So you’ve opened an innocent-looking email, download its attachments, and when you found it uninteresting, you went on with your daily chores. The next day, you’re awakened to the calls of your employees: your system has been hacked. Right at that moment, your company’s PCs have turned into zombies, and your operation is paralyzed. What are you going to do?

With about 50% of small businesses getting hacked each year, you can’t afford to be complacent. If the day comes that your business is the victim, you should have a hacking recovery plan in place.

Here are the steps you need to do in the event of a hacking.

Isolate the infected computers

After checking which computers have been compromised, isolated those that are infected with the malware. By isolation means you need to cut the PC’s connection from your network and other devices. This way, the hackers can only pull strings within limited cyberspace.

Shut down the affected computers

As long as your computer is on, the hackers are continuously accessing the files. After isolating it, shut the units down and remove the hard drive. After that, connect the hard drive to a different computer, now as a secondary and non-bootable drive.

From there, you can use spyware or malware removing toolkit. Your IT team will play a significant role here as well as your IT service provider if you’re outsourcing.

Report the attack

Once the hacking is isolated and somehow in control, you should report it to the authorities. This is important, especially if customer or employee information has been compromised.

Some hacking incidents have to be reported to the FBI. Still, it depends on the scale and extent of the breach. Nevertheless, it pays to report it to the local authorities.

You should also notify the stakeholders (customers, business partners, employees) of the hacking.

Retrieve your old files

Once you successfully removed the spyware or malware on the hard drive, you can now copy your important files. Use a clean drive, CD, or DVD for this.

Wipe the previously infected drive clean

Even if the cleaning tool kit shows that you’ve cleaned the malware or spyware, it’s best to wipe it clean. You’ll need to use a hard drive wipe utility tool to ensure that nothing is left in storage.

After that, it’s best to contact an IT service provider to strengthen your business’ cybersecurity. Also, they can help in recovering and cleaning the infected hard drives of your company.

It’s crucial to install proactive systems on your company’s network. This will act as the first line of defense against the hacking.

Final words

Hackers are getting sneakier every day. With more and more businesses falling prey to their shady tactics, you should be prepared for the day that your company will become the next target.

Even a small business isn’t an expectation. Hackers know that you’re thinking of the same thing. When you’re not looking, they will creep into your system and steal data that will cripple your operation.

BYOD or Bring Your Own Device is a trend among modern workplaces. Employers sometimes impose BYOD policies that require their employees to purchase a device to perform a certain task. Also, some businesses use it as a way to cut corners when the budget is tight. But is it a safe move for business owners? Are there risks with BYOD? In this post, we discussed some of the benefits and possible risks of the policy.

The Benefits

There’s no denying that BYOD is beneficial for both the employer and the employee. It’s convenient and it allows the employee to work more comfortably on his or her own gadget. Here are some of BYOD’s advantages:

*It’s a money-saver – Employers who don’t have the budget yet for expensive hardware can tap the help of their employees through a BYOD policy. Some would give incentives and other perks to encourage the employees to try the BYOD setup. The employer is also not liable for the maintenance of the device.

*Better employee engagement – BYOD imbibes a personal touch to the workplace. Employees are more comfortable and “at home” with their own device. It encourages them to communicate outside of the office or work even if they can’t physically report to the workplace.

*Reduced IT demand – Since the employee is in charge of his or her device’s maintenance, you can save time and money from additional IT resources. Also, you can channel your IT resources to a much bigger project, say boosting your business’ cybersecurity.

*It’s ideal for employees who travel a lot – For employees who are traveling a lot for work, BYOD policies are convenient. The person doesn’t have to worry about damaging the device since it’s his or her own property.

The Risks

Of course, like any policy, BYOD has its share of downsides. Here are some of the aspects that business owners should look into:

*Security issues– The most significant concern about BYOD is that business owners don’t have control over the activities that happen within the device, except if they have an intensive network security. Malware can be elaborately or inadvertently transferred to the system during the use of the device.

