Posts tagged "security"

3 Advantages of Hosted Email for SMBs

March 17th, 2020 Posted by Best Practices, Cloud, Communication, Hosted Services, Managed Service Provider, Services 0 thoughts on “3 Advantages of Hosted Email for SMBs”

Email has become business-critical for most SMBs. Without it, operations can grind to a halt, employees can sit idle, and sales/support can be negatively impacted. You want your email to have minimal down time, suit your business needs and goals, and support your business growth. But managing and maintaining your own email server can be challenging at best and disastrous at worst. So, how do you get the functionality you need without the headache? Hosted email. In this blog post we’ll discuss 3 advantages of hosted email for your SMB.

 

What is Hosted Email?

Email hosting as a service is a great way for businesses to save money, tailor your email to your needs, and save time on maintenance. Your email server is hosted off-site in a secure data center and is managed and maintained by our certified engineers. One of the best parts of a hosted email solution is that it’s crafted to your business’s specific needs, rather than it being a “one-size-fits-all” solution. This means that you’ll have to spend less time on work-arounds and general frustration, because it has been customized for you.

 

3 Benefits of Hosted Email

There are significant advantages to outsourcing your email to an MSP. Here are three of the biggest benefits of hosted email:

Less time spent on maintenance and management: You can focus your time and resources on aspects of your business that only you or your staff can do. Since the responsibility of managing and maintaining the email server is handled by an external party, you’re free to work on your business instead of your email servers.

Flexibility and scalability: Whether you’re planning to grow in the future or dealing with growing pains now, it will save you time and money to ensure that your email solutions can grow with your business. Hosted email is scalable to suit the specific needs of your business; adding or removing users and features as you need them is convenient and cost effective.

Security and redundancy: Your company email is a vital part of your business, which is why hackers try to take advantage of it so often through spam campaigns and phishing emails. These tactics are alarmingly effective when you don’t take steps to actively mitigate them. Having your email hosted in a secure data center reduces the likelihood of hacking attacks, and we can add a spam blocking solution to help avoid those threats as well.

Think Network Technologies can help your business take advantage of all the benefits hosted email has to offer. To learn more about hosted email solutions, contact us today.

Getting to Know Our New Systems Administrator

February 13th, 2020 Posted by Best Practices, Managed Service Provider, Staff 0 thoughts on “Getting to Know Our New Systems Administrator”

Now that our new Systems Administrator, Madison Upton, has had some time to settle in, we thought it would be a good time to get to know her a little better.

 

Her background in technology and IT support

Madison has been in the IT industry for over 12 years. She came from a 9-1-1 IT support background and has taken on various IT work on the side for small companies and residents, too. She really enjoys fixing inanimate objects and teaching people how to use them.

 

Madison’s role at Think

Madison is a System Administrator. This means she is responsible for maintenance, operations, documentation and planning of systems infrastructure. She likes to focus on one problem at a time to be thorough in finding the best solution. And she likes to listen to music to get herself pumped up and energized.

 

She loves working at Think because

When I asked Madison what she loves about her job so far, she said, ”I really enjoy brain-trusting with my team on an issue that may have me stunned or curious. I’ve worked as a lone wolf within my IT career before and I found I really missed collaborating with a fun, intelligent, and trusted team.  There’s a lot to learn between the lot of us on this team and that’s a big part of what makes us good at what we do for our clients.”

 

Life outside the office

Madison is a lot of fun to talk to, so I asked her a few extra questions…

What do you miss about being a kid?
-I really enjoy being an adult; I have a lot more freedom and opportunities that I remember as a kid thinking “I can’t wait to grow up so I can…”. However, who doesn’t miss regular naps that we adults all took for granted as kids!?

What’s your favorite outdoor activity?
-The outdoors and I get along very well. I moved to the Southwest corner of Colorado so I can be much closer to rafting, paddling boarding, fishing in all varieties, target shooting, archery, snowshoeing, hunting and soaking in the hot springs.

