Top Threat Concerns in 2021

2020 was a record year for cybersecurity-related incidents. Cybercrime was up 600% due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Billions of personal records were exposed in data breaches, and there was an attack every 39 seconds last year.

Organizations are reprioritizing budgets in 2021 to have a stronger emphasis on cybersecurity practices to protect their business. Even due to COVID-19 budget constraints, it is estimated that $6 trillion will be spent globally on cybersecurity in 2021. Here are the main threat areas and top concerns for cybersecurity and budget this year.

Growing Frequency of Cyberattacks: There are currently over 4,000 attacks per day, a 400% increase year over year. Not only are cyberattacks increasing in frequency, but they are becoming more costly as well.

Continued Rise of Remote Work: Remote work has become the new normal since March 2020 and many organizations are continuing to stay remote or use a hybrid work model in the coming year. As companies continue their commitment to remote work, cybersecurity teams have new risks to mitigate.

Talent Shortage: There are currently over 4 million unfilled cybersecurity jobs worldwide, and job postings are up 74% over the past five years. There is a massive demand for IT security professionals; however, there is a shortage in skillset. Companies may need to look to spend money internally to train their current staff to meet talent needs. Finding top security talent will remain a top concern throughout 2021.

Human Error: 99% of all data breaches are caused by human error. From downloading a malware-infected attachment or failing to use a strong password, employees are the top source of cybersecurity-related incidents. It is vital that companies spend the time and money needed to properly train their staff.

Budget Constraints: The average cost of a data breach across SMBs is nearly $4 million, yet IT teams don’t always get the budget they need to properly protect the business. Organizations need to make a fundamental change in their approach to cybersecurity including budget, planning, and allocation of other resources.


Is Your Business Prepared for a Hybrid Work Environment?

As we approach the one-year mark of the start of the global pandemic, business leaders around the globe are still maneuvering the massive shift to remote work models. While it is still unclear when the majority of workers will be returning to the office full-time, several companies are adopting new remote work policies that allow employees to have complete control of when they decide to return to the office. For many businesses, this means deploying a hybrid work environment, which has employees working remotely and occasionally going into the office at varying times to adhere to social distancing guidelines.

While a hybrid model puts employees’ health and wellbeing first by offering remote work flexibility, it comes with a myriad of technology and HR challenges. The question businesses need to be asking is “Is your business prepared for a hybrid work environment?”

Here are the items you need to discuss and plan with your leadership team as you move to a hybrid work environment.

  • Communication: The first step towards a hybrid work environment involves your HR, Communication, and Leadership teams. Before stepping back into the office, you need to be aligned on the communication and plan to re-enter. Employees need to understand the proper safety measures and requirements. It is important to start communicating early to set expectations.
  • Safety: As you re-open your offices, there are several safety precautions that must be regulated. Firstly, develop seating and floor plans that meet social distancing guidelines. Establish new workplace etiquette and protocols and have masks and hand sanitizers readily available.
  • Technology: The global pandemic created a dramatic increase in digital acceleration including the adoption of cloud computing. Cloud computing allows organizations to access their network and data from anywhere, anytime. As businesses adopt a hybrid work model, businesses will need to evaluate which cloud solutions will be the best fit.
  • Cybersecurity: Businesses had to adopt a remote work model overnight, and many security measures were overlooked. Now, that there’s been enough time to deploy work from home efforts, potential security threat areas and gaps need to be addressed. For example, email filtering should be upgraded and employee security training should be regularly scheduled.


3 Ways to Leverage Your Technology in 2021

Every investment you make for your company should be made with confidence. While it’s hard to be sure which new technologies have staying power over others, one thing remains certain – your employees will always need to communicate and collaborate. Whether your team is working from the office or remotely, it’s vital for their workflow to occur unimpeded. With the right solutions, your business can efficiently operate without breaking the bank.

Scalable communications and collaboration solutions don’t come cheap when you handle them alone. But with a technology partner working by your side, you can get the tech you need for less. Learn about the technologies available and see how a managed services provider (MSP) can help you maximize your investment.

