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.

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.

 

Security Checklist for Business

Business Security Consultant

Security Essentials for Business

Cybercrime is on the rise, and businesses must be proactive with their cybersecurity programs. Learn what to look for when choosing an MSP for your organization.  

Business Security Consultant

Cybercrime is on the rise, and businesses must stay on top of their data security. A managed services provider (MSP) can help protect your organization’s data from breaches and cyber attacks. However, not all MSPs offer the services and features businesses need to stay on top of the latest threats. Below is a checklist you can use to decide if an MSP provides the optimum value in the short and long term.

Proactive Protection

Every MSP worth considering will have a proactive process in place to minimize issues and quickly resolve problems as they arise. Common red flags include a break/fix pricing model and overage charges. These usually point to an MSP that operates inefficiently and doesn’t prioritize your time, money, or security.

Below are some green flags that point to proactive MSP:

  • They provide you with up-to-date security software that you can use right from your desktop.
  • They provide round-the-clock administration of your network and servers.
  • Their help desk is easily accessible and includes a comprehensive knowledge base.
  • They communicate and implement an IT strategy that fits how your business operates.

Fast Round-the-Clock Response

Smaller MSPs may not have enough staff to respond to issues in a timely manner, let alone resolve them efficiently. Data travels 24/7, and you need an IT solution that can help you at any hour. Experienced MSPs employ a large team of IT professionals to ensure that all of their customers receive prompt service. They are also more likely to use state-of-the-art tools to detect, prevent, and resolve issues before they threaten your data.

A Team of Experts

Nearly every MSP will claim to be expert IT gurus. But talk is cheap, and failing to delve further into an MSP’s qualifications may cost you. Here are a few indicators that an “expert” MSP lives up to their advertisement:

  • They have a team of experts that specialize in every aspect of cybersecurity including software, hardware, cloud services, and networks.
  • They provide regular training and certification programs to their employees and have low turnover.
  • They document all services and processes provided.

Personalized Security Evaluation

Lesser MSPs will sit back and wait for you to call them about an issue. A reliable MSP will analyze your organization and create a strategic program that addresses its strengths and weaknesses. They will share and review these documents with you to ensure you understand the state of your cybersecurity and goals moving forward.

Scalability

A smaller MSP may provide great value for the time being, but they may fall behind when your business grows. A high-quality MSP understands the needs of small businesses and large enterprises alike. They have the tools and personnel ready to adapt to your evolving needs and goals. They may offer multiple price tiers, but communicate each plan to you clearly before you sign up.

Value

Pricing alone is a poor indicator of the actual value an MSP provides. Some will undercut their competitors while providing far less value, while others may charge a premium for inflated solutions that you don’t need. On the other hand, trustworthy MSPs will offer a fair price and stick to it. Don’t let the numbers fool you. Examine the content behind the price tag and you’re sure to make a smart choice.

Reputation

You wouldn’t hire someone without checking their references, and you shouldn’t choose an MSP without reading reviews. Many MSPs will post customer testimonials on their website, but there’s no real way to verify their legitimacy. Criminals may even pose as MSPs to get their hands on your valuable data. Search for the MSP’s name on unbiased review sites and read comments on their social media pages. A strong candidate will have a high percentage of positive reviews and be active on social media to answer questions and provide assistance.

Hopefully, this guide has helped you make the best choice regarding your MSP. Don’t be afraid to refer to this list when interviewing MSP candidates. You’ll get a much clearer picture of their offerings and be better equipped to choose who to trust with your sensitive data.

Are you ready for the New IOS? Here’s How to find out.

IOS 13

Are you excited about all the new iOS 13 features like Swipe to Type and Improved Dark Mode? Before you install, make sure your device is ready for iOS 13.  

So maybe you’re not ready to pounce on a $1,099 iPhone Pro Max. But you do want the new iOS 13 features. It’s time for a major iOS update. But before you hit “update now”, make sure you’re ready for iOS 13 to ensure a smooth update process. Preparing for iOS 13 isn’t complicated. Just follow these simple steps. But first, what’s new in iOS 13?

What’s New in iOS 13?

Haven’t updated to iOS 13 yet? You have some great new iOS 13 features to look forward to like:

