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7 critical questions you should ask when choosing a cloud computing provider

There’s no question that cloud computing is on the rise. More and more businesses are turning to cloud computing as their default setting. But with so many options to choose from, how do you select the right provider for your business?

Here are seven critical questions you should ask when choosing a cloud computing provider.

1. What cloud computing services do you provide?

Produced in Partnership with VMWare

There are many different types of cloud services such as a public cloud, private cloud and hybrid cloud. If you already know what type of service you want, your first step is to make sure your potential provider offers that service.

More than likely, though, you know you want to move to the cloud, but aren’t sure which type of service would work best for you. A good cloud computing provider should not only be able to explain the services they offer, but help you to determine which cloud computing services would best meet the needs of your business.

2. How secure is your cloud computing?

Security should be at the top of any list when data and networking is concerned.

Cloud security, just like network security, ensures your data stays safe. Ask potential providers what network and server-level security measures they have in place to protect your data. Security measures to look for include encryption, firewalls, antivirus detection and multifactor user authentication.

3. Where will my data be stored?

Produced in Partnership with VMWare

Since cloud computing involves the storage of data at off-site locations, the physical location and security of those data centers is just as important as online security.

SSAE 16 and SOC 2 Type II certifications are the best indicator that your provider’s products, systems and data are compliant with industry security standards.

4. How will my business be able to access the cloud?

One of the benefits of cloud computing is its flexibility and ease of access. You’ll want you understand how you will be able to access your data on the cloud and how it will integrate into your current work environment.

If your company is poised to grow in the near future, you may also want to ask about scalability and your provider’s ability to meet your growing needs.

5. What is your pricing structure?

Pricing for cloud computing can vary greatly, so make sure you understand how and for what you will be charged.

Ask about upfront costs and the ability to add services as needed. Will services be charged hourly, monthly, semi-annually, or annually?

6. How do you handle regulatory compliance?

Produced in Partnership with VMWare

Understanding the many laws and regulations, such as GDPR, HIPAA, and PCCI, that pertain to the collection and storage of data can be intimidating. That’s why one of the benefits of hiring a cloud computing provider is having security experts take care of regulatory compliance for you.

You’ll want to make sure your provider is constantly working to stay up-to-date on the latest rules and regulations that may affect your data.

7. What customer support services do you offer?

Cloud computing never sleeps and neither should your provider’s technical support. Getting help when you need it is important, so you’ll want to ask your provider if they provide 24-hour technical support, including on holidays.

Ease and availability of reporting problems is also important so ask about phone, email, and live chat support options. You may also want to ask about your provider’s average response and resolution times.

Asking these questions can help you find the right cloud computing provider for your business. And getting the right answers is only a phone call away—call your managed IT services provider to start the process today.

Produced in Partnership with VMWare

Protect your company and your reputation with managed cybersecurity

Although many businesses understand the significance of their compliance obligations, data and privacy compliance laws evolve at such a rate that it’s hard to stay ahead. Below, we go over why compliance is so critical to your business and why a managed cybersecurity solution is the best way to support your compliance and cybersecurity needs.  

The importance of compliance

Compliance is critical for many reasons, but for businesses, there are two key considerations – reputation and financial loss. Typically, compliance breaches have serious financial implications. For example, in the healthcare sector, a breach usually costs an average of $150 per record. When we also consider the likely reputation damage caused by a data breach, the overall cost to the business can be far higher. 

In other words, compliance has never been more important. 

How cybersecurity helps you stay compliant

Cybersecurity boosts your compliance in three key ways. 

Data Encryption 

Encryption is a straightforward form of data security that turns a document into a scrambled, unreadable file. It’s only converted back to its original form when a user enters a password. Encryption helps you preserve data confidentiality when you store files or send emails. 

Network monitoring 

If you monitor your network, you can identify and isolate threats and vulnerabilities before they infiltrate your system. This allows you to protect sensitive data, including medical records, from external threats. 

Phishing and ransomware protection

Phishing emails often look just like authentic emails from trusted organizations. Unfortunately, this is how so many employees unwittingly share sensitive information with fraudsters. Up-to-date cybersecurity can help you identify malicious messages and isolate them, which assists with your compliance obligations. 

