The Benefits of Using an MSP

Since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, a majority of companies have had to make the switch to working remotely to protect employees. This happened quickly when the pandemic was new, and we were told to enforce social distancing. We had to adapt to the acceptance and implementation of becoming a remote workforce. Managed Service Providers (MSPs) have been instrumental in providing IT support to businesses across the globe. They assist businesses and companies by securing, monitoring, and maintaining networks and IT infrastructure. 

Over the last 12 months or more, the demand for MSP partnerships has exploded due to the huge increase in remote working. And it won’t go back anytime soon. In fact, over 75% of the workforce hopes to continue working from home when the pandemic ends. The surge in interest is thanks to the huge benefits managed services offer. With this in mind, let’s take a look at what these benefits are for using someone to manage your IT. 

 

Improved Network Performance

Having a network that performs well is vital for efficiency. This is even more important now that people are working in lots of different environments. If a network can receive, transmit and exchange data easily, we can consider its performance to be good. We achieve this efficient data exchange by making sure there is the right balance between qualitative and quantitative data. This is the task of network administrators who measure, review and improve services so employees can access the network without issue. This means both in-office and remotely. 

When a company delegates the role of the network administrator to a Managed Service Provider, it makes tackling the challenges of remote working a lot easier. The technological advancement and expertise of an MSP fills the need for an in-house IT team and increases its proficiency. Managed Service Providers have better resources and experience to identify and fix network problems in real-time. What’s more, with an MSP’s continuous monitoring, there is less room for error and fewer problems relating to server space. There is also less downtime. 

 

Accessing the Latest Technology 

The culture of remote working means that many companies have fast-tracked evolving their technology. Alongside a change in tech, there is an inevitable need for infrastructure changes. With a robust MSP, growing businesses can tap into new technology enhancements. New technology means that companies have tools like hosted telephone systems, virtual desktops, and VPN, as well as lots of applications that provide help for remote working and productivity. Migrating to a web-based cloud needs careful consideration, however, as there are risks if you have no cloud experience. 

 

24/7 MSP Support Available  

With an in-house team, support is generally only available during working hours. Many MSPs, however, provide around-the-clock services for tech issues, including remote workers. 

Some business owners are skeptical about the value of 24/7 support. That’s because the value is hidden, like the saying, out of sight, out of mind. We’ll just touch on two of the biggest features of 24/7 value as examples. 

First is continuing cybersecurity support. It’s safe to say that hackers never sleep. So why should your business? MSP’s monitor cybersecurity threats overnight as part of their coverage. This gives you an extra layer of safety that you don’t have if everyone goes home at 5:00. 

The second benefit that goes unnoticed is getting network projects done while the workstations are idle. This can be updating or installing software, backing up files, or migrating huge chunks of data to the cloud. This means there is no downtime for your employees. The days of gathering around the water cooler while engineering runs updates are long gone. Also, running these tasks in the middle of the night usually means a lower cost of electricity. Especially in the summer months. 

 

Risks of Working Remotely  

With remote working, employees are seen as a weak link for cybersecurity. This risk has grown since companies have had to switch to remote working quickly and without warning. 

So, what risks are there with remote workers and how can MSPs help? 

The most likely things to bring organizations grief are ransomware, credential theft, risky clicks, and phishing campaigns. A big concern for business is exposed compromised credentials. If workers have weak or reused passwords, it makes for an easy way in for cybercriminals and hackers. 

We can’t stress enough the importance of password hygiene. This step, along with regular employee training, goes a long way in protecting your company from cyber-attacks. 

 

How can MSPs help to reduce risks associated with remote working? 

An MSP will install anti-virus software in every workstation. Both in-office and remote. This protects employees from immediate danger and defends employees from malicious emails and ransomware attacks. MSPs will also monitor networks regularly for threats, and will backup data regularly. This means if there is a breach or crash, the MSP can help recover any lost data. 

 

Using an MSP to help with remote working is a great way to enhance your performance and protect your data. Tasks like migrating on-premises infrastructure to the cloud require careful consideration. It must be done correctly. 

As your MSP we are here to help you with all of your technology needs. From PCs to servers, phone systems to the cloud, we can help. Whenever you need us, don’t hesitate to contact us!

Understanding Cloud Technology: A Summary

When it comes to using cloud technology and solutions, it’s good to know how the cloud works. Today, we’ll look at a summary of what cloud computing services are and how cloud computing could be the right solution for your needs! 

What are Cloud Computing Services? 

First of all, we need to define what the cloud is. While most people are vaguely aware of what the it is, they often don’t fully understand how it works. 

What is the cloud? Well, at its very simplest, it is a virtual data storage solution. In the past, when you wanted to save a file, you had to save the file directly onto your device’s hard drive. There was no option for directly saving the file in a format where you could share it with other individuals or devices. Of course, that’s not to say that files couldn’t be shared and edited by other people. You simply had to send the file to them manually –by email, for example – so they could download it and open the file. 

