Making Technology a Strategic Differentiator in Your Mid-Sized Business

In a business world where companies face fierce competition and operate on razor-thin margins, any advantage helps. Today, technology is consistently the biggest strategic differentiator that businesses can use to get ahead, operate more productively, and ultimately become more profitable.

The dilemma is that many businesses don’t know how to use technology efficiently to optimize on the possibilities it opens up.

Learning to utilize technology effectively in your business is the key to reaching your company’s full potential.

Challenges of Mid-Market IT Operations

Mid-market businesses in particular face distinct challenges. For instance, some common issues many mid-market companies share include:

  • No dedicated IT department or IT professional on staff: As smaller companies grow, they often don’t prioritize growing their IT resources to match the needs of the company. This leads to a lack of a dedicated IT team to lead the way in optimizing technology for business growth.
  • The CFO taking on the role of CIO: Similar to the above point, when businesses grow without expanding IT resources as well, it often leads to other team members or leadership inheriting the role of IT decision-maker. Not only does this distract from your staff’s main responsibilities, it means you don’t have the specialized personnel or knowledge needed to make the most beneficial IT decisions.
  • No specialized cybersecurity strategy: By 2025, cyber attacks will cost the world $10.5 trillion annually. Mid-market companies that don’t prioritize IT are usually either extremely underprepared for a cyber attack or are using security protocols that actually inhibit user experience and your team’s productivity.
  • Balancing long-term strategy with immediate needs: Without a dedicated CIO planning for the future while ensuring smooth IT operations in the present, any IT support you do have will likely be focused on putting out fires as they appear. A strategic IT structure will both prevent issues now and set you up for long-term success, but that’s hard to get in place when you have limited resources that are already focused on merely trying to keep up with breaks as they happen.

When struggling to deal with the above challenges, companies expose themselves to considerable risk.

Lack of a certified IT professional on staff gives workers few options when an IT problem arises. Most solutions are band aids that don’t protect or improve the company long term. The CFO is forced to split time trying to fulfill a CIO role. And, not having the resources to focus on security, companies make critical mistakes in their IT security protocols that cost them time, efficiency, and in the case of an attack, money.

Winning Companies Embracing Tech

Companies must review and plan for IT security to ensure their long-term growth and stability. Creating a plan with the proper solutions will make the company more efficient and minimize workers’ downtime caused by IT issues. Mid-market companies only have to look to their peers in the marketplace to see how an effective IT solution creates growth.

Companies such as Oak Street Health, Avant, and Adpushup are making great strides in the marketplace with their unique IT solutions.

  • Oak Street Health, a primary care center, incorporates IT into its healthcare model through an in-house data platform that informs patient care, which follows a “managed care” model for older patients and incentivizes higher quality care.
  • Avant is a private online borrowing company that offers loans for middle-class buyers. What sets Avant apart from competitors is its algorithmic, data-driven processes that continually optimize processes and encourage improvements.
  • Finally, ADpushup revolutionized digital marketing with its ad revenue optimization platform.

All three companies have experienced exponential growth by embracing digital transformation. But they aren’t the only industries benefiting from increased use of cutting-edge technology. Manufacturing companies are facing an industry revolution due to advancements in robotics, automation, and 3D printing, and other industries are close behind in the digital transformation trend.

The success of these frontrunners and other businesses embracing technology should be an indicator of other companies in the marketplace’s future.

Prioritizing Proactivity

Business leaders know that the best way to solve problems is to prevent them before they happen. Being proactive in your approach to IT and cybersecurity should be mission-critical in this increasingly digital world.

To keep your business running without disruptions, it’s important to monitor threats proactively and install appropriate solutions for your business needs. While your competitors struggle with understanding their IT landscape, you can focus on growing and scaling your business without the concern of attack.

The Power of Strategic Planning with a vCIO

To best equip your company for success, you need to have a strong IT strategy that utilizes all the tools available to you. Consulting with a vCIO who provides individualized IT consulting is key to your business security and success.

Your vCIO will share expert industry advice and solutions designed to give your company the competitive edge it needs to differentiate and avoid costly risks.

To find a vCIO specializing in your industry, contact us at ISG Technology today.

5 steps for boosting your digital transformation with Microsoft 365

So how can we help bring your vision of the world’s productivity cloud—Microsoft 365—to life? 

Step 1: Get industry-specific guidelines with the Productivity Library 

Start with understanding how Microsoft 365 can improve productivity in your specific role or industry using scenarios and best practices with the Productivity Library. The Productivity Library is available for a wide range of industries including financial services, retail, and healthcare and gets granular for roles like operations, sales, and human resources

Step 2: Develop a plan with the Microsoft 365 Adoption Guide 

The Microsoft 365 Adoption Guide helps you to not just identify and prioritize key scenarios, but also helps you understand how to best build and launch your adoption plan with your stakeholders. The Microsoft 365 Adoption Guide will help you drive business value by showing you how to monitor and track adoption and usage. 

