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Checklist for Better Digital Offboarding of Employees

Digital footprints cover today’s modern workplace. Employees begin making these the moment they’re hired. They get a company email address and application logins. They may even update their LinkedIn page to connect to your company.

When an employee leaves a company, there is a process that needs to happen. This is the process of “decoupling” the employee from the company’s technology assets. This digital offboarding is vital to cybersecurity.

You don’t want a former employee to maliciously email all your customers from their work email. Sensitive files left on a former staffer’s computer could leak months later.

20% of surveyed businesses have experienced a data breach connected to a former employee.

Digital offboarding entails revoking privileges to company data, and much more. This is a critical process to go through for each former staff member to reduce risk.

Below, we’ve provided a handy checklist to help you cover all your bases.

Your Digital Offboarding Checklist

Knowledge Transfer

Vast corporate knowledge can disappear when a person leaves an organization. It’s important to capture this during a digital offboarding process.

This could be something as simple as what social media app someone used for company posts. Or it may be productivity leveraging. Such as the best way to enter the sales data into the CRM.

Make sure to do a knowledge download with an employee during the exit interview. Better yet, have all staff regularly document procedures and workflows. This makes the knowledge available if the employee is ever not there to perform those tasks.

Address Social Media Connections to the Company

Address any social media connections to the former employee. Is their personal Facebook user account an admin for your company’s Facebook page? Do they post on your corporate LinkedIn page?

Identify All Apps & Logins the Person Has Been Using for Work

Hopefully, your HR or IT department will have a list of all the apps and website logins that an employee has. But you can’t assume this. Employees often use unauthorized cloud apps to do their work. This is usually done without realizing the security consequences.

Make sure you know of any apps that the employee may have used for business activities. You will need to address these. Either change the login if you plan to continue using them. Or you may want to close them altogether after exporting company data.

Change Email Password

Changing the employee’s email password should be one of the first things you do. This keeps a former employee from getting company information. It also keeps them from emailing as a representative of the company.

Accounts are typically not closed immediately because emails need to be stored. But you should change the password to ensure the employee no longer has access.

Change Employee Passwords for Cloud Business Apps

Change all other app passwords. Remember that people often access business apps on personal devices. So, just because they can’t access their work computer any longer, doesn’t mean they can’t access their old accounts.

Changing the passwords locks them out no matter what device they are using. You can simplify the process with a single sign-on solution.

Recover Any Company Devices

Make sure to recover any company-owned devices from the employee’s home. Remote employees are often issued equipment to use.

You should do this as soon as possible to avoid loss of the equipment. Once people no longer work for a company, they may sell, give away, or trash devices.

Recover Data on Employee Personal Devices

Many companies use a bring your own device (BYOD) policy. It saves them money, but this can make offboarding more difficult.

You need to ensure you’ve captured all company data on those devices. If you don’t already have a backup policy in place for this, now is a good time to create one.

Transfer Data Ownership & Close Employee Accounts

Don’t keep old employee cloud accounts open indefinitely. Choose a user account to transfer their data to and then close the account. Leaving unused employee accounts open is an invitation to a hacker. With no one monitoring the account, breaches can happen. A criminal could gain access and steal data for months unnoticed.

Revoke Access by Employee’s Devices to Your Apps and Network

Using an endpoint device management system, you can easily revoke device access. Remove the former employee’s device from any approved device list in your system.

Change Any Building Digital Passcodes

Don’t forget about physical access to your building. If you have any digital gate or door passcodes, be sure to change these so the person can no longer gain access.

Need Help Reducing Offboarding Security Risk?

When you proactively address digital offboarding, the process is easier and less risky. Contact us today for a free consultation to enhance your cybersecurity.


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This Article has been Republished with Permission from The Technology Press.

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6 Important IT Policies Any Size Company Should Implement

Many small businesses make the mistake of skipping policies. They feel that things don’t need to be so formal. They’ll just tell staff what’s expected when it comes up and think that’s good enough.

But this way of thinking can cause issues for small and mid-sized business owners. Employees aren’t mind readers. Things that you think are obvious, might not be to them.

Not having policies can also leave you in poor legal standing should a problem occur. Such as a lawsuit due to misuse of a company device or email account.

Did you know that 77% of employees access their social media accounts while at work? Further, 19% of them average 1 full working hour a day spent on social media. In some cases, employees are ignoring a company policy. But in others, there is no specific policy for them to follow.

IT policies are an important part of your IT security and technology management. So, no matter what size your business is, you should have them. We’ll get you started with some of the most important IT policies your company should have in place.

Do You Have These IT Policies? (If Not, You Should)

Password Security Policy

About 77% of all cloud data breaches originate from compromised passwords. Compromised credentials are also now the number one cause of data breaches globally.

A password security policy will lay out for your team how to handle their login passwords. It should include things like:

  • How long passwords should be
  • How to construct passwords (e.g., using at least one number and symbol)
  • Where and how to store passwords
  • The use of multi-factor authentication (if it’s required)
  • How often to change passwords

Acceptable Use Policy (AUP)

The Acceptable Use Policy is an overarching policy. It includes how to properly use technology and data in your organization. This policy will govern things like device security. For example, you may need employees to keep devices updated. If this is the case, You should include that in this policy.

Another thing to include in your AUP would be where it is acceptable to use company devices. You may also restrict remote employees from sharing work devices with family members.

Data is another area of the AUP. It should dictate how to store and handle data. The policy might require an encrypted environment for security.

Cloud & App Use Policy

The use of unauthorized cloud applications by employees has become a big problem. It’s estimated that the use of this “shadow IT” ranges from 30% to 60% of a company’s cloud use.

Often, employees use cloud apps on their own because they don’t know any better. They don’t realize that using unapproved cloud tools for company data is a major security risk.

A cloud and app use policy will tell employees what cloud and mobile apps are okay to use for business data. It should restrict the use of unapproved applications. It should also provide a way to suggest apps that would enhance productivity.

Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) Policy

Approximately 83% of companies use a BYOD approach for employee mobile use. Allowing employees to use their own smartphones for work saves companies money. It can also be more convenient for employees because they don’t need to carry around a second device.

