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Knowing the Threats to Your Business

As unfortunate as it is, cyber security is now firmly at the top of our list of business concerns – regardless of the size of your organization, you are vulnerable. Cyber criminals see opportunity and pounce on it. Being a smaller business does by no means put you under the radar.

You cannot guarantee cyber security and anyone claiming they can is lying, but you can do the next best thing – make it as hard as possible for cyber criminals to successfully attack your systems.

Throughout this article, we will highlight some of the methods that cyber criminals use to attack and what you can do about it.

Phishing

We have explored Phishing scams in one of our previous articles, but it’s worth repeating – it is one of the most common forms of cyber attack. Phishing scams are a technique used by cyber criminals whereby they assume a false identity in order to acquire sensitive information from their targets. Phishing scams usually take place via email, typically using website links, but can also come via text messages and phone calls.

The aim of the scammer is to fool you – the recipient – into believing that the message is from a legitimate source, contains legitimate information or instruction, and that it needs urgent attention. It may appear as a message from your employer, bank, colleague, or another trusted source.

If the rouse is successful, the recipient may then open the email and release malware, or in an even worse case scenario – respond to the message under the illusion they can trust the sender and inadvertently disclose sensitive information, account details, or passwords to the criminals.

How to guard against phishing attacks

It is surprisingly simple to avoid being stung by phishing attacks if you know what to look out for. Here are a few ways to know whether a website, email, or link is from a legitimate source or not:

  • Be wary of URL redirects. Verify the URL of the new site against that of the legitimate site.
  • If you have any suspicions about an email, DO NOT OPEN IT! Even if it appears to come from a trusted source, send a new email to the individual in question using contact information you previously held for them.
  • Use privacy settings on social media to keep personal information hidden. Don’t make your address, phone number or even things like your friends list available to anyone.
  • Verify the URLs carefully before clicking on links or submitting sensitive information. Often scammers will try to imitate legitimate sites closely, so this is something to pay particular attention to.
  • Use anti-phishing software. These widely available software programs aim to prevent users from accessing malicious links and websites by activating pop-up warnings and preventing malicious emails from ever reaching you.
  • Use a cyber security expert like mPowered IT to watch over your systems and keep up to date on security measures.

For a Phishing scammer to be successful they rely upon deception, so if something doesn’t feel right ask the person in charge of your IT for guidance.

Ransomware

Ransomware is the name of a type of Malware that disables or encrypts files on your system. A cyber criminal will perform a ransomware attack so they can gain full ownership over your data and extort money from you in exchange for its safe return.

Cyber criminals use file encryption to force victims into paying the fee. The files remain on your system but are encrypted – making ransomware particularly frustrating. The cyber criminals will then set time limits on payments and threaten to delete files if payment is not received within the limit.

It is completely understandable that most business owners choose to pay the full fee requested by the criminals in the hope that they are regranted access and control – but this is wishful thinking. There is no guarantee that your data will be returned – they are criminals after all. Paying the fee is in fact a very bad idea. Not only are you unlikely to regain control of your data, but you are also increasing the chances that you’ll be targeted again, as you have proven yourself willing to pay. On top of that, you’ve just supported their criminal activity, encouraging them to do more of the same.

How to guard against Ransomware attacks

Ransomware is on the rise; it has rapidly become a big money maker for cyber criminals all over the globe. But you can protect yourself. Consider the following when preparing your systems for the eventuality of a ransomware attack:

  • Up-to-date systems and software are essential. Cyber criminals want easy money – they will exploit weaknesses in out-of-date, poorly maintained software.
  • Be wary of embedded links and attachments in emails. Before opening any attachments or links, you must be completely confident that they come from a legitimate source. As with phishing, emails containing embedded ransomware will often feature persuasive language and appear from a trusted source, so it’s always best to keep a cool head and proceed with caution.
  • Use advanced threat protection. Use anti-malware security software from trusted vendors to safeguard your data. Employ more than just virus protection; look for threat protection suites that offer firewalls and back-up capabilities.
  • Don’t pay, under any circumstances! Yes, the pressure can be enormous to regain your files – but payment is no guarantee that you’ll regain control. They’re criminals.They may not return your files even after you pay.
  • Take advantage of Cloud services. Cloud services such as hosted storage limit the opportunities for Ransomware to enter your system. An off-site backup will allow all your data to be restored after an attack.
  • Don’t enable macros! If an email attachment from an unknown source requires you to enable macros to view it, it’s best just to ignore it. The act of enabling macros itself can infect your computer.