If like many companies, you’re worried that complying with your regulatory requirements is too much for you to handle in-house, that’s where managed cybersecurity comes in. 

Why managed cybersecurity is the best option for compliance needs

The truth is that managed cybersecurity saves you time, resources, and reputation damage. In fact, research shows that companies that deployed security automation technologies experienced around half the cost of a breach ($2.65 million average) compared to those without such technologies ($5.16 million average). Here’s why you should opt for managed cybersecurity services (or MSPs) over-relying on your in-house team. 

Expert knowledge 

MSPs are experienced industry specialists who stay ahead of the changes in compliance and privacy law. They understand your compliance obligations and are dedicated to helping you remain compliant at all times.

Dedicated compliance support

MSPs aren’t just industry experts. They’re available 24/7 to support your unique compliance needs. They can monitor your network security around the clock and remedy any system vulnerabilities before there’s a costly data breach.

Backup facilities 

With the support of an MSP, you can remotely store and password-protect sensitive data, and you can restrict employee access to confidential files. This minimizes the risk of an employee negligently – or maliciously – tampering with important records.

Operational efficiency

Essentially, MSPs take the stress out of compliance. They free up your other employees to focus on running the business while they take care of your legal data protection obligations. As a result, you can concentrate on growing your company.

With an MSP’s support, compliance is one less thing to worry about.  

Reach out today 

As cybersecurity becomes ever more challenging, you need IT, specialists, on your side. With managed cybersecurity services, you benefit from the constant support of a dedicated IT team that fully understands your unique cybersecurity needs, all while reducing downtime. For more information on managed cybersecurity, contact us. 

How to find the right cybersecurity provider for you

A cybersecurity provider can help reduce your downtime and minimize your exposure to the growing number of security threats out there. To help you find the right provider for your organization, we’ve broken down what you should look for in a provider – and why having that cybersecurity support is so important. 

Why cybersecurity is important

The importance of cybersecurity can’t be overstated, and every business needs a reliable cybersecurity solution. Why? Because cyberattacks are on the rise – over 61 percent of businesses experienced a cyberattack within the last year, and this statistic is only set to increase. 

Although you may think you can handle your own cybersecurity needs in-house, cyber threats are becoming increasingly more sophisticated, and you’ll need the help of a dedicated security partner to stay ahead of the challenges. 

What a good cybersecurity provider can do for you

The truth is that not all cybersecurity providers are created equal. However, all good providers demonstrate these four key characteristics.

Comprehensive protection  

A good cybersecurity provider actively protects your company against the ever-rising threat of complex phishing and ransomware scams. Phishing attacks account for over 90 percent of data breaches, and a cybersecurity provider should offer comprehensive protection against all such threats.

Service dedication  

Business doesn’t sleep, and neither should your network support. Your security provider should provide constant network monitoring services to detect vulnerabilities and prevent intrusions before they strike. 

Customized, proactive support 

Since cybersecurity threats evolve so frequently, it’s often impossible for in-house IT staff to keep up. Your cybersecurity provider should be dedicated to staying ahead of new and emerging security threats so you can focus on running your business.  

Flexible budget options 

No two businesses have identical cybersecurity needs, which means there’s no such thing as a one-size-fits-all security model. A good cybersecurity provider works with you to identify your core security needs and offers you a range of services within your budget. 

How to find a cybersecurity provider

Finding the right cybersecurity provider for your unique business needs doesn’t have to be complicated. Here are some tips for finding the right provider today.

Consider your needs

Before looking for a cybersecurity provider, be clear on what you actually need from them. For example, your priorities may include:

  • Cloud and remote security 
  • Privacy law compliance 
  • Network monitoring 
  • Infrastructure upgrades 

When you understand your priorities, it’s easier to find the right cybersecurity provider.

Be honest about your budget

Set out your IT budget and be realistic about what you can afford to spend on cybersecurity services. Good providers offer flexible support plans to suit every budget. 

Ask questions

There’s no such thing as asking too many questions when you’re looking for a cybersecurity provider. Your provider should feel like an extension of your own team, so it’s important that you’re comfortable asking them for support and advice. 

Choose an expert 

For any business, it’s important that you choose a provider with the experience and expertise to handle your unique security needs. Whether you’re subject to complex privacy regulations or you’re looking for comprehensive, remote support, be sure that your provider understands your niche and how to protect your data and assets effectively. 

