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Is Your Organization's Tech Ready for 2018? (Checklist)

As we near the end of 2017, it’s time to start planning for the New Year. Now, before you start making all your personal New Year’s resolutions, don’t forget to think about how you plan to make 2018 a better work year, too.

Your technology plays a big role when it comes to workplace efficiency, productivity and expenses. We’ve created a quick checklist to help you determine whether your technology is ready to power you through another year:

  • Do you recall your computer crashing on you?

  • Did you experience unexpected server downtime?

  • Where your networks knocked offline due to a bad storm?

  • Do you plan on implementing new technology products?

  • Were you affected by any natural disasters?

  • Did you experience a ransomware attack or cyber threat?

  • Have you run out of server space?

  • Are your cloud subscriptions about to expire?

  • Did you overpay for technology support this past year?

  • Did you ever experience email downtime?

  • Was it difficult to communicate with employees outside of the office?

  • Are you thinking about implementing a cloud solution?

  • Did you miss opportunities due to missed phone calls?

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If you answered yes to any of these questions, you might have a little extra work to do before you pop the bubbly and celebrate the New Year. Now’s the time to take a close look at your current infrastructure needs, how you’re utilizing the cloud, any gaps in your security, and how you can improve communications.

We want you to enjoy the New Year, not dread the countdown to January 1, 2018. Whether you just need help figuring out where to start, or want us to take a look at your entire system, we’ll make sure you have everything in order to make 2018 your best year yet.

Need some extra help evaluating your technology?

Schedule a Free Tech Assessment!

During your on-site assessment, our team of experts will identify vulnerabilities in your computer network and technology infrastructure that could be costing you business.

 


Holiday Hacker Traps To Avoid

Avoid These 6 Hacker Traps This Holiday Season

Holidays are stressful enough without having to worry about your business.

As employees prepare for the long weekend, they’ll be swapping Black Friday shopping tips, recipes, and travel plans. But did you know that every single one of their mobile devices could be a backdoor to your business’ network?

Stop what you’re doing right now and email your employees telling them to avoid these six hacker traps this holiday, before it’s too late…

1. Avoid Airport Charging Kiosks

hacker traps

Did you know that hackers can upload malware to your mobile device through a USB charging port?

Sure, your phone only has 15% battery left and you really, really want to watch a movie on the plane. But by plugging into a comprised charging kiosk while waiting at your terminal, you could be putting ALL of your data at risk.

Text messages. Emails. Work contacts. Even your most personal, private photos.

holiday hacker traps

The USB port you use to charge your mobile devices is also used to transmit data. If the port you plug into has been sabotaged by a hacker, there's no limit to what information they can get their hands on.

Even worse, if you work at an organization with a ‘Bring Your Own Device Policy’, the next time your phone connects to the Wi-Fi, you could risk bringing the entire network (and this quarter’s revenue) down with you.

2. Don’t Charge Your Phone While Ridesharing

holiday hacker traps

With any ridesharing service, you face the same security concerns as an airport kiosk. There’s just no way of knowing exactly what you’re plugging into.

Instead of using your driver’s USB cable to charge your phone, invest in a portable battery pack, also known as a ‘power bank’. Or just bring your own charger and wait for a wall outlet.

3. Beware Of ‘Black Friday Special’ Links

holiday hacker traps

You just received an email from a company you’ve been a customer of for over 10+ years. Surely there’s nothing to worry about when it comes to this amazing Black Friday deal they’re promoting, right?

Wrong!

To combat evolving email security and spam filters, hackers have gotten sneaky. They know how to copy and paste the logo of your favorite brand into an email so that it looks like it’s coming from them. This is called a ‘phishing attack’, and the only goal is to get you to click the link in the email.

“But the deal is just TOO GOOD to pass up!” you say?

holiday hacker traps

Hover your cursor over the hyperlink to reveal its true URL. Even if the link reads “yourfavoritebrand.com/BlackFriday”, it could be sending you to a phishing site with a landing page that has all the logos of your favorite brand, but is really a cleverly disguised trap.

All hackers want is for you to ‘login’ on the fake page they’ve created so they can steal your username, password, and whatever other information you provide. Then they’ll use those same credentials to try and log into every major banking network, your server at work, your social media profiles, and more.