*Stolen passwords – Allowing your employees to bring their own devices and use it for work means they can access passwords and other confidential information.

*Data breach – Of all the possible risk of BYOD, a data breach is the worst-case scenario. Inside jobs happen and it could be easily done with the help of a BYOD policy. If you don’t pair your BYOD policy with a stringent cybersecurity measure, it’s nothing but a counterproductive move.

The Verdict

Allowing employees to bring their own device is a cost-efficient decision as long as you know how to mitigate the risks. Businesses who handle sensitive and confidential information should have clear agreements and contracts in place. This way, you can put the person accountable if a data breach takes place.

Malware detectors for both mobile and computer devices are a good start. If you want a stronger defense, you can outsource your cybersecurity needs to a trustworthy provider.

In the era of the internet, almost everybody is storing their data in the cloud. So should you do the same for your business? With small businesses becoming the main target of hackers, it’s quite reasonable for business owners to consider the risk of filing sensitive information on the web.

Just like anything else, cloud storage has its pros and cons. It’s just a matter of balancing the two to protect your company from illegal access.

Benefits of storing your data in the cloud

The cloud allows everyone for larger storage space for a meager cost. As much as you can find hardware that can outmatch cloud storage, it’s often expensive and not expandable. Also, hardware storage is inconvenient in terms of access.

Cloud storage also offers the flexibility that hardware storage doesn’t provide. Business owners can easily manage storage tiers and access, thus limiting unauthorized use of the data.

Aside from that, cloud storage also speeds up recovery in the event of a system failure. Also, most of these platforms have an auto-save and auto-retrieve function to guard your data.

Most of all, cloud storage providers use layers of security measures to shield their clients from hackers.

Risks of cloud storage

Just like any piece of technology, cloud storage doesn’t offer absolute security. Since it exists on the web, you’re placing your data closer to cybercriminals.

The biggest issue here is privacy. Even if the hackers don’t steal the data, they can still read and copy everything. Also, the government can issue a request to access your data should legal matters surface.

Although this is totally fine if you’re not hiding something, it still speaks a lot about your customers’ and employees’ privacy.

Also, you should note that cloud storage is located in an off-site location. You don’t have control over its uptime and what will happen to your data if a big glitch happens. This is why it’s crucial to choose a provider with a proven track record.

Why many people are concerned about cybersecurity

A lot of people state their concern about cloud storage due to the fact that it’s physically not in your possession. Your files and data are basically floating in the web sphere. When you store your data in a cloud platform, you become dependent on the site for your information’s safety.

Sure, you can store backups, but it’s a different story when the data is compromised. Since it’s out of your hands, you’ll need a cybersecurity plan to enforce your privacy.

Challenges you need to overcome

Cloud storage is no evil. Still, you have to trust the right platform to guarantee the security of your data. Always create multiple backups and never be too complacent about your cybersecurity.

Even if you have strong cloud security, you should have a disaster recovery plan in place. This way, you’re prepared should the worst-case scenario happens.

Final words

Cloud storage is a cost-efficient and convenient choice of filing your data. Still, you should always proceed with caution to evade any possible breach.

 

 

With cyber attacks becoming rampant within the SMB sphere, you should be prepared at all times. In this era, your system can’t afford to be vulnerable. In fact, in 2016, about 43% of the recorded cyberattacks were aimed at small businesses. As a business owner, how can you tell if you’re prepared? Let’s start by answering some questions:

Q1: How secure is your business data?

As a business, you’re probably storing customer data, including their credit card information, address, and more. Do you have any firewall in place? Or any sort of defense if a hacker tries to get its hand on this information?

If the answer is no, it’s time to create stringent layers of security so hackers won’t easily pry your system open.

Q2: Do you know the different types of cyberattacks?