Knowing the threats your system is the first step to ensuring cyber security across your entire organization.

mPowered IT – Ensuring You Are Cyber Secure

mPowered IT are your go-to proactive partner in keeping IT systems secure and defended. We never leave things to chance or wait for a problem to arise – predicting and preparing for the threats of tomorrow will help ensure your valuable data is protected and your business continuity maintained. Contact us now to find out more about what we can do for you.

 

7 Tech Considerations for your Business

Small business owners often find it challenging to invest in the right tech for their businesses. If done correctly, the right IT can transform your business by boosting productivity, collaboration, and communication, accelerating sales, and opening brand new markets. Let’s look at seven ways tech can help you ensure your business meets its goals.

1. Evaluate your IT status

As quickly as technology is advancing, it’s a good idea to evaluate your IT status every year. Does all the technology you use perform as you would like it to? What technology are you missing out on that would improve your business? This is where a good IT consultant comes in. You want to work with a pro who is impartial and unbiased, who will work with your business interest at heart. You may find that everything you’re using right now is exactly what you need. But to keep your technology from slipping behind the curve, it’s smart to plan and budget for technology growth as your company grows.

2. Explore your own productivity tools

First, look at the productivity tools you already have, such as Microsoft Teams or Zoom. Within each software you already use, there are likely several amazing features you aren’t even aware of so you never use – but some of your employees may. It’s smart to meet with your team members and find out how they are using your software more productively, which would be good info to share with the whole team.

3. Create an online strategy

Every business needs a solid online strategy, even if you don’t sell any product or service online. You need to have a presence online, a way for potential customers to find you easily, know what you’re about, and how to contact you. At minimum, make sure you have a Google My Business account set up. It’s a powerful and robust search tool that’s free and used by millions of people every hour.

4. Optimize your website

A lot of small businesses make the mistake of thinking their website is once and done. Building your website is only the first step. It needs to stay updated to serve you. An outdated website is not good for business. It may have out outdated design, information, and functionality. Google is not friendly to poorly optimized websites, so you could become almost invisible in search results if your website is not current and optimized. If you don’t have anyone in-house to keep your site fresh, you may need to outsource content updates and SEO.

5. Engage employees

When considering new or upgraded technology for your business, never overlook the people who will be using that technology every day! Your employees are an excellent resource for informing you on the limitations of your current systems, and what functionality they wish they had to perform their jobs better.

6. Consider a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system

A CRM system will help to ensure you understand your customers better and capitalize on sales opportunities. It will also help you to remain organized by centralizing all your customers’ information, and taking it one step further, you will be able to give customers a far more personalized service and follow up properly with any prospects.

7. Keep on top of tech security

Your cyber security needs constant attention. Make sure you have a cyber security policy covering such areas as acceptable use, password guidelines, security practices and rules for downloading software. Putting a firewall in place is not a security plan. A security breach can wipe data or hold it hostage for a ransom, and no business, no matter how small, is safe without an active and evolving security plan.

 

3 Ways to Save Time and Money with Technology

Running a small business efficiently isn’t easy – every business in every sector share some of the same challenges:

  • Competition
  • Recruiting the right team
  • Cyber security
  • Effective time management
  • Attracting customers
  • Maintaining customers

These are times when nothing comes easy to any business – but with the help of technology these challenges don’t have to have such a drastic effect on the daily activities and workflow of your team. Rather than worrying about them, these obstacles can be tackled methodically and approached with careful planning. Let’s take a look at some of the tech tools that can help.

Cloud Computing

Small businesses can save valuable time and money by purchasing Cloud computing services rather than owning and operating their own IT infrastructure, and depending on your current on-premise IT infrastructure, you can save considerable space too! The premise of Cloud computing means that you only pay for what you use, allowing you to avoid the upfront costs of maintaining dedicated servers and hiring specialized IT staff – saving you a lot of money in the long term.

Cloud computing services vary, from basic file storage, all the way to artificial intelligence. It allows your team to collaborate and access data from any location on the globe, securely.

There are two main service models of Cloud computing:

  • IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service)
  • SaaS (Software as a Service)

It is worth talking to an IT professional if you are unsure which is right for your organization.

Leveraging the Influence of social media

The power and influence of social media cannot be understated. If your business begins generating positive engagements with potential clients, then the rate at which the popularity of your organization can grow can reach lightning speeds. If you use the powers of social media effectively, its far-reaching connectivity can help you to target not only your local customer base but also perhaps the previously untapped resource of the international market.

