3 managed services to drive business productivity

Many businesses do not completely understand all that managed IT services include. What are managed services, and what do they do? In basic terms, it consists of any ongoing service support related to your business’ IT.

But don’t think that means managed services lack specific, sensible approaches that benefit business productivity. Working with a qualified Managed Service Provider (MSP) has countless solutions that raise productivity. Meaning you can focus on your business mission instead of fixing your technology. 

We’ve put together a list of three managed services that will raise your business’ productivity and explain how it works. The results might surprise you.  

Network security to reduce downtime 

Cyberthreats are on the rise, and the risks affect companies of every size and industry. In fact, almost half (43%) of all cyberattacks target SMBs. Despite this, many SMBs lack a professional, guided approach to their network security. Without this security framework, businesses are at risk of downtime and lost productivity. 

Malware and ransomware attacks are becoming more advanced, and social engineering is becoming more and more sophisticated. All it takes is one employee to click on a phishing email and infect your network and put you in a data ransom or data loss situation. 

These situations could cost your company more than just downtime. The average ransomware attack costs a business $100,000 due to downtime.  These attacks can also damage your reputation with clients and even cause legal repercussions for your business.

Having a qualified MSP handle your network security drastically reduces the chance of a cyber risk that will affect your company. Additionally, given the costs of downtime and data loss, it will positively impact your bottom line. 

Backup services to prevent data loss

Modern businesses live and die by their mission-critical data and systems. In reality, 60% of SMBs that lose their critical data close up shop within six months. Traditional data backup approaches leave significant exposure to partial or complete data loss due to a lack of redundancy. 

If you’re not backing up your data offsite or in a cloud-based platform, you’re sitting on a ticking data loss timebomb. Your business is one disaster away from total data loss. 

Even if you manage to restore from your backups using outdated processes, the recovery process will take far longer than if you leave your data backup to an MSP. That’s because most MSPs will help you develop a quick and efficient business continuity plan as part of your data backup strategy.

When your systems go down, or hardware fails, you’ll get back to work with far less downtime and incurred costs.

Your data is your business, and you should protect it accordingly. The right MSP will be an expert in protecting and backing up your data. They can reduce your potential for downtime while preserving your productivity and reputation in the process.

Total network management and support for streamlined systems

Troubleshooting causes a significant loss of time. Combining network management services with an in-house team can free up their time dealing with other issues pertinent and specific to your individual company needs. 

By hiring an MSP to manage your network and provide 24/7 IT support, you benefit from professional guidance and problem solving from qualified IT engineers. They specialize in the exact kinds of issues that infiltrate networks like yours. 

This allows your team to focus on business while monitoring and eliminating potential problems from behind the scenes. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, as the saying goes. 

Nowhere is that more true than when it comes to network management. 

Determining if an MSP is right for you 

Whether you take a hybrid approach by outsourcing some tasks to an MSP while keeping others in house, or deciding to outsource all your IT needs to an MSP,  this professional guidance can help your business become more productive. 

It can also protect you from an array of potential productivity and downtime issues before they happen. 

Where that balance falls depends in large part on the specifics of your business, your budget, and your approach. Determining the right solution means identifying the gaps in your IT efforts and where you need to improve. 

Regardless, the first step is arming yourself with the right information to make the best decision. 

What to do when your business outgrows QuickBooks

QuickBooks is an obvious go-to finance software solution for startups and SMEs. In fact, QuickBooks dominates the off-the-shelf accounting software market with a 62 percent lion share. This is because it is simple, easy to use, inexpensive, and familiar.

The problem with QuickBooks

As a generic small business accounting software, QuickBooks has some serious drawbacks. First of all, it is not designed for heavy lifting, making it nearly impossible to work on complex data with multiple variables. It also lacks sophisticated financial management functions such as advanced cash flow analytics, tracking, comprehensive reporting, and resource management.

