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.

This post was originally published on this site

Cutting IT hardware costs with thin and zero clients

If you want to cut costs on IT hardware, don’t settle for cheap but old or low-quality machines. They’ll offer subpar performance, which will hurt your team’s productivity. What’s worse, they’ll break down often, too, which means the money you initially saved will go to repairs and upgrades. Instead of buying low-end machines, you should consider buying thin or zero clients.

What are thin and zero clients?

Thin clients are stripped-down computers with minimum processing power and memory. They rely on a basic operating system (OS) and a network connection to access a more powerful server where almost all computing processes take place. This server must be purchased separately or rented out in the cloud.

Zero clients work the same way as thin clients. The only difference is that there’s no local storage or OS installed on the device; all the software, storage, and processing power sits on a server until you need it. In intensively cloud-based systems, utilizing zero clients is ideal for cutting costs.

What are the benefits of using thin and zero clients?

Thin and zero clients offer a whole host of benefits, such as:

Reduced hardware costs

If you want computers with low upfront costs, choose thin and zero clients. Conventional desktops start at $600 per user, while thin clients can go as low as $250 per user. And since they have no hard drive or other moving parts, the latter tend to be more durable and have a longer life span than their traditional counterparts.

Minimized security risks

Thin and zero clients also help you prevent costly malware attacks and data breach incidents. They reduce security risks by having no facility for holding apps. That is, users can’t install any risky and unvetted programs on these machines. Furthermore, thin and zero clients limit direct access to the OS. This prevents employees from copying sensitive data to removable media and installing software, malicious or otherwise, on the clients’ server.

If your thin or zero client is damaged or corrupted, you don’t have to worry about your data, as it’s stored in a separate server.

Simplified IT management

Another benefit of thin and zero clients is that they can be managed by your IT team or managed IT services provider from a server. Suppose a new software update is released. Instead of manually downloading the patch on each computer, you can simply install the update on your server and roll it out to all the clients. Apart from installing updates, you can also make backups, security configurations, and application deployments in the data center. This quickens setup, reduces downtime, and increases employee productivity.

Decreased energy consumption

Traditional desktops process data locally, thereby requiring more power and generating more heat than thin or zero clients. This results in huge power and cooling bills. In contrast, thin and zero clients consume only 4 to 6.5 watts of power, almost 1/50th of thick client requirements. They also require little to no cooling, allowing you to enjoy significant cost savings. And, as a bonus, they’re practically silent, which makes them conducive to a more relaxing work environment.

Do not overlook thin and zero clients if you’re searching for ways to cut costs without compromising outcomes. The reduced hardware costs, power bills, and security risks are just too good to pass up.

If you’re still unsure about this technology, give us a call. We’ll assess your tech needs and determine whether or not thin or zero clients can help you succeed.

This post was originally published on this site

PHI best practices that all business leaders should know

Protected health information (PHI) is a common target of cybercriminals, as the personal, medical, and financial information that comprise it can be abused for financial gain. This is why businesses that handle PHI should take every step possible to ensure that their clients’ data is always protected.

Provide your staff with regular training

A comprehensive data security training program is necessary to combat ever-evolving threats to the healthcare industry. Training should be done regularly and must cover all the different areas of data security, including the various data breach methods employed by hackers. For instance, your employees should be educated on how to spot phishing attacks, which are the number one cause of data breaches, according to the 2021 Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report.

Understanding how phishing works will help your employees recognize and avoid falling victim to such scams. It’s also important to keep updating your staff with developments in the world of cyberthreats, so that they can stay a step ahead of attackers.

Enforce strict access policies

Place access restrictions on your files and documents to keep unauthorized users from getting their hands on PHI. This entails granting employees access to only the PHI they need to perform their tasks. For instance, accountants should not have access to data about patients’ health conditions. Similarly, physicians shouldn’t be able to see patients’ billing information.

Healthcare executives must also hold employees accountable for accessing PHI for no valid reason. Together with regular cybersecurity training, this will minimize the risk of data breaches resulting from insider threats.

Employ full-disk encryption

Full-disk encryption is an inexpensive and quick method to secure private information saved in computers and portable devices. It renders data indecipherable to users who don’t possess the matching decryption key. This means that even if an employee’s laptop or smartphone is lost or stolen, the thief won’t be able to access any encrypted PHI stored in it.

