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Why your IT strategy should align with your business strategy

When you think about it, the title of this article seems unnecessary. Of course IT strategy should align with business strategy. As a business leader, you almost certainly agree.

But knowing that intuitively and knowing how to make it a reality are two different things. And that’s what we’re going to focus on here. Why is IT strategy so integral to business strategy, and how do you align the two?

The challenge of getting strategic with your IT

For many SMBs, a lack of IT strategy isn’t by design. SMB leaders frequently wear multiple hats, with way more on their plates than seems humanly possible. Not to mention the fact that small businesses don’t typically have a vast cash surplus just sitting around waiting to be spent.

These practical concerns—time and money—lead a lot of small business leaders to a simple (albeit unfortunate) solution: Make do with the tech tools you have, piecing together something that mostly works even if it’s not ideal.

That’s not much of an IT strategy. Frankly, you deserve better.

IT strategy is business strategy

Before we get to the tips, there’s a foundational statement worth making. IT strategy matters not because it helps with business strategy but because it is business strategy.

It’s practically unthinkable to do business in today’s world without the appropriate tech tools. And the solutions you choose will literally contribute to (or get in the way of) every single business process that keeps your company going.

If you don’t currently have an IT strategy, you’re missing a key part of your overall business strategy.

“Nearly two-thirds (64 percent) of SMBs indicate technology is a primary factor in pursuing their business objectives . . .” – CompTIA

How to develop your own IT strategy

Now that all the philosophical stuff is out of the way, let’s get down to brass tacks. How do you go about building an IT strategy?

Below are 6 steps to get you started.

1. Know your business objectives

First and foremost, you need to know what your current business targets are. Do you have an annual revenue goal? A different metric for growth? A geographical region you want to break into? A headcount you’re aiming for?

Whatever your goals as an organization, you need to know those first. Your strategy—business and IT—should align with your goals.

“ . . . this process of alignment requires you to educate others and yourself to deep dive into the business.” – CIO

2. Make it about people

This may sound counterintuitive since we’re talking about IT strategy, but the best approach possible is one that puts people first.

That’s why technology exists—to serve people. Always think about how your business technology affects both customers and employees. If it’s inconvenient, confusing, disruptive or unnecessarily time-consuming, it’s time to rethink your tech solutions.

3. Write it down

As you begin to sort through your business goals, the impact you have (and want to have) on customers and employees, and possible changes to your current IT structure, be sure to take thorough notes. Write down every single detail. Seriously.

A plan you can reference, build on and come back to isn’t going to be of much practical value if the details aren’t specific to your business goals.

4. Be prepared to be flexible

Technology is constantly changing. The tools that are best-in-class today will be forgotten tomorrow. (Remember when Yahoo! was the go-to search engine? Or when everyone had a BlackBerry?)

Your IT strategy isn’t going to be a one-and-done kind of thing. You’ll need to remain agile, ready to re-evaluate and make changes as needed. Never get too attached to any one way of working with tech.

5. Take your business to the cloud

One thing that helps a great deal with flexibility is cloud computing. Cloud solutions are more fluid by nature. As general business needs change, cloud app providers have no choice but to keep up—and you benefit.

Just make sure you do your homework before going all in on any single cloud solution.

“. . . cloud computing has become an integral part of the overall information technology strategy for many enterprises.” – TechRepublic

6. Don’t forget about cybersecurity

Finally, keep cybersecurity in mind at all times. There are all kinds of inexpensive tech options out there, but not all of them are security-focused.

Before you decide on a cloud storage option or a new ERP solution, be sure to ask some serious questions about the security measures in place. Efficiency and convenience at the cost of data security is hardly a smart trade.

Next-level IT strategy

We have one more tip for when you’re ready to take your IT strategic planning to the next level. Find a managed IT services provider you can trust to assist.

An MSP can provide a level of guidance and support you’ll almost certainly benefit from. In the meantime, use the above tips to get more strategic with your IT solutions right now.

Your step-by-step guide to running a complete network audit

Running a complete internal network audit may sound intimidating, but it is something you can do right now to protect your network against data breaches. In fact, it doesn’t have to be overwhelming. If you take it a step at a time it can be both manageable and affordable.