The cloud provides a different solution for storing your files. New technology allows individuals to save files to the cloud. In turn, files saved are then accessible from anywhere, as long as you’ve got an internet-enabled device upon which to view them. 

How the Cloud Works 

Most people remember using servers or storage devices to save files. The cloud works slightly differently from this, though. Cloud computing companies have expansive cloud data centers. These data centers host many “virtual devices” designed to imitate real, physical devices and desktops. As a result of this, individuals using these computing services can save their files directly onto one of these virtual devices instead of onto their real device. 

By doing so, individuals who’ve saved their files can access them from anywhere. The virtual device model represents a key benefit, of course. It means you can open and edit a file from any internet-enabled device. It also means that other people can access and load the file and work on it at the same time you are working on it. This helps increase productivity and streamlines the work process. It even allows members of a team to work collaboratively on multiple projects at the same time, with multiple team members making edits to the file simultaneously. 

Staying Safe While Using Cloud Storage Solutions! 

Cloud storage solutions represent a safe and secure way of saving your files. A key benefit of these solutions is that they automatically integrate a backup disaster and recovery service. This means that your files are saved across multiple virtual servers. Because of this, cloud computing companies can ensure that your files remain safe and secure. Even in cases where the data center or virtual device has gone down, your data remains safe. 

However, it should be noted that not all threats to your devices come from within the cloud. Indeed, it’s still imperative that you keep cybersecurity protocols at the front of your mind while saving files. Some protective measures you might want to implement could include choosing a complex password and never sharing your login details. 

The Cloud and Big Data 

Big data is a massive business niche nowadays. It is made possible thanks to the invention of cloud computing services and infrastructure. In short, without these computing technologies, software that we all know and love, such as social media, would be very different indeed. 

Big data, as the name would suggest, produces a staggering amount of data and information. For all of this information to be stored on a physical device would be impossible. Indeed, the sheer quantity of data created would be too large for storage on any normal device. Even the most high-tech device couldn’t come close.  However, the cloud makes it possible to store the amount of data that big data applications and programs require. As a result of this, it’s safe to say that the cloud has transformed how we experience the world. 

How the Cloud Allows us to Work from Home 

The cloud has been essential in enabling us to work from home. This was made especially true during the Covid-19 pandemic. With many of us unable to get into the office as we normally would, the new remote workforce found a home in the cloud. Being able to complete work from home has been an increasingly important aspect of our new working lives. As you know, this would almost certainly have been more difficult without cloud technology, if not impossible. 

Cloud technology has made it possible for us to keep working from any internet-connected device. As we’ve summarized, the cloud works by creating virtual devices within the computing companies’ expansive data stores. The cloud infrastructure mades it possible for colleagues to work collaboratively with each other. They can work together even if they are hours away from one another. Furthermore, cloud architecture enables employees to pick up on the work they left at the office from the comfort of their own home. 

For sure, the contribution of cloud solutions during the pandemic has been pivotal. Without them, we would have faced a lot more difficulty adjusting to the new situation that lockdowns and restrictions imposed upon us! 

Get to Know This Technology! 

The cloud is a highly complex topic. But as providers of premium quality information technology support, it’s our job to keep you informed. Please contact us if you have any questions at all. We’re here to help! 

The Cloud and Big Data

Cloud infrastructure is one of the fastest-growing forms of online technology. As a result, it is vitally important for you to understand how cloud computing services work and the benefits that the cloud can offer. We’ll take a look at big data and how the cloud can enhance big data security solutions. 

What is the Cloud? 

Let’s take a look at what cloud architecture is. Cloud solutions are growing at a fast pace. The growth is widespread. You can’t go a day without using, or at least being affected by, cloud services. However, many of us still don’t have a complete understanding of what the cloud is. We just accept that it’s something vague, existing somewhere, and we unknowingly access it. 

So, the question remains – what is the cloud? How does the cloud work? What makes the cloud such an immense storage solution? 

Modern cloud infrastructure, at its simplest, is an information technology solution that allows you to save data and files online. This might not seem all that impressive, but when you consider how cloud storage providers achieve this, it’s very intriguing. 

Think back to days gone by when saving a file could only be done on the device you were currently working on. If you wanted to share a file between devices or with colleagues, you would need to manually send it to them. Sometimes this meant burning the data onto offline, physical media. When your colleagues were done with the files, they’d return them to you the same way. 

Cloud computing simplifies this process. Instead of dragging and dropping files, or sending files by email, cloud technology allows the files to be saved offsite. This is done through extensive data centers provided by cloud computing companies. These data centers create multiple virtual “devices” that are capable of saving your files. These files can then be retrieved anywhere, anytime, with an ordinary internet connection. 

Cloud Technology Makes Life Easier! 

Cloud technology operates online instead of on an individual device level. This makes online interactions far easier than in the past. Cloud technology ensures that you can share files across the business network to multiple different desktops, tablets, laptops, and the like. Files can be retrieved even when the operator is on the go! 