Step 3: Create your advocates and champions 

When you’re ready to start training your users, we recommend leveraging the power of the Office 365 Champions program. This program is designed to help you create a circle of influence for those early adopters or go-to people in your organization and empower them to become your Office 365 Champions. This program provides support and resources to help these users find a more efficient way to tackle everyday tasks and then share those learnings with their peers. 

Step 4: Build your own learning portal 

Did you know you can build a custom training portal with just a few clicks? Microsoft 365 Learning Pathways is a customizable, on-demand learning solution designed to increase usage and adoption of Microsoft 365 services in your organization. This includes on-demand custom training, SharePoint Online portal provisioning, and straightforward steps to provision, customize, and share your new portal with users. 

Step 5: Track users progress 

Once you implement some of these learning resources you’ll need some tools to help you to track your software adoption progress. The new Microsoft Productivity Score—currently in private preview—will provide you with visibility into how your organization works, insights that identify where you can enable improved experiences so people can reach their goals, and actions to update skills and systems so everyone can do their best work. 

For companies who want to help their employees better understand how they spend their time and guide them to better work habits and team norms, we encourage you to turn on MyAnalytics. This tool helps users improve their focus, wellbeing, network, and collaboration. 

MyAnalytics is available to Microsoft 365 and Office 365 Enterprise and Business suite users. 

Finally, for a top-down view, we offer Workplace Analytics. Workplace Analytics provides more advanced tools to discover and analyze the business impact of the way people work and help drive change through MyAnalytics. It gives you a view into collaboration patterns that empowers organizations to act with agility, improve employee experience, and sharpen customer focus. 

Workplace Analytics is available as a Microsoft 365 add-on service. 

Check out the Microsoft 365 Knowledge podcast 

To help you better understand why Microsoft 365 is the world’s productivity cloud, I encourage you to check out the Microsoft 365 Knowledge podcast. Hosted by veteran IT blogger Paul Thurrott, this podcast series digs into the features and functionality across the products that make up Microsoft 365. We also share real-world tips and tricks to help you get the most out of the product. The first two episodes are available on demand. 

Every company’s path to digital transformation is different. Over the next few months we’ll bring you more resources, as well as interviews with organizations who share their tips and secrets on their own successful transformations and their learnings from these projects on how they harnessed the transformative power of Microsoft 365—the world’s productivity cloud. 

Why wait? The top 10 things you need to know about upgrading from Skype to Teams

While it might be tempting to wait for a deadline, there’s less and less reason to postpone the upgrade to Teams. Microsoft Teams gives brings capabilities that your users already enjoy with Skype, like messaging, calling, managing contacts, or hosting online meetings, but it goes beyond to deliver all of this in a single hub for teamwork that can connect to your favorite apps and enhance productivity. Of course, some of the biggest differences between Skype and Teams are under the covers. Teams is built on a modern platform for audio and video and uses the latest cloud infrastructure on Azure for optimized global coverage, which brings several performance and networking benefits. For example, meetings get started faster and user ratings show that call quality in Teams i  For an IT Admin this means you can expect fewer helpdesk calls related to meeting experiences and calling.   

Also, because Teams is cloud-native, it benefits from ongoing innovation such as whiteboard sharing, background blur and in-line translation, which allow for a more inclusive collaboration experience. Best of all for you in IT, we give you a comprehensive admin experience for day to management, security and compliance. We covered more on this in previous Essentials episodes at aka.ms/MicrosoftTeamsForIT

Skype for Business to Microsoft Teams. Upgrade options and considerations.  

Another good reason to start your upgrade to Teams now is that whether you are coming from Skype for Business Online or Skype for Business Server on-premises, with or without Enterprise voice, we have a number of robust options to help in your journey to Teams. If you follow our guidance as you make the transition, you trust that no user will miss a chat message and meetings will always be accessible either from Skype or Teams. Here are some pointers on the top things to get started: 

1. You may not need to do anything at all:
For smaller organizations that do not have hybrid or on-premises dependencies and are using Skype for Business Online only, Microsoft offers an automated upgrade for your Office 365 tenant. We will notify you in advance in the message center and via email if your tenant has been selected for this automated upgrade. This is a great benefit if you don’t have dedicated IT staff. Learn more about this at aka.ms/TeamsAutomaticUpgrade

2. Upgrading from Skype to Teams is more than just a technical upgrade: 
Aside from specific architectural considerations, the rate at which users adopt Teams will impact your timeline and influence the success of your upgrade the most. Managing change across your users is imperative to any successful adoption strategy. Your roll out team needs extend beyond IT to incorporate the right sponsors and stakeholders such as executive sponsors; a project lead to help instigate and keep track of training and roll-out milestones; and various champions that can share user feedback. We explain this in more detail in our video. 