We have put together this simple guide to help walk you through the network audit process. Each step can and should be completed on its own, before moving on to the next step in the process:

  1. Define the scope
  2. Assess threats
  3. Evaluate security performance
  4. Prioritize risks
  5. Formulate solutions

You can’t do any harm to your system through the assessment process, but you can always call in a professional for assistance if you feel unsure about how to proceed or think you are in over your head at any point.

1. Define the scope

The first step in the auditing process is to define the scope of your audit. To do this you will need to make a list of all your assets. For the purposes of this audit, you should include all devices that may handle or secure data (both on-site and off-site). This would include computers, firewalls, servers, mobile devices, and more.

Next consider things that would require time and/or money to fix, such as data, equipment, and facilities. Give yourself plenty of time to compile this list, and consider bringing in another team member to help you avoid overlooking anything important.

Once you have your list you must decide the actual scope of the audit. It is not reasonable to expect that can audit all of these things at once. Create two more lists: things you will audit and things you won’t. Choose your most valuable assets to put into the audit list. These items will receive your focus for the remainder of the audit.

Related reading: 10 ways your failing at IT audits[1] 

2. Assess threats

Next, take your audit list – the list of valuable assets that you decided on in step 1 – and begin to make a corresponding list of threats and potential threats. You may have multiple threats for each asset item on the list, and some threats may be duplicated. The important thing is to be thorough.

3. Evaluate security performance

Now that you have your lists of assets and corresponding threats, it is time to think about how your security performs. Look at each of the threats on the list and consider your current cybersecurity setup. You need to evaluate your company’s ability to respond to each of these threats.

This is where some external help can be very helpful. Bringing in an outside provider to do penetration testing or otherwise assess your security performance is highly recommended to give you an honest, unbiased assessment of the state of your network security.

Related reading: Take back your company with our AppSolute care[2] 

4. Prioritize risks

Once you know where your network’s weaknesses are and what the biggest threats are to your infrastructure, you need to prioritize the risks. This is a crucial step.

Take your list of threats and any information gleaned from your security performance assessment and consider how much damage each item can cause, as well as the likelihood of occurrence and the cost of recovery. Using this risk information, re-prioritize your list. Consider taking into account your organization’s history, industry trends, compliance requirements, customer relationships, and staff needs.

5. Formulate solutions

The final step is the most straightforward. Now that you have the critical details, direct insight and a list of priorities, it is time to act on that information.

Starting at the top of your priority list, begin working through what security adjustments or improvements you need to address the assessed risks. Don’t overlook the value of “basic” fixes like employee education, strong password policies, and regularly backing up your files.

Take action

Your managed services provider can offer expert insight, advice and support in determining how best to act on the results of your network audit to keep your business moving securely ahead.

Cyber Threats in 2019

What is your cyber threat response strategy?

The cyber threats the business community faces continue to grow, increasing the importance of having a multi-layered approach to protecting your data.

Find out more during our webinar presented via partnership with Datto and Barracuda.

Cyber Threats in 2019: Ransomware Continues to Evolve –

Don’t Let Your Guard Down

Thursday, May 9 | 12:00 – 12:45 p.m. ET

REGISTER NOW

In partnership with Datto and Barracuda.

Comparing cloud ERP to on-premise

Effective enterprise resource planning (ERP) is key to maintaining a successful business, with the advantages outweighing the costs when companies choose cloud computing over IT on premise.

By 2021, 28 percent of all IT spending will be used to support cloud-based infrastructure, middleware, application and business process services, according to GartnerConfidence is growing among enterprises that Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS), along with Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), will be able to offer a secure and scalable platform for application development in the future.

Evaluating ERP needs

According to IDC, more than 85 percent of enterprises will soon tap into multi-cloud architectures using a mix of public cloud services, community clouds, private clouds, and hosted clouds. The time is ripe to migrate to this technology. There have been significant advancements in cloud ERP, and the versatility of the technology still enables companies to save money if they plan well for their migration to the cloud.

Taking this into consideration, there are still many factors companies should consider when choosing between cloud ERP and the standard on-premise infrastructure. In addition to the financial and labor costs of migrating to the cloud, the most effective solution depends upon business needs.

Consider your organization’s size and scope, the expectations of your customers, the regulatory environment, the demand of workloads on cloud migration, and how your IT team defines the cloud. To manage cloud infrastructure efficiently, you’ll need to have the correct people and tools in place.