Hackers are getting sneakier by the hour. The cyberattacks last year would be different in the coming months. You should be able to spot the red flags even before the hacker gets into your system. Do your employees know how to spot phishing emails? How about suspicious system activities?

Although viruses are the most common Trojans of hackers, there are other various ways they can get into your company’s system.

Q3: Do you have a backup plan in place in case of a cyberattack?

The worst-case scenario during a cyberattack is your employees losing access or control over their computers. This means data will be compromised, and your operation will be paused.

You and your employees should be fully aware of the weight of the impact once cyberattacks are aimed at your business. Plan as if a storm is coming. That way, everyone in your company will be prepared for the possible onslaught.

Q4: What are your current cybersecurity policies?

You don’t have to wait for a cyberattack before crafting cybersecurity policies. Cybersecurity should be considered as necessary as the physical security of your business. You and your employees should have something to refer to when an attack happens. Also, it will put the culprit accountable if it happens to be an inside job.

Your policies should include knowing how to identify phishing emails, what to do with it, and how to deal with the damage should the hacker enters the system.

Q5: Do you have recovery policies after a cyberattack?

If ever your business became the victim of the hacking, you should have a recovery policy in place. This way, your employees will have a basis on where to begin the reparation. Also, it will guarantee your customers that you’re doing something.

You have to know that the aftermath of the hacking won’t just impact the trust of your customers. The decline in sales and operation downtime will also cost you money.

Q6: Have you identified the common breach points within your business?

By this time, you should have identified the common breach points in your business. Once you pointed it out, you should devise a plan to mitigate and patch it up. For small businesses, outsourcing your IT security will be a much cost-efficient decision.

 

Maintaining your own IT team can be demanding and costly. In the course of expanding your business, your IT needs will also increase. This means you’ll need to hire new people, acquire new technologies, and invest in new infrastructure. It’s not always cost-effective, which is why you should consider outsourcing your IT needs.

Most businesses are hesitant to hire a managed IT service provider for a variety of reasons. The most common is the feared costs and the issue with privacy. But if you’re wondering, here are some of the signs that you’re better off outsourcing your IT.

You experience recurring tech problems

It’s common to encounter small IT glitches from time to time. However, if the same problem is recurring and your team can’t solve it, this could be the perfect time to hire managed IT services.

Such a service will attend to any IT problems on your system, ensuring that everything is smoothly running. Managed IT services also run regular backups to secure a system should any hacking or major server error occurs.

Your IT team is understaffed

It’s a fact that not all businesses can afford to hire too many people on their IT team. If this is the case with your company, you should hire an IT provider to handle your IT infrastructure. This will save you money plus you no longer have to train new staff or acquire new technologies.

A managed IT service will supply the manpower and everything that you need for a secure network for your business.

You don’t have any IT strategy

Businesses with no IT strategy are sitting ducks for hackers. Each year, your business experience changes and your IT team must keep up.

If you find this burdensome, you can tap the help of a managed IT service provider to do it for you. Aside from that, the third-party provider will handle the implementation, management, and monitoring of your infrastructure. Also, you can hold them accountable should any problems arise.

Your server is vulnerable

If your servers keep on crashing and you don’t have any security measures in place, you badly need an IT service provider to take over. A weak backup system can cripple your business and even compromise confidential information.

Also, if you don’t have any recovery plan should the servers crash for long, your business will be in the dark. It’s best to have an IT service provider as your wingman.

You have a limited budget

Contrary to myths, outsourced IT services aren’t always expensive. An IT service provider can meet you halfway, depending on what you need.

In the long run, outsourcing your IT needs will be cost-efficient than maintaining an in-house team. With them, you no longer have to hire more people, train new employees, and purchase the tools out-of-pocket.

Final words

A managed IT service provider will help you organize and strengthen your IT infrastructure. As much as each provider isn’t made equal, hiring the right one will be a worth it business decision.