3. Microsoft Teams comes with built-in upgrade options and interoperability: 
This applies whether you are coming from Skype for Business Online, Skype for Business Server on-premises, have a hybrid configuration, or have an enterprise voice plan. 

4. We allow you to incrementally get your organization on board: 
Skype and Teams can coexist during your upgrade. This way, while you gradually onboard users or groups of users to Teams, you have flexibility to ensure the pre-requisites are in place with SharePoint, OneDrive, Exchange, Azure AD synchronization, and network optimization requirements. 

5. There are two main upgrade paths to choose from: 

  1. The first path has overlapping capabilities across Skype and Teams and is enabled with “Islands mode”. This is our recommended path to start with. Note that by default, this will be the coexistence mode for your tenant. Because chat, meetings, and VoIP calling are available in both clients, your users can get familiar with Teams while still being able to access all the features from Skype at the same time. 
  2. The second path is where you can pick select capabilities selecting from two interoperability modes. “Skype for Business with Teams Collab and Meetings” mode, also known as our “meetings-first approach”, allows to have chat and calls initiated and received in Skype while scheduling and collaboration capabilities are handled by Teams. Otherwise, you can keep chats, calls and meetings in Skype while collaboration capabilities remain unique to Teams with team conversations, file sharing, and co-authoring enabled with “Skype for Business with Teams Collab” mode. 
  3. Once your organization is ready, you can turn on Teams only mode, which means all incoming calls and chats land in the Teams client. In fact, if you have PSTN calling configured, users will receive all incoming voice calls in Teams, and PSTN connectivity is enabled with a calling pad that lights up in Teams. 

6. You can mix and match your coexistence modes: 
Modes can be set organization-wide or for specific users in the Teams Admin Center or using PowerShell. You’ll want to use PowerShell if you have a large number of users that you want to assign specific modes to, and we have a range of cmdlets that enable you to perform bulk actions, such as setting modes with or without user notifications. This allows you for example to have subsets of users still on Skype for Business with select capabilities, or on overlapping capabilities, or just Teams only based on the upgrade strategy for your organization. 

7. A hybrid configuration is required if you are coming from Skype for Business Server on-premises: 
User accounts in Skype for Business Server need to also be present in Skype for Business Online for interoperability with Teams to work. If you are already using Office 365, you probably have this in place already. Also, a hybrid configuration with Skype for Business Online needs to be in place to ensure that chat and calling traffic between Skype and Teams is automatically transferred via our gateway service. You’ll need to use PowerShell for that, and you can learn more about the steps at aka.ms/TeamsSfBHybrid

8. There are two voice options to enable integration between your PSTN or Voice over IP services: 
• A Microsoft calling plan: If you are using a phone system and a Microsoft calling plan where Microsoft provides your phone numbers directly, once you enable Teams only mode traffic is routed to Teams automatically, or 
• Direct Routing, which can be configured in a few ways.. If you have an on-premises Session Border Controller device that connects directly with your PSTN trunk line from your telecommunications provider or ISP, you’ll need to route the connection to your Microsoft 365 tenant. Or, if your Direct Routing is done off-site by your telecommunications provider via their Session Border Controller, you will need to work with them to direct PSTN traffic to your Microsoft 365 tenant. 

9. There are tools to help you to track organizational readiness: 
You can track Microsoft Teams usage in your environment with built-in usage reports and dashboards available in both the Microsoft 365 admin center and the Teams Admin Center. We also recommend circling back with your onboarding team and conducting regular end-user surveys using Advisor for Teams. This will help you to capture user feedback and sentiment and ensure you have a comprehensive perspective on the readiness of your organization to upgrade to Teams. 

10. Your users’ contacts and upcoming meetings can also be upgraded to Teams: 
The migration of your data and meetings, like interop, for the most part happens behind the scenes. There are options to automatically upgrade upcoming Skype for Business meetings across all your users’ calendars to Teams. 

If you want to learn more, I encourage you to check out today’s Microsoft Teams Essentials for IT. We’ll also be publishing a hands-on implementation demo-bench on this topic in the next few weeks, as well as another Essentials show that will tackle best practices for getting your organization to adopt Teams broadly. Check out additional resources at aka.ms/SkypeToTeams and our instructor-led workshops at aka.ms/SkypeToTeamsPlanning. Lastly, stay tuned and keep watching our full series at aka.ms/MicrosoftTeamsForIT. 

