Monthly Archives: June 2015

3 Tips to Keep Viruses Away from Your Small Business Network

Following a few basic principles and keeping up on the latest scams should generally keep you save from viruses.

Following a few basic principles and keeping up on the latest scams should generally keep you safe from viruses.

The problem with viruses is that the nature of the threat and the tactics of those who employ them change from year-to-year. Small business owners already have more on their plate than they can handle, so keeping up with the latest antivirus trends isn’t easy.

However, even if you’re not combing the Internet three hours a day to stay up-to-date on the latest virus tech news, if you follow a few basic principles, you can avoid many of the worst virus traps.

These three quick tips will help you adopt essential cybersecurity habits for your small business:

Tip #1: You Are Your Own Worst Enemy

Employees are typically the biggest threat to a business network. Most viruses gain entry because of an unwise action among your staff. Macros malware has had a come-back recently (see this Microsoft report, if you don’t believe me) because hackers now try to trick users into enabling macros.

Or employees open email attachments from unknown senders or click on links in emails that seem legitimate.

Most of it is common sense:

  1. Don’t enable macros unless your IT team is instructing you to do so.
  2. Never open attachments from a stranger. If someone you know sends you an attachment, but the email seems a little off — if you have even the slightest suspicion that maybe the person’s email was hacked — communicate with the person first and confirm it before opening the attachment.
  3. Never click on links in an email claiming to be from a company that is asking you to provide account information (log-in info, personal data, etc.) by clicking on that link.

For example, if you get an email claiming to be from Wells Fargo telling you to click on a link to reset your password because of an alleged security breach, don’t click on the link. If you’re truly concerned about it, follow these steps:

  • go to the bank’s website through your browser (not through any link in the email)
  • log into your account through the normal channels
  • check your account messages to see if there really is an issue

Apply this routine to any email telling you to click on a link. If it appears to be with a company you know — even if it looks legitimate — always log into your account the normal way and avoid the email link.

Another essential habit: keep your software up-to-date. The latest versions of software often have patches that fix holes in security. Neglecting to keep our systems up-to-date is yet another way we become our worst enemies.

Yes, these are basic principles, but sometimes the madness or exhaustion of work short-circuits our common sense. It’s good to be reminded of essential security habits.

Tip #2: Get Some Quick Training Under Your Belt

In a recent news story from May 2015, it was observed that small businesses often bear the brunt of hacker attacks: “According to Symantic’s Internet Threat Report examining trends for 2013, 30 percent of targeted cyber-attacks (called “spear-phishing”) were aimed at businesses with 250 or fewer employees. And one in five small businesses received at least one spear-phishing email during the year.”

If you’d like to get some thorough cybersecurity training tailored for small businesses but you don’t have much time, consider the U.S. Small Business Administration’s free online training course, which only takes 30 minutes to complete.

Tip #3: Be Aware of Unusual Scams

The fake IT phone call is the perfect example of an unusual scam. In a May 12, 2015 report, an ABC News station alerted the public to a scam in which an imposter claiming to be an IT person called individuals and asked for personal log-in information so that he or she could remotely remove a virus on their computer. Of course, the imposter described the alleged virus in apocalyptic terms to stir the person into a state of panic.

In the news report, Kathy Birr, the Director of Dispute Resolution for the Better Business Bureau, said this: “They gain your trust and scare you and convince you that there is a problem and they need to fix it fast.”

At SystemsNet, even our basic service package Vita comes with our top-notch anti-malware assistance and virus monitoring. Contact us for more helpful information about anti-virus practices for small businesses.

The 7 Keys to Building a Solid Network Infrastructure

An independent HVAC system and uninterruptible power supply are two crucial physical elements of your network infrastructure.

An independent HVAC system and uninterruptible power supply are two crucial physical elements of your network infrastructure.

Network infrastructure refers to the software and hardware resources of a complete network that enable network communication, connectivity, management and operations of an enterprise network. Most office intranets are like the World Wide Web, but they operate on a closed network infrastructure that is accessible to only the people within it. Network security should be the main concern when you build a network infrastructure. Below are 7 keys to building a solid network infrastructure.

Antivirus and Anti-Malware: All of your employee computers and servers should have antivirus and anti-malware prevention software to prevent hacking and shutdowns.

Run Backups: Develop a thorough backup process and adhere to it under all circumstances. You can keep multiple ones in multiple places. The layered approach provides the best data protection.

