Monthly Archives: April 2016

Data Backup Issues: Are Your Backups Thorough and Secure?


Securing your data backups is just as important as backing up your data in the first place.

Companies are increasingly recognizing the importance of regular data backups. Backups can spare you from costly, permanent data loss and damaging amounts of downtime in the event of an IT disaster.

Choosing the appropriate data backup solutions for your company can prove challenging. While working within your budget, you need to account for the volume and types of data, and figure out ways to protect the data from theft, corruption and loss. Your methods for backing up data should rest on clear, thoughtful IT policies.

A recent survey reported in an article from Business Cloud News highlights some of the problems with sub-standard data backups. The survey respondents were businesses that had lost important data. Although 86% of them were using some form of data backup at the time of their loss, their backup methods usually had flaws. They may have forgotten to include one of their devices in the backup process. Their backup method may have failed to work reliably. Sporadic backups may have resulted in outdated copies of the data. There are a number of possibilities for why data backups can fail.

Furthermore, even if the data get backed up reliably, it’s possible that the backup storage solution is insecure. And when you transfer data to a storage location, which may be in the cloud, you can lose or expose data in transmission. A recent CIO article points out how companies frequently use insecure methods for transmitting data in the cloud and may fail to enforce any file-sharing policies they’ve laid out for employees.

How can you strengthen your backup solutions?

So that you don’t wind up with the steep cost and profound frustration of losing data in spite of performing backups, the following are several tips for strengthening your backup solutions:

Automation. As long as there’s still human oversight and checks in place, you can rely more on automated processes to back up your data. Automated processes can get configured to operate on a regular schedule, reducing the chances that an employee may forget to perform a backup. Automation can also prevent various human errors, such as accidental file deletion during transfers.

Organization. Different kinds of data require different backup schedules and methods. For example, sensitive and critical information requires secure and frequent backups. Some types of data need to get stored in a way that allows for quick retrieval, while others can get archived more remotely. Furthermore, well-organized data backups mean that you always know the location of every file or application. Good organization is an important quality for rapid data restoration after an IT disaster.

Redundancies. Let’s say you’ve saved all your data backups in one location. What happens if there’s a massive power outage, equipment failure, fire or flood? Your data may get wiped out. You should have copies of valuable data in multiple locations. For example, high-quality cloud-based providers may store your data in more than one secure location, so that even if there’s an equipment failure or outage in one place, your information remains intact.

Encryption. Especially when it comes to sensitive or confidential information, use encrypted channels to transmit it and select storage locations with high levels of security. If you’re selecting a cloud-based program for data backups, look into the provider’s security policies and track record.

Policy enforcement. Without clear, enforceable policies or any cyber training, your employees may treat your data carelessly. Carelessness includes saving copies of sensitive data to insecure locations, emailing confidential files, and failing to check if data backups proceeded successfully.

Please contact us to further discuss the right data backup solutions for your business. We are dedicated to protecting your data and saving you time and money by coming up with the best backup methods that fit your budget.

Signs Your Computer Is Infected With Malware


Suspicious or unwanted pop-ups could be a sign your computer has been infected with malware.

Whether you own a personal computer, or have an entire network at your disposal, it’s always important to be knowledgeable about malware. Aside from infecting your computer in numerous ways, malware is also found where you’d least expect it to be. For example, there are many websites out there which seem safe at first glance, but upon visiting them, your computer may become vulnerable to malicious software and other dangerous programs. As another example, you may even receive an email from what appears to be a coworker, only to find out it’s completely unsafe when you open it. With that said, what are some ways in which you can tell your computer’s infected with malware?

#1. Repeated Advertisements 

While just about any website will have advertisements, one sign that your computer is infected, is if you notice the same ads on every website visited, especially if they happen to be suggestive or explicit. For example, let’s say that you’re on a website for your business, and the advertisements are for estrogen pills. When visiting other sites, you also notice these same ads constantly showing up. It’s not often for websites to display the same advertisements, so this could be a case that your computer has become infected.