  • Dark Mode – With all the discussion about blue light and the sleep-cycle-impact of viewing a device too close to bedtime, Apple recently released dark mode that eliminates the harsh white light on your screen, replacing it with a dark backlight. In addition, many will find reading on a dark background easier and you’ll experience less eye strain in general.
  • Swipe to Type – Apple is finally catching up on this one. This has been a feature on Android for 10 years. But we all know Apple is never one to follow. This feature may take some time to learn but can save time. It allows you to swipe rather than “press” letters to type. But don’t worry, you’ll have options until you’re ready to relearn typing.
  • Updated Apps – You’ll also see some great smaller updates to apps like Reminders, Maps, Photos and more
  • New Voice for Siri – Apple chose Siri’s original voice after extensive testing. People found in calming and reassuring. But it’s time for a change. Now, instead of a computer-generated voice, “Siri” will respond with actual audio from voice actors. Because the voice is now “Human”, you’re less likely to encounter those funny pronunciations that become tell-tale signs that we’re not hearing a human talking. As AI technology advances, we can certainly expect computer-generated voices to get the nuances of human language right. But for now, it seems, human is the way to go.
  • Privacy and Security – Privacy and security continue to be a top concern for Apple. So you’ll see several behind-the-scenes and in the foreground features that make you safer.
  • iPad iOS – For the first time, Apple’s also releasing an iOS specifically for iPad to enhance use. One of the long-awaited features is “slide and split” that will improve your ability to view and work in two web pages or apps with both viewable on the screen at once. Most of us in business who use iPads know how important this feature is and how frustrating and productivity-killing it can be with split screen is either unavailable or doesn’t work well on a device. So this is great news. In addition, they’re adding a full page markup for iPad and more.

Now, on to preparing for iOS 13.

1. Ask: Is My Device Eligible for the iOS 13

The first step to getting ready for iOS 13 is to check to see if your apple device is compatible. And if it isn’t, these new iOS 13 features, in addition to many of the newer capabilities on iPhone X series or the newly released iPhone 11, may finally convince you that it’s time to upgrade to a new model.

In order to enjoy these new updates you’ll need:

  • iPhone 6S, 6S Plus, or later
  • iPad Air 2 and iPad Mini, or later

These came out around 2015. If you have a 6S, etc, this gives us a good idea about which devices will be compatible with future major updates and you may want to consider upgrading in the next year so that you’re ready for the next iOS. Technology changes fast and often you don’t know what you’re missing out on.

2. Delete Apps You Don’t Use

Updating your iOS is a great time to cut the fat. So delete apps you rarely use.

Remember, they’re still yours. And you can download them for free again if you need them later.

Feeling overwhelmed by the amount of junk on your device? Follow the steps to find out what you’re not using.

  1. Go to Settings.
  2. Click iPhone storage.
  3. See when you used each application last.
  4. Click on the oldest ones and delete.

3. Make Sure iCloud Backup Is On

Finally, don’t make the mistake of not backing up your phone before an update. You could lose everything, including spreadsheets, files, photos and more.

  1. Go to Settings.
  2. Click your name at the top.
  3. Visit iCloud.
  4. Scroll down and make sure it’s “on”.

If it was off, wait several hours to install the update. Ideally, wait 24 hours to be sure. This gives the Cloud an opportunity to backup your device so that when you upgrade everything is there.

IOS 13

Is Your Business Prepared to Take Action to Upgrade Windows OS Before January 2020?

Windows 7 End of Support

Is your business still using Windows 7? If so, it’s time to take serious action to upgrade to Windows 10 before the service cycle ends for this popular platform.  

Very early in 2020, there’s a situation occurring that has the potential to affect thousands of businesses across the US. No, it’s not a direct cybersecurity attack from a known threat vector. Instead, it’s the end of the functional lifecycle of one of business’s most beloved operating systems: Windows 7. While some businesses have been in denial that they needed to upgrade, it’s not unusual for small to mid-size businesses to still be running Windows 7 even with the deadline looming only a few months away. For the past 10 years, Windows 7 has provided a secure and stable OS for business, but regular patches and security upgrades will no longer be released for Windows 7 past January 2020 — leaving your computers open to the dangers of cyberattacks.

Don’t Put Your Business at RIsk

Hackers have been watching Windows 7 more closely as it nears the end of its lifecycle, looking for vulnerabilities that can be quickly exploited once maintenance has expired for the platform. While Windows upgrades are delivered every few years, they have a general window of a useful lifetime of 10 years. After that period, Microsoft eliminates free support and provides only very limited paid support options for your business. It’s not unusual for businesses to skip upgrading their operating systems and still be on a Windows 7 platform. As of 2019, there are still approximately 36% of computers accessing the internet from a device running Windows 7.

Steps You Can Take to Avoid the Impending January 2020 Deadline

Depending on the size of your business and how many computers are utilizing the Windows 7 operating system, there are a variety of options for upgrade. You can install updates on individual computers manually, and there are a few options for getting access to a free upgrade version of Windows 10. Unfortunately, you might find that your computers are not quite fast enough or new enough to handle an in-place upgrade and you might need to either purchase new machines or make adjustments to your current business machines to get them ready. Windows 10 has different operating system requirements than Windows 7 or even Windows 8, and might place too heavy of a load on older machines.

