Tag Archives: Managed Services

Don’t Push Your Network’s Luck

Look around your office. Isn’t it great to see your team hard at work on their computers? Yet if we take a closer look, let’s see what’s really happening…

Joe, your new sales rep, is poring over last weekend’s game stats…

Amy in marketing is looking for a new job, surfing your competitors’ websites, chatting with their HR people…

Wes, over in customer support, just bogged down your entire network by downloading a video file of Metallica in concert…

Bob in accounting is browsing stock-investing sites, in search of a hot tip…

Okay, so maybe it’s not that bad at your company. But this type of behavior will happen to some degree if you don’t proactively prevent it. The real problem is, unfiltered content often links to malware and other threats. Ignore it and you risk productivity losses, legal liabilities, extortion, blackmail and fraud. And not only that, the resulting data loss and corruption can cost your company big-time. Cyberthreats stemming from unfiltered content aren’t something you can count on your lucky leprechaun or four-leaf clover to protect you from.

In today’s mobile environment, content filtering has becoming a greater challenge than ever before. Your company may already be doing some filtering at the network level. However, when was the last time you checked the number of mobile devices linked to your network? As your workforce goes mobile, your network is exposed to a rapidly expanding “attack surface.” With BYOD (bring your own device) now the norm, the old rules of content filtering just don’t cut it anymore.

Are You Making Any Of These Mistakes?

Old content-filtering models presume your network has a safe “firewall.” But now, with BYOD, you need a different way to protect your data. And that’s where endpoint security comes into play. Endpoint filtering keeps devices on your network safe from infection, no matter where they hook into the Internet.

But make ANY of the following mistakes with endpoint security and your network could be a sitting duck:

  1. Missing even ONE endpoint. This applies to tablets and smartphones as well as home-based machines that VPN into your network.

 

  1. Skimping on security policies, protocols and training. Believing that tech tools alone will keep your network secure is a recipe for breaches. In fact, no technology can keep a network safe if users cut corners.

 

  1. Leaving endpoint filtering out of your overall security plan. Ad hoc security invites disaster. An improperly designed system exposes holes that hackers love to find.

So, What Exactly Should You Filter?

Forrester Research states that companies whose users access the cloud should:

Detect and intercept unusual or fraudulent activities related to data in the cloud.

  • Detect, neutralize and eliminate malware in cloud platforms.
  • Detect and monitor unsanctioned cloud applications and platforms usage.
  • Protect against leaks of confidential information.
  • Encrypt structured and unstructured data in cloud platforms.
  • Investigate suspicious users and incidents.

Between BYOD and ever more complex cyberthreats, you simply can’t afford to run around putting out fires. You absolutely MUST proactively defend your network in depth with endpoint content filtering. We offer content filtering that is customizable to your business while still offering the highest level of protection. We can also help segment your wireless network, so those who do BYOD won’t ever touch the network that your critical business data is on. With a complete proactive managed service provider like ECMSI, you can sleep better at night and stop relying on “luck” to keep your network stable and secure.

Work Smart with an IT Consultant

Technology should allow you to work smarter, not harder. However, if you’ve never heard of a server, think beating your computer is a good repair practice, or believe the Cloud is some mysterious thing in the sky, chances are your technology is putting you to work instead of the other way around. But there is hope that won’t break your bank and leads to increased productivity: an IT consultant.

Your Local IT Consultant

It’s no secret that expensive products and services, while often beneficial when properly used, flood the market and can affect a small business’ bottom line. As a result, most business owners’ scam meters are on high alert. It doesn’t have to be this way with your technology.

With so many IT solutions available, the market is rich with engineers capable of making your company a productive machine. While not all of them have your best interest in mind, think of a good IT consultant as a friend concerned with your well-being. The best always consider your individual needs; however, since it’s still about business, their goal is to not only make you happy, but save you money, time, and generate more revenue by optimizing your technology.

IT’s not a Hard Choice if It’s a Smart Business Decision

IT consultants have a unique solution for having your back 24/7: Managed Services. As Managed Service Providers (MSPs), industry professionals’ primary goals are to optimize your company’s infrastructure, protect your business’ private information and digital assets, and work to automate your technology workflow.

What does this mean for you in a nutshell?

  • Fewer computer/server breakdowns and repairs, which translate to time saved.
  • Less chance for security breaches and loss of private and proprietary data, a challenge too large to overcome for some businesses.
  • Less time wasted on menial tasks by allowing automated technology to work for you.

These add up to less time spent trying to make your technology work and more time doing your real job. This translates to money saved and the potential for increased revenue.

