Enhancing Team Collaboration During the Pandemic

COVID-19 has presented us all with a lot of challenges. With public health guidelines suddenly in place in March 2020, most businesses were forced to transition to remote work either on a full-time or part-time basis. In fact, according to Gartner, 88 percent of organizations worldwide moved to remote capabilities after COVID-19 was declared a pandemic.

Naturally, a drastic change to your work environment can have a domino effect that impacts operational efficiency and company culture. With the 2020 pandemic, businesses have had to adapt quickly to maximize their team collaboration and improve productivity. One of the best ways to get the most out of your remote workforce is to leverage technology. Let’s discuss the most popular collaborative tools of 2020. With the right technologies, businesses can stay closely connected and collaborate from anywhere.

The Power of the Cloud

Although the cloud is widely popular for its convenient storage capabilities, cloud-based technology can enhance collaboration. This technology also provides convenient, secure access to information which allows teams to organize projects quickly in a centralized location. With a shared virtual workspace, teams can easily connect, brainstorm ideas, share information and work simultaneously on projects together.

Productivity Tools in Microsoft 365

Microsoft Office has come a long way since the animated paperclip, Clippy. Office 365 can be coupled with the cloud to allow remote teams to coordinate calendars, conduct video conferences, chat in group messaging forums, and collaborate in real time on projects. This shared workspace enables teams to work smarter and more efficiently on projects than ever before.

Creating Engagement in Zoom

Zoom became a household name overnight in March 2020. The video conference software allows teams to connect through live video chat, conduct instant virtual meetings, screen-share documents, record conferences, instant chat in meeting rooms and engage in personalized conversations as if they were in the same place. Video conference software bolsters collaboration and improves the work culture.

Gaining a Team Communication System

Team communication applications like Slack or Microsoft Teams provide the workforce with a platform to communicate, organize projects and streamline collaborative efforts. Employees can communicate clearly in group chat sessions, share files instantly and discover old resources in a searchable history feature. Team communication applications make it easier to connect and collaborate from anywhere.

With the right technology, your workforce can maximize their productivity because they are working as a cohesive unit in an environment that fosters collaboration and teamwork. If you’re interested in improving your IT infrastructure and establishing an effective system for your remote workforce, we can help.

Get valuable solutions that enhance your remote operations. Contact us today.


Keep Compliance in Check With Tech

Creating a compliance checklist doesn’t sound like a lot of fun, but it could be one of the most important things you do this week. Get started today with a self-assessment, and then map out a plan. By the end of the week, you can relax knowing you’re set up for success and know how to strengthen your IT infrastructure and prepare you for a compliance audit.

According to Gartner, 64% of “surveyed leaders say managing risks across fragmented jurisdictions and regulations will be important or extremely important in 2020 — yet only 15% feel highly prepared to do so.”

To avoid the steep consequences of noncompliance, small to medium-sized businesses, and enterprises alike, are doing everything they can to be proactive. This involves being honest with yourself about the state of your network’s cybersecurity and the measures you have in place to safeguard your data.

Are you ready to comply with HIPAA, PCI, SOX and other regulations that govern your industry? To protect the privacy of your patients and customers, you need to make sure sensitive data, including health records and financial information, doesn’t fall into the hands of hackers. Thinking through a few key steps can help you close gaps in security, avoid cybercrimes and stay on top of the latest compliance regulations.

Cross compliance off the list. Contact us today.

A Compliance Checklist:

  • Do Your Homework – Ignorance is no excuse. Research what is expected of you and investigate how other businesses use technology to stay on top of government regulations. You may find out that your own IT infrastructure is outdated.
  • Educate Your Workforce – Everyone knows that data breaches are often the result of human error. Smart executives solicit the help of IT professionals for basic and advanced security awareness training to prevent personal identifying information from getting out.
  • Improve Your IT Infrastructure – Cybersecurity is everything, and with countless online data transfers and digital financial transactions happening every day, it’s hard to keep up. Maintaining compliance is easier with protected hardware and updated software.
  • Secure Your Mobile Devices – There’s a reason so many small to medium-sized businesses are investing in mobile device management services. That’s because, in a bring-your-own-device culture, remote access to networks opens up dangerous avenues for hackers.
  • Be Proactive and Alert – Preventing data breaches is always a priority, but when lapses in cybersecurity lead to noncompliance, you’re on the hook for costly fines that could put you out of business. Get compliance in order now to avert a potential crisis later.
  • Undergo a Compliance Evaluation – Once you’ve taken stock of where your organization stands in terms of regulations, it’s time to bring in a team of IT experts for a compliance consultation. Take advantage of a free assessment to start preparing.