Don’t wait any longer to upgrade to the latest and most stable version of Windows operating system: Windows 10. With only a few months left before the end of the full maintenance cycle, Windows 7 is quickly becoming one of the most dangerous items in your technology landscape, a problem that can be quickly rectified by working with your local trusted technology solutions provider to create an upgrade schedule. If you aren’t comfortable upgrading directly in the few months that are left to your business, there are plenty of options for short-term maintenance that your proactive IT partner can help you explore.

Top Reasons to Jumpstart Your Business’s Paperless Initiative

Paperless Society

Jumpstart Your Business’s Paperless Initiative

Want to “go paperless” with your company? See the many benefits of paperless business and learn how to jumpstart this initiative for effective results.  

Paperless Society

Many businesses toy around with the idea of “going paperless,” but what’s actually in it for the companies who decide to go through with it?

To be sure, not all businesses are cut out to go paperless. Certain documents in certain industries simply must be in paper form. Therefore, depending on your industry and unique company needs, you may end up unnecessarily complicating affairs if you try to do everything digitally.

At the same time, a great many companies will benefit significantly from making this change. Below, we’ll go over the specific reasons why it might be a good idea for your company. First, though, let’s define what going paperless actually means.

What Does It Really Mean to “Go Paperless”?

The term “going paperless” simply refers to the shift from printed documents to digital documents. For example, instead of printing invoices, order forms, and tax documents, a company would issue all of these documents digitally, sending them via email or storing them as files.

What Are the Top Reasons to “Go Paperless”?

You’ll save money.

Cloud data storage is a lot less expensive than on-premise data storage. Moreover, on-premise data storage forces you to pay for the maximum amount of storage you may need upfront. With cloud storage, you can easily scale your storage capacity up or down, depending on your needs.

In addition, the products and tools needed to print, scan, and copy your company’s documents is extremely expensive. Printers and copiers alone can cost thousands of dollars, and fixing and maintaining them is expensive as well. With a paperless system, these tools become obsolete. Of course, you’ll also save a bundle on paper and ink.

You’ll have document access from everywhere.

Most businesses who go paperless store their documents in the cloud. When you do this, access to these documents is available wherever you can find an Internet connection. This makes it easier to hire remote workers, send employees on work trips, and access important information even when you’re away from the office.

You’ll save time.

Consider the time it takes to print, scan, copy, collate, organize, and store all of your paper documents. Additionally, remember that when you have a huge number of documents to contend with, protocols and systems must be developed, instituted, and monitored. Lastly, think about how long it takes to find a specific document within your files.

All of these tasks are time-consuming, and in any business, time is money.

When you switch to a digital system of document storage, you’ll be saving an immense amount of time. Documents can be digitally created, copied, sent, edited, and stored. There’s no need to run to the printer or search through endless boxes for the paper file you need. When searching for files, you can simply pop a few keywords into the search bar of your data storage system, and voilà — it will appear!

You’ll save space.

Consider how much space you currently use to store paper documents. From old tax returns and invoices to printed data and memos, an accumulation of individual sheets of paper can actually take up quite a lot of room.

Digital documents, on the other hand, are virtually invisible. As long as you have enough data storage capacity available, you’ll gain tons of physical space when you make the switch to a paperless system.

You’ll ensure better security of your data

While it’s possible for cloud-stored data to be compromised, it’s much more likely that sensitive files will be stolen or accidentally destroyed in paper form. This may happen as the result of a crime or simply because of a flood, fire, or another natural disaster.

Online data, on the other hand, can be encrypted. With the right security team on your side, you can apply layered security systems to your cloud storage protocol in order to better protect your data.

What Are Some Tips for Jumpstarting Your Business’s Paperless Initiative?

When going paperless, use the following tips to make the transition easier and smoother.

1. Start with a plan.

All paperless initiatives should begin with a plan. Sit down with your management team, and create a day-by-day, week-by-week schedule for setting up whatever paperless system you choose.

2. Go slow.

Before springing a new system on your employees, it’s essential that you predict all possible complications. You’ll also want to anticipate how going paperless will affect your employees, clients, and customers, and warn them of the changes that will be made.

3. Get help.

Lastly, don’t forget to seek professional help with the technology aspect of your new paperless system. A managed service provider can help you set up a secure, easy-to-use cloud storage system and offer extremely useful assistance for making the overall transition.

The Evolution of MSPs and the Benefits of Using Them

Managed Service Provider

MSPs and How They Developed Over Time

MSPs provide specialized services to small businesses who may not be able to hire a full staff of professionals.  

Managed Service Provider

Small business owners with limited resources can’t always afford to hire the professionals they need to help manage their business. They have the same basic needs as larger companies, just on a smaller scale. The problem is that, unlike their larger counterparts, they don’t have the budget or the resources to allow for such extravagances. In an attempt to fill these needs, MSPs were formed.

What Is an MSP?

