Category: IT Services

It Only Takes One Bad Click: The Importance of Network Security

We often click links in emails, websites, and social media without a second thought. However, clicking a link can be a risk. Opening a malicious link without any network security protection can cause insurmountable damage to a business.

Network security is the practice of securing a computer network against the intrusion of unauthorized users. As attacks are continuing to target small businesses, network security protections are extremely important.

Criminals around the world keep coming up with new, sophisticated ways of stealing money and data. Their purpose is often to steal data or hold companies ransom. Businesses with inadequate IT systems are vulnerable targets.

Failure to implement proper network security measures can result in the release of sensitive customer information, such as credit cards and HIPAA protected information. This can also result in fines and legal consequences for the unsecured business.

What Does a Network Security Threat Look Like

It often starts with a dodgy link. Staff email accounts are the main entry point attackers target as they try to hack into IT systems. Without realizing it, an employee might receive a seemingly regular email. Just a simple link click on a suspicious link can let hackers into the business – it really can be as easy as that.

Other common threats include:

  • Viruses
  • Trojan horses
  • Insecure passwords
  • Spyware
  • Design flaws in the network

Having faith in your team is not enough. Sophisticated criminals often do research to pretend to be people they’re not. They can persuade even your most tech-savvy staff to click links that can leave your whole business exposed to real danger.

Mobile phones are also in danger of being attacked, regardless of how safe their operating systems claim to be. Notably, Twitter was also recently hacked, with speculations that it was the result of hackers targeting workers who had administrative privileges.

There is good news though – you can manage the risk with the right security measures in place. Wahaya IT Consulting works with businesses to keep their technology safe. We can also help train staff on how to spot potential threats. 

Facts About Data and Network Security

Data you hold about your customers and how you run your business is one of the most valuable assets your company owns. As people become aware of the value of their personal data, they expect businesses to take extra care looking after it. But what happens when data ends up in the wrong hands? Here are three scary facts about data breaches:

  1. As a small business owner, you are particularly vulnerable to data theft as 43% of cyberattacks target small businesses. (Source: Verizon)
  2. Data breaches exposed 4.1 billion records in the first six months of 2019. (Source: RiskBased Security)
  3. The average time to identify a data breach last year was 206 days. (Source: IBM)

The risks for not taking good care of your data are severe. If you don’t have a team monitoring your IT security, months can go by before you even become aware of a breach. 

Find the Right Network Security Soltuion

The right network security solutions will protect your customers and your data. We keep our clients safe by monitoring their data security for them. Our customized network security solutions around your specific business help to reduce the likelihood of an attack. 

Minimize the risk of one bad link derailing your business. Click here to contact Wahaya IT Consulting.

Work From Home Policy Benefits and Considerations

working from home

In the past several months, work from home (WFH) policies have become increasingly popular. The spread of COVID-19 has resulted in a temporary and sometimes permanent WFH environment for many companies throughout the country. 

Working from home can be beneficial and many employers and workers are happily embracing the trend. Plus, with remote access solutions, it’s easier for businesses to safely operate from anywhere with a secure, remote connection. Here are some benefits companies see after making a WFH shift:

Improved Employee Satisfaction

Many employees appreciate the option to work from home at least part of the time. The flexibility to choose when to go into an office provides peace of mind to employees who might have to commute far in bad weather or need to deal with an unexpected illness. Most workers prefer organizations that allow a greater balance between life and work.

Increased Productivity

Increase worker productivity is a major potential benefit for a work from home policy adoption. Studies have shown that in many cases productivity improves when employees work from home.

It may seem that a house has many distractions, but the office may have more. Colleagues visiting, a loud office space, and impromptu meetings can steal away a lot of time. From home, some employees have the opportunity to focus on a task with fewer interruptions.

Less Time Spent Commuting

Anyone who sits in traffic or takes public transportation daily understands the merit of a shortened commute. It’s also greener: cutting down on daily commutes may have a net positive effect on energy savings. At the very least, employees will see a decline in transportation costs and time spent traveling to work.