But if you don’t have a policy that dictates the use of BYOD, there can be security and other issues. Employee devices may be vulnerable to attack if the operating system isn’t updated. There can also be confusion about compensation for the use of personal devices at work.

The BYOD policy clarifies the use of employee devices for business. Including the required security of those devices. It may also note the required installation of an endpoint management app. It should also cover compensation for business use of personal devices.

Wi-Fi Use Policy

Public Wi-Fi is an issue when it comes to cybersecurity. 61% of surveyed companies say employees connect to public Wi-Fi from company-owned devices.

Many employees won’t think twice about logging in to a company app or email account. Even when on a public internet connection. This could expose those credentials and lead to a breach of your company network.

Your Wi-Fi use policy will explain how employees are to ensure they have safe connections. It may dictate the use of a company VPN. Your policy may also restrict the activities employees can do when on public Wi-Fi. Such as not entering passwords or payment card details into a form.

Social Media Use Policy

With social media use at work so common, it’s important to address it. Otherwise, endless scrolling and posting could steal hours of productivity every week.

Include details in your social media policy, such as:

  • Restricting when employees can access personal social media
  • Restricting what employees can post about the company
  • Noting “safe selfie zones” or facility areas that are not okay for public images

Get Help Improving Your IT Policy Documentation & Security

We can help your organization address IT policy deficiencies and security issues. Reach out today to schedule a consultation to get started.


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This Article has been Republished with Permission from The Technology Press.

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6 Discontinued Technology Tools You Should Not Be Using Any Longer

One constant about technology is that it changes rapidly. Tools that were once staples, like Internet Explorer and Adobe Flash, age out. New tools replace those that are obsolete. Discontinued technology can leave computers and networks vulnerable to attacks.

While older technology may still run fine on your systems that doesn’t mean that it’s okay to use. One of the biggest dangers of using outdated technology is that it can lead to a data breach.

Outdated software and hardware no longer receive vital security updates. Updates often patch newly found and exploited system vulnerabilities. No security patches means a device is a sitting duck for a cybersecurity breach.

Approximately 1 in 3 data breaches are due to unpatched system vulnerabilities.

Another problem with using discontinued technology is that it can leave you behind. Your business can end up looking like you’re in the stone ages to your customers, and they can lose faith and trust.

Important reasons to keep your technology updated to a supported version are:

  • Reduce the risk of a data breach or malware infection
  • Meet data privacy compliance requirements
  • To keep a good reputation and foster customer trust
  • To be competitive in your market
  • To mitigate hardware and software compatibility issues
  • To enable employee productivity

Older systems are clunky and get in the way of employee productivity. If you keep these older systems in use, it can lead to the loss of good team members due to frustration.

49% of surveyed workers say they would consider leaving their jobs due to poor technology.

Following is a list of outdated technology tools that you should replace as soon as possible. Are any of these still in use on your home computer or within your business?

Get Rid of This Tech Now If You’re Still Using It

Internet Explorer

Many moons ago, Internet Explorer (IE) used to be the number one browser in the world. But, over time, Google Chrome and other browsers edged it out. Including its replacement, Microsoft Edge.

Microsoft began phasing out IE with the introduction of Microsoft Edge in 2015. In recent years, fewer applications have been supporting use in IE. The browser loses all support beginning on June 15, 2022.

Adobe Flash

Millions of websites used Adobe Flash in the early 2000s. But other tools can now do the animations and other neat things Flash could do. This made the tool obsolete, and Adobe ended it.

The Adobe Flash Player lost all support, including security updates, as of January 1, 2021. Do you still have this lingering on any of your computers? If so, you should uninstall the browser plugin and any Flash software.

Windows 7 and Earlier

Windows 7 was a very popular operating system, but it’s now gone the way of the dinosaur. Replacements, Windows 10 and Windows 11 are now in widespread use. The Windows 7 OS lost support on January 14, 2020.

While it may still technically run, it’s very vulnerable to hacks. Microsoft Windows OS is also a high-value target for hackers. So, you can be sure they are out there looking for systems still running this obsolete version of Windows.

macOS 10.14 Mojave and Earlier

Because of the cost of iMacs and MacBooks, people tend to hang onto them as long as possible. Once these devices get to a certain point, updates no longer work. This leaves the hardware stuck on an older and non-supported macOS version.

If you are running macOS 10.14 Mojave or earlier, then your OS is no longer supported by Apple, and you need to upgrade.

Oracle 18c Database

If your business uses Oracle databases, then you may want to check your current version. If you are running the Oracle 18C Database, then you are vulnerable. Breaches can easily happen due to unpatched system vulnerabilities.

The Oracle 18C Database lost all support in June of 2021. If you have upgraded, then you’ll want to keep an eye out for another upcoming end-of-support date. Both Oracle 19C and 21C will lose premiere support in April of 2024.

Microsoft SQL Server 2014

Another popular database tool is Microsoft’s SQL. If you are using SQL Server 2014, then mainstream support has already ended. And in July of 2024, all support, including security updates will stop.

This gives you a little more time to upgrade before you’re in danger of not getting security patches. But it is better to upgrade sooner rather than later. This leaves plenty of time for testing and verification of the upgrade.

Get Help Upgrading Your Technology & Reducing Risk

Upgrades can be scary, especially if everything has been running great. You may be afraid that a migration or upgrade will cause issues. We can help you upgrade your technology smoothly and do thorough testing afterward. Schedule a technology review today.


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This Article has been Republished with Permission from The Technology Press.

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What Are the Best Ways to Give an Older PC New Life?

Purchasing a new computer is a big investment. Many small businesses and home PC owners end up struggling with older systems because they want to get as many years out of them as possible.

Have you found yourself banging on your keyboard in frustration? Have you tried every tip and trick you found online, only to still struggle with a slow PC? 

There are some promising upgrades you can do that will cost much less than the price of a new computer, while making your PC feel like new again. 

Here are some of the options you can try to improve the performance of an older computer.

Upgrade to a Solid-State Drive (SSD)

Prices for solid-state drives have come down quite a bit in the past few years, making them an affordable upgrade that can breathe life back into an older PC that might be slowing down.