Build a resilient infrastructure

Malware is a blanket term for viruses, Trojans, and other harmful programs that cybercriminals use to damage systems and gain access to sensitive data. To ensure the security of PHI, your healthcare organization must build an IT infrastructure that is protected against malware of all kinds.

This involves setting up safeguards to keep malware and other threats at bay, such as advanced firewalls, intrusion prevention systems, and email filtering software. You should also consider network segregation and segmentation to block hackers’ attempts to penetrate your networks and steal PHI.

If malware does manage to infiltrate your network, stop it from spreading by deploying next-gen anti-malware software that can detect and quarantine any signs of a breach. If such systems fail, you’d also need a data backup and recovery plan so you can continue caring for your patients even during a major incident.

Implement physical security measures

Many healthcare organizations still rely on paper-based PHI and store these in file cabinets. Secure these valuable assets by installing physical security controls, such as surveillance cameras and card entry systems, in the areas of your facility where records are stored. You should also implement strict record log-out procedures, which will help ensure that only authorized personnel can access records that contain sensitive data and that these are returned promptly.

To learn more about how you can secure PHI and other digital assets, drop us a line today. Our team of professionals can provide you with the knowledge and assistance you need.

This post was originally published on this site

How to protect corporate data

Time and again, we have seen hackers infiltrate even the most secure systems of multinational corporations. As a business owner, you can’t afford a data breach, as it could cost you your clients and reputation. This is why it’s crucial to implement strict security measures that can make cybercriminals think twice about trying to break into your network. Here are some tips to protect your corporate data.

Use two-factor authentication

Using a complicated password to secure your system is not an effective way to level up your cybersecurity. That’s because having to memorize a difficult password often pushes users to set that same complex password for multiple accounts. And if a hacker gets a hold of a recycled password, there’s a high probability that they could access all your accounts that use that same password.

Two-factor authentication (2FA) adds an extra layer of security to your systems and accounts. 2FA comes in many forms: it can be a biometric verification in the devices that you own or a time-sensitive auto-generated code sent to your mobile phone. This security feature works similarly to how websites would require you to confirm your email address to ensure that you are not a bot.

Encrypt all data

Encryption is an effective obstruction to hackers, since it scrambles and descrambles data every time someone tries to read it. Encryption also causes compatibility issues if the data is not being accessed via a company’s own network systems. While applying encryption can be expensive, it is certainly well worth the money because it protects your data in case it falls into the wrong hands.

Keep systems up to date

Hackers are always upgrading their tools to take advantage of outdated security systems, so companies should keep up to protect their valuable technology resources. Many companies don’t install software updates immediately, and that’s a huge problem. Updates often close existing security loopholes, which is why delayed installation can mean exposing your systems to external attacks. Keep your data safe by installing software updates as soon as they are released.

Back up frequently

Implementing several layers to your security doesn’t ensure that hackers won’t find their way into your systems. This is why you need to back up data frequently, whether it’s on-site, off-site, or by way of cloud backups. In the worst-case scenario where your systems do get infiltrated, you can restore lost data from your backups.

Monitor connectivity

Many businesses have no idea how many of their devices are connected online at a given time, so it’s very hard for them to keep track of which of these should actually be online. Sometimes, a company’s computers and servers are online when they don’t need to be, making these tempting and easy targets for attackers. It’s advisable to configure business servers properly to guarantee that only necessary machines are online and that they’re well-protected at all times.

It’s much more expensive to recover from a data breach than to prevent one. If you’re looking to protect your business IT systems from potential threats, contact us today so we can help.

This post was originally published on this site

How to protect corporate data

Time and again, we have seen hackers infiltrate even the most secure systems of multinational corporations. As a business owner, you can’t afford a data breach, as it could cost you your clients and reputation. This is why it’s crucial to implement strict security measures that can make cybercriminals think twice about trying to break into your network. Here are some tips to protect your corporate data.

Use two-factor authentication

Using a complicated password to secure your system is not an effective way to level up your cybersecurity. That’s because having to memorize a difficult password often pushes users to set that same complex password for multiple accounts. And if a hacker gets a hold of a recycled password, there’s a high probability that they could access all your accounts that use that same password.

Two-factor authentication (2FA) adds an extra layer of security to your systems and accounts. 2FA comes in many forms: it can be a biometric verification in the devices that you own or a time-sensitive auto-generated code sent to your mobile phone. This security feature works similarly to how websites would require you to confirm your email address to ensure that you are not a bot.