Put Your Faith in an MSP You Can Trust

The most productive companies use technology to make things easier, not to add more work when their systems fail. The only businesses that should work hard to ensure your IT runs smoothly are ones that specialize in the industry. Don’t amount technology work to basic janitorial duties, let your trusted friends at ECMSI help. We believe IT and your business is a relationship, one that we nurture together.

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.

Top 5 Priorities for State and Local Government Technology

State and Local Governments have found that in recent years it is becoming easier to serve citizens and enhance the way of life in their cities by utilizing technology. Officials have seen much better city management and planning when they implement new tech. Government offices are also relying more on their IT infrastructure to keep their employees productive in order to better serve their communities. With the recent cyber breach that affected the entire city of Atlanta, state and local governments are starting to realize they are just as vulnerable to cyber attacks just like anyone else. Government offices hold a lot of valuable information and are relied upon to maintain not only their local economies but the safety and standard of living for their residents. This year governments are going to have to prioritize their technology and develop plans that will maintain their IT infrastructure, here are the top 5 things State and Local Governments should consider.

1. The Internet of Things Enhancing Communities

The Internet of things, or (IoT) has been a trending topic in the news recently.  But what is the IoT?  Simply put, it is connecting any device with an on/off switch to the internet. This includes, any household items, fridges, microwaves, to washing machines, lamps, wearable devices and the list can go on forever.  But what does this have to do with State and Local Government one may ask? Well, a whole lot. On a broad scale the IoT can be applied to things like transportation networks and can help create “smart cities” that can help us reduce waste and improve efficiency for thing such as energy use.  Check out the graphic below that shows how a smart city would work. (The graphic below provided by Libelium who specializes in IoT devices.)

2. Beefing Up Cyber Security

The IoT can do great things for a city, however without the right security measures, it could also make a city extremely vulnerable. State and Local governments need to have fail safe back up and disaster recovery plan for all departments to ensure the cities network is protected and does not get compromised. In the face of evolving threats, cities have already fallen victim like the case of Atlanta.  Atlanta has recently fallen victim to a ransomware attack in which the hacker demanded over $51,000 USD in the form of bitcoins. The ransomware stole information and locked out government officials from files and software needed to run city operations. Cyber security is a very sensitive topic for government because when compromised, like a business, people begin to lose trust, which is the opposite of what any local government wants for its residents.

3. Cloud Solutions for Data

Cloud solutions are no more a far-fetched concept.  Migrating data to the cloud is providing a way that government can bypass restrictions created by tightening budgets. More governments are moving their data to the cloud, however with the migration comes some planning. Local governments must consider their environment to ensure they pick the right model, whether being a public, private or hybrid cloud. Moreover, data management can prove itself an issue if governments are relying on multiple cloud management providers.

4. Consolidation and Cutting Redundant Costs

Finding saving and efficiencies is extremely important to governments. When there are too many separate entities all with their own network trying to work together, this can create many holes in a governments system, where one infection can spread like wildfire. In the case of the state of Ohio just five years ago, 26 agencies were using close to 9,000 servers to support more than 32 data centers that were only running at less than 10 percent capacity.  By consolidating and reconstructing these servers the state was able to save more than $100 million and avoid close to $60 million is added costs. Governments will need to look into simplifying their infrastructure to their best ability, not only will it be able to help with costs, but also with security.

5. Collaborating with the Right Tools

Managing and thinking about all of these technical items is the last thing an elected official wants to think about when they run for office. Especially to local governments who focus on their residents and improving their cities. Technology problems are the last on their priority lists, local governments should look to invest in managed service providers that will focus on the technology side, making sure it is safe and reliable, while the government focuses on more pressing community tasks. ECMSI in northeast Ohio can do just that for any local government. If you are a part of a local government that needs IT help. Please feel free to call us today at 330-750-9412. We are always here trying to Make IT Easy!

 

How to Avoid Becoming the Next Hacking Victim

Cyber attacks are so common now that hardly a week passes without news of another major network security breach involving a high-profile company. Well-known brands like Target, Sony and Yahoo have all fallen victim to security breaches in the last few years.

But hackers don’t just limit themselves the market’s major players – they will, and do, attack companies of all sizes, exploiting their weak defenses to infiltrate and steal valuable corporate data. In fact, smaller businesses are seen as much easier targets, because they usually lack the robust defenses that large enterprises routinely use.

So why should you worry about being next? The costs of a network security breach can be enormous, sometimes even crippling. One study from the National Cyber Security Alliance reports that around 20 percent of small businesses fall victim to a cyber attack each year, and of these, just 40 percent are still around six months later.