The best thing about using social media platforms is their cost, or lack of, the most famous ones available on the market are free! There are also tools available that allow you to measure and analyze the performance of each of your social media marketing campaigns.

AI and Machine Learning

AI (Artificial Intelligence) is the simulation of human intelligence processes by machines. Some specific applications of AI include expert systems, natural language processing (NLP), speech recognition and machine vision.

Machine Learning is a form of AI that allows your system to learn and improve from experience without being programmed explicitly to perform that task. AI focuses on computer systems that try to replicate skills that humans can do, whereas Machine Learning processes data, recognizing patterns in order to develop algorithms. In other words, AI and Machine Learning are progressive and will continue to advance.

In simple terms, AI and Machine Learning – if implemented, managed, and maintained correctly – can take the mundane tasks off the hands of your team, allowing them to better utilize their own skills.

In Conclusion

If you’re a small or medium business, especially a startup, take full advantage of the technology that will boost efficiency. Technology is an investment that will cut costs and make the work of your team more efficient.

.Contact us now to learn how mPowered IT can help your business.

 

How to Introduce Automation to Your Small Business

Automation in your business

Tools that were originally designed to help your business achieve efficiency may now inadvertently be costing you time and money. As you strive to do more with less, you need technology to deliver efficiency.

Business Process Automation (BPA) makes this a reality. It allows you to create a technological ecosystem with every feature working in conjunction with another.

Business Process Automation – What is it?

Business Process Automation has revolutionized businesses by creating more efficient workflows. It frees your team to spend more of their time doing things that are productive and beneficial to the organization. In a well-run business, everything has an efficient process structure to it so that tasks are achieved as accurately as possible for as little cost as possible.

Business Process Automation works off the same set of rules. Working from an initial trigger action, be that prescheduled or because of a prior human action, a series of pre-scripted events will then take place – removing the laborious task of manually working that long list of steps. You define your own parameters from which the automation will act.

Why would you BPA and where can it help you?

Let’s look at a real-world example of Business Process Automation and then break it down to see how it helped.

A business is growing and is beginning to amass a reasonable following on social media. The business is inundated with tweets every day, diverting some employee’s attention from normal duties to respond and engage. This big positive for the popularity of the business has become a problem. A simple but completely manual process is taking up valuable time each day.

By managing this task manually, you may find other work is not getting done on time, or some clients are not getting due attention, or service elsewhere suffers. And this particular task, managing social media, is really a full-time job, even a 24/7 job. If you use social media, you have to stay engaged for it to work for you.

This is where Business Process Automation comes in.

The business introduces Business Process Automation (Power Automate by Microsoft) to manage the workload that the tweets are creating. With Power Automate, you can set up a flow that follows the potential customer, sends them a reply, and adds them to a spreadsheet that is then automatically emailed to you for your approval.

In this example, Power Automate made it possible for the member of the team to get back to the job they were hired to do, and not be constantly pulled away to respond to tweets.

Business Process Automation allows you to increase efficiency and productivity while reducing errors, and keep control of your processes. Arguably the most important of all the benefits of Business Process Automation is the insight it gives you, breaking down business processes the way that BPA requires, will give you new insight into the working of your own organization.

So, how do you implement it?

How to implement BPA in your workplace

Implementing BPA is a challenge that requires thought and planning. This is a collaborative initiative that you’ll want to share with your whole team.

Identify tasks to be automated

Start by collecting feedback from your employees, and by looking at customer problems and request sheets. This will give you an idea of what the glaring challenges are that need automating first.

Most sectors of your business face blockages in their daily workflows. Ask your employees, who have fist-hand knowledge of these challenges. Once having discovered and decided on the correct opportunity, talk to your IT team about software solutions such as  most commonly Power Automate by Microsoft. They will have the responsibility of managing the program throughout integration and uniting the software with your business goals.

Analyzing customer support requests and complaints is another good way of spotting opportunities for automation. It may be beneficial to provide a questionnaire to get some feedback from your customers about the things they feel are great and things that can be improved.

Outline business goals

Knowing your goals will guide you to automate the right parts of your business. What is best accomplished with manual human interaction and what is best accomplished through automation? You must also find a way of measuring its success once it its implemented. You can do this via financial figures, employee feedback, or other means.

Get the team on board

Creating a company culture that’s adaptable to change within your organization is essential. Involve your team every step of the way, in integral decisions going forward, and be sure they receive the training they need to make the automation successful.

