Even If You Don’t Hear About Small Business Breaches, They Happen

If you have a bank account or a credit card, chances are you’ve been made aware of a hack or a data breach. Big organizations are more frequently being breached, forcing them to run damage control for the often millions of customers affected. News coverage often bashes these big organizations, but what about smaller ones? The truth is, smaller businesses are breached just as often, with the consequences being just as severe.

Does Your Business Really Have to Worry About Data Breaches?

When the news reports a data breach or large-scale cyberattack, the event in question is usually one that has targeted an astronomical number of people, or has created difficulties that are undeniably newsworthy. How often has the national news reported a breach in one of your local Mom and Pop shops, as compared to entities like Equifax or Capital One?

 

Obviously, it makes sense that these small-scale attacks don’t often hit the national news cycle… after all, the Equifax breach compromised the data of 40 percent of Americans. However, in the month of July 2019 alone, there were approximately 2.2 billion records leaked over an assortment of 27 different cyberattacks. That’s about a quarter of the world’s population – not accounting for overlap between the information accessed.

 

Now, you may be wondering, how do these major breaches influence your business? Well, I’d like you to consider how many employees (out of a total of 49,000) Capital One has dedicated to its cybersecurity and data theft prevention? While I don’t have the official number to give you, it’s a pretty safe bet that it’s more than the average small business in Dallas.

Why Small Businesses are Vulnerable

As a result, a cybercriminal generally finds it much easier to access a small business’ network, and while the gains to be had are significantly smaller than they would be to hack into a global enterprise, many cybercriminals prefer to take the “larger amounts of smaller payouts” than the “more challenging single payout” option.

 

It’s no wonder, either…nearly 40 percent of small businesses ultimately pay up when faced with ransomware, and a single person’s personal information can be sold on the Dark Web for anywhere from $1 to a thousand times that… all depending on how much of their data was stolen. How many records like this do you keep on your customers and employees? It doesn’t take very many to make it worthwhile for a cybercriminal to steal them.

Many Attacks are Random

Chances are, if you were to be targeted right now by some kind of online threat, it would probably be more due to bad luck than it would be due to a concerted effort against you, specifically. Many of today’s biggest cyberthreats are the ones that can spread independently – things like phishing, malware, and trojans. Once a system is infected, the threat can spread via a network connection or an email.

 

While these threats have largely become obscured by the more newsworthy breaches, they are no less dangerous to a business.

How Can My Organization Protect Itself without an Enterprise Budget?

Smaller organizations do have one considerable advantage over large enterprises, like the 49,000-employee Capital One: fewer employees means fewer points of entry for a cyberthreat. You need to be sure that each employee, each piece of technology, every access method, and too many other factors to list here are all properly secured. The smaller size of a small business makes this a much more manageable goal.

How to Secure a Small Business

  • Deploy the basics: protect your organization with centralized antivirus and antimalware, keep an updated firewall, maintain content filtering and intrusion detection solutions, use a spam blocker, and keep everything patched and updated.
  • Comprehensive monitoring: this helps to catch issues early before they become major problems.
  • Employee training: educating and evaluating you team will help prepare them for dealing with real threats they encounter.
  • Compliance audits: based on the industry you operate in and the data you retain, you need to be sure you are abiding by established security standards.
  • Data access requirements: enforcing things like Bring Your Own Device policies and password guidelines will help keep company data secure.
  • Backup and disaster recovery: in the case of a data disaster, you will want to be able to restore your business’ data from a backup and continue operations.

 

While this isn’t a one-size fits all list, a business of any size should use these practices as a least a starting point for their IT security. If you want more help in keeping your business secure, reach out to VentureNet. An IT security audit and the right solutions are just a call to 214-343-3550 away.

 

How Google is Trying to Make Passwords Easier and Better

Common opinion more or less states that passwords aren’t so much “necessary,” as they are a “necessary evil.” The best practices that are recommended to maintain the efficacy of passwords today can certainly feel excessive – which tempts many users into ignoring these practices, to the detriment of their security. Fortunately, many large companies – like Google – are trying to make passwords easier to manage.

What Is Password Checkup?

Consider how common weak passwords (things like “abc123” or “QWERTY” or “password”) are, even after the vulnerabilities that passwords like these can present have been so clearly demonstrated. There are entire lists available online discussing how common these kinds of passwords are. A whole 66 percent of surveyed Americans confess to using – and repeating – weak passwords across accounts.

