Monthly Archives

July 2021

Ransomware Attacks: How To Prevent It and Safeguard Your Business

By | Data Protection, Security

It would be ill-advised to say that there is a 100 percent sure-fire way to prevent a ransomware attack on your business network, even with the best cybersecurity. However, proactively strengthening your cybersecurity policies and strategies will reduce the chances of a breach significantly. Working with IT experts gives you an even greater edge at blocking cyberattacks or minimizing their effects. Here’s a deeper look at how you can maximize your resources to guard against ransomware attacks, which have been increasing in recent years.

Starting with Proactive IT Support

Strong cybersecurity begins with awareness of cybercrime. Business owners typically don’t have time to follow to investigate less-publicized cybersecurity threats. Many people hear about just the biggest breaches, such as the 2021 Colonial Pipeline hack.

A strong way to guard against a ransomware attack is for your IT support team to take proactive measures by identifying system vulnerabilities. Conducting a system audit will set this process in motion. From there you can consider options for solutions that make sense for your infrastructure. Updating software regularly helps avoid security flaws that hackers discover until patches correct the problems.

Backing up data on a regular basis is another proactive measure that minimizes a ransomware breach that locks up data. By having backups in other places outside your main server, you never have to respond to ransomware demands about accessing your data. The attacker may choose to destroy the frozen data if you refuse to pay the ransom, but at least you won’t have to rebuild your data from scratch.

Building a More Secure Infrastructure

As businesses continue to transform into more digital operations, it’s important to rethink your infrastructure to make it more flexible and capable of integrating with new technology. You don’t necessarily have to tear down your existing network and start building a brand new one based on the latest tech trends. But with help from your IT team, you can plan ahead for upgrading your infrastructure so that it easily facilitates modern solutions.

Not only does the rise in cybercrime require better network monitoring and threat detection, it means you have to assess risks involving privacy, government compliance and asset protection. Here are some of the important ways your IT team can improve your infrastructure:

  • Architecture Planning and Upgrading – In the future IoT devices will become more widespread across multiple industries. AI and automation will also be more common. Each of these technologies are becoming more embedded in cloud-based ecosystems. That means investing in hardware that facilitates new software.
  • Develop a Data Backup and Recovery Plan – Backing up your critical data on a routine basis is one of the best ways to ensure ransomware attackers cannot control your data. Switching to a backup server is necessary sometimes to do maintenance on the main server or to respond to an attack. Working with a cloud provider with virtual solutions is an excellent safety net.
  • Going More Digital in the Cloud – There’s no question that moving to the cloud allows your business to track more digital processes and build intelligence from a wider base of sources. The cloud allows for remote access and collaboration, which requires more network monitoring. The more secure processes you run in the cloud, the more your company can increase productivity.
  • Maintain Local Hardware – Working with an IT firm in your local market helps connect you with support technicians who are familiar with your infrastructure. It’s important to move away from legacy hardware when you can to reduce vulnerabilities. Hackers target old systems the same way burglars target homes with broken windows.
  • Fixing Problems Quickly – You relieve stress in the workplace when you provide a 24/7 help desk that responds to technical issues or answers questions. The more you focus on providing a smooth seamless experience for customers and workers, the more you’ll understand why you can’t let glitches pile up.

 

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Planning Ahead to Maintain Business Continuity

You can mitigate the impacts of disasters that businesses face through their evolution by developing backup plans for emergencies. You never know when something beyond your control can disrupt your business, such as a utility company power outage. If you don’t have a backup plan in place, your business survival may cling to a fragile system that eventually falls apart.

But if you develop easy-to-follow backup plans, business continuity resumes and damage is minimized. One of the most important questions to answer is: what happens when a power outage or cyber attack shuts down your network? The most sensible plan is to maintain backup digital twin servers outside your business location, ideally through a secure cloud architecture.

To ensure you always have backups to your files, your IT team can implement scheduled backups for you. They can also test files to make sure they aren’t corrupted in the transfer. While an in-house IT team might skip essential steps due to how boring and redundant backup tasks can be, a professional IT team that builds its reputation on quality makes sure the entire process is done properly.

 

Related: What is a Business Continuity Plan? 

 

Understanding What Ransomware Attackers Prey Upon

Ransomware attackers target companies that rely on old equipment, use minimal data protection and neglect cybersecurity training. The phishing schemes they use to penetrate networks rely on unsuspecting employees responding to an “urgent” email that instructs them to click a link. Many times the attacker first establishes a friendly relationship with the victim to build trust. This process is known as “social engineering.”