Advantages of cloud infrastructure

The cloud offers companies more agility, giving CIOs the flexibility to form cloud-based solutions that are catered to their company. Cloud ERP provides many benefits to companies who are willing to put in the time and resources to make the switch. It can be especially beneficial to startup companies, small companies or even mid-sized companies, by stimulating business growth while limiting operational expenses.

As the technology matures, companies can offer advanced data security and cybersecurity, while also helping your team save time, reduce risk and work smarter. With access to IT devices and programs that are usually reserved for larger corporations, you can also become more competitive in the marketplace.

With cloud ERP, companies can also enjoy a wide variety of options for IT solutions, choose solutions that scale well and have their choice of service providers. The management provided by an off-site team lends an added level of confidence to IT infrastructure. As an added benefit, companies often experience fewer downtimes.

Reasons to maintain on-premise technology

As you consider whether to migrate to cloud ERP solutions, it may be advantageous to perform risk analysis on behalf of your company. Take into account the collaboration needs of your firm, as well as financial operations, training operations and auditing.

Companies in heavily regulated industries may find that it’s not beneficial to migrate all operations to the cloud. The risks also increase for companies that employ more than 500 workers, as the size and scope of the migration will be more complex.

The cost of the switch varies greatly depending on the nature of a company, what infrastructure is needed, and whether the company moves fully to the cloud or opts for a hybrid option. Choosing a firm that will lead you through the process, and offer a cost-efficient solution is essential. This should consist of meeting and planning stages, steps to architect and design solutions that fit into the master plan, and a smooth plan for management of your IT solutions.

Depending on the timing of a migration, you may decide that it’s best for your company to maintain on-premise solutions. This can also be advantageous if your team is not fully prepared such a migration because of its size and scope.

5 Server Maintenance Tips and Tricks to Better Support Your Business

Each and every day, you likely go about your daily business without giving your server much thought. They typically operate 24/7 without much hassle, but like all machines, they do require some level of maintenance.

This is why you need to take a proactive approach.

As you monitor and maintain your server, you will be able to help prevent a possible failure — one that could quickly turn into a disaster. To help guide you, we have created a little tips and tricks checklist. That way, you can avoid costly outages and unnecessary headaches.

Consider These 5 Server Maintenance Tips and Tricks

Unlike larger companies, you may not yet have a dedicated IT department. If this is the case, you may be currently weighed down by technical tasks that are somewhat out of your wheelhouse. The following tips and tricks are intended to guide you. However, if you are completely in the dark, it’s best that you seek the assistance of a managed service provider.

In the meantime, consider the following:

Tip #1: Update your OS

This may seem obvious. However, there are many businesses that are using outdated operating systems, leaving their companies vulnerable. All it takes is one attack, like WannaCry, for you to face a highly disruptive, potentially detrimental situation. The key here is to regularly update your operating system so that it supports regular patch releases. If you don’t, you may not have issues for months, even years — but eventually, an unpatched server will catch up with you.

Related: 9 Things You Can Do to Outsmart Ransomware Attacks

Tip #2: Clean your server

If you have your server tucked away in a closet, it’s important to physically clean it on a regular basis. Although quality servers have fairly powerful fans, that does not mean that dirt and dust can’t settle in the server’s case. This will increase the temperature within the case, potentially leading to a range of issues — including a potential fire. If your server has filters, clean them on a regular basis and use compressed air to access hard-to-reach places.

Tip #3: Check for potential hardware errors

Review your company’s system logs in order to identify signs of hardware issues. From network failures to overheating notices, it is important that you’re aware of how your hardware is operating. This is particularly important if your system has not been running as expected recently. However, even if there are not any apparent issues, checking your logs for hardware errors should become a standard part of your server maintenance strategy.

Tip #4: Confirm that your backup server is running properly

You may have already gotten into the habit of checking your backup system on a weekly basis. However, are you actually verifying that your backups are working as expected? Often overlooked, this step is imperative in regards to a solid backup plan. Even if you decide to outsource this task, you should still have a firm grasp on all the elements within your plan, including the schedule, backup location, and recovery times.