1) Understand the Importance of Modern Tech

Have your employees switched to remote work? Are they back in the office? Even if you plan on operating a hybrid of remote and in-office staff, you need to ensure their workflow remains uninterrupted. But there is a lot to consider when choosing the right tech. Most business leaders can boil their concerns down to three primary questions:

  • How can I best keep my data secure when it’s accessed remotely?
  • Will my staff be able to share files and data seamlessly?
  • What is the best solution to keep my team in contact from all locations?

Unless you spend your day-to-day in the IT communications world, it can be challenging to know what you need. However, there are simple answers to these common questions.

  • For the first question, cybersecurity software, like firewalls, two-step authentication and a VPN can keep your data protected from all access points.
  • For the second question, Microsoft’s 365 suite contains a useful cloud file-sharing and storage application called SharePoint.
  • For the third question, a VoIP solution that enables your team to call via video and voice over your internet connection.

Having the solutions you need to deal with the unexpected gives you more time and resources to grow your business.

2) Use IT Solutions for Different Situations

There are many reasons your staff may need to work from locations outside of your office. But they shouldn’t have to suffer through extensive downtime when they could be working. As long as they have the technology they need, it’s no longer a worry.

The Business Journals conducted a study about the primary causes of downtime. Topping their list were hardware failures, power or internet outages and most importantly, cybersecurity threats. With occurrences like this looming, it’s no wonder the fear of downtime is so persistent. But fortunately, the technologies you invested in for your remote work can help keep your staff working. Suppose your employees are displaced, or an internal system goes down. In that case, your remote technologies can double as backup systems for the day or for as long as you need until you can return your primary systems to their everyday operations as long as you need until you can return your primary systems to their everyday operations.

Don’t allow a cyberattack, natural disaster or other unforeseen situation to stop your company. Leverage your communications and collaboration tech investment to the fullest.

3) Leverage the Power of CaaS

The middle of a network or systems failure or natural disaster is the worst time to consider your technology. But getting a head start and deploying it yourself can be time-consuming as well. Partner with an MSP and see how their Communications as a Service (CaaS) can make a positive difference.

Your MSP partner will take the time to understand your communications and collaboration goals. They will then plan, deploy and maintain your solutions to your communications concerns from the very start so that you can stay focused on your daily tasks.

We’re Your Solution Provider

Once you get the communications and collaboration technology you need, you can stay focused on growing your business. As your technology partner, we want you to have confidence in your ability to communicate and collaborate in any location with reliability, efficiency and security. Our expertise can get you there with the value you need.

Let’s build your solution now.


The Dos and Don’ts of Communications

Do you have staff working remotely for the foreseeable future? It would be nice to ensure your entire team could collaborate efficiently, no matter how far apart they work. Don't you wish there was an easy way to make it work? The secret is excellent communication solutions provided by a technology partner.

With an entire technical team supporting your employees, you will enjoy boosted collaborative efforts and productivity for a fraction of the cost of multiple, ununified solutions. Discover what you need to achieve tremendous success in the modern business world as we discuss the dos and don'ts of communications and collaboration.

1. Examine Your Current Situation

It's very easy for businesses like yours to remain comfortable in maintained business rather than pursuing growth amid the current uncertainty. But if you aren't making an effort to get ahead in your channel, any competitor making those preparations will surely outpace you. This brings us to our first point:

  • Don’t ignore the uncertainty that next year could bring.
  • Do invest in a solution that will improve your company in any circumstance.

You want to be ready to hit the ground running once the market stabilizes. That means ensuring your team has everything they need to work together unimpeded. Give your employees the collaboration tools they need for every part of their workday.

2. Discover What’s Available

The key to a successful collaboration and communication solution is unification. With so many technologies out there, the time and money you could spend making them work together aren’t worth it when you can invest in a unified solution. Our next point:

  • Don’t allow your internal collaboration to fall apart.
  • Do hold it together in a unified solution.

With powerful solutions like Microsoft Office, you can ensure an industry-leading technology backs your employees' success. Microsoft Office's suite of tools allows for communication and collaboration to flow freely between direct messages, video conferences, Word documents stored in the cloud and more.

