How two-factor and two-step authentication can improve your security

Data breaches are becoming more prevalent these days. In order to keep your business safe from data breaches, you need to step up your security measures. One of the best ways to strengthen your security is by implementing a two-factor or a two-step authentication process. These authentication methods may sound the same, but they are actually two different processes. Read on to learn more about the difference between two-factor authentication and two-step authentication.

According to the Allianz Risk Barometer, businesses are more worried about cybersecurity threats compared to other business disruptions like supply chain issues, natural disasters, or even the COVID-19 pandemic. This is why business owners are ramping up data security measures. One way they do this is by implementing two-factor and two-step authentication. Many businesses use the two terms interchangeably, but these processes are quite different.

Two-factor authentication

Two-factor authentication (2FA) is a security measure used to ensure that people trying to access a system are who they say they are. 2FA requires users to provide two pieces of information before being granted access.

When you try to log in to a system that uses 2FA, you’ll be asked to provide not only your password but also another piece of information or form of identification. This second factor can be something you know, like a PIN or a security question, or something you have, like a physical token or key fob. If you have the correct password and the second piece of information, then you’ll be granted access to the system. Because of the additional authentication information required, hackers would have great difficulty breaking into a network using a 2FA system.

Two-step authentication

Two-step authentication (2SA) is an extra layer of security that can be added to your online accounts. 2SA requires you to enter both your password and a code that is sent to your phone or email before you can log in.

Adding 2SA to your online accounts can help protect your information from being hacked. Even if a hacker knows your username and password, they will still need the code that is sent to your phone or email before they can log in to your account.

There are a few different ways to set up 2SA. Some websites, like Google and Facebook, offer 2SA as an additional security measure that is especially useful when you or someone else is trying to log in using a new or different device. Others, like Dropbox and Twitter, require you to set up your authentication profile in the settings page before you can use their app. A 2SA setup is typically quick and easy, and only requires you to have your phone or email immediately accessible when you log in.

Which one is better?

Relying on a single-factor authentication process is no longer sufficient in ensuring the safety of your network. Securing the authentication process and making it difficult for cybercriminals to access your network should be on top of your priorities. Deciding whether to use two-step or two-factor authentication largely depends on your business’s specific security requirements. To take the stress out of choosing which between the two methods better suits your needs, call us today for expert cybersecurity advice.

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How to remove adware apps from your Android device

Are you constantly seeing unwanted ads on your Android device? Does it freeze up or crash for no apparent reason? Chances are, it’s infected with adware. Aside from being a nuisance, adware can also install malicious scripts designed to steal a user’s private information. Here’s what you need to know about adware, and how to remove them from your Android device.

What is adware?

Adware or advertising-supported software is a program that displays unwanted ads on computers or mobile devices. It monitors browsing activity to bombard users with advertisements tailored to their interests. Some signs of an adware infection include:

  • Ads popping up on an Android device’s lock screen and notification panel
  • Noticeably slower performance and/or frequent crashing
  • Fast battery drain
  • Suspicious data usage
  • The appearance of unknown software you did not download
  • Changes to your browser’s home page

How can you remove Android adware apps?

If you notice the aforementioned signs or suspect that your Android device is infected with adware, here are ways to remove it.

Use adware removal software
Adware removal apps can easily remove hidden adware from Android devices. However, not all of them are safe or effective. When choosing adware removal software, make sure it can do the following:

  • Monitor URLs and alert you against dangerous websites
  • Warn you about the presence of suspicious apps aside from adware
  • Automatically scan and remove adware from your device
  • Efficiently use your device’s resources
  • Run smoothly in the background without disrupting other apps

Remove adware manually
If your device does not have an adware removal tool installed, or you don’t want to download one, you can manually remove adware by following these steps:

  1. Press and hold the power button.
  2. Press and hold down the Restart or Power Off icon until a new option to reboot in safe mode appears.
  3. Tap on Safe Mode. This will restart your device in Safe Mode, which disables all third-party apps.
  4. After restarting your device in Safe Mode, go to Settings > Apps. This will bring up a list of all the apps on your device. Adware apps usually come with a greenish-blue icon and use generic file names such as Update, Back-Up, etc.
  5. Tap on the icon of the app you want to remove and select Uninstall. Note that most Android devices come with preloaded apps from the manufacturer that can’t be deleted. In such cases, the only options you can use are Force Stop or Disable.

These steps will largely depend on your device’s Android version. If you’re having trouble restarting your device in Safe Mode, try referring to its manual or search online on how to restart your specific device in Safe Mode.

