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July 2020

Should you Invest in Cybersecurity

10 Signs You Should Invest in Cybersecurity

By | Security

With the increasing number of data breaches in the news, you or the decisionmakers in your organization may be weighing the benefits of investing in cybersecurity. As a security leader in your organization, you know the importance of protecting your organization’s digital assets but also know that the costs can be substantial. If you’re like most security leaders, you have the dilemma of trying to implement an effective security model with a limited budget. Instead of applying inadequate security solutions with gaps of protection, consider persuading the decisionmakers to increase your budget as appropriate. You may be apprehensive to do so but neglecting to provide sufficient security protection for your organization can be more costly than increasing your budget. According to the IBM 2019 Cost of a Data Breach Report, the average data breach costs an organization $3.2 million. If you’re motivated to approach your decisionmakers, before you approach them, conduct a risk assessment to determine the needs of your organization and the estimated budget necessary to invest in an applicable security model.

During your risk assessment, here are 10 signs that you need to invest in cybersecurity:

  1. You don’t have security policies.
  2. The structure of your organization has significantly changed.
  3. Your industry is heavily targeted.
  4. Your industry has new cybersecurity regulations.
  5. Your network downtime is costly.
  6. You don’t have an employee training program.
  7. Employees receive a lot of spam emails.
  8. Your security team is overworked.
  9. You are using outdated security solutions.
  10. Your organization has experienced a security incident.

1. You don’t have security policies.

You should develop a formal security policy that outlines the key assets and technologies that your organization uses and defines the protocols for securing each one. The basic elements to address in the policy are application security management, network security management, and remote security management. A best practice is to align the protocols with the five elements of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) cybersecurity framework: identify, protect, detect, respond, recover.

2. The structure of your organization has changed.

As your business grows, so should your security solutions. Moving data to the Cloud, employing remote workers, or implementing a new BYOD policy are changes that can increase the entry points to your data. These changes require additional solutions to address the increase in network access and methods of access. Moving data to the Cloud is especially significant because your data has moved to a location with less visibility. There may also be multiple third parties involved in managing your data.

3. Your industry is heavily targeted.

All organizations should implement security protections. However, there are organizations that should seriously consider investing in cybersecurity because of their industry. Cybercriminals tend to seek targets with the greatest impact. According to security certification and training firm Infosec, the following industries are targeted most often:

  • Healthcare
  • Manufacturing
  • Financial services
  • Government agencies
  • Education

4. Your industry has new cybersecurity regulations.

The continual increase in security breaches has resulted in regulations becoming more prevalent. If your organization has regulations, it’s a foregone conclusion that you should invest in cybersecurity. In most cases, regulations are designed to ensure that organizations with a greater security threat are implementing adequate security protocols to protect their clients. Security regulations are also executed to ensure that organizations employ a security policy that includes response and recovery components that expeditiously communicate information about a data breach to all affected parties. The New York State legislature passed the SHIELD Act in 2019. Other states have passed similar laws. Governments in other countries have also passed security laws. TCDI, a company that develops security software, provides a list of relevant cybersecurity regulations.

5. Your network downtime is costly.

Network downtime affects an organization’s bottom line. If the costs to restore your organization’s network are increasing, that is a red flag that you need to rethink your security model. Common reasons that a network goes down include outdated software, applying a patch or update that breaks existing software, and human error such as network misconfigurations. These tasks may seem mundane, but negligence in carrying them out is a common source of cyberattacks. According to a report by Ponemon Institute, 60% of the respondents to their survey stated that their security breaches were caused by neglecting to apply an available patch. We’ve already discussed the average cost of a security breach.

6. You don’t have an employee training program.

Employees are considered the first line of defense for cybersecurity because their behavior is linked to key entry points to the network.

The following are examples of improper employee behavior that can lead to an organization experiencing a security incident:

  • Responding to a phishing email
  • Losing a company laptop
  • Using weak passwords to access company applications
  • Downloading unapproved software onto a mobile device used for work

Developing a comprehensive training program that teaches employees proper security behavior and stresses the importance of practicing that behavior (and repeating that information often) will help to mitigate your organization’s security risk.

