Monthly Archives: January 2016

How Data Security Goes Beyond your Anti-Virus Software


While anti-virus software is a great way to protect your information, your data security plan should go deeper.

As businesses and individuals, we often install anti-virus software as a means to protect our data. We have digital files that are important and contain crucial information that we don’t want in the hands of anyone else and anti-virus software ensures malicious software won’t make its way onto our PC and into the hands of hackers. That is true for personal computers and business computers. At home we sometimes store passwords, tax records and other important data on our computer. At work we may have customer data that would create a major liability if shared with anyone else. Protecting this data is essential and anti-virus software creates a strong line of defense. However, data security goes well beyond your anti-virus software and here’s why.

Viruses are just one way to infiltrate data

Hackers probably consider viruses the best way to infiltrate data and that is because once installed, there is little you can do to keep them out of your files and other important data. However, viruses are just one way that hackers and criminals infiltrate data. While they may be effective and that is why you often hear of the importance of anti-virus software, they are not the only means of getting to your data and that is why it is important to protect yourself in a variety of other ways.

Use data encryption – it’s easy and quick

There are tons of data encryption tools that can be used to encrypt data on your hard drive. If you ask around, barely anyone, even businesses, use data encryption to the degree that they should. Data encryption is easy and quick thanks to the software out there that does it. Programs like TrueCrypt are designed to encrypt your hard drive, flash drives or even external storage devices. If someone were to get their hands on your computer or hard drive, they would not be able to view the files without knowing your encryption password. Essentially, data encryption ensures that everything a criminal could get their hands on would be useless.

Use strong passwords

There’s a reason websites require use of numbers, special characters and capital letters in your passwords and it’s not just to frustrate you by making you forget your passwords constantly. Strong passwords are hard to decode and programmers that make password decoders are very efficient at what they do. It literally takes just minutes to code a script that tests numerous words and phrases as your password. If a hacker has your username, they could probably crack a simple password in a matter of minutes provided that the website doesn’t have security in place for failed login attempts. Using strong passwords is your first line of defense.

Use 2-step authentication

Google has recently introduced a 2-step verification and authentication method that is extremely effective. It makes it so that your Google account can’t be hacked into without the hacker having possession of your smartphone. How? Google sends a 6 digit code that is generated every 30 seconds to your smartphone and uses that to authenticate your login attempt. There is no way to access the code unless the hacker had access to your mobile device. Essentially, even if someone obtained your password they would still be locked out of your account. More and more sites are starting to implement 2-step authentication and if you have important data on those sites, you should use it. Paypal does the same thing with their “Paypal Security Key” which is transmitted through text messages.

Secure your internet/network

Everyone knows why you secure your WiFi. You don’t want anyone using it. Most people would say because they don’t want someone else slowing down their internet or using the bandwidth they pay for. However, there’s also the risk that someone could infiltrate your network and access data. If your network is unsecured, they could access your router settings using your IP address and lock you out of your own router. Anything connected to your network would be within reach. Network security is extremely important and easy to do with the WPA2 and and WEP network security options that most routers use.

Backup your data

Data loss can be just as crippling as data ending up in the hands of the wrong person. Make sure you backup your data regularly. There are online services that provide data backup for low costs or you can regularly backup your hard drive to an external drive yourself.

Data security goes well beyond your anti-virus software and there’s a number of things you can do to protect your data. If you have any questions, please contact us.

Backup Disaster Recovery Planning: The Basics


Having a backup disaster recovery plan in place is crucial to the long-term success and survival of your business.

A backup disaster recovery plan is crucial to the survival of a business. The odds of a business surviving a major disaster without a plan are pretty low, and it’s impossible to know when a disaster will strike. It’s the unpredictability that makes disasters the most dangerous. If something terrible happened tomorrow, would you be ready? If not, you better get started. Here are some important things to consider as you create your backup disaster recovery plan.

Data recovery

One of the primary focuses of your backup disaster recovery plan should pertain to how you will recover your data. Where is your data right now? How will it be restored to your system and whose job will it be? Does that person know how to do that? Do they need practice? This is also a really good time to take a look at how you backup your data. Having a plan to recover data is pointless if the backup data doesn’t exist. Make sure that your backups are current, and saved in several reasonable places. At least one copy should be off-site in case of a natural disaster. Make sure that you do have easy access to the data as well.


The quality and efficiency of the communication during a disaster has a huge effect on how everything turns out. It’s important to make sure that your disaster recovery plan includes specifics about how communication should happen during a disaster. Will a chain of command be formed? Will certain people have certain jobs? What happens if a part of the plan goes wrong? The key to a strong plan is to think of everything, or at least as much as possible.

Education and practice

A disaster recovery plan is completely useless if nobody knows what to do. Make sure to educate your employees about the details of the plan. Each employee should, at the very least, know exactly what they are responsible for. This will look different for every company. A great way to make sure that everyone knows what’s going on is a series of seminars or classes, but memos might work better for some. Just do whatever works best for your staff.

Once everybody knows what they’re doing, do a couple of practice rounds. Run through different parts of the plan. This will be a good chance to catch any mistakes and find out if someone isn’t quite sure what to do. Believe it or not, the practice rounds are almost as important as the training sessions.


You can consider the practice rounds to be tests also if you’d like, but it’s important that you have a chance to evaluate the recovery plan. There will probably be holes here and there. Do you have too many people doing that, but not enough doing this? Maybe there’s a task that needs a certain skill set that isn’t available in the staff that have been assigned to it. Using the results of the test runs, tweak your plan to make it exactly what your company needs.


