How IT security audits will boost your cybersecurity

Businesses of all sizes are prime targets for a cyberattack, so they must be proactive and have a cybersecurity strategy in place must be proactive and have a cybersecurity strategy. To be effective, that strategy must include IT security audits. As a vital component of a cybercrime protection system, regular IT security audits can help reduce risk, strengthen controls, enhance security, and improve overall business operations.

What is an IT security audit?

An IT security audit is a thorough evaluation of the cybersecurity measures of your organization. Performing IT security audits will help you identify and assess vulnerabilities in your networks, associated devices, and applications. It involves scanning for security vulnerabilities and performing penetration tests to determine how well your IT infrastructure can defend against various cyberattacks. The results of these tests will help you customize security policies and achieve compliance.

Types of IT security audits

There are two forms of IT security audits, namely:

  • Internal audit
    In an internal IT security audit, a company uses its own resources and auditors to conduct the assessment. The organization conducts an internal audit to determine if its systems and cybersecurity policies are compliant with its own rules and procedures.
  • External audit
    An external audit is carried out by a third-party. External audits are performed when a company needs to ensure that it’s complying with industry standards and government regulations.

Why is an IT security audit important?

An IT security audit provides a roadmap for your company’s key cybersecurity vulnerabilities. It shows where your organization is meeting important security criteria and where it doesn’t. IT security audits are essential for creating risk assessment plans and prevention strategies for businesses dealing with sensitive and confidential personal data.

What does an IT security audit cover?

During an IT security audit, every system an organization uses will be checked for weaknesses in the following areas:

  • Network vulnerabilities
    Auditors identify vulnerabilities in any network component that cybercriminals could use to access valuable information or cause systemwide damage. This includes unsecured access points, instant messages, emails, and network traffic.
  • Cybersecurity controls
    In this part of the audit, auditors will check how effective an organization’s security controls are. This includes assessing how well the company has implemented existing policies and procedures to protect its information and infrastructure. For example, an auditor will evaluate an organization’s existing security policy on data breaches to determine if the proper measures are in place and if everyone is strictly adhering to those measures.
  • Data encryption
    This will verify that your company has controls in place to manage the data encryption process effectively. This is to ensure that digital data is kept confidential and protected while being stored on site, in the cloud, on portable devices, and while it is in transit.

If you need help in conducting an IT security audit for your business, contact us today to see how our managed solutions can help.

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How to choose the best Wi-Fi router for your office

If you’re in the market for a Wi-Fi router, then you’ve probably asked yourself, “What do I need a new router for?” or “What features should I look for in a router?” In this blog post, we’ll help you answer those questions and others you may have when it comes to choosing the right Wi-Fi router for your needs.

Bands

On the box of every single router, you will see numbers like 2.4 Ghz and 5 Ghz. These numbers indicate the wireless radios on the router.

The 2.4 Ghz radio is suitable for activities that don’t require much network bandwidth like web browsing and replying to emails. Its band is of a lower frequency; while its range can exceed 5 Ghz, it can easily be blocked by concrete walls.

On the other hand, the 5 Ghz band has greater power, but it also has a shorter broadcast range. This option is preferable for video conferencing and other activities that require heavy media upload/download.

A dual- or tri-band router will have both the 2.4Ghz and 5 Ghz radios so that the connection workload can be split between them.

Network type

By looking at any router, you will see that there are a number of different network types available. Also referred to as wireless protocols, the four most common types are 802.11b, 802.11g, 802.11n, and 802.11ac. These designations indicate how fast the router can transfer wireless data, with 802.11ac being the fastest.

Newer routers utilize the latest Wi-Fi protocol dubbed 802.11ax. Also known as Wi-Fi 6 or High-Efficiency Wireless (HEW), this new protocol improves upon 802.11ac technology in the following ways:

OFDMA enhances network performance by splitting up Wi-Fi channels into sub-channels. Doing this permits up to 30 users to simultaneously use the same channel.