Thirdly, QuickBooks’s primary functions are only centered around accounting, and their scope is limited to the very basics. This means you would still need other business management software to work alongside QuickBooks to fully digitize your enterprise. A business can quickly outgrow the platform once its financial transactions exceed a certain threshold.

Signs that your accounting needs are beyond QuickBooks

It is easy to bottom out QuickBooks’s capabilities without even realizing it. Here are the signs that your business needs a more robust small business accounting software:

Reliance on additional accounting solutions

Once you hit QuickBooks’s functionality limits, you might find yourself looking for additional tools to fill in the gaps. Your accountants may revert to primitive methods such as manual calculations and spreadsheets or seek out more effective accounting facilities elsewhere. If you have to process your finances using multiple systems, then QuickBooks is failing as your primary accounting software.

An expanding enterprise

You cannot realistically expect a rigid small business accounting software to match a growing business’s needs. According to QuickBooks’s user agreement, each license has a limit for the number of users, data storage, and file size. Since there is nothing you can do about these limits, it is impossible to scale the system’s performance beyond a certain point. This then becomes a problem when you want to increase your staff, sign new vendors, increase inventory caches, or open more locations.

New demands for complex resource management

Financial management and business accounting are growing more complicated due to increasingly sophisticated business models. Consolidating multiple income streams, managing dynamic inventory, tracking cash flow, analyzing financial performance, and automating entangled processes can be too much for a simple small business accounting software.

Nowadays, accounting is not just about balancing the books. Thanks to intelligent data systems, you can get a lot more from your financial information. If you are struggling to draw useful insights from your data or run complex accounting processes using QuickBooks, you need a digital upgrade.

The solution: upgrading to an ERP system

Having outgrown QuickBooks, the next step is to upgrade to an enterprise resource planning solution. ERP is a holistic business management software suite that integrates all the vital back-office functions from supply and distribution, sales, workflow management, and resource control to analytics.

Accounting is often tied to most of the core business processes, so it makes sense to have an enterprise-wide digital solution that covers financial management and all its dependencies. Unlike a small business accounting software, a centralized EPR solution shows you the whole picture and links every process through a common platform.

According to a recent report, 64 percent of organizations implement ERP solutions to improve their overall business performance — ERPs are not just for accounting.

Even better still is a cloud ERP that lets you manage a single establishment or multiple business locations remotely and conveniently. Acumatica is an ideal cloud ERP solution for businesses looking for more than the usual balance sheets from accounting software. Get in touch with us and learn how this powerful cloud ERP can help propel your business.

Is cloud-based ERP right for your business?

Enterprise resource planning, or ERP, is one of the most powerful types of business software. It’s also one of the most expensive and difficult to implement — over half of ERP implementations fail and most exceed the expected budget. This is one reason why, in the past, only large companies and multinationals that could shoulder the resource investment enjoyed the competitive advantage that ERP offers.

With cloud-based ERP, however, SMBs across industries are able to take advantage of the operational, efficiency, and productivity benefits of ERP software. Cloud-based solutions come with predictable costs that most small businesses can afford. It’s also much easier to get started using the software because your provider handles the implementation process, which is a must for a lot of fast-paced small and medium-sized companies that can’t afford to wait months for deployment.

If you’re considering adopting a cloud-based ERP system but aren’t sure if it’s right for your business, take a look at what you stand to gain from a cloud solution. Also, what types of businesses can benefit the most.

What is cloud-based ERP?

Cloud-based ERP, like an on-premise solution, is modular business software that includes multiple applications and integrates them into one platform. The huge benefit of ERP is this unification — data is housed on one platform, which makes information easier for users to access, and easier for your organization to protect.

When your organization’s customer management, project accounting, financial management, inventory management, and other solutions are integrated into one platform, your business will save time. It will also run more seamlessly, and cut down on wasted time and resources.

