Why an IT Provider is like the Commanding General of Your Business

Every great organization needs aspiring leaders who are confident in executing missions. The mission of an IT provider is to optimize application and network performance in alignment with the objectives of the business. An IT provider is like the commanding general of your business because they are meant to manage and monitor your operations going forward to peak your productivity. Not all IT providers will be equipped to handle the job. Those who are able to clearly and distinctly demonstrate high levels of leadership should be the ones you do business with. Here are five traits that the commanding general (IT provider) of your business should encompass before you go to battle with them.

Integrity

There is no room for questionable character in leadership. A reputable IT provider should focus on business performance and growth. They need to reduce costs and improve efficiency as well as help advance your company’s mission. If you don’t feel as if your provider has your best interest in mind, then there is no need to continue with their solutions.

Accountability

An adviser is not just a vendor, but also an extension of your company’s IT department equipped with a roadmap for your organization’s technology. They should understand your organization’s current applications and implement solutions to improve and extend its capabilities. IT providers with strong accountability should always include full transparency of tools and an agreement of what services and solutions will be provided.

Strategic Visionary

An IT provider needs to think, act, and lead in order to develop their plan of action in a strategic manner. They need to be able to move you, confidently, into uncharted territory. Through experience and observation, they will be able to quickly adapt to emerging technologies and improve your overall solution performance.

Standards

As a business owner, you should maintain high standards for the ones involved in your affairs. Implementing standards will keep the partnership alive and healthy. Your IT provider should be able to produce a clear understanding of what approach they will use to avoid miscommunication.

Drive

You should depend on your IT provider to make something happen. They need a great plan and a skilled team that you can trust with your business. Your IT provider needs to be staffed by highly experienced and tech-savvy personnel who have expansive technology experience to support and drive your applications. You should be able to trust their suggestions and the direction they want to head with your infrastructure.

Discover what Military Grade IT solutions we offer for your business: G6 Communications.

Managed IT Services: Flat Rate or A la Carte

What is on the menu for your IT department? Are you looking for a provider that manages your IT software, network, and hardware? By outsourcing your day-to-day IT services you can improve your technology’s operations and reduce expenses. Typically, IT providers charge a fee-for-service when providing solutions to a company. However, most IT service providers are now making the move to a recurring, flat rate model no matter the usage of a service. The difference between break fix and flat rate fee is first understanding the difference between A la Carte and bundled managed IT services.

Break-Fix Managed IT Services

We know your technology needs to be as flexible as your business. A la Carte offers your business the opportunity to improve productivity and functionality by selecting programs that specifically relate to your problems. We offer mobile office solutions, network and cyber security, infrastructure management, cloud computing, and many more. Using this method an IT solution provider will perform only services needed and bill the customer only for the work done. Depending on which a la carte service you wish to purchase, pricing will fluctuate.

Flat Rate Managed IT Services

Managed IT services are commonly clumped together so you can receive full coverage. Complete protection over your entire IT infrastructure ensures secure operating systems. Your organization’s security is always a top priority and we take pride in protecting you. With proactive measures like 24/7 system monitoring we keep your information and network safe and secure. A successful provider should deliver solutions that improve productivity and save money. You can optimize your business operations by customizing your support and services specific to your direct business needs. Bundled services are infamous because of the recurring flat rate fee regardless of usage.

We understand your business has specific needs and that you’re looking for products and solutions. Whether it be bundled or a la carte we can offer your company military grade IT services. Learn more: G6 Communications

 

Cyber Attacks: A Growing Threat to Brand Reputation

The growing number of cyber attacks each year are appalling. In 2015 alone, companies saw an average of 160 cyber attacks every week, which was more than three times the average in 2010 of 50 per week.

In order to establish a successful brand for your business, you must take the time to build customer trust and loyalty, increase brand awareness, and boost performance. But with even just one data breach or cyber attack, all of your efforts could get flushed down the drain in the blink of an eye.

Last year, some of the nation’s most respected brands were the targets of cyber attacks. Big businesses that were hit include Premera Blue Cross, Anthem, Sony Pictures, Staples, Home Depot, JPMorgan Chase, Target, Michaels, and many more. But small to midsize businesses (SMBs) should be just as concerned about cyber security as large enterprises. Research shows that 81% of SMBs are currently concerned about cyber security, and 91% think about it often.

