All posts by a4zz1c

Disaster Recovery: Is Your Business Ready?

Your organization is running like a fine tuned machine. Every single piece is in place from your employee’s to processes and the critical technology it takes to run your day to day operations. It has taken years to cultivate and get your process down, but it is all still a work in progress. There is always going to be obstacles that come your way that have to be tackled on to keep your business moving forward. The last thing your business needs while trying to grow and move forward is an IT disaster.

Disasters can come in many forms, events like hurricanes, earthquakes and tornadoes can definitely put a damper on daily activities, but the type of disaster that has been recurring more often and is more of a silent player are IT disasters. Equipment failures, ransomware and other malware can really cut down your businesses productivity and make it hard to focus on your core activities. When IT problems strike, companies are always faced with putting in more time and resources than they need to in order to fix these problems. Downtime is something no organization can afford to have.

According to a report from the IT Disaster Recovery Preparedness (DRP) Council, one hour of downtime can cost small companies as much as $8,000! But what are some of the major causes of this IT downtime? A survey from a disaster recovery service provider Zetta provided some common causes of IT downtime.

  1. Power Outage
  2. Hardware Error
  3. Human Error
  4. Malware
  5. Natural Disaster
  6. Onsite Disaster

IT systems these days are critical to the success of a business, it only makes sense that every business has an IT disaster recovery plan.  Imagine if your business is being held up by some malware, which if the right prevention tactics were put into place would have never even happened. It can be quite frustrating. IT disaster prevention is also a very specialized plan. These plans need to include the following:

  1. A Statement and overview of the goals of the plan
  2. Contact information for key personnel and disaster recovery team members
  3. A Diagram of the entire IT network
  4. Identifying the most critical IT assets
  5. List of software, licenses keys and systems that will be needed in the recovery effort.

For a small business owner these resources can be scarce and hiring those specialized in IT can be quite expensive. Small business shouldn’t have to worry about their IT, they should stay focused on growing their business and maintaining a safe, productive digital environment for their employees. A managed service provider like ECMSI can be your main partner in IT disaster recovery. An MSP will be proactive about your environment fixing up any issues that could arise before it causes any damage to your network. This leaves you with peace of mind that your business is safe and protected. Contact Shane Nesbitt, IT Consultant, today for additional information: (330) 750-1428.

www.ecmsi.com

Tips for Staying Safe While Online Shopping

Labor Day weekend. The time for family, friends, fairs, cookouts and…. shopping! While it’s undeniable that holiday deals are some of the best around, it’s important to always keep your security in mind before purchasing. Check out the below tips on ways to keep yourself safe while online shopping this weekend:

1. Shop Secure Sites Only

Prior to entering any of your personal or financial information, it’s important to make sure the site that your one is secure and legitimate. The easiest way to tell if your site is secure is to check for the “https” at the beginning of the site address. If you’re finding yourself wanting more information  on how to know if a site is secure or not, check out this link here!

2. Don’t Use Your Debit Card

When online shopping, it’s best practice to use credit cards or a payment service like PayPal. Credit cards offer more security and less liability is a card number gets stolen. Because debit cards are linked to your bank account, you become a much higher risk if someone is able to back your information.

3. Beware of “Too Good to Be True” Links

Before you start clicking around, take precautions on accessing links that seem a little too good to be true, especially on social networks. If you find yourself really tempted by an offer, save yourself the risk and do some research or find someone else who has tried to take advantage of the deal before clicking.

4. Create Stronger Passwords

We know. We’re always stressing the importance of stronger passwords. But unique and secure passwords are your best gate keeper when keeping your information private. Want to beef up the security to another level? Use a 2FA: you can read more about this here!

5. Outsmart Email Scams

Similar to avoiding click-bait links, beware of email scams. Email scammers send out malware and viruses by disguising them as “special offers” or “gifts”. Safe bet: Don’t open emails from people or companies you don’t know. Especially those who alert you that “there may be a problem with your account!” – if you’re genuinely worried about the safety of your bank account, give your bank a call.

It’s always important to follow safety protocols when accessing websites, emails and more. Score some great deals – but keep it secure!

Partner With A Managed Service Provider – It Just Makes Sense!

