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News and info on IT Services

We provide a range of Managed IT Services, Business IT Support, and IT Consulting that can help you keep costs down.

We know its hard to make sense of all the options available when it comes to IT. We can keep you posted on the latest trends and info with our IT Support Blog.


 

 

10 Vital Questions to Ask an IT Consulting Company BEFORE Signing a Service Contract!

Posted by on 12:35 pm in IT Support Blog | Comments Off

Service Level AgreementWhile there’s a lot of great IT consulting companies out there, there’s a lot of not-so-great ones as well. You’ve probably noticed a common pattern: they make all sorts of promises, then when it comes time to deliver, they’re nowhere to be found, or worse, they’ll take twice as long as needed to resolve issues to leave you with shockingly high bills. So how do you find the right IT consulting company?

Here’s 10 vital questions to ask an IT consulting company BEFORE signing a service contract:

  1. What certifications and/or technical specialties do you have?

You depend on your information technology to get work done, so it’s important to work with a qualified IT consulting company that truly knows what needs to be done to improve the way you’re using information technology. Make sure you’ve asked about certifications and/or technical specialties.

  1. Have you worked with other businesses in my industry?

Every business has unique IT needs, especially if they’re operating in an industry with specific compliance requirements. If you’re subject to industry-specific regulations, make sure the IT consulting company is familiar with those regulations – and able to help you do whatever needs to be done to stay compliant.

  1. What type of IT service & support offerings do you have?

While most IT consulting companies offer similar, if not the same, IT services and support; it all comes down to how they’re offered: does the IT consulting company offer managed services, as well as hourly rates? This gives you the option to get the right IT services and support for your unique needs.

  1. How long have you been working in the IT industry?

There’s some great IT consulting companies who’ve only been in the industry for a short time, however, it’s always nice to know your IT consulting company has a few years of experience – this shows they’ve built up experience, knowledge, and skill-sets; and they’ll be able to handle your information technology with ease.

  1. Will you help me ensure business continuity?

If an IT consulting company hasn’t talked to you about business continuity, they’re probably not the right company for you. The truth is, you simply can’t afford a few hours, or even days, of downtime. Make sure the IT consulting company talks about ensuring business continuity through a comprehensive data backup/disaster recovery solution.

  1. When would I be able to contact you for support?

Imagine going into the office after the weekend and finding a server has crashed or a computer has malfunctioned! Would you be able to contact the IT consulting company in the event of major downtime? Make sure they offer a good response time that lets you feel comfortable knowing they’re available during emergencies.

  1. How do you stay ahead of evolving technology advancements and challenges?

As you’ve probably noticed, technology evolves fast – new advancements come out quite often, and as a result, new challenges appear on a regular basis. If an IT consulting company doesn’t have an answer to this, they’re probably not the right IT consulting company for you.

  1. Can I speak with some of your existing clients or see case studies/testimonials?

In general, word-of-mouth is a fairly reliable way to find out if you’re choosing a good IT consulting company. Ask if they’re willing to let you speak with some of their existing clients or check their website for case studies and testimonials. This gives you a good idea of what to expect working with them.

  1. Will you proactively try to prevent problems instead of simply reacting to them?

Any IT consulting company can come onsite or log in remotely to deal with problems as they occur, but you’re the one who’s impacted by those problems; so why have them in the first place? Make sure they’re proactive with regular maintenance, 24/7 monitoring, and patch management to prevent problems before they occur.

  1. How do you plan to protect my IT systems and data?

As cybercrime continues to become more sophisticated than ever before, businesses are starting to worry about cybersecurity; and they should! Ask what the IT consulting company plans to do to protect your IT systems and data, and if you’re not comfortable with the answer, don’t sign a service contract!

We can answer all of these questions, and anything else you’d like to know. We guarantee you’ll be happy with our answers! Find out for yourself – call us or send us an email.