With a reliable cybersecurity provider, you can easily secure your business data and IT infrastructure in a cost-effective, legally compliant way. For more information on how to devise the right cybersecurity solution for you, contact us today.

Why you should outsource your cybersecurity to professional service providers

Cybercrime can cost the average US organization up to a staggering $13 million per year, according to recent reports. What’s more, even a single cybersecurity incident can cost an SMB over $54,000 in recovery costs. The good news is that there’s a way to protect your business from the financial costs, service disruption, and reputation damage associated with data breaches, and that’s by partnering with a managed services provider (MSP). Below, we break down how managed cybersecurity services work and why partnering with an IT professional is the best way to protect your organization from cyber vulnerabilities. 

How managed cybersecurity works 

Managed cybersecurity means outsourcing the management of your cybersecurity systems and devices to an external service provider. These providers are known as Managed cybersecurity Services Providers (MSSPs) or Managed Services Providers (MSPs). 

MSSPs and MSPs typically offer a wide range of cybersecurity services, including: 

  • Data backup and recovery
  • Intrusion detection and threat monitoring 
  • cybersecurity audits
  • Network monitoring
  • Disaster planning
  • cybersecurity intelligence
  • Incident response and investigations 

These IT professionals are especially helpful to organizations with limited or no in-house IT staff, but every company should consider partnering with them. Here’s why.

Why cybersecurity is so important 

Cybercrime and data breaches are more common now than ever before. One recent study showed that businesses face an average of 145 cybersecurity breaches per year, and this figure is only expected to grow. cybersecurity incidents don’t just cost your company money, either. Other consequences of cybersecurity failures include: 

  • Loss of company reputation
  • Damage to hardware 
  • Irretrievable data loss 
  • Hours, or even days, of downtime 

Can partnering with an IT professional really protect your business from these side effects? The answer is yes. MSPs protect your business from cybersecurity incidents in the following essential ways. 

24/7 support

Hackers work around the clock, and so should your support system. With an IT professional on your side, you’ll have access to round-the-clock IT support and intrusion detection, giving you the confidence you need to get on with running your business while your service provider handles your cybersecurity needs. 

Expertise 

It’s hard to find in-house IT professionals with the up-to-date skills and knowledge they need to protect your business from cybersecurity threats. MSPs and MSSPs have the training, expertise, and experience to protect your company from these evolving threats as and when they arise. 

Compliance management

Highly regulated industries such as finance and healthcare must adhere to strict data protection and cybersecurity regulations. An MSP can help you comply with these regulations, and they’ll alert you to any changes in the law that affect your business. In a constantly evolving regulatory landscape, this support is invaluable. 

Cost savings 

Recovering from downtime costs you time, money, and resources. IT professionals save you money by reducing your exposure to these costs – all for a predictable fee that fits in with your annual IT budget.  

Training 

There’s no substitute for well-trained staff, given that employee negligence is a leading cause of data breaches and cybersecurity incidents. A cybersecurity services provider can help to prevent employee error and negligence by making your personnel aware of the latest threats and how to avoid them. 

Choose a partner today

Partnering with an IT professional or MSP drastically reduces your exposure to hackers and minimizes the risk of data loss and corruption. For more information on what an MSP can do for you and your business and why it’s so important to protect your organization from cybercrime, contact us today.

6 tips for setting cybersecurity goals for your business

Cybersecurity is a major issue for every business, whether you’re running a multinational organization or a local company. Here’s what you need to know about why prioritizing cybersecurity is so important – and some advice on developing a cybersecurity strategy that aligns with your company’s needs and your IT budget. 

Why cybersecurity is so important 

When it comes to cybersecurity, there’s no such thing as being too careful. Cybercrime is rapidly on the rise, and the average cost of a security breach has shot up to over $13 million in recent years. 

What’s more, antivirus and antimalware programs aren’t enough anymore to protect your company from increasingly sophisticated threats. Statistics show that 52% of breaches featured hacking, 28% involved malware and roughly 33% included phishing or social engineering, respectively.

If you plan on keeping your business secure, there are a few steps to follow. 

