As a business owner, it’s important to be aware of the unexpected costs associated with the cloud and what measures you can take to keep those costs down. They might not add up to much at first, but could eventually cost you more than the service is worth. Pay the right price for the services you receive with these five tips:
Cloud services come in various shapes and sizes, many of which are standalone platforms with rates that increase over time. Opt for a service provider that offers a suite of products that all work together. They are often less expensive than a group of standalone products. Another benefit of working with a cloud provider is that you receive a single point of contact to resolve your issues quickly and effectively.
If you plan on integrating a standalone cloud service into your system, make sure you hire an experienced integration consultant to facilitate a smooth transition. Integration mishaps can cause serious downtime and cost a lot of money.
Backups are important
Unnecessary or inefficient backups will waste cloud storage space. Examine your cloud storage data by asking the following questions:
- How many versions of this data do I need to store long-term? The more versions you store, the more it costs.
- What regulatory demands do I need to meet? Some data may need to be accessible for up to three years, whereas other data can be deleted after 30 days.
- How quickly do I need to access my backups? If it can wait for a day or two, archive that data to a less expensive service or offline at the provider’s data center.
Many cloud service providers charge by the number of users in your system. By neglecting to manage the list of users, you could end up paying for people who no longer work for you. Implement processes that remove users when they are terminated and consider scheduling a regular audit. Ideally, this should be once every six months to a year, to ensure your cloud user list is up-to-date.
Ask your cloud provider whether they can proactively monitor your account and notify you of potential issues before they cause problems. This is especially important if you have a pay-as-you-go license that charges based on resource or storage consumption.
Utilizing the right technology resources is vital to your business’s success, and so is knowing how to prevent them from racking up an overwhelming monthly bill. If you wish to enjoy all the benefits of cloud computing without breaking the bank, give us a call and we’ll be happy to help.
When it comes to cyberattacks, most business owners get hung up on the technical and logistical details, forgetting another important aspect: motive. Why are hackers attacking people and organizations? And whom are they targeting? By answering these questions, you’ll have a better understanding of which of your business’s resources need the most protection.
Skill-wise, script kiddies (or skids, for short) are at the bottom of the hacker totem pole. Their name comes from the fact that they use scripts or other automated tools written by others. Most of the time, script kiddies are young people on a quest for internet notoriety. Or, more often than not, they’re simply bored and in search of a thrill. Many never become full-time hackers; in fact, many script kiddies end up using their skills for the greater good, working in the security industry.
Though lacking in hacking know-how, script kiddies shouldn’t be dismissed so easily, as they can cause businesses much damage. In May 2000, for instance, a couple of skids sent out an email with the subject line “ILOVEYOU” and ended up causing a reported $10 billion in lost productivity and digital damage.
Hacktivists are primarily politically motivated, and they often hack into businesses and government systems to promote a particular political agenda or to effect social change. These so-called “hackers with a cause” steal confidential information to expose or simply disrupt their target’s operations.
If you’re a small- or medium-sized (SMB) owner, don’t think for a second that you’re immune to hacktivist attacks. This is especially true if your company is associated or partnered with organizations that are prime hacktivist targets. Or, if your business provides services that can be seen as unethical, you may targeted by hacktivists as well.
When a hacker breaks into digital systems or networks with malicious intent, they are considered a cybercriminal. Cybercriminals target everyone from individuals to SMBs to large enterprises and banks that either have a very valuable resource to steal or security that is easy to exploit, or a combination of both.
They can attack in a number of ways, including using social engineering to trick users into volunteering sensitive personal or company data, which they can then sell in underground markets in the dark web. They can also infect computers with ransomware and other malware, or use digital technology to carry out “conventional crimes” like fraud and illegal gambling.
Perhaps the scariest type of hacker is the one that lurks within your own organization. An insider can be anyone from current and former employees to contractors to business associates. Oftentimes their mission is payback: to right a wrong they believe a company has done them, they’ll steal sensitive documents or try to disrupt the organization somehow. Edward Snowden is a prime example of an insider who hacked his own organization — the US government.
When it comes to cyber attacks, most business owners get hung up on the technical and logistical details, forgetting another important aspect: motive. Why are hackers attacking people and organizations? And whom are they targeting? By answering these questions, you’ll have a better understanding of which of your business’s resources need the most protection.
Now that you know what motivates your enemy, and you think you might be a target, it’s time to secure your business from the different types of hackers out there. Get in touch with our experts today to learn how.