The world of IT is constantly evolving. Regardless of business size or complexity, at some point, assistance is needed. Innovations, such as cloud computing, have significantly impacted the IT landscape for businesses of all sizes. For SMBs, these changes can be daunting. That’s where managed services come in – to give your business all of the new tools without a significant investment in new equipment and talent.

By using an IT Managed Service Provider (MSP), a business has the opportunity to hand over all day-to-day IT tasks and maintenance so they can focus on growing their business. There are numerous ways a MSP can help keep your business productive – check out a few of these benefits below:

Maintenance

The daily maintenance of servers and desktops, from software patches to reboots, can all be outsourced by a MSP. The biggest benefit of outsourcing IT support is the advantage of expecting a fixed cost and freeing up internal business to focus on the core of your business.

A MSP is almost always equipped for advanced remote monitoring that keeps tabs on internet traffic, performance, software patches and more. The resources required for constant monitoring, both in technology and personnel, can be prohibitively expensive for a small business, and removing that load makes good fiscal sense.

Support

An IT managed service provider can easily function as the internal help desk for a small business. Everything from basic troubleshooting of desktop PCs to restoration from major server crashes can fall within the purview of an outsourced IT firm.

In most cases, the external company will have greater support resources available than the IT department of its client. Services like 24/7 support and troubleshooting of highly specialized software are fixed, predictable costs included within a standard service plan without the need to rely on just one or two people within an organization or invest time and money on staffing up internally.

Cloud and Hosting Services

The cloud is here, and it has changed the modern workplace. Cloud services allow the workplace to extend far beyond the office with safe, secure access to files and documents from home or on any mobile device. Cloud-based collaboration software increases employee productivity and satisfaction, leading to a happier and more profitable business.

However, the multitude of cloud software packages available today is daunting, to say nothing of the cost and expertise required in building a private solution. A small business is often in the position of knowing what it wants to achieve, but not having the time or resources to spare in devising and implementing a workable plan.

An outsourced IT firm has been there before, and maintains the breadth and depth of knowledge to select the right platform for any use case. Allowing internal IT to spec out custom software and then outsource the nuts and bolts of development to an external firm helps maintain forward momentum. The freedom to move on to the next strategic target without being bogged down in routine help desk tasks is a boon to a small IT department.

At a fraction of the cost, partnering with an MSP can help businesses achieve the same end result as adding an entire IT department.  Offloading IT tasks to an MSP means more time and energy to spend on real progress, improvement, and ultimately, growth.

ECMSI is the area’s leading Managed Service Provider with the most proactive IT approach and quickest response time in the industry. To learn more about ECMSI and our services call Shane Nesbitt, IT Consultant, at (330) 750-1428

Contact Us!

4 Things To Look For When Choosing an MSP

Trusting another company to look over your IT infrastructure can be a very difficult thing to do. Today’s business landscape requires organizations to be increasingly dependent on the strength of their cyber security and IT team to hold the fort down and keep the company moving day to day.  But technology and cyber security is an industry that is constantly evolving, and the challenges businesses are facing include how to keep up and finding out what the right questions are to ask when choosing an IT partner. The following guidelines can help lead business owners in the right direction.

1. Can They Prove Themselves?

Many MSP’s (managed service providers) claim that they are the premier, number one or most experienced in your area, but can they prove it? A truly premier MSP should be willing to show you their operations and invite you to their headquarters to see just what resources they have and how they plan to achieve your IT goals. This level of transparency should come with any MSP that wants your business. If you are willing to trust them with your company data, they should be at least able to show you their operations and make you familiar with their staff of IT professionals that will be handling your infrastructure. Successful experts should also reflect a proven track record for dealing with IT issues, so do your research! Look around to find testimonials from other companies that are dealing with this MSP, do they have nice things to say? MSP’s that have open client testimonials and good reviews should be on top of your list for a potential partnership.

2. Don’t Be Another Line Item

Your business is unlike any other, even others in your industry do not have the exact employees with the same exact processes, so why should your technology services be any different? Each organization’s pain points are unique and require customized solutions. If any other MSP is not willing to approach your company’s technology requirements with a tailored technique and a process that focuses on your individual need, then they are not providing the highest level of value.

