Cloud Workforce Security

When it comes to working remotely, making use of the most up-to-date and high-quality cloud infrastructure and cloud computing services is very important. Cloud computing offers a number of options for business profitability, and a huge improvement for the ability to work remotely. However, you must have the right cybersecurity protocols and software in place to keep your network secure from hackers.

Let’s take a look at some of the security measures you should be aware of.

What is SASE?

First of all, you must know what the SASE cybersecurity software is. SASE is short for “secure access service edge”. It serves to help enhance business computer security when using cloud technology. By implementing SASE for your office network, you can safely access enhanced cybersecurity for your business data against hackers.

It is expected that, by 2040, as many as 40% of businesses – large and small alike – will have either integrated SASE with their current network cybersecurity approach or will be planning to. This is a drastic increase from the 1% of businesses that used SASE in 2018 upon its creation. This also highlights the fact that SASE will be a highly important form of computer security software in the coming years. Start asking about it now.

Why is SASE Important?

You might be wondering why additional cloud technology solutions are needed to protect your business data. There are a few different reasons as to why you might want to implement SASE technology for your servers, but the most obvious and important reason is for the enhanced security it offers.

Unfortunately, there are a few cloud computing companies and services that don’t offer the level of protection your business needs. Don’t be afraid to ask them questions you’re concerned about. Also, remember that we are here to help insure you make the best decisions for your needs. We research and check cloud providers to be sure the solutions they recommend are the most secure available.

It’s important to highlight that cloud computing services are highly reliable solutions and offer additional levels of protection against hackers for most businesses. However, hackers have been able to get around some security features installed by cloud companies. This warning highlights the need for extra IT security, such as that provided by SASE.

How SASE Works

SASE works by merging traditional wide-area networking (WAN) security solutions with other local network services. By using the best of different security approaches and configuring them into a single, cloud-delivered cybersecurity model, SASE allows business networks to benefit from the highest level of cybersecurity. This can be applied across all business devices, from office computers, desktops, and laptops to tablets used for on-the-go projects.

Tech solutions such as SASE are rapidly becoming more and more important. They are necessary to ensure that your business remain protected against the danger hackers can pose to data security. And, by enhancing your business’ cybersecurity while also integrating revolutionary cloud technology and architecture, you’ll be able to enjoy the best protection modern IT services have to offer.

Why Is Cyber Security So Important for my Small Business?

If you’ve ever found yourself searching for “small business IT services near me,” then it is highly likely that your business could also benefit from additional cybersecurity measures. Ensuring the safety of your servers is essential to have a good reputation with your customers and staff.

There are many different reasons why cybersecurity is so important for small and large businesses. Indeed, sometimes it can seem like information technology is changing and evolving at a rate faster than any of us can keep up with – so you must have the best protection in place to make sure your business network is safe.

  • Protect your customers’ and suppliers’ data: If your business falls victim to hackers, then your suppliers’ and customers’ data could be compromised. If hackers get access to this data, then you could find yourself with large lawsuits and fines. Which as a result are massively costly.
  • Customer confidence: Customer confidence is of the utmost importance in the modern trading environment. If your cybersecurity protocols are not up to scratch then you may lose customers out of fear of data loss. Therefore, having good cybersecurity is paramount if your business is to have loyal, trusting customers.
  • Business reputation: To follow up from the last point, if your business has poor cybersecurity solutions in place then you will possibly have a poor business reputation as well. This, in turn, may negatively impact your business in numerous ways, including lost sales and lost revenue. Certainly, this is something that no business wants to experience. The slight cost of investing in good cybersecurity for your business network will be more than paid for by the increased revenue from loyal, trusting customers.

Find the Right IT Consultants Today!

If you aren’t sure how SASE can benefit your business, our team of professional IT consultants are here to help! We can help with all aspects of your managed IT services and IT solutions.

After all, you have a business to run. Let us handle the information technology solutions while you do what you do best! For more information on how our team can help your business grow and thrive, contact us today to learn more!

Computing in the Cloud

Keeping your business network safe and secure is essential. Virtual offices and cloud services can be smart ways to keep your data safe. However, many people do not understand the benefits that investing in virtual offices can have. Today we will be looking at what confidential computing is and how investing in the right computing strategies – with help from your managed service provider – can help your business network achieve safe cybersecurity thanks to cloud solutions.

Why Confidential Computing is So Important

When it comes to protecting your business network from hackers, you must have the right cybersecurity software in place. Information technology is an integral part of our lives these days. Still, a few businesses operate without some influence from IT service providers. That can put them at risk of getting hacked.

Confidential computing helps to prevent this from happening. In turn, this can help your business protect your, and your customer’s valuable data. Currently, more and more people are turning to managed IT services and cloud infrastructure and their solutions. Let’s take a look at some of the benefits of migrating to the cloud.