Windows 7 Extended Support Ends 1-13-2020
As the saying goes: Out with the old, in with the new. That’s exactly what Microsoft is encouraging Windows 7 users to do as soon as possible. It’s been reported that Windows 7 is so outdated that patches are unable to secure it anymore. Maybe it’s the nostalgic qualities that make it hard for users to take the leap. But sentiments aside, Windows 10 is the way to go.
Windows 7 was given extended support in 2015. And with that, Microsoft warned its users that this outdated version would drive up operating costs due to remediating software attacks that Windows 10 systems could otherwise avoid. The one-year countdown to Windows 7’s twilight officially began with a warning to enterprises that they could face hefty fines for sticking with the platform’s outdated security.
According to Markus Nitschke, head of Windows at Microsoft Germany: Windows 7 does not meet the requirements of modern technology, nor the high security requirements of IT departments. How would this make current Windows 7 users feel? Why are users choosing to remain faithful to the platform’s outdated security? Users can delay upgrades until January 13, 2020, after which extended support for the 2009 OS will end and it will no longer receive patches — unless the customer is paying for a pricey Microsoft Custom Support Agreement.
Markus also added that “As early as in Windows XP, we saw that companies should take early steps to avoid future risks or costs.” The message came as Microsoft published studies that showed Windows 10 Anniversary Update’s built-in security managed to neutralize many zero-day exploits, even without patches needed to protect earlier versions of Windows.
Failing to upgrade to Windows 10 means that you and your networks will miss out on noteworthy security features such as the Windows Hello biometric login, the AppContainer sandboxing technology, and Windows Defender Advanced Threat Protection, which will gain new features after upcoming Creators Update.
With the help of newer tools, migrating from Windows 7 to Windows 10 is considerably easier when compared with migrations from XP. Microsoft is still urging corporate users to make the shift before Microsoft permanently terminates support for Windows 7, stating that their business could be looking at real trouble if they fail to comply.
Business owners always do their best to ensure the future of their organization. That includes knowing which tech resources to rely on and which ones to avoid. If you still have questions about Windows 7, feel free to give us a call.
Ransomware has become a fast-track for making money for hackers. But instead of just demanding a small payment for the decryption code that will unlock their computers, some hackers are demanding that victims sacrifice two other friends to ensure they receive the code they need. Read more to find out what makes “Popcorn Time” such a devious program and how you can avoid becoming one of its victims.
Ransomware is nothing new. Cybersecurity miscreants have been taking advantage of online users for years by requiring payment to “unlock” a victim’s computer. What Popcorn Time does differently is give users the option to spread the virus to two other victims in the hopes that they will pay the ransom — a tactic that promises to double their money at the expense of your sense of morality (and at the expense of your friendships as well).
The Cost of Popcorn
When you inadvertently download this ransomware, you will be met with a screen that explains that your files have been hijacked/encrypted, and that to get them back you will need to pay one Bitcoin for a decryption key that they keep stored remotely. The Bitcoin fee is usually more than $700, a hefty price to pay.
Spread the “Cheer” and Hope they Bite
What makes Popcorn Time unique is the option victims have to take their cost away by allowing the ransomware to affect two of their friends for a chance to get a free decryption code. Of course, it works only if both friends pay the ransom, which leaves you looking (and feeling) like the Grinch.
Avoiding Popcorn Time this Season
The easiest way to avoid downloading ransomware is to stay off of sites that might contain questionable files. However, this is nearly impossible for modern users, and many hackers are getting good at making their files look legitimate. Limit your exposure to potential ransomware by keeping your software up-to-date and your computer protected with a security program from a reputable company (for example Symantec). If you need to learn more about how to avoid running into ransomware while you’re online, give our professional cybersecurity consultants a call.
Can you think of an industry that hasn’t improved because of advanced technology? It’s hard to come up with one; much easier to think about where technology has made our lives better. A good example would be the medical world, where everything from robotic surgeries to electronic health records (EHR) — plus these five integrated healthcare technologies — are leading to more patient-friendly futures.
Putting the words “healthcare technology integration” together opens things up pretty broadly, so what do we mean by it exactly? In this instance, we’re not talking so much about complex surgical procedures or hi-tech medical devices; the focus here is more on IT, or “information technology,” in the healthcare realm.
It may not sound as impressive as some of the sci-fi-seeming technological advances like anesthesiologists’ iPads that use “perioperative information management systems” to track the patient’s well-being during surgery; or the “Argus II” bionic eye, which takes a video signal from a pair of sunglasses and transmits it to retinal implants. But the improvements technology integrations are making to the patient experience are no less significant.