3. Don’t Think Just Do

Continually identifying incidents, potential threats and risks in a network infrastructure should be a required task for all managed service providers. However, just identifying threats isn’t enough. Working to fix identified holes in an organizations security strategy requires a huge level of focused analysis and evaluation. An MSP should not only be able to fix your problems, but they should be able to do so within a reasonable amount of time. Downtime to an organization is critical, no one can afford for their operations to be put to a screeching halt, especially because of some technical issues. Find that MSP that will guarantee you they will be there when needed and within the time you need them to be.

4. Find a Business Partner

The role of a good MSP is to work cooperatively with a company’s top executives to create a strategy that is relevant and comprehensible throughout the business.  They should form a partnership with you and your team in order to help the business grow. A top expert should be able to take confusing topics and make them clear.  They should understand that one size does not fit all and a cookie cutter approach to IT does not work anymore. Finally, a good MSP should be able to narrow down the issues to create a cost-effective solution for your organization.

If you have any questions regarding MSP’s and how one can help your business, please feel free to give us a call at 330-750-1428 ECMSI is here to make IT easy!

The Cost of Cyber Crime

Cyber Crime. It’s extremely expensive to those companies who become victim. Cyber crime not only has an upfront cost to fix, but many times cyber crime can affect the end consumer of a business. A cyber crime can ruin a companies credibility and relationship with their end consumers. When this happens, the business is not just faced with the cost of fixing the issue but also how this can effect their future endeavors. So how much are these malicious attacks costing the various businesses and corporations around the planet?

According to the business consultant firm Accenture, cyber crime has increased over 23% over the past year and shows absolutely no sign in slowing down. The company decided to get the information from a poll conducted to over 2,100 global organizations. The report shows that if the cost of cyber crime would spread out it would average to about $11.7 million per business

The study then separated the cost by industry and country, it found that the most hard hit firms were in the financial and energy industry. Financial services suffered a loss of $18 million while energy followed closely at $17 million. When the study looked at various numbers for different countries. It found that US firms incurred the highest average cost of any other country at a whopping $21 million with the lowest being Australia at $5 million. The statistics also showed that on average each firm suffered about 130 breaches/network or system infiltration’s each year.

The most interesting find in the article is how long it took for these firms to recover from various attacks. The study stated that attacks by malicious insiders took an average of 50 days to resolve while ransomware attacks took over 23 days. The time being spent to fix these issues has caused a huge ramp up in prevention for cyber attacks. Companies are now adopting a more dynamic security strategy that builds resilience from the inside out instead of only focusing on a border wall that will not let anything in.

It is becoming increasingly important for business of all sizes and industries to prepare and be pro-active about their business and IT network. A cyber security problem is one that no company can afford to have when there are many other important and critical business tasks that need to be done. The director of Accenture Security stated that security investments in the right areas can make a difference in reducing costs and preventing potential hazards.

6 Signs That Your IT Network Isn’t Healthy

If you’re reading this, there is a pretty good chance you’re concerned about your businesses IT network.

We wish we could assure you that your network is fine, but we talk to business owners every day who are dealing with network issues. Sometime these issues are minor, but other times they bring business to a dead stop.

Either way, these network issues cause some downtime, which can put a huge hole in business productivity.

The truth about downtime.

Downtime causes a whole slue of problems in an organization. When your technology is offline, your staff can’t work. Your customers can’t get the support or service they need. You may not even have phone or email service. The end conclusion? Downtime is bad.

In an article by CNN, they reported that the average cost for IT network downtime for small businesses dealing with ransomware attacks exceeds $100,000. This form of cyber attacks is also just one of the ways a network can go down.

Basic hardware and software maintenance is extremely critical. For the most part, technology gives you ample warning that your IT network is in trouble. The trick is knowing what warning signs to look for and understand how important it is to heed those warnings.

6 IT Network Warning Signs

The trick to understanding network signs is knowing what to look for.  Once you know what to look for, IT network warning signs are not hard to identify. In fact, they tend to stand out.

If you’re dealing with any of the following red flags, its probably time to take a closer look at your IT network- or call on the help of a reliable IT consultant to get your network back up to speed.

1. Things Are Moving Slower Than Normal

Let’s say the employees at your office use a shared drive for big files—something like image files. Normally, you can access the shared drive in a matter of a few seconds. Downloading even a large file rarely takes much longer.

And then one day, it takes four times as long.

