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.

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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.


ransomware attack

4 Simple Steps to Prevent Ransomware Attacks

Some of the most pressing questions business owners have when it comes to their technology often revolve around how to prevent cyberattacks – and for good reason. According to Malwarebytes, ransomware families have grown by more than 700 percent since 2016. 

When thinking about preventing ransomware attacks from targeting your business, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by your options. That’s why we’ve created a list of four easy steps you can take right now to lessen your risk: 

1. Conduct Regular Vulnerability Scans 

One mistake many business owners make is taking the “set it and forget it” approach to their cybersecurity. One of the best preventative steps you can take to prevent ransomware attacks from wreaking havoc on your business is conducting regular vulnerability scans. By doing this, you’ll always know where any holes or weaknesses are in your security and have the chance to close them before hackers become aware of them. 

2. Keep Systems Updated 

All of the important software you need to be productive is installed on your laptop, and you’re ready to get to work. You may be tempted to ignore the latest update for your software when it pops up, but outdated software can leave holes in your systems for cybercriminals to exploit. It’s critical that you start that download instead. 

3. Limit Admin Access 

Another easy step you can take today to start preventing ransomware attacks is limit who has admin access to your network. Simply ask yourself, “which employees really need access to my entire network?”. Once you know who needs full access, you can limit access to the rest of your team to help your overall network security. 

4. Train Your Team to Spot Scams 

Did you know that 90 percent of all cyberattacks are the result of employee error? It makes sense, too. All it takes is for a cybercriminal to target one of your employees in an email and wait for them to click on a bad link or download a corrupt file for them to gain access to your network. When you take the time to train your employees on how to spot bad actors, you’ll make your defense line even stronger. 

How StoredTech Can Bolster Your Defenses 

Maybe you’ve already implemented these security measurements and want to bring in back up to build an even bigger defense, or perhaps you’re not sure where to start and want to offload your cybersecurity to experts in the field. No matter where you’re at in your journey to preventing ransomware attacks, the StoredTech team can help you with our managed security services. Contact us today and get a free security risk assessment to get started.  

 


Are Co-Managed Services Right for Your Business?

As companies continue running more core business functions digitally, having the best IT solutions is a necessity. While many companies have an internal IT department, it may not be enough to keep up with demand. That’s why companies turn to managed service providers to fix these issues. But there’s more than one way to help a struggling IT department.   

Managed Services vs. Co-Managed Services 

When it comes to managing IT, businesses generally have three options. The first option is to hire an internal team to take care of your company’s tech needs. The second option is to outsource all IT needs to a managed service provider (MSP). The third option is to hire an MSP to deliver co-managed services that supplement your internal team.  

Managed IT services and co-managed IT services have many similarities, but the main difference is ownership. Outsourcing the entire IT department may be an excellent option for companies that don’t have the time or resources to do it themselves. However, if your business already has an internal team but needs help with larger projects or extra busy times, then co-managed services may be a happy medium.   

Reasons to Choose Co-Managed Services  

Co-managed solutions give you the opportunity to take the lead on your IT while getting additional support when you need it. Managed services have become so popular that the global market is expected to grow from $155.91 billion in 2017 to $296.38 billion by 2023, according to the Global Managed Services Industry 2019 Market Research Report. Here are some reasons to choose co-managed services as your solution.   

Bring in Reinforcements  

Any IT department can get overwhelmed. It’s common for businesses to solve for this by hiring more IT staff. However, hiring more people can be a short-sighted solution if the issue is a seasonal blip instead of an ongoing problem. With co-managed solutions, you only pay for the services you need, and you can have your MSP handle routine tasks or provide additional support.   

Outsource Bigger Projects  

If you have a small IT staff, juggling annual and quarterly projects on top of managing day-to-day duties can be difficult. Co-managed service providers have experienced IT professionals offering a broad range of services. These specialists can serve as project managers or take over to complete entire projects. That way, your internal team can focus on what they do best.   

Support Secondary Locations 

As businesses expand, new offices will need IT support. However, it may not be feasible to staff an internal IT professional at each remote location. With co-managed services, you can remotely access the networks at secondary locations to perform maintenance without an onsite visit.   

Reduce Onboarding   

One of the biggest problems with hiring new staff members is the cost of overhead. The company is responsible for paying salaries, benefits, bonuses and training the new employees. Plus, it’s going to take time getting the new guy up to speed. With co-managed services, you’ll get an experienced IT professional who can jump in right away, minimizing downtime.  