Tip #5: Move to the cloud

The cloud has allowed companies to reduce to reduce outages, which is why you should move at least a portion of your infrastructure to the cloud. This step will help you streamline your operations, hosting, data storage, and more — all while increasing speed, flexibility, and overall peace-of-mind.

Still in need of support? Please feel free to contact us regarding your IT service needs.

Also, be sure to read the following helpful resources:

6 IT Best Practices for Your Business

When it comes to the growth and long-term success of your business, you must actively address your IT needs. Although each organization is unique, there are basic IT best practices that every business should know.

The best way to approach these best practices is to break them up into specific areas so that they become more manageable.

From cybersecurity to an effective disaster recovery plan, it is imperative that you follow these suggested best practices in order to protect your business.

Cybersecurity

IT best practice #1: Create and promote a cybersecurity culture

It is imperative that you create a modern security culture within your workplace. The best way to do this is to educate your employees by holding regular meetings. Whether you’d like to discuss the threats associated with phishing emails, insecure networks, or password sharing, this the first step when aiming to protect your company from cyber attacks — many of which are continuously evolving.

IT best practice #2: Develop procedures to prevent ransomware attacks

It is critical that you develop an in-depth cybersecurity policy, ensuring additional levels of security. Whether that means running scans on a quarterly basis, maintaining an up-to-date inventory of your devices, or automating software updates, you need to sit down and create a preventative plan. This helps prevent ransomware attacks as you develop proactive cybersecurity habits.

Data backup

IT Best practice #3: Implement the 3-2-1 backup rule

The strategy is rather simple. Regardless of the size of your business, you should keep three files of your data. In addition to the original data, it is recommended that you keep a minimum of two backups (two locally and one off-site). You can read more about the 3-2-1 backup rule here.

IT best practice #4: Use the cloud as a backup solution

The cloud will allow you to back up your data on a remote or off-site server. In turn, your most critical data will be better protected. This storage solution is also highly flexible and allows for a more rapid, reliable recovery process in the case of a disaster.

Please note: Best practices in regards to cloud backups include frequent backups, backup testing, and encrypting your most critical data. To avoid downtime, remain compliant, and gain greater peace-of-mind, learn about how you can craft an effective cloud backup plan here.

Hardware/software maintenance

IT best practice #5: Ensure your hardware and software is up-to-date

If you leave your server unpatched, do not install the latest firmware, or avoid fixing the latest software bugs, you could become vulnerable to attacks and/or lost productivity.

Last but certainly not least, whether you are concerned with your company’s current cybersecurity strategy, are unsure how to effectively perform backups, or would simply like to enhance the overall productivity of your business, this leads us to the final best practice.

IT best practice #6: Outsource your IT needs

If you do not currently have an internal IT team, or there are components of your IT support that you’d like to take off-site, managed IT services can handle all of your needs.

Not sure if you’re ready to partner with a managed service provider? Here are 5 signs that will help you determine if it’s time to make this crucial transition. For more information, you can also reference the following — 5 Ways Managed It Services Help Growing Businesses.

Looking for further support? Have questions about how you can take your business to new heights? If so, please contact us today!

2018 Cybersecurity Trends: What Your Business Needs to Know

SMBs usually place cybersecurity a few places down on their list of important issues, mainly because they think hackers target the big guys: those corporations that bring in billions of dollars every year.

This belief is a myth.

Those big businesses routinely spend millions on cybersecurity, making them much more difficult to breach. Hackers often turn to companies that do not focus on these security issues, which is why half of the 28 million small businesses in the United States have already been hacked. Medium-sized businesses are also in danger of the same fate.

No matter the size, your business needs to focus on these 2018 cybersecurity trends to keep your data safe from thieves.

Password Policy Updates

CSO: 63% of confirmed data breaches involved leveraging weak, stolen or default passwords.

You and your employees have heard the following password warnings for years:

If you are like many people, you have often ignored this advice, making it incredibly simple for hacking software to determine your password, often in seconds. Your company needs to enforce these password rules to keep your data safe.

Related: Include These Key Steps and Elements to Create a Solid Cybersecurity Strategy

Since almost no one can memorize passwords for each of their accounts, you should install a password manager app for every employee. Your data will be safer, and your staff won’t have daily password breakdowns.

Employee Education

WeLiveSecurity: 70% of employees in some industries lack awareness to stop preventable cybersecurity attacks.