#2. Unwanted Pop-ups 

One of the most common signs that your computer is infected with malware, is if you keep receiving frequent pop-ups. This doesn’t just happen from visiting unsafe websites, either, but many downloadable files are often bundled with adware and other hidden programs, which are often the cause of this issue. Because there are many who don’t read the terms of service before downloading files or programs, they might not be aware of what’s really being downloaded. However, there are plenty of downloadable programs where you wouldn’t suspect they’re unsafe, even through careful observation. Always be cautious when installing files and/or programs on your computer.

#3. Suspicious Emails

As was briefly mentioned earlier, a sign your computer may be infected with malware, is if you happen to receive suspicious emails, especially from your coworkers. In the emails, are they requesting important information from you, and does the tone of their message seem off? If you’re not sure whether the message was from them, always confirm before taking any action, and block the email address in question. While suspicious emails may not always be a sign that your computer is infected, it could be an indication that someone wants your device to become susceptible to malware, which will be the case if you open the suspicious email.

#4. Slowdown on Your Computer

While there are plenty of reasons for a computer to run slower than usual, never hesitate to check and see if it’s malware related, as it can have an effect on your computer’s performance. Besides, how long has your computer been running slow? If it’s an incident that’s happened recently, perhaps it’s a problem with your machine being infected. On the other hand, if it’s not very frequent, it may just be a case of unnecessary programs slowing down your performance. Either way, always make sure you know the reason for your computer’s lack of performance. Unlike the other signs your computer is infected with malware, such as receiving unwanted emails, it can be harder to narrow down the reason for your computer’s slowdown.

While many businesses are more than aware of how dangerous malware is, knowing whether your computer’s infected or not, is just as important. Between repeated advertisements on various websites, numerous pop-ups through downloadable programs, as well as receiving suspicious emails from what appear to be your coworkers, there are plenty of ways to tell that your computer is infected. For more information, contact us today at SystemsNet.

Five Benefits of Contracting with a Managed Service Provider (MSP)


A managed service provider can eliminate the stress and hassle of having to manage your own IT department.

Outsourcing in general has the effect of boosting productivity and saving money while taking care of a business’ tedious tasks. This is especially true when companies outsource their information technology (IT) to a Managed Service Provider (MSP).  Progressive business leaders have long realized the power of delegating essential aspects of their business that simply don’t make sense for them to handle personally.  The same is true in the area of an organization’s IT services.  Through outsourcing the management and in effect, augmenting their IT capability with experts in the IT industry, a business can now compete directly with the big players in their organization’s field.

IT management “is the discipline whereby all of the information technology resources of a firm are managed in accordance with its needs and priorities.”  Your IT department consists of a complex environment of hardware, software, and computer networks that allow you to execute  important business operations such as accounting and financial processes (ERP), customer relationship management (CRM), email, and document creation. Your business’ success depends upon being able to use these functions reliably and efficiently. An essential element for an IT department is credibility with your sales force, administrative staff and employees.  They need to trust that the IT staff  is capable, interested, invested and equipped to deliver their IT requirements.  Without the right set of skills and standards, this user trust can be easily eroded.

Ask yourself, with such vital imperatives, is it really feasible and cost efficient for your company to take on the tasks and responsibilities of running an in-house IT department?  Training your IT staff, maintaining and keeping your business’ IT infrastructure up-to-date can be significant burdens.  In most cases, the benefits of outsourcing far outweigh any perceived advantages of managing and funding an in-house IT department.