Monitor

The last step is to monitor the system frequently to see that it continues to make a difference to the workday. BPA tools are not static – they change and adapt constantly, along with your business. The best tools you work with today could be your company’s biggest hinderance tomorrow, so stay aware of changing technology. For unbiased consultation on the technology that will work best for your business today and down the road, contact mPowered IT.

 

Single Sign On – What Is It and How Does It Affect Your Organization?

Featured-Image-SignleSign

The increase in cyber threats in recent yeas has made the job of your IT team far more difficult. Keeping your network secure can take the focus away from keeping your technology updated and running properly. Single Sign On can take some of the strain off your IT team, allowing them to concentrate more on the tasks that are more important to growth of your organization.

Single Sign On – What is it?

Single Sign On (SSO) allows your users to log in to any related software system with a single username and password. Doing this makes the process of logging in much easier and reduces the likelihood of forgetting passwords. SSO can be real time saver.

How does it work?

Once a user accesses a website using SSO, they can then enter a different website that has the same relationship with the SSO solution. The authentication flow follows the same steps. Put simply, the system remembers that you got the password right on the original site and it will then allow access to the new site.

Does Single Sign On make my organization more or less secure?

SSO can be good and bad – the same features that make it an efficiency booster also make it a vulnerable feature in your IT landscape. It can potentially give a hacker one password to access multiple sites. Your employees may be accessing multiple sites and apps each day in the course of their jobs. Your IT team must have full identity governance to be sure that SSO is as secure as possible. Many companies tackle this issue by purchasing a centralized identity authenticator on special servers, allowing them to govern access to their system. When a team member signs in, their authentication passes through the SSO server, it then passes on their credential for authorizing that person to the app.

You can take this even further by implementing multi-factor or two-factor authentication – which will drastically improve the levels of security your organization is able to achieve. Anything that requires your team to prove their identity is a good thing – once having done so they can use their SSO login credentials successfully.

SSO – alongside other tools – can revolutionize your workplace going forward.

mPowered IT – Ensuring Your Cyber Security

mPoweredIT are your go-to proactive partner in keeping IT systems secure and defended. We never leave things to chance or wait for a problem to arise – predicting and preparing for the threats of tomorrow will help ensure your valuable data is protected and your business continuity maintained.

 

The Important Role Tech will Play for your Efficiency in 2022

Efficiency in 2022

We live in an age of constantly evolving technology! These constant changes can bring apprehension about the future. In the following article, we will outline just how important the right tech – and professionals supporting it – are in your quest for efficiency in 2022.  

So, what will 2022 bring?  

Your business may still be feeling the effects of the pandemic, and your workplace could be unrecognizable from what it was a few years ago. You may have gone into survival mode, but as the pandemic is continuing into 2022 – it is time for a more prepared and revised approach. Think long term.

Your employees may have returned to the office, and now, with the omicron variant, you’re considering going fully remote again. If your remote strategy has been for employees to use their home PC’s and laptops, it’s important to understand the risks this brings to your company’s network security, and also the opportunities you may be missing.

What the Wrong IT Can Mean for Your Business 

In the rush to transition to a remote workforce, many businesses ended up equipping their home offices with the wrong tools. Using outdated, unprotected, or incapable software or hardware can have a detrimental effect on your security, as well as business functionality. 

This is referred to as Shadow IT.

Shadow IT is IT that your organization has no control over. If you have no organizational requirements for control, documentation, security, or reliability, it’s a disaster waiting to happen. Cyber attacks can cause debilitating effects, which can range from the theft of sensitive information all the way to deliberate attacks on hardware, potentially causing equipment failures. 

Some of the most common forms of cyber attack are Phishing emails, Malware, and Ransomware. Cyber crime is constantly evolving and new methods of attack are being developed and unleashed daily. Your remote workforce may be more vulnerable to attack, especially if they are using their own computers.

It’s important to have security protocols in place in normal times, when everyone is mostly working at the office, but far more important when employees are scattered, and working on their own devices from home. It’s more than worth it to have a professional IT company review your security, show you where your systems are vulnerable, and put a solid plan in place.

Unfamiliarity with the Capabilities of IT  

If you haven’t had the time to keep up with the latest trends in tech, you may not be aware of what tools are now available to make your business run more efficiently. You may have already transitioned to Cloud Computing but are you using its capabilities to the full potential? When used correctly, cloud computing offers a way to have data backups in various locations, allowing you to guarantee business continuity even if a disaster strikes. What about your phone system? A VoIP cloud-based phone system may be much more practical and could serve your business better for less money. An unbiased IT consultant can review your business and recommend technology that works best for your specific company and budget.

mPowered IT – Ensuring You Are Cyber Secure 

mPowered IT is your go-to proactive partner in keeping IT systems secure and defended, and your technology up to date. We never leave things to chance or wait for a problem to arise. We’re protect your systems as if it’s our business on the line.