How StoredTech Can Help   

If your company needs help with its IT but is not ready to invest in a bigger internal department, then it’s time to consider co-managed services. However, not all service providers are created equally. You need a partner that’s invested in seeing your business grow. At StoredTech, we’ll help your internal IT department by providing the support and expertise it needs to reach new heights. Contact us today to find the co-managed solution that’s right for your business. 


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The Pros and Cons of BYOD

Even if you’re not aware of it, your business is probably already using some form of a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policy. If your employees use personal mobile devices to conduct their work – even just to check emails! – you need to understand the benefits and risks of BYOD, and how to make BYOD work for your business. Read on for the pros and cons of BYOD. 

PROS: 

Mobility 

Most workers are no longer chained to their desks. Technology makes it easy to do everything on the go, from responding to an instant message to calling a client to editing a presentation. BYOD enables employees to quickly meet business needs after hours, while traveling or any other time they find themselves out of the office.  

Cost Savings 

Your average employee already owns a smartphone, tablet or laptop (or all three). This allows you to reap the benefits of BYOD without purchasing, deploying and maintaining devices for all of your workers. Plus, with the right policies in place, you can easily deactivate or wipe company data off a personal device when an employee offboards. 

Convenience 

Frost & Sullivan reports that employees experience a 34 percent increase in productivity when they use portable devices for work tasks. That’s no surprise – it takes far less time to pull out your smartphone than to boot up your computer. Some employees may even prefer the user experience of working on a phone or tablet. 

CONS: 

Security Risks 

What’s more secure: the network at your office, or the network at an airport? BYOD means that your employees will likely be hooked into networks that don’t have the same security standards as your business network. Without the proper security protocols, this opens the way for your confidential data to be lost or stolen. 

Lack of Monitoring 

While you monitor the activity of employees on your office network, it’s much harder to oversee and regulate everything they do on their mobile devices. You need special safeguards to limit unauthorized app installations and receive alerts when someone tries to log in from an unexpected location. 

Insufficient Training 

Your BYOD policies aren’t effective if no one follows them. Most companies don’t sufficiently train their employees on topics such as handling data on mobile devices, identifying and avoiding risks, and responding when a device is lost or stolen. Employees who lack the right training can easily turn BYOD programs into a liability. 

For most businesses, the benefits of BYOD far outweigh the risks – but you can minimize your liability with endpoint security management. StoredTech helps your team enjoy increased mobility and productivity without fearContact us today to lock down your mobile devices.  


How Will New York’s SHIELD Act Affect Your Business?

As large-scale data breaches are becoming a regular occurrence, the State of New York is taking action to protect its residents. On October 23, 2019, the first part of New York’s SHIELD Act went into effect. This legislation aims to help New York residents protect their personal data, but will this new law have any bearing on companies outside New York? We’re breaking down the details to help you understand how the SHIELD Act could impact your business

What is the SHIELD Act?  

In June 2019, the governor of New York signed Senate Bill S5575B into law. This law is better known as the Stop Hacks and Improve Electronic Data (SHIELD) Act.  

The SHIELD Act serves two primary purposes: it amends the state’s data breach notification statute and adds requirements for businesses to protect the personal and private information of New York residents.  

The legislation defines personal and private information as names, social security numbers, financial account numbers, usernames, email addresses, passwords, biometric data and health information covered under HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act).  

Also included in the Act are details on how quickly businesses compromised by a breach need to notify the State of New York and the people affected.  

Will This Law Affect My Business?  

While this law affects all of New York State, there are broader implications. The Act specifies that any person or business that owns computerized data of a New York resident needs to comply with the SHIELD Act. This means that if your business is located in another state but serves someone living in New York, then you’re on the hook.  

How Does SHIELD Compliance Work? 

While the law goes into detail about what kind of information is protected, it’s not as clear regarding how to protect that data. Companies are required to take “reasonable security measures.” While not defined, updated cybersecurity software, regular employee training and risk assessments are generally recommended to keep your business safe from attacks.  The requirements for the recording of data breaches started October 23, 2019, and the deadline to adopt the reasonable security measures is March 21, 2020. Understanding what qualifies as “reasonable” measures can seem a little daunting, especially since the passage of something like the SHIELD Act is likely a precursor for similar regulations across the country in coming years. Fortunately, you don’t have to figure this out alone.  

How Can StoredTech Help?  

As people continue conducting more business online, the need for protecting people’s personal and private information from cybersecurity breaches will increase. Companies can get overwhelmed trying to run their business while keeping up with the latest regulations. That’s where we come in.  