 

Many tools have been designed to help fight these tendencies, like the password managers that many different designers have tackled – including the team at Google. One major step to accomplishing this goal was to introduce a built-in password manager to a user’s Google account and Chrome browser. Not only does this option eliminate the need for a user to remember dozens of different passwords, it simply makes them more convenient to input.

 

However, this didn’t really stop users from resorting to sub-par passwords, so Google has released another new feature, incorporated into its password management solution, to help users maintain proper password security. This feature is known as Password Checkup.

What Does Password Checkup Do?

Password Checkup examines the passwords that you have saved to your Google Account and confidentially analyzes them for common issues, like:

 

  • Involvement in a security breach – Has one of your passwords been exposed in a third-party breach to attackers?
  • Password reuse – Is a password repeated across different sites? Instead of one account being breached, this opens multiple accounts to easier misuse.
  • Insufficient password strength – How easy would someone find it to guess your password, with just a little bit of online digging to inform them?

 

As a result of these checks, Google can inform users when a password needs to be changed – and these alerts will also pop up in context.

 

This feature was made available as an extension of the Chrome Web Store in February of 2019. However, due to the importance of security, its features have been directly integrated into Chrome and Google accounts.

You can use the new password tool by going to https://passwords.google.com while logged into your Google account.

How Else Can I Improve My Passwords?

There are numerous methods that can be used to increase the security of your passwords, in addition to relying on a tool from Google. For instance:

  • Consider Using Passphrases – Passphrases are an alternative to passwords that have shown to be effective security measures, while also being more memorable to a user. Rather than trying to remember a series of random letters, numbers, and symbols, a passphrase requires a user to remember a pattern of disparate words with no context to connect them. This is inherently easier to remember, as you can create a reminder that gives you enough context to recall your passphrase.

    So, let’s say you picture a census taker reclining on a couch, smiling as he slurps down some minestrone. This image could be your reminder for a passphrase like “PollSatisfiedLoungeSip.”

  • Switch Out the Digits – Once you’ve created a passphrase that you are happy with, you can always incorporate some other password complexity tricks, like substituting different characters for others. So, returning to our example, “PollSatisfiedLoungeSip” could become “P0!!Satisfi3dL0ung3$!p.”
  • Add Details – As the time comes to update your passphrase, you may consider simply adding a detail to your imagined image. Perhaps our census taker specializes in automotive data, making our updated passphrase read: “Vr00mP0!!Satisfi3dL0ung3$!p.”

 

Passwords are one of the most basic fundamentals of your business’ data security, which means you have to be sure that they are able to hold their own against the many means out there to undermine them. VentureNet can help you to accomplish this, and many more elements of your business IT’s security and functionality. Call 214-343-3550 today to learn more.

Data Privacy Issues You Need to Confront

Data privacy is the kind of issue that people don’t ever want to deal with. In fact, many of the organizations that we come in contact with have a lot of personal data on file, and some of them (even some of the most reputable) are at risk to have that data stolen from them. This month, we’ll go over what constitutes personal information, why it is constantly being targeted for thefts, and what you need to do to keep your personal information as secure as possible.

 

Personal Information

Personal data refers to all information that identifies an individual. The typical info includes:

  • Full Name
  • Phone Number
  • Email address
  • Birthdate
  • Social security number
  • Passwords
  • Biometric data

Today the exposure to risk for individual data loss is higher than ever before. This is because more organizations have access to this data. Think about how many businesses ask for your personal information when you first sign up for their service. You may not think anything of it at the time, after all they are reputable and won’t lose it, until they do.

Control Over Personal Data

Since every transaction you make online involves handing over some form of personal data, you need to understand the basics of data privacy. Not only because it will help you keep your own information out of the hands of people who are looking to do ill with it, but because it will give you a better perspective of the blowback that can happen when a business is careless with its customers/employees data.

 

The truth is that you can’t really trust companies to protect your personal information. In Europe, the EU has made significant strides to ensure that people’s private information is being protected, but in many parts of the world, it is on the company to protect it; often with disastrous effect. This is why you have to be mindful of who you provide this information to, and how you monitor it.