In the past, healthcare providers had but one “convenient” way of reminding patients of upcoming appointments. Phone calls are fine, but even with the advent of robo-calls, connections can be missed and messages can fall through the cracks. Today, your doctor’s office can reach you via more expeditious “e-methods” like email, chat, and text message. They also afford patients an interactive option where they can confirm dates and times with a click of their mouse or a tap of their screen.
Integrating technology into your healthcare routine will never replace the advantages of meeting your physician face-to-face, but it certainly makes it easier for you to manage your wellness. For example, there are apps that give you on-demand access to your medical records and patient history, with features like real-time chatting with your doctor, therapist, or nurses — allowing for better, faster decision making when it comes to your health, all without an actual appointment.
Here’s one area of patient care where new apps are truly simplifying things, making communications between you and your doctors and pharmacists completely hassle-free. In many cases, the process for getting the right medication at the right time can be totally automated; gone are the days of calling in scripts or dropping them off and waiting. Welcome to the new age of software programs that manage your meds, automatically refill them, and keep you on-track to better health.
Everyone has a different approach to staying fit or recovering from illness, and in the world-wide-web era, search engines are a part of most people’s repertoire. But the data you find online won’t be tailored to your precise situation, and certainly won’t be 100% trustable. Thankfully, a slew of sophisticated health-tech apps are integrated with wearable devices to give you accurate, up-to-the-minute info on how you’re doing with your stress management, heart health, or temperature regulation.
The historically labor-intensive, often irritating undertaking of filing medical claims has been seriously improved upon by technology in recent years. Thanks to cloud computing, your doctors and insurance carrier can collaborate on your behalf using secure, encrypted apps that result in faster processing and far less paperwork. You’re even able to enter your insurance info ahead of time, and stay up-to-date throughout the process with automated status updates.
Technology integration in healthcare is improving the ways we prevent diseases, perform surgeries, and deliver treatments. But the innovations with the most significant day-to-day influence are the ones that provide patients with access to reliable, real-time information. That’s where patient outcomes have been advanced the most — right before our eyes.
Business technology has become one of the most important components for successful companies big and small. In an overwhelmingly digital landscape, businesses depend on IT for marketing, data storage, and financial transactions. And with that comes the need to secure every bit of private information cyber criminals might want to feast their eyes on. And while an outsourced security professional is a must, there are a few simple steps you can do yourself to get started. Check out five of our favorites here.
Limitation of lateral data transfers
Employees not being educated on data sharing and security is one of the biggest reasons for internal data breaches. It’s a good idea to limit access to important data and information by restricting access privileges to only a small number of individuals. Also, you can decide to use network segmentation to cut unnecessary communication from your own network to others.
Keeping your machines and devices updated
Internal breaches might also occur when employees work with unguarded or unprotected machines. They might unknowingly download malware, which normally wouldn’t be a problem if machines were properly managed. Updating your operating systems, antivirus software, business software, and firewalls as often as possible will go a long way toward solidifying your defense systems.
Use monitoring and machine learning to sniff out abnormalities
It’s not all on your employees, however. Network administrators should employ monitoring software to prevent breaches by analyzing what is “normal” behavior and comparing that to what appears to be suspicious behavior. Cyber criminals often hide in networks to exploit them over a long period of time. Even if you miss them the first time, you should monitor suspicious activity so you can recognize impropriety and amend security policies before it goes any further.
Creating strong security passwords and credentials
No matter how often we say it, there’s always room for improvement when it comes to your passwords and login procedures. In addition to text-based credentials, you should require other methods whenever possible. Fingerprints and smart cards, for example, are much harder for cyber criminals to fake. Regardless of which factors are used, they must be frequently updated to prevent breaches – accidental or otherwise.
In the end, no system is perfect. Zero-day attacks exploit unknown gaps in security, and human error, accidental or otherwise, can never be totally prevented. And for this reason, small businesses need to start embracing cyber insurance policies. These policies help cover the damages that might occur even under a top-of-the-line security infrastructure. Considerations for selecting a policy include legal fees, first and third-party coverage, and coverage for reputation rehabilitation.
The field of cyber security is overwhelming — even for seasoned IT professionals. But not for us. We spend our days researching and experimenting to craft the best security solutions on the market. If you’re interested in one of our cutting-edge cyber-security plans, call us today.
When disaster strikes, organizations need to put their business continuity plans into action and recover their IT systems as quickly as possible. Failing to do so can mean serious financial and reputational repercussions. Despite this, investments in disaster recovery are set aside each year for high-tech IT investments, and every year companies and employees continue to suffer for it. Here are some reasons why disaster recovery is well worth your time, effort, and resources in 2017.