StoredTech employs a team of cybersecurity experts who will work diligently to protect your data. We use the most robust security measures and stay updated on the latest data regulations. That way, you’ll always be in compliance. Regain your peace of mind and get back to running your business. Contact StoredTech today to find your solution.  


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5 Reasons Businesses Don’t Back Up Their Data (And Why They’re Nonsense)

For most companies, backing up their data is no longer a “just in case” precaution – it's a necessity. Data is crucial to your business operations, and there are as many ways to lose it as to use it. Despite this, 46 percent of small and medium-sized enterprises have no backup and disaster recovery plan in place. 

Here are five myths about data backup and disaster recovery, and why they’re hurting your business: 

     1. “Data loss won’t happen to us.

Data loss doesn’t just come from a catastrophic attack. It can be the result of external security breacheshardware and software failure, loss of power, data corruption and accidental user error. Your business is susceptible to all of these factors, and without a data backup strategy, any data you lose could be severely damaged or irretrievable.   

     2. “Our business can easily survive a data disaster.” 

The harsh truth is that most businesses don’t survive a data disaster. In fact, 60 percent of small to medium-sized businesses go out of business within six months of losing data, with 93 percent going out of business within one year. If you do manage to recover, you’ll do so at much greater expense and headaches than a company with a backup and disaster recovery plan. 

     3. “We already have protection.” 

While your off-the-shelf software programs can protect against minor incidents, they don’t do much against more sophisticated attacks. Malware can successfully bypass up to 94 percent of antivirus software, and your anti-spam email filters often can’t hold up to a targeted malware attack. Reliable data protection requires enterprise-grade solutions tailored to your unique needs.  

    4. “There’s no money in the budget. 

The cost of data loss varies wildly, depending on the importance and sensitive nature of the data  but according to Verizon, data breaches that affect fewer than 100 records come with an average cost between $18,120 and $35,730. That’s not counting the costs of recovery, loss of productivity and noncompliance with federal regulations. The old saying is true: an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. 

    5. “We don’t know how to back up our data.”

Maybe you’ve been delaying a data backup and disaster recovery plan because you don’t know where to start. Fortunately, you don’t have to figure it out alone. StoredTech provides enterprise-grade data backup and disaster recovery solutions for storing mission-critical data. Contact us today to find the right plan for you. 

 


5 Signs You Need to Upgrade to Unified Communications

Is your legacy phone system slowing down your team? Maybe you’ve had it for so long that you’re not sure whether it’s helping or hurting your business. Cloud-based phone systems like VoIP and hosted PBX allow you to connect your communications platforms and leverage a host of features to improve the experience of your employees, prospects and customers – but how do you know when to make the switch? 

Here are five signs it’s time to upgrade to unified communications: 

1. Your team works remotely some or all of the time.

Whether your employees get work from home days or your staff is scattered across the country, remote work is a reality of most businesses. However, remote employees can face challenges communicating with their team and connecting with customers and prospects. Unified communications solutions offer advanced call forwarding and mobile integration so your employees can use any Internet-enabled device to take a call while still showing their business number – even after hours. 

2. You’re looking for better ways to connect with your customers.

Who isn’t looking to improve their customer experience? If you’re constantly dropping calls or struggling to understand what your customers and prospects are saying over the phone, you can bet your audience isn’t having a great experience. Cloud-hosted phone systems boost your call quality for clearer, more reliable calls. Plus, virtual conference calling allows you to communicate inside and outside of your organization with high-quality audio or video conferencing.  

3. Directing your customers or prospects to the right person is a struggle.

No one likes to explain their reason to be calling, only to be told that they’re talking to the wrong department – for the fourth time. With unified communications, you can eliminate lengthy wait times and direct your customers to the right person the first time. Automated assistants minimize the manual effort of managing callers and offer your callers easy-to-follow options, while a centralized control platform makes it easy to change your settings as your business evolves. 

4. Your employees complain about a lack of collaboration.

According to Information Week, 62 percent of employees say improved collaboration is a top business driver for unified communications. Legacy systems can hinder the flow of critical data and information among teams, departments and locations. Unified communications systems link your communication tools – such as phones, email, SMS and video conferencing – for easier sharing across platforms. Leave the days of back-and-forth email chains behind and give your team the gift of productivity. 