Infographic: 5 Essential Questions To Ask When Searching For A New IT Services Company

Posted by on 10:19 am in IT Support Blog | Comments Off

When you’re looking for a new IT Services Firm, deciding on a company responsible for providing your businesses IT services and support will be an incredibly important choice.

Check out our Infographic on the 5 most essential questions to ask.

IT Company

Don’t Get Suckered In by Fake Emails Claiming to Be About Your Healthcare!

Posted by on 7:57 pm in IT Support Blog | Comments Off

Affordable HealthcareBe on the lookout for suspicious emails that claim to be from a federal agency – they could be a trap to steal your private information!

A new campaign of email phishing attacks has been reported by US-CERT. The subject lines of these emails reference the Affordable Care Act, and they claim to be about directing users towards important information about their health coverage. Instead, those who open the links or attachments end up being directed to sites that either install malware on computers or try to convince the reader to give up private information.

Don’t fall for these tricks! Here are some important tips to keep in mind to help you avoid falling for phishing attacks:

  • A legit organization will NEVER ask for private information via email. Never divulge your personal information, including passwords, usernames, birthdate, social security number, or anything else.
  • Always be wary of emails that include unfamiliar or complicated links to websites – if you don’t immediately recognize the URL, DON’T CLICK THE LINK.
  • If the email is unsolicited, never download any attachment or follow any link at all.
  • Even if the email address is familiar, use caution when downloading attachments, in case a colleague or friend has had their email hijacked. If the attachment is a .zip or a .exe file, it may be dangerous.

The best way to protect yourself and your business against potential attacks like these is with a comprehensive security solution. Our anti-malware software will help prevent, detect, and resolve issues like viruses, and our backup solution will ensure that, even if your computers are infected by a virus, you can restore your data and easily get your computers back at their best.

Don’t leave yourself vulnerable to cybercriminals looking to exploit you! Call us by phone or send us an email. Find out how to protect your business from those looking to do you harm.

Save YOUR Business from Losing Market Share & Customer Trust in the Wake of Data Breach!

Posted by on 12:56 pm in IT Support Blog | Comments Off

Data BreachWhile businesses are increasingly aware of the many dangers that cyber-attacks can present to their company, it seems that they still aren’t entirely sure how to deal with data loss or breaches. The majority of modern businesses workings are dealt with online, and if a malware attack or other bugs enter their network, they can be left completely crippled. According to a study by the Ponemon Institute conducted for HP, seventy percent of the 495 executives surveyed believe that their companies don’t fully understand the risks that they can be exposed to as a result of a data breach.

You can minimize the risk of a data breach and ensure your company is well equipped to deal with the fallout by follow a few simple steps:

  • Understand the Threats

Be proactive and make sure that you and your employees understand the risks they face. Identifying the most sensitive and important data in your network is imperative so that you can devise a plan to back it up before an attack occurs.

  • Protect Yourself

Making sure that adequate security measures are in place in case of an attack is crucial. One way to do this is to have a third party provide recommendations on the strength of your already-implemented security practices, and perhaps to suggest further measures.

  • Keep Updated

Meet regularly with your board of directors, your company’s CEO, and your I.T. security team to keep everyone updated on potential security and online threats. This is a good way to ensure that everyone is on the same page and that all parties are prepared for a potential breach.

  • Test Yourself

The best way to determine how ready you are for an attack is a drill. Forensics technologies and expertise should be part of the response plan so that they can determine the cause of a breach as soon as it happens.

  • Train Your Staff

Reduce employee mistakes and negligence in the handling of sensitive information with regular training and awareness programs. This can help to prevent any careless errors such as opening an e-mail containing data-destroying malware.

  • Centralize Leadership

Selecting a security leader who is supported by an expert staff is the easiest way to deal with incident response. Should your company fall victim to an online threat, having a pre-appointed and unified team to deal with the issue will ensure a quick response.