 

The statistics suggest that people are at least getting more skeptical about how companies are using their information, but it doesn’t seem to be doing much good in the practical sense. People are continuously willing to distribute their information with the confidence that the data will be compromised by the companies they give it to. Less than a quarter of surveyed respondents say they believe companies are doing enough to protect their information, while 10 percent believe that they maintain control over their own personal data.

 

The strange thing about these numbers is their correlation to what consumers want. 92 percent of surveyed consumers said that they absolutely would love to have control over their personal data; and, 87 percent would like to be able to remove personal data from the Internet if it negatively affects their reputation.

Problems and Solutions

It would be easy to say that the solution to deal with data privacy is just being diligent about the people that you give your data to, but it’s not really that simple. The best way to understand what practices help promote the security of sensitive data is to look at the threats. They include:

 

  • Phishing Attacks – Right now, there is no attack vector more common than phishing, which relies on a user to fall victim to a legitimate-looking email. Some of the most recent high-profile cyberattacks started with a phishing email.
  • Vulnerabilities in applications – Data breaches are often caused by software that isn’t updated with up-to-date threat definitions. This problem can happen to any organization that isn’t diligently updating the software it uses.
  • Poorly trained workers/sabotage – You wouldn’t believe just how many massive data breaches are caused by the people that a business depends on the most. If your staff isn’t properly trained, or you have disgruntled employees that have access to sensitive information, those situations could end poorly for you.
  • Lack of response – Even if you have all the security you need in place, breach is still a possibility. That’s why it is crucial to be prepared in the event of a breach that your organization has the tools and expertise to mitigate the situation before it becomes a problem.
  • Refusal to dispose of data – Your organization may find the data it takes in useful for multiple reasons, but if you sever ties with customers, vendors, and staff, it is your responsibility to securely dispose of their personal information. A failure to do so in a timely fashion could lead to a negative situation. Get rid of the data you no longer need, especially if it contains sensitive information.
  • Collection of unnecessary data – If data is a form of currency, it stands to reason that it will be shared between companies. If you don’t need the data, however, why do you have it? Possessing data you don’t intend to use–or don’t need–can lead to losing track of it.

 

Much of the problem organizations have controlling the sensitive information that they obtain comes from a lack of understanding of the data that is in their possession, the lack of effort to properly protect that data, or the use of the data for purposes that aren’t explicitly outlined in their agreements. Without a diligent approach to keep sensitive data away from hackers, there is a good chance that your organization will have to confront these issues in an arena that is a lot less attractive than one you can control.

Add Cybersecurity Best Practices to Your Next Hire’s Training

Growth can be very exciting for a business. It generally means that all the hard work that has gone into getting the business to that point has paid off. For some in your organization however, it can be a very stressful time. This is because once you commit to pay new employees, there’s some pressure to get them up to speed quickly. After all, what are you paying them for?

 

By slowing down your training process and making sure to touch every element of the new staff member’s responsibilities, including security, you can be confident that your new hires won’t be more of a detriment than the benefit they’ve been brought on to be. Let’s identify some security-related training items that you absolutely have to touch when onboarding new employees.

Keep It Clean

The first element that you want to train your new hires on is a simple one and will actually benefit everyone: Keeping a clean workstation. We all have worked with that one person that has stacks of paper, old coffee cups, and other trash taking up the majority of their desks. You may be thinking, why does keeping a clean desk benefit the organization? Mainly because it is easier to find things if they are filed in the proper place, but also because people who don’t keep a tidy workplace have a tendency to leave sensitive information out in the open. If anyone that walks by has access to work documents, there is a good chance that there is going to be some information left exposed that could, if used by someone outside the organization, become a major problem.

 

If it is explained, as a part of the onboarding process, that your business has a Clean Desk policy–in which it is expected that any documents that have any potentially sensitive information be filed away from public view–it will go a long way toward ensuring that passersby won’t have access to that information. Under a Clean Desk policy, all sensitive or confidential information has to be removed from public view at the end of each day.

Bring Your Own Device Policy

Most people won’t think much of bringing their phone anywhere they go; and, the modern business can use this ubiquity to their advantage. Before that can happen, however, the new staff members have to be on board with your Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policy. The purpose of your BYOD is to secure the use of personal devices on the business networks. This policy also includes all Internet-connected devices like smart watches, music players, and the like. Since each device carries with it the possibility of threat, choosing which devices you want to support on your network is the first step. Remember, it’s not necessarily about totally restricting personal devices, it’s about establishing policies to protect company data when personal devices are present.