Here are some tips published in Government Technology magazine to help you create an effective cybersecurity awareness program:

  • Choose interactive versus static material
  • Focus on changing behavior and establishing a culture of cybersecurity
  • Make the training a requirement for everyone
  • Make the training fun
  • Solicit feedback from the trainees
  • Use a variety of methods, such as emails, newsletters, and posters to keep the message in front of employees

7. Employees receive a lot of spam emails.

Malware is becoming a common nuisance in the workplace. A highlight of the Cisco’s 2020 CISO Benchmark Report is that malware (and other types of malicious spam) occupies the first seat on the list of cited causes of security breaches. Ransomware is a type of malware that locks an individual or company from an asset and then requires payment to regain access to that asset. This type of threat is becoming more common due to the popularity of digital currency. Ransomware is particularly dangerous to organizations because it is responsible for causing the “most destructive amount of downtime (more than 17 hours)” according to the CISO report.

8. Your security team is overworked.

Cybercriminals are constantly looking for ways to infiltrate systems. A non-existent or stagnate cybersecurity budget can lead to problems. One of the side effects of implementing a cybersecurity model that is insufficient for your organization’s needs is that your security team must do more work. The tale-tell signs of an overworked team include constant network problems, significant amounts of overtime, and low morale.

9. You are using outdated security solutions.

Are your security policies full of manual processes that your IT team performs on a regular basis? Depending on manual processes for your security solutions creates a reliance on human input, which is a  common cause of security issues. This is more of an issue when the manual processes are performed for high-priority assets in your organization. A better plan is to use other solutions, such as automation, for your most critical assets and save manual processes, if you must keep them, for less critical assets. You should also determine if there are any compliance regulations that require you to use a specific level of security.

10. Your organization has experienced a security incident.

Security incidents, regardless of impact, are serious matters. They compromise the privacy of your organization’s employees and client’s, taint your reputation, and cost money (usually a lot) to resolve. Some organizations can’t return to business as usual after a security issue because their reputation in the industry has become questionable or they can’t absorb the resolution costs. Of course, it’s possible for an organization to recover from a security issue, but there are important steps you need to take. Digital Guardian, a data loss prevention software firm, interviewed data breach experts about their recommended next steps after a data breach.

The following are a few of the tips from the data breach experts:

  • Contain the incident
  • Communicate effectively with affected parties
  • Investigate the incident to understand the cause
  • Protect your business from future attacks

Takeaway

IBM’s statistic mentioned at the start of this post regarding the average cost of a security breach is a daunting figure that should motivate you to make cybersecurity a priority. By simply assessing your current situation, you can determine if your organization should invest in cybersecurity. The items listed above are great starting points for your assessment. To obtain a complete picture of your organization and learn the solutions that are best, an in-depth assessment will work best.

BACS provides a full spectrum of cybersecurity solution services that starts with understanding your goals, assessing the specific needs of your organization, and then developing an appropriate plan and strategy for your architecture. Our distinction in the industry is that we are a team of cybersecurity experts that are lead organizations on a path of successful IT infrastructure protection.

 

Cybersecurity Strategy

Does Your Cybersecurity Strategy Pass the Test? 5 Improvements You Can Make Today

By | IT Support, Security

Is your cybersecurity strategy capable of protecting your organization’s assets from cyber threats? If you haven’t performed any tests to confirm or deny that inquiry, consider a staggering statistic in a report about cybersecurity published by the ESI ThoughtLab economic consultant firm. From their 2018 survey of several hundred individuals of organizations in 17 countries, the average loss for the surveyed organizations was close to $5 million. As the technical expert on the cybersecurity team, your manager and the decisionmakers in the organization will look to you to ensure that the organization doesn’t contribute to that statistic.

You can easily determine the effectiveness of your organization’s cybersecurity strategy by performing real-life scenarios of your security solutions, response and recovery, and employee awareness. If you determine that improvements are needed, strengthening your cybersecurity plan should be as comprehensive as your financial resources and schedule allow. If you need to make improvements quickly, such as to meet compliance or decisionmaker requirements, make sure you focus on the areas of that are the most vulnerable to a cyberattack.