Can your business foot the bill from a major cyber security breach? Not likely.

Keep the bandits out

At ECMSI, our overriding goal is to help your company thrive, but you won’t stand a chance of doing that if your servers are leaking corporate and customer data all over the place. That’s why we make your network security such a big priority. We want to see our customers to succeed — and enjoy longer-lasting relationships with them.

As one of the leading Managed Services Providers, we’ll strive to protect your network against everything attackers can throw at it.

Our big secret is that unlike other MSPs, we take time to get to know our clients and help them understand how to take full advantage of their technology.

When we uncover your unique risks and concerns, we prepare a plan to help you defend against the wide variety of cyber threats that could slow down and damage your business — and your reputation — including ransomware, insider attacks and other viruses.

And we go further to proactively avoid these threats by teaching you best practices to minimize the risk of becoming a victim in the first place. We’ll also help get you up and running with the latest antivirus software, firewalls and threat detection software to ensure your network security is as tight as it’s possible to be.

Your depend on your business technology to be successful, that much you know already. But it can also become your Achilles’ heel if your network defenses aren’t up to scratch. Contact ECMSI today and we’ll show you how to avoid becoming headline news for the wrong reasons.

Supply Chain Cyber Attack Infects 2.3 Million Users

Hacking comes in many forms, recently the trend in cyber crime has hackers going directly for the supply chain within an organization. The supply chain is a system of activities involved in handling, distributing, manufacturing and processing goods in order to move resources from a vendor into the hands of a final consumer. In reference to cyber-security, a supply chain attack involves tampering with the companies network in order to install malware that brings harm further down the supply chain.

One of the most popular supply chain attacks was data breach that occurred to the retail giant Target in 2013, Over 40 million customers credit card and debit cards were compromised after malware infiltrated one of Target’s third party suppliers and gained access to Targets main data network.

Recently, a computer cleaning software was compromised and left any user who downloaded the software between August 15th and September 12th with malware on their computer. CCleaner is an application that scans your PC for malware and junk files and cleans it up to work at maximum performance. It is an extremely popular software that has over 2 billion downloads, and ironically has caused the problem it tries to prevent. CCleaner was compromised when some unknown hackers infiltrated the download servers to the application and replaced the original version of the software with the malicious one and distributed it to millions of users for a month. The company that own the software is now recommending users to update their software to the latest version to protect their computer from being compromised.

These event have happened all to often, and can affect such a large group of users. These events are particularly a cause for concern to business owners. If your business computers are not being monitored and one of your employees accidentally downloads malicious software unknowingly, all of your important business data is now compromised. Not only is your data at risk, now your business if loosing precious hours trying to fix the problem and recovering from the cyber attack instead of focusing on your core business activities. These event could plummet employee productivity and could end up costing the business money that it simply cannot afford to lose. Be sure to always monitor end user activity and maintain backups of your important data.

 

 

What Does your Business IT and Car have in Common?

THEY BOTH NEED TO BE INSURED!

When we talk about car insurance the dark thoughts and questions begin to arise. What if I get into an accident? What if I’m travelling and left on the side of the road? What if someone hits me without my control? While all of these thoughts are very pessimistic, these things do happen, sadly, more often than we would like them to. This makes driving without some sort of car insurance seem completely ludicrous. So why should your business IT be any different?

Think about your business IT as the “vehicle” that keeps your company running. What if your network “crashes”, what if your employees are working and your computers decides to leave them on the side of the road? Or what if a hacker “hits” your network with ransomware or the many other hundreds/thousands of malicious malware that is out there today?

When talking about business IT “insurance”, we mean something a little bit different. You need to make sure that the technology in your business is secure, protected and keeps your employees as productive as possible in order for your business to stay viable. Like a car, you have to have some sort of disaster protection, or else a whole bunch of time, money and productivity of your business is lost on fixing the issue when it happens. The best “insurance” for your business network is using an outsourced IT service management provider, and here’s why.

When you outsource the management of your important IT resources they help optimize your networks performance, to make it work at the peak efficiency and reliability levels that your business demands. This can allow you to stay focused on running your business and not your network. This security, networking, data protection and user support is handled at a fraction of the cost than if your business decided to take on all of that cost itself. Risk is something your business deals with every day from market competition, to the state of the economy, don’t let your IT be another risk. Businesses have limited resources, and every owner/manager has limited time and attention. Outsourcing can help your business stay focused on your core business and not get distracted by complex IT decisions.

Secure your network today with ECMSI !

330.750.9412

 

 

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.