Recruitment and Retention Improvements

Recruiting top employees remains a serious challenge, but limiting the candidate pool to a local area may mean a company is missing out on potential applicants. Studies by major consulting and recruitment firms are determining that the opportunity to WFH can be a key factor when applying for new jobs. Companies may also lose some of their own workers – the lack of work from home opportunities has been listed as a reason for seeking alternative employment.

Decreased Real Estate Costs

For companies and organizations who believe WFH will be their long-term model, this can mean eliminating office space, cutting considerable fixed-costs out of the bottom line equation.

There are many great benefits of working from home, however, relaxed data security and blurred office hours can become an opportunity for cyber threats. If you’re considering adopting a work from home policy, here are some factors that should be carefully considered:

Equipment and Maintenance 

It should be outlined what equipment and utilities employers and employees are responsible for providing and maintaining. Will bandwidth be a reimbursable expense? Will laptops, phones, etc. be provided by the business or will this be a BYOD project?

If technology is provided by the employer, determine the employee’s responsibility to keep it maintained and install upgrades. If you have a BYOD policy, decide if employees required to bring their devices in for upgrades and security checks. Click here to learn more about adopting a BYOD policy.

Fair Labor Standards Act 

When employees work from home, overtime laws are still applicable. The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) created a framework for paying wages above the law’s definition of a 40-hour workweek that includes overtime pay for work performed beyond that threshold. Under FLSA, two basic classes of workers are defined: those employees who must be paid overtime when working in excess of forty hours (non-exempt employees), and those who are not required to be compensated for work done beyond the 40-hour limit (exempt employees).

The problem FLSA presents is that non-exempt employees must be paid for all work, including any work activity outside regular working hours. An example of the liability that is created for an employer are employees who respond to texts and emails from home outside “office hours.” This is compensable work and needs to be counted under the 40-hour threshold. Policies that protect you from any violation of FLSA should be articulated clearly in writing.

Be Aware of Organizational Silos

When developing a WFH policy, the above issue of FLSA points out that effective WFH  planning and implementation requires collaboration, and not just between individual managers and employees. IT involvement may be necessary – determine who is supporting off-site technology and maintaining data security. It is a human resource issue-will performance measurements need to be tweaked? It may be a legal issue – certain types of data is governed by federal and state laws such as HIPAA and FERPA.

It is extremely important that companies take into consideration the data protection and legal implications before opting for a work from home setup. WFH policies can prove beneficial to both the employer and the employee if planned well and implemented properly.

No matter if you’re in the office or at home, networks need to be secure and maintained. MSPs like Wahaya can help ease the telecommuting transition with remote access solutions and business data continuity plans. Contact us to start setting up your business to operate from any time, anywhere!

Staying Compliant in Healthcare: Conducting a HIPAA Risk Assessment

HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) serves as a constant reminder to professionals in the healthcare field that data security is of utmost importance. Every company that works directly with protected health information (PHI), along with their business associates, is required to complete a risk assessment.

What is a Risk Assessment?

HIPAA requires covered entities, which includes health plans, healthcare providers, and healthcare clearinghouses to complete a thorough risk assessment to determine all possible vulnerabilities in terms of data security. 

A HIPAA risk assessment should determine that your organization is in compliance with all of the privacy, security and breach notification requirements of HIPAA. It is required of both covered entities and business associates. This can be achieved via the risk assessment process, the goal of which is to identify all of the potential areas of vulnerability. 

Why is a HIPPA Risk Assessment Mandatory?  

HIPPA regulations exist to cover data security. Covered entities are responsible for assessing, identifying, documenting vulnerabilities and taking precautions to eliminate or mitigate the risk of a breach.

An organization can be fined for the failure of due diligence to recognize areas where a data breach could occur. For example, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services reported a wireless health service provider violated HIPPA Privacy and Security rules when a laptop with PHI was stolen from an employee’s vehicle. The investigation revealed insufficient risk analysis and the company agreed to pay $2.5 million and implement a corrective action plan. 

Companies are also subject to a fine fined even if no data has been breached, but they allowed a situation to develop which creates vulnerability. 

What Does a HIPPA Risk Assessment Entail? 