1) Know what you need from your cybersecurity 

Every viable cybersecurity strategy is designed to achieve two things. Firstly, it should protect your business from external threats. Secondly, it should minimize the risk of negligent employees exposing your sensitive data to hackers. 

To get started, it’s a good idea to download or create a planning tool. This will allow you to note down your cybersecurity goals and how you plan on achieving them. You can revise this plan if necessary and set new goals as you go along.  

2) Establish threats and risks

Make sure you understand the impact of any disaster, be it a security breach or a malware infection, on your operations. Prepare for as many eventualities as possible and review the threats to your business regularly. 

3) Set targets for maintenance 

Update your antivirus and antispyware software regularly, and set up your systems so they automatically download crucial patches when they become available. Maintain your hardware and replace or repair faulty equipment when necessary. 

Make it a goal to change passwords regularly and always monitor access to your wireless network for any suspicious activity.   

4) Schedule backups 

Make sure that you back up important data and system processes at regular intervals. Automate these backups where possible so you don’t forget about them.   

First, decide how frequently you’ll back up data and where you’ll store it, such as in the cloud or in hard copy. Make sure you comply with privacy laws and other sector-specific regulations. 

5) Don’t forget employee training

Your employees are key to ensuring that your cybersecurity strategy is a success. Set training goals and review employee understanding of cybersecurity issues on a semi-regular basis. 

When setting training goals, set out a manageable schedule for cybersecurity training and a plan for monitoring adherence to cybersecurity processes. 

6) Seek expert advice

IT managed services providers are best placed to help you devise effective cybersecurity goals that suit your business needs and your budget. If you’re unsure how to get started on a cybersecurity strategy, or if you’re worried that your current strategy isn’t working, it’s a good idea to seek professional help.  

Staying protected

Although every business is unique, there are some cybersecurity goals common to them all. Ultimately, keeping company data secure from evolving and existing threats should be a priority for every business going forward. For more information on developing a cybersecurity strategy that suits your business, contact us today.

How to leverage NIST 800 when building your company’s cybersecurity framework

If you’re reading this, there’s a chance you’ve already heard of NIST 800. As a set of guidelines that’s been established by the National Institute of Standards and Technology, NIST 800 outlines the best practices for identifying and responding to cyberattacks. It also outlines the way your organization can prevent them.

Although NIST 800’s guidelines are a must for businesses seeking out government contracts, they can prove useful to any organization. When it comes to cybersecurity, you have a lot of options. The ways you can protect your servers, emails, and mobile devices are seemingly endless. You may hear of one organization finding success with a particular method and assume that it’s right for you. But, why would you take chances when you could follow the carefully-researched recommendations outlined by NIST 800?

If NIST 800 is something you’ve yet to seriously consider, it’s worth learning more about how it should influence your cybersecurity framework.

Introducing NIST 800 and its functions

The NIST 800 framework focuses on five key areas. Each one should form a part of your cybersecurity policy.

Identify

Before you begin protecting yourself against cybersecurity risks, you need to identify what they are. For example, most businesses are at risk of a ransomware attack. These attacks account for 15% of cyberattacks in the United States. However, your organization may also face risks that are unique to its industry. For example, if you work in medicine, you’re at risk of losing sensitive patient information. 

Detect

The detect element involves introducing ways of detecting potential threats and vulnerabilities. For example, you could use continuous monitoring to look for real-time threats. You could also add vulnerability assessments to look for flaws in your system.

Protect

Once you know what risks your business faces, you need to protect it against them. This could include measures such as access control, firewalls, antimalware software, and more. You may also want to consider employee education. Around 95% of cybersecurity breaches involve human error. As such, employee education should become a big part of your framework.

Respond

Even with the best cybersecurity frameworks available, events will happen. Because of this, you need to know how you’ll respond to various events. The NIST 800 framework recommends creating response strategies for the different risks you face. If you do have to launch a response, assess how it went and identify whether you can do better next time. Having such analytics will make your cybersecurity framework stronger.

Recover

Recovery follows your response. Your response will outline how you respond to an event, whereas recovery identifies how you will build your business back up. For example, laptops and PCs have a failure rate of 0.5% to 3%. Not only do you need to know how you’ll respond to such a failure, you need to know how you’ll carry on once it happens. This may involve looking at a number of contingency plans.