5. Scaling your system up and down is a bigger hassle than it’s worth.

More employees mean more hardware, more installation, more wires – but it doesn’t have to be that way. Leveraging cloud-based unified communications system allows you to add or remove users within seconds, without scaling your physical infrastructure. Shedding your dependence on hardware has other benefits. Imagine your communications infrastructure never wearing out and needing to be replaced, because it’s all hosted in the cloud – helping you save money and future-proof your business. 

StoredTech’s unified communications and collaboration services provide reliable phone systems that leverage hundreds of features designed to improve the calling experience. Plus, our carrier services ensure you find the right phone system for your goals and budget. Contact us today to transform your business communications. 


business-security-strategy

What’s Missing from Your Security Strategy?

Quick – does your business: 

  • back up critical data off-site? 
  • comply with federal regulations? 
  • filter emails for malicious content? 
  • keep software and hardware updated? 
  • regulate access to your offices? 
  • secure and monitor mobile devices?

If you didn’t answer “yes” to all six, your security strategy has some dangerous gaps. Even the best security solutions on the market can’t fully protect your company if you leave other areas of your business vulnerable.  

For a comprehensive, end-to-end security plan, you need to incorporate these six services: 

Data Backup Recovery 

It only takes one power outage, natural disaster or cyberattack to erase months or years of critical data. Backing up data daily, weekly and monthly to an off-site or cloud destination ensures that you’ll never have to start from scratch. Data recovery solutions make it simple to retrieve that information and resume your operations with minimal downtime. The U.S. Small Business Administration found that 90 percent of businesses fail within two years of experiencing a disaster, so it takes advanced planning to protect your company. 

Compliance Management 

Whether you manage credit card informationconfidential patient files or other sensitive data, your business is likely subject to one or more federal data privacy regulations. A compliance management system helps you build a security framework that protects your data, so you consistently meet HIPAA, PCI, DFS and more. Achieving compliance regularly protects you from noncompliance fines – which can reach into the millions – and helps you cultivate and preserve a trustworthy reputation among current and potential customers. 

Email Security Solutions 

You’re bombarded with hundreds of emails a day, and suspicious links and attachments can easily sneak in undetected. Email security solutions help you use email more securely and productively. Spam filtering keeps potentially hazardous emails out of your inbox and stops you from accidentally engaging with viruses or malware. For dangerous emails that do slip through the filters – which is almost inevitable, given the sophistication of email-based cyberattacks – training your team on best practices can help them identify and avoid threats. 

Computer & Network Security 

Off-the-shelf antivirus software won’t stand up to the threats your business faces. Make no mistake, you are a target – Ponemon reported that 67 percent of small and medium-sized businesses experienced a cyberattack in 2018A strong computer and network security strategy should include monitoring around-the-clock for issues, applying patches and updates as soon as they become available, and restricting access to authorized users. These steps not only deflect threats but help you quickly resolve hardware and software issues that can lead to downtime. 

Endpoint Security Management 

Mobile devices are frequently overlooked in cybersecurity strategies, but unsecured smartphones, tablets, laptops and other Internet-enabled devices can present an easy target for cybercriminals. Decrease the risk to your business by limiting unauthorized downloads, installing malware and virus protection across all devices, and investigating logins from an unexpected location. You should also have the capability to track stolen devices and wipe them remotely to protect sensitive data.  

Door Access & Video Surveillance 

There’s no sense in protecting against cyber threats if anyone can walk in and access your equipment. A high-quality video surveillance system allows you to monitor employees and visitors to minimize theft. Access control allows you to decide who can enter sensitive areas, such as your server room, and track entry and exit data in case of an incident. Entry can even be controlled at different times throughout the day, so your employees only have access to exactly what they need, when they need it. 

StoredTech offers the full range of security solutions you need to shield your company against cyber threats. Contact us before the end of the month and we’ll conduct a free security assessment to locate vulnerabilities and recommend the right solutions. 

 


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How Managed IT Services Can Help Modernize Your Business

Let’s role play for a moment. If you were a customer researching a company and their website looked dated, would you want to give them your business? Probably not.  

 

According to Microsoft, 90 percent of customers consider taking their business elsewhere if a small to medium-sized business (SMB) is using outdated technology. SMBs — as well as enterprise-level companies — need the latest IT networking solutions to stay competitive. Unfortunately, not all companies have the time or resources to get up to speed on their own. That’s why many SMBs are turning to managed service providers (MSPs) to help relieve their IT woes.  

 

MSPs help take the pressure off SMBs and enterprise businesses by handling some of the routine, mundane and time-consuming tasks associated with maintaining, operating and updating your IT infrastructure. With managed IT services, you’ll be able to free up your in-house staff so they can focus on more significant projects.  