 

As far as training goes, you will inform your new hires that your business has a very serious BYOD policy that they can accept or deny. If they choose not to participate, their devices will not be available on the organization’s network. If they opt in (which many begrudgingly do) they will gain access to company resources, while giving the organization the ability to manage the use of business files, applications, and access on the device. All new hires need to understand that their use of business resources from that device could be monitored and managed by network administrators. You’ll want to explain what you, as the business owner, can and cannot do, and that is not to invade their privacy (you don’t want employees thinking you can read their text messages, and they WILL assume that if you aren’t careful).

Computer Habits

Data Management

Managing data is a big deal for nearly any organization, and during the onboarding process it should be brought to new hires’ attention. It is their responsibility to file digital data in the proper places. If your organization doesn’t do a good job informing new hires exactly how they go about managing their internal data before deploying them to do a job, there is a good chance that data that belongs in one place will be filed away in another. It has a negative effect on the overall efficiency of the business.

Removable Media

Nowadays, using removable media in business is inadvisable. Most businesses have network attached storage and cloud computing resources that they can use to transfer information. If an employee were to have to use an external media source it would have to be one provided by the company. Any other removable media should not be brought into a business.

Cybersecurity

Chances are that any worker that is using a computer for work, will need to be taught how to interact with online resources, including email and social media. As far as risk, access to the Internet for a new employee is right up there with giving them hazardous materials to dispose of. Even the most seasoned Internet users can fall victim to phishing attacks or other malicious entities on the Internet, so for the uninitiated, it is important that they understand just how critical it is to be vigilant in the face of unrelenting threats. Before they are unleashed, they should have to prove that they:

 

  • Understand phishing tactics – Phishing is the number one threat to any business right now. Phishing, a social engineering tactic that aims to gain authorization to network resources, can result in data breaches, malware, and more.
  • Shadow IT – New hires should understand that network administrators handle the downloading, updating, and deleting of software, not employees. The better they understand that any unapproved application could be the one that puts a business in danger, the more likely they will be reluctant to go ahead and try to download unapproved software on their company workstations.
  • Social media – Having a social media training program that makes them understand that their social media use in the workplace should be commensurate with their social media-related tasks, makes sense for any business.
  • Email scams – Besides phishing (which we can’t stress enough is the most prevalent problem facing the modern business), spam emails are a threat as routing through them wastes time and hinders productivity.

 

Since employees play an important role in your business’ success, when you onboard some new ones make sure that they won’t be the ones that reverse that trend. If you would like help from our IT experts at VentureNet, call us today at 214-343-3550.

 

We Are Like Having Insurance on Top of Your Insurance

Insurance companies will write a policy for anything that makes them profit. For example, British Insurance has collected over $3 million from Californians who have bought alien abduction insurance. You likely have insurance protecting your company’s assets from every kind of threat, even the extraterrestrial kind, but do you have an insurance policy for your company’s data?

While you can give British Insurance a call and probe them about their alien abduction insurance policy, you would be hard pressed to find an insurance company that will insure your company’s data. The reality of not finding coverage for your data is actually crazier than believing in aliens, because data is what a business runs on, and if something were to happen to your data, and it could not be recovered, then your business would have a higher risk of going under.

Managed IT services from VentureNet can protect your business from the risk of data loss. We even go one step further by remotely maintaining and supporting your technology; and as far as we’re concerned, we think this is better than insurance. This is because a traditional insurance policy will only take effect after a disaster happens, whereas managed IT services from VentureNet will help to prevent disasters.

To be clear, you will still want to have insurance for your office and hardware. In the event of a disaster, it’s advantageous to have a check that covers your losses. You can think of VentureNet as the perfect way to supplement your current insurance policy. If you have both traditional insurance and our managed IT services protecting your business, then you will have your hardware and your software covered, which makes for a strong business continuity plan. Here are three managed IT services from VentureNet that will essentially be like getting insurance for your insurance.

 

Backup and Disaster Recovery Solution

A BDR solution continuously backs up your company’s data and recovers it in the event of a disaster. Even if a major disaster where to hit your business, like an alien death ray vaporizing your entire office, your data would be safe because a BDR will have it redundantly backed up to an offsite cloud server. After the aliens are defeated by Will Smith, and your new equipment is bought and installed, a BDR solution will then transfer your data to your new hardware and your business will be up and running again.