If your business is unprepared for the consequences of cyber attacks, you’re tasked with the near impossible challenge of rebuilding customer trust, loyalty, and revenue. To achieve success, businesses must provide each of their clients with dependable services and create a  brand that can be trusted. When a cyber attack hits your business, there are several negative outcomes that can arise, such as increased downtime, loss of company assets, or the leak of sensitive customer information and data. These consequences all add up to a tarnished reputation – something that can significantly lower the net worth of your entire company and increase your risk of going out of business permanently!

So how can you shield your business against this new age of “brand terrorism”? In the past, businesses kept hackers out with basic security measures like firewalls, intrusion detection, and antivirus software. Yet in this day and age, employee mistakes have grown to be a huge concern. In fact, research shows that human error is attributed to 95% of all data breaches. Simple mistakes such as using weak passwords or opening virus-contaminated emails (known as phishing) occur often. Other commonly carried out mistakes include sharing corporate data outside of the company or forgetting to delete sensitive data – leaving it vulnerable to costly and damaging data leaks.

The best defense against cyber attacks and data breaches may be to thoroughly train your employees to prevent carelessness and negligence. It’s crucial to spread the message on the importance of confidentiality and implement data protection technology and solutions to keep your company data safe. Employ multi-factor authentication (MFA) and encryption solutions, which could drastically reduce the incidence of online identity theft and other types of online fraud.

Here at G6 Communications, we make it our mission to keep your company data safe from lethal hackers and cyber attacks. For more information, please contact us for a free consultation!

Enhance Security with Managed IT Services

Today’s realm of IT security is more unstable than ever before, as new threats develop and hackers grow more deceptive. Maintaining a secure network is becoming an impossible challenge for business owners all over the world. As a result, organizations are suffering from unaddressed security holes, vulnerabilities, and incidents that would normally be mitigated with the right IT security plan. In recent years, businesses have resolved these issues by outsourcing their IT security needs.

With managed IT services, your security needs are proactively addressed and fixed. Here are three ways managed IT services enhances your network security.

Access to Skilled IT Security Professionals

Managed IT services gives you access to skilled and experienced IT security professionals who provide a broad range of solutions to cater to your individual security needs. With the help of a managed service provider (MSP), you can refer to a team of experts to determine the right security solutions needed to shield your critical data and systems. That means keeping hackers’ prying eyes away from your sensitive enterprise data! Having access to this knowledge comes in handy when approaching the monitoring, management, and development of your network security.

IT Security Assessment and Deployment

With managed IT services, your security solutions can be whipped into tip-top shape. Because your technology is in the hands of IT experts who know everything about the industry, your business will be equipped with the latest and greatest security solutions and services, such as intrusion detection, firewalls, patch management, upgrades, security assessments, and security audits. With managed IT services, your business gains comprehensive protection to help you steer clear of potential disasters and reduce risk.

Ongoing IT Security Support and Management

Managed IT services come with these crucial security management solutions: monitoring, incident response, and problem prevention. With 24/7 monitoring, a team of IT professionals are constantly watching your network for the detection of anomalies or security events. Incident response means that you will be instantly alerted with relevant information to ensure complete and real-time protection. With problem prevention, potential IT issues are addressed and resolved before they have a chance to interrupt or diminish your business continuity. Managed IT services can carry out all of these duties while continually improving your security solutions which, in turn, can lead to an optimized and more efficient environment.

To learn more about how you can enhance your network security with managed IT services, contact G6 today! We’d love to hear from you.

Tech Tips to Kickstart Your 2016

Technology is meant to simplify our lives and help us stay better connected. But by not keeping up with constant tech changes and security best practices, you may allow technology to cause you distress! As we progress into the New Year, there are some helpful tech tips to keep in mind that will transform your life for the better. Here are four tech tips to kickstart your 2016.

1. Keep Up with Your Phone Updates

Your phone is an ever-evolving, little device that undergoes endless updates to make your life easier. Every year, phone manufacturers and app developers come out with bigger and better features to stay ahead of the curve. So make sure you refamiliarize yourself with your mobile device after every update. Not sure of where to begin? Here’s 25 iPhone tech tips you’ll wish you knew all along from CNET. And here’s some hidden Chrome on Android features that will improve your mobile browsing experience.