The following are five ways you can make improvements to your cybersecurity strategy and address key concerns:

1: Apply Basic Cybersecurity Hygiene

2: Fortify Endpoint Protection

3: Implement Remote Access Management Policy and Procedures

4: Enhance Your Skills and Knowledge

5: Increase Employee Awareness

1: Apply Basic Cybersecurity Hygiene

One of the best actions you can make immediately is to confirm that your organization’s cybersecurity plan addresses the basics of protection:

  • Backing up your organization’s data may seem like common knowledge, but it’s a task that companies often overlook. Having a backup is one of the best defenses against a ransomware attack. That is, if you have wisely stored your backup on a different system.
  • Incorporating automation for updates and other common tasks is in line with backups. This task will minimize human intervention that has the potential for error. Consider the 2017 WannaCry ransomware attack that infiltrated computer systems running Microsoft Windows operating system. Once executed, the network worm encrypted the data on the computer and presented a message demanding a ransom. Since Microsoft was aware of the issue and had provided an update to address the attack, it could have been avoided if the update had been applied on the affected systems.
  • Implementing an authentication method that is secondary to passwords will lessen security issues related to employee errors. These will serve as a protective armor for your computer systems. According to a report by Ponemon Institute, weak employee passwords were the source of an attack for 40% of their respondents with an average cost of close to half a billion dollars.
  • Using tools to monitor for and detect cyber threats will enable you to quickly review and, if necessary, respond to any suspicious issues. There are plenty of these tools available on the market. It’s a good idea to evaluate your organization’s needs before making an investment in a tool.

2: Fortify Endpoint Protection

An extension of applying basic cybersecurity hygiene is endpoint protection. According to the 2018-2019 State of Data Security and Privacy published by Forrester Researcher, endpoints account for 70% of data breaches. Endpoint protection refers to methods by which you manage security on the systems that are connected to your organization’s network. Anti-virus software and firewalls (network-based and hosted) are basic methods of protection that are ideal in traditional office settings with only desktop systems. If employees can use personal devices such as laptops and mobile cell phones to connect to the network (inside or outside the organization), you should consider implementing additional protection measures.

The following are three types of advanced endpoint protection tools for you to consider:

  • Next-Generation Antivirus (NGAV) solutions that are event-driven instead of based on files that are stored on an endpoint (traditional virus signature definitions).
  • Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR) tools that are designed to monitor endpoints for suspicious activity and when necessary, automate an action to secure the system.
  • Cyber threat intelligence, which is the result of a multi-step process of collecting, processing, and analyzing raw security data.

3: Implement Remote Access Management Policy and Procedures

Before endpoints in your organization move to locations outside the corporate office, make sure you add policy and procedures. This information, typically provided in document form, is basically a detailed training and informational guide about your expectations of employees when they work in remote locations. The document should also provide the consequences of not following the documented instructions.

Even with remote access management policy and procedures in place, mistakes are still possible (and likely). The following are two important additional steps you can take to enhance remote security:

  1. Implement a multifactor authentication (MFA) to add an additional method of authenticating a user for VPN access. According to a blog post by Lastpass, a provider of login management systems, passwords account for a large percentage of data breaches.
  2. Build and implement a whitelist that includes all the approved applications and contact email addresses that employees can access. Update the list as you deem necessary.

4: Enhance Your Skills and Knowledge

Once you have all the technical aspects of your cybersecurity in place, consider opportunities of advancing your knowledge and skills. As an IT cybersecurity professional, you probably know that your technical skills must continue to evolve to combat the latest cyberattacks. What are those technical skills? According to Infosec, a provider of training for IT professional, the following eight skills are considered the basics for cybersecurity professionals:

  • Intrusion detection
  • Software reverse engineering
  • Analytical skills
  • Risk mitigation
  • Cloud security
  • Incident response
  • Encryption technologies
  • Penetration tasks

Cybersecurity is an important topic to all organizations, so there are numerous courses available online and in person. Many of these courses are fee-based. However, the SANS Institute offers free online cybersecurity courses.  You can also gain knowledge by staying informed. Joining and participating in online security-related communities and signing up for online news is also a good idea.