What would you do if you won the lottery?
-If I won the lottery and was set for life, I’d become a full-time animal activist for our Elephants and Rhinos. Those poachers wouldn’t know what hit ’em!

 

5 Ways IT Can Improve Employee Experience

February 13th, 2020 Posted by Best Practices, Managed Service Provider, Staff 0 thoughts on “5 Ways IT Can Improve Employee Experience”

The experience your employees have shapes the quality of their work, their level of productivity, and every interaction they have with a customer. If your employees aren’t happy, your customers won’t be either. The technology and software you provide have a huge impact on your employee experience, and there’s a massive disconnect between most executives and their employees when it comes to how this is going.

Nine of out 10 C-suite executives believe that they choose new technology that delivers what employees need: 50 percent of employees disagree. In fact, close to 40 percent of employees feel that their IT departments and workplace technology experience is completely out of touch with their needs.

So, there’s a chance you may have some work to do. We’ve come up with these 5 ways IT can improve your employee experience to help you out:

 

Listen to your employees

Most people want to do their jobs well, but if there are constant impediments they may give up. Any technology that streamlines or simplifies part of the job will have a positive impact. And it may be a different technology or software for different departments who have different focuses and workflows. Take the time to talk with your employees about what they need to do their jobs, and you might be surprised at the positive results in their productivity and their experience in the company.

Smooth out onboarding

Starting a new job is inherently stressful. Sitting around for a week while a computer is set up, ID’s are created, accounts are set up, and everything is connected to the network makes the whole process a LOT more stressful than it needs to be. Help your new hires hit the ground running and have a positive experience starting by having processes and technology in place to ensure that onboarding happens smoothly and quickly.

Reduce the learning curve

Does your software require intensive training to use? Unless it has some very powerful, very specific functions that you can’t do without, it may not be worth the delayed start time and stress it causes your employees. Take the time to evaluate what you’re getting from your software versus what it’s costing your employees (and therefor you).

Aim for consumer-level experience

Most people have technology embedded in their lives, and they love it. They’ll stand in line for a new phone. Play with a new app until it suits them. Customize everything from their cars to their homes with every tech trick you can imagine. They know how to be good, enthusiastic technology users. Technology companies ensure that they enjoy learning how to use a new product by making those products tailored to suit their consumers’ needs. How does that compare to their experience at work? Are you making it easy for your employees to do their jobs by ensuring that they have the right technology, software, apps, and the knowledge they need to use them?

Upgrade the office

The quality of the technology tools you give your employees to do their jobs sends a message about how important they are (or aren’t) to the company and to you. If your employees are working (or trying to work) on 7-year old computers, a glitchy phone system, and software that makes every task harder than it needs to be, how likely are they to feel valued? How much enthusiasm are they bringing to their work, their customer interactions, and the company? How long will they want to stay? Upgrading is an expense, but so is saddling your company with technology that limits how productive and engaged your employees can be. One has the potential to boost your profits in a big way, while the other ensures that you’ll stay stuck. Which would you rather invest in?

This is a great opportunity to improve your business in every way, now and moving forward. If you need some help evaluating your situation, making a plan to move forward, or implementing your plan, we’re happy to help. Contact us today to see how our solutions can power your business.

 

5 Tips to Improve Business and IT Alignment

January 21st, 2020 Posted by Best Practices, Managed Service Provider, Security, Staff 0 thoughts on “5 Tips to Improve Business and IT Alignment”

The success of any new technology initiative depends on IT and business being on the same page. Otherwise you risk failed projects, lack of measurable ROI, and technology investments that don’t do much to improve the business.

We’ve put this blog post together to help you ensure that both sides of your business are working towards the same goals. Here are 5 tips to keep in mind for successful business and IT alignment:

BE AN ACTIVE LISTENER

Communication should always be a two-way street, and this is no exception. IT and business both have a specific focus. Which means both sides see each situation or challenge through a different lens. Where IT is looking at essential security upgrades and procedures designed to protect the business, the business side might only see an extra expense and processes that could slow down productivity with extra training. Both have a valuable perspective, but it won’t get them anywhere unless they learn how to communicate and compromise.