Unlike hard disk drives (HDDs), SSDs do not have any moving parts and use a flash memory that allows for a quicker response time. You can improve your time to boot and your experience when searching files, opening applications, and other activities. 

Some of the advantages of upgrading your computer’s hard drive to SSD include:

  • SSD read/write speeds up to 2500 MB/second compared to HDD at up to 200 MB/second
  • SSD access time of 0.1ms as compared to HDD at 5.5-8.0ms
  • SSDs use between 2-5 watts of energy compared to HDD at 6-15 watts

Increase the RAM (Memory)

One upgrade that is very low-cost and can mean a significant increase in performance is a memory upgrade. If your PC was one of the cheaper ones that only had 4GB of RAM when you bought it, you likely have trouble opening too many tabs in your browser or using any graphics-heavy program.

Upgrading your RAM, if your PC has available memory slots, to 8GB or 12GB can make it seem like you have an entirely new computer due to the big increase in speed.

Upgrade the Graphics Card

If you play computer games or work in any type of video, imaging, or 3D software, an outdated graphics card can ruin your experience. 

Instead of replacing your entire computer, just upgrading the graphics card to a more robust model can improve your PC’s performance and give you several more useful years from it.

Replace Your PC Cooling System

Heat is an enemy of your computer’s internal parts. If your cooling system is getting worn out and not working the way it should be, then excess heat can be building up inside your device.

When this happens things can get strange, with programs crashing or your system rebooting on its own.

If you suspect excess heat may be an issue, have your computer’s fan and cooling system checked out to see if it needs replacing.

Connect an External Monitor to a Laptop

If you’re working on a laptop and having a hard time multi-tasking due to limited screen real estate, consider getting an external monitor rather than replacing your entire PC.

Monitors are just a fraction of the cost of computers, and having a screen twice the size of the one on your laptop can make all the difference in the world and improve productivity due to the additional screen space.

Replace Your Keyboard

Older keywords can stick, lose keys, and have the writing rubbed off the keys, making it more difficult to tell a “prt screen” from a “delete” button. If the performance of your PC is hampered by a frustrating keyboard, an upgrade can be a very inexpensive way to improve your equipment.

Get an External Hard Drive

Computers can slow down and be more difficult to use when the hard drive fills up with data. Over the years, files build up, and many users never take the time to go through and delete those that are unnecessary.

Buying an external hard drive can allow you to offload files that may be slowing you down, while still keeping them easily accessible.

Another benefit of an external hard drive is that it’s portable and can easily be carried between home and work and used in both places.

Get a Professional Computer Tune-Up

Those free PC cleaner tools you find online aren’t going to give you the type of tune-up that a professional IT provider can give. We will go through things like the Windows Registry, duplicate system files, internal errors, and more to clean up your system and remove all the “junk” that has built up over the years.

We can also do a maintenance check for things like failing parts, and provide expert guidance on your most impactful upgrade options. 

Get Help Improving Your Computer’s Performance Today!

Don’t struggle with an older PC! We can help you with cost-effective upgrade options that will fit your system and budget perfectly.


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This Article has been Republished with Permission from The Technology Press.

Is Updating From Windows 10 to 11 Worth It? Here Are the New Features in the OS (And Some Missing Ones)

Getting used to Windows 11 shouldn’t be too challenging. On the contrary, the OS comes with several intuitive features to enhance productivity.

Microsoft recently introduced Windows 11 as the company’s latest operating system. And compared to Windows 10, this OS has various features that can increase your productivity and provide a better user experience.

As soon as you start using Windows 11, you’ll see a marked improvement over its predecessors.

For example, it has refined several household features, such as video conferencing and video management. You also get enhanced note-taking, data input, and a user-friendly interface that should help you complete your duties more efficiently.

Many other features can help boost your productivity, and this article will talk about them in detail. We’ll also look at some features Microsoft didn’t include in the new version.

WINDOWS 11 – WHAT’S NEW?

FEATURE #1. NEW TASKBAR

Previous Windows versions feature an iconic taskbar, but it can sometimes get clunky. Windows 11 deals with the cruft and provides a streamlined solution.

The new taskbar is perfect for expediting work, as it can contain a list of recent cloud and local files. You can also pin various apps to improve access and utilize a search bar that allows for convenient web browsing.

Another highlight of the taskbar is clean lines and widgets that display essential information (e.g., weather, photos, and news).

This should be a tremendous upgrade from the busy display of Windows 10.

FEATURE #2. WINDOWS GROUPING AND SNAPPING

The enhanced Snap Group and Snap Layout features allow you to resize and manage windows more easily. You also get to keep essential apps grouped to maintain high productivity.

Using the feature is relatively straightforward: Just hover the mouse over the maximize button on the desired app to reveal your layout options. You can choose between several arrangements, such as four-app grids and side-by-side layouts.

And if your team needs to perform basic window management, they can still grab and pull windows to the edge of their screen.

This feature improves desktop organization, which is especially useful for people working with two or more monitors. They can reduce clutter rapidly, enabling them to focus on their tasks.

FEATURE #3. IMPROVED ACCESSIBILITY OPTIONS

Windows 11 follows in the footsteps of many smartphones to simplify setting changes and make them easily accessible. Pulling up your control panel now only requires one tap or click in the taskbar coroner, replicating Apple’s Control Centre.

Furthermore, Windows 11 apps feature aesthetic, curved corners, and your Settings incorporate more options you can tweak. For instance, blind or vision impaired users can take advantage of cutting-edge audio cues. There are also desktop themes to help reduce eye strain, which is essential if you work long hours.

On top of that, the new operating system has revamped voice typing. You can activate this with a simple keyboard shortcut. This feature supports most major languages, including English, German, Italian, French, Spanish, Simplified Chinese, and Portuguese.

Windows 11’s better accessibility means your team will no longer have to keep relying on your IT service provider to set things up for them.

FEATURE #4. BETTER APP STORE

Many apps can enhance workplace productivity, but you’ll first need to find them on your PC’s app store. Fortunately, Windows 11 came up with an organized and coherent platform to make the search easier. 