 

 

Outdated Technology in Small Businesses

Outdated Technology

Most small businesses don’t invest enough in technology, or at the very least they don’t do it often enough. For some this is due to apprehension about spending money on tools they know very little about, and some have the approach of ‘so what, it still works so I don’t care’. Both are fair points to make, but the reality is that outdated tech can cause serious problems in your workplace. Think about it – when was the last time you invested in technology?

Most businesses have a mixture of old and new technology integrated into their workflows. The majority of businesses replace their tech, when necessary, usually when the hardware has become outdated or in the event of system breakdowns. An overhaul of your entire system is perceived as being too disruptive, which is why a slow gradual approach is preferred and recommended.

All businesses have pieces of hardware or software that are aging, the rate at which the technological world is evolving makes this inevitable. But with the right education and IT consultancy you can be well on your way to a modern technological future.

 

The hidden issues of outdated tech in your business

Higher costs

An office full of old technology, can actually cost you more than upgrading to new technology. Most new technology is designed to increase efficiency, and as you know, if your team isn’t able to be as efficient as possible, it’s costing you money. Also, older technology eats more energy. Newer systems tend to run more efficiently, saving you energy costs.

Expensive fixes

Do you allocate part of your annual budget on technology? Like we said earlier, if things are working fine many business owners don’t see the point in making changes. But it’s smarter to budget for technology, and make sure you’re using current systems, rather than have surprise and costly fixes.

Outdated tech is more likely to experience failures. Emergency IT support will be far more expensive than the preventative measures that can be implemented into current, updated systems. The last thing you want to do is to be forced to purchase new technology, and make a snap decision just to get your business back online. It’s always better to plan for what technology you’ll need next.

No flexibility

Work is going to grow ever more flexible as time goes on, and with the unpredictability of the modern workplace, those that are more flexible are set to be the industry leaders going forward. Work doesn’t get much more flexible than when working remotely, working from home, the office, or on the go – without sacrificing productivity or employees wellbeing – is the future of business worldwide.

It is important that you have confidence in your systems, hardware, and devices. You need to be certain that they are secure and functional when working from a remote setting. Outdated tech rarely offers the functionality – or more importantly the levels of security possible with modern tech. Update your tech with remote working in mind and your team will reap the many benefits of remote working.

A loss of customers

Old technology will likely lose you customers. Let’s take a look how.

When working on outdated tech you are for more likely to be the victim of a cyber attack. Your data being compromised will likely cause your customers to lose faith in your ability to protect their data, in turn, leading them to go to your competitors instead.

Modern alternatives are far faster and less ‘buggy’ than outdated tech. This may affect the quality of communication that you have with your customer base and may affect the quality of service you can offer them. This will also cause customers to look for a better experience and quality of service elsewhere.

The relationship you have with your clients is arguably the most crucial element to a successful business. Slow tech can seriously affect the quality of service you are able to offer. The last thing a customer wants is delays, and continuous delays will probably lead you to lose their trust. Slow operations and response times don’t reflect well on your business.

Security risks

We all know cyber attacks are more frequent now than ever before, predominantly due to the pandemic and the increase in our reliance on tech. No matter the size of your business, you are not safe from them, you don’t have to be turning over millions of dollars a year to become a victim. It is, in fact, the opposite. Most cyber criminals target smaller businesses because they presume they won’t have put the resources into advanced cyber security solutions meaning there are more gaps to target.

While your technology evolves, the methods that cyber criminals use to penetrate your systems evolve alongside it. The latest version of any technology is always the best equipped to protect your systems from security threats. The latest tech will have modern preventative measures as standard – this combined with the tools you have purchased will put you in a better position to defend your system.

Vendors eventually stop supporting older systems, making them vulnerable. A lack of security updates will mean that new issues are not remedied. Patching becomes impossible and it’s unlikely that you will be able to prevent breaches until it is too late. Using modern technology will have the opposite effect – a secure productive technological environment.

 

mPoweredIT – Ensuring You are Cyber Secure

mPowered IT can be your proactive partner in keeping IT systems secure and defended. We never leave things to chance or wait for a problem to arise – predicting and preparing for the threats of tomorrow will help ensure your valuable data is protected and your business continuity maintained.