Don’t ignore your employees’ frustrations caused by remote work hurdles. With the right technologies, you can provide them with the communication solutions they need.

3. Bring It All Together

Moving your organization onto a centralized application like Microsoft Office on your own is a daunting task – especially when you have a business to run. With a trusted technology partner on your side, it’s not a problem. This brings us to our final point:

  • Don’t try and solve all these issues yourself.
  • Do use Communications as a Service (CaaS).

Allow a professional technology team to take on your technology needs, so your day-to-day operations continue seamlessly. This IT ally takes on the data migration and has your organization running on a reliable system with little to no downtime. Let a unified solution be the reason you succeed well into the future.

We’re Your Solution Provider

Once you get the technology you need, any worry that you can’t complete your daily tasks fades away. As your technology partner, we want you to have confidence in your ability to communicate and collaborate in any location with reliability, efficiency and security. Don’t start next year worrying about what may come next. Let us support your efforts with our expertise.

Do get in touch with us to get started today.


Enhancing Team Collaboration During the Pandemic

COVID-19 has presented us all with a lot of challenges. With public health guidelines suddenly in place in March 2020, most businesses were forced to transition to remote work either on a full-time or part-time basis. In fact, according to Gartner, 88 percent of organizations worldwide moved to remote capabilities after COVID-19 was declared a pandemic.

Naturally, a drastic change to your work environment can have a domino effect that impacts operational efficiency and company culture. With the 2020 pandemic, businesses have had to adapt quickly to maximize their team collaboration and improve productivity. One of the best ways to get the most out of your remote workforce is to leverage technology. Let’s discuss the most popular collaborative tools of 2020. With the right technologies, businesses can stay closely connected and collaborate from anywhere.

The Power of the Cloud

Although the cloud is widely popular for its convenient storage capabilities, cloud-based technology can enhance collaboration. This technology also provides convenient, secure access to information which allows teams to organize projects quickly in a centralized location. With a shared virtual workspace, teams can easily connect, brainstorm ideas, share information and work simultaneously on projects together.

Productivity Tools in Microsoft 365

Microsoft Office has come a long way since the animated paperclip, Clippy. Office 365 can be coupled with the cloud to allow remote teams to coordinate calendars, conduct video conferences, chat in group messaging forums, and collaborate in real time on projects. This shared workspace enables teams to work smarter and more efficiently on projects than ever before.

Creating Engagement in Zoom

Zoom became a household name overnight in March 2020. The video conference software allows teams to connect through live video chat, conduct instant virtual meetings, screen-share documents, record conferences, instant chat in meeting rooms and engage in personalized conversations as if they were in the same place. Video conference software bolsters collaboration and improves the work culture.

Gaining a Team Communication System

Team communication applications like Slack or Microsoft Teams provide the workforce with a platform to communicate, organize projects and streamline collaborative efforts. Employees can communicate clearly in group chat sessions, share files instantly and discover old resources in a searchable history feature. Team communication applications make it easier to connect and collaborate from anywhere.

With the right technology, your workforce can maximize their productivity because they are working as a cohesive unit in an environment that fosters collaboration and teamwork. If you’re interested in improving your IT infrastructure and establishing an effective system for your remote workforce, we can help.

Get valuable solutions that enhance your remote operations. Contact us today.


Keep Compliance in Check With Tech

Creating a compliance checklist doesn’t sound like a lot of fun, but it could be one of the most important things you do this week. Get started today with a self-assessment, and then map out a plan. By the end of the week, you can relax knowing you’re set up for success and know how to strengthen your IT infrastructure and prepare you for a compliance audit.

According to Gartner, 64% of “surveyed leaders say managing risks across fragmented jurisdictions and regulations will be important or extremely important in 2020 — yet only 15% feel highly prepared to do so.”

To avoid the steep consequences of noncompliance, small to medium-sized businesses, and enterprises alike, are doing everything they can to be proactive. This involves being honest with yourself about the state of your network’s cybersecurity and the measures you have in place to safeguard your data.