Besides universal apps, you can check out the applications compatible with your devices. The platform can also handle programs from third-party stores and manage app installation on the internet. 

FEATURE #5. SMOOTH NOTETAKING

If you’re using a touchscreen device, taking notes in Windows 11 should now be highly satisfying. This feature offers haptic feedback to generate physical sensations when drawing lines on the screen or checking boxes with your pen. 

Moreover, the Ink Workspace allows you to add preferred apps instead of using the standard snipping tool and Whiteboard. It gives you easy access to creativity tools the moment you pull out your pen.

WHICH FEATURES WERE LEFT BEHIND? 

Overall, Windows 11 should work great for your business. But bear in mind that Microsoft left out some features that were a staple in previous versions:

EXCLUDED FEATURE #1. TASKBAR CUSTOMISATION

Windows 10 users can move their taskbar from the horizontal position to the left, right, or upper part of their screen. In contrast, the Windows 11 taskbar is fixed at the bottom of the display, and you can’t customize the dimensions. 

The taskbar customization feature would have been helpful because it would let you use space more efficiently. 

Another significant change is that you can no longer move the Time and Date on your taskbar. Windows 10 didn’t have this problem since you could toggle off the Clock feature in your Settings. 

The default taskbar layout might be fine, but some users prefer higher customizability than what Windows 11 offers.

EXCLUDED FEATURE #2. DRAG-AND-DROP FEATURES

Windows 10 and some earlier versions allowed you to drag several items to change their position. For example, you could drag a Word document onto your Word icon on the taskbar to open it. 

This function is disabled in Windows 11. There’s no way to drag and drop or save any program or file onto your taskbar.

EXCLUDED FEATURE #3. CORTANA 

Cortana is a voice assistant counterpart of Siri, Alexa, and Google Assistant. Many people are used to it and may be disappointed to hear that it’s not a part of the Windows 11 system setup. You can’t even locate it in your start menu. 

The good news is that the Cortana application can still be found – it’s just hidden away. And you can enable it by visiting Settings and navigating to Apps & Features.

A WISE INVESTMENT

While Windows 11 isn’t perfect since it removed many valuable features, it’s still an excellent platform to help increase your productivity.

 Whether you need to organize your desktop more conveniently or take enjoyable notes, the OS won’t let you down. Plus, you get a revamped taskbar and powerful Voice Typing compatible with most major languages. 

Overall, Windows 11 can be a terrific asset for your business.

If you want to find out more about incorporating this new OS to boost productivity in your organization, contact us today. We can have a 10-15-minute chat to help you address key productivity issues in your company with the help of Windows 11.

Article used with permission from The Technology Press.

What Is an MSP (And How to Choose the Right One for Your Business)

Managing data and IT solutions in-house can be challenging and expensive. That’s why many organizations turn to MSPs.

Digitalization has forced businesses to alter their operations and make IT a huge part of their day-to-day affairs. Still, some owners can’t cope with the change effectively, so they hire a managed service provider, or MSP, to take care of the work. 

But what exactly is an MSP? 

Simply put, this is a third-party company you can collaborate with to help manage parts of your business, such as your IT or cloud needs. It provides technology and expertise to boost your organization’s scalability. 

Working with MSPs can have tremendous benefits for your enterprise. 

For instance, their profound understanding of cutting-edge technology can help you improve performance, operations, and security while reducing overheads. In addition, they can offer several creative solutions to help you navigate the evolving landscape of the big data world. 

But the strongest suit of any MSP is usually their ability to deliver tailor-made solutions that fit your company perfectly. 

Their expertise allows them to analyze your business thoroughly and render their services according to your strengths and weaknesses. Plus, they consider the regulatory environment and compliance to safeguard against legal issues. 

Another great thing about MSPs is that they can support your business even after hours. 

They offer support measures and staff to maintain and protect your organization 24/7. MSPs can even tap into your system to resolve issues and deploy updates without going to your office using remote technology. 

Overall, MSPs can help take your company to the next level. However, you can’t work with just any service provider. You need to select the right team for your enterprise, and this article will show you how.

CHOOSING AN MSP – WHAT TO LOOK FOR

Hiring an MSP shouldn’t be a hasty decision. Instead, you want to take a variety of factors into account.

Here are the six important factors to keep in mind: 

FACTOR #1. THE MSP’S TRACK RECORD

Prospective MSPs should provide case studies and success stories to demonstrate they’re suitable for your business. You can also look for testimonials, references, and endorsements. These will help you determine if the team has been operating for a while and if their reputation is solid. 

Working with a reputable MSP can give you peace of mind with the knowledge that your system will be appropriately managed. Moreover, you’ll feel confident that the MSP will do all in its power to preserve its name. 

The MSP’s success hinges on yours in some respect, which is why they’ll view you as a valuable partner. 

FACTOR #2. THE RANGE OF SERVICES IT PROVIDES

MSPs offer a wide array of services. Some teams are full-service companies, meaning they address your cloud and IT needs comprehensively. In contrast, others may help you with different pieces of your tech puzzle. 

Therefore, consider your needs carefully and ensure your MSP can meet them. 

Regardless of your service package, the MSP needs to keep up with the latest technology trends. Otherwise, numerous security issues may compromise your company and allow the competition to prevail over you.

FACTOR #3. SUPPORT

As previously indicated, MSPs can work round the clock to ensure your business is compliant and maintained adequately. However, they should also increase their support quickly and adjust staff schedules as your company grows. 

That’s why you should consider an MSP that offers training for your employees.

It lets them understand the necessary changes and encourages them to train other team members as they join your business. But if your employees are too busy, you can instruct the MSP to carry out all the training.

FACTOR #4. RESPONSE TIME

Your network can go down for any number of reasons, preventing your employees from working and your clients from reaching you. This situation can even cripple your reputation, customer base, and revenue. In the worst-case scenario, it can even make you shut down your business. 

Fortunately, a high-quality MSP can help you avoid this scenario. They can identify threats to your system and neutralize them before hurting your company. 

Moreover, if an incident takes place, they should respond immediately. They need to mitigate the risks as soon as possible to keep your organization from crumbling.