Meanwhile, TWT reduces the power consumption of connected devices by allowing them to determine when and how often they will wake up to begin sending and receiving data. This extends the battery life of smartphones and battery-powered Internet of Things (IoT) devices such as smart thermostats and security cameras.

Throughput

In communication networks, throughput is the rate at which messages are successfully delivered via a communications channel. A router’s throughput is the speed at which the router is supposed to transmit data to users. To spot the router’s throughput, look for Mbps (or Gbps for cable Ethernet connections). This is usually one of the first things listed on router boxes and specifications.

Keep in mind that if you have a 100 Mbps internet connection but your router can only deliver up to 80 Mbps, then the total speed of your network will be the lower figure. This is why it would be best to get a router with a higher throughput if your internet service provider delivers faster connections.

Beamforming

Beamforming is a feature that’s now standard in mid- to high-end routers. This form of signal technology allows for better throughput in areas with poor or dead signals. Beamforming can help improve the connection quality with devices behind solid walls or in rooms with large amounts of signal interference.

By utilizing this technology, routers can determine weak connections and automatically improve them. While beamforming is available in routers with many network types, it is really only useful with routers running 802.11ac or higher. Those who don’t mind paying a higher price point for an increase in network performance should consider this feature.

Multiple input, multiple output (MIMO)

MIMO is the use of multiple antennas to increase performance and overall throughput. MIMO-enabled routers ensure that more devices can connect to one router with less interference.

When it comes to real-world tests, there is often a slight improvement if the antennas are configured and aimed properly. However, getting a high-end router with six or more antennas may be an unnecessary cost for small businesses.

Quality of service (QoS)

QoS allows the router administrator to limit certain types of traffic. For example, you can use this feature of a router to completely block all torrent traffic or limit it so that other users can have equal bandwidth. Not every router has this ability, but it is a highly beneficial feature for office routers.

There’s a lot to consider when it comes to picking an office router but the process doesn’t have to be complicated. Contact us today so we can evaluate your networking needs and help you find the best setup for your business.

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How theft of service impacts business VoIP networks

Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) networks are vulnerable to a wide range of scams and fraudulent activities, including theft of service. In this article, we will discuss what theft of service is and how it impacts businesses’ VoIP networks. We will also provide tips on how organizations can prevent or reduce the risks of this type of scam.

What is theft of service?

VoIP theft of service is the most common type of VoIP fraud. It involves the theft of your organization’s VoIP account credentials, including usernames and passwords, either by eavesdropping or by introducing malware into your system. Once cybercriminals gain access to your accounts, they can freely make phone calls or change your call plans and run up your VoIP bill, which is why this attack is referred to as “subscription fraud.”

In addition, cybercriminals may use the stolen data to carry out other fraudulent activities. They can also use theft of service to flood your VoIP network with promotional calls similar to junk email via an attack called Spam over Internet Telephony, or SPIT. Once they infiltrate your communications network, they might broadcast unsolicited messages or advertisements over your VoIP system. This keeps users from making or receiving calls, which can have a significant impact on your business operations.

How can you avoid theft of service?

Preventing VoIP theft of service simply requires using a little common sense and implementing the following technical preventive measures:

  1. Make your passwords as secure as possible. Passwords must be at least 10–12 characters long, consisting of a combination of upper- and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols. For added security, use passphrases, which are sentence-like strings of words. They’re usually longer than passwords, easier to remember, and more difficult to crack.
  2. Install firmware patches for your VoIP phones and infrastructure regularly, and keep your antivirus software up to date.
  3. Use fraudulent call routing detection and encryption software.
  4. Set up an enterprise-grade virtual private network (VPN) for employees working from home/remotely. A VPN encrypts incoming and outgoing traffic without compromising call quality.
  5. Review your organization’s call logs for any unusual trends or behavior, such as higher-than-usual call volumes or calls made during off-hours.

VoIP is an essential business communication tool, so it pays to learn about and set safeguards against theft of service to avoid its impacts on your company’s operations. For more information and useful tips on how to keep your VoIP system secure, drop us a line today.