Instead of relying on hacker software, the hacker relies on tricking an employee through email. Phishing schemes are built on statistics that suggest a high percentage of breaches are due to employee error. If an employee isn’t trained to watch out for suspicious emails, they may be easily persuaded by what seems to be a friend to click a link that unloads malware. The computer screen then freezes up and the victim is locked out of their account until they pay a stated ransom amount in cryptocurrency.

While some reports indicate that employee error accounts for a third of breaches in the United States, it’s as much as 60 percent of breaches among UK businesses.

The key to reducing chances of a ransomware attack is to make employees aware phishing schemes exist and to resist clicking anything that contradicts the company’s cybersecurity policy. This policy should be communicated to all employees who use the company’s network to access files and applications. A cybersecurity policy can mandate which sites are blacklisted and how employees are expected to use its digital resources.

 

Keeping Up To Date With BACS IT Consulting Group 

Keeping up-to-date with the latest cybersecurity technology and methods is helpful in staying a step ahead of cybercriminals; you can do that by following our newsletter here. Still, maybe you don’t have time to keep up with the various cyberthreats and solutions, but you can outsource to IT experts, like BACS who work with businesses every day just like yours. We have the expertise to analyze the weaknesses and fill in the gaps in your IT infrastructure, ensuring your systems, data and the data of your client’s is secure. It’s important to remember that while a big part of blocking hackers and schemers involves modern technology, safe data-sharing also depends on the actions of your IT team and workforce. Working with a dedicated team of IT professionals gives you the peace of mind that you deserve that your business is in good hands. 

Remember, hackers are looking for systems that are easy to penetrate, so don’t give them one. Use strong cybersecurity measures as a form of risk management.  Contact BACS for more information on improving your IT experience.

 

 

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What is a Business Continuity Plan?

By | Business Continuity

As companies get more digital in order to scale and grow their operation, a Business Continuity Plan is now imperative for success and survival.

 

Many organizations have been able to avoid the worst cybercrime problems by turning to cloud solutions. Having the ability to access your tools, applications and files from any location is part of the key to keeping an enterprise operating during an emergency.

The cloud erases boundaries and barriers, providing seamless access to its private members. Modern cloud providers typically handle cybersecurity to ensure as much business continuity as possible. But your business should still have its own cybersecurity oversight in some form. Certain industries such as healthcare must invest in robust technology to comply with government regulations.

Part of hacking has more to do with human communication and decision making than technology. You need to protect your digital assets from scammers who use email and other digital communications to trick employees into activating harmful malware through clicks. 

 

Related Video: Listen to Jeremy—BACS CEO speak about taking technology to the next level. 

 

Defense Against Dark Web Cybercriminals

Where do cybercriminals get hacking software? Often from the “dark web” where nefarious entities connect to buy and sell illegal items. They even trade long lists of hacked consumers with their credit card numbers and other personal information. But even companies that use robust multilayered cybersecurity have been breached by cybercriminals.

Establishing several cybersecurity protection layers around your digital assets is the key to shielding them from outsiders. Keep in mind no system yet has been proven to be hacker-proof. But hiring, partnering with or outsourcing to IT experts can help reduce the chance of downtime to near zero. You simply can’t predict events such as hackers showing off how they can disrupt whoever they choose.

 

How Business Continuity Impacts Success

The reason every enterprise must prioritize cybersecurity these days is to maintain business continuity. If a hacker takes down your private server or locks you out of your cloud accounts, it could mean business downtime for a matter of hours, days or long-term. You certainly don’t want to face multiple lawsuits because a cybercriminal was able to steal confidential information about your employees and customers.

Companies that ignore cybersecurity and lack insurance are at high risk of sudden financial collapse if they suffer a cyberattack. Phishing schemes and social engineering are common strategies for ransomware attackers. They establish a friendly relationship through email for several months then eventually try to trick the target victim into clicking a link that unleashes malware. It then freezes a computer or broader system until the victim pays a ransom fee in cryptocurrency.

Part of business success in the 2020s is defined by sustainability, which involves reducing waste. Cybercriminals create waste by destroying data, software and hardware. Building a strong defense against hackers is now a factor for success in the digital business world. Avoiding lawsuits and reputational damage due to cybercrime will help reach business goals faster.