FACTOR #5. SECURITY AND BACKUP

One of the most important duties your MSP should perform is to shield your data from cyberattacks. This is critical to protecting your company and customers. Besides, safe data storage might be mandatory in your industry, which is why your IT department could use all the help they can get. 

Once you work with an MSP, they should recommend robust security solutions and endpoint protection to combat harmful software. And throughout their engagement, they should consider compliance to help prevent legal issues. 

Another major part of their mission should be the implementation of backup software. It enables you to retrieve your data in case of a breach. Such implementation may involve automation, a restoration plan, and a no-downtime policy. 

With a failproof backup and security strategy in place, you should be able to run your company more confidently. The risk of downtime will be drastically lower, allowing you to operate smoothly, maintain high sales, retain customers, and preserve your brand.

FACTOR #6. GUIDANCE ON WORKFLOW OPTIONS 

Your MSP shouldn’t just deal with cybersecurity – they should also suggest adopting the best practices across the entire tech landscape. 

For example, they should advise you on various CRM solutions and project management applications. They should also help you revamp your approach to workflow and data to create efficiency in all departments. 

The fact is, you can yield tremendous results from their guidance. Your team can work faster, collaborate in real-time, and be more tech-savvy. 

RECRUIT YOUR MSP CAREFULLY

While price is important when selecting an MSP, it pales in comparison to all the factors listed above. Be sure they’re a perfect fit for your enterprise, even if you need to pay more. 

With high expertise, customized services, and an understanding of threats, a reputable team can help you stay ahead of your competitors. 

If you need more assistance choosing your MSP, get in touch with our experienced team. Let’s schedule a quick 15-minute chat and figure out the ideal MSP for your company.

Article used with permission from The Technology Press.

Explaining Cybersecurity Audits (And the Three Tips for Running One)

You need more than the latest antivirus software to ensure your company’s network is secure. A cybersecurity audit helps you create a complete picture of your security strategy.

Cybercrime has grown into one of the epidemics of modern times. 

In 2018 alone, we saw 812.67 million instances of malware infection. Meanwhile, 2020 brought with it a 600% increase in cybercrime. And estimates state that ransomware attacks will cost companies over $6 trillion per year by 2021.

If you don’t prioritize cybersecurity, you place yourself and your company at risk of attack.

Now, it’s likely that you already have some strategies in place to combat hackers and other malicious cyber forces. However, you also need to feel sure that the measures you have in place are sufficient.

That’s where cybersecurity audits become important.

In this article, we examine what cybersecurity audits are and share some crucial tips for running one in your company.

WHAT IS A CYBERSECURITY AUDIT?

Think of an audit as a comprehensive examination of every cybersecurity strategy you’ve put in place. You have two goals with the audit:

  • Identify any gaps in your system so you can fill them.
  • Create an in-depth report that you can use to demonstrate your readiness to defend against cyber threats.

A typical audit contains three phases:

  1. Assessment
  2. Assignment
  3. Audit

In the assessment phase, you examine the existing system. 

This involves checking your company’s computers, servers, software, and databases. You’ll also review how you assign access rights and examine any hardware or software you currently have in place to defend against attacks.

The assessment phase will likely highlight some security gaps that you need to act upon. And once that’s done, you move into the assignment. 

Here, you assign appropriate solutions to the issues identified. This may also involve assigning internal professionals to the task of implementing those solutions. However, you may also find that you need to bring external contractors on board to help with implementation.

Finally, you conclude with an audit. 

This takes place after you’ve implemented your proposed solution and is intended as a final check of your new system before you release it back into the company. This audit will primarily focus on ensuring that all installations, upgrades, and patches operate as expected.

THE THREE TIPS FOR A SUCCESSFUL CYBERSECURITY AUDIT

Now that you understand the phases of a cybersecurity audit, you need to know how to run an audit effectively such that it provides the information you need. After all, a poorly conducted audit may miss crucial security gaps, leaving your systems vulnerable to attack.

These three tips will help you conduct an effective cybersecurity audit in your company.

TIP #1 – ALWAYS CHECK FOR THE AGE OF EXISTING SECURITY SYSTEMS

There is no such thing as an evergreen security solution.

Cyber threats evolve constantly, with hackers and the like continually coming up with new ways to breach existing security protocols. Any system you’ve already implemented has an expiration date. Eventually, it will become ineffective against the new wave of cyber threats.

This means you always need to check the age of your company’s existing cybersecurity solutions.

Make sure to update your company’s systems whenever the manufacturer releases an update. But if the manufacturer no longer supports the software you’re using, this is a sign that you need to make a change.

TIP #2 – IDENTIFY YOUR THREATS

As you conduct your company’s cybersecurity audit, continuously ask yourself where you’re likely to experience the most significant threat.

For example, when auditing a system that contains a lot of customer information, data privacy is a crucial concern. In this situation, threats arise from weak passwords, phishing attacks, and malware. 

More threats can come internally, be they from malicious employees or through the mistaken provision of access rights to employees who shouldn’t be able to see specific data.

And sometimes, employees can leak data unknowingly.

For example, allowing employees to connect their own devices to your company network creates risk because you have no control over the security of those external devices.

The point is that you need to understand the potential threats you face before you can focus on implementing any solutions.

TIP #3 – CONSIDER HOW YOU WILL EDUCATE EMPLOYEES

You’ve identified the threats and have created plans to respond.

However, those plans mean little if employees do not know how to implement them. 

If you face an emergency, such as a data breach, and your employees don’t know how to respond, the cybersecurity audit is essentially useless.

To avoid this situation, you need to educate your employees on what to look out for and how to respond to cybersecurity threats. This often involves the creation of a plan that incorporates the following details:

  • The various threat types you’ve identified and how to look out for them
  • Where the employee can go to access additional information about a threat
  • Who the employee should contact if they identify a threat
  • How long it should take to rectify the threat
  • Any rules you have in place about using external devices or accessing data stored on secure servers.

Remember, cybersecurity is not the IT department’s domain alone. It’s an ongoing concern that everybody within an organization must remain vigilant of. 

By educating employees about the threats present, and how to respond to them, you create a more robust defense against future attacks.