4. Your Messy, Messy Desk

holiday hacker traps

Sounds easy enough, but how many employees or coworkers do you know who still have their passwords written on a Post-It note they’ve stuck to the bottom of their computer monitor?

If you answered more than ‘zero, make sure your staff takes 5 minutes to clean off their desks before taking off for the long weekend.

Believe it or not, hackers have been known to bring down entire businesses simply by snapping a picture of a password, IP secret, or other privileged data that had been left out on an employee’s desk.

5. Be Careful What You Share On Social Media

holiday hacker traps

Who doesn’t love sharing the perfectly framed selfie, or gloating about the glorious vacation you’re about to embark on? But did you know that hackers could also be stalking your social media profiles, waiting for the perfect opportunity to break into your home, office, or even pretend to be you and trick coworkers into sharing company secrets?

Take a look at the privacy settings on your various social media profiles, and make sure anything set to 'public' as a default is immediately changed to 'friends' or 'private'.

6. Don’t Trust Your Caller ID

holiday hacker traps

Phishing scams aren't confined to emails. Hackers are now fabricating Caller IDs.

Say you hear your phone ringing in the other room. You go to pick it up, but it's a number you don't recognize. Luckily, you have Caller ID, and it's telling you that the caller is Your Bank. Must be something important, right? Maybe something to do with your direct deposit and the holiday?

Wrong!

Just because Caller ID says your bank is calling, it could be a hacker hoping to steal your account information. If the person you're speaking with tries to make the situation sound dire, or claims that your "urgent attention" is needed, hang up the phone. Then, call your bank back and ask to speak to a representative. If they have a record of the call, then you're all set to proceed. If they have no idea what you're talking about, then you just outsmarted a hacker!

holiday hacker traps

All a hacker needs to disrupt your life is one email, one username, one password - which is why you should NEVER use the same login credentials for multiple websites, let alone your work and personal devices.

Remember: educating your employees on how best to avoid hacker traps is only the beginning. To truly protect your business from growing cybersecurity threats, you need a managed service provider that can outfit you with the latest firewall, data backups, cloud storage, and an IT infrastructure equipped to handle the demands of the 21st Century.

Want to learn more?

Schedule a Free Tech Assessment!

During your on-site assessment, our team of experts will identify vulnerabilities in your business' computer network and technology infrastructure that could be putting you at risk.

 

 


Here’s How You Can Minimize the Cost of Downtime

Technology is the backbone of your business, so downtime can dramatically damage bottom line. According to a 2016 ITIC survey, one hour of downtime can cost you more than $100,000. The longer it takes to get your system back up, the scarier the numbers get.

There are steps you can start taking today to prepare your systems before you find yourself staring IT downtime in the eye again

  1. Prioritize Process Efficiency

It’s pretty simple. The more efficient your processes run, the less downtime you experience. Investing your time and effort into streamlining processes will go a long way when it comes to reducing the loss of productivity your employees experience when hardware crashes and their workday is interrupted.

  1. Have a Business Continuity Plan in Place

No one likes to think that a cyberattack, natural disaster or even a simple accident could happen to them, but it’s a reality that you’re better off being prepared for. A business continuity plan ensures that your business can continue to operate even after a major incident brings all your systems down.

  1. Outsource What You Can’t Handle

If you don’t have the time, resources or tech proficiency to monitor your system, outsourcing your IT to a managed services provider (MSP) is the simplest way to minimize downtime. A MSP will monitor and maintain your vital systems to pinpoint red flags and eliminate vulnerabilities.

We understand how hard you work to keep your business running. That’s why we dedicate ourselves to monitoring your IT and eliminating red flags before they turn into the worst-case-scenario.

Contact us today and let’s strategize.


tax-and-jobs-act-technology-new

It's the Most Wonderful Time of Year Thanks to Section 179

Is brand-new tech for the workplace on your holiday wish list? Well, you do not have to wait--you'll be rejoicing this tax season thanks to Section 179.

What is the Section 179 Tax Deduction?

Section 179 allows you to deduct the complete price of any qualifying devices or application bought or leased during this past year. This means you do not have to wait for vacation sales to kick in, you can take action now to stay competitive and purchase the equipment you require while benefiting your bottom line.

