Making Technology Another Target for Continuous Improvement

Your business likely talks a lot about continuous improvement. It’s everyone’s goal, right? Yet “set it and forget it” is a common approach to handling business technology. Here’s why IT needs your ongoing attention too.

Your competition is increasing, and it can feel as if it is doing so exponentially. Why? There are lower barriers to entry in many businesses. The marketplace has gone global. Transaction costs are declining. Technological advances, automation, and AI are making processes more efficient and increasing productivity.

Your business can’t stand still. Don’t leave your IT sitting unattended either. Sure, the very term “continuous improvement” may have you twitching with discomfort. Not that buzzword again! Yet taking an “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” approach to IT could be hurting your business. Settling for “alright” or relying on “the way we’ve always done it” could leave you lagging behind competitors.

Your business may not have a …

To Backup or To Archive? ‘Tis The Question

Hamlet worried about whether to be or not. You may be more preoccupied with whether backup or archiving is better for your business. You know you need to secure your data, but how? This article examines the different benefits of both options.

Back in the day, businesses kept important information on paper. They stored important records and notes in nearby filing cabinets for easy access.

When there were too many files to close the cabinet drawers any longer, someone would do a big clean out. Older, important documents would get boxed for the basement or other storage area. They might still be needed for tax, or compliance, or other reasons. But you didn’t need those files readily accessible any longer.

A similar scenario is true of digital business data. You can back it up to recover from hardware failure, cyberattack, or disaster event. Or you might archive the data for space management …

5 Common Computer Myths Debunked

Common urban myths would have us believe alligators live in sewers or people put razor blades in kids’ candy. Common misconceptions about computers are just as persistent. Here are several IT myths debunked for your benefit.

#1 A slow-running computer has a virus

A virus can be to blame. Spyware or other malware can also cause a computer to slow down. However, there are also many other reasons your computer might run slower:

You may have a lot of programs that start up when you boot up the computer. You could remove or disable programs that start every time.
The computer has gone into power save mode every night, but you haven’t rebooted the computer in a long time.
There are many programs running in the background. On a Windows PC, you can go into task manager and see what is running and the computer resources in use.
A security …

Failure is Not an Option: Getting Rid of Single Points of Failure

You might think that your business is going to be OK even if a single device goes down. After all, there are other devices your employees can use. It’s not as if the entire system is going to fall like dominoes. Or is it? Get rid of single points of failure to make sure one vulnerability doesn’t take down your network.

A single point of failure (SPOF) can be a design, implementation, or configuration weakness. Without proper design considerations, unintentional SPOFs may be introduced into computing environments.

Yet, cybercriminals don’t need super powers to target IT fatal weaknesses. SPOFs for technology include:

Having only one server that runs an essential application. Without that server, your employees can’t use that particular business tool.

Solution: Plan for the worst with built-in server redundancy. Have multiples of any hardware that is business critical. Consider a standby backup server or migrate to the cloud so …

Are You Due? What to Do When You Get a Renewal Notice

Your business relies on any number of service providers. You’re likely contracting for domain names, website hosting, data backup, software licenses, to name just a few. And that’s only your online presence! So, when a renewal notice comes in, you might just forward it on or file it away for future reference. Here’s what you should be doing instead.

First, when you get a renewal notice, confirm that it’s legitimate. This is especially true of domain names. Your business’s domain name and expiration date are publicly available. Anyone could look them up and send you an invoice. Scammers do. They monitor expiring domain names and then send out emails or physical post cards telling you it’s time to renew. They are not doing this as a civic service!

Instead, they will be trying to get you to switch your domain services to a competitor or, worse, hoping you’ll pay your renewal …

6 Target Areas to Reduce IT Costs

Your business is always looking to reduce costs. Looking at the information technology budget line items is headache inducing. So much money spent in one area, and there’s so little you can do about it! But is that really true? IT expenses may not be as fixed as you think. Take a look at these target areas where you might reduce costs.

#1 Software

Your business likely pays to license software such as Microsoft Office 365 or Adobe Photoshop. Reviewing these software agreements, you can often find cost savings:

You may be able to renegotiate a subscription if the provider wants to move you onto to a new offering.
You may find that you are paying for software that your employees are no longer using. Maybe you can reduce or remove it.
Perhaps the pricing has changed, and there are now better plan options available.
There may be an open-source …

How to Destroy Data Properly

When we accidentally delete something, it feels like the end of the world. If a client file or new presentation is deleted, you may have to start again. Oh no! Yet deleting files is not as permanent as you may think. When it comes to destroying data properly, you’ll want to take a more thorough approach.

Deleting items, or “trashing” them, doesn’t permanently remove them from computer memory. While the data is still stored on your device’s hard disk, it’s possible someone could restore that deleted data.

Data does reach a point at which it’s no longer useful, and you are no longer required to maintain it. Nevertheless, it may still be valuable to cybercriminals. Bad actors can use names, addresses, credit card numbers, banking accounts, or health data. You need a policy to destroy paper records, magnetic media, hard drives, and any storage media.

Your obligation to protect customer and staff …

Locking Up Cybersecurity with a Managed Services Provider

Cybercrime is not the most costly of illegal activities. That dubious distinction goes to government corruption, followed by drug trafficking. Cybercrime comes in third. Yet cybercrime does take the top spot when it comes to numbers of victims. A managed services provider can help.

Cybercrime has hundreds of millions of victims. Two-thirds of people online have experienced personal information theft or compromise. A 2018 McAfee Security study suggested that represents more than 2 billion individuals!

If any of those people works at your business, it could mean trouble for your security, too. Why? People tend to think they have too many passwords to remember. So, they use the same login information again and again. That means a criminal could leverage employee data to access business systems, too.

Cybercrime is a global problem for both individuals and businesses. The bad actors, after all, can make big bucks from their crime with low risk …

Handle with Care: Sending Data Securely

In our digital economy, we send and receive information quickly online. The Internet offers immediate communication with colleagues, clients, vendors, and other strategic partners. Yet we shouldn’t prioritize convenience over data security.

What data do you send in a day’s worth of emails? Sensitive data you send might include:

personally identifiable information (PII);
credit card or payment card information;
attorney/client privileged information;
IT security information;
protected health information;
human subject research;
loan or job application data;
proprietary business knowledge.

The problem is people sending without thinking about the security of the transmission. One way to gauge the need for security is to consider how you might send that same information via the postal service. Would you put that data on a postcard that anyone could read? Or would you send a sealed, certified mailing and require the recipient’s signature?

Transmitting data on the Internet in plain text is like the postcard – …

Island Hopping: Not Always a Good Thing

The phrase “island hopping” conjures up positive images. You might think of cruising beautiful sandy beaches on a tour of tropical islands. Too bad cybercriminals have given the term a new, less pleasant spin.

Island hopping is an increasingly popular method of attacking businesses. In this approach, the cybercriminal targets a business indirectly. The bad actors first go after the target’s smaller strategic partners. So, vendors or affiliates, who might not have the same level of cybersecurity, become stepping stones to hop.

Attackers might hack into smaller businesses handling the target’s HR, payroll, accounting, healthcare, or marketing. Then, they take advantage of the pre-existing relationship to access the final destination.

Humans are trusting. Cybercriminals exploit that. With island hopping, attackers leverage the trust established between strategic partners.

It’s quite simple: attackers gain access to Company A and send a counterfeit business communication to Company B. Company B, knowing the sender, is less likely …