No matter what industry you are in, IT is an indispensable component of running a business. We live in the internet era where most people browse, refer, and purchase items or services on the web. As much as brick-and-mortar stores are still ideal, incorporating and managing an IT department will give your business an added edge.

IT is synonymous to innovation. Without it, your company will be left behind by competitors who have exploited everything that managed IT can bring to their businesses.

Here’s how managed IT can boost your sales:

Effective marketing

A robust digital presence and a streamlined marketing team will result in a higher success rate. Unlike traditional outdoor posters, your business will benefit more from reaching the audience on the cloud. Times have changed, and IT is playing a significant role in this aspect. More so now that almost all consumers rely on the internet to look for solutions.

Reduced fake orders

Fake orders can be prevented if you employ a strong IT department that will filter out any suspicious activities. This means that you can channel your business’ resources to delivering products or services to actual buyers. Instead of being blind with who’s real or not, you can set up an IT system that works for that specific purpose.

Gauging customer feedback

Your ability to communicate with your customers says a lot about your business. With a managed IT department, you can receive feedback from your customers, respond to them, and gauge what your target market is looking for. You can incorporate this to your marketing efforts. Take note that interaction with customers help brands develop a better image for their businesses.

Productivity in the workplace

Productivity software will directly reduce your operation cost. With this tool, all your employees will have an organized process of providing the service. From the creation of the product or service to delivery and after-sales support, productivity tools will revolutionize your workplace.

Also, there are various pieces of software that help in retaining customers, acquiring new ones, and mitigating any complaints.

24/7 monitoring

Unlike the old times, you can now monitor your business all day long. A managed IT service can track your sales, performance, and employees even as you sleep.

This way, you can quickly gather issues and fix them before it becomes a big problem.

Added security

An IT department will help build a strong security wall for your business on the web. Nowadays, hackers are targeting small players since they are more vulnerable and oblivious of the attacks.

Make sure that you secure your online payment portals, shopping cart, and every point of contact where your customers encode their personal information.

Researching  

Aside from organizing your business’ day-to-day operation and cloud security, your IT team is also responsible for researching and expanding your brand. You can use it to get the pulse of the market and use those findings to shift your marketing strategies. It’s like a sailing a ship and mastering the wind.

Disasters could bring damages beyond what you expect. Floods, hurricanes, fires, hacking, and data breach are just some of the potential hazards that could hamper the operation of a business. Be it a natural or a cyber-related onslaught; you should be prepared for the aftermath.

A disaster recovery plan is crucial so your business can go back up fast after disasters. Also, you should have procedures in place to reduce or limit the downtime your business experiences. Remember that for every day of closing shop, you’re losing large sums of money.

Here, we discussed some tips that you can use to prepare your business for possible disasters.

Always have a reliable backup hardware/software

Regardless if it’s a natural disaster or a potential data breach, reliable backup hardware or software is essential. Your IT department or IT provider (if you outsource) should have a backup in place as a proactive approach to any possible downtime that your business may encounter.

This will protect your data and make restoration faster so you can go back to business quickly. Cutting corners when purchasing a backup appliance isn’t a good idea. The upfront cost could be steep, but it’s worth the investment.

Train your employees for disaster response

On the aftermath of the disaster, your employees should know how to deal with the situation. Train them on how to protect data and how to get everything back up in proper order.

You can hold drills to test the preparedness of your employees during a cyberattack. Physical drills for natural calamities are also important.

There should be designated roles to handle each aspect of the situation. Assign a disaster recovery manager, insurance personnel, defense committee, and more.

Come up with a disaster recovery plan

If you don’t have one yet, you should come up with a disaster recovery plan right away. It will help you build your business back up and limit the downtimes you may experience.

DRs are your compass when you lose your track after a disaster. It can save your business and help you reduce the cost of recovering the lost data.

You should include specific situations and what your employees should do.