Audits Improve Security

Cybersecurity audits offer you a chance to evaluate your security protocols. 

They help you to identify issues and ensure that you’re up-to-date in regards to the latest cybersecurity threats. And without them, a business runs the risk of using outdated software to protect itself against ever-evolving attacks.

The need to stay up-to-date highlights the importance of cybersecurity audits.

However, your security solutions are not one-and-done. They require regular updating and re-examination to ensure they’re still fit for the purposes you’re using them for. As soon as they’re not, there will be vulnerabilities to your business that others can exploit.

Audits improve cybersecurity.

And improved cybersecurity means you and your customers can feel more confident.

If you’d like to conduct a cybersecurity audit but you’re unsure about whether you have the skills required to do so correctly, we can help. We’d love to have a quick 15-minute no-obligation chat to discuss your existing systems and how we may be able to help you to improve them.

Article used with permission from The Technology Press.

Creating an IT Compliance Policy – The 7 Things You Need to Consider

Conducting business operations in the digital world is prone to security risks. Mitigating them would be impossible if you don’t have an IT compliance policy.

Setting up a robust IT compliance policy in your business is more important now than ever. And it’s because most organizations now depend on digitized services. 

Online companies rely on e-commerce websites to do business by taking orders and receiving payments. Even brick-and-mortar organizations utilize software to perform various activities, such as order management and back-office accounting. 

In such tech-driven environments, a lack of proper security measures jeopardizes the business leader’s position. Their IT systems get abused, and their technology often becomes a source of scandals. 

The only way to avoid this possibility is to create a strong IT compliance policy. 

This article will cover key considerations when developing your system of IT compliance.

WHAT YOU NEED TO CONSIDER FOR IT COMPLIANCE POLICIES

FACTOR #1 – PEOPLE, PROCESSES, AND HOW THEY ALIGN TO TECH

IT compliance isn’t just about technology – it also involves people and processes. And the reality is that many organizations focus heavily on their tech, resulting in failed audits due to their failure to consider the other two aspects. This makes the compliance world more complex. 

Taking the correct approach can help ensure your enterprise abides by the necessary standards. 

FACTOR #2 – RELEVANT LAWS AND REGULATIONS

Laws and regulations stipulate the policies that govern IT compliance requirements. Here are the most common ones: 

  • The Sarbanes-Oxley Act – regulating financial reporting
  • The Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act – governing non-public personal information and financial data
  • The Health Insurance and Accountability ACT – regulating health information that healthcare organizations process

Ultimately, you can’t start your compliance process without understanding the laws and regulations applicable to your organization.

You should also ascertain the controls that apply to these laws and regulations. They are process-oriented and technical means to adhere to your policies. 

There are various industry and government standards that specify them, including: 

  • Control Objectives for Information and Related IT 
  • National Institute of Standards and Technology 
  • Payment Card Industry Data 

These can have a massive bearing on your sector. Therefore, make sure to familiarize yourself with all relevant controls.

FACTOR #3 – RAISING EMPLOYEE AWARENESS OF THE IMPORTANCE OF THE POLICY

One of the biggest threats to your data security is having untrained employees. Their actions can have a huge impact on cybersecurity. For instance, improper software upload, sharing, download, and storing can jeopardize critical information.

The reality is, many employees opt for insecure data transfer methods due to their convenience. Some of the tools they use are personal emails, consumer-grade collaboration apps, and instant messaging. All of these are ideal targets for cybercriminals. 

To prevent your business from becoming a victim, your users must learn and understand where various threats originate from. They should especially understand the actions that can give rise to vulnerabilities. 

Making file sharing a top priority and investing in proper education demonstrates the significance of IT compliance. Your efforts can help team members willing to adopt the best practices in this field. 

When developing your training plan, make sure to include several key topics: 

  • How insecure file transfer methods expose your company to risks 
  • Avoiding phishing scams
  • Precautions to exercise before using or downloading unsanctioned applications
  • The conditions for using and creating strong passwords.

FACTOR #4 – HOW YOUR IT POLICY ALIGNS WITH THE COMPANY’S SECURITY POLICIES

Aligning IT compliance with your business operations involves understanding the culture of your organization. For example, your environment can revolve around either processes or ad-hoc ways of doing things. 

Enterprises aligning with the former are best off issuing in-depth policies to ensure compliance. 

By contrast, companies that match the latter require detective and preventive controls. They need to address specific risks associated with your policy. It helps various auditors understand why you’ve deployed a particular control or decided to face certain risks. 

FACTOR #5 – UNDERSTANDING OF THE IT ENVIRONMENT

IT environments directly affect your IT policy compliance design. That said, there are two main kinds of environments: 

  • Homogeneous environments – These consist of standardized vendors, configurations, and models. They’re largely consistent with your IT deployment. 
  • Heterogeneous environments – The other type uses a wide range of security and compliance applications, versions, and technologies. 

Generally, compliance costs are lower in homogeneous environments. Fewer vendors and technology add-ons provide less complexity and fewer policies. As a result, the price of security and compliance per system isn’t as high as with heterogeneous solutions.

Regardless of your environment, your policy needs to appropriately tackle new technologies, including virtualization and cloud computing. 

FACTOR #6 – ESTABLISHMENT OF ACCOUNTABILITY

IT policy compliance doesn’t function without accountability. It entails defining organizational responsibilities and roles that determine the assets individuals need to protect. It also establishes who has the power to make crucial decisions. 

Accountability begins from the top and encompasses executives. And the best way to guarantee involvement is to cast IT policy compliance programs in terms of risks instead of technology. 

As for your IT providers, they have two pivotal roles: 

  • Data/system owners – The owner is part of your management team that’s responsible for data usage and care. Plus, they’re accountable for protecting and managing information. 
  • Data/system custodians – Custodial roles can entail several duties, such as system administration, security analysis, legal counseling, and internal auditing. 

These responsibilities are essential for IT policy compliance. For example, auditors need to carefully verify compliance activity execution. Otherwise, there’s no way to ensure the implementation is going according to plan.

FACTOR #7 – AUTOMATION OF THE COMPLIANCE PROCESS

Your IT continually evolves and grows. Internal auditors can only review a small number of user accounts and system configurations. 