As such, it’s safe to say that the cloud has opened up a whole world of potential for businesses and individuals alike. And you can use cloud solutions for more than just sharing today’s cafeteria menu with the faculty. Cloud architecture has become immensely powerful in recent times. And the proof of that power is that the cloud can safely and reliably store big data. 

What is Big Data? 

Like everyone else, you’re probably wondering – what is it? We haven’t clarified this yet. However, it is a vitally important concept in our modern world. The cloud stores this data. 

Big data is, surprisingly, exactly what it sounds like. It is a collection of vast amounts of data that needs to be stored. It is called ‘big data’ because, the created data will almost always be too immense for a normal computer or device to store. However, cloud devices that share storage space can allow this information to be stored easily and safely. That data is hosted virtually in data centers, safely and securely. 

Who Creates Big Data? 

Big data isn’t a problem for individuals or small businesses. Our internet browsing history is unlikely to be so substantial in size that we would need to store the information we produce in the cloud. Large, network-based systems that generate bulk amounts of data that need a lot of storage space, are labeled big data. 

The amount of data these network-based systems generate is so great that it would be simply impossible for any off-the-shelf physical device to successfully store it. Moreover, these extensive data sets would take an immense amount of time for our computers to organize and sort. Wed be waiting for a long time before we got any sort of useful information from the big data. 

Growing businesses need a better storage solution with greater capacity for analyzing information. This scenario is where cloud storage solutions come into play. 

How Cloud Computing Can Securely Store Big Data 

Cloud computing technology is state-of-the-art technology that expert and specialist data centers host. By storing big data on the cloud, companies can benefit from safe data storage. It is also a working back-up system in case of a disaster or network breach. This means, even if one virtual drive should go down, your big data will still be readily available from another drive. Moreover, hacking into cloud systems can be far more complicated than hacking into a physical device. This provides superior protection for files. As a final perk, storing vast quantities of big data on a virtual device can also be much more affordable than investing in physical devices for the same end goal. That means it’ll probably save you money! 

Learn More About Cloud Computing and Big Data! 

As a provider of premium quality IT services and solutions, we’re here to help you find the right support for your needs. So, if you want to learn more about big data, contact our IT services team today. From cloud storage solutions to small business computer support, we’re here to help! 

Cloud and Virtual Office

The cloud has become hugely important in our lives. One notable way the cloud is used these days is for virtual (remote) work. This has escalated with the recent Covid-19 lockdowns. Many of us have experienced a disruption in our normal workflow, making virtual working a reality for more of us than ever. The cloud has been pivotal in the success of these remote working plans. As a result of this, you must know how to use the cloud for remote working. Know how to access files stored on the cloud, and how to ensure your cloud use remains safe and secure! Today, we will be covering all of these different points so that your cloud solutions don’t end up making life harder. 

What is the Cloud? 

Cloud solutions are effectively an online replacement for traditional file storage systems. Years ago, when you wanted to save a file on your desktop device, you would only be saving it on that one device. If you wanted to open this file on other business computers, you would need to send it to that computer somehow – the most obvious way being by email. 

However, this process could quickly get tedious, especially if multiple team members worked on the same file. Cloud computing services would serve to change this. With cloud solutions, you save the files directly online, or “in the cloud.” Since the files and data are saved online, you can access them from any internet-enabled device. 

This makes sharing files easier than it used to be. Furthermore, it allows multiple team members to collaborate on files without hassle. Cloud-based systems such as Google Docs can enable a team to work simultaneously on the same file, enhancing business efficiency overall. 

This can have many different benefits for the business. However, it can also be useful from a personal perspective. For example, it allows people to continue working on their files while they’re on the go! 

In short, without access to the cloud for sharing and saving files throughout lockdowns, we probably would have all had a much more difficult time working through the pandemic. 

Where does the Data go? 

When using the cloud, you might wonder where the data is actually stored. This can be a bit of a complex topic, but the easiest way to describe it is as follows. 

When you use the cloud, a “virtual device” stores your data and files. This virtual device, as the name would suggest, doesn’t physically exist. However, it provides a platform on which to view and save your files. Because of this, the virtual device can save a huge number of files with a large amount of storage potential. 

The virtual devices are hosted by data centers. Professional information technology and cloud computing companies manage these data centers and effectively “hire out” their technology for storing information. Cloud computing services hinge entirely on these data centers, as they provide the hardware required to store files. 

A benefit of cloud storage is, your files aren’t just saved on one device, as they are traditionally. Instead, multiple virtual devices store your files. This ensures that your files will always be available. Backups are stored on other virtual devices to guard against malfunctions. These back-up files are easily accessed when they are needed. 

How to Keep Your Files Safe on the Cloud 

The cloud can offer a considerable number of different benefits for businesses looking to save their files. After the ease of access, which is arguably the most crucial benefit, another perk of cloud architecture is the security that cloud computing services can offer. 

The nature of cloud infrastructure means that multiple virtual devices save your files at one time. This is very similar to the adage of “don’t put all of your eggs in one basket.” 