Benefits of Cloud Infrastructure for Business IT Solutions

There are many potential benefits for your business when choosing a virtual office or cloud solution services. As such, you must consider these cloud architecture benefits carefully before deciding whether or not to make the switch. However, changing to a cloud-based network could be a smart move for your business.

Some of the key benefits to moving to the cloud are:

  1. Scalability
  2. Enhanced Security
  3. Lower Hardware Costs
  4. Greater Flexibility for Employees
  5. Easier Remote Access
  6. Automatic Data Back-up
  7. Lower Maintenance Costs

If you decide to switch over, we highly recommend that you do so with the support of a cloud computing company that can provide you with the best security possible. By doing so, you can be confident that appropriate firewalls, virus protection, and back-up disaster recovery steps are taken to protect your data. Let’s take a deeper look at five things that add value to moving to the cloud.

Cost-Effective Solution

Cloud infrastructure can offer a highly cost-effective solution for many businesses. These savings are obtained by not having to purchase any high-tech office equipment yourself. Rather, you can “hire” cloud servers, thereby cutting the costs of hosting your business’ IT network. There are many cloud storage providers on the market now, giving small businesses plenty of choices when looking for an affordable cloud storage plan.

Data Back-up Disaster Recovery

Another key benefit of most cloud computing services is that they offer data back-up disaster recovery, or BDR, services. That means you can rest easy knowing that your data is secure and backed-up if it should be compromised. That can be a highly time-consuming activity to do with non-cloud business networks.

Practicality

An important benefit of choosing cloud computing services is that the cloud offering is very practical for most businesses. But why is this?

When you choose cloud solutions for your business’ computing needs, you can enjoy having access to company files and data from wherever you might happen to be. That means you can easily access information and files while out working in the field. This feature can also make it easier for your employees to access the system when they need to. As your managed service provider, we’d have access to carry out the necessary work on your network to keep it working effectively and securely.

Fast Speed

It is accepted that most cloud computing companies offer services that provide fast and efficient services. That is in comparison to some physical systems that can take a lot longer to load. It seems like a good business move. After all, time is money!

Unlimited Storage Capacity!

That is arguably the biggest (and most obvious) benefit of choosing cloud computing services and cloud storage providers. Having access to the cloud gives your business the potential to enjoy unlimited storage capacity – which, in turn, can allow you to keep more records with greater amounts of detail. All while saving money on expensive physical storage options.

Is Cloud Computing Secure?

Understandably, many people are unsure about the cloud infrastructure and cloud solutions being safe and reliable. However, it’s important to remember that cloud technologies are highly advanced and provide a high level of support and protection for your data. After all, with many corporations and even governmental bodies using these cloud networks, it’s of the utmost importance that cloud computing services are secure.

That is why you must choose the right Cloud provider for your business technology needs.

Get Professional Managed IT Services Today!

If your business can benefit from joining the cloud, then you must have professional support while making the change. Fortunately, our team of information technology experts understands cloud computing. As such, we are here to help you switch your business servers to cloud solutions, giving you the chance to enjoy all the benefits listed above (and more!)

To learn more about cloud computing services and how cloud solutions could benefit your business, don’t delay, contact our IT management team today to find out more! We’re here to help you find the perfect IT solutions that help your business grow.

 

Password Theft – How Protected Is Your Business?

Security has been a concern with the internet since its inception. Anyone who remembers the early days of the internet will remember how easy it was to cause fairly significant trouble. Employees left passwords in plain sight. There wasn’t anything in the way of certificates, computer identification, or anything else to ensure password safety. With these vulnerabilities, it inevitably results in password theft.

Back then, there was no such thing as a secure connection. Even the banking systems were incredibly vulnerable. Luckily, these cracks in the system didn’t result in many newsworthy meltdowns because there weren’t enough tech-savvy criminals to take advantage of them. Modern-day hackers could have done a lot of damage back then.

Since then, we’ve seen some significant cases of password and identity theft. The PSN fiasco with Sony is a recent example. Thousands upon thousands of users had their credit card numbers, passwords, and personal information stolen and sold off by Chinese hackers. Yet this could have been entirely avoidable. Had Sony prioritized two-step authentication (2FA), and better security protocols it wouldn’t have happened.

That was an attack on servers, which is hard to pull off when the servers are set-up properly. It usually involves either a brute force attack into the servers or finding an unknown exploit in the back door. In other words, it requires either bashing the front door open or finding an unlocked window. Smart businesses make sure their front doors are strong and their windows are locked!

Most password and identity theft won’t happen through this sort of invasion. Like a large city, the internet has its safer and more questionable neighborhoods. There are also neighborhoods nobody in their right mind should be going anywhere near. Let’s take a walk around these neighborhoods and point out some of the risks.

How Hackers Steal Passwords and Personal Information

To steal passwords and other valuable information, Phishing is one of the most common types of cyberattacks. Hackers will send out emails containing malicious links to as many users as possible. That link takes users to a bogus, or spoofed site, and tricks them into giving out their private information.