Because a cloud-based ERP solution runs on your provider’s cloud computing platform, your business doesn’t have to invest in expensive servers. It also doesn’t have to worry about deployment, managing the software, or handling updates. Also, because the software and data are housed in the cloud, your users can access it anywhere, offering incredible flexibility. 

In addition to the accessibility and flexibility, cloud-based ERP offers:

  • Easier IT budgeting – You only pay a flat monthly fee, which is usually based on the number of users.
  • Performance you can count on – There’s no risk of poor performance due to a poorly set-up system. Instead, you can count on the experts — your cloud-based ERP provider — to ensure the system is well-maintained.
  • Better security – Cloud-based solutions come with advanced security measures and robust access controls.
  • Effortless scaling – With a cloud-based ERP, you can scale your software as your business grows.

Which businesses are well-suited to cloud-based enterprise resource planning?

Small to mid-sized companies that are ready for a more robust software solution and are struggling to unify operations. This is because of the use of separate apps can benefit from cloud-based ERP. Even new businesses are adopting ERP solutions to help them operate fluidly from the outset. Along with marketing solutions, new business owners are prioritizing ERP software platforms over other types of software.

ERP has always been an invaluable asset for businesses in the manufacturing, construction, health care, hospitality, and retail sectors. This is because of the time-saving benefits and business insights an integrated software solution promises. With its huge range of benefits, cloud-based ERP has the potential to completely transform your operations. No matter what industry you’re operating in. Learn more about how a cloud-based ERP solution can unlock your organization’s potential.

Remaining secure in the cloud: security best practices for cloud ERP solutions

The global cloud ERP market is expected to grow at a compounded annual rate of about 17 percent between 2020 and 2025. SaaS is the most popular type of commercial cloud computing services, and businesses are particularly keen on adopting cloud-based ERPs to digitize all their processes under one comprehensive platform.

There are numerous benefits to using cloud ERP systems, including access to robust functionalities and online availability. However, there are also growing concerns over ERP security, especially given the rising incidences of targeted attacks on cloud enterprise systems. The Department of Homeland Security recently issued a warning to organizations storing sensitive data on cloud ERPs against hackers, citing rampant cybercrime reports.

Ensuring ERP security should be a priority when adopting and running a hosted system. Although cloud platforms are sufficiently secure, they are still vulnerable to a range of serious threats. Here are five ways to address security risks in your cloud ERP:

Strict permissions control

In a holistic ERP system covering various departments and business processes, full access rights would be too much privilege for all its users. Allow employees to only access parts of the system that are relevant to them. For instance, inventory managers should have no business fiddling with the point-of-sale unit. Also, hand-pick only a few qualified people to manipulate the ERP’s security parameters, data, and critical settings.

Controlling access rights depending on rank, technical savvy, and job description helps create a hierarchical workflow and fosters a sense of accountability among the users.

Multi-factor authentication

Single-factor user authentication does not cut it when it comes to cloud ERP security. The username-password combination that is the standard lock and key for online accounts is simply not secure enough. Passwords have become incredibly easy to crack, mostly due to new sophisticated hacking techniques and users’ carelessness.

A multi-factor authentication system verifies a user’s identity based on multiple determinants, including biometrics, location, and digital footprints. Doing so means that passwords are basically useless in the hands of a hacker. Nowadays, you can easily retrofit MFA to a single-factor ERP system through third-party solutions such as Cisco Duo.

Activity logging and review

Activity logs store periodic records of all the operations and transactions carried out on a system. These logs can then be filtered, analyzed, and audited for review. Careful examination of user and activity logs gives you a bird’s-eye view of the ERP’s usage at any given time. Moreover, intelligent logs analytics can even track behavioral patterns and flag the slightest inconsistencies and deviations.

Assessments and monitoring

Maintaining ERP security is a continuous process. You must ensure that all security protocols and measures work as expected by regularly gauging the system’s security performance. It is also important to constantly monitor key security indicators such as user traffic, data volume, and the general systems’ health. These assessments help identify and rectify loopholes before they become problems.

