Keep Your Systems Updated and Patched

What some have called “the worse ransomware attack ever” struck in May 2017, infecting an estimated 300,000 computer systems in just four days. WannaCry was similar to many ransomware attacks, i.e. it encrypted files and demanded a Bitcoin payment to decrypt them.

However, it differed in one major way: worm tactics.

Once WannaCry infected a machine, it scanned the connected LANs and WANs to find and attack other vulnerable hosts. The subsequent infections occurred automatically without user interaction.

This allowed WannaCry to seize entire networks and even hop to others, rapidly sparking a flash epidemic worldwide.

The National Health Service in the U.K. was hit particularly hard, with at least one-third of health trusts (i.e. healthcare offices and services) disrupted and over 19,000 appointments canceled, including surgeries.

Stolen NSA Cyber Weapons

WannaCry spread via EternalBlue, an exploit for Windows Server Message Block version 1 (SMBv1), a legacy network file-sharing protocol present in every version of Windows released in the last 15 years (and maybe more).

The exploit is allegedly from a cache of cyber weapons stolen from the U.S. National Security Administration (NSA) and released publicly on April 14, 2017.

Microsoft issued a patch for the vulnerability on March 14, 2017. When the attack began, every Windows system that had not been patched within eight weeks was vulnerable.

How Your Business Can Avoid a WannaCry 

  • Patch Vulnerabilities: The importance of patching cannot be overstated. When WannaCry struck, administrators with freshly patched Windows machines were safe.
  • Plan for Disaster: This attack targeted a vulnerability in millions of Windows systems. A patch had been available for only about two months. Another attack of this scale is always possible. If your systems are compromised, what will you do? If you don’t already have one, get a backup and disaster recovery plan in place.
  • Get a real security partner to assess your vulnerabilities and catch issues before they blow up into expensive and damaging problems. Call mPowered IT at 678-389-6200 and ask for a FREE VULNERABILITY ASSESSMENT.

 

 

Never Hide a Data Security Breach from Your Customers

Uber’s CEO revealed on Nov. 21, 2017, that the ride-hailing service failed to disclose a massive data breach last year. In Oct. 2016, hackers accessed a server containing personal information for more than 57 million Uber drivers and riders. They demanded a $100,000 ransom to delete their copy of the data, which Uber paid.

The attackers allegedly first accessed a private GitHub repository used by Uber’s developers. The repository contained code with login credentials for other Uber systems, which ultimately provided access to the stolen data.

Uber later identified the hackers and pushed them to sign nondisclosure agreements. It also disguised the ransom payment as part of a bug bounty program, according to the New York Times.

The Biggest Mistake was the Cover-up

The Uber data breach may prove to be an example of when the cover-up is worse than the crime. The breach undoubtedly harmed the company’s brand, but the damage caused by hiding the attack has only begun. Lawsuits are now raining down on Uber from attorneys general across the U.S.

How your Business Can Avoid Lawsuits and Customer Distrust from a Security Breach

Even though the security breaches at large corporations make the headlines, it’s the smaller companies that are the most vulnerable. Small businesses are generally easier to hack because they don’t put real security measures in place. Here’s what we recommend:

  • Know the laws. There are federal, state and local laws on how to handle a data breach and notify customers, and some are industry specific.
  • Err on the side of transparency – Thousands of companies have experienced a data security breach. It’s how you respond to it that matters to your customers. Most will forgive you, especially if you care enough about their information to keep them informed.
  • Get a real security partner to assess your vulnerabilities and catch issues before they blow up into expensive and damaging problems. Call mPowered IT at 678-389-6200 and ask for a FREE VULNERABILITY ASSESSMENT.

 

 

Never Overlook Data Security Vulnerabilities!

Credit reporting agency Equifax stores financial data on more than 800 million consumers and 88 million businesses worldwide, so data security is absolutely critical.

On July 29, 2017, the company detected and blocked suspicious network activity associated with a web portal used by U.S. consumers to file disputes. Later analysis revealed the portal’s application framework, Apache Struts, was outdated and had a severe data security vulnerability.

Equifax hired cybersecurity firm Mandiant to conduct a forensic analysis, which revealed a massive data breach affecting 143 million U.S. consumers. Further investigation later increased the number to 145.5 million – or about 45% of the U.S. population.

Severe Data Security Vulnerability Overlooked

Equifax was first alerted to the Apache Struts vulnerability on March 8, 2017, more than two months before the breach started, according to testimony to a U.S. House subcommittee by from former Equifax CEO Richard Smith. Equifax failed to act on the alert and apply the available patch.

