Our systems are down!- A CEO’s Nightmare…

In this day and age, having some sort of computer to do your job is as necessary as air. Chances are, if you have a lot of computers in your business, you also have things like servers, routers, access points, and switches. These are all critical pieces to maintaining your business and your employee’s productivity level.

Have you ever stopped to think about what would happen if your business suffered a catastrophic event? How long would it take to get you back up and running? Do you know if your critical data is being backed-up and if it is, how often is that happening? If you are reading this and starting to feel a tightening in your chest because you aren’t sure of your answers, then it’s time to stop ducking your head in the sand.

In a survey done by IHS in 2015, the average of cost of outages totaled the $700 billion dollar mark. This number has only increased for the past year in 2017. This total includes the loss of employee productivity, revenue and the cost to the fix the issue, which surprisingly was the lowest cost of the three.

So how do you calculate downtime loss?  Our friends over at My IT Pros shared with this basic formula:

 LOST REVENUE = (GR/TH) x I x H

GR = gross yearly revenue

TH = total yearly business hours

I = percentage impact (a high percentage would mean you can’t complete any transactions, will lose clients and have a PR nightmare)

H = number of hours of outage

Finally, to calculate the expected annual cost, multiply this number by the number of expected annual hours of outage. If you do this and you are absolutely panicking, don’t worry. While all of this sounds like something out of a nightmare, the solutions are fairly simple. We would first recommend that you have incremental back-ups of your critical data that are stored both locally and in the cloud. This way, if your hardware were to fail, with the help of your IT provider, you can pull your data down from the cloud onto a backup server (part of the redundancy plan). Secondly, we recommend that you have a redundant environment. Now, this can mean a variety of things but at minimum, it would mean that you’d have a secondary server that is only for emergencies. At maximum, it would mean having clustered servers where there are more than 1 server and if something were to fail, the data just seamlessly moves to the next available hardware.

We don’t want to see any businesses have to deal with this nightmare. If you are unsure of what disaster recovery plan you have with your current IT Provider, it may be time to strike up that conversation. If you have any questions and would like to discuss how downtime could affect you and how ECMSI can help you prevent a disaster please feel free to contact us at 330.750.9412.

WannaCry Infection

You may have seen the news this weekend. Criminal hackers have released a new strain of ransomware that spreads itself automatically across all workstations in a network, causing a global epidemic. If you or a co-worker are not paying attention and accidentally open one of these phishing email attachments, you might infect not only your own workstation, but immediately everyone else’s computer too.

Be very careful when you get an email with an attachment you did not ask for. If there is a .zip file in the attachment, do not click on it but delete the whole email. Remember: “When in doubt, throw it out!”


The Initial Infection Vector Is A Well-crafted Phishing Email.
 
The initial spread of WannaCry is coming through phishing, in which fake invoices, job offers and other lures are being sent out to random email addresses. Within the emails is a password protected .zip file, so the email uses social engineering to persuade the victim to unlock the attachment with a password, and once clicked that initiates the WannaCry infection.
 
We take proactive measures to ensure all devices that we monitor are up-to-date on their security patches and Antivirus subscriptions. Having an IT company who understands and values a proactive approach to monitoring is key in keeping you focused on your business and not IT.

The benefits of Skype for Business

As soon as we were able to access email via our phones, the idea of a work day ending at 5pm pretty much went out the window. Add to that our laptops and a decent internet connection, office workers across the globe can now do their job virtually anywhere. But what happens when you need to collaborate on a project, have a face to face meeting or just need a quick answer?

Waiting on a reply to an email can be soul crushing if you are on a time crunch and the time involved with traveling back and forth to a client site or satellite office for a face to face meeting is less time you have to do actual work. So what’s the answer? I imagine these were the types of scenarios Microsoft were throwing out during the pitch meeting where they came up with Skype for Business.

This multi functioning tool isn’t just an IM service. Within its code, this application allows you to make phone and video calls, hold large conference calls, share data quickly, present desktops for easy presentation, coordinate schedules and so much more.  Plus, it works across platforms! Desktop, Laptop, Tablet or Mobile Device, Skype for Business can be installed and used, just as if you were sitting at your desk.

So if you have been thinking that you need a tool to help bring your team together again, Skype for Business maybe just the thing you’ve been looking for!

Winter 2017: Disaster For Your Data?

fence with ice hanging off with snow covered trees in background
With winter just around the corner, everyone around you may be getting “all wrapped up” in the upcoming holiday season…

But you’ve got a business to run, customers to keep happy and mission-critical data to keep safe, even if a major blizzard, lightning strike, windstorm or epic flood is taking place right outside your door.

Here are 5 easy steps you can take this holiday season to get your office prepared for this winter’s worst, without seeming like Mr. Grinch.

Be ready for power outages. A power outage can hurt your business in more ways than you think. Besides employee downtime, it takes time to safely get everything back up and running. Then you need to make sure no critical files have been damaged or lost.

Autosave features can help minimize lost files in a sudden power outage. An uninterruptible power supply (UPS) can give your team anywhere from ten minutes to an hour to back up files and properly shut down equipment. If you need longer power durability during an outage, you might want to look into a backup generator.

Keep lines of communication open. Customer frustration due to production delays and not being able to reach key people at your company can be very costly in terms of both revenues and your company’s reputation. Here are three ways to make sure calls to your office don’t get bobbled when a storm rolls in:
1. Create a new automated greeting to let callers know about changes in hours or closings.
2. Set up an emergency override that automatically reroutes key phone lines to one or more numbers that can be reached during an outage.
3. Make sure you and your staff can access voice mail remotely – from a smartphone, by e-mail as an attached sound file or transcribed message, or as a text notification.

Manage employees working from home. Many of your employees can work from home if need be. But you’ll need to prepare in advance if it’s not the norm at your company. Have your IT specialist check with employees who could work from home during rough weather. They’ll need a virtual private network (VPN) to safely access the company network. Be sure it’s set up well in advance to avoid any glitches when that winter storm hits and you need it most.

Have a disaster recovery plan (DRP) ready to go. Unless you can afford to shut down for days at a time, or even just a few hours, it’s absolutely critical to keep a written DRP on hand. Write out step-by-step details of who does what in every type of winter disruption – from simple power outages to blizzards, flooding or building damage caused by heavy winds or lightning. A downed network can cost your company big-time every minute it’s offline. Make sure your plan includes one or more ways to get it back up and running ASAP. Consider virtualizing key parts or all of your network so your team can access it remotely. Once you’ve written out your plan, keep one copy at your office, one at home and one with your IT specialist.

Trying to recover your data after a sudden or serious outage without professional help is business suicide. One misstep can result in losing critical files forever, or weeks of downtime. Make sure you’re working with a pro who will not only help set up a recovery plan, but has experience in data recovery. The old adage about an ounce of prevention applies doubly when it comes to working with the right people who can help you prepare for – and recover from – whatever winter throws your way.