If you want to learn more ways to protect your Android devices from adware and other cyberthreats, give us a call today. We’ll be more than happy to help.

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6 Crucial battery-saving tips for iPhone users

If you’re working out of the office or house, you never want your iPhone to run out of battery. A dead smartphone can mean missing important calls and being unable to send crucial updates to the team. But with the tips below, you can avoid these issues in the first place.

1. Activate Low Power Mode

When you switch on Low Power Mode, it automatically adjusts several settings to extend the life of your battery. For starters, it reduces the brightness of your screen and the amount of battery power your apps are using. It also disables the automatic fetching of new email and it powers off the display more quickly. To activate Low Power Mode, press Settings > Battery and then tap Low Power Mode.

2. Lower the screen brightness

The brighter your iPhone screen, the more battery it drains. To adjust your screen brightness, flick the Control Center tab upward from the bottom of your screen. There, you’ll see a horizontal line with a circle in the middle and a sun symbol to the side of both ends. Move the circle left or right to adjust the brightness.

Alternatively, you can adjust your iPhone’s brightness in Settings > Display & Brightness. On this screen, you also can turn off Auto-Brightness, which automatically adjusts the brightness of your phone. When you turn this setting off, you’ll be certain that your phone is not wasting any battery power due to excessive screen brightness.

3. Switch off Wi-Fi

Enabling Wi-Fi can be a huge battery drain depending on the location. For instance, if you’re at home, Wi-Fi will use less battery. But when you’re on the go, your phone is often searching for a Wi-Fi signal to connect to, which drains the battery. So if you can hold off on your mobile browsing and email till you get home or to the office, your phone will stay powered on longer.

4. Switch off cellular data

Like Wi-Fi, cellular data can also consume battery quickly, especially if you’re in an area where there’s no cellular coverage. When this happens, your phone begins to constantly search for a signal, and this consumes a lot of power. So if you’re short on battery and don’t need data, turn off your cellular data function. Doing this can easily provide an extra hour or two of additional battery life.

5. Activate airplane mode

Desperate times call for desperate measures, and this is exactly when you need airplane mode. If you are down to 20 percent battery life and need your phone to last for a few hours longer, airplane mode may help. By switching it on, your phone will shut down all wireless activity, including cellular, Bluetooth, and Wi-Fi.

Doing this is obviously not ideal, but if you have little battery life and want your phone available in case of emergencies, this is your best option (next to switching it off). You can also turn on wireless functions like Bluetooth or Wi-Fi individually while staying in airplane mode.

You can switch to airplane mode from the Control Center screen or by going to Settings and then clicking on Airplane mode.

6. Use a power bank

Buying a power bank to charge your phone remotely is a great option if you intend to continue using Wi-Fi, cellular data, and other high-powered settings for long hours. These devices are continually becoming lighter and smaller, so it’s no longer a hassle to carry them around. You can simply slide a power bank into your pocket and use it when needed.

If you’re looking for more ways to get the most out of your iPhone or are looking to service your Apple technology, feel free to contact us. We’re happy to help in any way possible.

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The advantages of telemedicine

When you have questions about your health or are feeling under the weather, you usually set up a face-to-face meeting with your healthcare provider. But advancements in communication technology are allowing people to consult with their doctors anytime and anywhere through a service called telemedicine.

What is telemedicine?

Telemedicine is an innovative and safe way for patients to consult with their healthcare providers from the comfort of their homes. It utilizes modern video conferencing and remote monitoring technology to help doctors assess, diagnose, and recommend treatment options to patients who are physically unable to visit a clinic or hospital.

Benefits of telemedicine

While it’s not meant to completely replace in-person consultations, telemedicine has significant benefits, such as:

Better access to healthcare

Telemedicine connects specialists to patients who have trouble obtaining proper healthcare services. This includes people living in rural locations and medically underserved communities, and those who can’t travel due to disabilities. With virtual consultations, people without easy access to basic healthcare services can now see their doctors more frequently.

Reduced exposure to illnesses

Because telemedicine allows patients to consult with a physician remotely, it can reduce their risk of exposure to infectious illnesses such as the common cold and the COVID-19 virus.

Convenience

Virtual consultations allow patients to talk to a physician from the comfort of your home, eliminating the need for you to travel, pay for gas and parking, and sit in a waiting room to see a doctor. People can even fit telemedicine into their busy schedules. By scheduling a consultation during breaks or after work, they don’t need to miss a day of work to get a checkup.