2. Back it All Up

We all know how important it is to backup your critical files. So make sure to regularly assess your backup methods and make sure any new tech gadgets you’ve recently acquired are thoroughly protected – it’s not just a best practice, but a necessity. Many companies are turning to the Cloud for storage and backup of their nonessential data and locally storing their sensitive information.

3. Go Beyond the Standard Password

It’s time to accept the fact that the password alone is no longer a dependable means of security.

Most major tech companies such as Amazon and Facebook offer two-step authentication and login approvals to enhance user security. If there’s one major tech tip to take advantage of this year, it’s enabling this feature on your devices whenever possible.

4. Change Your Passwords Often

This past year marked a major rise in data breaches and hacks. From the well-known Ashley Madison hack alone, over 37 million passwords were leaked, and millions of people’s personal accounts were exposed. The cyberattack on Anthem, one of America’s largest health insurers, gave hackers access to up to 80 million records – including Social Security numbers, addresses, emails, income data, and employment information.

If you haven’t changed your passwords for accounts holding private information or your financial data within the past 12 months, be sure to do so now! By following these simple tech tips, you will experience a greater peace of mind this New Year.

And to learn how you can ensure IT security best practices for your business, contact G6 Communications for a free consultation!

Fending Off a Cyber Attack: The Five-Point Plan

A cyber attack can occur at any point in time and could lead to your company’s demise. That’s why it’s especially important to have a comprehensive IT security framework in place to keep your digital assets locked up and guarded. Your mission-critical data is the heart of your operations – without it, employees can’t carry out their duties and be productive, which means your company can’t thrive.

A good way to kickstart your cyber security plan is with the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s (NIST) Framework for Improving Critical Infrastructure Cybersecurity. Since releasing the framework last year, NIST has been educating a broad audience – organizations ranging from multinationals to SMBs – about the use and value of a strong IT security framework.

The bottom line of the framework addresses five basic functions: Identify, Protect, Detect, Respond, and Recover.

1. Identify and Prioritize Your Assets

This first step is crucial to carry out. By giving priority to your most valuable assets and identifying which are more vulnerable to a cyber attack, you know which parts of your infrastructure need greater protection. There are two major things to consider when ranking your assets: probability of attack (POA) and consequence of breach (COB). Understanding these key elements will help you begin optimizing your IT security.

2. Protect Your Data

Protection means preventing intruders from breaking in and getting past your front door. By designing and deploying appropriate IT safeguards, your business can deflect cyber criminals from accessing your network. Investing in high-quality backup software and data recovery services helps ensure business continuity and also cushions the impact of a cyber attack.

3. Detect Cyber Criminals

Detection is key when it comes to recognizing potential threats and intruders. By implementing the right IT solutions to identify the occurrence of a cyber attack, you’re able to intensify your IT security framework and prevent the same type of cyber attack from striking again.

4. Respond to Risks

Once someone breaks in, you need to know what steps to take to fight off the attacker. Having a plan that defines how you respond to cyber attacks makes the whole event less scary and more manageable. The response function is highly action-centered and forces you to strategize against intruders. After the breach, you also need to analyze and understand why your protection failed you and how you can optimize your security infrastructure for the future.

5. Recover Your Business

Recovery is essential for your business to get up and running after a cyber attack. By making your IT infrastructure resilient to hackers, you need to implement disaster recovery solutions that save your precious data.

To learn how you can ensure the best business continuity and IT security plan for your company, contact G6 Communications for a free consultation!

5 IT Security Trends to Look Out For in 2016

Cyber-attacks have become an ever-increasing threat to businesses, and IT security is on high alert. In fact, last year kicked off with a series of high-profile data breaches, and the FBI ranked cybercrime as one of its top law enforcement activities. Some of the big companies who got hit in 2015 were: Anthem (as many as 80 million records of customers and employees were exposed), Sony Pictures (several private company documents were compromised and the theatrical release of “The Interview” was cancelled), JPMorgan Chase (the account information of 83 million households and small businesses were stolen), and several others.

IT security is a major issue that should not be taken lightly. Here are five IT security trends to watch for in 2016.