5: Increase Employee Awareness

Security training is not just for you and the other individuals in the IT department. All employees in the organization should know their responsibility regarding security and understand the potential consequences if they are careless. Unfortunately, there are many examples of how an employee’s negligence resulted in a costly security breach. Most recently, is the cyberattack on Grays Harbor Community Hospital. In that incident, an employee clicked a malicious link to ransomware that spread to computer systems throughout several of the organization’s medical facilities. In addition to the costs associated with the IT department tackling the damage, the organization’s systems were down for an extended period of time, which meant they lost money.

As an IT professional, your manager may task you with creating and implementing an employee cybersecurity training program.

Here are steps to help you create a training program:

  1. Determine who needs the training. At a minimum, security training should include everyone who uses a computer system or device to connect to the corporate network.
  2. Define the scope of the program. Phishing emails, password policies, and personal device protection are the basic topics to cover with employees. You should also consider the types of security attacks that are common for your organization’s industry.
  3. Outline the structure of the training. Developing a program that includes both instructional information and practical experience is a good idea. Cloud-based email management company Mimecast creates entertaining and focused training for their employees.
  4. Establish a timeline for the training. In the beginning, you’ll start with existing employees. You should then work with the Human Resources department to add training to the onboarding process for new employees.
  5. Update the training. The tactics of cybercriminals continue to advance, and so should your training program. Keep an eye out for any security news items that you can alert employees to immediately via email and later add to the training. Also, as you learn more about issues that are specific to your employees, you should add these to the training program.

Getting Started with Your Plan

The tips mentioned above are a good start to making sure that you address the basics of cybersecurity. Note that improving the cybersecurity strategy for your organization will be an ongoing task. Cyber threats will continue to advance, so you must make sure your strategy also advances. It’s likely that you won’t be able to prevent every potential attack that pops up, but at the very minimum, you will be prepared to respond to them and divert any significant damage.

At BACS, our goal is to partner with our customers to develop a cybersecurity infrastructure that is built from a solid foundation according to the organization’s specific needs.  Our team of cybersecurity experts help organizations make the “right” decisions to build an IT security framework that encompasses the full spectrum of an effective cybersecurity strategy: planning, developing, implementing, reviewing, and revising.

 

A Beginner's Guide to Cybersecurity

A Beginner’s Guide to Cybersecurity

By | Security

A cybersecurity guide for IT professionals interested in learning the basics. BACS provides security solutions that help organizations of all sizes implement the best security foundation that fits their needs.

In organizations of all sizes, IT professionals play an important role in implementing and managing cybersecurity. If this is a new role for you, attempting to learn everything at once may seem like a good plan. A better and less daunting approach is to focus on understanding the basics that will prepare you to assist your IT department in the protection of your organization’s assets.

A good place to start your training is to understand the key components of cybersecurity. The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), created by the U.S. Department of Commerce, provides a Cybersecurity Framework for organizations to implement that is based on five functions: Identify, Protect, Detect, Respond, and Recover. The framework is in-depth and comprehensive. Presented below is an abbreviated guide that encapsulates the five functions identified by the NIST.

Understanding cybersecurity consists of grasping the following four basic topics:

1. Cybersecurity Defined

You may hear people refer to cybersecurity in different ways. According to Wikipedia, “cybersecurity is the protection of computer systems and networks from the theft of or damage to their hardware, software, or electronic data, as well as from the disruption or misdirection of the services they provide.” The underlying message of this definition to new IT cybersecurity professionals is simple: learn how to protect your organization’s assets from unknown threats. What are these potential threats? Let’s discuss them next.

2. Types of Security Threats

Cybercriminals use a variety of methods to attack organizations. Learning the tactics that cybercriminals use will help you understand how to implement the best defenses against them.