Once hackers acquire this information, they will attempt to break into as many business and personal accounts as possible. And if they gain access to those accounts, it’s only a matter of time before data is stolen or access to those accounts is lost.

SSL and HTTPS are security measures that provide certificate management to ensure foreign devices are not connecting to your account. They provide strong ciphers that prevent intercepted packets from being dismantled. It’s the equivalent of only allowing certain phones to dial into yours, and scrambling the voice on both ends so wiretaps can’t understand the conversation.

Unfortunately, people have the bad habit of accessing sensitive information over public Wi-Fi. Even with SSL enabled, public Wi-Fi can be very dangerous. Shady people can access your Wi-Fi transmissions without you knowing it. With enough hard work, they can collect your passwords, your personal information and even gain access to your devices. Once they’re in, you are in a lot of trouble.

Another culprit is a lack of strong security on your computer or laptop. Without Windows defender or a third-party equivalent running in strict mode, you may allow sneaky executables to run in the background. These can log keystrokes, spy on your browser, go through your cache, and much more.

 

Knowing the Neighborhood is Important

Your first line of defense as a user against password and identity theft is to ensure that you only enter passwords and personal information into websites with the proper security in place. 2FA logins are currently the safest way to log in. And second, never enter private information over public Wi-Fi. This warning goes for your phone too.

When using a business device, you should avoid lesser-known sites, such as aggregate sites, fan-based websites, and other nonprofessional web sites. If you want to purchase something on noncommercial websites, make sure the exchange is through a safe, insured, and secure environment.

Finally, while at work, stay off the dark web entirely.

What If I am Compromised?

If you are compromised, report it to your IT department or Managed Service Provider immediately. If possible, back-up your hard drives. Report your credit cards as stolen, and talk to your bank. Later on, if you see fraudulent transactions on your account, debit, or credit cards, contest them immediately,

Once you have your system backed up and running, go through all of your old accounts and change every password. You may also want to change your mobile phone number. Hackers can sell that information too.

In the end, identity theft and password theft are usually the user’s error in judgment. Most employees don’t learn proper security measures, and they’re too trusting. It is important to teach everyone in your office proper password hygiene and basic security protocol. They need to know the rules of safety on the internet, and not be trusting of unknown people they come in contact with.

Sadly, because of these threats, we do have to worry about security and privacy. Like any other innovation, the internet was a dangerous place upon arrival. It’s a game between hackers and our security forces. If you’re smart, however, you can avoid these traps. Contact us today to ensure your data, passwords, and privacy are protected.

Biggest Hacks in 2020

Worldwide losses from cybercrime skyrocketed to nearly $1 trillion in 2020. That’s more than the net worth of most countries.
Run a quick search and you’ll be surprised at how many hacks occur every week. Modern security is the best it has ever been. Unfortunately, hackers are motivated to be one step ahead of all of us. Breaches resulting in credit card information hacked by the millions are quite common. Even the pandemic hasn’t slowed them down.

According to zdnet.com, the switch to businesses using remote employees has changed the hacking landscape. In 2020, up to 20% of all cybersecurity attacks were aimed at the new remote workforce. With employees and companies learning how to shift into going remote, hackers knew this weak-link was ripe for the picking.

Cyberwarfare is the battlefield of the 21st century and beyond. There are three common types of entities that create most hacks. Let’s discuss these entities, their motivations, a few of the biggest ones that happened this year, and what we can learn from the nature of those hacks.

The Forces of Evil

Simplifying things, there are basically three types of hacking profiles that are likely to engage in these nasty hacks. What most people think of first are criminals and ne’er-do-wells looking to profit from this inexcusable behavior. Money motivates them to steal credit card information or sensitive personal information. Then they sell it to sketchy third parties. On a global scale, foreign powers can, will, and have engaged in destructive hacks to disrupt economies. Often politically motivated, these crooks hope to instill unrest and frighten civilians.

Finally, some hackers just think they’re smarter than everyone else. They breach security systems because they enjoy causing chaos. Some of these hackers insist they’re working for a good cause. They focus on blowing the whistle on government projects they feel are wrong. But all too often these hacking attempts are completely random. Sometimes years of data and research is wiped out or stolen. They don’t seem like Robin Hood then!

Some of the biggest hacks in 2020

By studying past events we can learn a lot about protecting ourselves both in the corporate and private worlds. The most common attacks are usually through malware. Short for “malicious software,” malware is invasive software that finds a way into PCs and corrupts or destroys files and programs.

One victim of a malicious malware attack last year was Travelex. In January 2020, they lost an undisclosed amount of money. And an undisclosed number of private records were compromised due to the presence of malware. Everyone who has given them personal information, like credit card numbers, are now at risk.

Estee Lauder had over 440 million internal records exposed due to Middleware, and other security failures. Middleware, while not the same as malware, does add extra complications to systems. Middleware gets its name by hiding between the operating system and the applications on a PC. Hackers can then use middleware to delete, copy, or encrypt anything that passes through it.