Automation is the only way to ensure you can evaluate enough systems regularly. 

BREEZE THROUGH YOUR BUSINESS’S IT COMPLIANCE

Setting up well-designed IT compliance may be a long process, but it can make a world of difference in terms of business security. It keeps your business reputation intact and allows you to avoid penalties and fines. 

However, you’ll need to pay special attention to several aspects. And one of the most significant ones is your IT provider. 

If your IT isn’t living up to its potential, you’re bound to face compliance issues. This can cause tremendous stress and halt your operations. 

Luckily, there might be an easy way out of your predicament. Schedule a quick chat with us to discuss your IT problems and find out how to get more out of your provider.

Article used with permission from The Technology Press.

Is Your Data Secure? 8 Best Practices for Vetting Cybersecurity Vendors

An effective way to bolster your business’s data security is to work with a Managed Service Provider (MSP) or I.T. Service Provider (ITSP). They address network vulnerabilities to prevent cybercriminals from exploiting them.

Besides monitoring and organizing your servers, a Managed Service Provider (MSP) or I.T. Service Provider (ITSP) plays a pivotal role in the cybersecurity program of your business. They implement several strategies to shield your network from attacks and protect your data. 

For instance, many providers use email authentication protocols to monitor your server’s vulnerabilities. They can keep users from accidentally accessing malicious websites by determining spam emails containing malware or viruses. This results in enhanced system security. 

Another common practice is training your employees to ensure they follow the highest security standards. This is especially important if you have remote team members since there’s no way to keep track of their activities. To tackle this issue, an MSP or ITSP teaches your staff how to operate safely to avoid harm to your company’s infrastructure and reputation. 

On top of that, an MSP or ITSP can neutralize various threats due to their proactive approach. They offer several tools such as firewalls and endpoint detection to control the traffic and stave off cyberattacks. Also, they can install antivirus software and email security to stop intrusion attempts. 

Needless to say, an MSP or ITSP can shield you from a wide array of cybersecurity issues. But it’s vital to work with the right provider. 

To ensure this happens, you should look for and abide by the best practices for an MSP or ITSP in the cybersecurity space. This article will examine what they are. 

THE 8 BEST PRACTICES

PRACTICE #1 – ENFORCE MULTI-FACTOR AUTHENTICATION (MFA)

Cybercriminals are becoming proficient at accessing your credentials, so it’s critical to enable MFA for all your users. 

It consists of three elements: a password, security token, and biometric verification. Consequently, if attackers breach one security layer, they’ll still have to do a lot of digging to access your information.

PRACTICE #2 – MAKE PATCHING A PRIORITY

Application and operating system exploits are common. Hackers target them to access your system and compromise your data, but you can prevent this through regular patching. 

Making sure your system is up to date with the latest security standards decreases the risk of exploitation. 

PRACTICE #3 – CONDUCT REGULAR CYBERSECURITY AUDITS

An MSP or ITSP must be aware of onboarding, offboarding, and lateral movements within an organization. This warrants frequent cybersecurity audits to assess the competency of your team. 

Many MSPs or ITSPs hire third-party companies to perform their security audits. They can detect if a person who no longer needs access to the network still has it. It’s something that can endanger the client’s information, especially if the individual is a former employee. 

Conducting regular audits mitigates this risk. It enables an MSP or ITSP to implement some of the most effective access privilege limitations: 

  • IP restrictions – These security measures ensure that only users who can access your local network can utilize remote administration tools. 
  • RMM software updates – Software vendors typically dispatch updates to fix vulnerabilities and patch numerous security gaps. 
  • RDP (Remote Desktop Protocol) Security – This Windows native administration tool reduces the chances of ransomware attacks in your organization. 

PRACTICE #4 – HAVE AN OFF-SITE BACKUP

Backups are crucial for tackling malicious activities and ensuring operational continuity after cyberattacks. 

They also help address whether the company and its clients can access the latest version of their data and applications. This feature is vital for enterprises that must adhere to compliance requirements, including PCI-DSS and HIPAA. 

But besides implementing on-site backups, your MSP or ITSP should also set up off-site versions. If attackers compromise your RMM software, they can most likely reach on-site backups, too. 

So, to avoid disasters, businesses should have an off-site backup accessible to only a few people. It should also be offline for greater security. 

PRACTICE #5 – INCORPORATE LOG MONITORING

Log monitoring is analyzing your logs for potential glitches. As an MSP or ITSP scrutinizes your records, they can detect traffic from harmful sources and provide a clear idea of threat patterns. And over time, they can deploy countermeasures to seal these gaps. 

For example, cybersecurity experts use reliable security information and event management (SIEM) tools. They facilitate scanning through piles of information to enable faster threat detection.

PRACTICE #6 – LAUNCH PHISHING CAMPAIGNS

Phishing cybercriminals target your team members with emails or text messages, posing as legitimate institutions to steal your data. Unfortunately, most attacks succeed because of human error, meaning your MSP or ITSP should be aware of and monitor employees’ behavior. 

Setting up fake phishing campaigns is a great way to test your team’s ability to respond to phishing attacks. It allows you to pinpoint and improve inadequate responses, bolstering data security. 

PRACTICE #7 – CHOOSE YOUR SOFTWARE CAREFULLY AND SECURE ENDPOINTS

From small browser plugins to large-scale business systems, be sure your providers take data protection and cybersecurity seriously. Learn about their commitment to these aspects before purchasing their application. 

Furthermore, employ web filtering tools, antivirus software, and email authentication to fend off ransomware attacks through malicious emails. Ensure each endpoint and your virus definition library are secure and up to date with the latest standards. 

PRACTICE #8 – SET ALERTS AND DOCUMENT EVERYTHING

An MSP or ITSP that configures their systems to receive alerts upon system changes can work proactively and tackle threats early on. Many platforms automate this process through rules templates, personalization, and direct tickets to the PSA. This eliminates manual digging, saving precious time. 

Another useful strategy is to document your cybersecurity information, such as your defense mechanisms, emergency guidelines, and disaster recovery plans. You should also review it regularly to help pre-empt cyberattacks.