With your files saved across multiple virtual devices, you ensure there will always be back-up disaster and recovery options available to you. However, that’s not to say that cloud computing solutions are perfect for security. To make sure you don’t suffer any downtime in case of a disaster or breach, we recommend an on-site BDR. That way you’ll have multiple options when it comes to restoring your lost data. 

Cybersecurity is imperative. While cloud solutions can offer good security for your files, it’s still important that you also follow top tips to keep your data safe. This includes factors such as not sharing personal information and passwords, keeping your device safe from malware, and never leaving your device unattended. Of course, these are just a few cybersecurity tips you should be following. We can check your system and offer professional network security advice. 

Get Professional Computer Help Today! 

If you want to learn more about cloud computing services and how to keep your data safe, our team can provide the advice you need. So, don’t compromise! Contact our team of expert Managed Service gurus help you out! From IT service management to network security improvements and advice on implementing cloud solutions for your business, we can help. 

Cloud: Its Definition

When you hear talk about the cloud, it can be a little overwhelming to understand this unique technology. Cloud architecture offers a huge number of solutions, and cloud technology’s rapid development has ensured that it is a field with huge potential. However, many people are not aware of what it is. 

As such, our team of IT consultants is on hand to help you understand what the cloud is. In this blog, we’ll tell you how people and companies are using it to enhance modern data management systems. 

 

What is the Cloud? 

Cloud technology and solutions are rapidly developing in our modern world. As such, you must understand what cloud infrastructure is and how the modern business world uses this architecture. 

When it comes to understanding the cloud, many of us don’t know what to think about this unique tech solution. We know that our data is “in the cloud”. However, most of us don’t understand what this infrastructure is and where it is located. 

We largely accept this as being some higher storage solution beyond the realms of our imagination. Many people consider the cloud as little more than an online storage platform. In reality, cloud infrastructure is far more complicated than that. 

This Definition Isn’t Wrong – Just Not Entirely Right Either! 

Assuming that cloud technology is just “storing data online” isn’t necessarily incorrect. However, if we are to have a solid understanding of it, it’s important to clarify what it is. 

The cloud is made up of an incredible number of servers. All servers are hosted online, stored in global data centers, and managed by cloud storage providers. These expansive warehouses are full of the servers and computer software. This serves to provide the hardware and technology that runs the cloud. These computing servers are hugely important in our modern society. They make it possible for files to be shared between multiple devices. This feature is incredibly important to modern society. 

How It Allows Businesses to Share Files 

In the past, when a person created a file, they saved it on their device. That meant those files were only accessible from that user’s device. To share the data, it was sent directly to another device via email or file transfer. Not only did this present a potential cybersecurity challenge, but it was a hassle. However, cloud technology solutions have removed this roadblock. 

With modern solutions, people can save files on this infrastructure instead of on a local drive. This means that you can access these files from anywhere. From the library, at your desk, or even on your mobile device – you can pull up the documents you’ve been working on any time you want. 

How do Cloud Technology Solutions Work? 

Cloud computing is an exceptionally complex field of computer science and information technology. Let’s touch on the basics of how it works. 

Cloud computing relies on a process known as virtualization. With virtualization, cloud storage providers effectively create “virtual business computers and devices”. These virtual devices provide storage that anyone with an internet connection can access. 

These are called “virtual machines”. Multiple machines are controlled by the same host. These virtual machines are considered separate devices. This means that data saved on one virtual machine is not immediately available to the other virtual devices on the same host network. 

Backups for Cloud Servers 

When normal devices go down, data will likely be lost. However, cloud computing companies have implemented many different techniques to avoid this with storage solutions. By backing up data on multiple virtual devices, even if one should fail, the others are still there to “pick up the slack” and ensure the files remain hosted on the network. 

This is hugely beneficial for individuals and businesses alike. It provides extra protection for files and means that cloud solutions are more reliable than traditional device storage solutions. These servers not only make file sharing more practical, but they also provide an extra layer of protection. 

Get Technology Support Today! 

If you want to learn more about cloud architecture and the benefits it can offer for you or your business, our team is on hand to help.  Contact us, we specialize in providing premium quality managed IT services for businesses. Our IT Techs are here to help your current computing services excel and meet your business needs. Whatever you need, don’t compromise – we can help! 

Microsoft Exchange Server cyberattacks: who is behind it and why are they attacking?

 

A wave of data breaches and cyberattacks began in early 2021 when four zero-day vulnerabilities were found in Microsoft Exchange on-premises servers. These vulnerabilities meant that hackers had access to user credentials connected to network devices. As well as, admin privileges on servers affected by the zero-day exploits.

Typically, attackers install something called a ‘backdoor’, which is a covert way of bypassing encryption or authentication. With a ‘backdoor’, attackers can access impacted servers after updates to fix the exploits.

Why Microsoft Exchange?