An attack or breach of your company’s systems is something no one wants to think is possible, but in today’s technology age, it’s a very real threat. For more information on how to prevent and deal with attacks or data breach issues, contact us by email or speak with us directly by phone.

Think Before You Swipe: 3 Shocking Places You Never Realized Were Dangerous for Using YOUR Debit Card!

Posted by on 9:46 am in IT Support Blog | Comments Off

Credit Card SkimmingWould you feel comfortable handing a thief access to your checking account? No? We don’t blame you. As data breaches continue to rise, there’s a lot of focus on using credit cards safely, but debit cards can actually present a greater risk. How? Well, credit card users can simply decline charges and not pay the bill until the issue is resolved, whereas debit cards draw cash directly from the account and not much can be done on the users part.

Unfortunately, you’re probably using your debit card in a risky manner and leaving yourself open to financial theft if you’re swiping in one of these places:

  1. Skimming ATMS:

Did you know some ATMs give thieves a great opportunity to skim debit card information from unsuspecting victims? Essentially, skimming occurs when a thief installs a device that reads magnetic strips on debit cards. If you’re using an open ATM that’s easily accessible, always look around and make sure it doesn’t seem beaten up or askew. For a safer alternative, go to your local branch ATM as they’re typically more secure.

  1. Online stores:

For those who prefer not to use credit cards, debit cards can be convenient for shopping online. Unfortunately, shopping online is a dangerous way of making purchases; whether your computer is infected with malware, a man-in-the-middle attack occurs, or the merchant’s database gets hacked, you’re taking a big risk. Make sure online stores are completely safe before making any purchases.

  1. Restaurants:

When you’re going to a restaurant, always keep in mind that cashiers tend to keep customer payment information on file, in order to make any potential future orders simpler and more convenient. If the restaurant is small, instead of a chain restaurant, it’s even more dangerous as small businesses often don’t safeguard payment data as much as necessary. Whenever possible, pay with cash instead.

Financial fraud is always a scary possibility, however, taking the right precautions and being careful can minimize the risk of having your checking account fall into the wrong hands. To learn more, give us a call or send us an email. Our team of cyber security experts are happy to help you keep your sensitive information safe.

Is Your Router Opening Your Business to Cybercrime? You Might Have Been Given the Misfortune Cookie!

Posted by on 10:22 am in IT Support Blog | Comments Off

Misfortune Cookie Security FlawA critical flaw has been discovered in over 12 million routers that could open up a network to easy hijacking by cybercriminals. Is your business safe from cybercrime? Find out for certain with the security experts at {company} – call us at {phone} today for a vulnerability assessment.

The security researchers at Check Point Software Technologies have identified a vulnerability in many small office / home office (SOHO) routers that is incredibly easy to exploit. Over 12 million routers in 189 countries have already been determined to be affected by the flaw, and more are being discovered now.

Dubbed the “Misfortune Cookie” by Check Point, the flaw is ridiculously simple to exploit:

  • An attacker simply needs to send a single packet to your public IT address. No complex hacking tools or techniques are required – just a modern web browser.

That’s it. That’s all it could take to compromise your business. Essentially, the flaw is due to an error in the HTTP cookie management system in the software of the routers, allowing attacks to send a specially designed cookie to the public IP address of a router. Once the cookie is in, the attacker can take complete control of the network with full administrative privileges. This could allow all sorts of potential cybercrime, including:

  • Theft of usernames and passwords.
  • Monitoring and theft of business and personal data, including sensitive financial information.
  • Easier attacking and hijacking of devices connected to the network, including smartphones and tablets.
  • The easy ability to install malware and use business computers for further cybercrime.

This flaw has been in existence since 2002, and affects over 200 different router models, including TP-Link, Huawei, SmartAX, Zyxel, Netcomm, Edimax, and more. You can find a full list of compromised devices here.

What Can You Do?