Phishing, another hacking method, lead to damaging incidents with Virgin Media, Whisper, and Marriott throughout January, February and March. Using phishing tactics to learn password and login information, hackers gained access to countless records. Again, millions of innocent people are now at risk of credit card fraud, drained bank accounts, or identity theft.

What can we learn from this?

These are far from the only hacks. As you can see, no matter how secure we think we are, hackers can usually find a way in. Poor training and the lack of conscientiousness in user security are the biggest ways hackers gain access to information.

This results in things like ransomware attacks, data loss, and stolen files. These breaches can do serious damage to businesses and private citizens alike. Presently, despite great security measures, we still need stronger security in place on the corporate side. Better training is a necessity for employees. Middleware, which is often found by using Antivirus programs, needs to be eliminated whenever possible. Better walled gardens can be built and utilized by businesses that hold private records and data.

These attacks are unfortunate, but rather than being rueful to the victimized companies, we should demand that they learn from these mistakes. Hackers are not going to go away. You can count on them to find more and more ways to steal your data.

These major companies can afford the best cybersecurity defenses available. Yet, they are still vulnerable. If you don’t feel your cybersecurity is as strong and safe as it should be, please contact us anytime. As your Managed Service Provider, it is our job to make sure your precious data is as safe as possible.

Artificial Intelligence: Better Living (and Working) through Automation

Artificial intelligence, also referred to by the simpler term AI, has long been the holy grail of futurists, science fiction authors, and fantasists alike. Even before we established the concept of computer science, the notion of mechanized entities capable of learning, thinking, and acting on their own was a popular subject for science fiction. This is especially true of cautionary tales. 

While AI stories predate this work of art, the earliest popular demonstration in the common zeitgeist is the silent film Metropolis. Released in 1927, this movie is almost 100 years old. It deeply explores the idea of intelligent technology and its impact on our society. It also explores the ethics involved in creating machinery that is capable of awareness. 

We’re not here to discuss science fiction robots that can think and feel just like people. We’re not even going to discuss the menacing software displayed in the Terminator or Matrix franchises. Although, these are very interesting concepts. A discussion about the repercussions of AI does merit a conversation, but we’re not there yet. Not by any stretch of the imagination. That’s called the singularity, and it’s going to happen someday soon. What we’re here to discuss today is AI as we currently know it. 

Demystifying Contemporary AI 

You’re not aware of it, but you experience AI every day. Talking to your phone, Siri, and Alexa, or searching on Google or other search engines, AI tracks you. AI directs your searches based on your past search history, as well as what you’re inputting. It compiles data from users and learns their interests and habits. It then uses this info for marketing and other purposes. 

AI also exists in the business and consumer sectors. But AI in the sense of what people think of in science fiction movies certainly does not yet exist. So, what exactly is it that we have that we’re calling AI? 

AI, or Machine Learning, is any form of software or hardware technology that is capable of learning from input and results. It then uses the ability to make intuitive predictions based on what it has learned. This includes abstractly solving problems based on past tasksIt will then adjust its approach to tasks and become more efficient and effective at making decisions. It is clever, but not conscious. 

AI can be powerful. You might be wondering exactly how this business automation like this can help you. Keep reading to find out! 

Tireless Workers 

With AI capable of basic accounting functions, administration, and CRM, you can eliminate a lot of redundant tasks. Over time you’ll have less unnecessary staff and less overhead.  

Arguably, AI isn’t quite smart enough yet to handle dealing with an angry customer on the phone or in a chat, as anyone who’s tried to talk to these so-called bots will attest. But they are very well-suited for simpler tasks. 

AI can learn customer habits, allowing it to be a handy assistant to CRM, PR, and customer service employees. AI can recall information about customers, and instantly suggest go-to solutions that make sense. Efficiency is the name of the game. 

Redundant tasks, such as appointment setting, cold calling, or pesky reoccurring jobs, can also be handled by AI. This frees up skilled employees to deal with people directly as they are trained to do. 

Artificial Intelligence can be useful for business planning and logistics management. It learns from markets, business climates, and current events. It is capable of making accurate predictions and connecting relationships that analysts may not be able to notice. This makes AI programs excellent tools for business analysts, traders, and marketing experts as well. 

AI Versus Outsourcing 

Outsourced work is often of subpar quality, as reflected in the reduced price associated with it. AI responds instantaneously to notifications from customers and provides personal replies. It prioritizes deadlines with no emotional opposition nor fatigue associated with it. AI works 24/7 and doesn’t need breaks or time off. It learns from operating and repetition. While little bit of patience may be necessary when AI is put into place, it learns remarkably faster than people. This is not because it’s smarter than people, but because its “brain” is designed specifically for the tasks at hand. 

AI doesn’t need holidays, vacation pay, or anything of the sort. It never stops. It never gets bored, and it provides a far better, less emotionally charged customer experience.  

This Has Potential, Where Do I Start? 