Twin Valley Management Taps Business Strategy & Tech Experts for Board

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (May 11, 2021) — Twin Valley Management, a 4th generation family-owned company and parent to Twin Valley Telephone, Twin Valley Communications, SKT and ISG Technology, has announced the appointment of two new board members: Lisa Spadafora Thompson, partner at Axiom Consulting Partners, and Jay Brodsky, Chief Digital Officer for American Geophysical Union. On the heels of Twin Valley’s latest acquisition of SKT, the strategic appointment of Thompson and Brodsky adds outside technology and business strategy expertise to help guide the company’s next phase of growth.

“For more than 70 years, a guiding principle for our company and leaders has been to seek outside counsel and expertise to better serve our communities and maximize our potential,” said Ben Foster, President & CEO. “I’m honored to continue that foundational trait for our family with the addition of two board members who are both well aligned and qualified to help us realize our strategic vision.”

Over the last decade, the organization has been transformed and scaled from $8 million to over $120 million, now the largest family-owned broadband and managed IT company in Kansas. The composition of the board is evaluated regularly to ensure it includes the appropriate skills, knowledge and perspective necessary to achieve the company’s goals.

“As we prepare for the next phase of growth, we recognize having the right guidance and experience serving our team is of continued importance,” Foster said. “Lisa and Jay’s unique experience between technology, strategy and operational excellence will play a key role in helping our shareholders, the executive team and all team members leverage our portfolio of investments to realize our transformation goals and achieve our growth expectations.”

About Lisa Spadafora Thompson

Lisa Thompson is a partner with Axiom Consulting Partners, a premier growth, business transformation and AI/data science firm. Thompson was the founder and CEO of Sturbridge Growth

Partners, which merged with Axiom in 2021. She was a partner with Deloitte Consulting in their strategy & operations practice. She has served as senior partner, managing director and board member with Monitor Group (acquired by Deloitte) and Strategic Pricing Group (acquired by Monitor). Over more than two decades, she has helped companies from Fortune 100 to mid-sized businesses and startups grow through identification and implementation of best practices across marketing, sales, pricing and business strategy.

In addition to her previous corporate and nonprofit board experience, Thompson currently serves on the board for fourth-generation family and employee owned Consigli Construction, one of the largest 100 engineering firms in the U.S. with locations throughout the upper east coast.

Thompson has an MBA from Babson College and a BA from Regis College. She enjoys serving on nonprofit boards, doing volunteer work, reading, traveling and connecting people in her network. She lives in the Boston area with her husband and their children.

About Jay Brodskey

Jay Brodsky is Chief Digital Officer for American Geophysical Union (AGU), an international not-for-profit scientific organization supporting a community of Earth and space scientists dedicated to discovery and solutions to societal challenges. Brodsky has served as CIO and CTO for over two decades in technology and media companies and has served on multiple boards.

In all of these roles, he has focused on driving business improvement and innovation through digital means while managing cybersecurity risk. He currently sits on the Ithaca College Cybersecurity Board and serves as a Cybersecurity Oversight Board Member for the Private Directors Association, helping to shape programs that teach cybersecurity best practices and solutions. Brodsky has an MBA from Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, an MPS in Cybersecurity Strategy and Information Management from The George Washington University, and a BAS from the University of Pennsylvania. He lives in the Washington, DC area with his wife and their three children.

About Twin Valley

Twin Valley is a fourth-generation family business that has over 70 years of experience providing cutting-edge technology and connectivity throughout the central U.S. Together with ISG Technology and SKT, Twin Valley helps customers unlock possibilities to realize their full potential by providing a unique combination of broadband, managed IT services, technology consulting, professional services, and cloud/data center solutions for both residential and business.

Having trouble managing data volume?

As a growing number of businesses across just about all industries adopt new tech trends like bring-your-own-device policies, big data analytics and the Internet of Things, the volume of information stored by such organizations is reaching increasingly high levels.

In an attempt to manage the growing amounts of data, many companies have scaled their existing IT infrastructure by incorporating disparate systems on outdated technology. This creates overly complex IT environments and puts even more strain on storage setups and IT administrators.

Produced in Partnership with VMWare

So what are enterprises to do? The current business environment calls for faster and more agile access to critical data. To gain the competitive advantages necessary to stay ahead of the game, many organizations are deploying converged infrastructure.

Moving to a converged infrastructure

Instead of buying one-off machines and separate CPU, storage and network components and having to configure them all, converged infrastructure allows IT administrators to access an preconfigured, integrated experience in a box. A growing number of enterprises are seeing the advantages to implementing converged infrastructure, according to research firm IDC.

Converged systems scale out performance and capacity by virtualizing computing and storage power across multiple nodes. Data protection and failover are managed between the nodes, and clients typically must start with a minimum of three to account for availability. Once the system has been implemented, users can add nodes on an individual basis in order to increase storage and computing resources.