ID and Password Control: When you implement a new piece of hardware rename the local administration ID and create a strong password. Another tip is to enforce password changes periodically.

Reliable Uninterruptible Power Supply: You need a reliable UPS in case there is a power outage. This equipment connects your servers and gives them time to shut down correctly if there is a power failure.

Naming Conventions: This is a very important part of a secure infrastructure because it makes it easy to identify missing files that require restoration.

Heating Ventilation Air Conditioning System: You need an independent HVAC system for your server room because if an air conditioning unit goes down in your building, a high temperature can put servers at risk.

Restoration Testing: It is a good idea to run restoration tests regularly. The process allows you to work to resolve problems immediately.

A good IT company can provide network solutions. Their highly qualified network specialists can assist you with help desk support, hardware and software support, installation and troubleshooting. They can even manage data backup storage. Details about 3 types of storage services to choose from are below.

  • Cloud backup is also known as online backup. It involves backing up data by sending a copy of it over a public or proprietary network to an off-site server. A third-party service provider usually hosts the server and charges you a fee based on the number of users, bandwidth or capacity. Most online backup systems are built around a client software application.
  • Network-Attached Storage utilizes a standard Ethernet connection to provide network nodes with file-based shared storage services. Most NAS devices do not have a keyboard or display. Each NAS resides on the LAN as an independent network node with a unique IP address. The advantage of this type of storage is its ability to provide several clients on the network with access to the same files.
  • Business Continuity Device storage is used to prepare for unforeseen risks to continued operations and is related to Disaster Recovery. Both of them refer to the procedures and processes your organization must put in place to guarantee that critical functions can continue after emergencies. This type of storage focuses on long-term or chronic challenges to your company’s success. It is designed to revive your network fast and get your employees back to being productive. It works automatically to back up your vital information as often as every 15 minutes. Files can be restored in about 30 minutes or it can take over as a virtual server to resume operations. Business continuity planning is a comprehensive approach to making sure you can continue to generate profits after anything from small disruptions to natural calamities.

Contact a network solutions service provider to request a consultation regarding network infrastructure and data security. The certified consultants are well-trained and knowledgeable about the latest products and can assist you with selecting the right software and hardware.

For more information please contact us.

8 Valuable Benefits of Virtualization

Virtualization makes better use of your hardware, which results in cost savings.

Virtualization makes better use of your hardware, which results in cost savings.

When companies consider virtualizing, they don’t always see the valuable benefits. It’s easy to get caught up in pessimism when it’s something unknown.

The increase of virtualization, however, gives good reason for companies to be optimistic about the technology. More businesses are using it and finding it to be a positive change. As InfoTech recently noted in a May 19, 2015 article, researchers are seeing a spike in virtualization:

Gartner market researchers report that the number of virtualized servers in data centers has noticeably increased over the last five years. Up to 50 percent of servers had been virtualized in many companies by the end of 2012. This percentage has risen to 70 percent in the last year, especially with the newly delivered systems.

Why are companies stampeding to virtualization? These eight benefits will help you understand why as you consider using the technology for your business.

1. It Makes Better Use of Your Hardware. Instead of purchasing multiple physical units to handle your servers, virtualization dramatically reduces the physical assets needed. In fact, it improves the utilization rates of your hardware from 15 percent to a whopping 80 percent. And that of course leads directly to benefit #2.

2. Cost Savings. It’s not just the better hardware utilization that saves money. As notes, the “lack of downtime, easier maintenance, [and] less electricity used” all add up to some serious savings.

3.  Product Testing. Setting up test environments is costly. Product testing requires high overhead. But, as notes, virtualization will allow you to “quickly and easily set up and maintain testing environments, and to rapidly restore testing environments to their original state when required.”

4. Better Redeployment. Virtualizing your data center (i.e. continually creating digital backups of all data) means it’s always ready to redeploy at any time, for any reason — and very quickly. The alternative — dealing with a physical server — is more time-consuming and costly. Virtual Strategy Magazine explains it this way: “…if a physical server dies, redeployment can take a lot of time because it is dependent on a vast array of factors that are not always in your control.”

Having digital backups also makes Backup Disaster Recovery (BDR) a walk in the park compared to the grueling alternative.