Remember to listen, ask questions, and communicate clearly not just WHAT you want or need but WHY as well.

HAVE EMPATHY

Something that is a top priority for IT may not even make the list for business, and visa versa. It’s important to put yourself in the other person’s shoes. Not only does this help you see the situation from their perspective, but it means they’re more likely to try to see it from your perspective as well. This can lead to greater trust, easier communication, and more solutions that make everyone happy.

STRIVE TOWARDS MUTUAL GOALS

While it’s true that IT and business might have a very different approach and focus, ultimately everyone is working towards the same goal: the success of the business. If you take the time to ensure that everyone involved, regardless of their role, is focused on this overarching objective, it will help remind everyone that they’re working on the same team.

SPEAK UP ABOUT RISKS

No one wants to be “that person”, the one who’s always preaching doom and gloom or saying “no”. But trust is a huge part of working well together, and you can’t trust someone who lets you make a costly mistake just to avoid being uncomfortable. Whether the risk is about cybersecurity or financial stability, speak up.

REINFORCE THE GOOD, WORK WITH THE BAD

Let’s face it, too often it can feel like IT and business are spending more time butting heads than getting anything done. To help repair this relationship, you’ll need to make a point of emphasizing the good. When you have a productive conversation, come up with a balanced solution to a problem, or create a joint plan for moving forward, remember to point out the success and the people who contributed to it. This helps to establish a new normal, a relationship that is good to be a part of. And when things go a little sideways, because that’s always going to happen sooner or later, instead of slinging blame trying finding the “why”. You’re not looking to roast someone, just to do better in the future.

A MANAGED SERVICES PARTNERSHIP CAN BRIDGE THE GAP

Maintaining alignment between business and IT can easily become a full-time job. This is part of the reason so many SMB’s are turning to Managed Service Providers to help bridge the gap and ensure that IT and business have a mutually supportive and beneficial relationship.

If you’re looking for experts to become a real partner in your business, a partner who can help you align the knowledge, processes, and technology you need to achieve better business outcomes, we’d be happy to talk. Contact us today to learn more.

Top 3 Technology Resolutions for 2020

January 21st, 2020 Posted by Best Practices, Managed Service Provider, Security, Staff 0 thoughts on “Top 3 Technology Resolutions for 2020”

It’s a new year and a new decade, so it’s the perfect time to look at how technology can improve your business. Here are the top 3 technology resolutions you may want to consider:

 

UPDATE TECHNOLOGY

The impact technology has on business is undeniable, and it’s only increasing. Digitally mature businesses stand out because they’re more productive, move with the market, and impress customers by providing quality service and connection through multiple channels.

As you look to the future, you’ll need to understand where your business is today – achieved with a technology audit – and develop a digital transformation strategy that integrates digital solutions where they will benefit your business the most.

 

ENHANCE CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE

It’s no longer enough to provide a quality product; to retain customers a business must also provide a compelling and satisfying customer experience. More and more customers are expecting businesses to provide a digital component to make their experience easier and more engaging.

As you plan your technology budget for 2020, take the time to look at where technology can enhance customer service, increase accessibility, and personalize your customers’ experience. This could be an automated chat feature on your website, predictive analytics, or a more robust CRM. The key is to find the technology that serves your customers’ needs and complements your business culture and goals.

 

SAFEGUARD YOUR BUSINESS

It seems like every day we’re learning about a new, more sophisticated, more aggressive type of cyber attack targeting businesses, local governments, and even schools and hospitals. Add this to the growing number of regulations and risk compliance requirements, and SMB’s have a real challenge on their hands.

When you look for solutions to address these challenges, it’s important to know that there is a multitude of options that allow for a streamlined, customized approach to protecting your business. A little research will show you that compliance and security don’t have to be clunky or a heavy burden on your business anymore.

 

WHAT ARE YOUR TECHNOLOGY RESOLUTIONS FOR 2020?

As you build your path to success in 2020, we invite you to take advantage of the information we offer here on our blog. And, as always, if you need support in prioritizing and planning your technology resolutions, we are more than happy to help!