If your device is included on the compromised list, you should immediately contact your router manufacturer for a firmware upgrade to address the flaw. If you’re not able to connect with the manufacturer, you should immediately contact us for assistance. The window for cybercriminals to exploit Misfortune Cookie is closing, and that means they will be looking for any and all opportunities to get whatever benefits they can from any vulnerable systems they can find.

Don’t take your security for granted! To discover if you’re at risk from Misfortune Cookie or any other security vulnerabilities, contact us today.

Infographic: Thinking About Switching IT Companies? Read This!

Posted by on 9:06 am in IT Support Blog | Comments Off

Nobody likes running around, last minute, especially when switching IT companies. It can be a long and tedious process, but once you have everything settled you will be in better shape than you were before. Being prepared is the trick when switching tech firms – as you don’t want to have setbacks along the way.

You may want to switch companies because of difficulties or lack of services with your current provider. When your business needs grow, your tech needs to move with it. If your current IT support can’t keep you up to date, it will only make it difficult to move forward with your business. Some problems are solved with meetings and good communication, others may need you to move on to a more efficient technology services company. If you are thinking about switching IT support companies, keep these critical steps in mind:

IT Support Company

Top 5 New Year’s Resolutions for Small Businesses

Posted by on 10:55 am in IT Support Blog | Comments Off

New Years ResolutionsThe year is ending and the holidays are near. All you can focus on is what needs to get done and what your goals are for the following year. You have plenty on your mind and some of it has to do with financials and expansion. Profits and setting goals to achieve are difficult. Never take your mind off your goals, they are what keeps you profitable.

There is a lot to do and you need to stay focused. First, set goals in a journal, keep a weekly record and note what you are doing to accomplish them. Don’t set goals too high, maybe set a calendar of what profit levels or the amount of services you want to offer by certain dates. Keeping your goals realistic is key, and so is managing them. Here is what NOT to do in 2015:

1.   Ignoring the Budget

Whether you ignore the budget or simply don’t keep track, it’s the wrong thing to do. The economy might be kicking up, but you have to make sure you are not overspending. Overspending on services, including IT support, is a common mistake with business owners. It isn’t hard to let go of budgets, make sure you stick to them and seek out more affordable ways of completing daily tasks or keeping your data secured and backed up.

2.   Overlooking Timelines

Remember the calendar and weekly journal suggestion? It now comes into play by keeping track of where you need to be. Doing so allows you to hold your success accountable. Being able to go over numbers allows you to assign tasks to your staff to make those achievements possible. If you find yourself over performing and making more, train your staff and help others succeed where they have disadvantages. Being proactive and productive will only make your team stronger.

3.   Not Gathering Enough Data

Whether it is needing stats for marketing or knowing how your clients think of you, always need to keep up-to-date data. Statistics can tell you a lot about what you are doing well, where you can improve and what people want to see. Maybe you have new business opportunities in a neighboring city or the need for an online store. People’s opinions matter, and they will tell you what they will spend their money on.

4.   Do it all yourself

From your IT problems to your marketing efforts, it’s not always safe to do it all yourself. You have a business to run and, without your full attention, it may slip. It’s easier to fall than it is to rise, so focus on moving up and not bogging yourself down. Your IT support can be handed off to a local company like ours. Knowing your IT solutions and preventing attacks is their specialty. With the proper managed services, you don’t have to worry about downtime and loss of data. Local backups and basic internet security protection can leave holes, cause problems and are not reliable. Give your IT support experts a call to find out how they can be your IT so you don’t have to do it all yourself.

5.   Buy a better computer chair

So you might want one, but do you need one? If you need one because you plan on sitting in it more, that’s a bad idea. Get out of your chair and be directly involved with your business. Focusing on paper rather than your customer base will leave you behind with trends and ideas. If it is your programs keeping you behind, try asking an IT consultant on what you can do to lower your desk-time. Our team knows efficiency like it is everybody’s business, and they can handle it. Having the right managed services means being productive and less time worrying about your files and security. Let your employees do their work and focus on your team. Leave the IT support to us.