 

 

How to Protect against Phishing email scams

Being Protected from scams

Phishing scams are one of the most popular tools in a cyber criminal’s arsenal today, given the ease with which they can deliver their attack through the relatively undefended route of email.

Email breaches come in a variety of forms, but predominantly involve the use of a false identity – creating trust between the recipient and the hacker – with the intent of duping the victim into unknowingly sharing sensitive information or opening a malicious file on their computer.

Deception is, of course, the key to a successful phishing attack – this trust is used to draw the victim into clicking on a link embedded within the email, which will often load a website posing as a brand entity or company likely known to the email recipient. The scammers go into extensive detail to impersonate individuals and entities that you or your team are likely to trust, so that you’ll comply with their requests. Familiar names such as Netflix, your bank or governmental departments will often be used – with a message requiring the user to act urgently in updating their credit card information or sharing their login credentials.

While most cyber criminals want to gain access to your systems or to compromising and sensitive information for financial gain, some do it for the pure goal of causing chaos.

Methods of the Phishing Scammer

There are technical solutions designed with the intention of blocking phishing attempts, but the most important and first line of defense is ‘the Human Firewall’. Your team needs to know what to look out for if a scammer slips through the net into their inbox.

Your team’s first reaction to any and every email they receive must be to distrust it, until they can verify its legitimacy.

Deceptive Phishing, as described above, not only impersonates an organization you trust, but it urges you to take immediate action. The email may contain a message along the lines of: “Click link to verify identity” or “Unverified account log in, click link to identify.” Or, it may seem to be helping you avoid something bad, when actually they are the bad thing to avoid. Messages such as these will often be accompanied by a redirect to a login portal designed to  harvest account details.

Spear Phishing is a more targeted technique whereby the cybercriminal performs background research on the victim in order to pose as an individual or entity known to them personally. These criminals are not lazy – they will do whatever research they need before beginning an attack. Fraudsters can gather an extensive amount of information from social media profiles so you’ll believe it someone you know and trust. Scams of this nature have a higher chance of success as victims may not think they’d be targeted personally.

CEO Fraud is where the scammer impersonates a company CEO or other other high-status person. Armed with publicly-sourced information about the CEO they’re impersonating, they communicate with company employees asking them to perform tasks and transactions that would normally be unauthorized. The cyber criminals invent stories as to why the requests are valid in the hope that your team complies. Would you disobey and slow down the boss’s workday? You wouldn’t think twice if the source seemed genuine.

Cloning involves creating an identical copy of a previously sent email from a legitimate sender. This time, however, any of the links contained within the original email will be replaced with malicious ones.

Pharming involves directing users toward fake websites set up to steal login credentials and other forms of sensitive information. Cyber criminals may use viruses to direct individual users towards the rogue site – but this method does involve infecting the user’s computer beforehand, which can be difficult.

 

3 Ways to Avoid Phishing Attacks

With their techniques getting more sophisticated by the day, their manipulative talents, and their clever tricks, anyone can fall prey to Phishing scams. You must always proceed with care, examine links closely, and if you are in doubt, delete.

Pay close attention to URLs. If you find yourself redirected to a site from an email, take a moment to look at the URL to compare it to what you would expect. Look out for anything out of the ordinary, slight misspellings, extra words, or unnecessary hyphens in the domain name for example. Also look to see if the ‘top-level domain’ is as you expect. For example, if you expect ‘.com’ but you see ‘.fr’ then something is not quite right. As we said, if in doubt, just close your window and if you need to visit that site, enter the correct URL manually.

Know your bank and the way it operates. Do some research – or even contact – your bank to learn how they will contact you in the event of an emergency. Any financial establishment worth its weight will let you know exactly how they will get in touch so that you distinguish between legitimate communications and the fraudulent ones.

Do not reveal too much! A massive, publicly available social media presence is a goldmine to fraudsters, and they will use it to gain access to sensitive information. Apply privacy settings and keep things like your friends list, phone numbers and your date of birth viewable only to people you know and trust.

 

mPowered IT – Ensuring Cyber Security for Your Business

mPowered IT is your go-to proactive partner in keeping IT systems secure and defended. We never leave things to chance or wait for a problem to arise – predicting and preparing for the threats of tomorrow will help ensure your valuable data is protected and your business continuity maintained.

 

6 Things You Should Have In Place to Protect your Systems

Protecting what matters

In the modern digital age, our businesses need the security and reliability of our IT systems and infrastructure. Any outage or loss can seriously disrupt the efficiency and security of business operations, potentially creating financial loss, and breaching industry compliance obligations.