There are four basic types of threats that you should know:

  • Distributed-Denial-of-Service (DDoS) – Considered the first cyberattack, the Morris worm started as an innocent program designed to determine how many computers were connected to the Internet. The huge number of responses from the computers ended up overloading the target server, the classic sign of a distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack. These attacks can be costly (time and money) to recover. In the case of the Morris worm, 72 hours and more than $100,000 was spent to undue its damage.
  • Malware – The term malware is a combination of the words malicious and software to describe an attack using software for malicious purposes. Malware has a long history and continues to advance. According to anti-virus software producer Malwarebytes, the term is used to refer to a variety of attacks. Ransomware, viruses, adware, spyware, trojans, rootkits, and keyloggers are just a few examples. The common thread of these attacks is that they require an action before they can do their misdeed. This action may be an employee clicking a link in an email or downloading software from the Internet onto an organization’s computer. The malicious software can be programmed to do several tasks. For example, it may, unknowing to you, secure a comfy spot on your computer and steal credentials, prevent you from accessing a computer without first remitting a payment, or simply overload your display with annoying ads.
  • Social Engineering – According to Verizon’s 2019 Data Breach Investigation Report, phishing was the number one cause of data breaches. This type of attack can be referred to as a scam to trick someone into providing personal information. It is most often carried out via email but can also come in the form of a text message, instant message, or over the telephone. In an organization, a phishing attack can have a cascading effect and lead to a security breach. If your organization is hit with a phishing attack, it is a good idea to report the incident to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). Types of social engineering attacks include phishing, vishing, and smishing.
  • Data Theft – Theft can occur from someone outside of the organization that gains access to data by stealing an asset, such as a laptop, or from the inside by someone who has access to personal data. Data theft can ruin a company’s reputation, interrupt normal business operations, or cause a company to shut down immediately.

3. Types of Security Protection

How your organization attempts to prevent the attacks listed above will depend on the systems you employ and your chosen method of security protection. The following are the most common types of security protection and the challenges that are related to them.

  1. Identity Management – This area is associated with how users are identified on the network and how you manage that information. This also addresses how users access the network.
  2. Network Security – This type of protection involves securing a network, including its associated data, email, and wireless connectivity. Among the most common types of network security are firewalls, anti-virus software, behavioral analytics, intrusion prevention systems (IPS) and network segmentation.
  3. Application Security – Protecting the software that your organization uses is critical. At a minimum, this involves making sure that you keep all the applications that your employees use up to date. The main challenge in this area is that applications are constantly being updated, and sometimes updates can cause problems with existing software.
  4. Endpoint Security – This type of security protection involves protecting assets that are remotely connected to your organization’s network. Implementing a Virtual Private Network (VPN) is a good idea, but how you choose to set it up requires some research to understand is best for your organization.
  5. Mobile Security – Mobile devices such as tablets and cell phones are easily portable and allow employees more flexibility with performing their work tasks. The challenge with protecting these systems is that it is impossible to develop a one-size-fits-all security plan when so many different types exist.
  6. Cloud Security – If your organization chooses to offload data to the cloud via a product managed by the organization or a third party, you should still be involved in the security of that virtual data. Data that is stored in the cloud is challenging to protect because you can’t see it and it is usually managed by a third party.
  7. Recovery Management – Your organization should have protection in place that defines the actions that are taken when there is a security incident. The challenge with this type of security protection is being prepared for the unknown.
  8. User Education – Users provide a measure of protection because they are often the first line of entry. Educating users is an important step in your organization’s security protection

4. Best Practices for IT Professionals

An effective security plan will be specific to your organization’s needs. The organization looks for the IT department to make sure that everything is protected. This can seem a bit daunting, but there are some basic best practices that you can do now that will help to create a good defense.

  1. Inventory your organization’s assets.

This should be the first step in your security plan. This consists of tracking all the hardware and software in your organization and noting the employee responsible for each, as well as any specifics such as license expirations. At a very minimum, you could track the assets in a spreadsheet and make updates, as necessary. If your security budget allows, investing in asset tracking software such as UptimePM and Asset Panda can provide additional benefits.

 

  1. Apply patches and updates regularly.

Software improvements are inevitable. When a software provider discovers a security flaw in their product and notifies you about it, make sure you apply the patch as soon as possible. If the provider has discovered it, there’s a good chance that cybercriminals know about it and are looking for organizations that have implemented it so they can take advantage of them.

 

  1. Backup data regularly.

Your security plan should include a method for recovering your data if a security incident occurs. It’s a good idea to create a schedule and back up your most critical data more often than data that is not as essential.  To protect your backup data, it is a good idea to encrypt the data (make sure you store the keys in a safe place) and create multiple copies that are stored using different methods.