Due to the unique vulnerabilities of electronically stored and transmitted data, a professional in cybersecurity, data protection, and data backups should handle your risk assessment. Wahaya’s cybersecurity and compliance services can assist your organization with internal compliance and the specific requirements to protect you from legal regulations regarding PHI and HIPAA. 

Here is a quick summary of what a risk assessment entails:

A risk assessment should first determine (a) where PHI resides, moves, or is transmitted, and all of the access points. For example, the individuals in an office that have access to patient data and via what media. Interestingly, the rise of mobile devices has created a new area of concern for data security because medical professionals can access data on their phones and tablets.

Then, the assessment should determine the vulnerabilities along all of these touchpoints. That means identifying the threats to data security, which HHS summarizes in four categories:

  1. Unauthorized (malicious or accidental) disclosure, modification, or destruction of information
  2. Unintentional errors and omissions
  3. IT disruptions due to natural or man-made disasters
  4. Failure to exercise due care and diligence in the implementation and operation of the IT system.”

Next, a risk assessment will need to identify and evaluate all of the existing security protocols to protect PHI.

The following step is to determine if these tools are sufficient for data protection and whether the protocols and safeguards are being observed. 

After that, identify the likelihood of a threat. In other words, not all risks are of equal likelihood. As there are limits to an organization’s capacity to eliminate risk, the focus should be on the ones which have a higher probability of occurrence.

Finally, calculate the likely consequences of a breach of PHI. If a breach occurs along any particular touchpoint, how severe would it be? Would it be the release of a single piece of PHI, or one affecting thousands?

Given that so much data is now stored electronically, the risk of a data breach is considerably higher and security is far more complex. It needs to be noted that ignorance of any part HIPAA Guidelines is not an excuse for non-compliance. Failure to do a risk assessment, or to have conducted an adequate risk assessment that failed to identify specific vulnerabilities is, in and of itself, a fineable offense.

Given how quickly the digital landscape changes, it is important to consult an expert with experience in HIPAA related digital security. Wahaya IT Consulting can help protect your business and your patients’ PHI from HIPAA violations with a thorough risk analysis, adding data security measures, and following all security and compliance regulations. Click here to contact our team of IT Professionals!

Managing Cybersecurity with a Top-Down Approach

Employees are often the target of cyberattacks that can compromise private company data. New employees in particular can be the most susceptible to common attacks such as social engineering and phishing. To stay ahead of cybercriminals, organizations should educate and train all employees through a top-down IT security approach.

A top-down IT security approach begins with the IT department and management communicating the importance of cybersecurity and creating guidelines for reporting suspicious activity. IT Departments are not the only ones targeted by cybercrimes, leaving the potential for any employee to become a security liability. A top-down approach shifts the sole responsibility away from a single department.

A combination of general security training and instructions to recognize and report breaches are essential for keeping company data safe. Wahaya IT Consulting works with organizations to create a custom IT Policy handbook to distribute to every employee. Click here to see more of our recommended cybersecurity training best practices.

Focus on the first steps you need to take as an organization to better prepare your employees to identify and mitigate cyber threats. For example, employee training is just one part of Wahaya’s layered approach to IT security. Minimizing the of a cyberattack can help to avoid the following repercussions: 

  • Negative affect on brand image: Business disruption due to downtime or having your business data (including customer and vendor details) stolen reflects poorly on your brand.
  • Loss of customers: Customers may take their business elsewhere if they don’t feel safe sharing their information with you.
  • Financial loss: Data breaches make you liable to follow certain disclosure requirements mandated by the law. These may require you to make announcements to the media, which can become expensive. You may also have to hire a PR team to address communications during this time. 
  • Potential of lawsuits: A company could be sued by customers whose Personally Identifiable Information (PII) has been compromised or stolen. Depending on the industry, there may also be steep fines for noncompliance. 

Your company’s organizational structure should acknowledge the fact that IT security is not only your IT department, CTO, or Managed Service Provider’s (MSP) responsibility. IT Security is dependent on every part of the business. Starting from the top and encompassing every employee within the organization approach will lead to success in keeping customer and business information safe and secure.

Cover your vulnerabilities with a cybersecurity prevention plan. Contact us to learn more about our cybersecurity solutions.