Strengthen your cybersecurity

Cyberattacks are now considered a digital disaster. Hackers can rake large amounts of confidential information from your system. If your system is a sitting duck, hackers won’t have to work hard to get their hands on your business.

It’s time to put up a secure firewall and to boost your IT infrastructure. That way, you can detect suspicious activities as it happens. For businesses handling sensitive information, this is a must.

Don’t stop monitoring

When it comes to your cybersecurity, you should never stop monitoring. Still, it doesn’t mean that you’ll stare at the computer all day long.

There are many detection software that you can use to monitor your system as you sleep. Also, you can outsource your cybersecurity to a trusted provider. These professionals have the right skills and tools to keep your system guarded.

 

Every business needs a disaster recovery plan. But the bigger question is how often and when it needs to be updated.

The common mistake of businesses is they treat a disaster recovery plan as a set-it-then-forget-it requirement. Only when the disaster strikes that they will realize that it should’ve been updated years ago. It’s both a crippling and expensive lesson for a business to learn.

There’s no specific formula on how often and when you should update the plan. This varies from business to business, as well as the type of technology they have. Usually, companies stick to a yearly routine. But to help you out, here are some of the factors that will affect the update schedule.

Change in technology

As you know, technology evolves and you have to keep up if you want to stay secure. For companies that are using specific technologies, it’s ideal for updating your DR when you acquire new technologies. It could be a new software or cybersecurity measures.

Aside from that, you’d have to test the new technology to pinpoint its low points. It will help to add these findings on the DR plan. You can actually assign this to your IT team and managers.

Changed priorities

If your company has shifted priorities and methods of storing, gathering, and handling data, you should update your disaster recovery plan. You should tailor the clauses that govern data breach and cybersecurity threats. You’ll never know when an employee will become the vehicle to hacking your system.

Also, if you have many new faces in the team, it’s best to revisit your disaster recovery plan. You could also add a clause that requires the DR training for new hires.

New hacking tactics

Like technology, hackers continue to refine their tactics to get past the latest cybersecurity measures. Various think-tanks release hacking reports each year, stating the common schemes of hackers and which sectors are mostly affected.

You can use this information to update your DR plan. You’ll never want to discover an outdated disaster recovery plan when a new hacking incident hits your business.

As much as hackers create new techniques, you should also revamp your recovery measures.

Compliance issues

Depending on which industries you’re working, you might be required to add a specific clause on your DR plan. Also, regulatory bodies have made disaster recovery plans popular to almost every business. It will help to keep abreast with the latest updates on cybersecurity and disaster preparedness so you can update your plan accordingly.

Change in IT service provider

If you’re outsourcing your IT services, it’s essential to revisit your disaster recovery plan whenever you change a provider. It will help to include a portion citing the possibility of an attack after switching to a new provider and what your employees could do.

After resolving a disaster

If you happen to face a disaster, it’s recommended to update your DR plan after rebuilding your business. You can add the practical measures and situations that you’ve learned in the aftermath. Your first-hand experience will help strengthen the DR plan for future use.

In this day and age, where your cloud assets are exposed to potential harm, cybersecurity insurance seems to be a sound investment. Big corporations have it, but as a small business, does it pay to have the same policy?

Like homeowner’s insurance, a cybersecurity insurance policy will protect you financially should a hacking incident compromised your system and revenue. In this post, we will weigh if it’s the right choice for your company.

What is cybersecurity insurance?

This policy covers the cost of recovering from a cyberattack or data breach. It applies to small to large companies who want added protection and peace of mind for their assets.

Just like any policy, cybersecurity insurance has a list of inclusions and exclusions as well as special clauses that trigger the application of specific provisions.

Who should use this?

Basically, every business that stores and handles confidential and sensitive data should avail cybersecurity insurance. This coverage will act as the first responder in the event of a data breach.

Take note that data breach can happen in different ways and forms. You must invest in a policy that covers your needs and your type of industry.

What does it cover?