Every business needs to teach basic cybersecurity classes.

Many viruses and ransomware attacks come through email attachments that are carelessly opened by innocent employees. No one should ever open an attachment from an unknown source – in fact, your employees should check with the sender of an attachment before opening it to make certain it is a valid document.

Related: Bad Security Practices that Hackers Love

Some email providers automatically scan attachments for viruses. Make certain that your email provides this service. If it doesn’t, see if they have a procedure for downloading documents so that they can be safely scanned that way.

Stay up-to-date on current virus and phishing schemes and alert your employees to them. Simply being cautious can save the company thousands or even millions of dollars.

Secure Devices and Networks Through the Cloud

Gartner: Cloud-delivered security products are more agile and can implement new detection methods and services faster than on-site solutions.

You need to inventory all of your company’s endpoints and devices and know exactly where they are and who is using them. Someone can easily take home a company laptop or tablet and let their family members have access to it. Sensitive company data can easily be shared in that instance, which can lead to serious problems for the company.

Also, no one should do company business on an unsecured WiFi connection. First, check that your company’s firewall, virus protection, and internet connection are all up-to-date and secure. Then make certain that no one is using company computing devices on a open connection at a coffee shop or similar location. Hackers commonly use these security lapses to steal important data.

Related: 6 Cybersecurity Myths That Are Hurting Your Business

You should use cloud protection platforms to monitor the status of your organization’s security. It allows for anytime, anywhere access that can save you a lot of trouble in the event of a cyberattack.

Final Thoughts on 2018 Cybersecurity Trends

SMBs are popular targets for hackers who can steal company and customer data, leaving everyone involved exposed to financial loss. These internet thieves consider smaller businesses easy marks because… they usually are.

You can protect your company from serious cybersecurity problems by partnering with an SMB security specialist that can handle your security for you. We’ve got experience in protecting organizations like yours.

We’ll make sure that no matter what comes your way, your data will stay your own.

Interested in learning more? Contact us today to get more information or to get started.

Bad Security Practices That Hackers Love

When you think about hackers and security breaches, you often associate these attacks with large corporations. Although major security attacks do impact large businesses, small-to-medium businesses tend to be the easiest targets for hackers.

Unfortunately, smaller companies often don’t have a dedicated IT team to enforce digital best practices, leaving them vulnerable to criminals.

Luckily, even if you do not have a deep understanding of IT practices, you can still protect your company through good due diligence — all while avoiding common pitfalls that hackers love.

Be Mindful of These Bad Security Practices

You have likely heard about security best practices. However, it’s also important that you take a proactive approach in regards to bad practices. After all, only around 14% of small companies rate their ability to reduce cyber risks and attacks as highly effective.

Address the following bad practices as soon as possible in order to mitigate cyber-security risks.

Bad practice #1: Only implementing an “all-in-one” antivirus scanner

Back in the early 90s, all-in-one antivirus scanners were effective, as they were able to detect the dozens of worms and viruses lurking out there. Unfortunately, times have changed. Thousands (if not millions) of malware programs are released monthly, many of which will go undetected.

To protect your business, you need a combination of tools in a unified platform that is easy to manage. This platform should take care of things like file sharing security, email security, routine system scans, and more.

Bad practice #2: Reusing passwords

Many people have a “go-to” password, often using it across multiple online accounts. This has led to some major data breaches in the past, as hackers are able to easily steal a copious amount of information by just knowing a single password.

Each account needs to have a strong, unique password. Make sure each password is at least six characters (but the more the better) and that it includes a combination of numbers, letters (both lowercase and uppercase), and symbols.

Bad practice #3: A lack of training

One of the biggest issues associated with cybersecurity is human error. Whether your staff ignore security updates or is unaware of phishing scams, poor training and a lack of awareness are incredibly dangerous for your business.

Many companies do not make cybersecurity training a priority until it’s too late. Be sure to meet with your staff on a regular basis to discuss the latest techniques and methods, as well as recent trends and dangers (especially in relation to malware email attachments).

Related: The 3-2-1 Backup Rule — Why It’s Important

Bad practice #4: Not performing regular tests

You may have implemented security measures in the past, but that does not mean they’re up-to-date. This is where regular testing or “fire drills” come into play. If you created a security response plan within the last year, you should run a hypothetical drill.

