aren’t. They either have no business disaster recovery plan, or the one they have is wholly insufficient.

Is this really a big deal for your local business? Yes, it is. Forbes reports FEMA statistics that over 40% of businesses affected by a disaster never reopen at all. Those that do reopen often deal with the aftermath of lost data, revenue, and stability for years (or until bankruptcy).

You can’t prevent all risk to your local business associated with disaster, but you can mitigate a lot of that risk. You need a comprehensive IT disaster recovery plan. We’ll get you started with x steps that should be part of your plan.

1. Know What Equipment You Need to Stay Operational

This step starts with creating an inventory of every piece of equipment that you can’t operate without. This isn’t a full inventory (though you should have one of those, too). This is a list of what’s mission critical.

2. Create a Timeline for Recovery

Now that you know what you need to remain operational, craft a timeline for recovery. This should be a realistic timeline, taking into account how long it will physically take to get the critical equipment as well as how long you can afford to be dark before your business’s existence is threatened.

Consider both how long it will take you to recover and what point in time you can recover to. The latter relates to your backups, which we’ll cover in step 4.

3. Communicate This Information Far and Wide

An inventory and timeline that only you know about will not be effective. Consider that you may be incapacitated in the disaster, or you may be unable to get to the disaster site. Do others know what to do if you’re not around? Communicate your mission-critical inventory and your recovery timeline to stakeholders throughout your organization.

4. Back Up Data (and Review Your Backup Providers)

Getting the equipment you need up and running is one aspect of recovery. The other is restoring the most recent data you have available. Backing up your data is an essential part of a disaster recovery plan.

If you’re already backing up your data, that’s good. Take time regularly to inventory your backups. Are they running on schedule? Are the backup files useable? Also, be aware that on-site backups have their purpose, but in the event of a disaster like flood or fire, your on-site backups are most likely destroyed. Consider adding cloud backups or off-site backups to your IT arsenal to better protect yourself against risk.

5. Procure a Generator

In the event of a natural disaster, power outages could be widespread. You may end up in a situation where your infrastructure is either undamaged or already rebuilt, but the city hasn’t restored power to you yet. Having a generator on site can allow you to resume critical functions sooner.

6. Evaluate Costs

Knowing where to procure replacement equipment is important, but so is having a plan for paying for that equipment. If that’s a daunting suggestion for your local business, you might consider looking into catastrophe insurance. Avoid the threat of a massive bill for replacing equipment by paying a lower and consistent amount for insurance.

7. Limit the Chance of Unnatural Disasters

You can’t control natural disasters, but you can limit the chance of an unnatural one. Take steps to lower your exposure to human threats like cyberattacks, data breaches, and equipment sabotage. One practical step is to audit who has access to what. Give employees and vendors access to only those files and systems they need to do their work. We also recommend regularly providing training on detecting scam emails and phishing schemes.

This step is a tough one to manage yourself. Consider partnering with a managed service provider (MSP) to help you step up your cybersecurity efforts and to train your staff accordingly.

8. Test Your Plan

Just like your backups, your plan as a whole can’t be good if it doesn’t actually work. Test your plan at regular intervals to make sure you’ve not left any gaps. If you discover problems you can’t solve, work with an MSP to find solutions.

9. Don’t Go It Alone

We’ll be blunt. All this is too much for most local businesses to handle alone. You need a quality MSP to help in the process. If you’re ready for help with your disaster recovery plan, contact us today.