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What you need to know about the Microsoft Office Delve feature

Many small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) rely on Microsoft 365 to do a variety of tasks, enable team collaboration, and streamline processes. And because it is widely used for many different functions, several programs and data tend to overlap within the Microsoft 365 environment, making it challenging for users to track information and connections. This is where the Office Delve feature comes in handy.

What is Office Delve?

Office Delve is a cloud-based data solution, file hub, enterprise social network, and collaborative tool developed using Microsoft Graph. Delve is available for Microsoft 365 Business Basic and Standard, Office 365 Government, Office 365 Education, and Office 365 Enterprise. This nifty tool allows you to:

  • Discover new information – Delve displays information from different sources in Microsoft 365 that you may find useful for tasks you’re currently working on.
  • Discover what you need – Documents you have seen before or have recently worked on are highlighted and made easier for you to find, regardless of where they are stored. This makes it less taxing to find work you have done/started in the past, and continue from where you left off.
  • Discover new connections – Typing a name in Microsoft 365 will allow you to see what a user is working on, their connections, and even connect with them to build relationships and share information.

How does it work?

Microsoft created Delve with a tool called Graph to provide users with information they’ll find useful. Graph maps the relationships among the various Microsoft 365 users in your company and the content/information related to them.

This “map” is then used by Delve to provide users with the information they need, when they need it. Content and information are displayed on a card-based screen, which is found under the Delve tab in the main Microsoft 365 launch screen.

Aside from content such as profile information and document links, users can also see favorites, views, comments, and tags. This feature brings a deeper social integration into Microsoft 365.

Delve also orders content in different ways. Delve shows you what you’ve recently worked on and content that has been shared with you or has been presented to you. These are laid out in cards format for easier tracking and interaction.

Note that the Delve mobile app for Android and iOS are no longer available. If you’re working remotely and don’t have access to Delve via desktop, you can use Outlook Mobile instead, which has functionalities similar to the now-discontinued apps.

Is my data safe with Office Delve?

Delve keeps all your documents private by default, but you have the option to share them with other users. For example, if you have a document stored in a private folder, you’ll be the only one who can access and modify it through Delve. If that document is in a shared folder, it’s accessible to you and the people you shared it with.

If you want to learn more about Delve or have questions about other useful Microsoft 365 features, contact us today.

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How to choose the safest web browser

The internet is filled with cyberthreats that can quickly put a company out of business. These threats often infiltrate business networks through unsecured web browsers, and using incognito mode is not a surefire way to keep you safe. To ensure your online safety, here’s a list of the most secure browsers you can use.

Tor Browser

Tor is the browser of choice when it comes to online anonymity and privacy. Endorsed by former computer intelligence consultant Edward Snowden, Tor is built with a unique connection method called onion routing. This method protects users from browser fingerprinting and keeps them anonymous regardless of what site they visit. Tor’s encryption is so good that it’s the only browser capable of accessing the dark web.

Brave

Developed by JavaScript creator Brendan Eich, Brave comes with Brave Shield, which automatically blocks ad trackers. Additionally, the browser doesn’t auto-collect and sell user data, allowing users to keep their information safe and private from third parties and malicious entities.

Mozilla Firefox

Unlike browsers like Safari and Google Chrome, Firefox is open source, which means cybersecurity experts can review its source code for any potential vulnerabilities. Firefox is updated regularly and comes with various security options that let users configure different levels of protection, such as:

  • Anti-fingerprinting
  • Improved tracking protection
  • Data breach notifications
  • 256-bit encryption

Epic

Epic browser was developed with built-in safeguards against third-party widgets, cryptocurrency mining scripts, cookies, and ad tracking scripts. It connects to the internet using an encrypted proxy server to hide a user’s browsing activity and IP address.

Epic is also designed to block calls that carry the risk of leaking your IP address, even if you’re using a virtual private network (VPN). Lastly, this browser comes with a feature that allows users to see who’s tracking them and what trackers have been blocked.