Cloud Security 101: Benefits and How to Protect Your Organization

Cloud security
Cloud security

Cloud security is defined as the protection of data stored online via cloud computing platforms. Reviewing the benefits and risks associated with cloud security can help organizations find the right cloud security approach to match their needs.

The Benefits of Cloud Services

Many small businesses, consumer industries, and health care environments have switched to cloud technology to store their data. The Cloud offers numerous benefits over the traditional, physical on-site server. It is a great choice, especially for SMBs who don’t want to be burdened with higher in-house IT costs. Click here to learn more about Wahaya’s managed cloud services.

Reasons for switching to the cloud include: 

  • Anytime, anywhere access to your data: Information in the Cloud can be accessed from anywhere using an internet connection, unlike in the case of traditional servers, where a physical connection to the servers is needed. 
  • Significant cost savings: Reduce hardware costs, because you do not need to invest in physical hardware.  
  • Shared storage leads to cost savings: The Cloud lets you share space with others while maintaining a secure environment in general. It follows a ‘pay-as-you-use’ approach to data storage allowing you to enjoy cost savings based on your data storage needs. Traditional options require you to pay for and purchase a whole new server if your data storage needs exceed the existing capacity.  
  • SaaS compatibility and support: Since software can be hosted in the Cloud, it allows the use of Software-as-a-Service.
  • Scalability: The Cloud lets you scale up and down as your business needs change.
  • 24/7 monitoring, support, and greater access reliability: When your data is in the Cloud, the Cloud service provider is responsible for keeping it safe and ensuring it is securely accessible at all times. They monitor the cloud’s performance and in the event of any performance issues, they provide immediate tech support to resolve the problem.

Organizations must not only protect consumer information to satisfy customers, but many must follow regulations for storing sensitive data. Common personal data stored that is protected by regulations are credit card and healthcare information. In particular, healthcare providers must implement a cloud solution that is HIPAA compliant. Different environments will face unique privacy and security concerns. 

Threats to Cloud Security

Putting your data in the Cloud is not completely risk-free. Just as storing data on physical servers has its security threats, the Cloud presents certain security concerns as well.

To protect your network, Wahaya offers managed a layered approach to security. Cloud backups, continuous employee training, filtering, and AI-based malware learning all work as different layers to our security approach. Our various levels of defense minimize the possibility of cyber threats slipping through. 

Major threats to cloud security include:

  • Data breach: A data breach is when your data is accessed by someone who is not authorized to do so. 
  • Data loss: A data loss is a situation where your data in the Cloud is destroyed due to certain circumstances such as technological failure or neglect during any stage of data processing or storage.  
  • Account hijacking: Like traditional servers, data in the Cloud could be stolen through account hijacking as well. In fact, Cloud account hijacking is predominantly deployed in cybercrimes that require identity thefts and wrongful impersonation  
  • Service traffic hijacking: In a service traffic hijacking, your attacker first gains access to your credentials, uses it to understand the online activities that happen in your domain, and then uses the information to mislead your users or domain visitors to malicious sites.  
  • Insecure application program interfaces (APIs): Sometimes, Cloud APIs, when opened up to third parties, can be a huge security threat. If the API keys are not properly secured, it can serve as an entry point for cybercriminals and malicious elements.  
  • Poor choice of Cloud storage providers: A security lapse from the Cloud storage provider’s end is a huge security concern for businesses. It is very important to choose a trusted and experienced Cloud service provider who knows what they are doing.

Cloud Security Mechanisms

As part of a layered approach to cloud security, there are several mechanisms that can be implemented to counter potential threats. These include:

  • Cloud firewalls: Much like the firewalls you deploy for your local IT network, Cloud firewalls work to prevent unauthorized Cloud network access.  
  • Penetration testing: Penetration testing is a sort of a Cloud security check where IT experts try hacking into the Cloud network to figure out if there are any security lapses or vulnerabilities that could serve cybercriminals.  
  • Obfuscation: In obfuscation, the data or program code is obscured on purpose such that the system delivers unclear code to anyone other than the original programmer, thus mitigating any malicious activity.  
  • Tokenization: Tokenization is the process of replacing sensitive data with unique identification symbols that retain all the essential information about the data without compromising its security. 
  • Virtual Private Networks (VPN): Another, more commonly used mechanism is the VPN. VPN creates a safe passage for data over the Cloud through end-to-end encryption methodology. 