If the prospect of tireless, intuitive business automation tool like this sounds intriguing, your next step is to figure out what your business needs are. Do a little research. Read up on how Artificial Intelligence works, and compare platforms you’re interested inGet a feel for what this technology is and where its prime applications lie. Look into where it’s used now, and notice the day-to-day things that are powered by AI. You’ll be surprised by how prolific it is. 

Or, if the whole thing is confusing for you, drop us a line. We specialize in business technology and are avid proponents of business automation. We can even provide you with advice on how to integrate Artificial Intelligence with your current staff. After all, we want to help you grow your business, not find ways to lose valuable employees. Contact us today to find out more. 

Touchless Business: A New Era

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected individuals and businesses across the globe in a manner that rings with permanence. Many businesses that were previously successful are now left baffled as to how they should adjust their business models. To work effectively in this new age of touchless business, we need to adopt to new systems and organizational methods. 

 

How do I even begin to mobilize my business in light of current restrictions? 

 

The top priority for businesses that haven’t done so already is to establish an online presence. And they should get online fast! Establishing an efficient online storefront is the first step to attracting customers who shifted to shopping online during this pandemic. If a website is already part of your business model, then some tech solutions may be needed to handle more sales. Make your website functional enough to be a solidified option for those at home. IT solutions, such as adding a shopping cart or transitioning a POS terminal, can help adjust your online presence. 

 

For businesses who deem their online presence to be adequate but struggle with restricted capacity, touchless payment options may be the answer to your problems. What businesses have found to be convenient and successful is the installment of computer tablets as hubs for touchless payments. The prevalence of consumer tech solutions such as ApplePay, Samsung Pay, and Google Wallet have established a safe and easy way for customers to take advantage of digital tablets in physical business locations. 

 

How do I maintain effortless communication between coworkers and employees? 

 

Another struggle many businesses face in this period of touchless business is, how to effectively communicate with employees and coworkers. Scheduling business meetings in person is not exactly COVID safe. Luckily there are alternatives for maintaining a solid and reliable communication link. Platforms such as MS Teams, Zoom, Skype, Google Hangouts, Adobe Connect, and many more have streamlined the ability to connect individuals virtually. Business meetings have, in a sense, never been easier to achieve. By cutting out the commute time for many employees, you can provide more time for scheduling important business meetings.  

 

An additional way to streamline communication efforts is to construct a working online business network. You can do so through new platforms, like Slack, Microsoft Teams/Office, and Google Hangouts. Making sure remote employees have a designated business computer to utilize during work hours is essential. It assures the success of online performance, as programs are only as good as the diligence of the employee checking them.  

 

Now that I have a working website, how do I continue to make sales and service my clients? 

 

Maintaining a business during a pandemic is one thing; soliciting new business and sales are a whole other feat. Establishing a working website is not enough to ensure the success of any business or private firm. It is merely the first step in the process of creating an engaging and attractive online presence. Not all customers you want to attract are as tech-savvy as you probably are. Being prepared to help them transition to an online client is something you can do to make this process easy for them. Older clientele may want to do business with you but aren’t sure how to use Zoom. Being able to assist them, or hiring someone who can, is a reliable way to bridge this gap and continue growing your business. 

 

Making sales during such a confusing and evolving business era can be intimidating and uncertain. Small to medium businesses are currently struggling more than ever to keep their doors open. For many, it is tough making sufficient sales to sustain the company and its employees. With every business transitioning to online services, how do you make your business stand apart? The next step for facilitating sales is to engage with your customers and their concerns. You should have a dedicated customer service person with reliable tech solutions for answering emails, fulfilling online orders, and facilitating responses to customer questions promptly. Being responsive to this kind of online interaction is essential to keeping and attracting customers. If you aren’t making the online process easy for the customer, the competition will. 

 

A Summary of How to Mobilize 

 

The touchless era is a difficult time in which to mobilize your business. But it is not impossible. Creating an easily accessible and efficient online platform for customers to enjoy and engage with, and maintaining a strong online presence is essential to moving your business into a successful space. Finding different IT tech solutionslike installing online video chat programs to continue communicationwill help affirm employee accountability as well as customer satisfaction. Finally, bringing all these aspects together to create a comprehensive and well-oiled touchless business model will assure your business has the best chance of survival and success possible. 

 

 

If you have questions about setting up online services or getting your employees to work remotely, please contact us at any time. 

Automating Business Processes – How Can You Be Better?

If last year taught us anything, it was that small to medium businesses need to adapt with the times if they want to stay open. Social distancing and crowd restrictions drove all of us to figure out ways to retain our clientele without dealing with them face-to-face. Online business transactions, telecommuting, and third-party suppliers became the norm. In this new ecosystem, how can we automate business processes and stay ahead of our competitors? 

Future growth trends point to business automation in every department, contactless deliveries and transactions, and more remote employees and supply chains. To stay competitive, these are the directions we need to focus on. 

