Why Managed Detection and Response is a Valuable Tool for Small to Medium Businesses

Managed Detection

Managed Detection and Response could be the solution businesses are looking for in a world where cybercrime is on the rise and security experts are hard to find.  

Managed Detection

Cybersecurity is becoming much more than just a buzz word as cyberattacks on businesses increase and companies face the challenge of finding skilled cybersecurity professionals. By 2022, there could potentially be as many as 1.8 million unfilled cybersecurity jobs, a pain point for many small to medium businesses.

While cybercrime continues to threaten these very businesses, many are wondering if there is a solution to these challenges. How does a company protect significant amounts of data with limited IT and security staff? The answer comes in the form of specialized teams of security and threat analysts, or Managed Detection and Response.

Managed Detection and Response (MDR)

Similar to other Managed Service Providers, companies that specialize in MDR work to provide cybersecurity support to companies that are either lacking skills or time to manage security. What makes Managed Detection and Response unique is its comprehensive approach to dealing with threats.

MDR requires both technology and human analysis to effectively and proactively detect, remediate, and eventually eliminate cyber threats. Where other providers offer an overall software and hardware-based alert system, they are often limited in their ability to respond to, research, and diagnose the number of alerts that happen daily.

With managed detection and response, analysts sift through alerts to determine if they require action. When a response is required, they offer immediate support in resolving the issue and determining its source so that a threat of that type is less likely to occur again.

MDR also takes a proactive approach to threat detection—also called threat hunting—that helps companies determine the overall state of their cybersecurity measures. Specialized analysts are able to research why or how a threat is occurring, resulting in a more comprehensive solution. This same skill set allows them to see beyond the individual incident and understand the greater need behind your network, server, and endpoint data protection.

Improving Your Cybersecurity Defenses

While cyberattacks on big companies dominate the news headlines, it is small to medium businesses that are facing the majority of threats—and they are doing it unprepared. At least 43% of cyberattacks are directed at small businesses, but very few are prepared to deal with the onslaught. On average, these attacks cost businesses $200,000, which is more than many of them can handle.

Managed Security Services provide necessary firewall and perimeter protection for your network, and prove to be helpful in providing alerts when anomalies arise. But the amount of protection most companies need can only come in the form of a specialized and highly trained in-house security team or an MDR.

As cybercrime continues to increase, protecting more than just your company’s network perimeter will be key to improving your cybersecurity defenses. Finding and outsourcing your security needs to Managed Detection and Response could be the best way forward in a world where cybersecurity is an essential part of your company’s future.

4 Dangers of Hiring Printer Companies to Manage Your IT Services

Printer Repair Companies

4 Reasons Not to Hire Printer Companies

Thinking about saving money on your IT services with a printer company? Learn about the pitfalls and dangers of relying on support from companies without expertise.  

Printer Repair Companies

Hiring a printer company to take care of your IT services can seem like a great solution. You won’t have to consult with multiple vendors or negotiate multiple contracts. A printer company might even offer to take care of all of your IT services for less than what you’re currently spending. However, there are several reasons why you should not trust a printer company as your single vendor for all of your organization’s IT needs. Although you may pay less, that lower price comes with a higher cost – substandard service and support.

The delivery of substandard service and support from printer companies occurs due to the following:

  • A lack of experience
  • An inability to understand the true nature and components of IT services
  • Inadequate resources directed towards developing IT and IT services
  • Unstable organizations due to conflicts between printing and IT services

Insufficient Experience

By design, printer companies are specialists in troubleshooting and maintaining two items – printers and copiers. While these companies are experts at providing service on these types of devices, branching out into the world of IT services is not something these companies have done in the past. Even though the staff may have basic troubleshooting, sales, and customer service experience under their belts, they may only have limited experience with the complexities of managing networks.

Lack of Understanding

Since printer companies do not have decades of experience with IT services, there is often a skill and knowledge gap. Without an understanding of and experience with more complex computing devices, troubleshooting skills may be limited. Computing devices, servers, and network equipment are more intricate than printers or copiers. In order to configure, deploy, maintain, troubleshoot, and fix this type of equipment, advanced and interdependent knowledge is necessary. It is far easier for printer companies to overlook the source of a problem with network dependent devices and the network itself simply due to a lack of skill.