During security assessments, remember to check whether all security patches, software, and defense mechanisms are up to date. Make any necessary upgrades on time to leverage the latest security features.

Train users

While safeguarding your ERP from external attacks, you must also consider the possibility of internal threats. Most internal security threats are not malicious or intentional but are equally as damaging. Bring all your employees on board with the ERP’s security measures and train them on cybersecurity best practices to avoid innocent and careless mistakes that could jeopardize your digital assets. Regular training sessions on the basics and importance of cyber-hygiene, proper systems’ usage, and responsibility can go a long way in strengthening your in-house security.

Cloud ERP providers should ensure that the system and its hosted environment meet acceptable security standards. But even so, you have a role in ensuring that the ERP aligns with your security requirements.

Enabling a mobile workforce with cloud ERP

As mobile technology, innovative solutions, and advances in cloud computing continue to enhance business productivity. Many find themselves asking whether a physical office is even necessary for a successful business anymore. And as we’ve been forced to learn during these unprecedented times, the answer could very well be no.

According to the 2020 Enterprise Mobility Trends Report by Clearbridge Mobile, 42% of the global workforce and a staggering 75% of the total U.S. workforce will be comprised of mobile workers in 2020. With numbers like these, the ability to support remote working is going to be top of the list. This helps you keep a competitive edge all while attracting and retaining top talent.

Why your business needs cloud ERP software

If you don’t know what ERP software is, it can be hard to understand why you need it, much less why your business might need a cloud ERP platform. No matter the size of your business, there are multiple departments and areas working together every day. All of them rely on data from each other for each part of your business to operate successfully.

This is where ERP comes in. Each of these sectors might use different software in order to perform the processes they’re meant to. With ERP software, all of the information from the different software you might use is accessible from one central point. These can be easily shared between each other as well. This Investopedia video does a great job of explaining ERP as well.

By using cloud ERP software, you’re taking this easy accessibility one step further. Now anyone and anything can access the data they need at any time, no matter where they happen to be. Your New York office can share important data with your London office, and someone on a business trip in Hong Kong can access your cloud ERP whenever they need to.

The benefits of cloud ERP software

If you want your business to grow effectively, there is no real way around needing to invest in an ERP system. You might already have multiple systems doing a great job. However, consolidating all the info in Excel spreadsheets can only get you so far.

Because all of your data is always comprehensive, up to date, and easily accessible no matter the time or place, cloud ERP improves your reporting processes. And, you can usually create customized reports for individual users, so they’re only getting the data relevant to them.

ERP systems can be expensive to invest in. They also require complex infrastructure as well as a dedicated team to manage it. With cloud ERP, you’re getting all the benefits at a fraction of the cost. And very little of the maintenance burdens that come with them.

Implementing an ERP is a complex and challenging process. Once completed it improves collaboration and communication because of its centralized nature. It also reduces the time spent on mundane and repetitive tasks, improves data capture and entry, simplifies processes, and lowers admin costs.

And with a cloud ERP system, your business isn’t hindered in the event of a natural disaster or other emergencies. This includes lockdown measures being enforced in the face of a global pandemic. Even just because members of your team have to travel overseas for business reasons.

Businesses cannot escape the fact that the workforce dynamic is changing. And because of these changes, the expectations, needs, and demands of both their enterprise software and employees are changing. Thankfully there is a wealth of technology perfectly poised to support remote workers in every industry while helping organizations capitalize on the benefits of a mobile workforce.

A guide to what your remote working solution should look like

In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, businesses everywhere are forced to operate remotely. This poses risks because employees could be using unsecured wifi and devices which hackers can easily access. Your company data could be on the line and you need to take the necessary steps to protect it. 

Here are 5 features you should be implementing during this pandemic, when working from home has become the new normal.

The right balance for your business

Remote working has its benefits, but you need to ensure that all employees are on the same page. Having the same workflow application is important, since everyone needs to be receiving the same information, the same way. 