Cost savings

According to the American Journal of Emergency Medicine, telemedicine consultations can help patients save around $19 to $121 per visit. The report shows that a single virtual consultation was enough to address the health concerns of multiple patients without having to send them to expensive care settings like emergency rooms. Another study by Today’s Geriatric Medicine shows telemedicine can cut the cost of inpatient care by as much as 19%.

Improved quality of care delivery

A study by the National Library of Medicine showed that telemedicine enhances the quality of care for patients suffering from both mental health and medical conditions. It made follow-up care easier for healthcare professionals and helped patients manage their medical conditions more effectively. With the help of telemedicine, patients had:

  • 38% less hospital admissions
  • 31% less hospital readmissions
  • 63% chance of shorter hospital stays

Organized health information

Aside from virtual consultations, using telemedicine is a good way of organizing a patient’s health records. By using patient forms found on online healthcare platforms and portals, a patient can check their test results, review medical records, request prescription refills, and get in touch with their healthcare provider with a single click of a button.

Telemedicine is changing doctor-patient relationships by providing people with better access to their doctor and direct care at home. If you want to learn more about telemedicine, give us a call today.

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UC cloud migration: Crucial tips to keep in mind

Moving unified communications (UC) systems to the cloud can be a daunting task. If the migration is not planned carefully, this can lead to disastrous consequences for your business. Otherwise, it offers many significant benefits, including augmented security and scalability. In this blog post, we outline crucial tips to keep in mind when planning your migration so that you can enjoy all the benefits of UC in the cloud without any risks.

A gradual transition is the key

You don’t have to migrate your UC system to the cloud in one big move. Staggering migration can be more secure and beneficial. For instance, you can first move UC technologies for departments that will benefit from it. Meanwhile, those with no pressing need for a cloud-based UC system, such as a company’s call center, can keep using on-premises systems. Doing this allows users to ease their way into the new system without experiencing network disruptions that may hamper their productivity.

Ensure sufficient bandwidth

Speed and performance issues will inevitably arise, so make sure to cover all the bases before migration. To do this, you have to secure a reliable internet service provider (ISP), check the stability of your internal network, and have a backup plan. Ensuring sufficient bandwidth is a critical point to consider during migration if you often experience unstable or slow network connections that could pose serious problems. Determine the level of bandwidth your entire business needs, and get it from an ISP that can deliver.

Do not skip your tests

You may experience a smooth UC transition to the cloud, but you may also encounter unexpected issues that need ironing out long after the migration is declared a success. It’s best practice to test the systems throughout the migration process to soften potentially costly and time-consuming impacts. Whether you’re trying out voice, data, or video, you should conduct tests, set benchmarks for performance, and predict future usage patterns.

Immediately act on identified problem points

After going live with your cloud UC system, consider the overall user experience and availability of support for devices, applications, and other components. Are persistent connectivity issues going to cause trouble during conference calls? This and other issues may prove detrimental in the long run, so keep them in mind when deciding whether to keep, enhance, or discontinue a cloud-based UC system. Your new system should reduce headaches, not exacerbate them.

Constantly monitor performance and quality

Don’t be surprised if you encounter a few issues even after extensive testing. Migrating to the cloud requires planning and a sustainable strategy, especially if your organization is dependent on instant messaging, voice conferencing, or video calling. There’s also a good chance that you will be working with several vendors, so always demand the best service.

You too can have a smooth and secure UC cloud migration experience. With our cloud technology and VoIP know-how, we’ll make sure it’s an easy process. Contact us today to learn more.

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MS Excel 2021 for Windows: Great new features and functions to leverage

Microsoft Excel makes it easy to create budgets, track inventory levels, and analyze sales. This software can handle huge amounts of information, making it an extremely useful tool for storing and analyzing data. No wonder Excel has become a staple in offices worldwide over the years. Its latest version, Excel 2021 for Windows, is packed with even more powerful features and functions that you can enjoy.

Features exclusive to Excel 2021 for Microsoft 365

The following new features are available for Excel for Microsoft 365, but not its long-term servicing channel (LTSC) version, which was formerly known as the “perpetual license” version.