Are you ready to comply with HIPAA, PCI, SOX and other regulations that govern your industry? To protect the privacy of your patients and customers, you need to make sure sensitive data, including health records and financial information, doesn’t fall into the hands of hackers. Thinking through a few key steps can help you close gaps in security, avoid cybercrimes and stay on top of the latest compliance regulations.

Cross compliance off the list. Contact us today.

A Compliance Checklist:

  • Do Your Homework – Ignorance is no excuse. Research what is expected of you and investigate how other businesses use technology to stay on top of government regulations. You may find out that your own IT infrastructure is outdated.
  • Educate Your Workforce – Everyone knows that data breaches are often the result of human error. Smart executives solicit the help of IT professionals for basic and advanced security awareness training to prevent personal identifying information from getting out.
  • Improve Your IT Infrastructure – Cybersecurity is everything, and with countless online data transfers and digital financial transactions happening every day, it’s hard to keep up. Maintaining compliance is easier with protected hardware and updated software.
  • Secure Your Mobile Devices – There’s a reason so many small to medium-sized businesses are investing in mobile device management services. That’s because, in a bring-your-own-device culture, remote access to networks opens up dangerous avenues for hackers.
  • Be Proactive and Alert – Preventing data breaches is always a priority, but when lapses in cybersecurity lead to noncompliance, you’re on the hook for costly fines that could put you out of business. Get compliance in order now to avert a potential crisis later.
  • Undergo a Compliance Evaluation – Once you’ve taken stock of where your organization stands in terms of regulations, it’s time to bring in a team of IT experts for a compliance consultation. Take advantage of a free assessment to start preparing.

This checklist should help get the juices flowing and prompt you to make your own compliance to-do list. With the right IT infrastructure in place, you can give your patients and customers the protection they deserve while enjoying the peace of mind that comes with having done everything you can to comply.

Need Help With Compliance?

Between managing employees, supporting a remote workforce and handling IT concerns, today’s business leaders have a lot on their plates. When your main goal is to make sure everything runs smoothly while generating a profit, the last thing you want to worry about is compliance and technology — let alone the constantly-changing regulations associated with HIPAA, PCI, SOX and other governing boards. The best executives recognize when the time is right to delegate some of the heavy lifting to IT pros who understand your industry and know how to put tech to work for you. Simplify compliance, prevent costly data breaches and more by bringing in a team of experts. Contact us today for a customized compliance IT solution.


Combat Common Compliance Obstacles

For many business owners, everything about compliance can seem intimidating at first. To further complicate things, federal and international regulations are always being altered or added, leaving many organizations left with the task of keeping up. The alternative, however, could leave you facing steep fees and other consequences you shouldn’t have to worry about on top of everything else.

With a little foresight and planning, your business can anticipate potential compliance roadblocks and figure out a way to steer clear of them. By learning about common problems that organizations face regarding HIPPA, PCI, SOX and other regulations, your business will be in a better position to identify and avert them going forward.

Conquer Compliance Concerns for Good.

Consider the Top Five Compliance Challenges:

  1. Protecting Sensitive Data: Patients and customers are counting on you to keep their private information safe from prying eyes and hackers. Federal regulations are designed to keep records where they belong and prevent cybercrimes and data breaches from wreaking havoc on businesses and individuals. The key to staying compliant is thinking about everything that could go wrong beforehand, which is easier to do with a solid IT infrastructure.
  2. Keeping Software Up to Date: It may seem like most software is being automatically updated these days. The truth is that you don’t have to go too many days without restarting your machines to experience gaps in protection. In many cases, once an alert has been issued, it’s up to users to take action and install the patch or update themselves. Educating your workforce about the importance of alerts is another way to ensure your business is adhering to regulations.
  3. Handling Mobile Devices: Since the bring-your-own-device (BYOD) lifestyle is here to stay, it’s clear that maintaining compliance is going to involve more than just securing the technology in your brick-and-mortar buildings and the communication that comes in and out of it. In addition to protecting your work-issued phones, laptops, tablets and other work devices, it is critical that you manage every mobile device that accesses your network remotely. Failing to do so could lead to costly consequences for businesses that are already struggling to maintain compliance.
  4. Managing Electronic Data Interchanges (EDI): As more business is conducted online and more organizations migrate to the cloud, it is becoming necessary for organizations to take action to protect customer information transferred between computers. Whether you’re transmitting healthcare records or sensitive financial data, protecting electronic data is the only way to stay compliant. EDI compliance is best managed by professionals and software that can help you avoid receiving hefty fines, losing valuable customers and even suffering from potential legal action.
  5. New Technology: Because everything is connected through the Internet of things (IoT), your business has to find ways to accommodate — and then secure — new, interconnected technology and the data that is generated along with it. Each technical innovation has the potential to introduce new roadblocks to compliance, so don’t forget about IoT security standards when planning for the future.