DR isn’t a huge investment
A common misconception about disaster recovery is that it’s a large, bank-breaking investment. Expensive data centers, networks, and server maintenance usually come into mind when a business owner is confronted with the idea of business continuity. And while that may have been true in the past, establishing a strong disaster recovery plan today is as simple as having a secure, compliant cloud-based disaster recovery provider like TECHLINQ. Agreement pricing models are actually comparatively low, meaning you can have minimal downtime while still having enough to invest in new technology.
Onsite backups alone just won’t cut it
Although you might feel secure with a manual backup server down the hall, it is still susceptible to local disasters and, ultimately, does very little in minimizing company downtime. When disaster recovery solutions are hosted both locally and in the cloud, restoring critical data and applications is a much less time-consuming process.
Business disasters can be man-made, too
Even if your workplace is nowhere near frequent disaster zones, cyber attacks and negligent employees can leave the same impact on your business as any natural disaster can. Setting a weak password, clicking on a suspicious link, or connecting to unsecured channels is enough to shut down a 5-, 10-, or even 50-year-old business in mere minutes.
Sure, installing adequate network security is a critical strategy against malicious actors, but last year’s barrage of data breaches suggests that having a Plan B is a must. A suitable disaster recovery plan ensures that your data’s integrity is intact and your business can keep going, no matter the malware, worm, or denial-of-service attack.
Downtime will cost you
A business without a DR plan might come out unscathed after a brief power outage, but why risk the potential damages? Either way, extended downtime will cost your business. First, there’s the general loss of productivity. Every time your employees lose the ability to access network resources, money goes down the drain. Then there’s the cost of corrupted company data, damaged hardware, and the inevitable customer backlash. Add all those variables together, and you end up with a business-crippling cost.
So, if you want 2017 to be the best year for your business, make the smart choice and proactively take part in creating your company’s business continuity plan. Your business will be in a better position financially with it than without it.
Keep your business safe, recover from any disaster, and contact us today to set up a TECHLINQ Backup agreement.
The crystal ball certainly won’t be making an appearance anytime soon, so it’s time to start preparing for the far more realistic technology trends of the coming year. Investing in the right technology could be the thing that sets you apart from your competitors in the coming year, and all it takes is a little research and education. Until someone invents a crystal ball, you’re stuck with our professional projections on the state of web services in 2017.
#1 On-premises servers will survive another year
Cloud adoption will most likely continue its stellar rise, but that doesn’t mean it will be hard to find affordable service for your in-house server or data center. Based on a recent survey of companies that utilize cloud services, nearly half will continue operating some sort of on-site data management in response to perceptions of security or compliance concerns. We may not believe those worries are well-founded, but that does mean hybrid clouds will continue to be a popular option.
#2 Voice commands will get better
Although better voice command technology may not mean much for running a business, big vendors like Amazon releasing development kits and application program interfaces does mean you have the opportunity to make your products and services more accessible via popular consumer technology such as Alexa.
#3 The Internet of Things (IoT) hasn’t peaked yet
Marketing experts are just as certain that consumers are feeling oversaturated with references to machine learning as they are that IoT hasn’t yet reached its full buzzword potential. If prices of connected devices come down, and their functionality improves, you can bet “IoT” will be one of the most profitable keywords of the year. If this technology doesn’t integrate with your products or services, there’s significant potential for its rise to stardom to make in-house business automation a whole lot better.
#4 Containers won’t just be a fad
As a subset of virtualized computing, containers unshackle applications from the constraints of single operating system compatibility. And with several vendors jumping into the market in late 2016 (such as Amazon Web Services), it’s a trend that we’re fairly confident will grow next year.
The market for web services may seem too fickle to gamble on, but as a small business owner, you don’t have much of a choice. Technology is essential to reaching new customers, operating efficiently, and remaining competitive with your business rivals. If you’re ready to start the new year with a new outlook on these technologies, call us today.
As 2017 rolls in, the threat of more formidable cyber attacks looms large. Hackers and the cyber police will spend a lot of time outsmarting each other, while consumers of technology, individuals and businesses alike, anticipate the best security plan that can guarantee they sleep soundly at night. When it comes to defending against cyber-attacks, forewarned is forearmed. Here are some of the threats we predict in the coming year.
Increased threats on cloud technology
Cloud service has numerous benefits to businesses. They make data storage, collaboration, and processing more efficient; they enable employees to work faster; and they help operations flow smoother. Cloud technology’s popularity is expected to rise well into the next few years, but as demand increases, so does the dangers presented by cyber attackers.