Where to begin

The security of your IT should be a priority but how do you achieve it? You should start with these six key tools that give your business the best chance of preventing a cyber-attack.

Six tools to help protect your systems

Firewalls

A firewall protects the perimeter of your network by sifting inbound and outbound traffic. It looks for open ‘doors’ that could leave your system vulnerable to exploitation or take over from cyber criminals. A well configured firewall, (hardware or software) will allow or disallow permissions to enter your network for both people and data traffic. Perhaps most importantly, it monitors and protects information and data, making it much more difficult for data to be stolen. But a firewall alone, especially without continuous updates, will not serve you well for long.

Secure configuration

To achieve a secure configuration, you must implement a series of security measures when building and installing your computers and network devices. By doing this, you reduce your risk of becoming a victim of a cyber attack. Criminal hackers look to exploit your security misconfigurations to gain access to your system. Apply best practices to the way your network and systems are configured to prevent misuse and exploitation.

Access control

Between cyber security and company best practice access protocols, you should limit system access permissions on a ‘need to know’ or ‘need to access’ basis. Restricting access will stop staff from accessing files and folders that do not pertain to their role, while simultaneously limiting the potential reach should a cybercriminal successfully breach your system. Administration rights are seen as the `master key` for cyber criminals. Losing that key could have serious consequences for an individual computer or in the worst-case scenario, your entire network.

Malware protection

Malware protection comes in the form of software that is designed to protect IT and individual computers from malicious software. Malware is the umbrella phrase used to explain malicious software, or what is more commonly referred to as viruses. A virus is essentially designed to cause disruption or steal information from your network. One of the most common forms of malware is ransomware. Ransomware is used by the criminal as a means of locking out your access to your files & folders, sealing them behind the criminal’s own encryption key, only allowing you access after you pay a considerable ransom.

Patch management

Hackers are constantly working to exploit vulnerabilities within the software applications and operating systems you use every day. By employing patch management, you will keep your software up to date and secure by rolling out critical updates as they become available.

Education

There is absolutely no point in implementing all the above tools in your quest for cyber security without educating your staff. Everybody should be aware of best practices when it comes to navigating their cyber environment. Think of it like this — the tools you implement are the armor and the person inside is the soldier that uses them all. They are all there to help as best they can, but ultimately the quality of their defense comes down to the capabilities and knowledge of the person behind them.

How to begin your implementation

If you have an IT person, ask if all the above has been implemented. A lot of businesses just get a firewall and some form of malware protection installed and feel their security is covered. It’s not. Cybercriminals do nothing but look for new ways to attack. Your business cannot passively protect itself against an active, motivated, stalking, evil predator. So start with a conversation with whomever is responsible for your network security to get an idea what measures are in place. If that falls short, or you’re not sure, you need a good IT partner who will work with you, and your IT person, to ensure you have real, up-to-the-minute security measures in place, that are appropriate for your business and budget. The ideal partner will adopt a customer-first approach while having the technical knowledge and competency to see things as they apply to real world solutions and your business.

mPoweredIT – cyber security experts

At mPoweredIT we are proactive in keeping systems secure. We never leave things to chance or wait for a problem to arise. We take care of your business systems with the attention and care as if it were our own network on the line.

 

Is Your Data Backup Appropriate for the Way You Work?

appropriate data backup

As you know, running a business is full of uncertainty – anything could happen at a moment’s notice to change the way your team works. Covid-19 forced previously thriving businesses to replace some of their most reliable and long-standing work processes with solutions that were implemented overnight. As your workforce may have gone partially remote, your backup systems need to remain secure. Your backup plan needs to be solid regardless of how and where your employees access their files. Let’s look at the options available to you, and the pros and cons of each.

The Cloud is based offsite and is used on an access basis. You pay for it as a service as opposed to paying for it and the entire infrastructure it resides in. As part of this service your Cloud provider will manage it for you, too. Most business owners have found this revolutionary for their organization, as it frees them up to do what they are good at, manage their team, and make critical decisions for the good of the business. This functionality and convenience has rapidly made it the most popular option on the market.

So, the Cloud has become widely used, but it isn’t for everyone. Some need their on-premise IT infrastructure in order to continue completing vital business functions. Others may need a hybrid of the two.

One factor that diverts some away from the Cloud is that a constant Internet connection is required. For some businesses, continuous access to Internet is not possible, so the Cloud becomes unreliable.