Microsoft Exchange is seen as a good target for attackers who want to get into business networks. Microsoft says that their email server software is unique in its environment as hackers can carry out a multitude of tasks using the same scripts or tools that admin use for maintenance. “Credential stuffing” is the assumption numerous users will recycle passwords and usernames across an array of services.

Once attackers log in as a user; they perform actions that allow them to remotely connect to the server, assume the role of administrators with said privileges. With administrator rights, hackers can upload code to create a ‘backdoor’ so that they will have continued access. Even if patches are downloaded to protect Exchange servers, they won’t retroactively remove any installed ‘backdoors’. This means hackers can still access the server until these, and any additional user accounts are removed.

 Who are the hackers?

Microsoft says that the original attackers were Hafnium, a group they say operates out of China. It is a cyber-espionage hacking group, often referred to as an APT (an advanced persistent threat). This type of group is often a state-sponsored, stealthy actor that goes undetected for a long time. Hafnium has alleged ties with the Chinese government, but they have denied all responsibility for this recent Microsoft Exchange breach. Microsoft has described this group as “highly skilled and sophisticated.”

Although Hafnium was the first hacking group to exploit the vulnerabilities, there are now thought to be over 10 different groups with each using a different style and procedures.

Who is vulnerable to attack?

Microsoft confirmed that their Exchange Server versions for 2010, 2013, 2016, and 2019 are susceptible. All cloud-based services like Office 365 and Microsoft Exchange Online are not affected.

So far, estimates suggest 250,000 servers have been attacked; including small or medium businesses, local governments and local institutions across the globe. These are the main victims of the attacks because they don’t have the necessary expertise to resolve cyberattacks.

Tom Burt of Microsoft wrote in a blog post that victims had included law offices, defense contractors, disease researchers, non-governmental organizations, think tanks, and universities. Other known victims include local governments and schools.

Latest developments

On March 12th Microsoft Security Intelligence announced that a ransomware called ‘DearCry’ was being used on the first servers infected. This made the servers unusable unless a payment was made to recover the files. Microsoft has said, however, that paying such a ransom won’t guarantee you access to the files.

What businesses and organizations should do?

There are several steps that can secure your Exchange server; a list of which is detailed in this blog post. Essentially, organizations at risk need to take the necessary precautions, ie downloading Microsoft patches.  But they should also scan all networks for any threats and potential compromises. The most targeted countries currently are German, the UK and the US. Contact us for your cybersecurity concerns.

 

Microsoft Exchange Servers Hacked – Is Your Company Affected?

No doubt that you have seen or heard the news about the latest hack and how serious it is.  And if you are in the affected group, it is very serious, so pay attention.   

 

Is Your Network Safe? 

From CyberheistNews “On March 2, Microsoft released emergency security updates to plug four security holes in Exchange Server versions 2013 through 2019 that hackers were actively using to siphon email communications from Internet-facing systems running Exchange. 

 

The Chinese hacking group thought to be responsible has seized control over “hundreds of thousands” of Microsoft Exchange email servers worldwide, at least 30,000 in America. 

 

If you are not technical you are probably wondering……”What does it mean for me?” 

 

Bottom Line – If you are running a MS Exchange Outlook Web Access (OWA) 

 server exposed to the internet; assume you have been compromised between  

02/26-03/03 and your system is now infected – until proven otherwise.” 

 

Is My System Infected? 

It depends on whether your IT person is keeping your updates and patches up to date. If not,  

you are in the group that needs to be alarmed and need to take action.   

 

If you don’t know if that’s you or not, you need to reach out to your technical resource that setup your email, OR a knowledgeable IT firm like CCS Technology and ask them to review your system. 

 

Microsoft says the affected versions are Exchange Server 2013, 2016, 2019.  They left off the earlier version like 2003/2007/2010.  Why?  Because they are safe?  No, because they are officially “not supported” by Microsoft anymore, and if you are on one of those versions you have even bigger problems because you’ve been ignoring advice about network security for a long while now. 

 

If you use Microsoft Office 365 or some other hosted Exchange or other email product, you are not in the affected group.  You should still use this as a warning.  Make sure you have implemented or are implementing a sound security policy!  CCS Technology can help you with the design and implementation. 

 

If you want a more in depth explanation of the hack, we suggest: https://krebsonsecurity.com/2021/03/at-least-30000-u-s-organizations-newly-hacked-via-holes-in-microsofts-email-software/ 

 

If you prefer webinar content: https://info.knowbe4.com/microsoft-exchange-mass-hack-chn 

 

If You Might Be Infected 

  1. Because of the use of bots, you must take the posture that you have been compromised. 
  1. Patch immediately.  Shut down your servers and apply the patches, NOW!   Microsoft released patches for 2010, 2013, 2016 and 2019.  Download and install immediately.   See this for technical details:  https://msrc-blog.microsoft.com/2021/03/05/microsoft-exchange-server-vulnerabilities-mitigations-march-2021/    
  1. Applying the patches WILL NOT GET RID of a BAD ACTOR if they are ALREADY IN YOUR SYSTEM.  You must take further action.  The Microsoft Server team has issued guidance on how to look for indicators that you’ve already been compromised.  Go Here: https://www.microsoft.com/security/blog/2021/03/02/hafnium-targeting-exchange-servers/#scan-log 
  1. Obtain professional help from a technical firm that specializes in security like CCS Technology.  These exploits are gateways into your systems and bad actors can utilize these gateways to get farther and deeper into your network and you may not know they are there.  The security specialists will deploy tools and review your system log files for clues to see what is going on.  
  1. If you need help, contact us. We have years of expertise in cybersecurity and we can help. 