Inadequate Resources

Since these companies specialize in printers and copiers, it is more difficult to devote internal resources to IT services. This means that there may be little put into research and development, training staff on the skills they need to support IT services, and a lack of support staff designated to managing IT services for clients. In other words, printer companies tend to overpromise and underdeliver when it comes to supporting services and devices outside of printers.

Instability

When printer companies try to branch out into IT services, it can cause internal conflict. Staff that is managing printers and copiers may not be able to keep the company afloat, due to the fact that the company is not reinvesting what it should into its printer expertise. Consequently, both sides of the business begin to suffer, and animosity develops. Leaders within the company may decide to cut out IT services altogether, leaving clients without support.

Downtime Is Extremely Expensive – Can You Actually Afford It?

Computer Network Downtime

Downtime is bad for business.

Whether you agree or not, it’s a fact – just a couple years ago, small businesses with up to 50 million in annual revenue reported that just a single hour of downtime cost them $8,600.

Computer Network Downtime

Why Does Downtime Cost So Much?

The main cost of downtime is not the fix itself, it’s the halt in your business’ productivity. If an IT-related or natural disaster occurs and takes critical systems offline, employees will be unable to complete their tasks, yet your normal business expenses will carry on.

During that time, you incur all the expenses of running a business without the revenue you would usually generate. Even if downtime does not grind everything to a halt, some of your staff will have to divert themselves from their normal work to mitigate the problem – again reducing productivity. Furthermore, while your systems are down, you can’t deliver services or sell products to current and potential new clients.

Not all of the costs associated with downtime have a tangible price tag. The trust of your clients and the reputation of your company are invaluable assets that can erode with prolonged or frequent downtime issues. A diminished reputation can negatively affect your future business opportunities.

Some downtime is inevitable, but much of it can be prevented and mitigated.

What Are The Primary Causes Of Downtime?

  • Power Outage: If your power source fails, that can lead to a long list of complications like servers going down and lost, unsaved data.
  • Cybercrime: Cybercrime has increased in recent years and is still on the rise. All it takes is one employee opening a malicious attachment and your business data could be held hostage.
  • Human Error: Accidentally unplugging key equipment, overloading the system, and improper installations can all cause downtime, but maintaining certain policies and procedures can cut down on human error.
  • Natural Disasters: Hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, and earthquakes happen. Having a plan for getting back to business if the unthinkable happens is the fastest way to recover.

What’s The Best Way To Prevent Downtime?

…by stopping it in the first place.

The best way to approach downtime prevention is proactively – you need to keep an eye out for system issues that can spiral into total stoppages. You need to implement backup technologies and best practices to prevent outages. You need to enhance your cybersecurity to protect against cybercrime.

Unfortunately, that’s a lot for you to handle on your own, especially when have other work to see to. That’s why a managed IT services company can be so helpful. They’ll provide 24/7 active monitoring of your systems, business continuity best practices and cybersecurity services that will keep costly downtime at a minimum.

 

MSP Vs. In-House: The Pros and Cons

Managed Service Providers

What Are the Pros and Cons of an MSP Vs. In-House IT Services?

Many businesses struggle with how to choose an IT services team. Should you hire in-house or go with an MSP? Learn the pros and cons of each option here.

Managed Service Providers

When it comes to IT services — from daily maintenance and cybersecurity, to new installations and troubleshooting — which is better: Hiring an outside managed services provider (MSP) or employing an in-house IT specialist or team?

This question is not a new one. It’s dealt with in many other arenas where outsourcing a specific task is possible — for example: Marketing, bookkeeping, janitorial services, catering, etc.

Part of making a final decision on matters like these is weighing the pros and cons. If your business is considering the hire of an MSP versus the hire of an in-house IT specialist (or team of specialists), consider the following pros and cons to each option below.

In-House IT: Pros and Cons

Pro: On-site availability

Many businesses like having an in-house IT support person (or a team) because it gives them continual, on-site access to IT help when they need it. Of course, this only extends to business hours.

Pro: Possible deeper knowledge of your company’s internal infrastructure

In-house IT service professionals will generally know the ins and outs of your particular business better than outsourced IT services.