The goal of all of this is to maintain continuity as much as possible. Of course, immediately after the disaster, you’ll probably have to close, but you want to open again as soon as possible. There are several reasons for this, but the main reason is that you need to be able to take care of the customers that are depending on you. A lack of continuity is the fastest way to lose customers.

Have more questions about your backup disaster recovery plan? Contact us. We’re happy to answer all of your questions and help you with anything that you need.

Data Backup: Some Tips and Tricks


Data backup should be a part of every business’s IT security plan.

If you run a business, you probably know by this point how important it is to back up your data. You know that not backing everything up could easily result in a loss of data, and that a loss of data could mean any number of disasters, from a loss of continuity to a complete shut-down of the company. Given this, you may already have a backup system set up, but whether or not you do, there is always something else to learn. Here are a few tips and tricks on how to most effectively and efficiently back up your data.

Do it

This is the most important thing that can be said about data backup. This is not the time to do lots of research and spend six months designing the perfect plan. You’ll be better off doing a little rough research and picking something as soon as possible, because you never know when disaster will strike. You can always update your plan later, when you’ve had more time to think about it. It may be a little extra work, but it will be a lot less work than trying to recreate all of the data lost because of data loss occurring before you had a chance to start anything.

Follow the three and one rule

The three and one rule says that all of your data should be stored in at least three different places, and at least one of them should be off-site. This means that you could store two copies of your data in the same closet, but the third copy needs to be in a completely different facility. Imagine that a horrible disaster struck your office. Obviously, the primary copies of your data would be destroyed. Where could you put that third copy, that it would still be safe and retrievable?

Automate as much as possible

Set up as much of the backup process as possible to be automatic. The computer won’t forget to upload when it’s time, or accidentally save files to the wrong place, or write over files that shouldn’t be written over, but humans make mistakes. The more you can get the computer to do, the safer your data will be. It will also be much easier on you if the computer does it for you rather than having to spend time and energy doing it manually.

Consider using a company

Consider hiring a company to take care of your backups. All you’ll have to do is connect your files to them and they’ll take care of the rest. They’ll make sure that everything gets uploaded to the correct place at the correct time. They’ll also make sure that the data is safe. Most of these companies base their storage in the cloud, which means that many copies of your data will be stored in many different locations, all over the United States or farther.

Do routine audits

Every so often, maybe every quarter, take a fresh look at what your data backup system looks like. Most of the time, it will still be running just fine, but every once in a while, you’ll find that something isn’t functioning like it’s supposed to, or you’ll realize that you need to change something to fit your needs or keep up with the times. Unfortunately, backup systems are not something you can ignore and expect to work forever, but as long as you audit your system routinely, you should be able to keep everything in order.

Do you have more questions about backing up your data? Feel free to contact us. We’re experts, and we’re happy to help you with anything that you need.

How a Managed Service Provider (MSP) Can Help Businesses Grow


A managed service provider can help you grow your small business and streamline your IT processes.

As businesses grow, they naturally grow the number of technologies that they employ to manage their day-to-day operations as well. With this comes a host of IT issues that can be difficult to solve without having an IT team present, or working with an outside third-party IT provider. There are many benefits to using a managed service provider (MSP) that can help small businesses to grow without greatly increasing their monthly costs. Some of the different ways an MSP can help your business to grow include:

Reduce Salary Obligations

Hiring IT talent is difficult and expensive if you have never done so before. IT salaries are high and command a lot because of the sharp increase in overall demand for IT talent over the course of the last decade. If you would like to reduce salary obligations while still receiving the help that you need, it might be in your best interests to choose a third-party managed service provider who can help you with your issues as they arise, but at a fraction of the cost. Reducing your salary overhead allows you to have leeway to make other decisions that will benefit your business in the long-term without sacrificing your IT needs.

Focus on Your Strengths

Not everyone is great at hiring IT talent, particularly if you have no experience in that sector. Managed service providers focus on hiring IT talent and have a great deal of experience doing so. This should give you confidence that a managed service provider can provide a higher level of talent at a fraction of the cost. This allows you to focus on your strengths and put your energy into where your business needs you the most. Let the IT teams focus on that aspect, while you focus on making your business the best that is can possibly be.

Provide Peace of Mind

Many business owners stay awake at night worrying about the next IT disaster that will befall their business. With the help of an outsourced IT team, you can have peace of mind that you are able to handle whatever disaster comes your way without having to scramble to find someone to help you. There are many things that can go wrong when it comes to technology, but the only way to fix these issues is with IT experience and talent, which is exactly what managed service providers bring to the table.

Protect Against Data Loss and Theft

Data loss and data theft are absolutely huge issues for businesses of any size. Managed service providers can help you to take the initial steps that must be taken to protect your business against data loss. They can install proper backup procedures that ensure that even in the event of a hard-drive failure or accidental deletion of data, your data remains accessible and safe.

Quickly Fix Issues as They Arise

One of the biggest reasons why many businesses choose to go with managed services providers is the fact that they are there for you whenever you need help. If your network or other systems go down, you call the company and they will begin working on your problem right away. This is a much more ideal situation than having to seek out a service provider every time something goes wrong and losing hours or days in the process.

If you are interested in receiving all of the IT help that you need without having to hire your own team, please reach out and contact us today to schedule your initial consultation. We’ll walk you through the process of setting up a system that helps your business maintain its current technological processes while protecting your business against potential disasters.