There are a variety of benefits to converged infrastructure:

  • Faster Provisioning: By employing a converged infrastructure model, a job that may have once required a provisioning time of three weeks can be cut down to less than an hour in some instances.
  • Lowers costs: With convergence, fewer single-use components are needed, and fewer components will be used in the data center overall. This decrease means fewer components to manage, troubleshoot and operate, as well as a reduction in the physical footprint of the data center or other IT facility.
  • Simpler management infrastructure: A converged infrastructure centralizes the management of servers, networks and storage, creating more streamlined daily maintenance. This requires less personnel and a lower knowledge base as opposed to traditional upkeep, freeing up skilled tech workers for more business-critical functions.
  • Quicker IT response: Creates a more agile way to respond to changes in the marketplace or with business priorities.
  • Reduced siloing of IT teams: Instead of managing storage and CPU separately, everything is done together. Fewer overall IT resources are needed with converged infrastructure and more knowledge and cross-training becomes available throughout the business.
  • Improved control: Control is now centralized and management of multiple functions and devices can take place at one time.
  • Scalability and flexibility: Allows the capacity of the entire data center or IT footprint to be quickly adjusted to meet client demands.

Produced in Partnership with VMWare

Converged infrastructure offers business considerable savings as opposed to traditional approaches. As the market continues to evolve, systems will become simplified and more third-party integrators will emerge to take over the task from in-house teams. This will lead to increased options and lower costs.

Modern converged systems focus management on virtual machines, moving commodity computing resources and disks to the background. As the market continues to grow, more options will emerge that offer both options in combined nodes, enabling improved scalability. Sometimes referred to as hyperconvergence, this unites storage, computing a networking in a single unit around a hypervisor that takes care of all of the management duties.

With enterprise data volumes increasing all the time and as the need for reliable, agile and secure management solutions become more important, working with a third-party service provider to create a converged infrastructure solution is more often than not the best way for business to access competitive advantages.

Enhancing Security from the Cloud to the Edge

As IT infrastructure keeps expanding, first to the Cloud and now to the Edge, businesses must implement a security model that protects both. This means implementing both Zero Trust and SASE. 

A Zero Trust model of cybersecurity follows the X-Files philosophy of “Trust No One” regardless of whether your users are outside or inside your organization. 

A secure access service edge model, or SASE, works by identifying users and devices and then applying policy-based access to the appropriate applications or data. This approach allows you to grant users or devices secure access to your IT infrastructure no matter where your users or devices are located.

To assist our clients in implementing Zero Trust and SASE models of cybersecurity, ISG Technology has partnered with Aruba to leverage the value of their new Aruba Edge Services Platform (ESP). Adding Aruba ESP to your network and security solutions will provide you with the visibility required to deliver a fully Zero Trust cybersecurity solution.

This content is brought to you in partnership with Aruba Networks

Zero Trust Requires Visibility

Zero Trust Security starts with knowing who is on your network at all times. Without visibility, critical cybersecurity controls that support a Zero Trust model are difficult to apply.

Businesses are increasingly relying on AI solutions to help maintain visibility at all times. Aruba ESP uses AI to detect and classify all devices on your network. Aruba ClearPass Device Insight uses both active and passive discovery and profiling techniques to track all the devices connected, or attempting to connect, to your network, including standard devices such as laptops and tablets as well as IoT devices.

Visibility Leads to Access Control

Once you know who is on your network, you can restrict access based on identity and role, defining precisely who can connect to your system and what they can connect to, even for work-from-home networks. 

Applying Zero Trust best practices based on “Least Access” and micro-segmentation are critical next steps. A “Least Access” model grants users and devices only the minimum access they need to perform a task or role and only for the minimum amount of time necessary. 

Micro-segmentation means breaking up your systems into silos, allowing you to allocate users to only the specific systems they require access to in order to perform a role or task.

To further tighten your Zero Trust model and help integrate your security across both Cloud and Edge platforms, you can use an SD-WAN (Software-defined Wide Area Network) to tie everything together. 

An advanced cybersecurity dashboard, such as those used by Aruba Central, provides your IT teams with network-wide visibility to help them monitor and manage network access and address any cybersecurity issues.

Combining Zero Trust and SASE into One Platform

Today’s network environment and threat landscape require a different approach. The past’s perimeter-centric network security was not designed for today’s mobile workforce or emerging IoT devices. 

When possible, all devices and users should be identified and adequately authenticated before granting them network access. In addition to authentication, users and devices should be given the least amount of access necessary to perform their business-critical activities. 

Aruba ESP is an excellent system that makes managing network security both easier and more secure. Contact us to find out how this system can work for your business.

Implementing Security at the Core of Your Infrastructure

To survive as a business these days, you simply can’t afford to ignore security. However, as bad actors and cyber threats continue to evolve, it becomes harder and harder to keep your sensitive data safe—even for the most advanced security operations. 