Changes in IT network speed are often indications of some kind of problem. The server may have an issue, or you may need to tend to your network cabling. It could even be your Wi-Fi connectivity. The one thing you shouldn’t do is just suffer through it. Slow network speeds are typically a symptom of some other issue.

2. Temperamental Wi-Fi

Speaking of Wi-Fi, if you find your connection dropping on a regular basis, there is likely an issue behind it. Wi-Fi technology is well past the testing phase. Once your wireless IT network is set up and configured, it should be reasonably stable.

If you’re in doubt, ask around. When others in your office are experiencing the same kind of wireless drops, that’s not a coincidence. It means something’s wrong.

 3. Reboot. . .Then Reboot Again..

One of the most common troubleshooting techniques is pretty simple, and we have all done it before, the reboot.

But rebooting a computer (or server) can fix a lot of problems. Similarly, if you’re having issues with a specific application, closing it and reopening it often clears things up. When you restart (your computer, server or an application) the code can start from square one and hopefully it won’t encounter the same problem again.

But you shouldn’t have to restart constantly. If you do, that’s a sign of an ongoing problem, not a one-time issue.

 4. Bringing on the Heat

A common hardware failure warning sign has to do with the temperature.

Most IT network hardware produces heat. That’s why computers have fans—to help disperse that heat and keep the delicate inner workings at a comfortable temperature. If there’s too much heat, it can damage hardware.

Here’s what to look (and listen) for. If your computer’s fan is running on high all day, that’s a bad sign. If your laptop or desktop is physically hot to the touch, that, too, is not a good sign. And if any piece of hardware shuts down due to heat, pay attention.

It’s much more convenient to replace hardware before it fails than to scramble for a replacement after it had a meltdown.

5. Too Many Workarounds

Something about the IT network isn’t working properly. Maybe there’s an ongoing error message or the printer fails every other time someone tries to print something or one of the applications everyone relies on is clearly outdated.

But instead of addressing the issue, the staff just work around it.

If your office has some kind of elaborate plan B to deal with an IT network issue, it’s time to stop accommodating the inconvenience. Rather than changing how you do your job, take care of the underlying issue with your IT network—whether that’s a needed upgrade, routine maintenance or some other fix.

6. The Warning Sign You Do NOT Want to See

If you’ve already experienced data loss, hardware failure or a cybersecurity breach, then it’s well past time to assess the health of your IT network.

Any of these three issues means you’ve already suffered through real impact to your business. You’ve likely incurred downtime, lost opportunity, and maybe even a hit to your reputation. Don’t assume lightning won’t strike twice. You’re not in the clear until the underlying problem has been addressed.

Reevaluate the state of your hardware, ramp up your cyber security, and be sure your business is protected and prepared for the future.

Prepare, prepare, prepare!

There are times when IT network trouble happens out of the clear blue. But the vast majority of the time you can see it coming—if you know where to look.

One of the best ways to proactively maintain your IT network is to keep an eye out for these warning signs. If there’s a potential issue, address it before it has the chance to slow your business down.

For information on how to protect your IT environment, contact Shane Nesbitt, IT Consultant, at 330-750-1428.  Our goal at ECMSI is to focus on your IT, so you can stay focused on growing your business.

You Need Better Network Security. Here’s Why:

As a business owner, you may not understand all that much about network security. You know it’s important, and you know that a breach can be bad for business, but do you understand why network security should be one of your main priorities? Network security is about more than just safeguarding corporate data, it’s about helping your business to thrive — and you can only do that with the right security in place and the right measures to stay protected.

Your network secures your business

Modern businesses keep and share all of their most important documents, records and data on interconnected workstations and servers both inside and outside your company. If you don’t sufficiently protect your network, it’s as good as sending an invitation to hackers to come and help themselves to that critical information. ECMSI knows how today’s hackers are constantly probing the network security of companies, looking for weaknesses they can exploit to gain access. With our help, you can safeguard confidential data such as customers’ personal details, corporate secrets and more, ensuring that hackers can never compromise it.

Regulatory requirements

Depending on your industry, you may also be subject to regulatory requirements that specify how your network security must be protected and maintained. These policies designed for the safety and security of trusted organizations are compulsory for any company that stores customer data electronically. ECMSI will help ensure to your organization is always one step ahead in meeting these requirements, meaning you avoid any crippling fines that might derail your business progress.