  • Co-authoring – lets you work simultaneously with other users on the same Excel workbook and see each other’s inputs in a matter of seconds
  • Threaded comments – allows you to have better discussions with other users in an Excel workbook, thanks to the ability to reply to comments inline
  • Visibility of active co-authors – lets you see the other users who are also working with you and where they are in the workbook

XLOOKUP function

Similar to the VLOOKUP, HLOOKUP, and INDEX+MATCH functions, XLOOKUP searches for an item in a range or table and returns the matching result. However, XLOOKUP is more powerful than other lookup functions since it requires only three basic parameters to perform the search:

  • The value you are looking for
  • The list that should contain the value
  • The list where the result should come from

XLOOKUP can search anywhere in the data and find the result, not just on a specified column or row like with the VLOOKUP and HLOOKUP functions. Moreover, XLOOKUP finds the exact match by default, so you don’t have to indicate “True” or “False” in the formula.

LET function

The LET function allows you to assign names to calculation results. For example, you can apply names, such as “monthlySales” and “totalSales” to an associated value, which makes formulas easier to read. The LET function supports up to 126 name/value pairs. Take note that the names work only within the scope of the LET function.

To use the LET function, you need to provide at least three parameters:

  • Name
  • Associated value
  • Calculation that uses the name and associated value pair/s

For example:
=LET(x,1,x+2) → x+2 → 1+2 → 3

6 New dynamic array functions

For the longest time, Excel allowed users to use just one formula per cell. However, this has changed with the recent introduction of dynamic arrays wherein any formula that returns an array of values automatically spills into neighboring cells.

To leverage dynamic arrays, Excel 2021 for Windows introduced six new functions:

  • FILTER – filters data based on the predefined criteria
  • SORT – sorts a cell range by a specified column
  • SORTBY – sorts a cell range by another range or array
  • UNIQUE – takes out unique values from a range of cells
  • SEQUENCE – creates a list of sequential numbers
  • RANDARRAY – creates an array of random numbers

XMATCH function

The more powerful successor to the MATCH function, XMATCH looks for a specified item in an array or range of cells and then returns the item’s relative position in vertical or horizontal ranges. It can also return a value in an array.

The XMATCH function assumes that you want an exact match, so it requires only two parameters (i.e., lookup value and lookup array) to work. However, you can add an optional third parameter to change the default matching type to “next smaller,” “next larger,” or “wildcard match.”

XMATCH has another optional parameter that allows you to indicate whether to search from the top or bottom of the lookup list, or whether to conduct a binary search on ascending or descending values.

These are just some of the great new features you can leverage in Excel 2021 for Windows. For more Microsoft Office productivity tips, consult our IT experts today.

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SaaS, Paas, and IaaS: 3 Primary cloud computing service models explained

As a business owner, you know that technology is essential to your success, but keeping up with the latest trends can be expensive and time-consuming. That’s why cloud computing is a great option for businesses of all sizes. It allows you to access hardware and software over the internet, which means you don’t have to invest in expensive infrastructure or even hire full-time staff to manage your IT. In this blog post, we will discuss the different types of cloud computing service models and help you choose the best one for your business.

1. Software-as-a-Service (SaaS)

SaaS is one of the most common and well known cloud service delivery models. Unlike software that you install on your computer, SaaS solutions are hosted on a provider’s servers. That is, when you open a mobile or web browser app, the device merely sends inputs to a data center. The data center then processes the inputs and sends the outputs back to your device. Minimal to no processing is done on your device itself. And for as long as you have an internet connection, you can access the software from any device, at any time.

With SaaS, your provider is responsible for software maintenance and updates. They’ll make sure to roll out updates once these become available so that all users have the same version of a particular software at the same time. This means you don’t have to spend time and effort manually managing software and checking for updates, which can lead you to save on related costs.

For improved efficiency and productivity, SaaS software solutions typically include document creation suites, accounting software, email services, HR solutions, content management tools, customer relationship management systems, and more.

In a nutshell, SaaS is:

  • Ready to use and available over the internet
  • Hosted on a remote server by a third-party provider
  • Scalable, with different tiers for small, medium, and enterprise-level businesses
  • Inclusive, offering security, compliance, and maintenance as part of the cost

2. Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS)

PaaS is primarily used by developers who need a virtual environment for developing and testing their own custom software or apps. This means developers don’t need to build and maintain their own infrastructure consisting of networking devices, storage, servers, an operating system, and other necessary hardware and software when developing applications. This saves them time and money.

Aside from helping businesses improve the quality of their products, PaaS enables businesses to shorten their product development cycles, leading to faster time to market for new products.

Most companies that utilize PaaS do so to either host or develop their own software solutions or provide support for software used by their employees. But while PaaS is gaining popularity with many small businesses, most won’t have firsthand interactions with this type of cloud unless they need to build their own software or app.