 

 

If You Have NOT Been Infected 

While this hack is getting all the attention today, in reality, it is just another security flaw for cybercriminals to exploit and take over your technology assets.   

 

It’s not going to slow down.  Society in general, and business in particular are developing more apps, adding more features to existing apps, and all of those apps and features are being connected to the internet.  It is to address people’s desires for communication and convenience.   

 

Apps are created by humans, and unless the author has a NASA sized budget and timeline, the code in the apps is going to have security flaws.  Every new app or feature that we use increases the possibility that the average person/company can be hacked.    

 

At the same time, Cybercrime elements are gaining sophistication.  There are criminal marketplaces on the dark web.  These are places where criminals can contract for technology, Artificial Intelligence, robotic execution, and even special people skills.  Then there are the massive crime syndicates that exploit human nature and the internet to make money. And let’s not forget the state sponsored cyber terrorists.  And these are the threats that we know about.  Like an iceberg, the part that we can see today is only a small portion of the real threat. 

 

Denial? 

It’s no longer a landscape where anyone can say they are not a target.   

 

Take this specific case.  The flaw was discovered by hackers and they attacked before Microsoft could fix the flaw.  We call that Zero-Day exploits.  Hackers likely used artificial intelligence robots that programmed to detect Microsoft exchange servers running the OWA.  Any target found that was OWA, immediately carried out the instructions to exploit the flaw and hack their way into your system.  

 

Once in, the hackers begin executing their playbook to completely penetrate and explore your systems. 

 

With this robotic technology, everyone is a target, because it doesn’t matter if you’re big or small, if they can get in, they can exploit you or your data.   

 

AND the cost of the robot attack is minimal.  The real cost is the damage done to your network and your customers finding out that your system was hacked. 

 

Why Does This Happen? 

We, us humans, are in conflict.  We want the freedom, the convenience and the benefits all this technology and the internet give us.  However, there is an ever-increasing risk and potential cost to implement those benefits.   

 

Do we invest in securing our networks or not?   Does the convenience of having the smart garage door opener outweigh the potential that a criminal can open the door by hacking your wireless network?   

 

There is not one answer that will fit every situation, but the time has come to think about the need to secure the infrastructure before deployment instead of after the damage is done.  If you are a leader, you’ve got to change your thinking and place security ahead of function.   

 

The bad actors only have to win once – Your cybersecurity has to win every time. 

 

History Repeats Itself 

It’s important to recognize that this has happened before.  My grandparents did not lock their house, and I don’t even think there were locks on the doors.  In my early adult years, it became normal to lock your house.  Then we had to get better locks (deadbolt) to prevent the common thief from using the credit card trick.  Now people have locks and security systems that sound an alarm when the door is breached or the window broken.   And finally, many people are adding security cameras to record the activity going on at work and at home. 

 

The cyberworld is going down the same path, except the rate of change is blazingly fast.  A couple years ago a firewall kept you safe.  
Now, multiple layers of prevention and detection are the minimum in order to protect our networks and our data.  Even with all of this, we are still fighting an uphill battle. 

 

Contact our team of experts to find out if your system has been breached. 

 

Stay safe out there in the cyber world! 

 

The Hidden Heart of Artificial Intelligence Technology

The futuristic views of artificial intelligence (AI) as synthetic consciousness has been spread in Hollywood and science-fiction novels for generations. However, fantasy-aside, artificial intelligence is simply a process or system that performs tasks that ordinarily need the intelligence of humans. Examples of such tasks are problem-solving, diagnosing medical problems, and recognizing human emotions. 

AI is already everywhere 

The ‘hidden heart of technology’ that constitutes AI, currently has an important place in society and many of us don’t even realize it’s there. Think about your daily living. Do you browse the internet? Are you buying things online? Do you watch Netflix, HULU or Amazon Prime? Then you’re already interacting with AI.  

Netflix and AI 

The AI solutions that Netflix provides are particularly unique and have a significant impact on the user and the business.  

Perhaps the most obvious to the end-user is the personalization of recommendations. For example, a user who watches Film X is likely to enjoy Film Y. What Netflix does is track user history to make their recommendations based on what other users have gone on to watch too. This is beneficial to users as they get recommendations that they enjoy. It also benefits Netflix too as it keeps its viewers interested and engaged, thus keeping their monthly subscriptions. 