 

IT Vendor Management

Another way VentureNet is better than insurance is because we are dedicated to solving your technology problems. As great as insurance companies are at customer service, finding new ways to solve your problems is typically outside their scope of service.

Our IT vendor management service is a great example of how we go above and beyond to try and solve your technology problems. This service covers your technology that we do not specialize in repairing. If a piece of equipment covered by a vendor breaks, like a copy machine, we will contact the vendor on your behalf and schedule a fix, saving you hassle and making us your one point of contact for all your technology problems.

 

Managed Proactive IT Service

With our remote monitoring and maintenance tools, we can service and support all of your company’s servers and workstations from our end. Our managed IT services go beyond fixing broken computers, it provides your IT infrastructure with regular maintenance so all of your technology will run smoothly, which means that you will have fewer breakdowns.

Having your computers properly maintained is like having your car maintained by a professional mechanic every night while it’s parked in your garage. You will still want to have your car insured, but with proper maintenance, your car will last longer. Having proper car maintenance means there’s less of a chance you will need to cash in your insurance policy from your vehicle breaking down. In this same way, all of our managed IT services will protect the technology you think is valuable enough to insure.

If you want the best possible protection for your company’s technology by having your data backed up, making sure that all the equipment in your office is covered, and having your servers and workstations run at maximum efficiency, then give VentureNet a call at 214-343-3550.

3 Mistakes that can Slice Through Your Security

One technology misstep a business will make is to think that having one good antivirus program is all they need. Having strong security software is just one part of the security equation; the habits of the user are equally important and are often neglected. An inexperienced user can void even the best security software.

You can think of your company’s network like a power tool. It’s designed to make your job easier, but like a power tool, when it’s mishandled, it can be dangerous. The blade that can so easily cut hardwood will also cut through bone. Even with all the security features that come with a power tool, in the hands of a dummy, a hand may be lost.

Training employees to properly use your computers is just as important as having shop class for a young craftsman. Nobody who values safety will give a teenager a circular saw and say, “Build me a piece of ornate furniture.” If you want to have an inexperienced woodworker build you a chair using a bandsaw, then it would be smart to have a first-aid kit handy.

Before you give a new hire login credentials and grant them access to your network, you will first want to send them to network security shop class. Here are three security practices you will want to train your new employees in that will keep your data and everybody’s fingers safe.

 

Be Careful What You Download

All it takes is one slip up to bring down your entire system with a single bad download. Without clear Internet usage policies in place, or if an employer doesn’t take the time to assess their new employee’s understanding of security fundamentals, then you are leaving your network vulnerable to malware from bad downloads.

One common scenario where bad downloads happen is when an employee finds a better way to do their job using different software than what your company provides. They will then download this software, even if it means clicking “override” when your fancy anti-virus software warns them of the risks. An employee that hits “override” may not understand that their favorite software may have been developed by a third-party company, and they come loaded with malware and spyware that will wreak havoc on your network.

To be clear, it’s okay to have employees download and use different software, but if you want to prevent disasters like this, then you will need to first train your team in the basics of network security, or at least have them first communicate to your IT support team what they want to download so it can be tested.

 

Don’t Make Wireless Access Too Easy

If your wireless network was not setup with strong security in mind, then it’s possible that an amateur may have thrown together your wireless router and passwords in an effort to quickly get everything up and running. It’s easy to setup a wireless network (many wireless devices are designed for plug and play), but it takes effort to properly stay on top of wireless security. This means using complex passwords, regularly making new passwords, giving each user their own login credentials, and more.

A common mistake that a network administrator will make is to have one easy-to-remember password, like “guest,” for everybody in the company to use. This approach to wireless network security can be detrimental because it also makes access to the network easy for hackers.

Think about how many different employees have come and gone since your wireless network was set up. Employees may have unintentionally passed on their working passwords to the wrong people, giving strangers full access to your company’s files. This is a classic human error that can override even the best security software.

 

Know What Email Scams Look Like

E-mail threats are well known, and some scams are obvious, like the one’s promising miracle pills. Then there are the email scams that are more deceptive and use the logo of your bank or pretend to be from a long lost friend. Even some of the brightest employees can fall for these scams.