This checklist should help get the juices flowing and prompt you to make your own compliance to-do list. With the right IT infrastructure in place, you can give your patients and customers the protection they deserve while enjoying the peace of mind that comes with having done everything you can to comply.

Need Help With Compliance?

Between managing employees, supporting a remote workforce and handling IT concerns, today’s business leaders have a lot on their plates. When your main goal is to make sure everything runs smoothly while generating a profit, the last thing you want to worry about is compliance and technology — let alone the constantly-changing regulations associated with HIPAA, PCI, SOX and other governing boards. The best executives recognize when the time is right to delegate some of the heavy lifting to IT pros who understand your industry and know how to put tech to work for you. Simplify compliance, prevent costly data breaches and more by bringing in a team of experts. Contact us today for a customized compliance IT solution.


Combat Common Compliance Obstacles

For many business owners, everything about compliance can seem intimidating at first. To further complicate things, federal and international regulations are always being altered or added, leaving many organizations left with the task of keeping up. The alternative, however, could leave you facing steep fees and other consequences you shouldn’t have to worry about on top of everything else.

With a little foresight and planning, your business can anticipate potential compliance roadblocks and figure out a way to steer clear of them. By learning about common problems that organizations face regarding HIPPA, PCI, SOX and other regulations, your business will be in a better position to identify and avert them going forward.

Conquer Compliance Concerns for Good.

Consider the Top Five Compliance Challenges:

  1. Protecting Sensitive Data: Patients and customers are counting on you to keep their private information safe from prying eyes and hackers. Federal regulations are designed to keep records where they belong and prevent cybercrimes and data breaches from wreaking havoc on businesses and individuals. The key to staying compliant is thinking about everything that could go wrong beforehand, which is easier to do with a solid IT infrastructure.
  2. Keeping Software Up to Date: It may seem like most software is being automatically updated these days. The truth is that you don’t have to go too many days without restarting your machines to experience gaps in protection. In many cases, once an alert has been issued, it’s up to users to take action and install the patch or update themselves. Educating your workforce about the importance of alerts is another way to ensure your business is adhering to regulations.
  3. Handling Mobile Devices: Since the bring-your-own-device (BYOD) lifestyle is here to stay, it’s clear that maintaining compliance is going to involve more than just securing the technology in your brick-and-mortar buildings and the communication that comes in and out of it. In addition to protecting your work-issued phones, laptops, tablets and other work devices, it is critical that you manage every mobile device that accesses your network remotely. Failing to do so could lead to costly consequences for businesses that are already struggling to maintain compliance.
  4. Managing Electronic Data Interchanges (EDI): As more business is conducted online and more organizations migrate to the cloud, it is becoming necessary for organizations to take action to protect customer information transferred between computers. Whether you’re transmitting healthcare records or sensitive financial data, protecting electronic data is the only way to stay compliant. EDI compliance is best managed by professionals and software that can help you avoid receiving hefty fines, losing valuable customers and even suffering from potential legal action.
  5. New Technology: Because everything is connected through the Internet of things (IoT), your business has to find ways to accommodate — and then secure — new, interconnected technology and the data that is generated along with it. Each technical innovation has the potential to introduce new roadblocks to compliance, so don’t forget about IoT security standards when planning for the future.

While it is nearly impossible to anticipate every compliance obstacle that may come your way, you should be prepared to handle as many of them as possible. Being proactive now means that you’ll enjoy peace of mind later.