Encrypt all data

Encryption is an effective obstruction to hackers, since it scrambles and descrambles data every time someone tries to read it. Encryption also causes compatibility issues if the data is not being accessed via a company’s own network systems. While applying encryption can be expensive, it is certainly well worth the money because it protects your data in case it falls into the wrong hands.

Keep systems up to date

Hackers are always upgrading their tools to take advantage of outdated security systems, so companies should keep up to protect their valuable technology resources. Many companies don’t install software updates immediately, and that’s a huge problem. Updates often close existing security loopholes, which is why delayed installation can mean exposing your systems to external attacks. Keep your data safe by installing software updates as soon as they are released.

Back up frequently

Implementing several layers to your security doesn’t ensure that hackers won’t find their way into your systems. This is why you need to back up data frequently, whether it’s on-site, off-site, or by way of cloud backups. In the worst-case scenario where your systems do get infiltrated, you can restore lost data from your backups.

Monitor connectivity

Many businesses have no idea how many of their devices are connected online at a given time, so it’s very hard for them to keep track of which of these should actually be online. Sometimes, a company’s computers and servers are online when they don’t need to be, making these tempting and easy targets for attackers. It’s advisable to configure business servers properly to guarantee that only necessary machines are online and that they’re well-protected at all times.

It’s much more expensive to recover from a data breach than to prevent one. If you’re looking to protect your business IT systems from potential threats, contact us today so we can help.

This post was originally published on this site

5 Most common security breaches

From attacks on mobile devices to ever-increasing types of malware, cybersecurity has never been more challenging. One of the best ways to stay protected is to be aware of cybersecurity threats. To that end, here are five common ways your IT systems can be broken into.

1. You are tricked into installing malicious software

There are countless ways you can be tricked into downloading and installing malware. One is by downloading software from torrent websites. When you visit these sites, you are told to download software in order for the site to load properly. Once downloaded, the malware that came with the software infects your system. In other cases, hackers send emails with a malware-infected attachment.

Luckily, there are steps you can take to avoid accidentally installing malware:

  • Never download files from an untrusted source. If a website is asking you to download something, make sure it’s reputable and reliable. Double check the URL of the website as well, as hackers can spoof legitimate websites and use similar but slightly altered URLs, such as “www.g00gle.com” instead of “www.google.com.” If you are unsure, it’s best to avoid downloading and installing the software.
  • Always look at the name of the file before downloading. A lot of malware is often deliberately given names similar to those of legitimate files, with only a slight spelling mistake or some unusual wording. If you are unsure about the file, then don’t download it. If you know the sender, you may contact them to verify the file’s authenticity.
  • Always scan a file before installing it. Use your antivirus scanner to check downloaded files before opening them.
  • Stay away from sites with torrents, adult content, or those that stream pirated videos. These sites often contain malware, so avoid them altogether.

2. Hackers obtain admin privileges

Many users are logged into their computers as admins. Being an administrator allows you to change settings, install programs, and manage other accounts. The problem with this is that if a hacker manages to access your computer with you as the admin, they will have full access to your computer. This means they can install other malicious software, change settings, or even completely hijack the machine.

Even worse is if a hacker gains access to a computer used to manage the overall IT network. Should this happen, they can control the entire network and do as they please.

To avoid these unfortunate situations, limit the administrator role only to users who need to install applications or change settings on their computers. Installing antivirus software and keeping them up to date, as well as conducting regular scans, will also help reduce the chances of being infected.

3. Someone physically accesses your computer

Your system can also get infected with malware or your data can get stolen because someone physically accessed your systems.

Let’s say you leave your computer unlocked when you go out for lunch. Someone can just walk up to it and plug in a malware-infected USB drive, which can infect your system. They can also manually reset the password, thereby locking you out.

An easy way to defend against this is to secure your computer with a password. You should also lock, turn off, or log off from your computer whenever you step away from it. You can also disable drives like CD/DVD and connections like USB if you don’t use them. Doing so will limit the chances of anyone using these removable media to infect your computer or steal data from it.

4. Someone from within the company infects the system

A disgruntled employee can compromise your IT systems. They can do so much damage such as deleting essential data or introducing highly destructive malware.