Another use of AI in Netflix is the auto-generation of artwork and thumbnails. Believe it or not, but the thumbnails you see for different shows are personalized to you. Netflix uses thousands of video stills from a particular movie to generate thumbnails. Each one is annotated and ranked according to how likely it is to result in a click. The technology is strengthened when users begin watching the show or movie. Netflix can see which thumbnails are the most popular. For example, if a user likes a certain actor, they are more likely to interact with a thumbnail showing that actor. The website Becoming Human has lots of images of different users’ thumbnails to compare, it makes for very interesting reading! 

Advertising

Artificial Intelligence in advertising isn’t just about creating adverts; it’s about transforming every level of advertising right from creating the ad to targeting the audience and buying ads. As the Marketing AI Institute states, there are so many uses of AI in advertising that already exist. Brands are using AI to identify audiences, build creative ads, improve ad performance, and optimizcustomer spending. This happens automatically at scale and in real-time.  

The beauty of advertising (specifically online advertising) is that it provides huge amounts of data. This includes things like impressions, bid levels, click-through rates and demographics. Of course, as humans, we’re perfectly capable of producing good advertising and measuring its impact but digital advertising is a whole new ball game. Digital advertising can generate so much more data across content, social media and searches. 

With all of the necessary data, ad tools powered by AI can find patterns in ad data and use them to predict campaign changes to improve ad performance. This all takes place in a matter of seconds. For a person to do this it would take between hours and weeks to analyse the data, let alone create improved ads from it. 

Cookies – manipulating behavior 

If you’re familiar with internet cookies, you’ll know how useful they can be in helping you to remember details and passwords. There’s another side to cookies, however, in that sites use them to track your online behavior and tailor ads to show you. The BBC referred to behavioral advertising as ‘the latest buzz phrase’ back in 2012, but the truth is, this is something still at the forefront almost a decade later. For marketers, cookie profiling is a big advantage. Cookie profiling empowers marketers. They can see the bigger picture of the person they are targeting. 

The hidden heart of technology 

We’ve seen some examples of how AI is the hidden heart of technology in this blog. The truth is, AI use isn’t always overt at all. Forget I, Robot and The Bicentennial Man. This AI is more like Bruce Willis’s character in The Sixth Sense – hidden in plain sight if you can see it. Artificial intelligence is a rapidly developing area of information technology. As a Managed Service Provider of IT support, we can help you understand how to implement these tools for your business, ensuring your data remains secure. Contact us for any questions you might have. 

AI – What It Is and Isn’t

AI has been rapidly evolving in recent years with the IT industry placing demand on this innovative technology solution. It began life with humble origins compared to the immense potential that modern AI software can offer for business networks. This blog will be looking at what AI is, how it originated and developed, and how your business can take advantage of this tool. 

A Brief Look at AI for Business Networks – What It Is (And Isn’t) 

It’s important that we know what AI actually is. Indeed, many businesses don’t entirely understand how AI can be beneficial for their tech problems and solutions.  

Let’s define what AI is and what it isn’t. When someone mentions the term “Artificial Intelligence,” you probably think of  automatic computers or machines, like robots. This belief was widely popularized by Alan Turing’s statement claiming that “one will be able to speak of machines thinking without expecting to be contradicted.” However, artificial intelligence IT solutions are actually a bit more complicated than this; the modern realm of AI certainly isn’t capable of self-awareness just yet, but it is still capable of offering a huge amount of potential for businesses. 

So, AI isn’t just an android; rather, it’s a program that is capable of completing tasks to a similar standard as a human or better.  AI systems can be categorized as: Narrow, General, or Super-Intelligent.  Narrow and general AI systems are already available for business networks to implement as an IT solution. These systems serve to do a small number of specialized tasks. Super intelligent AI is still in development though, and will likely not exist for a long period of time. 

The History 

AI hasn’t always been at its current standard. In fact, it’s taken a long time for AI to evolve to it’s current stage! Of course, the earliest origins of artificial intelligence could be Alan Turing’s original Turning Machine – the first ever variant of a computer, although certainly nothing like the modern computers we rely on for business nowadays. 

Many don’t know that AI has actually had a notable prominence in our society and culture for easily a century. The first machine capable of automatically playing chess without human intervention was Leonardo Torres y Quevedo’s creation in 1914. Following this creation, in 1929, Japan’s Makoto Nishimura developed  the first-ever “robot”.  The model was able to use air mechanisms to move its hand and head and control its expression! It wasn’t until 1955, that “artificial intelligence” became a term. 

Despite a somewhat early start to life, tales surrounding artificial intelligence were commonplace. They spoke of IT solutions that would serve to better the world and provide an alternative to normal tech solutions, of science fiction stories and seemingly unbelievable feats of business computer systems. The first artificial intelligence programs in the 1990s, Jabberwack and Cleverbot chatbots designed to “simulate natural human chat in an interesting, entertaining, and humorous manner.”

A new line of AI also came around the turn of the century. The Furby toy was created and went on to be the first “pet” robot for children, and in 1999, Sony released AIBO, a robotic dog that could recognize over one hundred voice commands and even communicate directly with its owner. This would prove a big step forward in terms of the development of artificial intelligence software and programs. 