The good news is that the future is here! Many large businesses are already fully automated, and their innovations are easily adaptable to your needs. Let’s take a look at some of the new “Everything as a Service” trends to give your team ideas of where you can take your business. 

Automate Business Processes through AI 

According to Google, AI supports three critical business needs: 

  • Automating business processes
  • Gaining insight through data analysis
  • Engaging with customers and employees

Whether or not you’re aware of it, AI is tracking and compiling your data and dispersing it to companies that want to use it. Right now, it’s mostly larger companies like Google, Amazon, Apple, and Microsoft, because they can afford to develop it. Their innovations mean you can use the same technology for your business. 

Optimize Your Sales & Marketing

Sales and Marketing tasks go hand-in-hand, so it’s only natural that they work together to maximize customer data. Automated customer-relationship management (CRM) programs gather customer information through engagement and actions. This data helps streamline your sales process, and can also be used for marketing purposes. The compiled information helps track business trends, customer preferences, top-selling items, and a whole lot more.  

 Automating this process can also result in better lead generation. And the best news is that this efficient system can run at or below your current budget. Once you optimize the customer experience, you’ll be able to streamline the areas that bring in the most money. And that’s good for any business. 

Automate Pricing & Billing 

If you’ve been relying on one person to handle these tasks, and your business is growing, it may be time to look into an automated process. While pricing is usually an internal decision (supply and demand, shipping costs, holding costs, display and web promoting, etc.), billing has been outsourced for years, especially in the medical field.  

Outsourcing medical billing has been around for decades. And it makes sense. Doctors went to school to help save lives, not to check the insurance eligibility of their patients. And the HIPAA Privacy Policy makes everything even more complicated. Billing automation lets medical professionals focus on what they need to do. Automating or outsourcing will help you too. 

Outsource Service & Support

If you’re running a bakery or book store, chances are you’re not open 24/7. On the other hand, have you ever considered that you might be missing sales when someone tries to contact you during your off-hours? 

Besides businesses that require 24-hour support (Medical, Automobile Towing, IT Managed Services, to name a few), now is the time for everyone to establish a 24-hour presence. Do a little research and you’ll discover that a 24/7 answering service will cost you less than a full-time employee. And that person who answers your phone is only working 40 hours a week, minus vacation, sick time, and paid holidays. It’s worth it to make sure you never miss a call. 

Create a Virtual Storefront

Every business has a website, but can your customers purchase your goods and services directly from your homepage? Without a strong web presence, you are limiting your business to local customers only when you can potentially have global customers. The internet never sleeps, and neither should your business. 

Adding a Storefront to your current web site is not difficult at all. If you offer products or services that anyone can use, stop limiting yourself to the same group of customers. If the thought of expanding your reach makes you feel like you’re being pulled out of your comfort zone, remember that your competition has already done it. Follow the trends or you may be left behind. 

Automating Business Processes Leads to Scalability

You may not be taking advantage of your workforce scalability. There has never been a better time to hire the best employees to work remotely, from just about anywhere. Here are a few of the benefits you’ll get from scaling your employees to your business needs: 

  • Hire staff per project
  • Use the best people possible
  • Set time limits on projects
  • Get tasks done around the clock
  • Reduce your office space

The biggest benefit you’ll see from this system is gaining control of your budget. By expanding and shrinking your employee pool you’re not wasting money in-between projects. This allows you to streamline your office staff and ramp-up as your projects require. Give it a try! It may be something simple to implement that creates great results.  

It’s too early to tell if this year will be as challenging as the last one, but even if it’s not we still need to prepare for the worst. If you’re not sure how these business trends can save money and grow your business, remember that we are here to help. As a Managed Service Provider, we can show you some of the latest business developments and solutions that just may be the answers you’ve been looking for. Contact us today and let’s talk about your future.  

Are Your Apps Dangerous?

Apps make the modern technology world go ‘round. If it weren’t for apps, smartphones and other mobile devices wouldn’t be nearly as useful. Of course, there are many factors to consider before using an app. You should ask yourself, could this be a potentially dangerous app? This is especially true if you’re using a device for business purposes.

Earlier this month, we asked and concluded that allowing cookies is safe in most circumstances. In this week’s blog, we will be delving into using apps for business purposes and whether or not they pose a risk to your safety.

Apps for the Business Place

There is literally an app (or 50) for just about anything you can think of. However, even helpful apps can be a breeding ground for people who want to steal your information.

Generally speaking, most app makers are honest and ethical. However, because it is so easy to make an app, you may find less than trustworthy creators offering new apps. Securitymagazine.com stated that  “71% of healthcare and medical apps have at least one serious vulnerability that could lead to a breach of medical data.” Of course, other general business apps often have similar vulnerabilities.

Additionally, some people create apps specifically so they can steal your personal data. When you download and install an app, it will typically ask for various permissions. It may ask for the ability to use your microphone or have access to your contacts. Some apps ask for just about every piece of information you have available. You may find yourself simply handing over all of your personal data without even realizing it. This is where apps can become very dangerous. Even if you come to this realization and delete the app, your device could already be infected with spyware.