Here's what qualifies:

Purchased, financed or leased equipment
Desktops, laptop computers, tablets, mobile phones
Servers, printers, routers, network switches, network security devices
Off-the-shelf applications (productivity, administrative, operating systems, etc.)

Here are a couple of limitations:

$ 500,000-- Maximum overall quantity you can deduct of equipment purchased in 2017.
$ 200,000-- Maximum overall quantity you can deduct of leased equipment in 2017.
$ 2M-- Maximum overall quantity of devices purchased in 2017 eligible for complete deduction.

Here's what you have to do:

Purchase, finance or rent the equipment and put it into use by midnight December 31, 2017. Additionally, your purchase must be for business utilize more than 50 percent of the time.

Here's how you can make the most of the Section 179 Deduction:

Just make the purchase and utilize Form 4562 to claim your deduction.
The complete deduction can be declared up until you've reached $2M in equipment or application purchases.
Past the $2M point, the reduction decreases on a dollar-for-dollar basis and disappears once $2.5 M worth of equipment is purchased.

For most situations, applying the tax break will be as simple as deducting the full amount of the purchase as a Section 179 cost; although, sometimes it can be a bit harder. To find out more about Section 179 or if you require assistance getting going, contact us to request your complimentary, no-obligation Section 179 consultation.


Here’s How You Can Minimize the Cost of Downtime

Technology is the backbone of your business, so downtime can dramatically damage bottom line. According to a 2016 ITIC survey, one hour of downtime can cost you more than $100,000. The longer it takes to get your system back up, the scarier the numbers get.

Read more


Achieve Your Business Goals

How to Leverage Virtual CIO Services to Achieve Your Business Goals

Today’s business challenges require leaders to think more strategically about IT—not just whether or not your systems and network are up and running. An increasing number of business leaders are realizing how dramatically technology decisions impact their business. To stay competitive, you have to view IT as a strategic asset—not just an operational expense.

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Why Cloud Computing?

Why Cloud Computing?

These days, everything is in the cloud or happening in the cloud. Simply google cloud computing and your search results will be endless. So, what’s up with all the hype? Does the cloud really call for all this attention and are you missing out? Yes, yes you are.

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IT Managed Service Provider

Questions to Ask Before Committing to an IT Managed Service Provider

You’ve already taken a step in the right direction—you’ve admitted that you need help managing your infrastructure and technology budget. The next step is to weed through the myriad of managed service providers and find the perfect fit for your organization—but, that’s easier said than done if you don’t know exactly what you’re looking for.

 

Apply the same tactics to finding the right MSP partner as you would when dating. Reflect on the challenges you’ve experienced, consider what’s worked and define your deal-breakers. Put all that on the table upfront and make sure they can answer the following questions before you seal the deal.

 

How proactive is your service?

 

How do you deliver and charge for your solutions?

 

Is there a usage-based service option?

 

Is co-management an option?

 

Can you provide 3-5 references of organizations that are similar to ours?

 

How do you approach data backup and business continuity?

 

Do you offer virtual CIO and CISO services?

 

A reliable technology services provider will be prepared to answer these and more questions without hesitation. Be wary of providers that distract you with deceptively low monthly fees. An MSP should save you money. However, if their pricing sounds too good to be true—and they can’t provide proof that they can address your concerns—it’s likely you’ll end up shelling out more cash for service upgrades. A reputable MSP provides a hassle-free, comprehensive service plan, often with a trial period that allows you to back out if you're not happy with their service. Contact us to see if we’re a good match.


Do you need a managed services reality check?

Do you need a managed services reality check?

There are many advantages of managed services that often get overlooked due to managed services misconceptions. But don’t be fooled, partnering with a managed service provider (MSP) can help your team be more productive and efficient. Here’s a quick run-down of the top three myths around managed services and the truth behind how an MSP can help you be successful.

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3 Reasons the Co-Managed IT Model Might Be the Perfect Fit

3 Reasons the Co-Managed IT Model Might Be the Perfect Fit

Money—saving it and making it—drives almost every business decision regardless of your organization size. Cutting back on IT makes room in your budget, but ultimately results in more IT issues and subpar performance.

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