Connect with Experts

When you are running a company, staying compliant is always on your mind. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Compliance is easier when you are partnered with a reliable MSP who can shoulder some of your most daunting tasks while you focus on growing your business. Avoid noncompliance by bringing in professionals who know the ins-and-outs of your industry and can deliver the compliance IT services you need. Contact us today to position yourself for stability and success.


The Top Three Reasons You Need Compliance as a Service

Compliance as a Service (CaaS) is an easy way to ensure you’re adhering to the government’s constantly changing regulations without all the fuss of handling things in-house. Staying HIPAA and PCI compliant is one of the most important things you can do to protect your business from violating these non-negotiable rules and suffering the related consequences—but it isn’t easy. It’s going to require more than just an encrypted password and a 2-step authentication to get the job done.

Getting CaaS will relieve you of this burden by providing a managed service that monitors everything to keep things stored safely so you can stay focused on your primary business goals. With a team of IT experts on your side, you won’t have to worry as much about whether your business is maintaining compliance. You’ll know it is.

Contact us to discover how CaaS helps organizations like yours stay compliant without all of the headaches.

“Without the support of a CaaS provider, many businesses spend excessive time researching regulation changes, managing data security and preparing documentation for regulatory bodies. CaaS can help keep this work to a minimum.” -Consolidated Technologies, Inc.

What Are the Top Three Reasons to Get Compliance as a Service?

1. Save Valuable Time: Keeping up with the latest regulations can really eat into your day. With CaaS, you are outsourcing not only a lot of time-consuming work, but also all of the in-house headaches that come with staying compliant. Spend less time learning about how regulations are shifting and devote more of your energy to delivering the excellent customer service that your clients and patients have come to expect from your brand.

2. Protect Sensitive Information: Improve cybersecurity and minimize digital risk with CaaS. IT will reduce your legitimate concerns about staying compliant and maintaining data privacy. CaaS allows industry experts to help you avoid data breaches through regular IT audits that identify vulnerabilities and make the appropriate corrections before it’s too late. Plus, careful monitoring means that providers can quickly address any issues that may arise.

3. Enjoy Automatic Updates: Everyone knows that staying current with such a dynamic federal program is one of the trickiest parts of maintaining compliance, which is another reason why CaaS is such a valuable service. With automatic updates, you’ll be able to rest assured that everything is up to date regarding the latest changes to industry-specific regulations.

Now that you understand the importance of Compliance as a Service, it’s time to get down to business and start taking advantage of its benefits. Securing CaaS is one of the best ways to simplify everything related to compliance, and we’re here to help you get started today. Our team of experts is on standby to alleviate compliance-related stress and address any of your concerns about ever-changing regulations. Contact us today to learn more.


3 Bonus Benefits of a Disaster Recovery Plan

What would you do if you encountered a fire, flood, ransomware, data breach, accidental file deletion or really, any disaster? Your entire systems could crash, your data could be compromised, and your employees and customers would be looking to you for answers. Creating a comprehensive disaster recovery plan (DRP) ensures you can answer those questions and give your people confidence. Smart businesses understand the importance of a disaster recovery plan and how it can keep your organization running in the event of any disaster, but strategic businesses realize the additional value that a disaster recovery plan offers. Learn three strategic benefits of disaster recovery that will set your company apart from your competition.

Discover more benefits of disaster recovery. Contact us today.

Benefits of a Comprehensive Disaster Recovery Plan

  1. Cost-Efficiencies and Savings – One of the most significant benefits of a DRP is the long-term cost savings. A successful DRP includes preventative measures to reduce the risk of man-made disasters, detective processes to spot unwanted activity and corrective actions to quickly restore lost data and resume business as usual even after a disaster occurs.
  2. Maximized Employee Productivity – Executing a successful DRP is often dependent on having the right people in a position to lead during a disaster. With specific roles and responsibilities assigned in advance, you’ll be able to act quickly to increase effectiveness and productivity. Your employees will also feel a sense of security knowing leadership has everything under control.
  3. Greater Customer Retention – Your clients expect a lot from you, and in today’s world of competition, they’re not quick to forgive in the case of failure or downtime. If you’re unable to meet customer expectations, they can simply take their business to your competitor. A disaster recovery plan allows you to maintain your customer service quality, regardless if you’re faced with an unpredictable event.