The SMB’s Cybersecurity Checklist

December 10th, 2019 Posted by Best Practices, Data, Devices, Internet, Networks, Security, Services, Staff 0 thoughts on “The SMB’s Cybersecurity Checklist”

The landscape of digital security has changed, and we want to make sure that small to medium-sized businesses (SMB’s) have the information they need to keep up and keep their businesses, customers, and employees protected. To that end, we’ve prepared a cybersecurity checklist to get you started.

First thing’s first: Your business is not too small to be targeted for an attack.

The data you collect is just as valuable as any other business, and hackers have learned that it’s more likely to be vulnerable. Too many SMB’s rely on the hope that they’re “invisible” to hackers and don’t ensure that they have the proper cybersecurity measures in place. Cybersecurity is just as vital to your business as it is for a Fortune 500 company.

The best foundation for a strong cybersecurity plan is a thorough understanding of your company’s resources and risk factors. If this kind of review is outside the skillset of anyone in your company (or if you simply don’t have the resources to get it done in a timely fashion), we encourage you to consider bringing in a managed service provider (MSP) to do an internal audit and report of all your systems. This audit will then serve as the backbone for your cybersecurity strategy.

Armed with the knowledge you need to evaluate your situation, you can move forward with the checklist and help ensure the success and security of your business.

  • Continuous Education: The majority of security breaches happen because of human error, like losing a password or submitting credentials on a phishing site. Comprehensive training can help your employees understand the risks and avoid them. IT training also makes your employees more valuable by enabling them to be more productive. It’s well worth the time and effort.
  • Regular Risk Assessments and Security Audits: “The best offense is a good defense” certainly applies to cybersecurity. If you take the time to regularly audit and assess your company’s cybersecurity, you’re much more likely to catch a flaw before it’s exploited.
  • Disaster Response Plan: The best way to recover from a disaster is to be prepared ahead of time. Imagine how much easier it would be to respond to a security breach if you know that you have secure backups, security consultants available to assess and repair the breach, a communication plan to notify customers and staff, and a recovery process to get everything back on track.
  • BYOD: Allowing employees to bring their own devices to work allows for a new level of flexibility and connectivity, but it can compromise your security. Developing a comprehensive approach to BYOD security policies can save your business.
  • Layers of Security: From endpoint and mobile devices to networks and users, ensure that each facet of your company has the right protection. No one piece can protect you on its own, but tiered defenses tailored to your business can provide a strong defense against cybercrime
  • Cyber insurance: You have insurance to protect your physical assets, and now it’s time to get insurance that will cover your computer systems and data. Cyber insurance will help protect you against electronic threats that can result in stolen or damaged data as well as expensive liability and recovery costs.

4 Ways to Weaken Your Security

October 22nd, 2019 Posted by Best Practices, Data, Hackers, Internet, Networks, Security, Staff 0 thoughts on “4 Ways to Weaken Your Security”

The list of “to do’s” for cybersecurity can get pretty long and overwhelming. So, in honor of National Cybersecurity Awareness Month, we’re giving you a short list of what NOT to do instead. Here are four of our favorite ways to weaken your security and make it easy for hackers to take advantage of your business.

Don’t worry about unauthorized logons

While most attempts to log on to your network are provably valid actions by verified users, there is a good chance that at least some are hackers attempting to penetrate your security. Each attempt can tell them something about your network, increasing their chances of success. Monitoring your perimeter security for suspicious activity can help IT personnel take action before your company is compromised.

Use random configurations

It only takes one device with an incorrect configuration to weaken your entire perimeter security system. One firewall misconfiguration can give hackers access to your entire network, and you won’t like what they do once they’re in. A system to ensure proper configuration upon installation plus regular auditing can help avoid this.

Ignore scanning attempts

Network scanning is used by hackers to find weak points in your network. If you don’t bother to monitor your network for scanning threats, you might miss out on malicious attempts until your data has been compromised.