Ideally, you should be revisiting your security plans quarterly — but many businesses are now opting to run drills monthly. This also applies to your disaster recovery plan (as hackers are not the only risk involved).

Bad practice #5: Ignoring the dangers of mobile devices

Since many companies are transitioning towards a “bring your own device” arrangement, business owners need to consider where critical data is being stored and accessed. This is because mobile devices are typically easy to crack.

If you currently have mobile device management (MDM) or enterprise mobility management (EMM) solutions in place, know that these do not protect you against hackers and malware. This is something that you can discuss with a managed service provider.

Create a Better Cybersecurity Strategy Today

Beginning today, it is imperative that you take a proactive approach, focusing on your company’s future. After all, cybersecurity entrepreneur and IT security futurist, Neil Rerup, said it best, “True cybersecurity is preparing for what’s next, not what was last.”

Now is the time to create a solid cybersecurity strategy and if you require assistance, please feel free to contact our team our team today!

6 Cybersecurity Myths That Are Hurting Your Business

Every company is wrestling with cybersecurity. The number of breaches makes it impossible to ignore the issue. One of the biggest challenges that companies face when addressing cybersecurity is the number of myths and misconceptions that surround it.

These are some of the cybersecurity myths hurting your ability to protect your business.

A Security Breach is a Source of Embarrassment

An important prerequisite to fighting security breaches is the company’s mindset. It’s difficult (if not impossible) for any company to eliminate the opportunity for a hacker to breach their system. If you believe that being hacked is something better swept under the rug, you’re limiting your ability to prevent breaches and handle the situation if hackers attack your company.

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Related: 3 Data Loss Horror Stories

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All companies benefit from pooling their knowledge with others. Keeping cybersecurity concerns and experiences a secret will only make everyone more vulnerable. In addition, trying to hide a breach will result in more damage over the long term.

After all, would you trust a company that didn’t tell you if your data was at risk?

Using Antivirus Software is Enough

Antivirus software was a blessing 20 years ago. Today, however, it will only protect against an unenthusiastic hacker. Most hackers have found ways around antivirus software and can easily hide an attack from an unsuspecting user.

Antivirus icon

In other words, today’s sophisticated and quick attacks are no match for antivirus software.

A cybersecurity strategy must include preventing access, but it’s also necessary to recognize that you need a more proactive stance. You must protect against the known threats that antivirus software can spot.

But, it may be even more important to have the ability to spot unusual and unauthorized activity on a network and initiate appropriate action. If you can’t stop all attacks, at a minimum, your security system should work toward minimizing the damage.

My Company Will Never be Interesting to a Hacker

Anyone who believes it will never happen to them is almost guaranteeing that it will. For example, many small businesses think they’re immune to cyberattacks. That’s a prime cybersecurity myth, as research shows quite the opposite:

Hacker Icon

Another issue to consider is that companies of every size store data that shouldn’t become public, or fall into a hacker’s hands. Whether it’s confidential customer information or trade secrets, there’s a hacker out there who would be interested.

You need to protect your network and your servers, but you also need to protect local PCs, mobile phones and other devices that access your network. Any device that connects to your network is a potential doorway for hackers to breach your systems.

It’s Just an IT Problem

It’s true that your IT department has the technical knowledge needed to implement security strategies. However, the users of your IT systems present the biggest internal threat – one that IT can’t control.

The problem isn’t an employee planning to steal sensitive information. The biggest threat the users present is an innocent action that has unintended consequences. For example, ransomware attacks usually start with a malicious email sent to one of your employees with a file attached.

Hackers are becoming very creative in making an email look like it’s coming from a reasonable source, and that its attachment contains an order, invoice, or some other important document. When the employee opens the attachment, they realize that it’s not real. By then, it’s far too late.

Did you know?

Training employees on cybersecurity, and educating them in how to spot a suspicious email is critical. It’s also important to have senior management support to make cybersecurity awareness part of the company’s culture.

Furthermore, the impact of a security breach takes it out of the realm of a technical problem. The financial damage makes the potential of a security breach a problem that the most senior management in the company needs to address.