The most effective way to prevent this, aside from ensuring your employees are happy, is to limit access to systems. For example, you may find that people in marketing have access to finance files or even admin panels. Revoke unnecessary access rights and ensure that employees only have access to the files they need.

5. Your password is compromised

Passwords are typically the main verification method businesses use to access their accounts and systems. The issue with this is that many people have weak passwords that are easy to crack. To make matters worse, many people even use the same password for multiple accounts, which could lead to a massive breach.

It is therefore important to use strong and different passwords for your accounts. It’s best to also utilize multifactor authentication, which requires users to present more than one way to verify their identity such as a password plus a fingerprint or a one-time code.

If you want to learn more about securing your systems, contact us today.

This post was originally published on this site

5 Most common security breaches

From attacks on mobile devices to ever-increasing types of malware, cybersecurity has never been more challenging. One of the best ways to stay protected is to be aware of cybersecurity threats. To that end, here are five common ways your IT systems can be broken into.

1. You are tricked into installing malicious software

There are countless ways you can be tricked into downloading and installing malware. One is by downloading software from torrent websites. When you visit these sites, you are told to download software in order for the site to load properly. Once downloaded, the malware that came with the software infects your system. In other cases, hackers send emails with a malware-infected attachment.

Luckily, there are steps you can take to avoid accidentally installing malware:

  • Never download files from an untrusted source. If a website is asking you to download something, make sure it’s reputable and reliable. Double check the URL of the website as well, as hackers can spoof legitimate websites and use similar but slightly altered URLs, such as “www.g00gle.com” instead of “www.google.com.” If you are unsure, it’s best to avoid downloading and installing the software.
  • Always look at the name of the file before downloading. A lot of malware is often deliberately given names similar to those of legitimate files, with only a slight spelling mistake or some unusual wording. If you are unsure about the file, then don’t download it. If you know the sender, you may contact them to verify the file’s authenticity.
  • Always scan a file before installing it. Use your antivirus scanner to check downloaded files before opening them.
  • Stay away from sites with torrents, adult content, or those that stream pirated videos. These sites often contain malware, so avoid them altogether.

2. Hackers obtain admin privileges

Many users are logged into their computers as admins. Being an administrator allows you to change settings, install programs, and manage other accounts. The problem with this is that if a hacker manages to access your computer with you as the admin, they will have full access to your computer. This means they can install other malicious software, change settings, or even completely hijack the machine.

Even worse is if a hacker gains access to a computer used to manage the overall IT network. Should this happen, they can control the entire network and do as they please.

To avoid these unfortunate situations, limit the administrator role only to users who need to install applications or change settings on their computers. Installing antivirus software and keeping them up to date, as well as conducting regular scans, will also help reduce the chances of being infected.

3. Someone physically accesses your computer

Your system can also get infected with malware or your data can get stolen because someone physically accessed your systems.

Let’s say you leave your computer unlocked when you go out for lunch. Someone can just walk up to it and plug in a malware-infected USB drive, which can infect your system. They can also manually reset the password, thereby locking you out.

An easy way to defend against this is to secure your computer with a password. You should also lock, turn off, or log off from your computer whenever you step away from it. You can also disable drives like CD/DVD and connections like USB if you don’t use them. Doing so will limit the chances of anyone using these removable media to infect your computer or steal data from it.

4. Someone from within the company infects the system

A disgruntled employee can compromise your IT systems. They can do so much damage such as deleting essential data or introducing highly destructive malware.

The most effective way to prevent this, aside from ensuring your employees are happy, is to limit access to systems. For example, you may find that people in marketing have access to finance files or even admin panels. Revoke unnecessary access rights and ensure that employees only have access to the files they need.

5. Your password is compromised

Passwords are typically the main verification method businesses use to access their accounts and systems. The issue with this is that many people have weak passwords that are easy to crack. To make matters worse, many people even use the same password for multiple accounts, which could lead to a massive breach.

It is therefore important to use strong and different passwords for your accounts. It’s best to also utilize multifactor authentication, which requires users to present more than one way to verify their identity such as a password plus a fingerprint or a one-time code.

If you want to learn more about securing your systems, contact us today.

This post was originally published on this site

Small- and mid-sized businesses need cybersecurity

If your company has recently suffered from a data breach or a ransomware attack, then you know how costly it can be. You lose not just hundreds of dollars but also the reputation you’ve built through the years. That’s why you need cutting-edge cybersecurity solutions to protect your business from ever-growing cybersecurity threats. The good news? Even small- and mid-sized businesses can partner with managed IT services providers (MSPs) who can provide robust solutions and security expertise to protect businesses from huge losses.