Hackers launched the attack exploiting the vulnerability about two months later, on May 13, 2017. By the time the breach was discovered in late July, hackers had accessed dozens of databases and created more than 30 backdoors into Equifax’s systems.

How your Business Can Avoid this Type of Security Breach

Even though the security breaches at large corporations make the headlines, it’s the smaller companies that are the most vulnerable. Small businesses are generally easier to hack because they don’t put real security measures in place. Here’s what we recommend:

  • Apply Security Patches in a timely manner – Equifax failed to realize an alert for a critical vulnerability applied to one of its web portals. A flaw that should have been patched in a timely manner went unpatched for months.
  • Get a real security partner to assess your vulnerabilities and catch issues before they blow up into expensive and damaging problems. Call mPowered IT at 678-389-6200 and ask for a FREE VULNERABILITY ASSESSMENT.

 

 

Share the Risk

Having an in-house IT person or staff seems like the most efficient way to keep your IT network running. After all – you always have someone on-site to take care of issues. But the reality is, their motivations may be counter to your business needs. IT staff are generally not motivated to perform regular maintenance or prevent issues. If everything is consistently running well, they’ll be sitting around most of the time. Their perceived job security depends on fixing what’s broken, so they must justify their existence by continually fixing issues. And when there’s a costly repair, you bear the expense.

Our motivation is completely opposite. We’re paid one low monthly fee to keep your network running, and it’s far easier and more efficient to prevent issues than it is to fix them. And when something does go wrong, we bear expense of fixing it. Most network issues are included in the fee.

Relying on IT staff for service and support means you bear all the risks when something goes wrong – and something will always go wrong! Outsourcing to mPowered IT means you have a managed services provider with business goals that are aligned with your business goals. We both do better when your network is running smoothly with no issues. Occasionally, something may go wrong, but we bear the risk. It’s on us to make it right.

Call mPowered IT at 678-389-6200 to see how much easier and more efficient it is to outsource all your IT service and support.

 

 

Best Practices!

Even the most well-intentioned IT staff is more motivated to use technologies that work best for them, or what they like most, than to use what’s best for your business. The processes and procedures they use may be what they know, but are not necessarily industry best practices. Since your business relies on its network, it’s critical that you have reliable technology and protocols in place to avoid network issues.

mPowered IT is highly motivated to employ the most reliable technologies, and follow industry best practices, because we measure our success by how well your network runs. We know we’ve done our job right when your network doesn’t have issues.

Call mPowered IT at 678-389-6200 to see how much easier and more efficient it is to outsource all your IT service and support.

 

 

More Services!

 

Some IT services you need to run your business effectively, such as data backup, email encryption, or hosting just don’t come with an in-house IT staff. Your IT staff will have to procure these services from outside vendors, so you’re already outsourcing. But how do you know if you have the right services to fit your business needs? Are you locked into services that don’t really do the job but is easy for your IT person to manage?

At mPowered IT, all the IT services you need are effectively set up and managed by one company that acts as your partner. We make sure your services fit your needs and budget, and are performing correctly to optimize your network security.

With mPowered IT, along with stellar IT service and support you can also get:

  • Email Encryption, Archiving, and Anti-SPAM services
  • Anti-Virus, Anti-malware, and Anti-Ransomware services
  • Remote Data Backup and Disaster recovery
  • Managed Network Security
  • Hosting (Cloud Services)
  • Application and web development

Call mPowered IT at 678-389-6200 to see how much easier and more efficient it is to outsource all your IT service and support.

 

 

If you like drama, we’re probably not the IT company you’d want!

Any issue with your company’s computer network sets the stage for drama. It can be as small as an employee not being able to access their email or a file they need – rendering them absolutely incapable of performing their job. It can be as big as a system crash that causes company-wide panic as orders can’t be filled or paychecks can’t be cut!

The first step is to call the IT support person in to FIX IT NOW! As time ticks away and sweat forms on everyone’s brow, the IT person works diligently to figure out what the heck happened (after asking those annoying questions: Is it plugged in? Have you tried restarting?). As moments pass, productivity plummets. When it turns into hours, hasty meetings are called and blame is thrown. And if it stretches into days, heads roll downhill with the month’s profits, along with customer retention.

Finally the IT person fixes it! Order is restored. There may be open weeping, hugs, high fives, and then everyone returns to work, feeling grateful that they had such wonderful IT support to take of it.