 

Adopting Multilayered Cybersecurity

While no system provides absolute guarantees, you can reduce the odds of a breach by using these types of cybersecurity layers:

  • Firewalls – Taking the form of both software and hardware, firewalls help detect and block suspicious activity on your network.
  • Strong Passwords – Creating complex passwords that mix letters, numbers and special characters strengthens protection. A simple password facilitates easy access for cybercriminals to the account.
  • Use Anti-Malware Software – Your IT specialist can provide anti-malware solutions to fight hackers.
  • Multi-factor Authentication – Adding multiple steps after a password for a login helps block out network spies. The common approach is to answer a few security questions.
  • Encryption – Using software algorithms that scramble passwords is one of the most effective solutions to disrupting the path of the hacker. Encryption is often used to protect email accounts.
  • Server Segmentation – Dividing your server into segments is a strategy for limiting cyberattack damage. Gaining access to one segment does not lead to accessing other segments. It’s useful for serving multiple accounts.
  • Virtualization – The use of virtual servers is common at modern data centers. It involves stacking multiple operating systems on one physical server. Each OS is independent from the others. It allows for easy data backup on multiple virtual servers at once.
  • 24/7 Monitoring – Advanced cybersecurity applications used by data centers are capable of monitoring networks continuously for cybercrime. Suspicious activity triggers automated solutions such as sending real-time alerts to cybersecurity officials.

Setting a Strong Cybersecurity Policy

Another step toward achieving business continuity is to establish a strong cybersecurity policy, which may consist of several restrictions on network use. It’s common for businesses to restrict various types of downloads, especially from sites that violate copyright laws. With modern solutions you can blacklist certain websites that you consider off-limits as work material.

Implementing your cybersecurity policy should accompany giving instructions and training for your employees. Expecting people to read something once and then remember it is not always the safest approach to enforcing cybersecurity rules. Your employees need to become educated about cybersecurity and how to avoid email traps set by cybercriminals.

 

 [Free  Resource Download]: 7 Tips  To  Create A Password  Policy  For  Your  Organization

 

Backup and Disaster Recovery Plan

Backing up your critical data routinely keeps business continuity smooth. Many companies overlook the fact that employee errors such as accidentally overwriting files are common in the business world. In fact, employee errors are the most common reason for cybersecurity breaches. It’s usually the reason a ransomware attacker penetrates a system through email.

You can reduce the chances of attacks facilitated by employee errors by working with an IT team that handles making all your data backups. Part of their work involves testing files and applications as well. Keeping fresh backups of all your important files ensures someone can’t just quickly demolish your business. It prevents the problem of starting all over again from scratch due to data loss.

The strongest safety net to prepare against cybercrime is a Backup and Disaster Recovery Plan that defines what to do if your network is attacked. It lays out a clear set of procedures for specific employees and IT personnel to take. One of the most important reasons to develop this plan is once again, to maintain business continuity. Just because your city gets hit with a natural disaster doesn’t mean your business has to shut down.

These days it’s possible for a business to remain online in automation mode even if all the employees have to evacuate. With the use of cloud services, it’s possible to access all your important business files online. Your Disaster Recovery Plan establishes what happens when technical issues occur such as if your main server goes down. Now a backup server typically takes over, triggered automatically. Due to backup plans, downtime is now a matter of seconds instead of days or weeks.

 

Developing A Business Continuity Plan with BACS

Every business these days must develop a Business Continuity Plan. It could mean the difference between a slight disruption and a major setback. In the digital age cyber attacks are becoming more common. So businesses must assume more responsibility and take the most reliable steps to reducing the chances of cyberattacks.

Investing in strong cybersecurity will help you focus more on your core business. Contact us at BACS to learn more about how we can help your company improve productivity through technological solutions.

 

Contact Us for a Business Continuity IT Assessment

 

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3 Reasons Your IT Infrastructure Is Failing Your Business

By | managed It services

Your IT infrastructure is holding your business back. 

Organizations often ignore their IT infrastructure. Some companies do not keep their IT infrastructure up to date as their business grows. Similar to other infrastructure, such as roads and bridges, IT infrastructure requires continuous maintenance and upgrades in order to properly support your business processes and activities. 