In general, PaaS solutions are:

  • Accessible to multiple users for enhanced collaboration
  • Scalable, with various tiers of resources to suit the size of your business
  • Built on virtualization technology
  • Easy to run without extensive system administration knowledge

3. Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS)

IaaS is considered one of the most flexible cloud models, as it gives the most ideal options when it comes to IT hardware infrastructure. IaaS offers services such as pay-as-you-go storage, networking, and virtualization. The most popular and well-known type of IaaS is the virtual machine — a digital version of a computer or server that is accessed over the internet. IaaS gives you cloud-based alternatives to expensive on-premises infrastructure, so you can use your funds to invest in other things.

In other words, if you are looking to virtualize your systems via the cloud, IaaS is a good place to start, as it allows you to easily move existing support systems. Other solutions can then be migrated or introduced as needed.

IaaS is:

  • Highly flexible and scalable
  • Accessible by multiple users
  • Cost-effective

While the cloud offers a wide variety of benefits and solutions, choosing the service model that best fits your company’s needs can be daunting. Get in touch with us today and we’ll help you find the best solution for your business and ensure proper migration and implementation so you can focus on running your business.

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Effective ways of securely collecting customer data

For companies to succeed, they must be able to deliver value to their customers. This entails having a deep understanding of their clients’ needs and interests by collecting and segmenting customer data. However, they should first ensure that they are compliant with data privacy laws to avoid corresponding fines and penalties. Here are safe and effective ways of collecting customer information.

1. Prioritize security

The IBM Cost of a Data Breach Report found that the global average data breach cost reached $4.24 million in 2021, up by 10% from $3.86 million in 2020. Small- and medium-sized businesses, in particular, lose an average of $120,000 per data breach incident.

To avoid such costs and ensure the safety of customer information, you must invest in modern security systems and train your employees in data privacy best practices.

2. Exercise ethical data collection

You need to be honest and transparent about collecting customer data. This means developing clear privacy policies, allowing customers to choose what information to share, and disclosing how their data will be used.

3. Collect only the data you need

Approximately 60% to 73% of customer information collected by organizations is unused during the analysis process. This flood of data can overwhelm analysts and distract management from making effective decisions. Therefore, before gathering customer data, companies must first decide on the following:

  • What information to prioritize
  • How the information aligns with business objectives
  • How the data will be analyzed
  • How this data can help improve the business

4. Back up all data

All of your customer data collection efforts will go to waste if you lose the data because of cyberattacks, natural disasters, and IT failures, among other disasters. This is why you need to make sure that your business has an effective backup and data recovery plan.

5. Update customer data regularly

Having outdated or incorrect data, such as phone numbers, emails, and addresses, can‌ prevent you from nurturing your relationships with your customers. To prevent this issue, regularly check and delete unnecessary data, duplicates, and inactive contacts.

Collecting and analyzing customer data will greatly benefit your company’s overall marketing strategy. If you’re looking for reliable IT solutions to optimize data collection, give us a call today.

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Simplify logging in with Windows Hello

You can now log in faster and more securely to your Windows 10- or 11-powered device with Microsoft’s Windows Hello. This feature allows you to log in to your computer without having to enter a password. All you need is a fingerprint, iris, or facial scan, or a PIN code.

How to set up Windows Hello

To get started with Windows Hello, click the Start menu icon and open Settings. From there, choose Accounts, followed by Sign-in options. You should see options for setting your PIN or scanning your face, iris, or fingerprint. Select which method you want to set up and follow the prompts to create a login profile.

You can even save your biometric data or scan more than once to boost accuracy. The system collects more data every time you scan, so it’s better to complete a few scans before enabling the login feature.

After setting up your account, you can start adding other trusted users who share the same device. Each of them can set up their own PIN or biometric profile in a separate account. Passwords and PIN codes can be used as backup login options in case the camera or fingerprint scanner aren’t working.

Limited availability

As of this writing, Windows Hello is only available on select Windows 10 and 11 laptops and tablets. To see which devices have Windows Hello, go to the Windows website, scroll down to the “Filter by” section, then select the Windows Hello option under the “Features” column. The resulting selection lists devices that have the infrared camera and/or fingerprint scanner required to enable this feature.

Microsoft’s promise of security

Your Windows Hello login info is saved only on your device and never on Microsoft’s servers. Furthermore, Microsoft assures users that third parties cannot access locally saved PIN codes and biometric data. All of this means that you never need to worry about your login info falling into the wrong hands.

In addition to Windows Hello, there are other Windows features that can make your life easier. Our IT experts can help you get more out of your Windows devices. Contact us today!

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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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