Addressing Cybersecurity is Just Too Expensive

Every company faces the challenge to encourage growth as they allocate funds internally. However, if funds become limited, cybersecurity may fall down the list of priorities. This big mistake is often the result of a mindset that considers cybersecurity spending to be something a company should do after funding all other “important” programs – programs that are considered critical for success.

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Helpful: A Guide for Crafting a Small Business Data Backup Strategy

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It’s easy to dispel this myth by looking at the impact of a cybersecurity attack. As stated earlier, SMBs have a 50/50 chance that a hacker will attack. Besides that, the financial burden that follows a successful attack can cripple or put your company out of business. In light of those facts, funding cybersecurity projects will always be the most cost effective approach.

I Don’t Need Anything Else Because I Have Great Security

This may be the biggest cybersecurity myth of all.

In fact, 35% of SMEs believe that they don’t need to fund cybersecurity because they have great security. That may be true in the moment, but consider that hackers are creating new ways to breach your security every day.

Establishing an active and ongoing cybersecurity strategy is the only way to do everything possible to protect your systems.

Cybersecurity Myths, Dispelled

The importance of addressing cybersecurity isn’t a trend that will fade away over time. If anything, it will become more important to the future of your company as time goes on.

If you have questions about the effectiveness of your cybersecurity strategy, you don’t want to wait until you’re faced with a breach. We can help you evaluate and update your security systems. Contact us today for more information.

9 Things You Can Do to Outsmart Ransomware Attacks

It won’t matter if you consider your company an unlikely target for ransomware attacks. If just one ransomware attack hits your network, it will still cripple your business.

Take the time now to prepare for and take precautions against ransomware attacks.

1. Create a Device Inventory

You need to have an up to date inventory of all devices on your network, and you need to monitor those devices on a regular basis. The list should include all security devices, access points and network devices to ensure that you are tracking every possible place a cybercriminal could access your network.

2. Automate Software Updates

All of your endpoints need the latest software to thwart exploits to the greatest extent possible. Automating software updates and patches is the best way to keep everything current. Your updated device inventory will help you to ensure that all of your endpoints are covered.

3. Segment Your Network

You need to minimize the impact if you do get hit with a ransomware attack. Segmenting your network is one way to close some doors that an attacker would otherwise use to travel throughout your network.

Once you have identified the flows through your network, you can plan segmentation to minimize the number of traffic flows that need to cross segment boundaries.

4. Keep the Network Clean

Develop a policy controlling the devices that anyone adds to the network. Check all devices to ensure that they meet basic security requirements, and will allow you to actively scan for unpatched or infected devices and data flow.

5. Use Access and Application Controls

Controlling access can include limiting admin accounts, and limiting users to only the access they need. For example, if a user only needs read access, don’t allow write access.

From an application standpoint, implement controls that prevent an application from executing from a known ransomware location such as temporary folders related to internet browsers.

6. Create a Dynamic Disaster Recovery Plan

It may be virtually impossible to put enough controls in place to stop any cybercriminal. They change their tactics often and get smarter every time. The best defense is to have a disaster recovery plan that allows you to ignore the demands for ransom and get your systems back up and running quickly.

7. Establish Off-Network Backups

Ransomware attackers count on the fact that you’ll be desperate to get your data back, and will quickly pay the ransom. You can avoid that situation by creating an off-network backup for at least critical systems. Restoring your systems as quickly as possible will definitely frustrate the cybercriminals.

Related: The 3-2-1 Backup Rule: Why It’s Important

8. Get Management Support

The fight against ransomware attacks requires the support of management. Senior executives need to make cybersecurity a priority and communicate that company-wide. In addition, a comprehensive approach to stopping attacks will require the financial support that only a dedicated senior management staff can provide.

9. Train the Staff

Many cyberattacks start from a phishing email that lets an unsuspecting employee introduce a threat. Another common source is the surfing employees do on the internet. That’s where they can inadvertently visit a website or download something that introduces a threat.

Train employees on how to identify and avoid suspect emails. Besides that, educate them about the purpose for their browser identifying suspect websites and the importance of taking the warnings seriously.

Your Organization’s Next Steps

You may find other actions you can take to avoid ransomware attacks. However, if you haven’t addressed the issues listed above, you’re particularly vulnerable.

If you want to get started on making your system more capable of frustrating ransomware attacks, contact us to learn how we can make your organization ransomware-proof.