The key to protecting your online data and browsing the internet safely is a secure browser. As to what constitutes as the “best” secure browser depends largely on the needs of your organization. Call us now if you want to learn more about secure browsers as well as other security solutions you can implement to keep your data safe.

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The business continuity benefits of cloud technology

Where you store your company’s data backups is vital to the success of your business continuity strategy. There are various storage media to choose from, but if you value flexibility and convenience, then you should look no further than cloud storage. Here are the benefits that the cloud offers.

Improved uptime

Many business owners think it’s enough to store copies of their files either on an external hard drive or a separate computer housed within their office. Unfortunately, this tactic can go wrong in so many ways. First, it’s possible for bad actors to steal these devices and obtain the data they contain. Second, these devices are susceptible to damage caused by local disasters, cyberattacks, and errors committed by staff. If any of these were to happen, the business would lose access to its backups and might suffer downtime.

In contrast, cloud-hosted backups are always readily accessible with an internet-connected device. Cloud servers are located off-site, so they are not vulnerable to natural disasters in your immediate locale. What’s more, cloud service providers (CSPs) are obligated to keep their servers operational at all times. They make this possible by implementing top-grade cybersecurity measures and various redundancies, such as alternate servers and power supply systems.

Fast resource provisioning

During the backup creation process, spikes in user activity and resource usage can slow down websites and applications running in the background. A CSP can help you address this issue by monitoring user activities, enabling them to see spikes before or as they happen. The provider can then provision resources and virtual machines as needed to manage the influx of users.

Control over backup frequency

Since your employees could work on files and update information throughout the day, you must back up your files as frequently as necessary. Doing so ensures that you have the latest copies of your files even after a sudden outage.

With the cloud, you no longer have to worry about the frequency of your backups. CSPs offer round-the-clock and other fixed backup frequencies, as well as custom backup schedules tailored to your business’s unique requirements. Some services can even create backups as you perform changes on your files, ensuring up-to-date information at any time.

Support for flexible work setups

With flexible working arrangements becoming more and more popular, it’s now even more imperative for your business to invest in the cloud for backup storage. External hard disks, flash drives, and other offline storage media are accessible only to employees working in the office. During events that prevent workers from going to the office, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, depending on offline backups could result in your business ceasing operations altogether.

Cloud storage is accessible anywhere and anytime. This means that no matter where they choose to work, your staff will be able to access the files they need and remain productive as long as they have an internet connection.

Businesses around the world are leveraging the power of the cloud not just to ensure their continued operations but also to support their growth. If you’re looking for a managed cloud backup service to protect your business data, give us a call today to see how we can help.

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Make your desktop clutter-free with these tips

Filling your desktop with shortcuts to files and applications may seem practical because it lets you quickly access the resources you need. But when more than half of your screen is filled with icons, you’ll waste time looking for the files and programs you need. Ultimately, this will lower your productivity. You can avoid that by making your desktop clutter-free. Here’s how.

Do a bit of recon

Before decluttering your desktop, sort out which files and folders you need to keep and which ones you can let go of. For instance, you can OR you may want to delete files and folders that haven’t been opened in a long time. You can easily find these by right-clicking on an empty area of your desktop, selecting View, and then clicking Auto arrange icons. This will organize your icons into a grid format that makes them easier to view. Then, right-click once again on the empty space on your desktop and go to Sort by > Date modified. This will arrange the icons by the date they were last opened, with the latest on top.

Create holding and app shortcut folders

People often use their desktop folder to store downloads, photos, screenshots, email attachments, and other files, which easily messes up the desktop screen. To prevent these files from cluttering up your desktop, you should create a folder for nonessential files and folders. To create a folder on your desktop, simply right-click on an empty space on your desktop and then click New > Folder.

Use this folder to store temporary items, including those you’re keeping in the short term. Then, delete the files inside the folder once you no longer need them. You can also create a folder for shortcuts to frequently used programs. This will allow you to quickly find the program you need and help you avoid cluttering up your desktop.