Modern AI Programs 

Modern artificial intelligence has developed rapidly. As a business owner, you must know how these IT solutions could be applicable for your organization. Some AI programs used in businesses include voice commands and applications like Apple’s Siri and Amazon’s Alexa. These programs respond to user inquiries with natural language.

So, how can modern businesses use AI programs for the best business network boost? Well, artificial intelligence can be applicable in many different ways for your business, from helping to reduce the incidence rate of human error (which is invariable with any business) through to automating production processes and supply chains based on demand and availability. Artificial intelligence can also have a big impact on your business’ hiring practices, helping your business to streamline the recruitment process and lower the costs of hiring new talent for your firm! 

Indeed, the potential that artificial intelligence can offer even today is massive – and as time passes likely, artificial intelligence systems will only get more and more complex and refined. 

Learn More About AI for Businesses 

For more information on how AI could benefit your business networks, contact us. Our team provides quality IT services so that you can get back to doing what you do best – managing your business. Don’t compromise – let us help you find the perfect AI and IT solutions today! 

Meet AI: Your Newest Co-Worker

When it comes to hiring new staff, it’s important that you choose the right person for the job. But what if the right person for the job isn’t a person at all, but instead, an IT solution? Artificial intelligence offers many benefits for businesses, now, and into the future. Just one of these benefits is bypassing the hiring process. Before purchasing your AI solution, it’s important that all businesses consider the benefits and drawbacks of artificial intelligence. When looking to optimize your IT management, a quick Google search for the best “automated small business solutions” will lead you in the right direction. Then you can focus the search to your specific industry.

Let’s take a look at what Artificial Intelligence is and how it might benefit us.

Artificial Intelligence: A Brief History

Artificial intelligence is a recent development with only the first two stages widely rolled out for business support: narrow and general AI, which provide a highly specialized and broader range of support respectively. The final stage of artificial intelligence is super-intelligence, which is characterized by AI programs developed to be capable of self-thought. This level of AI is still a long way off, though, and modern AI systems are a little simpler. With that being said, the simpler nature of modern AI is a benefit in and of itself. It means that small and large businesses alike may be able to implement AI into their existing business networks easily and efficiently. And that means that better control of your budget, and profit growth should be the end result.

How did AI originate? During the 1990s, toy manufacturers were one the first industries to use AI. Popular AI toys were early versions of robots, with the Furby being arguably the most well-known. Sony also created their own artificial intelligence robotic dog that was capable of memorizing up to one hundred commands. These creations would pave the way for future AI developments in the decades to follow.

How AI Can be Used by Businesses

There are many ways in which businesses can make use of the benefits of artificial intelligence solutions. Research AI developments in your field. It’s important that your business knows how to make use of AI to the best effect.

During the Hiring Process

Artificial intelligence can be a huge benefit for small businesses wanting to make the process of hiring new staff easier. During the hiring cycle, Artificial Intelligence can be used in many different ways to streamline the task because of its ability to learn your company’s processes.

AI is an effective tool to enhance the application process for new employees. Particularly in terms of automatic chats that can provide applicants with immediate help and support.

It can also help with screening applicants. AI can categorize applicants based on their skills, experience, qualifications, and whatever parameters you set. Automatically screening applicants is beneficial for small businesses who are overwhelmed with applications for a specific job posting. Then, the business can quickly find applicants who are a good fit for the job. That translates into saving a great deal of time, and money.

It’s worth noting that artificial intelligence can be useful even after candidates have been selected. You can use AI to contact applicants and arrange interview times with them. It also provides them with answers that they may have to questions about your company. Some advanced AI software can even analyze facial expressions, tone of voice, and the like for participants which can help to provide a clear view of the applicant’s suitability for the job role.

To Support Your Employees

Artificial intelligence is a highly diverse and useful IT solution for businesses to consider investing in. More and more people are looking for business IT support companies near them to help with installing AI. Employees can utilize this new technology to support their day-to-day activities.  Additionally, employees can use AI to streamline automated processes to improve work productivity and affordability.

For Your Customers

Finally, artificial intelligence can provide an affordable option for your small business in terms of supporting customers. This is particularly the case for chatbox. You can use Artificial Intelligence to engage your clients and provide them with instant responses to their queries, without the huge expense of hiring a 24/7 in-house team. This can represent massive savings for your business and help boost customer satisfaction.

Don’t Rely Solely on AI!

Artificial intelligence options are some of the fastest evolving IT solutions for business networks, however, they are not perfect and need a team of human workers behind them to keep them working effectively. Always make sure that you check your AI is providing the results that you want; in doing so, you’ll be able to balance the cost-saving nature of artificial intelligence with the personal touch that human staff can provide.

In turn, your customers will be able to enjoy an incomparable service overall, making AI solutions potentially a great investment for your small business. To learn more, contact us to see if AI could be right for you.