Monthly Archives: December 2016

Resolution for 2017: Working with a Top-Notch Managed Service Provider (MSP)


Its that time of year again with the holiday season quickly approaching.  Were all making those last minute purchases to be sure purchases gifts make it to our door before the Christmas and making plans to spend time with family members.

As 2016 draws to a close, consider how the IT services you rely on can improve in the coming year.

In recent months, have you experienced any of the following?

  • A cyber security incident that possibly endangered your sensitive data.
  • Wasted money on unnecessary IT purchases, such as equipment or software that your company didn’t really need.
  • A selection of substandard software that you’d hoped would perform better.
  • Devices or software long overdue for upgrades and updates.
  • Long wait times for resolving IT problems (including employees getting locked out of their accounts or computing devices that are crashing for unclear reasons).
  • Sub-optimal IT configurations that result in problems such as network slowdowns.
  • Sporadic or incomplete data backups that leave your business vulnerable to costly data loss.
  • A lack of strategic long-term IT planning.
  • In-house IT personnel who are overworked and over-extended.

Can you enjoy better services in 2017?

To benefit from better IT services across multiple areas, ranging from cyber security to network maintenance to software training for employees, consider hiring a Managed Service Provider (MSP).

MSPs handle a plethora of services, providing your company with round-the-clock support, monitoring your system, and helping you make wise IT decisions that will yield benefits now and in the future. Even if you already employ in-house IT personnel, they can share their responsibilities with an MSP.

What are some examples of how you can benefit from a high-quality MSP?

  • Improved cloud computing solutions. A recent article from ZDNet points out how MSPs often play a critical role in helping companies manage the cloud. For example, many companies rely on a mix of IT solutions – some of them hosted locally and others based in the cloud. MSPs can manage this mix and suggest cost-effective changes that would improve your IT set-up. If a company decides to move one of its IT functions to the cloud, MSPs will assist with the migration, along with offering advice on the cloud services that best fit the company’s needs.
  • High-quality network installation and maintenance. MSPs can set up, install, monitor, maintain, and defend your network. As a result, your company will be less likely to suffer from equipment outages, mismanaged network traffic, and undetected intrusions from cyber criminals and other unauthorized third parties. You’ll enjoy round-the-clock network monitoring, every day of the year.
  • Stronger cyber security. MSPs can evaluate your IT set-up for vulnerabilities and help guard it from cyber security breaches across multiple fronts. As Tech Republic points out in an article on 2017 cyber security trends, smaller businesses are especially vulnerable to cyber attacks. MSPs work on developing comprehensive security solutions that depend in large part on preventative measures and vigilance.
  • Reliable data backups. When businesses permanently lose data, or when it takes them too long to restore their data after an IT disaster, they can suffer serious financial losses, sometimes to the point where they can no longer survive. MSPs help you manage data backups from multiple devices. They also ensure that your most critical data can get restored quickly, minimizing downtime.
  • Ever-present support. Enjoy rapid responses to your IT problems through a live help desk or, when necessary, on-site visits.

One of the key benefits that MSPs provide is a proactive approach to IT solutions. They don’t limit themselves to dealing with existing, full-fledged problems. They work to anticipate, prevent, or minimize various difficulties and disasters, whether it’s the threat of a new kind of malware or the frustrations of a new employee whose log-in credentials have been rejected by the system. They help you plan for future IT developments and align your IT decisions with your business goals.

To find out more about how you can benefit from MSPs in the coming year, please contact us. We offer you a variety of essential services that will significantly improve your company’s productivity and security.

Proactive Monitoring of Network Infrastructure: Lessons from an October 2016 DDoS Attack


The October DDoS attack on Dyn showed the world how truly vulnerable and fragile our network infrastructures can be.

“It can’t happen here.” These are some of the most dangerous words business owners utter when it comes to their company’s IT system.

CSO Online highlighted this point in a recent article that urged people to anticipate new IT dangers and prepare for them even when they still seem remote. Along with malicious cyber attacks, companies face the danger of other emergencies, such as malfunctioning devices and massive network failures.

One example: The October 2016 DDoS attack

The article mentions a cyber attack that led to a massive Internet outage this past October, denying consistent access to major sites such as Twitter, Amazon, and Netflix.

The attack, which came in waves over a span of close to 12 hours, hit an Internet services company. It was a Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack that used millions of Internet-connected devices, including security cameras, to send unsustainable amounts of traffic to the targeted company’s servers.

What are some of the lessons we can take from this attack?