CYBERSECURITY IS PARAMOUNT

While digitalization has significantly streamlined your operations, it’s also made you more susceptible to data theft. 

To ensure cybercriminals don’t get their hands on valuable information and ruin your reputation, your MSP or ITSP needs to adopt well-established security practices. 

But if your provider hasn’t introduced off-site backups, regular patches, and employee training, you’re not getting your money’s worth. Hence, you may be frustrated since your provider isn’t delivering the necessary results. 

This makes you a sitting duck for cybercriminals. You need to resolve the issue as soon as possible. 

We can help you do so. Reach out to us for a quick 15-minute chat, and our tech experts will do their best to show you a way out of your cybersecurity dead end.

Article used with permission from The Technology Press.

Enhance Your Server Management with These 8 Tips

You may have state-of-the-art servers, but their efficiency can diminish over time. Managing them is key to optimizing your business operations.

Numerous organizations rely on servers for various IT functions, such as applications, emails, hosting websites, and data storage. 

Although many companies have turned to cloud-based services using remote data centers, many enterprises still depend on in-house servers. As such, they need to ensure their devices remain in tip-top condition

That’s where server management comes into play. 

Managing your servers can streamline the performance of your team by allowing them to complete complex tasks faster. Plus, it can enable them to detect problems early on before they get out of hand and compromise your business. As a result, the risk of experiencing operational setbacks is drastically lower. 

But the only way to make the most of your server management is to perform it correctly. And to help you do so, this article will share nine tips on improving your server management. 

THE 8 TIPS

TIP #1 – MOUNT THE SERVERS PROPERLY

Small businesses often need to prioritize immediate concerns over long-term plans because they need to work on tight budgets. This is particularly evident in terms of server management. 

When you first set up your servers, it might be tempting to connect them near your workstations. However, this can harm your hardware. 

Mounting your servers in racks is a much better solution. It can shield them from accidents in high-traffic areas, tripping hazards, spills, and dirt. 

Furthermore, server racks can help keep the hardware safe by organizing it in an accessible area that facilitates management and cleaning. They also limit the exposure to regular wear and tear in the office. 

Another critical consideration is to plan for the future when installing your servers. 

When selecting a rack mount, be sure there’s enough room to expand your hardware. Unless your office is tiny, having half-empty racks is preferred to tearing them down and redesigning them a few years down the line.

TIP #2 – SEPARATE YOUR SERVERS FROM YOUR MAIN AREA

Depending on the type of servers, they can get quite noisy when in operation. On top of that, they can comprise valuable hardware. So, you’ll want to separate them physically from the working premises. 

If you can’t afford a designated server room, invest in secure rack mounts with integrated sound reduction. 

TIP #3 – TAKE CARE OF YOUR HARDWARE

Hardware maintenance plays a pivotal role in server management. Without dependable hardware, your productivity can plunge. 

To avoid this scenario, you need to monitor the essential components of your server: 

  • CPU (Central Processing Unit) – Your CPU is the core of your servers, performing all calculations for running programs. You need to constantly monitor it to prevent overuse. If it operates near 100% of its power, your team members can’t carry out additional tasks due to slowdowns. It may require chip upgrades or performance tuning to alleviate the stress. 
  • RAM (Random Access Memory) – This is the working memory of your server, as it runs faster than hard disks. The more RAM you have, the higher the performance of your device. Closely monitor its usage and add more memory when it gets close to its full capacity. 
  • Hard drive – The hard drive is the permanent storage of your servers. It saves your data and programs, but its performance can diminish with overuse. Proper hard disk management entails keeping track of the available space, deleting unnecessary files, installing new drives, or including cloud-based solutions.

TIP #4 – EMPLOY FREQUENT COOLING

You expect your servers to perform fast, but the only way to ensure this is to provide optimal conditions. That said, you should primarily focus on cooling the servers. Excess heat can dramatically decrease their lifespan. 

The best practice here is to make sure your cooling device operates outside your building. 

Additionally, if you experience a power outage or central air doesn’t work at night, you need a cooling solution that can run on backup power.

TIP #5 – MANAGE AND MAINTAIN YOUR SOFTWARE

Software used for your server requires regular maintenance, too. The key is to perform regular updates and delete old software to enhance performance. Your servers will operate better, and there will be fewer vulnerabilities cybercriminals can exploit to access your network.

TIP #6 – ARRANGE THE WIRING NEATLY

The amount of wiring in your server setup can be overwhelming, especially if you have no technical experience. Sorting out the mess doesn’t only improve cleanliness, but it can also help boost the performance of your server viability for future upgrades. 

Keep in mind that whenever you’re removing, rearranging, or installing your cables, label and group them neatly. Doing so helps prevent clutter.  

TIP #7 – PAY SPECIAL ATTENTION TO SECURITY

As previously mentioned, servers can be susceptible to cyberattacks. That’s why it’s crucial to maintain a secure system. Here’s what you should do: 

  • Install and update antivirus software. 
  • Repel unauthorized traffic with firewalls. 
  • Use robust access control software or sound password policies and instruct your users to change them regularly. 
  • Encrypt external networks and data storage. 
  • Incorporate SIEM (Security Information and Event Management) tools. 
  • Analyze and implement security logging measures to understand potential threats. 

TIP #8 – BACK UP YOUR DATA

The final part of robust server management is backing up your data regularly. After all, loss of information can be disastrous, harming your reputation and losing your customers. 

Besides backing up server software and hardware, you should also have a backup for your power supply to prevent data losses during power outages. Moreover, you can integrate with various tools to expedite backups, recoveries, and status monitoring. 

Look for software that covers both your IT architecture and operating system. It needs to work across systems and applications you currently have or plan on installing. Additionally, it should diagnose server issues efficiently with powerful analytic capabilities. 

SERVER MANAGEMENT AT ITS FINEST

Managing effective server operation involves several key considerations, from monitoring system temperature to updates and data backups. Even though this can be an arduous process, it’s integral to optimizing your server performance and eliminating security concerns. 

If you need help in optimum server management in your business, we’d love to help you out. Contact us and let’s have a quick, no-obligation chat about it.

Article used with permission from The Technology Press.

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