Con: High personnel costs

In-house IT teams should be paid a living wage, which often includes perks such as healthcare services and paid vacation and sick leave.

Con: Lack of support if IT specialist is on vacation or sick

Speaking of paid vacation and sick leave, during those times when your IT staff is away, you’ll have no access to IT services, which could put your business efficiency at risk.

Con: Lots of downtimes

On the other hand, when you don’t require the services of your IT team, you’ll still have to pay them, resulting in a continual outflow of money that’s not actually serving your business.

Con: Lower level of expertise

Of course, this all depends on the IT team you’d hire, but it’s generally accepted that most SMBs won’t be able to support continual training for their in-house IT team. Unfortunately, in the IT support world, continual training is absolutely vital.

Managed Services Provider (MSP): Pros and Cons

Pro: Range of payment options

From the get-go, businesses can choose their level of service when it comes to MSPs. If you’re small and just starting out, you can choose a service level that matches your budgets and your needs.

Pro: Scalability

As your business grows, MSPs allow you to scale up to higher levels of service. That way, you’ll actually be paying for the services you use instead of an unchangeable flat rate, no matter how many services you employ.

Pro: Broader skill base

MSPs specialize in IT services — it’s their bread and butter. As a result, they have a vested interest in staying up-to-date with the most advanced IT service practices available at any given time. They are continually learning, training, and expanding their knowledge and capabilities.

Pro: 24/7 availability

Although it’s true that in-house IT services are always available on-site, MSPs offer 24/7 service — you just have to give them a call. In fact, most MSPs will give you a “minimum response time.” That’s the maximum number of minutes you’ll have to wait if you need their services any time of the day or night, 24/7. It’s generally around 10 minutes to an hour at most.

Con: Lack of full control over IT systems

The biggest con of MSPs is that they’re outsourced. That is, they’re located remotely, and as a result, they’re not on-premise wherever you are. In some cases, this could possibly result in less control over IT on your end.

At the same time, however, it’s important to note that many businesses aren’t interested in this control. They simply need reliable IT services to fix problems, provide security, and occasionally install new hardware or software.

MSPs: The Right Choice for Your Business

The scalability, low-cost, provided expertise and a wide array of support offered by managed services providers make them the best choice for nearly all businesses.

From small startups with low budgets to large enterprises that need top-of-the-line security from the best in the business, IT services that are handled by MSPs consistently rate higher and provide more satisfaction to their clients.

If your business is looking to hire a managed services provider, do your research. You’ll want to find a local MSP with expertise in your company’s particular industry. Finally, look for adequate training and certifications in employees and reputable history of satisfied clients.

4 Ways IT Outsourcing Helps Your Business

IT Consultants

Do You Know the 4 Ways IT Outsourcing Improves Business Success?

Many small and mid-sized companies underestimate the drawbacks of not having top-tier IT professionals in place. These 4 benefits highlight the need for change.  

IT Consultants

Are a business decision-maker wondering about when the best time to outsource your IT needs? It was yesterday, and you are already late to enjoy the benefits of working with a third-party tech outfit that specializes in IT managed services.

It’s not uncommon for small and mid-sized companies to operate under the assumption that modest IT needs do not warrant creating a budget line-item on their behalf. Some designate an in-house person with seemingly good computer skills to run virus scans and update applications. Other outfits hire a single technology person to handle the responsibility of overseeing their entire network. Both of these policies are inherently flawed for a variety of reasons. After reviewing the following 4 ways IT outsourcing helps your business, you may gain clarity as to why working with a third-party expert is in your best interest.

1: Removes Peripheral Distractions from Profitable Goal Achievement

As upstart organizations begin to grow into mid-level outfits, the visionaries that propelled their success forward are increasingly beset by issues that detract from primary goals. Budget management, contract negotiations, and supply chains are top-tier items that further a company’s profit-enhancing goals. Tackling these items tends to be a good use of time and energy. If industry leaders are also tasked with maintaining and repairing the tools of the trade, essential issues cannot enjoy the laser focus they deserve.

When an organization shuffles computer and network duties to an employee or even a designated in-house tech person, network problems become part of routine oversight. An experienced third-party managed services provider takes proactive measures to maintain and repair your devices and network without you lifting a finger. Your vision drives the organization. That’s why it’s crucial to all of the key stakeholders involved that IT distractions are a non-factor.