  • Scant protection for Internet-connected devices can cause serious problems. Cyber criminals used a malware program to infect the devices and control them, allowing the DDoS attack to launch in a massive way from numerous systems. These devices generally had deficient protection against malware. For example, they may not have had strong passwords or firewalls, and they may have remained completely open to the public Internet. If a device is left with poor defenses, it can get exploited for nefarious purposes. That’s why it’s critical to choose the best devices, configure them properly, and monitor their activity. Understand the vulnerabilities of each device, and introduce it to your network only as needed.
  • Attacks can come from anywhere and for many reasons. There’s a misconception that cyber attacks get carried out only by computer experts. The reality is that even people without much training can use relatively simple programs or buy services from a shady entity to perpetrate cyber crimes. In this recent DDoS attack, the malware program that infected the Internet-connected devices was straightforward to use; it didn’t demand a high level of skill. Another point to consider is that attacks may stem from a range of motives. The usual ones involve stealing sensitive data for financial purposes. But there are potentially other reasons as well, including vengeance and political protests. It won’t always be clear why you’re under attack or what the cyber criminals want.
  • Monitoring for unusual network activity is critical. It isn’t possible to anticipate or fully block every single attack that may come your way. However, the proactive monitoring of network infrastructure and activity can still give you a warning that something is wrong. The sooner you detect a problem, the more likely you are to either thwart it completely or mitigate its effects. You’re less likely to get blindsided and have to scramble unprepared for a solution. Even if an attack gets launched on a massive scale, like the DDoS attack in October, proactive monitoring and organized defenses may still curb some of the worst effects. You’ll be able to regroup more quickly and reduce the amount of downtime you experience.

Protecting your network can seem like a daunting task, and in many ways it is. Unfortunately there isn’t any one protection that works 100% of the time. However, there are still effective measures for preventing or limiting cyber crimes and other IT emergencies. Monitoring your network round-the-clock is one of the best decisions you can make to protect your company.

Don’t hesitate to contact us to further discuss our network monitoring services. Unlike a purely reactive attitude, which results in a costly lack of preparedness, a proactive approach for your IT activities will save you money and unnecessary frustration. It will decrease the chances that you’ll suffer from protracted downtime and suffer serious damage to your system.

Backup Disaster Recovery and Dealing with Computer Viruses


A backup disaster recovery plan can ensure that, if you’re affected by a computer virus, your information will remain safe.

When you’re in the workplace, you always need to have a plan for combating viruses. Hackers are becoming tricker in their tactics, and it’s imperative that you’re outwitting them. In fact, viruses and other malicious software, should always be a cause for concern in the workplace. While it’s true that those aren’t the only disasters which may occur, they certainly leave the most lasting impact. For example, let’s say there was an unexpected power failure, or liquid spilled onto your keyboard. While these are damaging, at worst, you might simply lose any unsaved files.

With computer viruses however, some of these erase all the data on your hard drive, and make your device completely inaccessible. What is the best way to deal with these attacks? First of all, you need to have a disaster recovery plan. That way, even if your device does become infected, all your files are easily recoverable. However, just because you have a backup disaster recovery plan, that doesn’t mean you should seek out computer viruses, or be laid back about your security. We’ll get back to this discussion, but in the meantime, let’s look at the best way to actually combat these attacks from cybercriminals. After all, a recovery action plan is one thing, but you want to deal with these threats directly as well.

Anti-Virus Software

Even the most inexperienced businesses know that anti-virus software is the most common way to deal with…well, viruses. Whether you’re using McAfee or Kasperky Security, network protection is great for preventing your computer from getting infected. Without security on your computer, the Internet is a dangerous minefield. One wrong move, and you could be taken out.

However, having anti-virus software for your company isn’t enough; you need to have the right security as well. For example, have you installed the most recent software available, or have you been using the same program for years? Many hackers look for security holes and vulnerabilities in outdated software. If you’re not using the latest anti-virus software, for example, it might be easier for them to attack you.

One thing that makes these programs great isn’t just the network protection, but it secures you while you’re on the Internet as well. Many programs now have safe features which block malicious pop-ups on websites, and even warns you of sites that are dangerous. If you make a careless mistake and go to the wrong site, for example, you’ll be prevented from going any further. Overall, anti-virus software is one of the most important and basic tools for protecting your business.

Now that we’ve discussed the basics for protecting your business, let’s get back to having a disaster recovery plan. It may not combat viruses directly, but how is it effective when your business is under attack?

The Effectiveness of a Backup Disaster Recovery Plan

First of all, it’s effective because it makes the cybercriminal’s attack, completely ineffective. They lose all sense of power, and no longer accomplish their goal. In fact, let’s look at it this way. Let’s say you had multiple backup methods, storing your data via a flash and cloud computing. If a hacker infected your computer with a virus that erased the files on your hard drive, you’d have nothing to lose. You might need a new computer, and you’d still have to get the virus off, but your data is safe and sound. All files are still stored on your portable device, and even accessible via cloud (the Internet).

Overall, you can’t have one without the other. Combating viruses directly is important, but what if you need to recover your data, and don’t have a recovery plan? On the other hand, don’t completely rely on a backup plan, without having programs to combat these viruses, either.

For more information about the importance of having a backup disaster recovery plan, especially when dealing with malicious software, feel free to contact us today at SystemsNet. We look forward to hearing from you, and assisting you in the best way possible.