While it is nearly impossible to anticipate every compliance obstacle that may come your way, you should be prepared to handle as many of them as possible. Being proactive now means that you’ll enjoy peace of mind later.

Connect with Experts

When you are running a company, staying compliant is always on your mind. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Compliance is easier when you are partnered with a reliable MSP who can shoulder some of your most daunting tasks while you focus on growing your business. Avoid noncompliance by bringing in professionals who know the ins-and-outs of your industry and can deliver the compliance IT services you need. Contact us today to position yourself for stability and success.


The Top Three Reasons You Need Compliance as a Service

Compliance as a Service (CaaS) is an easy way to ensure you’re adhering to the government’s constantly changing regulations without all the fuss of handling things in-house. Staying HIPAA and PCI compliant is one of the most important things you can do to protect your business from violating these non-negotiable rules and suffering the related consequences—but it isn’t easy. It’s going to require more than just an encrypted password and a 2-step authentication to get the job done.

Getting CaaS will relieve you of this burden by providing a managed service that monitors everything to keep things stored safely so you can stay focused on your primary business goals. With a team of IT experts on your side, you won’t have to worry as much about whether your business is maintaining compliance. You’ll know it is.

Contact us to discover how CaaS helps organizations like yours stay compliant without all of the headaches.

“Without the support of a CaaS provider, many businesses spend excessive time researching regulation changes, managing data security and preparing documentation for regulatory bodies. CaaS can help keep this work to a minimum.” -Consolidated Technologies, Inc.

What Are the Top Three Reasons to Get Compliance as a Service?

1. Save Valuable Time: Keeping up with the latest regulations can really eat into your day. With CaaS, you are outsourcing not only a lot of time-consuming work, but also all of the in-house headaches that come with staying compliant. Spend less time learning about how regulations are shifting and devote more of your energy to delivering the excellent customer service that your clients and patients have come to expect from your brand.

2. Protect Sensitive Information: Improve cybersecurity and minimize digital risk with CaaS. IT will reduce your legitimate concerns about staying compliant and maintaining data privacy. CaaS allows industry experts to help you avoid data breaches through regular IT audits that identify vulnerabilities and make the appropriate corrections before it’s too late. Plus, careful monitoring means that providers can quickly address any issues that may arise.

3. Enjoy Automatic Updates: Everyone knows that staying current with such a dynamic federal program is one of the trickiest parts of maintaining compliance, which is another reason why CaaS is such a valuable service. With automatic updates, you’ll be able to rest assured that everything is up to date regarding the latest changes to industry-specific regulations.

Now that you understand the importance of Compliance as a Service, it’s time to get down to business and start taking advantage of its benefits. Securing CaaS is one of the best ways to simplify everything related to compliance, and we’re here to help you get started today. Our team of experts is on standby to alleviate compliance-related stress and address any of your concerns about ever-changing regulations. Contact us today to learn more.


3 Bonus Benefits of a Disaster Recovery Plan

What would you do if you encountered a fire, flood, ransomware, data breach, accidental file deletion or really, any disaster? Your entire systems could crash, your data could be compromised, and your employees and customers would be looking to you for answers. Creating a comprehensive disaster recovery plan (DRP) ensures you can answer those questions and give your people confidence. Smart businesses understand the importance of a disaster recovery plan and how it can keep your organization running in the event of any disaster, but strategic businesses realize the additional value that a disaster recovery plan offers. Learn three strategic benefits of disaster recovery that will set your company apart from your competition.