Make your VPN easily accessible

Virtual private networks (VPNs) are a popular way to improve the security of remote connections for many businesses, but there are risks to using any method. Giving VPN access to employees who don’t need it or allowing employees to access it through public WiFi can both cause problems. The more people with access, the more difficult it is to ensure that it’s only being used by the right people. Accessing a VPN through public WiFi can give hackers a chance to steal your employee’s credentials. Restricting users, providing usage guidelines, and monitoring usage can help avoid these issues and protect your network.

If this still sounds overwhelming and you’d like some help ensuring the security of your network, your data, and your business, we’d be happy to help. Contact us today to speak with a Think network engineer.

Does this smell “phishy” to you?

October 17th, 2019 Posted by Best Practices, Hackers, Internet, Networks, Security, Staff 0 thoughts on “Does this smell “phishy” to you?”

Phishing attacks use malicious emails or websites cleverly disguised as legitimate points of contact and business to lure you into giving criminals access to your personal, financial, and business information. Attacks are on the rise, especially for SMB’s. Think was even targeted earlier this year. With the stakes for your business (both for your finances and your reputation) getting higher every year, we’ve prepared some information and security tips to help you deal with the “phishy” stuff that could come up.

 

Phrases to watch out for

Phishing attempts have come a long way from “I’m a Nigerian prince”. Criminals are using the same language that a business associate, bank contact, or client would use to trick you and your employees into giving away valuable information and access. Language like:

“We suspect an unauthorized transaction on your account. To ensure that your account is not compromised, please click the link below and confirm your identity.”

“We were unable to verify your account. Please click here to update and verify your information.”

“Hey, it’s (your boss’s name). I’m stuck in a meeting, could you pick up some gift cards for me?” (this one made the rounds in Durango via email and text message)

“This is Todd from IT, and I need you to send me your login information so we can do some maintenance on your computer” (sent from what looks like a legitimate company email)

 

What to do

Play hard to get – if anything doesn’t look or feel right, DO NOT click on any links in the email or reply to the email. Contact the company/financial institution/person directly. And DO NOT use any phone numbers given in the email, those are easily faked too.

Take a breath – criminals want you in a hurry and not thinking too hard about what you’re doing, so there is almost always some sense of urgency to a phishing attempt. Take your time and ensure that any information/access you’re giving is going to the right person for the right reasons.

Don’t get too personal – with so much information available online about our jobs and our lives, it can be all too easy for criminals to collect this information and try to use it to manipulate us. Try to avoid putting too many details out there, and remember that it’s not just the people who are close to you who can get access anymore.

Beware the link – hyperlinks in emails are a favorite way for criminals to trick you into downloading malicious software (just takes one click) or enter your information on a website that only LOOKS legitimate. Don’t click anything you aren’t completely confident in, and even then think twice.

Double up – two-factor authentication is an effective and inexpensive security measure that could make all the difference for your company. With two-factor authentication, it’s much more difficult for a criminal to access sensitive information even with a login and password, because they’re still missing a key piece of the puzzle. (To learn more about two-factor authentication visit our blog post here.)

Think passphrase – The longer and more creative your password is, the more difficult it will be to hack or guess. Instead of trying to come up with bizarre spellings for common words, you could try a nonsense phrase. Like: phishingemailsarejustawful! They’re easier to remember and to type.

Bring in security – you don’t have to do this on your own, and you shouldn’t try. There are some amazing anti-virus programs and email filters that will help you protect your company from multiple types of attacks. Your odds of protecting your business, your employees, your customers, and yourself go way up when you’re using the right tools for the job.

Using Cybersecurity as a Differentiator in Your Business

September 23rd, 2019 Posted by Best Practices, Disaster, Hackers, Networks, Security, Staff 0 thoughts on “Using Cybersecurity as a Differentiator in Your Business”

Customers are more aware than ever of how vulnerable their information is, and they depend on you to step up and to keep them safe while providing them with excellent customer service. Here are 5 steps to help your company gain a competitive edge with cybersecurity.