 

  1. Contribute to user awareness.

Implementing the security protections and best practices listed above without training employees about cybersecurity is like adding a security system to your home and leaving the front door wide open while you sleep. According to a security awareness training survey conducted by Enterprise Management Associates of more than small to medium-sized 500 organizations, awareness training was not provided by more than half the respondents. Of the business that do provide training, 18% of them do not measure the effectiveness of the training, while 34% had no clue if they measured the effectiveness of the training. Hopefully, your organization has implemented training for employees that teaches them the behaviors to exhibit to protect the organization’s assets. You can contribute to user awareness by setting an example and by sending employees regular messages about security via email to keep security on their minds.

Conclusion

Cybersecurity has become an important aspect of doing business—regardless of size or industry.  Organizations have a lot to consider when it comes to implementing cybersecurity. As an IT professional, you play an important role in the implementation and management of security. Learning about the types of threats and protection and common best practices will equip you with the basic tools you need to help protect your organization’s assets.

Partnering with BACS is a good plan because we have experience assisting organizations of all sizes and needs. We provide security solutions for organizations that get them up and running for the long term. Our solutions are designed to help you obtain the most from your technology so that you can focus on what your organization does best.

 

Your Cloud Migration with the Right IT partner

Easing Your Cloud Migration with the Right IT partner

By | Cloud, IT Support

As cloud trends continue to evolve, IT as a Service model (ITaaS) has emerged as an attractive model for helping to help keep IT and cloud infrastructure running efficiently, reliably, and securely. According to one report, 65 percent of IT decision-makers plan to outsource the management of their cloud operations to an outside managed services provider (MSP).

 

With an established track record of success across a range of environments, it’s difficult to deny the value of working with an outside IT expert. By assuming responsibility for daily maintenance and support tasks, MSPs can help keep your systems and processes operating at peak performance while freeing up IT resources to focus on more pressing business initiatives.

 

With the ITaaS model, businesses can connect to the entirety of the service provider’s knowledge, working with specialists who have decades of experience across industry and technology domains. These outside experts understand the complexities of technology support and work to ensure your cloud environment is aligned with business priorities and will scale appropriately.

 

Keeping IT efficient and agile 

The IT outsourcing model is not a technology shift, but rather a transformative change where IT services transition from a generalist offering to more specialized services tailored to specific needs and use cases. The service provider manages and orchestrates the IT service lifecycle―from identifying user requirements to supporting the final outcome of an effectively delivered service.

 

The advantages of IT outsourcing are simple. With a cloud-based delivery model, businesses can easily scale services to accommodate shifting business needs. The cost structure for each level of service is clearly defined, enabling accurate decision-making. Meanwhile, the flexible pricing model allows a business to preserve large capital expenses for more strategic initiatives, rather than for simply keeping IT systems up and running.

 

Every cloud environment has its own unique challenges and opportunities. Although cost savings is important, moving to the cloud is more about determining what’s best for the organization―not solely about reducing costs. Creating a purpose-focused, business-aligned cloud approach should be your top priority. That’s where working with the right MSP can deliver immense value.

 

In today’s era of rapid change, short-sighted decisions can result in costly, inefficient investments and technology complexity. That’s why it’s important to carefully evaluate the depth of knowledge and technical expertise of your prospective IT provider before making any final decision. What best practice processes do they employ to solve critical issues? Are they skilled technology planners? Can they effectively support your long-term vision and goals?

 

Finding the best match for your unique requirements can pay long-term dividends. The following are some key attributes and capabilities to keep in mind in your MSP evaluation.

 

  • Optimum efficiency. Flexible, subscription-based pricing is one of the core advantages of the IT outsourcing model. Look for a provider that offers monthly billing based on the range of services you need, allowing you to better plan and budget for IT expenses. Your in-house IT staff can focus on more pressing business priorities with a team of outside support specialists filling in the gaps and providing routine and specialized services where they are needed most. As your business scales, your subscription service can be expanded or downsized to match your needs.

 

  • Fast response. With a growing focus on remote working and global operations, around-the-clock support is more critical than ever. Not only should your provider be available 24/7, but they also need to be able to respond quickly to critical issues. Your service provider should have clearly defined response capabilities and levels of expertise. How does the Help desk operate? Where is it based? What are the core hours of operation? What is the standard response time? Will you get immediate help from an expert or will someone call you back?