Having the proper IT support will make your productive by giving you the right tools and the time to focus on your needs. Don’t get behind in your work and seek out opportunities to make profits. Give us a call today and have the workload shifted off your shoulders. We can be reached by phone or email. Don’t miss out on any more opportunities, start with this New Year’s resolution.

End of Support for Windows Server 2003 – Warning to Upgrade Immediately!

Posted by on 8:26 am in IT Support Blog | Comments Off

Windows Server 2003The end of support date for Windows Server 2003 will be July 14, 2015. This means that the operating system will no longer receive updates, security patches, technical support, software and content updates. It will also be prone to malicious infections. Do you operate off of one of the 12 million servers, as of July 2014, running this operating system?

Complications, As Seen Already

Like Windows XP, you will see a lot of support and software incompatibility issues. New hardware will not be supported, causing the operating system to not function as it is designed. New, more reliable features, will not be included and it will cause setbacks in productivity.

How Threats Can Infect

When security updates cannot be completed, there are holes left over – viruses, malware, spyware, and adware all look for holes to seep through. These threats have been known to crash servers, overload systems, and leave openings for information theft. It is advised that older systems run compatible antivirus and malware protection software, to assist with attack prevention.

Recommendations

In order to save yourself from major threats infecting your data, you should follow these steps:

  • Complete all current updates that are needed.
  • Install and/or update your internet security protection software
  • Backup your information.
  • Research a server system to upgrade to, ASAP.

You should be looking for an up-to-date system that carries the latest server operating system. This will ensure that you are ready to go for a number of years. On that note, make sure all of your other software is up to date. Taking a look at the full Support Lifecycle Index, by Microsoft, is a good starting point.

Finding yourself always updating your systems, or falling behind and not being productive? Get a head start and finally get the technology that you need. Give us a call or email us. Our Windows Server experts are here and ready to get you with the times.

It’s Crucial! Get Updating to Fix the Holes in Your Systems!

Posted by on 10:38 am in IT Support Blog | Comments Off

Computer UpdatesHave you ever wondered how hackers get through your systems? It’s all because of holes that exist in your systems and you must apply updates to fix these holes.

When They Happen

Microsoft updates happen every Tuesday and, if configured properly, your computer will install them for you. The average person won’t restart their computer and it leaves these updates uninstalled. People do this for days on end, leaving their system vulnerable. These updates are created for a few reasons; hackers already have gone through or Microsoft found the hole before the hackers and other vendors found issues with their software. Whether the update is critical or not, people can still get through your system, via these holes, if not installed.

Prevention

Making sure you are not skipping out on these updates is crucial to not have any problems with your computer. Since hackers can get into one computer and access entire networks, it’s that much more important to keep your systems updated. Follow these steps to enable automatic updates for the crucial and recommended ones:

Windows 8/8.1

  1. Right click the lower left corner and select “Control Panel” (then go to step 2)

Windows Vista/7

  1. Click “Start” and then “Control Panel” (then go to step 2)

All Systems

  1. Click “System and Security”
  2. “Windows Update”
  3. “Change settings”
  4. From the drop down menu, select “Install updates automatically (recommended)”
  5. Select “Give me recommended updates the same way I receive important updates”
  6. Select “ Give me updates for other Microsoft products when I update Windows”

Other Updates

Not only is it important to update what Microsoft recommends, but your other software needs updates as well. Usually, in the “Help” section of every software you will find a “Check for updates” button. I recommend doing this once a week. You can also check to see if your programs update automatically, in their preference sections.

While you’re at it, don’t forget about your virus and malware definitions. These prevent hackers from entering through your system from other avenues, ones not always related to your operating system.

Computer care can be a daunting task, and it’s not a fun part of your day. It may take up a bit of time, but it has to be done. Give us a call or email us to see how we can take care of your systems for you. We give you the opportunity to stick to your business, not your computer repairs.