2: Improves Network Efficiency and Productivity

Imagine traveling the road of handing off-network duties to an untrained employee or a designated tech person. Now imagine they call in sick during a critical business productivity cycle. Imagine further, they take a two-week vacation. What happens when your network starts to suffer glitches or goes dark altogether? The answer is simple: You lose revenue.

The reality of owning or operating a business in the technology age is that networks never sleep, they don’t call in sick, and they don’t go on vacation. Maximum productivity and efficiency require organizations to have 24-7 managed IT services in place. When you negotiate an ongoing services agreement with an experienced IT contractor, they can conduct remote updates, scans, and effect problem solving anytime your network runs amok. But that will happen a lot less frequently because high-level maintenance is usually part of the outsourcing package. Experienced IT experts deliver the laser focus to systems that help make your organization successful.

3: Reduces Risk of Cyber Threats and Financial Losses

According to reports, more than 317 million pieces of malware were created in 2018 alone. To put that staggering number into perspective, nearly 100 infectious threats were developed daily. Now add that business risk to the fact that companies suffered financial losses above $600 billion in 2018 and that figure upticked by $100 billion from 2014.

Compounding the genuine risk of doing business with technology is that too many small and mid-sized organizations incorrectly assume that cybersecurity breaches are almost exclusively targeted at large corporations with vast assets. The common misconception may be attributed to heavy media coverage of the massive violations suffered by household-name corporations.

While billion-dollar cybertheft makes splashy headlines, the overwhelming majority of cybersecurity thieves targets small and mid-sized outfits. Hackers, who may be sitting in an internet café halfway around the world, search for subpar network defenses and attack. In plain terms, you are the low-hanging fruit ripe for the plucking.

Outsourcing IT security to a third-party provider improves your cyber defenses from among the weakest links to the strong. Having the latest anti-virus, anti-malware, and next-generation cybersecurity protections in place quietly takes you off hacker hit lists. If these nefarious computer thieves are anything, it’s lazy. They’ll move on from your network and attack someone less secure.

4: Keeps Technology on Cutting Edge

An effective business network enhances employee engagement and productivity. If that sounds like a pie-in-the-sky idea about working on computers, consider the alternative.

When emails are slow to download, or that tedious “buffering” icon spins around, employees tend to disengage from work-related tasks. One moment they are plugging along on your company desktop, the next they are checking text messages, and social media posts on their phone. When that happens, employee engagement and productivity is not diminished — it’s non-existent. It may be even more unsettling to know that experts say that it can take more than 20 minutes to get back on track after task disruption. Sadly, that unnecessary loss of productivity could have been avoided by outsourcing your IT needs to a professional.

Ask Smart Questions about Solutions and Technology Expertise to Find a Superior IT Service Provider

IT Budget

Here Are Top Questions to Ask Potential IT Service Providers

Discover the most important questions to ask about products, quality, expertise, competency, security and breadth when selecting an IT service provider.

IT Budget

Business leaders who want to cut operating expenses, improve efficiency and leverage the newest technologies turn to IT service providers. With the right technology partner, a business can see considerable gains in productivity, communication and data security.

Choosing the right IT service provider is an important decision. Here are a few of the questions to ask to help you make the right choice.

How Do We Know If an IT service provider is a Quality Business?

Determining if a business is run well and according to best practices is often a difficult assessment. Here are some things to look for:

  • Staff Size. If you have extensive needs, a large staff with specialized areas is usually better equipped to handle complex clients. However, a smaller company may get lost in the shuffle of a large organization only focused on the largest clients.
  • Technology Partners. IT service providers cannot do everything by themselves. That’s why the best rely on partnership agreements with high-quality tech companies to deliver specialized products and services. Ask for a list of their partners; strong connections to top companies is a good sign.
  • References. If you encounter an IT service provider that refuses to provide references, walk away. Ask for references from clients that are the same size, in the same industry or facing similar challenges as yours.

What Do We Ask to Determine if an IT service provider is Technically Competent?