Want to know how? Here are some ways managed services can help modernize your business:  

 

The Best Defense is a Good Offense 

As companies continue doing more work online, every minute your website or network is down costs you serious revenue. To prevent downtime, you need a team of people proactively monitoring your network, that’s where MSPs come in. MSPs continuously test your infrastructure to find vulnerabilities and prevent downtime before it starts. That way if a data disaster strikes, you’ll be back online in a matter of minutes, instead of hours or days.  

 

Work Anywhere 

Thanks to technology, your staff no longer needs to be at their desk to get work done. Now your team can work from their home, the office, the airport, the tradeshow convention floor or any place with an internet connection. With managed services like cloud hosting, PBX and VoIP, your team will be able to hold meetings and collaborate on projects inside and outside the office, increasing productivity and efficiency.  

 

No On-Site IT Guy Needed 

Depending on the size of your business, you may not have the resources to have a full-time IT professional in your office. MSPs offer a team of experts available remotely providing computer and network support. That way whenever a key file gets deleted, a computer gets disconnected from the server, or someone forgets a password, you’ll be back up and running in no time.   

 

A Third-Party Perspective 

Getting your IT network updated, especially after years of neglect, can be a daunting task. That’s why it’s helpful to have an expert guide you through the process. With IT consulting services from an MSP’s virtual chief information officer (vCIO), you’ll have someone in your corner to help plan and implement your strategy. The vCIO can meet with you periodically to evaluate where you are and where you need to go.  

 

Why StoredTech 

Now that you know some of the services an MSP can bring to your business, how do you select the right one? What you need is an MSP that can help make IT simple. That’s where StoredTech can help.  

We bring a strategic, consultative approach to your IT, security and telecommunications needsThat way, you get what you need to stay ahead of the competition. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help update your IT infrastructure.  


disaster recovery checklist

Is Your Business Ready for a Disaster? Try Our Checklist

Business continuity planning is unnecessary and expensive. We’ll just deal with the downtime when it happens. 

Does this sound like your philosophy? Consider this: according to the Ponemon Institute, downtime can cost you up to $17,244 per minute. Businesses spend millions each year mitigating and cleaning up after unplanned downtime – all because they failed to set up a business continuity strategy before a disaster struck.  

To assess the gaps in your strategy – or figure out where to start – here are five questions to ask: 

How often is your data backed up, and where?  

Between one-third and one-half of all businesses fail to back up their data, leaving them vulnerable to critical data loss and downtime. In a strong business continuity strategy, data should be backed up a minimum of once a day and routinely checked to ensure that it’s being stored correctly. Backing up data to an off-site location also ensures that it survives even if your local hardware fails or sustains damage in a natural or manmade disaster.  

How quickly can you retrieve lost data from a backup? 

Backing up data is only part of the equation – you also need to know exactly how to retrieve it to keep your business running at full capacity. Whether your backup is on-site, off-site or in the cloud (or a combination), you or your IT partner should be able to pinpoint which data is critical and funnel it back to your team within minutes – not days or weeks. This means creating a hierarchy of importance for your data and assigning authorized personnel to relevant files ahead of time. 

Are you protected against a range of cyber threats? 

If off-the-shelf antivirus software is the beginning and end of your cybersecurity strategy, you’re opening yourself up to a host of new, more dangerous threats. After all, would you rather recover from a cyberattack or prevent one in the first place? Staving off cyber threats requires a comprehensive solution that battles viruses, malware, ransomware and more – and keeps up with new and emerging software that can harm your business. 

How long would it take you to discover a breach? 

Have you ever received an email from a company that your account information was breached – three years ago? Even major enterprises can take months or years to realize that the data in their care was compromised. Strong firewalls and 24/7 systems monitoring can help you identify a breach in progress to mitigate the damage, protect your customers’ data and avoid extended, expensive downtime. 

Where will your employees work if your office is inaccessible? 

Whether you experience a power outage or a natural disaster like flooding or fires, there will be times when your employees are forced to work outside the office. To maintain business continuity, you’ll need to set up a secure, remote work environment that your team can access from home or any location with an Internet connection. Additionally, you need to ensure that your employees can access business-critical data and applications from laptops and other mobile devices. 

StoredTech provides enterprise-grade business continuity solutions to help you store data securely, deflect cyberattacks and maintain your operations during and after a disaster. Contact us today to strengthen your business continuity strategy and be prepared for anything.