  • Cost Control: By contracting with a Managed Service Provider, your IT costs will remain constant even as you take advantage several IT needs such as scalability when necessary. Moreover, you have access to efficient and expert technicians that maintain your total IT environment, as well as keep current with new technologies and ideas. Additionally, most Managed Service Providers offer other services, such as cloud-hosted environments and essential IT hardware that is continually monitored. All of this means your IT investment would be substantially reduced and controlled.
  • Core Competency Focus: Your core competencies or main strengths lie in those specific areas of capabilities that allow you to be competitive in the marketplace. Unless you are an IT organization, your main strength will not be in Information Technology. Every company has limits to its resources and by making the decision to contract with a qualified MSP and outsource your IT, you will be able to concentrate all your efforts in areas that provide the greatest return.
  • Current Technology and Expertise: A qualified and creditable MSP will bring first-class expertise and best practices to your organization’s IT on a continuing basis. Your company will be able to use technology and information that you may not have previously considered, as well tools and techniques you may not be able to afford or possess if you fund and house your own IT department. By outsourcing your IT management, you will have a wide variety of IT professionals with diverse talents and qualifications to call on for each situation that arises.
  • Monitoring and Risk Minimizing: When you outsource your IT needs, there are qualified technicians monitoring your IT environment constantly. Yes, that means monitoring 24/7 and 365 days. Your IT is their focus, your issues are serious to them and they have the staff, tools and expertise to monitor, predict problems and anticipate your every need. Your IT environment is kept up-to-date and safe from unpredictable circumstances, such as back-up and hardware failures, software crashes, data corruption, and intrusions from malware and viruses.

Running your own IT department can not only be a headache, but can cost your business time, money and unnecessary resources. Contact us, and let the experts take care of these things so you can focus on critical business functions.

Fighting Malware and Other Cyber Disasters: Consider a Risk Management Approach


A risk management plan can help protect your company from malware and other cyber security disasters.

Determining the nature and extent of cyber security risks is a critical challenge companies face. Working within budgetary constraints, companies need to draw up and implement a comprehensive plan for cyber security that encompasses all business operations and keeps various risks at an acceptable level.

When so much of what a company does depends on computing devices, there are numerous points of vulnerability that cyber criminals can exploit. Companies need to understand the kinds of risks they face, the likelihood of different IT disasters, and the best ways to manage each type of risk.

A recent article from Business Insurance discusses how good risk management provides companies with important insights about cyber security risks and recommendations for steps to take. Knowing how to manage your cyber security risks is integral to better protecting your company from malware and other cyber crimes and IT disasters.

How should you go about managing your company’s cyber security risks? The following are several key tips.

1) Rely on meaningful data

As much as possible, you should quantify the risks your company faces and the likely effects of your solutions. Quantifying risks helps you prioritize the vulnerabilities that need the most attention and resources. You can also determine whether or not a particular solution has worked as you anticipated, and whether your solutions are cost-effective. Without supporting data, you’re less likely to have a clear picture of your company’s cyber security performance.

2) Choose your metrics carefully

How do you intend to measure different kinds of risk? What’s an acceptable level of risk to work with? Unfortunately, there aren’t always industry standards or other widely agreed-upon best practices to help you determine the answers. To start with, you can consult with IT security professionals and well-informed business leaders to get a better sense of how to best measure and manage risk.

3) Make sure you’re comprehensive

Risk management should encompass all aspects of your company and its operations. Every business operation exposes you to cyber security risks. HR personnel work with software and files containing employees’ payroll data. Employees in sales and marketing handle sensitive customer information. Your accounting personnel process critical financial information. Understand the vulnerabilities in every type of hardware and software you use and in the IT set-up your business relies on.

4) Stay realistic

There’s no way you can avoid all risks or bring the chances of an IT disaster down to nothing. Sometimes, you’ll have to accept a risk, because the benefits are greater. You may not always have the means to significantly reduce a particular risk. Other times, you’ll need to do everything you can to bring the level of risk down as much possible, because failing to do so will severely undermine your company. A strong risk management approach helps you make the best possible decisions within the constraints affecting you.

5) Make it a group effort

Risk management is based on collaboration among IT personnel and company leaders. This collaboration ensures that your company’s decision makers are all on the same page when it comes to prioritizing cyber security, understanding the risks, and keeping the risks at acceptable, manageable levels. Ultimately, every IT security decision you make needs to serve your company’s goals and further its growth. Your IT personnel can’t work in isolation, without an understanding of your company’s needs and objectives.

To protect your company, you need to manage risks effectively. You can’t rely on one-size-fits-all cyber security solutions. You also can’t protect your business if your IT security decisions lack coherence and direction and remain disconnected from your company’s goals. Don’t hesitate to contact us for further advice and assistance. We can help you assess your risks and come up with solutions for managing them in a way that best protects your company from IT disasters.