When working remotely, some people may work different hours than the other person. This can pose some challenges especially when work is due or employees have questions. Having daily check-ins and routines can ensure that everyone stays on track and works together. 

Security to match your workflow

When working remotely, users can work anywhere there is a WiFi connection, coffee shops, parks, libraries and so on. The chances of data getting stolen is high because of unsecured connections and you want to prevent that at all costs. 

Bring your own device (BYOD) policies are becoming more common, and especially with the pandemic companies can’t afford to lend out equipment in case of theft. This means company data will be accessed from personal devices, and this opens up the door to more risks than working from an office. 

According to Cybint, the average cost of a data breach in 2020 will exceed $150 million. With your company already losing money from the COVID-19, you can’t afford more losses, and security needs to be your top priority.

Security should be an important part of your workflow since users will be using their own devices and wifi to access data. The solution is to consider implementing a VPN and MFA into your workflow and applications, so you can ensure company data is secure wherever an employee is working from.

Employee education is important during this time, they should be trained on the best practices for staying secure and how to look out for potential email scams or risky websites.

Complete connectivity 

How can you ensure that employees are able to connect from wherever they are? They should be able to access information from any device. If they don’t have the ability to access files and documents where and when they need them, employees won’t be able to get work done and this can cause disruptions to timely delivery and streamlined operations.  

This is why cloud computing will be more beneficial compared to normal on-site servers during this time. Cloud data centers are estimated to process 94% of workloads in 2021. However, over 88% of organizations have encouraged or required their employees to work from home in 2020, cloud computing might eventually become the only option for your business.

Your employees need to have complete connectivity from wherever they are and the cloud can provide this for your company, which will make working from home a breeze. This is especially important throughout this pandemic, since we don’t know when we will be able to work at an office again.

Same workflow in and out of office

In the midst of this crisis, in order to maximize business continuity as a business, you need to establish that these specific boundaries are set in place and followed.

Remote working solutions should be used in the office prior to working remotely. This will ensure that everything works correctly and employees won’t run into issues with their workflow. It is important to have the entire business working off the same workflow application and set of data so everyone can work together. 

This will eliminate bottlenecks when your employees are working remote and help your business to run smoothly in or out of the office.

Automatic and secured backups

A cloud computing solution compared to an on-site server can be more secure because data is automatically transmitted and backed up in seconds. An on-site server can take hours to backup data and isn’t always reliable.

There is a higher risk for remote employees to accidentally delete data or have the data stolen. This damage can be staggering to a business and you can’t afford that right now.

However, with a cloud computing solution you can automatically recover data with no loss to data.  Data is encrypted automatically, so it requires credentials to recover which helps prevent cyberattacks.

Use a cloud computing solution that has all these features, so you can have peace of mind knowing your data is safe through anything.

Easily manageable with complete visibility

Throughout the next couple months of working remote, the primary concern for your business should be accountability and security. If your company is not used to working remotely, it might be difficult to ensure everyone is working. Setting up best practices for tracking user activity and controlling user permissions is important. You want your employees to be productive and continue with business operations as normal even though the business world has drastically changed.

This is a tough time for everyone, and we are here to help. We want to be there for you and support you through this hard time.

If you have any questions about cloud computing solutions or some of our best practices throughout this whole process, you can visit our website and ask us questions you may have. 

We truly hope that your business has been able to continue operating throughout this pandemic.

Why managed cybersecurity is the best option for a growing business

Although many businesses understand the significance of their compliance obligations, data and privacy compliance laws evolve at such a rate that it’s hard to stay ahead. Below, we go over why compliance is so critical to your business and why a managed cybersecurity solution is the best way to support your compliance and cybersecurity needs.  

The importance of compliance

Compliance is critical for many reasons, but for businesses, there are two key considerations – reputation and financial loss. Typically, compliance breaches have serious financial implications. For example, in the healthcare sector, a breach usually costs an average of $150 per record. When we also consider the likely reputation damage caused by a data breach, the overall cost to the business can be far higher. 