5. Separated Servers. Without virtualization, it’s usually one server that handles everything. But with virtualization you can dedicate single servers to one function — i.e. one for email, one for database management, one for web. This adds more power and flexibility to each area of your system. According to Webopedia: “…it lets each virtual server run its own operating system and each virtual server can also be independently rebooted of one another.”

6. Less Chance of a Server Room Meltdown. With less physical units in your server room, your chances of a server meltdown reduce. If you think this only happens to small, ill-equipped companies who forget to install a temperature control system, think again. In 2013, Microsoft’s servers overheated and caused a 16-hour shutdown of all Outlook and Hotmail email accounts.

7. More Choice with Vendors. Moving away from physical serves means you’re not forced to use a limited number of vendors. Virtualization makes your system much more compatible with a wide variety of vendors.

8. That Much Closer to Cloud Technology. Virtualization brings your company to the threshold of cloud computing. And, in case you need a refresher on the differences between the two, Business News Daily offers this quick, clean summary:

“…virtualization differs from cloud computing because virtualization is software that manipulates hardware, while cloud computing refers to a service that results from that manipulation…Cloud computing is the delivery of shared computing resources, software or data — as a service and on-demand through the Internet.”

Contact us to learn more about virtualization and how it might benefit your company. If you’re not sure if it is a good fit for your company, contact us for a free consultation to determine if now is a good time for your business to virtualize.

IT Monthly Management Reporting as Managed Service Without Getting in Your Way

At the end of every month, we'll provide a monthly report that won't take extra amounts of time to understand. We keep it simple and tell you what you need in order to increase your business growth

At the end of every month, we’ll provide a monthly report that won’t take extra amounts of time to understand. We keep it simple and tell you what you need in order to increase your business growth

Managed services have come a long way in companies, especially when dealing with IT monthly management reporting on what you need to add, take away, improve, or fix. In the older days of IT, managed services meant an in-house tech team sometimes getting in your way while attempting to fix or provide what you need. This sometimes resulted in your IT staff tying up your computers for hours, hence preventing you and your employees from getting work done.

As a conundrum of supposed IT management, the above scenario only led to severe downtime. Then, when it came to managing other aspects of your IT, the solutions provided didn’t always work. Because your in-house team had never worked anywhere else, the technology solutions they provided perhaps conflicted with your business structure.

Plus, the attempts to fix issues possibly kept recurring because your team didn’t have access to the latest knowledge from the field.

These scenarios of IT managed services still exist, though the age of high-speed Internet and the cloud provide a method of managed service that doesn’t get in your way.

Here at SystemsNet, we named our managed services Vita and available in several different tiers. We provided these different levels based on what kind of business you have and how much management you need. From the most basic level on up to our Vita Pro option, we’ll prove remote IT management is the best way to keep everything running efficiently.

Ultimately, your monthly IT management reports are easier to understand and provide what you really need based on real-world knowledge.

Monitoring Your Systems Every Day

Through our basic Vita management service, we’ll monitor your systems every work day, and even when you sleep. This management option is a proactive solution that keeps watch on your network for the worst threats. We also take care of all your hardware internalized as managed services so you save money.

While we work on prevention, we’ll quickly take care of any issues without hijacking your computers. In most cases, we’ll take care of things without you even knowing anything happened.

This is the true magic of managed services today from remote locations. As long as you have a fast Internet line, our work doesn’t obstruct the flow of your business.

At the end of every month, we’ll provide a monthly report that won’t take extra amounts of time to understand. We keep it simple and tell you what you need in order to increase your business growth. You can trust our judgement based on our extensive experience in the field with many companies. You’ll have a great team that understands what’s really going on in the IT world and what the most appropriate solutions are.

Help Desk Support

While we work on prevention, we know things still happen unexpectedly. As part of our Vita Plus plan, you’ll have an IT help desk on a remote level, or in person when it’s necessary. We try to take care of all issues remotely before you even notice them. However, if you need in-person support, we’re there as fast as possible.

When we have to work on-site, we’ll work with your schedule so it doesn’t cause disruptions in your office.

Management for Professionals

Our Vita Pro plan is your ultimate solution and much more comprehensive in management services we provide. Using this service, we inventory everything more intensely, including providing backup of your data in the cloud for disaster recovery.

We’ll also give you reports more regularly so you’re aware of what’s working and what needs improvement. It’s the best way for you to grow without worrying about our staff getting in the way of your critical work moments.

Contact us here at SystemsNet to find out more about our managed services and how our regular reporting always keeps you ahead of your competitors.