Personal Apps Can Be Dangerous

On the other hand, even if you only use trusted apps for business or no apps at all, you need to be careful of the apps you download for personal reasons. Just like with business apps, you may find that people have created an app for a particular reason — and that reason may be to gain access to the data on thousands or millions of mobile devices.

Be honest with yourself: how many times have you downloaded an app that you’ve never heard of just because someone told you it was the greatest app ever? Later, when you feel uncomfortable with how the app works you immediately delete it. We’ve all been there at some point. The scariest part is that the damage is already done once the app is successfully installed. Any information you use for your business (such as emails and customer information) is now freely available to the app developer.

Data Breaches

Another potential threat is using a legitimate app from a valid organization that becomes hacked and breached. As an example, this past year, the Walgreens app was victim to a major data breach. The hack allowed access to private conversations containing personal information. This breach was exposed through various apps that were designed to track COVID-19 cases. This happened to a major corporation using high-security apps. Many people wouldn’t think a pharmacy app from a well-known company could be dangerous. Nonetheless, hackers breached highly sensitive information victimizing paying customers. On that note, it’s important to be aware that anyone can fall victim to a data breach if security measures aren’t closely examined.

Hackers have targeted major apps like Instagram, Tinder, Tik Tok, and Snapchat recently. How many of you have at least one of these apps installed on your phone or other mobile devices? While most of us know not to use Tinder on a work phone, you may have some of these apps on your devices. Even if you only use these apps on your personal time, they can lead to major consequences with your private business data. What is fun for you may compromise the security of your customers.

Create A Solution That Works

Let’s say you personally avoid all these pitfalls and have never had any issues with apps on your phone or other mobile devices. If you have an organization with multiple people, there’s a very good chance that somebody is going to download an app that may have damaging security implications in the future. While these people may have good intentions and never mean to do any harm, we all know that life can change in an instant in this modern world.

By creating and implementing a plan among your employees, you can help control security breaches. Increase your security measures by not allowing devices to download random, potentially dangerous apps. It’s important to have security policies and other measures in place. Maintain mobile device management, effective policy, and as many security protocols available.

If you want to make sure your organization is as safe as possible from unexpected risks, contact us today. We’ll set up your organization’s devices to keep them safe while still allowing your employees to do their job effectively.

 

SSL & Security Concerns for 2021

Anyone with a computer is well aware of security concerns on the Internet. As time goes on, security and internet safety becomes more and more of an issue. It’s clear that hackers are becoming more advanced and will continue to find ways to steal our data. With a large part of our lives spent online, it’s just a matter of time before hackers affect you. If you own a business, the sheer amount of valuable information you are responsible for is something to be concerned about. Moving into 2021, data safety will continue to be a growing issue. In this blog, we will discuss SSL and security concerns for your company’s website and the types of sites you may be visiting. 

 

What’s an SSL? 

SSL stands for Secure Sockets Layer, also known as Transport Layer Security. This may sound like nerdy talk that doesn’t matter much, but the fact is that you interact with SSLs every day.  They are specific technology designed to keep your Internet connection safe, especially when secure data is involved. SSLs run a protocol of data encryption to make sure third parties can’t see what either party is viewing or sending. 

This includes sensitive and non-sensitive information, such as passwords, names, banking information, and moreThis setup uses a handshaking procedure that both the parties involved agree to use. The data transaction creates a cipher so information can be sent from one to the other in an encrypted format. Theoretically, even if a third party were to intercept your data, it would be gibberish since they don’t have the means to decipher it. 

This is essential for safe Internet communication these days. You and your company likely send highly-sensitive information back and forth online all day long. What used to be something kept safe in a drawer can now become public information because of a malicious hacker. This layer of safety is so standard we don’t even notice it. Sites that have an “HTTPS” in front of their address use some form of SSL or TLS.  

 

Managing a TLS/SSL 

Not only do you want to keep your company’s information private, but you need to make sure that customer information stays private as well. Unfortunately, SSLs and TLSs are not a oneanddone procedureLike any other security protocol, SSLs change over the years. Make sure that any certificate your company’s website uses is up to date and effective. You can do this by installing updates as they are released. 

Think of the SSL protocol like a deadbolt. Having a deadbolt on your door is much safer than a locking doorknob. Yes, there are always people who know how to compromise it, but it is still much safer. Over the years, deadbolt technology has improved and evolved as people learn to bypass obsolete technology. Sometimes, however, it takes working with an experienced locksmith to have it installed correctly. 

SSLs/TLSs are certainly much better options than nothing at all. However, these protocols, particularly older versions, are still prone to many vulnerabilities. There are numerous common attacks that hackers use to break this encryption. And some of these threats have very colorful names. For example, POODLE, BEAST, CRIME, BREACH, and HEARTBLEED are commonly used attacks, and they are highly successful. 