In other words, compliance has never been more important. 

How cybersecurity helps you stay compliant

Cybersecurity boosts your compliance in three key ways. 

Data Encryption 

Encryption is a straightforward form of data security that turns a document into a scrambled, unreadable file. It’s only converted back to its original form when a user enters a password. Encryption helps you preserve data confidentiality when you store files or send emails. 

Network monitoring 

If you monitor your network, you can identify and isolate threats and vulnerabilities before they infiltrate your system. This allows you to protect sensitive data, including medical records, from external threats. 

Phishing and ransomware protection

Phishing emails often look just like authentic emails from trusted organizations. Unfortunately, this is how so many employees unwittingly share sensitive information with fraudsters. Up-to-date cybersecurity can help you identify malicious messages and isolate them, which assists with your compliance obligations. 

If like many companies, you’re worried that complying with your regulatory requirements is too much for you to handle in-house, that’s where managed cybersecurity comes in. 

Why managed cybersecurity is the best option for a growing business

The truth is that managed cybersecurity saves you time, resources, and reputation damage. In fact, research shows that companies that deployed security automation technologies experienced around half the cost of a breach ($2.65 million average) compared to those without such technologies ($5.16 million average). Here’s why you should opt for managed cybersecurity services (or MSPs) over-relying on your in-house team. 

Expert knowledge 

MSPs are experienced industry specialists who stay ahead of the changes in compliance and privacy law. They understand your compliance obligations and are dedicated to helping you remain compliant at all times.

Dedicated compliance support

MSPs aren’t just industry experts. They’re available 24/7 to support your unique compliance needs. They can monitor your network security around the clock and remedy any system vulnerabilities before there’s a costly data breach.

Backup facilities 

With the support of an MSP, you can remotely store and password-protect sensitive data, and you can restrict employee access to confidential files. This minimizes the risk of an employee negligently – or maliciously – tampering with important records.

Operational efficiency

Essentially, MSPs take the stress out of compliance. They free up your other employees to focus on running the business while they take care of your legal data protection obligations. As a result, you can concentrate on growing your company.

With an MSP’s support, compliance is one less thing to worry about.  

Reach out today 

As cybersecurity becomes ever more challenging, you need IT specialists on your side. With managed cybersecurity services, you benefit from the constant support of a dedicated IT team that fully understands your unique cybersecurity needs, all while reducing downtime. For more information on managed cybersecurity, contact us. 

How to create a practical cybersecurity framework

Implementing robust data security measures is the only way to ensure your organization is protected against increasingly prevalent cyberattacks and data breaches. Cybersecurity begins with creating an effective security framework.

A cybersecurity framework is a pre-defined set of proven practices that organizations can follow to keep their IT resources and digital assets safe. Think of a cybersecurity framework as a set of guidelines or instructions towards implementing proactive security measures.

In 2014, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), a government agency involved in promoting innovation and industrial competence, particularly in the tech sector, released the NIST Cybersecurity Framework to help both private and government organizations realize their data security goals.

Implementing NIST’s cybersecurity framework

Compliance with the NIST’s framework is not a legal requirement, but rather a recommendation for businesses and institutions looking to maintain cybersecurity standards and mitigate the risks associated with weak data and network security. The framework has five main functions that encompass all the crucial data protection processes:

  • Identify
  • Protect
  • Detect
  • Respond
  • Recover

The implementation of the NIST security framework follows five distinct steps.

Set your targets and goals

Before thinking about any data security protocols, you first have to figure out the level of security needed in the organization. Upper management and department heads all have to agree on the acceptable level of risk and the security priorities for the various departments. The hardest part is working out what’s relevant for every department, and aligning the security objectives with the available resources.