It’s no longer a question of if your business will get attacked, but when. So, what can you do about it?

The first step is to ensure that you have a multi-layered cybersecurity model. After covering all the standard weaknesses in a network, you can take security one step further by building it into the infrastructure of your system. 

When it comes to built-in security, we recommend HPE Gen10 servers with their new silicon root of trust. These are the most secure servers on the market, and they recognize threats from the moment they begin to launch.

Layer Your Security Measures

First and foremost, you need to make sure you have the proper security measures in place, including:

  • Firewall. A strong and stable firewall is a vital piece of cybersecurity infrastructure, and it is a tried-and-true piece of your organization’s defense against threats and cyber attacks. 
  • Web Security. Web filtering stops threats before they have the chance to reach your network and defends you against online attacks while allowing your employees to continue performing at their highest levels.
  • Email Security. Did you know that one in every eight employees will share information on phishing sites? This means you need to do all you can to prevent phishing attacks by amping up your email security. 
  • Employee Security Awareness. Preventing cyber attacks requires an all-hands-on-deck approach. You’ll need to train employees about cyber threats and the  best practices needed to keep company and personal data secure. 
  • Endpoint Protection. According to Forbes, 70 percent of all threats occur at the endpoint. That means you need to enhance your endpoint protection—the act of securing networks from every access point, including mobile phones and laptops.

To learn more about the steps you should be taking to strengthen your security, read our Digital Handbook: 5 Steps to Strengthen Cybersecurity Posture.

Build Security into the Core

In today’s world of continually evolving and growing cyber threats, you need security that goes beyond the traditional hardware and software layers. That’s why ISG partners with HPE, which has created the silicon root of trust: firmware-level protection that safeguards infrastructure.

Firmware-Level Defenses with HPE

The silicon root of trust is like a fingerprint. It binds all the firmware—UEFI, BIOS, complex programmable logic device, innovation engine, and management engine—into the silicon before the server is even built. 

When the server boots, it first checks to see that the fingerprint is correct. Then it checks through all the firmware systems and if any improper code is found, the server will immediately stop the process and lock down.

Simple Incident Response and Recovery

If a hacker tries to invade the server, they’ll be stopped before the threat can cause any harm, and you will be alerted immediately. 

When a breach is detected, you have three options: 

  1. Recover the server to its last known good state of firmware
  2. Restore factory settings
  3. Choose not to do recovery so that security teams can take the server offline and perform forensics.

A Secure Foundation for Your Infrastructure

Together, the firmware and silicon root of trust create an unbreakable bond that is forged from the beginning of the build process and carried through every element of the HPE supply chain. 

This means that cyber criminals will not be able to attack with malware through the server, bringing your system one step closer to impenetrability.

To learn more about HPE security, explore their Confidence at the Core digital brochure, and contact us for support in implementing this impressive technology.

MSSP, SOCaaS, & Concierge Security Team: Which Outsourced Security Service is Best for My Business?

Business cybersecurity can be challenging to navigate—especially when you have so many services to choose from. 

Though it’s possible for some businesses to tackle their own cybersecurity, it requires hiring several highly skilled specialists, which can be very expensive. For this reason, most companies outsource their security services to providers who come at an affordable rate and have a wider scope, range of resources, and understanding of complex cybersecurity management.

MSSP vs. SOCaaS with a Concierge Security Team

When it comes to outsourced security services, two main options companies consider are 1) hiring an MSSP (Managed Security Service Provider), or 2) opting for a SOCaaS (Security Operations Center as a Service) with a Concierge Security Team. 

Here’s a quick breakdown of what each solution provides:

MSSP: An MSSP or Managed Security Service Provider helps monitor your systems round the clock, while also providing general security management and solutions when threats arise. Their popularity stems from the fact that they are subscription based, meaning they come at an affordable monthly cost. 

SOCaaS: Security Operations Center as a Service extends beyond the basic services offered by many MSSPs and can vary in pricing model. SOCaaS incorporates key tools such as Managed Detection & Response (MDR), compliance, and real-time alerting to give you a more holistic security solution.

Concierge Security Team: A Concierge Security Team is a single point of contact for SOCaaS that facilitates threat detection, response, and mitigation. They act as your security advisor and an extension of your in-house team to provide you with the human element needed to proactively maintain your systems. They help tailor security services to your business needs by integrating solutions into your existing systems, preventing vendor lock-in or expensive equipment replacements.

Many companies opt to combine SOCaaS with a Concierge Security Team so they can benefit from a valuable combination of AI and human expertise.