You rely on your IT service provider to have the technical expertise to address your needs. How can you assess their technical abilities? Ask about the following:

  • Competencies. Certifications and preferred partner status are good indicators of technical quality and where the IT service provider’s strengths are. Especially in small shops, an emphasis and expertise in Linux may mean they’re not as strong at Windows. Use this space to ask about professional development for their staff and their training commitment.
  • Out of Scope. If you are paying a flat rate for managed services, you need to know what’s included and what isn’t. There are plenty of services that could be included in a package, including network security monitoring, ISP troubleshooting, software and firmware upgrades and patching, hardware installation and server upgrades. Be sure to shop around and know what’s covered by your plan and what is either an extra charge or not available.
  • Disaster Recovery. If a natural disaster or hacker attack hits your company, you need a business continuity and disaster recovery plan in place to reduce the damage and impact. It’s a common service for an IT service provider to offer. But you need to know what your IT service provider’s own disaster recovery plan is. If your IT service provider can’t be up and running quickly after a disaster, they are unlikely to be able to help you.
  • Compliance Coverage. More and more businesses face compliance challenges at the federal, state local and industrial level. Foreign entities are also demanding compliance with mandates, often concerning securing and using personal data. Ask your IT service provider about their experience with the compliance requirements, such as HIPAA, GDPR, PCI or FSMA, that your company has. Inquire about a service level agreement (SLA) that guarantees compliance with the mandates you are required to fulfill.
  • Automation. Advances in automation have taken the place of lots of manual tasks. Your IT service provider should be committed to using automation and AI solutions wherever possible, freeing their staff to work on higher-level projects. If they are not using the most cutting-edge technology, how will they advise you on how to leverage new solutions?

Can We Measure the Service Quality of an IT service provider?

Service is critical when choosing an IT service provider. You want a partner that’s attentive, responsive and effective when you have a critical need. Ask the following:

  • Internal vs. Outsourced. Your IT service provider will promise to deliver an extraordinary range of products and solutions. However, it’s important to know who will be doing the work on your account. Ask your potential IT service provider what work is done internally by their employees and what is outsourced (and why).
  • Strategy and Advising. Some IT service providers focus exclusively on selling you technology solutions. Others take a comprehensive approach. You want an IT service provider that can act as a virtual chief information officer, providing help with technology strategy, budgeting and growth that aligns with your present and future business priorities.
  • Scalability. As your company grows, you need solutions that can scale rapidly as new customers, data and technologies emerge. Be sure to ask how scalable an IT service provider’s solutions are, how they will help improve efficiency, how they will reduce costs and how they will reduce workload.

Thoughtful questions asked consistently of each potential IT service provider puts your business in the best position to select the right technology partner.

Ready for Disaster? Tips for Creating a Smart Business Continuity Plan

Business Planning

Mitigate Disaster with a Comprehensive Business Continuity Plan

When you create a detailed business continuity plan, you can keep disaster from disrupting your operations. See how to get started here.  

Business Planning

When disaster strikes, disruptions to your operations could negatively impact your construction projects, pushing them past the deadline and over budget. And it is not just natural disasters you have to worry about, either.

Everything from serious IT problems to the loss of important team members has the potential to wipe out your operations. That is, unless you have a smart business continuity plan in place. With this plan, you can keep your operations moving along like normal, helping ensure the success of all your construction projects.

Importance of Having a Business Continuity Plan

In optimal conditions, there’s no doubt everything runs like clockwork, as your team works hard to complete their individual tasks. If anyone fails to come through, however, everything could grind to a halt. Furthermore, without writing it out, only a few in your company may know just what everyone should be working on and how it all comes together.

Therefore, you need a business continuity plan just in case serious disruptions leave you without certain team members, equipment, or workspaces. In many ways, this plan is a big-picture overview of everything that goes on at your construction firm. It also identifies all the workarounds you can use when faced with disruptions caused by different disaster scenarios.

Above all, your plan should detail who is in charge of each department in the absence of key players and all the ways they can keep moving forward in their daily duties. With that approach, you can keep major disruptions from throwing your workforce off track or preventing them from completing their tasks.

How to Create a Continuity Plan for Your Business

Without knowing what is on the horizon, there is really no time to waste in creating your business continuity plan. Thankfully, you can easily approach this process by using the following steps.