An MSP, or managed service provider, is a company or team of professionals that offers specialized services to small business. They can be hired on contract or to perform specific jobs. MSPs are made up of professionals who have the advanced training needed to provide a variety of services that fall within their industry. There are MSPs in almost every industry. Professional service providers from each MSP can be hired one at a time or as a team to ensure the right people are selected for each job.

Different Types of MSPs

There are several different types of MSPs. IT and security management are two of the most common. There are also MSPs that deal with digital marketing and data analytics that help small companies reach larger audiences with strategically targeted marketing plans. IT companies help small businesses by setting up their digital network and making sure it runs efficiently. While the IT professionals work to protect the company’s information, security management MSPs help to protect the outside. They can install security systems and provide video surveillance cameras that allow the owners to see their property day or night.

The Reason Behind Their Growth

The main reason behind the explosion of growth that MSPs are experiencing has to do with filling a niche. MSPs provide specialized services for an affordable price. The owner of the small business only has to pay for the amount of time used or the services that are provided. With little money in the budget for hiring someone full time, using an MSP allows for the business owner to get the services they need at a manageable cost.

Why They Are Needed

One of the main benefits of hiring an MSP to perform specific tasks is that allows the owner to do what they do best. Manage their business. By focusing all of their attention on their business, they are able to maintain continued growth. Many small business owners don’t have the knowledge or experience to handle certain parts of their business. Hiring an MSP team of professionals allows them to hire someone with the knowledge and experience they need only for as long as they need them. This means better control of their business and not worrying about going over their already tight budget.

MSPs have grown considerably over the last few decades. Small business owners no longer have to worry about their lack of experience costing them money. Now they can turn to the professionals they need to take care of the tasks that sometimes went overlooked in the past.

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?

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.

Small Business Owner? How to Choose Tech Support

Computer Engineer Helping Small Business Owner

Computer Engineer Helping Small Business Owner

Small Business Owner? How to Choose Tech Support

It is an unfortunate truth that many small businesses assume they don’t need to outsource their IT needs to a professional IT company.

This couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, small businesses desperately need IT support — often, because they won’t have the resources to staff an in-house IT department.

Fortunately, IT companies generally offer support contracts that can work in a small business’s favor. Your company will be able to choose the level of support you specifically need. If you only require IT services occasionally, for troubleshooting network problems or setting up new software, for example, you can choose a low-level contract that won’t cost much. If you’re looking for more comprehensive coverage, you can always scale up.

Here are some other important tips to consider when choosing tech support for your small business.

Consider what type of fee structure you prefer.

IT companies generally offer two different types of fee structures:

  • A flat fee due monthly, biannually, or annually
  • A pay-as-you-go structure

Every business is different, but it is possible (and maybe even likely) that your small business won’t benefit from a flat fee payment structure.

This is because you may not actually end up needing the extent of services that a flat fee structure is best for. Larger businesses, certainly, will need to contact and get help from their IT company regularly every week or month. In fact, these companies often have in-house IT. But If your small business only uses IT minimally (for example, just for your website or for inventory ordering, etc.), you won’t use enough of your support package, and paying the flat-rate fee will get expensive.

On the other hand, we must note that niche industries may require a lot of IT tech support — even if your business is small. If this is the case for you, a flat rate monthly or biannual fee could be beneficial.

Look for IT companies who’ve been in the industry a while.

Brand-new IT companies often nab customers by claiming to know the latest trends in IT and how to best handle the most recent wave of cyberattacks. While these are both areas to be concerned about, as a local business or one that’s just starting out, these benefits (if they are actually true in the first place) may not be particularly beneficial to you.

As a small business, you basically want reliable IT support for basic security monitoring, troubleshooting, and possible software or hardware recommendations and/or setups. For this reason, it’s important to search for an IT company that is local and has been in the industry for a long period of time. This means they have the experience, which is exactly what you want. Ask the IT companies you are considering to speak with clients they’ve worked with for a long time so that you can get a handle on the kind of support you’ll be receiving from them.

Find an IT company that can help you grow.

Most small businesses are looking for ways to grow. If this is the case for your business, you should start looking for an IT company who can scale up your services when you eventually need them.

We’ve already stated the importance of having several payment options when it comes to your service level needs. This also comes in handy as you look toward the future of your business. While now, you may prefer a pay-as-you-go structure, you should work with an IT company who offers bigger, broader, flat-rate packages too. The extent of their services should also run the gamut.

With this in mind, also remember that an enormous IT company who won’t be able to provide personalized support to your niche industry isn’t generally recommended. The potential for scalability down the line is key here.

While you may assume that larger businesses are the ones who need all the major tech support, small businesses require IT expertise as well. It’s true that your IT needs may not currently match that of a mid- or large-size enterprise, but investing in the hire of an IT company will surely boost your business’s success as you grow and expand.

Use the simple tips above to locate the optimal IT company for your small business. We’re positive you’ll see the benefits of a good hire right away.