 

  • Remote monitoring. Proactive performance monitoring of IT systems and cloud infrastructure can help reduce downtime and improve data security. When an issue arises, remote monitoring tools can generate alarms to inform IT staff of pending or active breakdowns, capacity issues and other IT systems or network-related events. Your MSP should have the ability to automate the monitoring and management of your IT infrastructure, including servers, workstations, firewalls, routers, network devices, and switches across your environment. When action is required, alerts can trigger your IT team or your service provider’s Help desk to initiate the appropriate response.

 

  • Clear expectations. MSPs typically provide a standard agreement that addresses most scenarios, but if something slips through, it’s vital to know what the next step is. Your MSP should provide a clearly-defined service-level agreement (SLA) that outlines in detail the specific scope of services provided. It should define the core areas of responsibility, performance expectations, and methods of resolution concerning disagreements and outcomes should an issue arise. Your SLA should include core elements such as speed of response, prioritization policies, and the time required to solve issues. The SLA scope is usually aligned with the expectations of IT and individual business units, which can benefit both parties.

 

  • Technology planning: An important advantage of the managed services model is its proactive approach, which focuses on identifying and addressing issues before they can impact business performance. Effective planning requires a holistic approach that effectively blends proven techniques and practices with advanced technologies. A good IT provider will develop a clear picture of your IT capabilities and prepare a defined action plan to help ensure the best approach to migrating platforms and applications for optimum performance and efficiency. You should be able to rely on the expertise of your provider to assist you with ongoing planning and strategy―using their depth of experience to continuously look for ways to save money, improve performance and leverage technology to support your company’s long-term growth.

 

  • Manage complexity: Cloud environments can add complexity to your IT infrastructure, making it difficult to monitor and troubleshoot issues compared to traditional environments. That’s why it’s critical that your IT provider be up to speed on the latest cloud deployment and application management techniques. Working as an extension of your IT team, you should be able to connect to the entirety of the MSP’s knowledge, working with specialists who have decades of experience across industry and technology domains. MSP experts understand the complexities of technology support and work to ensure IT systems and processes are aligned with business priorities and will scale appropriately.
  • Safeguard assets: Data security should be a top consideration in any cloud support decision. Your IT provider should have deep experience in cybersecurity and disaster recovery planning and be capable of effectively guiding you on new and emerging compliance requirements. They should be well-versed in the ability to define your business requirements and implement a security plan that aligns with your current and long-term needs. With today’s flexible managed services offering, look for a provider who can integrate the entire process of backup and recovery into a single service. Storage, design, testing, and around-the-clock proactive backup monitoring allow you to keep an eye on performance without having to manage the task yourself.
  • Scale efficiently: Your MSP should be skilled at managing the complexities of cloud deployments and willing to work with you to make sure you optimize your existing infrastructure and resources. The provider should be able to accurately assess the level of integration you require in your cloud infrastructure, taking into account your available resources, security requirements, and compliance demands. Ultimately, your cloud infrastructure should be able to effectively scale to meet shifting workload demands, improve operational efficiency, and avoid vendor lock-in.

 

Gaining a performance edge

Most IT organizations are stuck in reactive mode, continuously putting out fires and rushing to resolve the latest crisis. Reactive measures can’t be completed avoided, but you can improve your approach. By outsourcing ongoing cloud management and support tasks to a trusted partner, you can focus on more strategic priorities and enjoy greater peace of mind knowing that your IT operation is running smoothly and efficiently. Given the enormous upside potential, the sooner you engage with an expert IT partner, the better.

 

 

Choosing the right cyber security vendor

Choosing the Right IT Security Provider

By | Security

IT security today is more complex than ever. More devices, more connections, and more distributed IT environments have helped broaden the threat landscape for organizations of all sizes.  

While businesses understand the importance of building a strong defense, many simply lack the resources and technical expertise needed to effectively combat today’s escalating threats without undercutting other business priorities.  

To help ease this burden, companies are increasingly relying on the skill and expertise of managed service providers (MSPs). By assuming responsibility for daily maintenance and support tasks, MSPs can help you keep your IT operation running efficiently, reliably, and securely while freeing up IT resources to focus on more pressing business initiatives. 