1. Mobile devices are a huge target.

With more consumers integrating smartphones and other mobile devices into their lives, it has become easier for malicious hackers to target these devices for their personal gain. BYOD (bring your own device) and other mobile-related practices are becoming increasingly popular in the workplace. Smartphones also continue to be the preferred source of authentication for many financial transactions. With so much on the line when it comes to what your mobile device stores – credit card information, business-sensitive data, and other confidential materials – it’s easy to see why these devices are a prime target for cybercriminals. That’s why it’s essential for companies to implement secure policies and employee guidelines on safe mobile practices.

2. Hacktivism and terrorist cyber-attacks will gain traction.

As we near the next US Presidential election in the month of November, “hacktivism” will lead to a rise of protest and politically-driven attacks in 2016. And these attacks will be carried out across a wide spectrum, including social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Hijackers who are set on spreading false information on the personal accounts of candidates or want to relay information about specific political issues will take storm.

Additionally, the ongoing conflict in the Middle East and Eastern Europe will spark even greater worldwide political tension, and terrorists will impact IT security through drastic means like shutting down entire systems or news channels.

3. Ransomware is on the rise.

This is a type of malware that creeps its way into your computer through infected links or popup messages and leads to your computer or mobile phone being locked and inaccessible. The only way for you to get your data back is to pay a ransom to your attacker typically through Bitcoin, an encrypted form of online payment that enables the hacker to receive payment anonymously. In some cases, victims are asked to pay several thousands of dollars.

This isn’t something new, but it’s increasing and becoming a huge IT security risk to look out for in 2016.

4. Be aware of internal threats.

A data security breach can cost your business its reputation as well as a lot of money. It can be especially devastating when the breach is caused by someone from the inside. Well-known breaches such as Ashley Madison (37 million records stolen) and Morrison’s (100,000 staff records leaked) have been widely reported to have been perpetrated by insider threats.

But spotting a security threat from within can be incredibly difficult because the attacker is somebody who usually has permissible access to the data they steal. That’s why it’s important for companies to have security systems in place to protect against both outsider and insider threats.

5. Spear phishing will grow more sophisticated.

Spear phishing occurs when a single user or department is addressed by someone who appears to be from within the organization – aka someone you trust – and they request sensitive information like logins and passwords from you. This is the primary method for hackers to gain access to secured networks in order to deploy spyware, Trojan Horses, and other malware in the targeted computers. With the targeting of high-level executives or people with a high security clearance on the rise, it’s crucial for businesses to invest in a quality IT security plan and policy in order to keep their systems protected.

 

What’s Included in the Best Backup Software?

Nobody wants their business to suffer data loss from a malicious cyber attack or unforeseen natural disaster. These threats can destroy your company’s reputation, diminish the quality of your customer service, and even run your business to the ground. That’s why having the best backup software to protect your business-critical data and files is an essential part of any effective backup and data recovery plan. Just as you would pay close attention to the safety features on a new car or perhaps a new stroller for your child, you should also maintain a detailed eye when choosing the best backup software for your business.

There are two ways you can go about backing up your data: installing data backup software or using cloud backup. The main difference is that data backup software saves a copy of your entire computer – including your programs, files, and applications – on local drives whereas cloud services back everything up to a remote location.

Relying solely on external backup devices is not as safe as you think. A hard drive is just as vulnerable to ransomware as the rest of your system, so that’s why many companies are moving to the cloud for their data backup. Because the cloud runs on a remote location, it’s less likely to be infiltrated by external threats. The cloud also allows proactive monitoring and data management, so you’re in better control of your systems.

But what other features should you look for when choosing the best backup software for your business? And why are these features important in keeping you fully protected? Effective backup solutions should address these three points: easy-to-use functionality, ability to restore lost data, and timely scheduling capabilities.

The best backup software should be easily navigable and allow you to do a complete system backup or individual backup of certain files and folders. The backup process should be relatively simple and completely automated to save you time and energy. It should also be in compliance with HIPAA, PCI, and other regulation requirements.

Restoring and recovering lost or corrupted data is just as important as having an efficient backup plan in place. When choosing the best backup software, look for something that not only copies your data files and folders, but also has the ability to restore all that information automatically – adding an extra layer of protection to your critical data.