Create a detailed profile

Every business has unique cybersecurity needs. The framework’s implementation tiers help you determine your cybersecurity requirements and come up with ways of taking your business where it needs to be.

  • Tier 1 – Partial: describes firms with a cybersecurity strategy that is reactive to the prevailing threats
  • Tier 2 – Risk-Informed: refers to organizations that regularly make plans to mitigate identifiable threats
  • Tier 3 – Repeatable: defines companies with repeatable and consistent cybersecurity practices
  • Tier 4 – Adaptive: these are companies with proactive security measures that prevent threats rather than respond to them

Asses your current position

Conduct a thorough risk assessment to determine your data security status. Doing this helps you figure out what works and the crucial areas that need security reinforcement. An effective way of gauging your security position is to have your employees use tools to score your security efforts. Essentially, this step is all about identifying, evaluating, and documenting vulnerabilities and risk factors throughout the organization.

Examine security gaps and identify the action required

Having identified potential threats and their severity, you can then compare the assessment results to the target scores to see how divergent your security efforts are from the intended goals. From there, you can identify the hot zones that require immediate remedies and decide on how to close those gaps efficiently. Remember, different areas usually require different solutions.

Roll out an action plan

Finally, with a comprehensive risk analysis and a set of proposed solutions to seal off security loopholes, it’s time to implement active measures to strengthen your cybersecurity. Implementation of an action plan is a continuous process; you’ll have to assess its effectiveness and continuously adjust some of the practices, especially during the infancy stages.

Why is a cybersecurity framework important?

Apart from NIST, there are other popular cybersecurity frameworks, including ISO’s, and PCI’s frameworks. But they all follow the same fundamental principles; it really doesn’t matter which path you take as long as you arrive at the desired results. The important thing is to make an effort to create a cybersecurity framework in the first place.

A security framework provides the basic building blocks to support your cybersecurity strategy. It forms the structure that determines your digital security performance.

In the current data-dependent business environment, it’s becoming increasingly important with each passing day to develop a proactive approach to data and IT security. Data breaches and other cybercrimes are growing more sophisticated and devastating, further fueling the need for defensive action. On top of all that, both local and international data laws require organizations to implement acceptable data protection systems, not to mention the monetary cost and business loss implications of falling victim to cyberattacks.

A robust cybersecurity framework is an essential part of any modern business handling sensitive or valuable data over digital platforms. If you’re struggling with formulating a security framework, get in touch with us today, our data security professionals will offer you a helping hand.

The 4 step plan to managing employee onboarding and offboarding

When your company scales, you may want to welcome new employees into its fold. While this is certainly an exciting time for your business, it can place your IT team under strain. 

Failing to onboard and offboard your employees appropriately creates an unnecessary number of IT tasks. Fortunately, there are four clear steps you can take to successfully onboard and offboard employees.

Creating accounts ahead of their arrival

Don’t wait until your new employee’s first day to create the accounts they need to function. If you begin tasking IT with account creation on the day of each employee’s arrival, you’re forcing them into a disorganized way of working.

Instead, once your employees pass their usual referencing and security clearances, ask your IT team to create the accounts that are relevant to their role. Produce a generic password that they’ll be prompted to change on their first day. In doing so, you’ll cause fewer headaches for your IT staff and you’ll ensure a smooth transition for your new team member.

Briefing employees on app use and security

Try to find time during your employee’s induction period to brief them on how to use apps. If doing this in person isn’t possible, produce clear and concise manuals that they can use instead. Additionally, make sure you educate new employees on cybersecurity measures during their onboarding

By helping new employees learn how to use apps, you reduce the number of tickets they need to open. Additionally, you prevent them from making mistakes that could cost your company money. Cybersecurity briefings are especially important as human error plays a big role in breaches. Around 95 percent of cybersecurity breaches involve human error, so you can curtail a lot of problems by educating your employees.