The coverage will vary from one insurer to another. Still, most of this insurance type will have the following coverage:

*First-party coverage

It includes the direct cost of the breach within the company. Some examples are repairing damaged hardware/software, cost of notifying customers and the public, business interruption loses, extortion money that the hackers could demand, and so on.

*Third-party coverage

This includes the defense expenses of privacy lawsuits from customers and stakeholders, media liability claims, regulatory body fines, negligence claims, and more.

As you see, a data breach can put your business in turmoil. A cybersecurity insurance policy can cover a lot of expenses if not all.

What’s not covered?

Again, this will vary depending on your insurer. Still, the following are some of the general exclusions:

*Criminal activity – robbery, fraud, employee theft, and the likes aren’t included in the policy.

*Property damage claims – it doesn’t involve physical and property damages.

*Loss of property – if you lost a phone or computer, this will be covered on your commercial insurance policy.

*Social engineering – tricking people into transferring funds or information isn’t usually covered. Basically, it’s not qualified as hacking or deception.

Pros

*Since data breach on small businesses is rampant, this policy is added protection for your business, at least financially.

*You’ll have something to start within the aftermath of the attack

*It’s a plus point on your compliance on regulatory bodies

Cons

*Not all insurers offer the same level of coverage. Also, this policy is new to the market and yet to be improved.

*The insurance policy doesn’t reduce the reputation damage of the hacking. It only covers you financially.

Final words

As a small business owner, it pays to secure your system through all means possible. If you have the budget, you should consider investing in a cybersecurity insurance policy.

There’s so much misconception about IT that some businesses tend to fall prey to it. These myths don’t just make a dysfunctional IT team; it also exposes your business to the dangers of the web. So for this post, we will debunk some of these myths and misconceptions. Give your business a big favor and read the following points.

Myth 1. Managed IT isn’t a necessity for small businesses

We understand that not all businesses have the budget to spend on outsourced IT services. However, to say that it’s not a necessity for SMBs is outright wrong. Managed IT is crucial for all businesses, much so for those who have online platforms.

Aside from that, outsourcing your IT needs will give your business an edge. Instead of buying the technology and maintaining it on your own, you can let the experts handle it for you.

Myth 2. Outsourcing your IT needs means you’ll lose control over that department

The greatest fear of business owners is that when they avail managed IT services, they will be exposing their company to vulnerability. Some feel like losing control over their IT department.

Although keeping everything internal looks like an excellent way to maintain security, the lack of managed IT services means you can’t respond to attacks right away. IT experts ensure that you will still enjoy the privacy and control over IT infrastructure no matter what.

In the end, this is just an unfounded fear.

Myth  3. Managed IT services are too expensive

While it’s true that this service can be costly, it depends on your package. Most IT providers can meet small business halfway so they can enjoy a better infrastructure without breaking the bank.

Take note that expensive doesn’t always mean great and cheap doesn’t always equate to lousy service. You just have to find a cost-effective approach to make it work for your company.

Myth 4. No need to outsource if you have an IT guy

A lot of businesses are guilty about relying on that solo IT guy. While this is cost-effective, one person isn’t enough to sustain the IT needs of your company, more so if you’re planning to expand.

Also, if that IT guy decides to quit, your IT infrastructure will be left in shambles. So instead of relying on a single person, it’s much better to outsource this department. Aside from enjoying exclusive service, you can also impose accountability.

Myth 5. Every IT provider is just the same

Take note that every IT service provider is different from the other. They use different technologies and techniques, hence a very different service.

If you’re scouting for the best provider, it’s best to work with one that has experience with your industry. Also, ask if they’ve dealt with a business of the same size as yours and what they have to offer. Most of all, their pricing should be manageable on your end.

Final words

Managed IT services allow you to use the latest technology and infrastructure without having to purchase it on your own. Beyond the myths, this service is a big help not just for big corporations, but also to small businesses.

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