Investing in a good cloud security system is a must, especially when it comes to protecting private consumer data. Complete cloud security is a blend of all these multiple digital security layers plus internal policies, best practices, and regulations related to IT security.

Ready to implement the right cloud security solution for your organization with Wahaya IT Consulting? Click here to contact us!

IT Company Baton Rouge

it company baton rougeLooking for an IT company that offers network support in Baton Rouge? Wahaya IT Consulting offers exceptional end user support and services to businesses. From desktop application to network support, we cover it all. We have top notch technicians and a great team to support your company.  You’ll find our service offerings very affordable. We enjoy helping companies of any size with their computing needs.

Need special Office 365 help? Rather, do you need to develop an Office 365 plan that stays in your budget, while still giving you the best configuration and also most important features such as security?

Backed by technology experts, we help companies gain the full benefits of existing systems.  Maybe you need to make strategic investments based on budget.  Certainly you need to implement solutions that are secure, dynamic, and reliable.

We offer a full range of solutions including managed services, Furthermore we can assist with mobile computing, vCIO, strategyvirtualizationcloud , continuity, security and telephony.

Contact us today for a no cost consult and see how we can become the most important part of your team, the team that keeps things running!

Unified Communications can save money and improve customer satisfaction

Unified Communications can save money and improve customer satisfaction

We discussed in our last blog how unified communications can hoster greater collaboration and workplace functionality, but today we’ll look its value to the “back of the house” and external customers. Unified communications offers opportunities for operational improvements and cost savings, as well as opening up new pathways to create greater customer satisfaction.

  1. Move many IT expenses out of the expense budget – Unified communications can migrate many of your channels to the cloud, eliminating a lot of IT hardware expenses, and moving them into a more predictable, monthly expense.
  2. Cuts down on internal IT support – Because much of Unified communications relies of the cloud and the SaaS (Software- as- a -service) model to integrate communications, you have less hardware and software on the ground that all require support, upgrades, backups, and maintenance.
  3. Create a more centralized point of responsibility – When you have multiple communication channels all operating independently, you rely on many individual vendors, none of whom may work effectively together. With a unified communications model you move toward a single point of responsibility for your operational integrity.

In summary, understand that unified communications is an outgrowth of the explosion of workplace communications channels. With multiple communication channels, our ability to communicate becomes fractured and increasingly awkward. But it isn’t just for the users of the many communication channels that suffer. Non-integrated communication channels create an unwieldy IT infrastructure. It may also cause some duplication of support costs, as well as fractured oversight and responsibility. It also creates situations that can foster customer frustration and discontent.

If you’d like to begin exploring how unified communications could benefit your organization, contact us to learn more about our managed service provider solutions. 

VoIP: A New Dimension in Communication for SMBs

Voice over Internet Protocol or VoIP is about a decade old technology that is gaining popularity among individual subscribers and businesses. In conventional systems, phone calls are made using telephones or handsets that are connected by phone cables. These calls are routed using the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) carrying a signal from one telephone to the other. But instead of connecting telephones to the phone cables through phone jacks in the walls, VoIP uses the internet where phones can be connected to broadband devices, adapters or PCs using broadband. With this system, voice is converted into a digital signal and carried over the Internet. Let’s take a look at all the options that are available to make calls using VoIP.

Make Calls from a PC: Using this platform a call can be placed from your PC. Your computer is connected to the Internet via broadband. A specially designed software app allows you to place and receive phone calls right from your PC. When deployed, this software displays a dial pad. You can dial a number using a mouse or keyboard. You will need a headphone or speaker to hear and a microphone to speak. When your PC is connected to a phone or another PC on the other end, you can talk like you would on a regular phone. The software with video capabilities will let you see each other (you and the recipient of your call) if it is a PC to PC call and both computers are equipped with cameras. In this case you don’t even need a telephone handset.