While outsourcing IT security can be an effective business strategy, not all IT providers are created equal. The range of capabilities and types of services offered by today’s MSPs run the gamut. To help ensure an optimum match for your specific needs, it’s important to carefully evaluate your prospective IT provider across several core areas. 

 

Needs-focused

A good IT provider should start by seeking to understand your current security posture, taking into consideration your unique data protection needs, compliance issues, and long-term business goals. How sensitive is the data you manage? What are your current methods of storage and will this change in the future? What are your protocols for data access? This detailed review will help uncover weaknesses or gaps in your security infrastructure. The goal isn’t to sell you a bunch of new technology but to ensure an optimum level of security without sacrificing functionality.  

 

Industry expertise

Ideally, you want to look for an IT provider with experience working in your particular field, especially if you operate in a regulated industry, such as healthcare or banking. As data privacy regulations continue to proliferate, one major challenge is keeping track of new compliance updates and changes. Some data assets require minimal protection while others may require more robust security. Determining the optimum balance is essential. If a provider has limited experience working within your industry, this wouldn’t necessarily exclude them from providing reliable service. However, you’ll want to perform extra due diligence to validate their level of competence and their ability to meet your unique security and compliance needs.

 

Technology-tuned

Today’s cybercriminals are more sophisticated than ever. That’s why it’s critical that your IT provider be up to speed on current and emerging threats as well as the technology needed to combat them. They should be capable of implementing advanced security techniques and practices, including strong access controls, the latest malware protection, and proactive security scanning. You’ll want to make sure the provider you work with can adapt to change and growth and stays on the cutting edge of technology innovation. Your provider should be well-versed in technology planning to help ensure your security strategy is designed, implemented, and managed in a consistent manner.   

 

Solid track record

Your IT provider should be able to provide references and case studies of how they solved security challenges and examples of reliable security service delivery across a variety of IT environments. Active client references provide a good gauge of performance, responsiveness, reliability, and expertise. Customer feedback should provide a view into how the provider operates, and if they are a good match for your organization. Do they understand the business they are protecting? Are they up-to-date with the latest technologies, trends, and potential avenues of attack? Are they inquisitive and aggressive about helping you achieve your business goals and objectives? Can they be your trusted partner?

 

Fast response

You may not work 24 hours a day, but your IT infrastructure never sleeps. That’s why it’s important that your IT provider offers around-the-clock support. Your business demands it. Your service provider should be able to clearly outline and define its response capabilities. What is the expertise level of support staff? What is the standard response time? Will you get immediate help from an expert or will someone call you back? Ideally, your provider should offer an automated process to generate and track tickets and resolve problems from a single dashboard. 

 

Disaster recovery

Finding time to focus on the routine functions of backup and recovery is increasingly difficult in today’s fast-paced business world. That’s where the knowledge and guidance from an outside IT provider can help. As backup and storage processes migrate to the cloud, you’ll want a provider skilled at determining optimum price points, evaluating storage media options, and choosing the best course of action for your unique needs. With today’s flexible managed services offerings, looks for a provider who can integrate the entire process of backup and recovery into a single service. Storage, design, testing, and around-the-clock proactive backup monitoring allow you to keep an eye on performance without having to manage the task yourself.

 

Roadmap planning

Planning for IT security is an ongoing process. Central to this effort is understanding your business goals and the role data, security, and compliance play in supporting those goals. Effective IT security requires a holistic approach that effectively blends proven techniques and practices with advanced technologies. A good IT provider will develop a clear picture of your IT capabilities and prepare a defined action plan to address any infrastructure, performance or compliance gaps. You should be able to rely on the advice and expertise of your provider to assist you with ongoing planning and strategy―continuously looking for ways to save money, improve performance, and leverage technology to support your company’s long-term growth.

 

Gain a performance advantage

Safeguarding your vital IT infrastructure is not just a security concern; it is a fundamental business issue. It requires an intelligent investment in resources to meet an increasingly complex threat landscape. Selecting the right security provider can help ensure the best approach to protecting your vital business assets, mitigating risks, and optimizing your return on investment.