The numbers

According to the Ponemon Institute’s 2019 State of Cybersecurity in Small and Medium-Sized Businesses (SMBs) survey, cyberattacks have increased dramatically. Here in the United States, 76% of companies were attacked in 2019, a significant leap from 55% in 2016. Sixty-nine percent of US businesses reported data breaches in 2019, up from 50% in 2016.

The financial consequences have also increased considerably. The average cost spent by companies because of damage to or theft of IT assets and infrastructure increased from $1.03 million in 2017 to $1.2 million in 2019. Costs due to disruption to normal operations increased from an average of $1.21 million in 2017 to an average of $1.9 million in 2019.

The attacks

Globally, the most common forms of attack on SMBs are those that rely on deception: phishing (57%), stolen or compromised devices (33%), and credential theft (30%). Worse, cybercriminals are targeting SMBs more, with reported attacks having increased from 60% in 2017 to 69% in 2019.

Why managed services?

Partnering with MSPs is the most effective way to prevent attacks and protect your business from 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.

And because managed services are designed to identify and fix weak spots in your IT infrastructure, you’ll optimize the digital backbone of your business processes. You’ll have faster network performance, a solid business continuity and disaster recovery strategy, and minimal downtime. One of the best things about managed services is that you get a dedicated team of IT professionals ready to assist you for any technology problems you may encounter. This is much more effective and budget-friendly than having in-house personnel handling all your IT issues.

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.

This post was originally published on this site

Safeguard PHI with these tips

Because healthcare organizations handle protected health information (PHI), they are a prime target for hackers. Stolen PHI can be used to carry out a host of fraudulent activities, which is why businesses in healthcare must be extra vigilant when it comes to cybersecurity. To prevent data breaches and keep PHI secure, follow these best practices.

Educate your staff

A comprehensive data security training program is necessary to combat ever-evolving threats to the healthcare industry. Training should be done regularly and cover all the different areas of data security, including the different data breach methods employed by hackers. For instance, your employees should be educated on how to spot phishing attacks, which are the number one cause of data breaches, according to the 2020 Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report. Understanding how phishing works will help your employees recognize and avoid falling victim to such scams.

Enforce strict access policies

Implement access restriction policies to keep unauthorized users from getting their hands on PHI. This entails granting employees access to only the PHI they need to perform their tasks. For instance, accountants should not have access to data about patients’ health conditions. Similarly, physicians shouldn’t be able to see patients’ billing information.

Healthcare executives must also hold employees accountable for accessing PHI for no valid reason. Together with regular cybersecurity training, this will minimize the risk of data breaches resulting from insider threats.

Employ full-disk encryption

Full-disk encryption is an inexpensive and quick method to secure private information saved in computers and portable devices. It renders data indecipherable to users who don’t possess the matching decryption key. This means that even if one of your employees’ laptop or smartphone is lost or stolen, the thief won’t be able to access any encrypted PHI stored in it.

Build a resilient infrastructure

Malware is a blanket term for viruses, Trojans, and other harmful programs that cybercriminals use to damage systems and gain access to sensitive data. To ensure the security of PHI, your healthcare organization must build an IT infrastructure that is protected against malware of all kinds.

This involves setting up safeguards to keep malware and other threats at bay, such as advanced firewalls, intrusion prevention systems, and email filtering software. You should also consider network segregation and segmentation to block hackers’ attempts to penetrate your networks and steal PHI data.

If malware does manage to infiltrate your network, stop it from spreading by deploying next-gen anti-malware software that can detect and quarantine any signs of a breach. If such systems fail, you’d also need a data backup and recovery plan so you can continue caring for your patients even during a major incident.

Implement physical security measures

Many healthcare organizations still rely on paper-based PHI and store these in file cabinets. Secure these valuable assets by installing physical security controls, such as surveillance cameras and card entry systems, in the areas of your facility where records are stored. You should also implement strict record log-out procedures, which will help ensure that only authorized personnel can access records that contain sensitive data and that these are returned promptly.

To learn more about how you can secure PHI and other digital assets, drop us a line today. Our team of professionals can provide you with the knowledge and assistance you need.

This post was originally published on this site