The first step to gaining these additional benefits is making sure you have a proper disaster recovery plan in place. Our experts can get you started with a comprehensive DRP. We’ll work with you to fully understand your needs and develop a unique plan that can keep your business running no matter what the future has planned for you. Contact us today to learn more.


Data Backup Essentials: A COVID-19 Checklist

Businesses around the world are reexamining their business continuity plans in the wake of COVID-19, and that includes checking in on your organization’s policies surrounding data backup essentials. While you probably have methods for preventing data loss due to human error, system malfunctions or cybercrimes, you may not have been as prepared to protect your information during a pandemic. The need for sound data backup strategies has never been more apparent. Take a minute to go through our checklist of three ways to keep your data safe during the COVID-19 crisis.

Take advantage of the latest in data backup solutions. Contact us today.

Prevent Data Loss with the COVID-19 Backup Checklist:

Become Proactive About Data Backup Essentials

By now, your business has likely experienced some unfortunate disruptions due to the current pandemic. Between paying the bills, making payroll and keeping your clients satisfied, it’s easy to overlook the current state of your IT infrastructure. But neglecting to do so could be costly. There has never been a worse time to lose valuable data due to something as simple as human error. Think about the data your company couldn’t survive without, and make sure you’re doing everything you can to protect it by performing both automatic and manual data backups.

 

Educate Your Employees

When your workforce went remote, part of your company went home with them. During the COVID-19 crisis, many people are using technology in their homes in new and innovative ways. As they explore new programs and experiment with different set-ups, some of your employees may prove less experienced at handling data than others. Begin by identifying what your team members already know about backup solutions—and then ask them what they’re doing at home to ensure that data is not lost or stolen on their watch. Now is an excellent opportunity to go over best practices for data backup and recovery both inside the office and at home.

 

Identify and Rectify System Vulnerabilities

As more businesses undergo digital transformations, brick-and-mortar establishments are putting more data online than ever before. If your brand is facing virtual threats that you never anticipated, it can be easy to focus entirely on improving cybersecurity—and to forget about something as simple as performing routine backups as a result. Don’t let that happen to you during the pandemic. Do some investigating and see what you uncover and remember to repeat the process frequently. Backing up your data in more than one place is easier than it sounds—just make sure you’re doing it.

 

Protect Your Good Reputation

Yes, losing your data is a nightmare from a logistical standpoint. But losing your hard-earned reputation? That’s hard to recover from, especially during a tough economic crisis like the one presented to us by COVID-19. With clients threatening to cancel contracts and budgets shrinking by the minute, it’s more important than ever to back up your organization’s data and make sure you don’t suffer the consequence of its loss. Your customers entrusted you with private information, and its value to your bottom line cannot be underestimated. Don’t sacrifice that by forgetting to do something as easy as strengthening your current data backup solutions.

Preventing data loss should always be a top priority, but when so many team members are working from home during the COVID-19 crisis, backing up critical information has never been more important. Instituting best practices for data backup and recovery now will prevent you and your employees from dealing with additional IT headaches during these uncertain times. If you’re ready to learn more about data backup essentials or discuss how our other services might help your business weather the storm, please reach out today.


Three Major Ways COVID-19 Impacts Your Business

You don’t have to turn on your television to see the impact of COVID-19; simply go for a drive and you’ll see the “closed” sign in business windows. In light of COVID-19, companies everywhere are looking for ways to flip their closed sign back to open. The key is to understand how this situation impacts various aspects of your business, and to learn from it so you can bring in profit and ensure business continuity in the future.

 

What is the Impact to Your Customers?

When customers face a disaster or crisis, their priorities change. What was once important may no longer seem essential. Your customers will be more cautious about how they spend their money and will only maintain or seek out the necessities. It’s important to understand where your product or service lands on your customers’ list of priorities. If you are seen as essential, you need to make sure you’re able to continue to deliver for your customers. If not, take a look at your capabilities and see if there’s something you can reposition to help them through this tough time. Depending on the customer’s ability to buy, you’ll need to take into account the potential of having to scale back your resources to lower overall costs.