Be ruthless in decluttering

Once you have your folders set up, it’s time to get rid of the clutter. If you haven’t used a file or folder in the past two months or so, seriously consider getting rid of it. Uninstall programs you no longer use, delete images you no longer want or need, move unimportant files elsewhere, and place the rest in relevant folders.

Once you’re done, take a look at your browser to see where it stores downloaded files. If your browser downloads files to your desktop by default, go to Settings and change the target location to the Downloads folder.

Stick with your plan

Once you have decluttered your desktop, try to stick with the rules you’ve made. Whenever you download something, ask yourself whether it should go to the desktop or someplace else. Of course, sticking with these rules won’t always be easy, so aim to clean up your desktop at least once or twice a month.

Use the taskbar or Start menu for apps

Pinning apps to the Start menu and the taskbar is a great alternative to simply having program shortcuts on your desktop. To pin apps, go to the apps list via the Windows Start menu and right-click on the app you want to pin. Then, simply select Pin to Start or Pin to taskbar.

Strategically position your wallpaper

An interesting way to minimize clutter is to pick a wallpaper that you like, which could be your favorite picture or slogan. Frame the image so the focus is in the center of your desktop. Then, place your icons around the image in a way that allows you to still see the image. If you can no longer see the image, that means you have too many icons and it’s time to get rid of a few.

If you want to learn other ways to optimize your Windows PC, contact us today for more tips and tricks from office IT experts.

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The crucial role of MSPs in SMB cybersecurity

With modern cyberattacks targeting companies of all sizes, businesses cannot afford to relegate cybersecurity to the bottom of their list of priorities. When it comes to cybersecurity, even small- and mid-sized businesses (SMBs) would do well to get help from an expert. Here’s how having a managed IT services provider (MSP) implement robust cybersecurity solutions for you will benefit your business.

The numbers

Through the years, the number of SMBs falling victim to cyberattacks has drastically increased. Ransomware attacks, misconfigured systems, credential stuffing, and social engineering are among the many cyberthreats that SMBs face. Also, according to Verizon’s 2021 Data Breach Investigations Report, one in every five data breach victims was an SMB. What’s more, only 47% of SMBs are able to detect breaches within days.

The financial consequences have also considerably increased. IBM’s Cost of a Data Breach Report 2021 shows that “data breach costs rose from USD 3.86 million to USD 4.24 million.”

The numbers don’t lie, so it’s only about time SMBs take cybersecurity seriously. You can safeguard your business from cyberattacks and provide a more secure customer experience by working with a trusted MSP.

Why managed services?

Partnering with MSPs is the most effective way to prevent attacks and defend against malicious threats. MSPs offer a full range of proactive IT support that focuses on advanced security, such as around-the-clock monitoring, data encryption and backup, real-time threat prevention and elimination, network and firewall protection, security awareness training, and more. Here are some of the services an MSP can offer:

    • Around-the-clock monitoring – A cyberattack can happen at any moment. By having someone watching your networks and systems 24/7, MSPs ensure that any potential threats are identified and dealt with quickly.
    • Data encryption and backup – Data encryption transforms readable data into an unreadable format. This can be done through the use of a key, which is only accessible to authorized users. This way, even if the data is compromised, it can’t be read without the key. Meanwhile, data backup is the process of creating and preserving copies of data so that it can be restored in the event of data loss.
    • Real-time threat prevention and elimination – By using technology that can detect and stop threats as they happen, this security solution can minimize the impact of an attack and keep your business data safe.
    • Network and firewall protection – Networks and firewalls create a barrier between the business network and the internet, securing confidential data, such as customer information, employee records, and trade secrets. Networks can be configured to allow certain types of traffic through while blocking others, so that only authorized users can access specific resources.
    • Security awareness training – Now, more than ever, SMBs need to be aware of cybersecurity threats and how to protect themselves. MSPs can facilitate security awareness training that can help employees spot red flags and know what to do (and not do) to keep company data safe.