Increased network performance

One symptom of being hacked or otherwise threatened is a slowdown in network traffic that can also hurt your business. With strong network security in place that quickly resolves any disruptions and proactively prevents future intrusions, your network will always be ready to perform. ECMSI can ensure less downtime and reduced lag, leading to better productivity today and bigger profits for you in the long run.

Competitive advantage

At ECMSI we make a point of helping our customers thrive. By creating an effective network security system, we’re providing you with a competitive edge. Consumers place great importance on how companies treat their data – they want to know it’s safe and secure from hackers and other threats. That’s exactly what we do, because we know that when you ensure your customer’s data is always protected, you’ll quickly build a reputation as a trustworthy brand they can rely on.

We didn’t become one of the leading managed services providers of network security by accident. We are leaders because we care about our customers and we know how to protect them. Talk to us today, and we can work together to protect your business and take it to the next level.

Find out if your network is vulnerable to an attack. Get a Free Network Health Assessment from ECMSI today. Call us now! (330) 750-1428

Looking to Speed Up Your PC? Check out these tips!

Slow computers seems to be a problem everyone has run into at some point in their life, and it can definitely be frustrating. For an employee, a slow PC could mean hours lost in productivity which is not good for employee moral, or business operations. Whether you want to make your PC faster for personal use, or get right back to work (which we all know you’re super eager to do), lets dive into some settings you can change in order to speed up your PC.

1. Change your power settings

If you’re PC is running on Windows 10 it will come with options in which you can enable a Power Saving plan, if this is configured you are drastically slowing down your PC’s performance in order to save energy. Typically, every PC , even desktop PC’s come with a power saver plan. Changing your power plan to a higher performance will give your computer a huge boost in power.

2. Disable animations, shadows and visual effects

Operating Systems now come with a a variety of nice graphics that enhance user experience and make functions seem more natural and fluid. On faster and newer PCs these effects usually do not affect system performance, But on slower and older PC’s they can cause a huge loss. Going into the system properties and looking into your performance options you will see a huge list of different animations and special effects. If you have the time you can play around with the different effects and keep what you like and don’t like. However, the easiest way is to click on the option to adjust for best performance and let Windows optimize your settings to get the most out of your system.

3. Disable programs that run on startup

A reason your computer may be running slow and sluggish could be on account of all the programs you have running in the background, programs that you don’t even necessarily use. Stopping them from running will help your PC operate more smoothly.  Launch Task Manager, if it launches as a compact app with no tabs, click “more details” at the bottom of your screen. Click the Startup tab. You’ll see a list of the programs and services that launch when you start Windows. To stop a program or service from launching at startup, right-click it and select “disable.” This doesn’t disable the program entirely; it only prevents it from launching at startup.

4. Get rid of bloatware

What is bloatware you ask? Bloatware is all of the pre-loaded programs and software that all windows PC’s come with and while you expect a brand new computer to be clean and ready to go, that is not always the case. While bloatware is mostly not harmful at all, having your PC clogged up with all that information could seriously affect your computers speed. Upon purchase of a computer most retail sellers will offer optimization at an additional cost in order to clean out the PC. Or you could tackle the issue yourself and use software that could help you slim down your PC.

5. Check for Malware

If your PC is still running sluggish, their could be an even more underlying problem or even some malware that is affecting your system. Running a systems check from your anti-virus or internet security software and having it scan and get rid of problems could help get your PC up and running as fast as it should be.

If you’re concerned about your business’s network, call ECMSI for a FREE Network Health Assessment today! (330) 750-1428

How to Prevent Cyber Attacks and Data Breaches

Today, for every business to run efficiently and keep up with the competition, they must utilize various technologies such as databases, CRM systems and require a good online presence to be seen. In recent years, small business (companies with 250 employees or less) have increasingly been the targets to hackers and cyber attacks. Many of these schemes directly target employees through phishing emails. Cyber attacks and data breaches come in many different types but all have one goal, and that is to take sensitive information and utilize it for some sort of gain or profit all while ruining the companies infrastructure. So what are the most necessary things a business must do to keep their IT safe?

Utilize Antivirus Software

Investing the money in Antivirus can go a long way. These programs are meant to catch any sort of malware entering your systems and stopping it at the gate before it spreads.