If you like that kind of drama in your business, you probably don’t want mPowered IT as your partner. We’re kind of boring. We just help to minimize issues with your computer network so it will just run as expected day in and day out. And maybe we’re kind of shy because we’d rather work quietly behind the scenes addressing potential issues before they turn into a problem you’d even notice. Sure, we do have to fix things now and then, but to us, we’ve done a great job when you don’t even think about your IT network. Yes, it seriously lacks drama, but it’s really good for your business.

Call mPowered IT at 678-389-6200 or contact us online.

“It’s the Book of the Year for Me!”

I had a wonderful opportunity Monday to be on Laura Steward’s I Heart Radio live show and podcast, It’s All About the Questions. She had read my book, The Extra Scoop, and said, “It’s

“It’s the book of the year for me!” – Laura Steward

the book of the year for me!” She even dubbed me Captain Customer Service! Like many of us, she has had those rare stand-out moments experiencing that “extra scoop” in customer service – the amazing thing a business does that is so good you want to talk about it.

She shared her story about being out of town and walking into an orthodontist’s office, in tears,  because she was in extreme pain from her braces. Even though she wasn’t their patient, they took care of the problem immediately, and didn’t even charge her for it. The “extra scoop” was when the orthodontist gave her her cell phone number in case there was a problem later.

“I remember her name. It was Dr. Lori Smith Orthodontics” Laura said. “She gave me a literal and virtual hug so that I’m talking about it on the air.”

I listened to her story and commented that sadly, we are conditioned as customers to expect a bad customer service experience, so when we get a great one like she had, it’s mind blowing.

The IT industry doesn’t have the greatest reputation for customer service. In fact, it’s generally the opposite. So for me, it’s always a true differentiation point. A lot of companies can do the technical work just fine but delivering a great experience seems to be a much harder thing for folks in our industry. So I’m very passionate about delivering a great experience. I know how I want to be treated as a customer. I have that in mind with every interaction with my own customers, and wrote The Extra Scoop to inspire other businesses to do the same.

You can listen to this broadcast on I Heart Radio – it’s 122 – John Mamon – The Extra Scoop or get the podcast on iTunes. It’s a very informing and entertaining show, and I hope you listen – and share your “extra scoop” customer service stories on ExtraScoops.com or the I Heart Radio page.

Order your copy of The Extra Scoop and see how you can provide mind blowing service to your customers! Ordering info.

See the Future of Video Conferencing – Oct 3, 2017

Technology Showcase

video conferencing

Peter Stewart, President, Joar Vaage, Founder & CEO, Kevin Lyons, Vice President of Cyviz, Brandon Beach, CEO GNFCC

Join us for appetizers, drinks, and some truly amazing technology!

If you work for a company with multiple locations or that has a network operations center, you’re going to want to see this technology. It’s video conferencing like you’ve never seen before – with full-wall screens so clear, crisp and bright and astounding audio – two rooms across the world feel like one. Come see it at the newly completed Cyviz Customer Experience Center.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017
Networking at 5:30 PM with beer, wine, and snacks
6:00 PM Kevin Lyons of Cyviz will introduce the technology

Register Now!

Cyviz Customer Experience Center
3780 Mansell Road
Alpharetta 30022
$10 Members/$20 Non-members

Outsourcing Can Lower Your IT Costs

 

Most small businesses are able to reduce – or at least control – their cost for IT service and support by outsourcing. When your IT person is an employee, you pay salary, benefits, ongoing training, overtime, vacation and sick days. Then you have to pay more to cover services when your IT person is out sick or on vacation. If an IT issue comes up that’s beyond that person’s ability to solve, you have to pay for outside expertise.

With an in-house IT person, or even a small staff, your costs are not as fixed as they seem, and your resources are limited. When you outsource your IT to a quality managed services provider, your costs are more fixed, and your resources are virtually unlimited. You pay a set monthly fee based on the environment you are having serviced, and you get a whole team to support your network. That’s generally lower than the cost of the necessary IT people you would need to staff.

When you outsource with mPowered IT, the main benefit is the proactive service. Our business model is to keep everything running so you don’t have to make services calls. But when you do, we have a friendly and highly responsive help desk, with a mission to resolve the issue quickly and thoroughly. We have subject matter experts to handle the more difficult problems. We’re never going to be stumped with a network problem! We always have resources.

Another cost-saving benefit with mPowered IT is our CIO level advice for your technology needs. Your IT person or staff may recommend technology based more on their own preferences than what makes the most business sense for you. We don’t have personal preferences, and we don’t sell technology, so we can provide unbiased advice on what will best serve your company. We can help you avoid paying for technology you’ll never use or need.

Call mPowered IT at 678-389-6200 to see how you can reduce or control your IT costs.

 

 

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