Cybersecurity essentials that help you remain NIST compliant

Certain cybersecurity essentials will help you remain NIST compliant. Even if you’re not using the NIST 800 framework to secure a contract, embracing these essentials will go a long way in strengthening your own policies.

Software updates

Did you know that 80% of organizations that experienced a data breach could have prevented it by updating their software? Software updates don’t just exist to make everything run a little smoother. When software developers release new programs, they do so in the knowledge that some vulnerabilities won’t become obvious until later. When those vulnerabilities do become obvious, they release updates that are essential for patching over them.

By failing to update your software, you’re giving cybercriminals an in. They know which types of software require updates, as that information is very public and available to them. If they find that you’re using an older version of your software, they’ll use it as a way to breach your barriers. 

Antivirus and antimalware programs

It should go without saying that antivirus and antimalware programs are essential. However, they’re still worth mentioning, as you need to go beyond the absolute basics. 

There are lots of antivirus programs out there to choose from, but not all antivirus programs are made equal. NIST 800 outlines some of the minimum standards you should aim for. As the framework is necessary for securing defense contracts, it’s safe to assume that their minimum standards are quite high.

Around 350,000 types of malware are identified every day. That means your defenses against it need to be top-notch. With that statistic in mind, it’s no wonder NIST 800 doesn’t leave anything to chance on the malware front. By using it as inspiration for your own defenses, you could significantly reduce the likelihood of an attack affecting you.

Access control policies

Access control policies identify who can have access to various types of information. They also identify how you can access that information. 

When it comes to who can access different types of information, you should only grant access on a need to know basis. If it isn’t necessary for someone to access data for the purpose of their job, they shouldn’t access it at all. Should someone with access move into a different role, you should always review their access to see whether it’s still necessary. Finally, you also need to discuss how you will revoke someone’s access once they’ve left your organization.

As for how you and your employees can access different types of information, pay particularly close attention to mobile devices. Around 87% of businesses depend on Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policies. If yours is one of them, make sure it’s safe to access various types of data using each device and outline how your employees can do so.

Informative sources

NIST 800 recommends creating manuals and guidelines for your employees. In doing so, you empower them to take responsibility for themselves when it comes to cybersecurity. When they become more responsible, your employees could become one of your biggest assets.

If you think back to the previous statistics about human error’s involvement in cybersecurity events, empowering your employees is incredibly important. Although providing them with manuals won’t prevent all human-error-related events, it does give them a point of reference. In moments of confusion, having a manual to turn to could stop employees from guessing their way through processes, which in turn could prevent mistakes.

Profiles

NIST 800 also recommends creating a profile for your organization. That profile will outline its unique requirements in terms of cybersecurity. It will also identify the resources available to tackle such risks and their order of priority.

Your profile is designed to identify the biggest risks at your organization and how you’ll tackle them. It stops you from tackling risks blindly, which is important as some require more attention than others. Always remember that your profile can change over time. Factors that could influence it include the new technologies you adopt and how you change your business practices.


Whether NIST 800 is necessary for your cybersecurity strategy or not, you can use it to influence your framework. The level of detail it goes into is designed to protect government-level contracts. Your clients and customers will likely appreciate the same degree of attention to detail, and you could prevent a significant cybersecurity breach.

The digital threats landscape and how quickly it can change

A report recently released by the Internet Society revealed the shocking growth of cybercrime and the rising cost associated with digital threats. According to the report, although the number of reported data breaches went down in 2018, the financial impact and severity of most types of cyber threats went up compared to the previous years.

The bottom line is, cybersecurity and data protection are still major priorities for businesses reliant on data-based systems and digital resources. Although it’s difficult to paint a full picture of the cyberthreat landscape, it’s at least possible to identify specific trends and new threats.

Emergent digital threats you need to know about

Unscrupulous attackers are always coming up with new ways of gaining unauthorized access to valuable business data and IT systems. Digital threats are continuously changing and evolving, which makes it incredibly difficult, not to mention expensive, for organizations to create effective cybersecurity strategies.

Over the recent years, we have seen attackers use intelligent malware, take advantage of human psychology, and exploit new vulnerabilities we never even thought to protect. It’s become a game of cat and mouse in trying to curb cyberattacks. This has even led to government interventions through the legislation of data protection and privacy regulations, such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDRP) in the EU, and the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) in the US.