Enable Firewalls

Firewalls are a network security device that monitors incoming and outgoing network traffic and decides whether to allow or block specific traffic based on a set of security rules.

Train Employees on Cyber Security

Most issues stem from unaware employees falling victim to phishing emails, in fact an untrained employee is the most effective way for a cyber attack to come through. Education your team consistently and making sure they can spot hacking attempts is crucial to your business.

Utilize Strong Passwords

Making passwords that are easy to guess and typical will only hurt your business, an account can easily be compromised if your password is your birthday or “password123”. Using a combination of uppercase, lowercase letters and special characters will ensure a higher security level.

Use Encryption

Encrypting your emails, or other messages that get sent out will ensure that your information is being sent securely. Without encryption a hacker will be able to see and intercept all data being sent.

Patch Regularly

“Patch” or Update your operating system and software regular. Hackers are always on the lookout for weaknesses within programs and once they are discovered they can gain access to your files. Keeping your system updated ensures that these weaknesses or loopholes are “patched” up and a virus that attempts to enter through a loophole will not be able to go through.

Many small businesses do not have the personnel, expertise or time to put in their IT security and that is when they are put at a high risk for their business or employee data to be compromised. These proactive security steps are an absolute necessity to any modern day business.

ECMSI is the area’s leading IT Management provider who’s goal is to keep it’s partners productive, safe and secure.  Call today for a FREE Network Health Assessment and find where your network is vulnerable and where ECMSI can help! (330) 750-1428

Cyberattacks and What You Need to Know!

Cybersecurity  is an increasingly trending topic in the news. The most popular stories seem to be with large companies who have had major data breaches with over millions of consumers personal information being compromised. However, what the public sees less often is when small businesses fall victim to hackers because it is not public record. This leads to the misconception that SMB’s aren’t as vulnerable to cyber attacks like other big corporations are.  Small businesses account for over 61% of all malware victims according to a report by Verizon. It is important that every type of business owner knows about cyber attacks and is proactive to ensure their business will not fall victim.

There are a variety of end goals hackers have when deploying a cyber attack. Many times, these attempts are financially driven, leveraging sensitive online data to get some type of monetary gain. The list below are just some of the most popular methods hackers use, but with an ever changing digital landscaping more new methods are emerging at an alarming rate. Here are some of the most recent attacks every business should be aware of:

Inside Attack

This is someone with administrative privileges from within an organization purposefully uses their credentials to access confidential company information. Usually this issue arises with former employees that have left on bad terms. Fixes include updating your users consistently within your organization.

Password Attack

There are three main types of password attacks: a brute-force attack, which involves guessing at passwords until the hacker gets in; a dictionary attack, which uses a program to try different combinations of dictionary words; and keylogging, which tracks a user’s keystrokes, including login IDs and passwords.

Zero-day Attack

Unknown flaws in a software and system discovered by a hacker before the developers and security staff even know of the issue. These loopholes can go undiscovered for months or even years until they are repaired.  Patch management is an extremely important practice to ensure you have the latest software with the latest security updates.

Ransomware

This type of malware infects your machines and locks up your data. The hacker responsible holds your data hostage for some type of ransom. The usual payment is in untraceable digital currencies like bitcoin. Ransomware is the fastest growing cyber attack today.

Phishing

The most commonly deployed form of cyber theft, phishing involves collecting sensitive information like login credentials and credit card information through a legitimate-looking (but ultimately fraudulent) website, often sent to unsuspecting individuals in an email. Spear phishing, an advanced form of this type of attack, requires in-depth knowledge of specific individuals and social engineering to gain their trust and infiltrate the network.

Malware

This is an overall term for “malicious software” that covers any program that intent is to target a computer and intent is to cause damage. Malware can include worms, trojans, ransomware and spyware.

APTs

Advanced Persistent Threats (APTs) are longer term attacks in which the hacker attacks a system in phases and makes sure to target devices across a network. If a breach is detected and repaired, the attackers have still secured other routes into the system.


As always, ECMSI offers top-of-the-line layered security to keep their partners and their customers safe. Our security suite provides the skilled IT resources, domain expertise, centralized monitoring and management facilities, and proactive approach to ensuring the protection of your desktops and laptops against the ever-present threat of viruses, spam, and malware attacks. Call today (330) 750-1428 or visit our website at www.ecmsi.com/security!