 

What is the Impact on Your Workforce?

In the wake of COVID-19, we’ve seen many businesses reallocate some or all of their staff to a mobile workforce. This would also be the case if your business was ever impacted by a fire, flood or any natural disaster that might displace your staff for an extended period of time. The key to a successful remote workforce is the ease of accessibility matched with security. Even before COVID-19, remote access was an accessible entry-point for cybercriminals. Business owners need to make sure they have the right technology in place to monitor remote access and keep out malicious users.

 

What is the Impact on Your Revenue Stream?

According to Gartner, the average cost of IT downtime is $5,600 a minute. How long can your systems be down until you reach an unrecoverable amount of revenue loss? In regards to COVID-19, businesses are facing tough numbers. Many are counting down to how long they can continue to pay their employees with their door closed, while others have seen a significant number of layoffs. The sooner a company can get back to work, the faster they can regain revenue and keep its people and business afloat.

 

The Impact of a Business Continuity Plan

Having a business continuity plan in place creates a safety net for business owners. It helps businesses get back to “normal” as quickly as possible in many different worst-case scenarios. It ensures you have the proper technology in place to maintain operations, keep your people productive and service your customers. If you’d like to learn more about how we can help you implement a business continuity plan, or discuss other services that can help you during tough times, please contact us.


Don’t Wait Until After an Attack to Protect Yourself

From uniformed employees to cybercriminals, your digital business is constantly being threatened. Are you prepared for when that threat becomes an attack? Having a watchful eye on your information and having a plan in place if you are comprised is at the heart of digital risk management.

Prepare today so you can grow tomorrow.

Is Digital Risk Management Right for Me?

Digital risk management is a protection plan made to fit your business. From early risk detection and training employees to an action plan if an attack occurs, your MSP will work with you to make sure you are ready for whatever happens. Hackers are not picky; according to Accenture, 68 percent of business leaders feel their cybersecurity risks are increasing. No matter how unique your business is, you are still at risk. Working with an MSP who can deliver digital risk management solutions is the best defense against evolving threats.

What Threats Should I Be Worried About?

Picture this; you’ve just fired an employee who feels you’ve wronged them in some way. They have the password and username to your most valuable client. Are you prepared for an attack if they were to give that information away? From disgruntled employees to ransomware attacks to skilled hackers, your evolving technology comes with evolving threats. We know how overwhelming this can feel, but there’s no need to panic. By having a digital risk management plan in place to detect threats early or to revive your business after an attack, you can worry less and grow more.

I’m A Small Company. Can I Afford This?

According to Verizon, 43 percent of breaches victims were small businesses. A digital risk management plan may seem like an unnecessary expense, but will you be able to afford to pay a million-dollar ransom for your information? And even if you get your information back, will you have enough money to rebuild? Although your MSP will work with you to build a plan within your budget that offers the best protection they can, know that investing in an excellent digital risk management plan can help you avoid losing money in the long run.

Let Us Help

Running a business means constantly juggling responsibilities. Let us take one off your plate. As your MSP partner, we’ll make sure your efforts stay focused on the continued growth of your business, not rebuilding it. Contact us today to create a plan for a worry-free tomorrow.


6 Steps to Regain Control During a Cyberattack 

When faced with a cyberattack, the worst thing you can do is panic because time is of the essence. Your top priority now is limiting the damage by securing your unaffected data. On your worst day, it helps to have a technology service provider who can help guide you through this tough tech situation. Here are six steps you and your TSP can follow during a cyberattack to minimize damage and speed your recovery time.

Don’t wait until it’s too late. Protect your business from cyberattacks.