Ransomware will be more complex
Ransomware incapacitates computer systems by locking down files and preventing access for ransom. In its 2016 Threat Predictions report, security software company McAfee predicts a peak in ransomware attacks next year. Although they also predict it to recede by mid-year, damages to vulnerable cloud-dependent infrastructures can be great and costly. Most alarming in the prediction, however, is that in the coming year ransomware attacks will be more complex due to new elements.
Ransomworms, which use advanced victimization techniques to mine further data within an already compromised network, are expected to put an even crueler spin to an already formidable malware. Doxing, on the other hand, affects avenues such as social media and any place where sensitive, easily identifiable information can be extracted to serve the ultimate purpose of extorting money.
More threats to IoT (Internet of Things)-enabled devices
It is also predicted that 2017 will see attacks made on IoT-powered devices, which will make life harder for those who depend on technology that makes life easier. It targets medical devices and Electronic Medical Records, “connected cars”, basic domestic tools, and tech-driven wearables, such as smartwatches and fitness trackers. The danger posed by this intrusion is fully capable of corrupting information stored in your devices.
Advanced cyber espionage
Cyber espionage is by no means a novelty. In 2017, it’s expected to hold sway in cyber-threat prevention measures as it becomes even more complex. It encompasses all sectors of society, including individuals, private organizations, government institutions, and entire countries. Perpetrators will have the means to bypass networks by attacking firewalls and wreak havoc in their victims’ network. Fret not, for there will be measures in place to detect this threat also in the coming year.
Hackers are one of the most cunning criminals to have ever existed. While the cyber-police and the defenses they put up are no slouches, threats to security systems can still make technology-dependent individuals and businesses quiver. Although damaged networks can be repaired, compromised privacy restored, and stolen data returned, the amount of damage that hackers can cause might be irreparable and/or result in a significant dent in your IT infrastructure and budget. The value of a network security system makes itself known when you least expect it, which is why security should be a top priority.
Are your systems protected from these predicted remarkable feats of hacking? Call us if you want to discuss security services that are best for you.
Your employees are some of your business’s best assets. With that in mind, it is imperative that they work with high-performance computers that will unlock their full potential and contribute to your business’s profitability. If only it were that simple. Selecting a computer often involves several factors such as mobility, quality, and price – there are simply too many things to consider. Choosing the right computer requires careful thought, and this is what we’re here to discuss.
Laptop or desktop?
Laptops are highly portable, efficient, and inexpensive. If these are the most important qualities your business requires in a computer, then by all means, choose them. Clearly, desktops aren’t built for mobility, but what they lack in portability, they more than make up for in storage, processing capacity, and security. Although laptops make perfect sense for small businesses with great need for portability, they are much more prone to security threats and are not as easy to upgrade and maintain, unlike desktops.
The Central Processing Unit (CPU), determines the speed at which you can access your data and perform business-critical tasks. Speed is measured in Gigahertz (GHz), and a processor that runs from 2 to 4 GHz should be plenty for small enterprises. Arguably the most important item on the list of a computer’s specifications, the processor plays a crucial role in your computer’s speed and efficiency.
As critical hardware components, hard drives indicate how much information you can store and use. Storage capacity typically ranges from 128 gigabytes on “light computers”, all the way up to 2+ terabytes on more critical machines. If your business doesn’t need to store large files such as videos and images, and will be used mostly for email and a few applications, 250- or 500-GB storage should do the job. (If processor speed is number one on your list of computer requirements, it’s followed closely by hard drive storage.)
Operating system (OS) decisions often boil down to choosing between Windows or Mac. It might help in your decision-making to know that Windows remains the most widely used OS mainly due to its high compatibility with business software, not to mention, its relatively cheaper price. Macs can perform just as brilliantly as Windows-operated systems can. And although Macs are usually more expensive, they’re well known for their own outstanding features, such as being less prone to crashes.
Not to be confused with storage drives, a computer’s Random Access Memory (RAM) is only used to run open applications. It is responsible for keeping your computer performing at optimum speeds, especially when you’re working with several applications or programs at once. For small businesses, a 1200-2600-MHz RAM should suffice. The higher the MHz of your RAM, the higher its performance will be. To keep your basic programs running, 4-8 gigabytes of RAM is often satisfactory.
Ready to Buy a New Computer?
Deciding which computer to buy is an important business decision. While there are a handful of factors to consider, what you aim to accomplish in your business’s day-to-day operations should be your main consideration when choosing a computer. Businesses that require plenty of remote and mobile work should consider laptops. Those that require regular transfers of large datasets could benefit from the increased storage capacity associated with desktops.
Do you need expert advice in choosing the best computers for your small business? We’re happy to guide you in every step of your purchase decision. Give us a call today.