Make Calls using a regular phone: You can make phone calls with a regular phone using VoIP technology, but for this you will have to have a service, such as Vonage, that provides VoIP access. You can subscribe to their service for a monthly flat fee or a per-minute rate. Your regular phone can be plugged into an adapter which is then connected to a broadband device. Some services will allow you to make calls within their service network only. But there are other services that will let you make calls anywhere. That means you can call local, long distance, international and through mobile devices.

VoIP telephones: There are VoIP service providers that provide special phones. To use these phones you don’t need an adapter. Their telephones are designed to work with your broadband device. You can connect this phone directly into your broadband modem using an Ethernet cable and use the phone like any regular phone.

Companies providing VoIP services are focusing on providing unified communication platforms that will include phone, emails, faxes, videos and voice mail capabilities. Their goal is to deliver these capabilities that can be used by all means of communication including handheld devices.

The Role of MSPs: Managed Service Providers or MSPs can help businesses with the installation of hardware and software, enabling VoIP technology. This will also organize their communication networks by integrating those networks into their IT infrastructure. Now SMBs can eliminate another worry (management of their communication systems) by outsourcing their IT services.

Click here to learn more about our Managed Service Provider services.

SMBs: It is Hackers v. You – Don’t Let Them Score

 

 

Selling stolen IDs and other personal data is a lucrative trade for hackers. They are always looking for sources where vital information is stored. As a small to midsize business you store your client’s personal information, collected from different sources, on your computers and servers. Your Point-of-sale (PoS) terminal and some website transactions can be completed by use of electronic banking, credit cards or debit cards only. Your customers have to key-in their pins or passwords to make payments. That information has to be saved. Also, depending on the kind of services or products you provide, you may be collecting Social Security numbers, addresses, driver’s license numbers and DOBs of your clients. Information that personal is as important as it can get. Any source of that information is like a gold mine for a hacker. All this means only one thing for you: A data security nightmare.

Here are the channels hackers can use to break into your IT infrastructure

  • Your website: Hackers have become very sophisticated in cyberattacks on websites. They can access specific information by targeting websites that have the information they are looking for. For example, if they want only financial information about their victims, they can use tools that will fish for the websites that carry that kind of information. Implementation of web-based applications has made it easier for cybercriminals to connect to your website database. They are able to find the loopholes and hack into systems. They can then access your customer’s personal information, allowing them to steal from your clients by committing credit card and bank fraud. Or they can just sell your client’s info on the Internet.
  • Your computers and servers: Your computers and servers are treasure-troves of information. By sending malware into your systems they can steal your admin passwords, and then login to your servers and other network devices. These hardware devices are the ultimate prize for cyber thieves because these devices not only hold important information about your clients, they also have all the information about your business and possibly about your vendors and associates. There is nothing about your business that these hackers don’t know. Imagine how devastating this attack can be.
  • Mobile devices used by your employees: If you are one of those entities that allow their employees to use their mobile devices to conduct business, you have another security dimension to worry about. You don’t know how secure their mobile phones, iPads, laptops or tablets are. You don’t know how hard or easy their passwords are to crack. Breach of security into those devices will lead hackers right into your networks where they can steal data at will.
  • Unsecure Wi-Fi network: Most businesses keep their Wi-Fi networks well protected, but unsecured Wi-Fi is an open invitation to cyber criminals. If your Wi-Fi network is not secure, hackers are one step closer to breaking into your systems without even trying.
  • Your PoS systems: PoS systems are the prime targets for hackers who want to commit financial fraud. Cyber thieves know that PoS systems that come with preloaded software can be hacked using an unsecured Wi-Fi network. This fraud has a direct impact on an individual’s finances because a hacker can make unauthorized credit card charges quickly and move on before anyone realizes what happened. Ruined credit can take years to mend.
  • Your emails: Email is another venue that hackers use to infect computers with malicious software. They send viruses that replicate themselves in the host computers, performing various tasks such as denial of service to the users of your systems, spamming your contacts and accessing data without authorization.