Digital security risks come in various shapes and sizes; it helps to know the kind of threats your business is facing. Here is a look at five of the most common cyber threats.

Sophisticated phishing attacks

Attackers are continuously finding ingenious ways of phishing for information from unsuspecting internet users. A good example is the use of sophisticated AI algorithms and machine learning technology to craft highly convincing messages for use in email phishing attacks. Hackers are also using social engineering to supplement their attack tactics in buying users’ trust and tricking them into sharing confidential information.

Ransomware

In a ransomware attack, the attacker either acquires or restricts access to an organization’s database or critical IT resources and asks for a ransom. Ransom attacks are some of the costliest types of digital attacks. Many analysts blame cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin for helping ransomware attackers to get away with the crimes. Attackers usually ask to be paid in untraceable digital currency.

IoT attacks

Internet of Things (IoT) is a useful but surprisingly insecure technology for business automation. IoT devices can link up and communicate with each other via the internet. Sometimes this involves looping within a closed network that may be linked to a more extensive cooperate network. These devices have no standardized security measures, so one weak link can easily compromise the entire system. IoT security devices such as surveillance cameras can also be hacked and possibly disabled remotely.

Cryptojacking

Cryptojacking is a relatively new trend where attackers hijack corporate computers and servers for crypto mining. Mining for cryptocurrencies is highly resource-intensive, and it significantly slows down the IT infrastructure. This piggybacking attack is often mistaken for systems failure or DoS attacks.

Negative SEO attacks

Negative SEO refers to the use of unethical black hat SEO techniques to sabotage a website’s SERP ranking. This type of attack has become quite popular as the online space grows more and more competitive. Negative SEO is a combination of various attacks that may include DoS attacks, link spamming, bad reviews, content scraping, and the use of fake online social profiles. The attacker can use any tactic to ruin your online reputation and cripple your site’s UX and online performance.

Just how bad are digital threats?

Attackers don’t often target large firms because most of them have robust cybersecurity systems in place. Moreover, successful attacks on big organizations are usually resolved quickly and cannot be replicated. Although there has been a rise in the number of attacks on small businesses, most SMEs have little to lose and not worth the attacker’s effort and time. It’s the middle market businesses that mostly bear the brunt of relentless and severe cyber attacks.

The implications of successful attacks are dire. According to an annual Cost of Data Breach Report, the average cost of a single data breach in the U.S. is just over $8 million. The monetary losses are only the tip of the iceberg. Cyberattacks can also lead to a loss of brand credibility and trustworthiness, not to mention potential lawsuits. The saddening reality is that a majority of small and medium-sized businesses never recover from severe attacks.

Attackers are mostly motivated by three things – financial gains, sabotage and disruption, and espionage. When it comes to mitigating and preventing attacks, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution. You need to examine your enterprise, find potential loopholes, and set up the appropriate security measures, but that’s often easier said than done.

How Cybersecurity Fits Into Disaster Recovery

Having a disaster recovery plan is essential when you’re trying to keep your business and its reputation safe. In addition to focusing on details such as how you’ll function during adverse weather, you need to focus on cybersecurity. By learning more about the way cybersecurity and disaster recovery intersect, you can reduce the impact on your business if the worst happens.

Decide what requires your protection

The essence of a disaster recovery plan is to protect your organization’s data. To ensure your plan is extra-efficient, you need to choose exactly what it is you’re going to protect.

For example, if your business represents many clients, and you need to hold information about them to continue operating, what information is the most important? After you’ve identified the type of information that’s most important, you can move onto protecting it against one of the biggest cybersecurity threats: ransomware.

According to Business Insider, ransomware generates around $25 million for hackers each year. As it’s such a financially juicy target, it’s safe to assume that your most important information is at risk too. By gathering that data and backing it up in a safe space such as the cloud, you can lessen the impact if ransomware takes hold.

Treating all devices as a gateway for disaster

Most people in the United States own a smartphone. Many also have their own laptops and tablets. As a result, more employers are allowing employees to access company information remotely. The benefits of remote access include being able to work at home, working during a commute, and being able to contact the office while on business trips.