Lastly, the best backup software should allow you to choose when you want the backups to take place. This ensures that your data backups occur during times that least interfere with your work schedule – so you can cut downtime while still keeping your systems safe.

These three key features are what make up the best backup software. Keep your business running smoothly and securely with quality backup solutions.

Square Away Your Business with 3 Steps to Proper IT Budgeting

The end of the year is a busy time for every business owner. You spend a lot of time understanding where your business is spending money and where you need to invest in order to help propel your Business forward. One way to start building budgets for the next year is taking a look at all the different departments that make up your business: operations, service delivery, sales, and marketing. But how much thought have you given to the one department that affects all your other departments? That’s right, your IT department.

As much as you may not like it or find it boring, the truth is this: technology was created to make your business more efficient, drop your cost of operation, and increase your profits. Without it, you’d be doomed. Society doesn’t use smoke signals any more to communicate on the battlefield. They use the latest and greatest technology available to get the job done right. IT budgeting helps you get the job done in your business and should not be placed in the back of the lineup.

Step 1.
Review your IT spending from last year.  Understand what you’re spending today and challenge yourself to discover and include all of the costs you have incurred while using your current technology. Give your self a base line from where you can’t start from.

Step 2.
Talk to the experts. As the saying goes: “you don’t know what you don’t know.” You may sit there and think, “well all I need is a computer to throw some data on and send emails.” With that mindset, you have no idea what you are missing. Do yourself a favor and ask, “what is possible?” Let a technology expert know what you want to accomplish with your IT budget and your business as a whole.

Step 3.
Make this a part of your business plan. With any good business plan you project and account for growth. You know where you are today but tomorrow you could have 20% more employees, 30% more inventory, and two locations. IT budgeting should be included with your growth plan. In today’s market, IT grows along your business and in most cases is the foundation to growth. Make sure it’s started on steady ground.

User Education -vs- Network Scanning

No matter how small or large your company, online security is a serious issue, especially in the BYOD era. We know this to be true since the hackings of major corporations like SONY pictures, Target and Home Depot. There are a few ways that you can reduce your chances of becoming a victim of a security breach and losing valuable information that is vital to the success of your company. One way is with user education for your staff, while the other involves network scanning. Below we discuss in more detail how both user education and network scanning can help you avoid becoming the victim of a security breach.

 

Benefits of IT User Education  

User education has been found to be increasingly important because of the high amount of employee carelessness within enterprises, which has been considered even more dangerous than malware itself! During employee training, it is important to focus on a mix of positive and negative reinforcements since training wears off after several months. Employees need to be praised for doing the right thing during education and told what they are doing wrong so that imprints are left behind.

The benefits of IT user education start with better protection for company assets by teaching workers how to respond appropriately to real and possible security concerns. Another advantage of user education is that it provides updated information so your staff is current on the latest risks and how to handle them. Employees also learn that the information on their computers and mobile devices (smart phones, tablets, thumb drives) is vulnerable to attacks and valuable to the well-being of the company.

When the business effectively educates the staff on how to handle online security, they gain an overall improvement in compliance with the company’s security policies, standards, procedures and checklists. There is less risk of gaining negative press from security breaches and a culture of security competence is built within the enterprise.

 

Benefits of Network Scanning

Unfortunately there are vulnerabilities on all networks, which hackers are aware of. Now there is the technology of “network scanning” that has been designed to look for these vulnerabilities, such as unnecessary services, open ports, password crackers, unsafe configurations, system configuration errors, missing security packs, unsafe or flawed coding and malware. These scans can find such weaknesses, and let you tighten your security before cyber criminals come in and steal your sensitive data. Network scanning will check your system for known defects and make sure they are correctly patched.

Network scanning is very cost-effective. Your system can be mapped out for vulnerabilities for the price of the program, and receive solutions to plug the holes. It only takes a matter of minutes to take a high-level look at possible weaknesses in the system and it is automatic.

 

User Education vs Network Scanning

It is clear that there are benefits to both IT user education and network scanning. While it is up to you to decide what is best for your business, employing both methods is ideal. When you add network scanning to user education, you chances greatly decrease of suffering a security breach. There is still the chance that an employee may forget an important step because they are having a hectic day.

If you are interested in network scanning for your business, contact us today! Our knowledgeable and friendly staff are here to address all of your online security needs.