Discover more benefits of disaster recovery. Contact us today.

Benefits of a Comprehensive Disaster Recovery Plan

1. Cost-Efficiencies and Savings – One of the most significant benefits of a DRP is the long-term cost savings. A successful DRP includes preventative measures to reduce the risk of man-made disasters, detective processes to spot unwanted activity and corrective actions to quickly restore lost data and resume business as usual even after a disaster occurs.

2. Maximized Employee Productivity – Executing a successful DRP is often dependent on having the right people in a position to lead during a disaster. With specific roles and responsibilities assigned in advance, you’ll be able to act quickly to increase effectiveness and productivity. Your employees will also feel a sense of security knowing leadership has everything under control.

3. Greater Customer Retention – Your clients expect a lot from you, and in today’s world of competition, they’re not quick to forgive in the case of failure or downtime. If you’re unable to meet customer expectations, they can simply take their business to your competitor. A disaster recovery plan allows you to maintain your customer service quality, regardless if you’re faced with an unpredictable event.

The first step to gaining these additional benefits is making sure you have a proper disaster recovery plan in place. Our experts can get you started with a comprehensive DRP. We’ll work with you to fully understand your needs and develop a unique plan that can keep your business running no matter what the future has planned for you. Contact us today to learn more.


Data Backup Essentials: A COVID-19 Checklist

Businesses around the world are reexamining their business continuity plans in the wake of COVID-19, and that includes checking in on your organization’s policies surrounding data backup essentials. While you probably have methods for preventing data loss due to human error, system malfunctions or cybercrimes, you may not have been as prepared to protect your information during a pandemic. The need for sound data backup strategies has never been more apparent. Take a minute to go through our checklist of three ways to keep your data safe during the COVID-19 crisis.

Take advantage of the latest in data backup solutions. Contact us today.

Prevent Data Loss with the COVID-19 Backup Checklist:

Become Proactive About Data Backup Essentials

By now, your business has likely experienced some unfortunate disruptions due to the current pandemic. Between paying the bills, making payroll and keeping your clients satisfied, it’s easy to overlook the current state of your IT infrastructure. But neglecting to do so could be costly. There has never been a worse time to lose valuable data due to something as simple as human error. Think about the data your company couldn’t survive without, and make sure you’re doing everything you can to protect it by performing both automatic and manual data backups.

Educate Your Employees

When your workforce went remote, part of your company went home with them. During the COVID-19 crisis, many people are using technology in their homes in new and innovative ways. As they explore new programs and experiment with different set-ups, some of your employees may prove less experienced at handling data than others. Begin by identifying what your team members already know about backup solutions—and then ask them what they’re doing at home to ensure that data is not lost or stolen on their watch. Now is an excellent opportunity to go over best practices for data backup and recovery both inside the office and at home.

Identify and Rectify System Vulnerabilities

As more businesses undergo digital transformations, brick-and-mortar establishments are putting more data online than ever before. If your brand is facing virtual threats that you never anticipated, it can be easy to focus entirely on improving cybersecurity—and to forget about something as simple as performing routine backups as a result. Don’t let that happen to you during the pandemic. Do some investigating and see what you uncover and remember to repeat the process frequently. Backing up your data in more than one place is easier than it sounds—just make sure you’re doing it.

Protect Your Good Reputation

Yes, losing your data is a nightmare from a logistical standpoint. But losing your hard-earned reputation? That’s hard to recover from, especially during a tough economic crisis like the one presented to us by COVID-19. With clients threatening to cancel contracts and budgets shrinking by the minute, it’s more important than ever to back up your organization’s data and make sure you don’t suffer the consequence of its loss. Your customers entrusted you with private information, and its value to your bottom line cannot be underestimated. Don’t sacrifice that by forgetting to do something as easy as strengthening your current data backup solutions.

Preventing data loss should always be a top priority, but when so many team members are working from home during the COVID-19 crisis, backing up critical information has never been more important. Instituting best practices for data backup and recovery now will prevent you and your employees from dealing with additional IT headaches during these uncertain times. If you’re ready to learn more about data backup essentials or discuss how our other services might help your business weather the storm, please reach out today.