Pros and Cons of MSSPs

To get a better look at what MSSPs can do for your business, here are some of their pros and cons: 

Pros

  • They are affordable: MSSPs’ services come at an affordable monthly rate to help your business save money. Instead of charging per service like a break-fix model would, MSSPs give you predictable costs so you can budget better.
  • They can supplement an in-house team: MSSPs can be a good solution for businesses who already have an in-house team but need to delegate more basic IT management to an outsourced provider. They can monitor and maintain your systems while your in-house team focuses on more complex projects.

Cons

  • They have a limited scope and few post-intrusion solutions: MSSPs do monitor alerts, but they don’t usually provide proactive threat hunting and incident response. With an MSSP, businesses will often still need an in-house team to manage analysis, triage, and response. 
  • They don’t provide personalized solutions: MSSPs often outsourced to call centers, meaning representatives have little insight into your industry, compliance, and security needs. This can cause resolutions to take longer and be less strategically optimized.
  • They lack visibility: Because MSSP services are more basic, compliance solutions and other broad-view security solutions are generally not included in their services.

Pros and Cons of SOCaaS with a Concierge Security Team

Pros

  • They offer a combination of artificial intelligence and human expertise: As mentioned, many companies choose to go with a combination of SOCaaS and a Concierge Security Team. AI-based tools incorporated in SOCaaS allow for more accurate and proactive threat detection and management, while human IT specialists on your Concierge Security Team act as consultants to provide the most appropriate solutions for your business.
  • They provide custom support and consulting: Working with a Concierge Security Team guarantees personalized service and customized cybersecurity solutions for your business and the industry you’re in. This includes compliance services, giving you a more holistic approach to managing your cybersecurity. 
  • They have greater visibility and ability to provide long-term solutions: A Concierge Security Team will provide triage and response, gaining broader visibility to the threats that face your systems. They can also conduct security posture reviews and provide recommendations based on years of experience and professional certifications to prevent future threats. 

Cons

  • Pricing models for SOCaaS vary: While SOCaaS with a Concierge Security Team is often affordable, pricing models can vary, making it slightly more difficult to budget for business IT. The main reason for pricing differences is that the services offered are much more advanced than an MSSPs and often have a greater scope.
  • They may not be ideal for businesses who already have an in-house team: Businesses who already manage their cybersecurity and are in need of supplemental IT help may not need a SOCaaS with Concierge Security Team solution. They may need a lower-scale, cheaper solution to fill in the gaps.

Find the Right SOCaaS and Concierge Security Team Solution for Your Business 

Finding the right SOCaaS and Concierge Security Team solution to meet  your business needs is vital. Cybersecurity is a necessary function that protects your business against hackers, viruses, malware, and other common threats that can be detrimental to your success. Look for a concierge security team that provides customized, strategic solutions and ongoing support, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. 

If you’re ready to hire a concierge security team for your business, get in touch to discuss your options and the customized solutions we can provide for your business.

Deal with Breaches Effectively: Managed Detection and Response (MDR)

Business success today revolves around technology. From communicating with your team and clients to storing critical data, almost every operation within modern organizations depends on well-run IT.

With this digital dependency comes the need for businesses to continually enhance the protection of their  technological assets.  Cyberattacks have increased in size and scope over the years, leading experts to predict that worldwide cybersecurity spending will reach $170 billion by 2022. 

Because of the continually advancing nature of cyber threats, more robust cybersecurity methods are necessary to safeguard data. One of those methods is MDR, or Managed Detection & Response. 

Here’s what you need to know about MDR for your business and how it can protect you:

What Is MDR?

Managed Detection & Response (MDR) is an outsourced security service that utilizes both technology and human experts actively search for threats in an organization’s systems and immediately address them. MDR is accomplished using tactics such as continuous network monitoring, threat hunting, incident analysis, and remediation to protect against even highly sophisticated threats.

The Advantages of MDR

While there are many valuable cybersecurity solutions that businesses should invest in, MDR can enhance your protection beyond basic tools. As mentioned, cyber threats are continually advancing and becoming more common, and it is no longer enough for businesses to rely on a firewall or antivirus software alone to protect their systems.

Additionally, many businesses turn to MSSPs (Managed Security Service Providers) in an effort to achieve cybersecurity without understanding their shortcomings. MSSPs have a lesser scope than what is provided in MDR, meaning businesses don’t get the triage and response needed to eliminate false alarms. Instead, the business’s own internal team has to analyze information to determine which potential threats they were alerted for need to be addressed first.

Here are some of the main advantages of MDR as compared to basic tools or MSSP services: 

MDR Combines AI and Human Expertise

With Managed Detection & Response, you get the combined benefit of machine-driven 24/7 security monitoring and human expertise to ensure threats don’t slip through the cracks. This combination of advanced analytics and a human touch means you get fewer false alerts and more custom-tailored support when it comes to addressing potential threats.