Ignoring IT infrastructure can cause a number of issues within your business. Competitors can take advantage of this misstep and leave organizations with aging infrastructure behind. When a business is beginning to expand their IT infrastructure, there are many costly mistakes that can be made. Companies should consult an expert in IT infrastructure, such as BACS, to ensure your infrastructure can keep up with the demands of your business. Still, building up your IT Infrastructure can sound like an expense that your business doesn’t want to take on. However, listen to James, CIO of BACS, discuss how small to medium businesses are leveraging tech that was once only available to enterprise level businesses and how they are able to afford the latest technology that will scale and expand their business:

 

 

How Your IT Infrastructure Is Failing Your Business

Outdated and non-optimized IT infrastructure will prevent your business from growing and can cause significant process and performance issues. Some companies may be tempted to patch problems whenever they come up, but over time your IT infrastructure will eventually fail. There are multiple reasons why your company should continually invest in your IT infrastructure. 

  • Increased Downtime

One of the most obvious signs that your IT infrastructure is failing your business is when you begin to see increases in both the length and number of instances of downtime. IT downtime occurs when your network or applications unexpectedly fail, while your business is operating. There are multiple reasons and factors that can cause your IT infrastructure to crash. 

Depending on your business model, any downtime can cause serious business implications. Employees may not be able to perform their daily tasks. Customers may become frustrated, if they cannot access your applications or services. If your business relies on online revenue, you can quickly lose out on customer orders. 

Some organizations can lose millions of dollars each hour that their IT infrastructure is down. According to Gartner, the average cost of IT downtime is $5,600 each minute. Those costs can quickly add up over time. Organizations can avoid IT downtime by ensuring that their infrastructure can handle their daily business operations. 

  • Preventing Full Optimization

IT infrastructures can hold an organization back from reaching its full potential. New technologies and applications may require updated IT infrastructure in order to properly function. Attempting to overload the infrastructure may lead to a host of issues. For example, a company with an outdated IT infrastructure will have to deal with more problems when they move their operations to the cloud. 

Investing in IT infrastructure will allow your organization to create better products and services for your customers. Older IT infrastructure can hamper your team’s ability to keep up with the competition. Employees can be more productive when the proper IT infrastructure is in place. They will be able to access company resources and applications from anywhere in the world with an internet connection.  

Improper IT infrastructure can also lead to more data breaches. About 63% of small and medium sized businesses experienced a data breach in 2019. This number is only going to continue increasing, as cybersecurity attacks are becoming more sophisticated. Investing in IT infrastructure can help prevent data breaches. 

  • Rising Costs

Companies may be unaware of all of the money they are wasting by refusing to upgrade their IT infrastructure. The costs of keeping older IT infrastructure in place can quickly add up. Executives may be hesitant to spend significant capital upfront to upgrade their IT infrastructure, but in the long run most companies will save money. 

The scaling costs of the cloud are evident in startups that attempt to scale rapidly. One startup was in the video encoding and streaming space. Early on in their journey, their team did not properly invest in their IT infrastructure. The company was using Amazon Web Services and spending over $300,000 a month on their cloud infrastructure and services. This model was not sustainable in the long term. 

The startup worked with an IT infrastructure company in order to set up their own infrastructure. Their costs dropped from $300,000 a month to $100,000 a month. Currently, the company spends about $250,000 a month on their IT infrastructure and bandwidth. The Amazon Web Services bill for similar infrastructure and bandwidth would have been over $1,000,000 per month. If the company had properly set up at least some IT infrastructure, they could have avoided their skyrocketing costs altogether.

Most companies do not have the capabilities to reduce their monthly IT infrastructure bill by hundreds of thousands of dollars each month. This is exactly why some companies outsource this task. BACS can help your organization properly address your IT infrastructure issues.

Related: Managed IT Services vs. Traditional IT Support: What’s The Difference? 

 

Update Your IT Infrastructure With BACS

Updating and optimizing your IT infrastructure is not a straightforward, easy task. You may not have the right skill sets and knowledge in your organization to properly update your IT infrastructure. Thankfully, BACS is here to help you develop a customized IT infrastructure solution that meets your unique business needs. Your team can focus on growing your business, instead of spending countless hours attempting to put proper IT infrastructure in place. 

Reach out today to learn more about how BACS can improve your IT infrastructure. Your business can take full advantage of an improved IT infrastructure to take your business to the next level. Our experienced team is more than happy to answer any questions you may have regarding IT infrastructure. 

 

Contact Us for a FREE IT Assessment

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Managed IT Services For Bay Area Businesses That Want To Grow

By | managed It services

Are you aware that the advantages of managed IT services go beyond offloading your IT tasks and saving money?