The Positives of the Cloud

Backup

The Cloud keeps your data safe at levels that simply cannot be achieved with on-premise IT. On-premise IT is vulnerable to a variety of threats, and can even fail because of them. If you don’t back up all of your sensitive data it could be lost forever – potentially meaning the end of your business altogether. The Cloud is safe and automatic.

Collaboration

The Cloud allows for levels of collaboration that were simply unfeasible a few years ago. With the Cloud you can communicate with the rest of your team and share from anywhere on the globe – all you need is a stable internet connection. Whether you are on the train, the bus, or sitting on a park bench, whatever you may be doing, you can still work as normal and your clientele will have no clue that you aren’t behind your desk in the office. The collaborative abilities that the Cloud makes possible are revolutionary, enabling your team to work on documents at the same time from different locations – your team could be spread out around the planet and still work together on a document as if they were in the same room.

Scalability

The Cloud allows you to scale as and when your organization needs to. You never know when you may need to change the size of your  business. With the pandemic, a lot of businesses went from a busy office with 25 employees to a restricted workforce of the most integral 5 overnight. Now that a lot of organizations are going back to a ‘new normal’, those same businesses may bring all 25 back and be looking to employ another 5, for example. Whatever the outcome, you must be certain that you can always meet the demands of your business and the Cloud makes this possible. Having the ability to scale overnight ensures that things stay affordable.

Business continuity

The Cloud makes it possible for you to access your mission critical data after a crisis. This – paired with your other backup options – means there is no reason why you can’t be operational again in a very short amount of time.

Affordability

Managing and maintaining your own IT systems can be extortionately expensive. The Cloud completely eradicates this. Most Cloud providers include all system upgrades, new hardware, and software in your contractually agreed monthly payments – whereas traditionally these would all be additional expenses. Another particularly good thing about the Cloud – and the right provider – is that they monitor and are alert to upgrades for you. You never have to think about potential upgrades on the horizon – who has time for that? The Cloud can save you money in other ways too. You may be paying a lot of money for a team of IT professionals that manage your traditional systems – with the Cloud your provider will do this for you.

The Negatives of the Cloud

Internet dependency

The biggest red flag for business owners when it comes to the Cloud is the reliance it has on an uninterrupted internet connection. By being in the Cloud it is safe to assume that you wouldn’t have much – if any – data stored locally, meaning that, for your team to be able to access the business-critical data that they need to complete their jobs, a constant, uninterrupted internet connection needs to be guaranteed. If you were to suffer a drop in internet connection the downtime could be disastrous.

Handing over control

It is in a business owner’s nature to want control. With the Cloud, you are handing almost all control of your technical landscape to someone else, and they will be handling your data (which they must do lawfully and according to the compliance obligations that they must abide by). When choosing a Cloud provider, you must know where they are storing your data and that it’s secure both technically and physically, because your compliance to regulations could depend upon its safety.

Traditionally, when there was a problem you had to handle it, make the right decision on a technical solution, implement it, and maintain it (no matter how technically able you may be) – now you can place your trust in your provider. Being powerless is difficult for anyone, especially business owners, but unfortunately you have no choice other than to place your trust in the hopefully capable IT team from your hosted provider. Note that the majority of providers don’t run 24/7 services so if your business operates all night and you know there is a chance you are going to need support, be sure that your provider’s operating hours mirror your own.

Do the Positives Outweigh the Negatives?

That depends entirely on your organization’s needs. But, for the majority of businesses, the positives of the Cloud clearly outweigh the negatives, and once having guaranteed that the migration was completed correctly with all your needs and wants met, the negatives will fade away.

Take your time, do as much research as possible on potential providers, their ability to cater to your needs and wants, their approach on continuity plans and risk mapping, the level of support they will provide you with to navigate potential cyber threats, and what they have planned for the future of your IT landscape. Doing so will ensure you that the provider you choose is capable of offering a service that will benefit your organization.

By far one of the hardest things for business owners to get used to – as we explained earlier – is the lack of control you have with Cloud computing. But another way of thinking about that is, you’re putting that control in the hands of experts who may be better suited for managing your data and backups. Talk to representatives from different providers and quiz them on your concerns, plans, and vision for the future of your business IT – only in this way can you be certain that you are making the right choice. A good provider will take you step by step through the details of your plan, the cyber security measures they have in place to protect your data, and what they have in mind for the future of your IT landscape.

Who are we?

mPowered IT provides a full range of IT Support, including secure on-premise and Cloud backups, with real 24/7 monitoring. We customize solutions for every business and treat your data as carefully as we would our own.

 

 

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