Summary: After reading this article you probably feel like you are in cyber warfare with hackers and your IT infrastructure is the battlefield. You are absolutely right. Hackers are relentless and they are devising new methods all the time to steal from businesses. But this is one fight you can’t let them win. Protecting client data is not just a moral obligation. You are legally bound by the privacy laws to protect this information by all means. Breach in data security can ruin your reputation, and the financial liability to meet legal obligations may become too much to sustain.

So how do you fight this war in which you have to make certain that there is only one winner? Outsource your IT managed services to professionals who will monitor your networks 24/7 from a remote location. Your in-house IT management team may be able to fix problems, but it is important that proactive solutions are in place in case there is data loss as a result of a breach. Managed services can create solid data backup & recovery plans that will have your systems up and running quickly, so you can reduce downtime and protect your revenue.

Contact us to learn more about our managed service provider and cybersecurity services. 

Be Proactive: How to Avoid Potential Network Failures

 


For small- to medium-sized businesses (SMBs), an IT network failure can be devastating because they don’t have the resources of large corporations to bounce back from such disasters. Preparation against such devastation may be the only course for them to avoid failure and survive with the least damage if failure occurs. SMBs must be proactive in recognizing the eventuality of a cyberattack or human error that can cause data loss and disrupt business continuity. This is what needs to be done to help prevent a potential failure.

Be prepared: Being proactive is an essential step for preparation against a disaster. There are two ways to determine how to best prepare to prevent potential failure of your infrastructure. First, you need to identify the weaknesses throughout your systems, and second, determine how you are going to eliminate those weaknesses and protect your network.

Identify the weaknesses: Determine how and why your system could fail. Examine all aspects of your hardware and software. Assess all the internal and external factors that could contribute to failure of your networks. Here are some questions you need to know the answers to.

  • Does customer access and/or employee productivity often stall because of downed systems? In these situations, how quickly is your IT support able to minimize the damage?
  • Can you say with certainty that your business will be back online and be able to access lost data with minimal disruption in case of failure?
  • Your critical data should be backed up frequently. The data on personal laptops, iPads and other mobile devices should also be backed up. Are all these steps being taken, and how often?
  • Are all backups stored in a location off-site and are they quickly accessible in the event of corruption, fire or flood?
  • Are you using any custom-made software? Can it be reinstalled and updated when needed?
  • Are your systems truly protected from hackers and viruses? Do you change passwords when employees leave the company?
  • How often do you test your backup processes?

The answers to all these questions should give you a clear picture of your network’s ability to survive in case of a catastrophe.

Here are five steps that you can take to protect your networks

  1. Backup files every day: There are a large number of businesses that never backup data. Only 23% of SMBs are backing up their data daily, and only 50% are doing it weekly. A number of issues can result in loss of data. You should backup data every day.
  2. Check backup procedures regularly: Don’t find out accidentally that your backup system is not working properly. By then it could be too late. It may seem like your data is being backed up normally, but check frequently if it is backing up the way it should be. In this age of BYOD make sure all employees are also following procedures to backup data on their laptops, iPads, etc.
  3. Make sure virus protection and firewalls are always enabled: Many companies either don’t have virus protection installed or it is disabled. That renders their networks vulnerable to virus attacks from emails, spam and data downloads. Corrupted files will not only bring your systems down, but they can spread to your customers and email contacts. That will spell disaster for your reputation. Hackers are always looking for unprotected and open ports online that they can attack with malicious code or files. That can cause permanent data loss.
  4. Monitor server drives: Dangerously full server drives can cause many problems, ranging from program crashes to sluggish email delivery. Servers should be monitored and maintained regularly to avoid these problems.
  5. Check built-in logs: Frequent reviews of built-in logs can reveal small issues. You will have a chance to prevent them from becoming bigger, harder-to- manage problems that can bring your systems down.

Summary: We now know IT system failures have very serious consequences for SMBs. We also know that they can avoid such failures by being proactive. Many SMBs are now turning to cloud-based services and virtualized backup solutions to mitigate downtimes and network failures. Virtualization and cloud computing have enabled cost-efficient business continuity by allowing entire servers to be grouped into one software bundle or virtual server – this includes all data, operating systems, applications, and patches. This simplifies the backup process and allows for quick data restoration when needed.

Looking to protect your network in case of an IT failure? Click here to contact us.