Audit, audit, audit – you can’t fix a hole unless you know where it is, and more than 70% of all cybersecurity incidents today are the result of internal security issues. Frequent and consistent audits of your network will give you the knowledge you need to address any issues before they become a security breach.

Get certified – does your industry have guidelines or standards for compliance in security? If so, make it a point to get very familiar with them and seek out any certifications offered. This will help you better protect your customers and your business, help you avoid costly fines, and it will show your customers that you take your commitment to them seriously.

It’s a culture thing – cybersecurity is all about team work. Every single person in your company is a part of your defense against data breaches and other security threats, and it’s important that they understand how valuable a proactive approach is in protecting your company and your customers. Making security a part of your company culture also communicates your dedication to your customers. The more they feel comfortable and safe doing business with your company, the more they’ll be inclined to recommend you.

Get everyone up to speed – values and culture are important, but your employees need the practical skills to walk their talk. Make sure that you’re taking the time to educate your employees on best practices, current threats, and how to get the most out of the technology and software you provide.

Spread the word – top notch cybersecurity isn’t something you want to keep to yourself. Tell your customers about your commitment to their privacy on your website, in your newsletter, and in ads. Let them know about your certifications, or talk about your employee certifications and trainings on social media. It will help them appreciate your company in a whole new way.

Don’t wait for a breach to take care of your business and your customers, start today. And if you want an expert to help you get everything done right, we have engineers and advisers that are more than happy to help you assess your situation and move forward with a plan that’s tailored to your business. Contact us today to learn more.

5 Bad Habits of IT Departments

September 23rd, 2019 Posted by Best Practices, Devices, Security, Staff 0 thoughts on “5 Bad Habits of IT Departments”

Even the best of intentions can be sabotaged by bad habits, and IT departments are no exception. In this post we’ll share with you the top 5 bad habits you’ll want to watch out for in your IT department.

  1. Bad timing with new technologies

With technology moving in leaps and bounds, the phrase “Timing is everything” has taken on a whole new meaning. If a technology is adopted too early, your business and employees will have to suffer through all the bugs, outages, and partially-formed processes that are a given with emerging tech. But, if the new technology is adopted too late, you’ll be in a mad scramble just to keep up with your industry. The right timing is crucial to ensure that technology is an asset or even a competitive edge.

  1. The wrong focus in hiring

Too often when a role opens in IT, too much emphasis is put on specific knowledge of certain software, hardware, and processes. These laundry lists of tech knowledge can scare away great candidates who may be a great fit for the company, even if they would need to pick up a new skill or two. At the end of the day, ensuring that a new employee is going to fit well into your company culture and is willing (and enthusiastic!) about learning new skills will have a much more positive outcome for your business.

  1. A rigid course

Having a plan for your business is essential, and the IT department should have a plan that supports your business plan. But being too rigid can cause major issues. It’s important to leave enough flexibility to allow for circumstances to change and new opportunities that may become available. If your IT department is focusing on specific software or hardware instead of which direction will best support your business goals, you could end up locked into a course that becomes obsolete or cumbersome by the time it’s put into motion.

  1. People pleasing

In a culture where we have so many different options and rarely have to choose just one, employees can get in the habit of asking the IT department to support any and all of their favorite applications and services. And, because they want to keep everyone happy, the IT department says “yes” without really looking at the potential consequences. What ends up happening is your business network becomes flooded with too many applications and services for your IT department to manage efficiently or safely. Each of these applications or services is a potential security breach, and each can fail or glitch at any time. Does your IT department have the skills and time to support all of this? Is it how you want them to spend their time? Or is it better to risk ruffling a few feathers to keep your IT streamlined, efficient, and secure?

  1. Skipping the training

All the high-end technology in the world can’t help your business if no one knows how to use it. If your IT department isn’t providing your employees with comprehensive training and documentation, you’re wasting your money. Think of the videoconferencing or projection equipment you’ve seen collecting dust on so many conference tables. Or the phone system features that have never been utilized. These tools could be a major benefit to the business, but your staff isn’t comfortable relying on something they can’t confidently operate.

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