Take a Complete Inventory of Your Company

Taking inventory of your workforce, contacts, and equipment is the very first thing you must do to create your plan. You will likely need to take a big step back from your construction company to complete this step.

To start, create a list of all your employees, noting the major players in each department. Add their contact information in full, so you can find how to reach out at a glance. Then, create similar records of your material suppliers, clients, and other important contacts.

Next, you can move onto creating a complete inventory of all the equipment used on each of your job sites. Make sure to include their make, model, and serial numbers, so you can find parts or file claims as needed to keep things moving along. In addition, note any local parts suppliers, repair techs, and equipment dealers for those brands to complete your log.

Outline Existing Processes and Highlight Critical Areas

With the completion of the inventory step, you will need to look at your operations. Go from department to department, look at the duties of each employee and how they support other departments. Along the way, busy yourself with creating flowcharts for all the distinct processes used to run your construction company.

Throughout this process, identify your key operations and the major players you depend on to get the work done. Then, see who can fill in if those individuals cannot make it work. Also, add ways employees can workaround specific disruptions and continue to fulfill their core duties.

Identify Temporary Workstations and Keep Them Updated

If your core employees cannot get to their normal workstations, everything should not grind to a halt. But it will unless you have already identified temporary workstations and made the effort to keep them updated.

The workstations should have all the equipment and software normally used by the team and be completely ready for their use. So, create an update schedule and make sure the temporary workstations are included whenever you complete a major equipment or software upgrade. Furthermore, ensure your employees know about the existence of these workstations and how to access them.

Create Your Plan for Maintaining Critical Operations

With your understanding of your core operations, you can create a plan for each of your employees, helping them mitigate the effects of the disaster. Working across all departments, you will need to indicate who is responsible for getting each system back online and up to their normal operating levels. They should have a clear direction on the steps to take and the tools they will need to complete the assigned tasks.

Your plan should cover not only the construction tasks you are responsible for in that moment, but also all the administrative ones. You need to let your payroll department know how to proceed, for example, to ensure they can continue to process payments for all your employees.

Once you are finished creating your business continuity plan, store the main copy in a secure location and provide each department with their own copies.

Don’t Wait — Create Your Business Continuity Plan Today

So, now that you know what to do, there’s really no reason to wait. Start building your business continuity plan today to protect your operations from disaster. Otherwise, your employees could be left without the knowledge needed to keep your business afloat until everything returns to normal.

Six Advantages to Hiring a Local IT Company

Local IT Services Company

Local IT Services Company

Why You Should Choose a Local IT Services Company

Learn about 6 advantages to hiring a local IT services company to support your technology needs, including knowledge of the local economy and proximity when you need support. 

Having a technology partner that understands your business, its needs and its priorities is vital. Technological advantages can differentiate your company from the competition, improve efficiency and improve the bottom line.

One oft-overlooked criterion when choosing a technology company is its location. You want a technology partner that is close to your business and can be available when you need support, guidance or advice.

Here are 6 reasons why choosing a local IT company is the right decision.

1. Faster Response Times

When there’s an emergency, you need to make sure your company’s networks, devices, software, data and connections are available, working and uncompromised. While technology allows many IT issues to be handled remotely, in an emergency, you may want or need in-person expertise to address the issues.

Geographical proximity is also an advantage if you’d prefer someone come on-site to provide an expert assessment.

2. Local Personnel on Your Account

Having a local account manager overseeing your account is a tremendous asset. Having an account manager and other lead staff members locally allows for more physical interactions that allow for better working relationships, strategy development and a stronger long-term relationship.

3. Knowledge of Local Business Market and Climate

By choosing a local organization to support your IT, you’re partnering with a fellow member of your local business community. A local IT services provider knows the makeup of businesses in your area, the strengths and challenges of working in your community and the opportunities available due to location. If your business is in an industry that has many companies working in the same geographical area, your local IT support partner will know about the industry standards and expectations. The local IT company also will be aware of the technology infrastructure available, such as access to the Internet and Internet speed. Armed with that knowledge of the local business scene, your MSP can recommend customized solutions that fully leverage the local characteristics in which you do business.