Managed IT services are designed to identify and fix weak spots in your IT infrastructure, enabling you to optimize the digital backbone of your business processes. With managed IT, you’ll also have faster network performance, a solid business continuity and disaster recovery strategy, and minimal downtime. You’ll also get a dedicated team of IT professionals ready to assist you with any technology-related problems. This is much more effective and budget-friendly than having in-house personnel juggling all of your business IT needs.

Being proactive when it comes to cybersecurity is the only way to protect what you’ve worked hard to build. If you’d like to know more about how managed services can benefit your business, just give us a call — we’re sure to help.

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How online scheduling solutions can help your healthcare business

The key to being a successful healthcare company — aside from providing great patient care — is getting the logistics and organization components of operations down to a fine art. You can accomplish this with the help of a reliable online scheduling solution.

Online scheduling is one of the simplest and most popular technologies used by forward-thinking health clinics and hospitals. It shows your patients which doctors and what times are available for appointments, and then allows them to book the appointment right on your website. Practices that have kept up with tech trends like this have seen an uptick in both the number of patients they take in and the quality of care they are able to provide. They are also able to reap the following benefits.

More potential new patients

Today, people are less inclined to make phone calls, especially if it involves ringing up someone they don’t know. For many people looking for a new doctor or specialist, they will simply keep looking for one whose information and appointment booking system can be found online.

More time for your staff, better care for your patients

Think about how much time your staff spend each day answering phone calls from people making an appointment. It’s probably a lot if you have a busy practice. Online scheduling lessens phone time required so that your staff can better focus on and tend to patients. As a result, patients will feel truly cared for and will more likely return to your healthcare facility in the future.

Setting appointments beyond clinic hours

In the past, patients had to wait for the clinic to open just to make an appointment. With online scheduling, they now can simply log in to your website and see available appointment times so they can plan their schedule accordingly around their visit.

Still unsure whether you need online scheduling?

Sure, you probably can get away with not having it at the moment, but eventually, most patients will expect this technology from you. And the sooner you roll out online scheduling, the sooner your staff will get the hang of it, and the sooner your patients can enjoy its benefits.

Need help setting up online scheduling for your practice? Talk to our IT experts today and we’ll make sure this technology will make things easier for your patients.

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Here’s how to turn off location services in Android

When using an Android smartphone for the first time, users receive a prompt from apps like Google to enable location services. Users may decide to accept it because it’s convenient because that means there’s no need to enable it every time you use an app. But that also means letting Google track all your activities. If you don’t want that, you need to know how to tweak your Android phone’s location tracking settings. Here’s how to do it.

Photos and GPS tagging

Your Android smartphone’s geolocation or GPS tagging function lets you attach coordinates to the pictures you take. This allows you to organize photos in albums by location. Geolocating images in itself isn’t a bad thing, but you can get into trouble when you broadcast sensitive locations to the world. For instance, a picture of your expensive watch with a GPS tag of your house could attract wrongdoers.

Here are four ways to control geotagging photos:

  1. Go to your camera settings and you’ll find an on/off toggle.
  2. Go to Settings > Location and from there, you can decide if you want the location saved along with your images.
  3. Download an EXIF editor and manually remove the location information from specific images.
  4. You can also turn off location services altogether by going to Settings > Location.

Discrete location settings

Apart from location settings in photos and GPS tagging, Android has three discrete location settings that allow you to set the level of accuracy of your location reporting. You can find these in Settings > Location.

  • High accuracy – This uses the GPS radio in your phone to pinpoint its exact location using data from satellites while also making use of nearby Wi-Fi and cellular networks.
  • Battery saving – This mode only uses Wi-Fi networks and mobile networks to identify locations. While it might not be as accurate as the high accuracy setting, it will help your battery last longer.
  • Device sensors only – This uses only the GPS radio to find you. It may take a little more time to find your location since it doesn’t use nearby Wi-Fi and mobile networks to get your general location first. This also uses more battery power.

Turning off your location settings will not only help keep your smartphone’s security intact, but it will also help preserve your battery life.

Are you interested in learning more about Android phones and their functions? We have solutions for you and your business. Call our experts today.

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