Step 1: Assess the Situation

Before sounding the alarm, you need to know if this is simply an error or the real thing. Once you know for sure, notify whoever within your organization that can determine what type of attack you’re dealing with and how to stop it

Step 2: Contain the Breach

After determining that this isn’t a glitch, your next step is to protect your unaffected network by containing the breach. First, figure out which servers are compromised, then contain the breach by doing the following:

  • Disconnecting from the internet
  • Changing passwords
  • Disabling remote access
  • Installing any pending security upgrades or patches

It may seem easier to erase everything from an infected server, but containing it will allow you and your tech team to figure out who broke into your network, how they were able to do it and what you can do to prevent it from happening again.

Step 3: Get Your Backups Ready

If you have backup servers and data ready, now is an excellent time to use them. However, before you turn them on, have your IT team check to find out if the backups were also affected by the attack. Backup servers can keep your networking running while you continue trying to stop the breach. 

If you don’t have backup servers, simply turning your main servers off and on again won’t help. Keep your main ones on, so you and your team can analyze the breach and stop it without shutting down your entire network.

Step 4: Notify the Authorities

While it may be tempting to think of a cyberattack as an internal problem, it’s not in your best interest to keep this under wraps. Notify your local police department to inform them that you’ve been hit with a cyberattack. Also, keep in mind that you may need to contact more government agencies or industry organizations, depending on the type of data compromised or the notification processes within your field.

Step 5: Don’t Pay the Ransom

If the hackers are demanding a ransom in exchange for giving back your data, don’t do it. There is no guarantee the hacker will honor his end of the deal after you’ve sent the money. According to CSO from IDG, about 45 percent of organizations pay at least one ransom when hit by ransomware attacks. Paying the ransom will only encourage more hackers to do this kind of attack in the future.

Step 6: Notify Your Clients

This can be one of the most challenging steps following an attack, as many companies can be reluctant to share their bad news. However, you must let your customers who had their information compromised know what happened. That way, they can start to take action to prevent further damage. 

How We Can Help

The best time to prevent a cyberattack is to have a complete security solution in place before a hacker attempts to break in. Don’t wait until it’s too late, have our team of cybersecurity experts run a security audit and create a solution that protects your business from the cybercriminals of tomorrow.

Secure Your Data

Find out how we can keep your network safe from threats. Contact Us Today.


Don’t Fall for These 3 Ransomware Myths

As companies continue doing more online, business owners need to be on the lookout for hackers trying to steal your data. Over the last few years, ransomware has emerged as a popular way to extort businesses for money. While many business owners are aware of ransomware as a threat, many myths get mistaken as fact. 

Believing these myths can leave your business vulnerable to a ransomware attack, or uncertain of what to do if the worst happens. Below, we broke down three common myths about ransomware to keep you in the know.  

Myth 1: Cybercriminals Only Target Large Companies

Fact: While large companies are still prime targets for hackers, small to medium-sized businesses are also at risk of attack. According to Verizon’s 2019 Data Breach Investigations Report, 43 percent of breaches involved small businesses. Hackers know small businesses don’t have the same levels of security as enterprise corporations, which makes them easier targets.

Myth 2A Firewall is All You Need to Protect Your Data from Ransomware

Fact: Firewalls are an essential security measure when protecting your infrastructure, but it shouldn’t be your only line of defense. Ransomware can attack your database from a variety of ways, and not all of them can be stopped with a firewall. If a phishing email slips through, or an employee clicks a bad link on an unsecured website, then the wrong people may get access to your precious data. 

Myth 3: You Should Pay the Hacker to Get Your Data Back

Fact: Back in 2015, the FBI was caught in the middle of a controversy when one of its agents publicly admitted that the bureau was recommending ransomware victims pay the hackers to get their data back. Today, the FBI and cybersecurity consultants from Microsoft never encourage a ransomware victim to pay any form of ransom demand. They advise against doing so because theres no guarantee the hacker will return the data after receiving the payment. Even if they do, the decryption key may contain additional viruses. 

How We Can Help 

The threat of a cybersecurity attack keeps many business owners up at night. Thankfully, you don’t have to protect your network alone. As your managed security provider, we’ll take the lead identifying any weaknesses within your system and make recommendations on how to strengthen your security. That way, you’ll have peace of mind while we protect your data. Give us a call today and let’s talk about how we can help.