 

Keep Yourself and Your Customers Safe 

Having your company’s private information exposed to the highest bidder can have devastating effects on your operations. Stolen customer information due to a lack of care in your communications could result in lawsuits and legal trouble. Customers have well-deserved expectations: when they share information with you, it needs to be kept confidential and secure. 

This can be especially true in organizations that deal with sensitive information regularly, such as financial institutions and medical centers. In the hacking community, there is a highly lucrative market for personal information. The dark web is flooded with people selling private information databases to the highest bidder — and there is always “a highest” bidder.  

If you want to avoid liability, make sure your security protocols are up to date. It is also critical that you maintain them professionally. A relatively small investment in this area of security can end up saving large amounts of money and possibly your business itself. 

We regularly report on attacks that businesses like yours face daily. But we don’t always mention that many of these attacks are successful because the victim has a lax security protocol. The last thing we would want is for you to be another statistic. If your SSL/TLS certificates are getting old and dusty, or (even worse) you don’t have any at all, now would be the best time to contact us. As 2021 quickly approaches, these threats are only going to be more significant and more challenging to handle 

Our team of security professionals is one of the most experienced in the business. The web can be scary place, and the last thing you want is to be caught unprepared! By making sure your SSL/TLS certificates are in perfect order, you can rest a little bit easier at night. 

Mobile vs Virtual Office – What’s the Difference?

Being mobile has never been easier. Technology makes it so you literally have your entire office within your pocket these days. The idea of being virtual and mobile might seem like one and the same. However, these ideas are a little different, and more than the technology itself makes them both possible. This week covers mobile vs. virtual offices and the advantages therein.

The entire landscape of the business world is unrecognizable from just a generation ago. How can a smartphone, paired with virtual office solutions make you unstoppable?

Expectations of the Modern World

A vacation/away email message used to mean someone was unavailable, and you’d have to wait for a response. Simply being out of the office was enough to be off the hook from client and employee expectations.

That all started to change with the Blackberry and the Palm Pilot. Then, with the iPhone and its successors, the idea of being unavailable went out the window.

Nowadays, employers and clients expect you to be available just about any time of day regardless of where you’re located. In fact, you might be surprised by the actual location of some of the people you work with. It isn’t uncommon for people to not only be on vacation but living overseas and still performing the tasks expected of someone in an office down the street.

While this may seem like an invasion of privacy, the fact is clients are serviced more completely and quickly. Those providing the services also have the freedom to be wherever they want at any given time while doing their job well!

Modern Solutions to Modern Problems: Mobile vs Virtual Office

The start of doing business anywhere is a smartphone, but it’s not that simple. Certain software and services need to be in place to ensure security and efficiency. So for this portion, we’re going to discuss the ideas of mobile and virtual separately.

Mobile Business

This simply means that you are able to do something while not in your office. This may include accessing and responding to emails and documents, conducting online research, and maintaining text and voice communication.

To do this well, you may want to consider getting a phone with a larger screen or even using a tablet with mobile capabilities. This will ensure that you’ll be able to read the messages easily and have space to type comfortably and quickly. Also, you’ll probably want to set up your phone so that you can be aware of notifications as soon as you receive them. Finally, ensure that you install mobile security protection and work with your IT provider on mobile device management in case your device is ever lost or stolen.

Virtual Business

While in the same vein is a mobile business, this requires you to be able to do more than just be available. For example, you may need to create and edit documents or log into an important line of business application.

To get the most out of a virtual environment, you would most likely want to use a computer or an advanced tablet, as the environment will mirror exactly what you use in the office. When set up well, you will not be able to tell the difference between work on your tablet or your machine with multiple monitors.

Similar to using mobile devices, security is the biggest factor when operating in a virtual environment. You want to make sure that any information that you are sending, receiving or creating cannot easily get into somebody else’s hands. For this, we highly suggest not trusting in an unmanaged VPN. While they do offer a measure of security, they pale in comparison to a managed VPN connection or a true hosted desktop. Your connection may be secure with the VPN, but your origin or destination may be compromised. Proper management increases your security level. An equipped IT service provider can effectively determine the proper solution and deploy it for your staff.

Bottom Line: Mobile vs Virtual Office

In short, mobile business can be conducted fully on your smartphone and be taken anywhere your phone goes without the need for intense line of business applications or documentation. A virtual business requires deeper access and connection to your office systems but still allows you to work from anywhere at any time, securely.

Whether you work from a physical office or from a beach in Tahiti, mobile and virtual businesses are here to stay. Even if you currently don’t feel it’s necessary for your operations, just look at everything that happened in 2020. How quickly things can change. Creating a flexible work environment now can make any changes in the future much easier.

If you find that your organization isn’t as mobile or virtual as you feel it could be, contact us today. The results seem simple but the setup can often be more complicated than it looks. You’ll want to be sure to use someone with the experience and know-how to determine mobile vs virtual office for you and to implement the right solution.