Unfortunately, every device that can access your business’s information is a gateway for a disaster. At the same time, those same devices can act as vital tools when disasters strike elsewhere. To prevent devices from becoming disaster gateways, ensure employees receive ample training on cybersecurity threats and identifying phishing emails. To make the most of your employees’ devices, ensure they’re equipped with everything they need for remote access when adverse weather hits.

Consider where you’ll need to mitigate impacts

It’s an unfortunate fact that disaster will hit all businesses at some point. While that may be certain, it isn’t clear just how badly the effects will be. Although you can’t predict the future, you can try to offset impacts in advance.

To offset impacts in advance, consider what the most disastrous element of a cybersecurity threat would be. For example, if a successful DDOS attack were to bring your website down and prevent customers from making transactions, how could you minimize downtime? Or, if a data breach results in highly sensitive information leaking elsewhere, what steps can you take to reduce the impact on your clients?

For most businesses, the biggest impact of a cybersecurity disaster is financial. On average, breached client records cost an organization $150 for each one. In the healthcare industry, the cost rises to $429. You may benefit from identifying potential costs to your business during a disaster and then consider ways to prevent or reduce them.

When examining how cybersecurity and disaster recovery intersect, always create a solid plan. If your business encounters any changes, ensure you update your plan accordingly. It’s always worth reviewing your plan as time goes on too, so you can make sure you’re abreast of the latest threats.

3 ways to ensure your business is protected from cyber threats after Windows 7 end of life

Your business and many others have run on Windows 7 for years. Now, come January 14, 2020, your entire office’s operating system is going to stop being supported by Microsoft. What does this mean for your business and its cyber safety?

Here are 3 ways you can ensure your technology environment is safe and secure following Windows 7 end of life.

Option 1:  Pay for Windows 7 extended security updates through Microsoft

This content is brought to you in partnership with Aruba Networks

Perhaps the simplest and most trustworthy solution for many businesses who need to stay on Windows 7 is to purchase extended security updates through Microsoft.

There are plenty of benefits to getting extended security updates. The obvious is that you’ll still be getting direct support from the software’s manufacturer. That sort of inside knowledge and accountability is important, for certain.  On top of that, it’s hard to match the resources that Microsoft has when it comes to awareness of the cybersecurity landscape.

If you’ve trusted Microsoft with your cybersecurity thus far, this solution is perfect.

Unfortunately, this service isn’t free. Microsoft doesn’t want to keep supporting Windows 7, so to keep getting these extended security updates you will be paying.

Right now, the pricing they have set forth is a per device cost that increases every year past the end of life of the operating system. From January 2020-January 2021, it will be $25 per computer. The year after the price goes up to $50 per device.  And the doubling trend keeps going year over year.

For the short term, this solution is perfectly viable. If your business needs an extra year to migrate over to Windows 10, paying $25 a device for extended security updates is the right move. Beyond that? Well, you’re throwing your money into life support for a dead operating system. Seems like a waste, doesn’t it?

Option 2: Rely on third-party security solutions

This content is brought to you in partnership with Aruba Networks

If you find the cost of extended security updates from Microsoft to be a little costly or not reliable enough, there are a slew of third-party solutions available.

The most important thing to consider when applying this solution to your business is to ensure that you have the correct cybersecurity in place. It can be difficult to find a one-stop top-to-bottom security solution. It’s even more difficult if you don’t have an expert on staff to manage it.

Some of the best options for third-party security are to deploy a reliable VPN and endpoint protection solution.

VPNs, or virtual private networks, are essential if your employees ever access any part of your technology infrastructure off-site. If you use Office 365 or any cloud-based solutions, VPNs ensure that anyone accessing materials over an outside internet connection are not opening your technology infrastructure up to cyber threats. For most modern businesses, VPNs are essential.

Endpoint protection is what most people think of when they think of anti-virus. It ensures that each machine it is installed on is capable of blocking cyberthreats that try to attack it. Usually, the softwares cost $10-15 per user.

Endpoint protection can be a great baseline of cyberthreat protection. If you are around enterprise size or want top-of-the-line security, endpoint protection simply won’t be enough.