In this way, you get the most proactive support. Your team of experts knows how to identify and prevent the latest types of cyberattacks as well as investigate them before taking action—rather than just alerting your IT team to the cybersecurity issue.

MDR Protects Your Business Financially

MDR is provided by outsourced security experts, allowing your business to benefit from a wide range of IT security experts at a more affordable cost. Considering that the average cost of a cybersecurity attack is now more than $1.67 million—and many of these attacks aren’t mitigated by basic security tools— investing in MDR is the clear choice when it comes to protecting your business financially.

MDR Provides Broader Visibility

MDR experts provide a holistic approach to security. Using data collected from threat feeds, OSINT data, and other tools, MDR security teams keep a watchful eye on internal and external networks, the cloud, and all endpoints to ensure maximum protection. They consider businesses’ unique compliance needs (HIPAA, PCI DSS, etc.) as well as the specific context of threats so they can provide long-term solutions that will improve a company’s cybersecurity posture. 

Take Your Security to the Next Level

Using a Managed Detection & Response service is a great way to take your cybersecurity plan to the next level. When you choose MDR, you gain access to a team of well-trained experts as well as the latest software that will carefully monitor any security threats and vulnerabilities within your system. 

Your MDR team can keep you updated on potential problems while also limiting unnecessary alerts and taking quick action when there’s a true threat to your business. And once the threat has been eliminated, the team will investigate the incident to determine how to prevent such attacks in the future.

If you’re interested in reducing the chance of cybersecurity attacks on your company—as well as minimizing the damage and recovery time if they do occur—you should consider using an MDR service to improve security for your business. Contact ISG Technology today to learn how we can help you through our Managed Detection & Response services.

Why Cyberattacks Are on the Rise — And How to Prevent Them

Cyberattacks have become so common that some experts believe that ransomware—a type of attack that holds your computer system hostage until you pay a ransom—will attack a business every 11 seconds by the end of 2021. 

As the number of crimes increases year after year, cybersecurity becomes more important. Without reliable cybersecurity, your business could suffer from lost productivity, legal liability, business continuity issues, financial loss, and damage to your brand’s reputation.

It can take years to recover from a successful cyberattack, especially when it exposes your clients’ data to criminals who want to commit identity fraud. Before you can choose a managed risk plan that works for your organization, you need to understand why cyberattacks happen more often these days. Then, you can explore ways to prevent attacks from targeting you.

Why Cyberattacks Have Become More Common

Several factors have contributed to the increase in cyberattacks, including:

  • The willingness of organizations and governments to pay ransoms.
  • The rise of remote work, which can increase a business’s exposure to risk.
  • The growing reliance on connected devices.
  • The amount of processing power needed to mine bitcoins and other digital currencies.

Paying Ransoms

Organizations often feel immense pressure to pay ransoms. In 2020, hackers targeted dozens of hospitals and labs working on a coronavirus vaccine. The organizations agreed to pay the ransoms because they were desperate to regain access to their work. With millions of lives on the line, they could not lose the progress they had made toward developing and testing a vaccine.

Similarly, criminals have targeted hospitals that give in because the facilities need patient files to provide treatments. Cities have paid ransoms because ransomware prevented them from providing essential services.

On an individual level, it makes sense for these groups to pay ransoms. Unfortunately, each payment makes hackers more confident that their threats will work. As a result, more criminals turn to ransomware to make money.

Remote Work and Connected Devices

Many organizations struggle with cybersecurity even when they have control over their IT infrastructures. Now that more businesses rely on BYOD policies and remote work, IT infrastructures have become harder to control. If a remote worker downloads malware, it could attack the employer’s network through a cloud connection.

Mining Digital Currencies

It takes a lot of processing power for people to “mine” digital currencies like bitcoin. Hackers have found that they can make a lot of money through an attack called “cryptojacking.” The most effective cryptojacking malware works quietly in the background. It slows your system, but it doesn’t call attention to itself, so it can continue mining cryptocurrencies.

How Cybersecurity Can Prevent Attacks

Some of the most effective approaches to managed risk include:

  • Updating operating systems and applications to patch security vulnerabilities.
  • Training employees to spot signs of phishing and dangerous attachments.
  • Encrypting all files and data.
  • Installing a firewall and securing Wi-Fi networks.
  • Changing passwords regularly.
  • Limiting access to files and databases that contain sensitive information.

Few businesses have large IT departments that can manage a comprehensive cybersecurity program. You will likely find that you can save money and manage risk better by outsourcing your cybersecurity protection to a company that offers managed security and managed IT solutions.

Protect Your Business

You don’t have to spend a lot of money to get the right cybersecurity that keeps your business safe from attacks. Contact us to learn more about your cybersecurity options and get a quote for the services that match your needs.