Using a password vault

Around 11 percent of people reuse passwords across all accounts and 49 percent reuse them across accounts that aren’t high-risk. Unfortunately, neither behavior is conducive to good security. Therefore, you need to encourage your employees to use a different password for each account. That password shouldn’t be a numerical variation of their usual password, either.

Naturally, this could result in your new employee forgetting their password and opening multiple reset tickets. If you hire lots of new employees, your IT team will soon be snowed under with this simple request. By giving your new hires access to a password vault from day one, you help them stay safe while remaining productive.

Revoking access and when to do it

When the time comes for an employee to go elsewhere, you need to revoke access quickly. Ideally, you’ll do this from the day they leave your organization. Make sure your IT team knows to schedule such tasks as each day of unauthorized access poses a security risk.

In addition to revoking access when an employee leaves a company, review their access if their job role changes. Reviewing access when an employee moves laterally or gets a promotion is a useful way to remain compliant within your industry. By maintaining strict levels of access control, you close some of the loopholes a cybercriminal could use to exploit your systems.

By following these four simple steps, onboarding and offboarding your employees should become easier. In addition to helping your team remain productive, it’s a dependable way to avoid the security breaches that could cost your business a lot of money.

How to regularly assess your data security strategy

Does your data security strategy involve installing antivirus software and then letting it work its magic? If so, you’re inviting big risks to your business.

Cybercriminals work around the clock, and basic antivirus software isn’t enough to stop them. Like all business owners, your organization has unique flaws that attackers can exploit. Because of this, you need to assess your security strategy from time to time. Here are some ways you can do so.

How to assess your data security strategy

How you assess your data security strategy may vary according to the industry you’re in. But if you’re looking for ideas, here are some ways to start:

Run a drill

There are lots of ways you can run a drill to look for different types of breaches. For example, in 2018, phishing attacks grew by 40.9%. Therefore, all businesses could benefit from simulating such attacks with their employees. If they fail your test, it’s a sign that you need to improve your cybersecurity education.

Addressing employee education is important, as human error accounts for 95% of breaches. When you let employee education fall short, you’re leaving your business very vulnerable to attacks. 

Assess password changes

Ideally, your employees will use strong passwords and change them every 90 days. It’s worth analyzing your systems to see how often passwords are being changed. If you’re falling short of the 90-day average, you need to make sure your employees begin making changes more regularly.

Changing passwords regularly doesn’t guarantee that a cybercriminal won’t gain access to your systems. However, it does significantly reduce the risk of them becoming successful. With attackers using increasingly sophisticated techniques to crack passwords, regular changes can make a big difference to your business’s cybersecurity.

Check for software updates

Software updates don’t just exist to make your systems run more smoothly. They’re released by the manufacturer to patch vulnerabilities that cybercriminals can exploit for their own benefit.

Ask your IT team to regularly check for updates. When an update becomes apparent, they need to act on it immediately. You may also want to create contingency plans for when your software is updating. If you’re dependent on certain apps, having an alternative piece of software in place or scheduling the update for outside of office hours minimizes disruption.

Perform regular backups

Can you imagine how your business would operate without its last 24 hours of data? If the consequences would be expensive or disastrous, you need to perform regular backups as a part of your data security strategy.

Ideally, one of your backup sources will be at an offsite location. This ensures you’re protected against natural disasters, as well as hackers.

Signs you need to perform an assessment

If you already feel as though you’re doing a lot to protect your data, it’s hard to know whether an assessment is necessary. But if you’re encountering any of the following, an assessment is definitely required;

  • Your employees routinely make the same cybersecurity mistakes, which indicates they need more education.
  • You regularly receive urgent warnings about not updating or renewing your software.
  • It’s been a while since you last backed up your data.
  • There’s a chance you’re not compliant with your industry’s guidelines.
  • You rely on basic antivirus and antimalware software to protect your business.

By putting more effort into assessing your data security strategy, you can close the loopholes cybercriminals may use to attack your system. As a result, you’ll protect your reputation and your bottom line.