Option 3: Migrate to Windows 10

This content is brought to you in partnership with Aruba Networks

Okay, so this one isn’t really a tactic to keep you on Windows 7. But there’s no easy way to put it; if you’re on Windows 7, you need to start creating a plan to migrate to Windows 10.

Sure, the other solutions presented work on some level. But in the end, they are simply bandaids you can use while you migrate your business over to Windows 10. Whether it’s tomorrow or 3 years from now, you eventually need to move off of Windows 7.

That’s the bad news, but there is plenty of good news.

Windows 10 enterprise is $84 a seat. That’s cheaper than paying for Windows 7 extended security updates past the three-year mark. It’s less of a headache than trying to piece together your own triage unit of third-party cybersecurity solutions. And, on top of that, you get the added benefits of Windows 10.

Things like regular updates, security or otherwise. Clean integration with Windows 365. A slew of cloud services your business can leverage on the daily.

It means not trying to carry your business into the future on the back of a dead operating system.

We know it can be a huge hassle to move your entire business over to a new operating system. What about all of your files? Your user preferences? What about the fact that Susan in accounting finally, after three years, knows where all of her Excel files save to?

You don’t need to worry about that, because there are companies out there who specialize in managing this exact sort of migration.

MSPs like ISG know the ins and outs of operating system migration. We can handle your file backup, your individual computer set up, your organization plan and your rollout schedule.

You don’t need to feel like the burden of migration falls only on you. Managed service experts are here and ready to ensure your migration to Windows 10 goes off without a hitch.

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4 solid file sharing options for SMBs

Today’s businesses rely on digital files for storing and organizing almost all of their important information. In order to be truly useful, though, these files must be easily transferable. This is where file sharing solutions come into play.
Here’s what you should know about file sharing and some of the top solutions that can help your SMB effectively manage and share its files.

What is file sharing?

While it can refer more generally to any method used to transfer digital files from one location to another, the term file sharing is usually applied to specific applications that run in the cloud. Cloud file sharing systems can be used to give authorized users remote access to files stored on cloud servers.
While cloud file sharing solutions are excellent for giving your employees easy access to important files and facilitating collaboration, they also have the potential to come with cybersecurity risks.
With less direct control over your company’s data and the risk of unsecured devices being used to access files, the use of these applications requires careful supervision to maintain cybersecurity. With strong encryption standards and adherence to a robust security policy, though, cloud file sharing can be perfectly safe.
For the next several years, it is expected that at least 95 percent of cloud security breaches will be directly caused by failures on the part of customers.

Four file sharing services to consider

There are many cloud file sharing services currently available, but a few stand out as the major service providers in the market. Following are four of the go-to services that SMB owners new to file sharing may want to consider.

Dropbox Business

With 300,000 business teams and 500 million total users, Dropbox is one of the most popular web services in existence today. Owing to its ease of use and user-friendly integration with device operating systems, Dropbox is a service preferred by many consumers and enterprise-level users alike.

Google Drive

Google’s answer to independent services like Dropbox, Google Drive is a file sharing service with nearly 1 billion users. Google drive offers large amounts of storage space for files at relatively low costs and integrates smoothly with a range of third-party applications, making it a good solution for businesses in need of a cloud file sharing service.
Drive also integrates with other Google products, allowing users to save files from services such as Gmail and Google Photos to their Drive accounts.

Microsoft OneDrive

Like Google, Microsoft has jumped into the cloud file sharing market with its OneDrive service. OneDrive interfaces seamlessly with the Windows operating system and comes standard as part of the latest versions.
Microsoft Office 365, a favorite suite of tools among enterprise-level businesses, is also integrated with OneDrive, allowing users to easily move files out of tools in the Office 365 suite and into storage in OneDrive.

ShareFile

Rounding out the list of the top file sharing options is ShareFile. With ShareFile, business users can protect their files with a range of security precautions that include 256-bit AES encryption, virus scanning and even a remote file deletion feature in the event a company device is lost or stolen.
Thanks to its 100GB maximum size, ShareFile is also a good solution for storing, sharing and accessing large files.

A final word

These are just some of the many file sharing options in the marketplace today. When using these services, it’s important to remain aware of possible cybersecurity vulnerabilities on your end.
Used correctly, though, these file sharing services can help your company remain secure, efficient and flexible in an increasingly data-driven business landscape.

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