4. Budget Advantages

Having a local It services provider can save you money. For one, you will not incur large travel costs; usually, the clock starts on onsite service time charges as soon as a tech steps out of the building. Having a long-distance MSP means more downtime for your business while waiting for a technician or consultant to arrive.

5. Same Time Zone

Having a local IT company in the same time zone as your company has an advantage. While ideally, you will partner with an MSP that provides 24-hour support, it’s more convenient to have a partner that has more staff working and available during the same work hours your business is operating. That can make a big difference in terms of responsiveness and resolution time.

6. Peace of Mind

A local IT services company makes life easier on so many levels. With a business partner you can contact easily, can respond to your needs faster, understands your local economy and technical infrastructure and is a member of the same community, you will have more peace of mind. A local MSP provides more reliability and availability when you need it most.

Having a local IT services company as your strategic technology partner is a smart choice.

Will Your Business Be Impacted by the End of Microsoft Exchange 2010?

End of support Microsoft Exchange 2010

End of support Microsoft Exchange 2010

Will Your Business Be Impacted by the End of Microsoft Exchange 2010?

Exchange 2010 has been a great program for businesses for many years, but its time is now winding down. Find out what this means for your business. 

All good things must come to an end. For Microsoft Exchange 2010, that end will happen at a date in the very near future: January 14, 2020. Migrating away from an integral piece of business software can take some time, so if you’re not already planning this shift for your business it’s time to get started! While Microsoft is encouraging people to shift away from the perpetual license option and go towards Office 365, you can also move to Microsoft Exchange 2016 if you don’t want to move to the cloud. At the end of a product’s lifecycle, the manufacturer determines that the vast majority of individuals and businesses have already moved on to a new platform, and they stop providing new features, security and bug fixes, time zone updates and support. In today’s world, your email server is your first line of defense against malware and ransomware — making the lack of security updates a key reason for taking the time to upgrade before time runs out on your support.

What Does the End of a Software Lifecycle Really Mean?

As with most software companies, there are several stages in the lifecycle of Microsoft Exchange and other Microsoft Office products. They are generally defined as mainstream support, extended support and service pack support. Mainstream support is generally guaranteed for a minimum of five years after product ships and is valid while the vast majority of people are still actively using the platform. Extended support generally lasts another five years, and includes a more limited support infrastructure. There are limitations on the work that the software teams are willing to do on products in this stage of life: non-security hotfixes are not released and there are no new functionalities added to the platform. While the platform is still considered secure and supported, this stage is an indication that it’s time to start your search for what comes next. In the final stage, you only receive critical security updates and little else in terms of support.

Why It’s Time to Move On . . . Quickly

Exchange 2010 doesn’t support an in-place upgrade, meaning you’ll need to find the time and IT staff hours to migrate completely — setting up new servers and mailboxes if you decide to go the route of another perpetual license option. Moving to Office 365 may be a good option for your business, but there is still a bit of setup required before you can make this move. With only a few months left before security updates are no longer provided, many organizations are scrambling to be sure they beat the deadline and maintain a platform that is fully protected and receives regular security patches. Email is a mission-critical application for your business, making it crucial to ensure that you’ve made a decision and have a game plan in place long before January 2020.

Upgrade Options Available

There are a few different ways to get out of the woods if you’re still running Exchange 2010. It may seem intuitive to simply upgrade to Exchange 2013, but that product has already completed Phase I and II of its lifecycle and is no longer receiving cumulative updates. Exchange Server 2016 is a better option if you prefer to stick with perpetual licensing models, but the product is already several years old. Updating to the most recent version of Exchange 2019, which was released in late 2018, seems like the best option — but it’s important to note that you must first upgrade to 2016 before making the jump to 2019 versions. Moving to Exchange Server 365 may provide a range of benefits for your organization such as better integration, improved security and continuous updates but it’s also important to note that there are additional decisions to be made around the other aspects of Office online.

Finding the right solution for your business does take time and analysis, but it’s vital that you take the first steps soon to reduce the risk to your organization. Critical patches for Microsoft products are released on a fairly regular basis, and your business can be opened to cyberattackers if you miss a single update — much less several security updates. Completing your migration will provide your technology team with peace of mind knowing that your most important channel of business communication is fully protected by an up-to-date Exchange server.

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?