 

These two benefits are significant when considering managed IT services. However, to succeed in the Bay Area marketplace, businesses like yours must implement an IT strategy that also provides a competitive advantage. Managed IT services can help your business achieve that goal by facilitating business growth. The following are five benefits of managed IT services that contribute to business growth:

Scalable IT Services

A challenge many Bay Area businesses face is scaling up technology systems to support growth. Implementing increasingly advanced tools and infrastructure while managing daily IT tasks requires resources and expertise that is a luxury for most organizations. Partnering with a managed IT services firm should allow you to expand your services as your business grows. When you partner with a managed IT services firm, you should work closely with them to develop a Service Level Agreement (SLA) that can be modified as your organization’s technology needs change. Managed IT services firms usually offer two basic service options: a full-service option and an a la carte option.

Full-Service Option

This comprehensive option allows you to delegate a large percentage of your IT services to a managed IT services firm.  

A comprehensive option will typically include the following services:

If your business doesn’t yet have an IT strategy, the full-service option usually includes consulting that you could use to develop a strategic IT plan.

Related: Why You Need An IT Strategy

 

Contact Us for a FREE IT Assessment

 

A La Carte Option

When your organization requires specific IT services, you can choose to hire a managed IT services team to handle the tasks you assign to them. You can also specify that they only address issues that occur or request a set number of hours for them to provide a set of services you choose.

  • 24-Hour Monitoring Capabilities

Time is critical in business.  Downtime may see like a harmless side effect of doing business in a world that relies on technology to perform just about everything, but it can have a devastating effect on the growth of your business. When your systems aren’t active, that means that communication to and from your business is stifled. Employees may not be able to complete their tasks, which leads to customers not receiving their products and services as expected. 

Minimizing downtime is achieved most often when organizations use a proactive approach that discovers problems before they cause downtime. This is particularly important to businesses that operate in industries that are heavily targeted by cyber criminals. The Verizon 2021 Data Breach Investigation Report states that targeted industries such as the financial sector were more successful at discovering data breaches when the task was performed by an external third-party using monitoring tools.

Organizations that provide managed IT services generally offer around-the-clock monitoring with proactive discovery tools. These organizations usually provide dedicated resources to remotely respond quickly to alerts about system problems.

Related: Mitigating Potential Threats with Sound Security Protocols

  • Security and Compliance

According to the Cisco 2021 Security Outcomes Study, security practices such as responding quickly to incidents and accurately detecting threats help businesses keep pace with other businesses.  However, the resources necessary to manage such activities is prohibitive for most businesses. 

Managed IT services firms that offer security and compliance management typically provide the following tasks:

    • Perform an assessment of your organization’s assets and determine a strategic risk mitigation plan.
    • Catalog and monitor all assets within your organization.
    • Continually monitor your organization’s network activity.
    • Make sure your organization is compliant with applicable regulations.
    • Educate employees about their contribution to your organization’s security.

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  • Access to Cutting-Edge Technology

Technology is constantly evolving. In the business domain, adopting the latest technologies enables organizations to extend the benefits of existing solutions and develop innovative ones. Remaining competitive in the marketplace is the bottom line. Organizations realize that accessing the latest technology will help push them further in the marketplace. However, there are costs and testing involved with adopting new technology. Managed IT services firms work with the latest tools and can pass the benefits of using the advanced technology to the Bay Area businesses they serve.  

  • Expert IT Services

Having access to the most advanced technology is useless unless you have an experienced IT team that has the knowledge and skills to effectively deploy and maintain those technologies. Your organization may employ a well-versed IT staff, but are they able to grow with your business? Unfortunately, the answer for most Bay Area businesses is “no”. If an IT team encompasses an array of skills, the organization is likely burdening a heavy financial cost to keep those resources on the payroll. Managed IT services specialize in technology. Since they often offer end-to-end IT services, they must be equipped to manage all areas of a business related to IT.

Related: Building the Framework for a Better IT Experience

BACS as Your Bay Area Growth Partner

The really good news about adding managed IT services to your business strategy is that offers your Bay Area business multiple benefits. You can save money, remain competitive, and experience higher productivity—all of which contribute to business growth.

BACS is a team of IT experts that seeks to establish partnerships with Bay Area businesses to assist them with establishing or maintaining a long-term strategic IT plan for growth.

 

Contact Us for a FREE IT Assessment