A failure like this often stems from a lack of training and doesn’t necessarily reflect on the intelligence of the victim. For example, a high school student who has perfect grades yet lacks training on how to handle a power tool, will make a fool of themselves in advanced shop class, and may even lose a finger or two.

When an employee falls for an email scam, it works the same way as when bad software is downloaded. Even though your anti-virus software may warn, “This attachment is bad,” a determined employee can still click “Override” because they really want to claim that prize.

There is a variety of email scams hitting your inbox all the time, and new ones are being dreamed up every day. If you include even a 30 minute overview of what to look for with email scams with your new hire orientation, then you will be saved a major security headache down the road.

Don’t get us wrong, having strong security software on your network is vital, and to that end we recommend our Unified Threat Management tool. A UTM solution can filter out the Internet’s most dangerous websites and keep track of which employees are doing what online; but even our bulletproof UTM can be brought down by an untrained 9 fingered employee.

If you would like more information about our UTM security solution, or you would like assistance in training your employees on how to safely use your network, then give VentureNet a call at 214-343-3550!

Call in the Professionals to Assist With Your Upgrade

As your business grows, it’s inevitable that you will have to upgrade your technology in order to accommodate the growing demands on your network. Even if your business isn’t growing, your technology will age. Sooner or later, you will have to upgrade. When it comes time to upgrade, you can get the most out of your purchases with professional assistance.

Business technology is a major investment, and not just because of the large price tag. Equipping your office with the right solutions can be very profitable to your bottom line. If you understand what you’re paying for, and know how it will increase your productivity and revenue, then you will see the value of upgrading and do it with confidence. The IT professionals at VentureNet want to help you find an affordable technology solution that’s a perfect fit for your needs. We do this by taking the time to develop a business relationship with you. Here are 3 ways that a business relationship with VentureNet can help you get the most from your upgrade.

 

Having an Understanding of Your Goals and Needs

The advantage of a business relationship is that it’s rooted in providing you outstanding customer service. This comes from VentureNet taking the time to learn about the goals and the needs of your company, and then taking that knowledge to match what you need, with technology solutions you can afford.

Shopping for new technology can be a daunting task, especially if you don’t know exactly what you need. By not a having a clear grasp on what you really need, it’s easy to fall for clever marketing ploys and buy an overpriced device just because an advertisement said it was the best. It’s kind of like going to the grocery store while you are hungry and buying the expensive junk food at the front of the store because of the cartoon characters on the packaging, when all you really need is one inexpensive and nutritious meal.

 

Knowing the Technology You Own

Why do you feel the need to upgrade from your old technology? Is it because feel the pains of using outdated equipment, or is it because you think your technology looks outdated? It may be that some of your old equipment is working fine, or just in need of an inexpensive tune up, instead of complete overhaul. It may even be that the piece of equipment you perceive to be in need of an upgrade, may actually be working fine, and your issue lies with a different piece of technology.

It’s a bad feeling when you drop the money to replace something that’s not broken, only to find out the issue lies somewhere else. Part of the business relationship equation means that we take the time to assess your current IT infrastructure; this way, you can have confidence in the equipment you are upgrading to, and get the most out of the technology you have by extending its life.

 

Predicting Your Future Needs

With these two big business relationship pieces in place, (us knowing your needs and your IT infrastructure), we can now work with you and accurately predict your future IT needs. We have a deep understanding of how technology affects business, along with the technology trends. We can also analyze your company’s growth projections to get a clear picture of what technology you will need in the next one-to-five years. You can think of this service as a form of insurance so you don’t get stuck having to replace equipment that you just purchased because your business outgrew it in only a few short months.

It’s reasonable to expect at least five years of use out of most computer network devices. When buying new technology, one mistake that businesses often make is only taking into consideration the current needs of their company. Having an IT Roadmap put together for you by VentureNet will empower you to shop smarter so you can buy exactly what you need, right when you need it. A good IT roadmap will also allow you to budget for your upgrades; this way, you won’t get stuck with an unexpected bill when your old equipment breaks.

Upgrading your network is a major expense. To upgrade properly, you will needs to take into consideration your company’s budget, needs and goals, plans for growth, as well as being aware of the technicalities of how the equipment works. Otherwise, you might buy the wrong technology and waste your time and money. With an important purchase like this, it’s good to have professional help. Give VentureNet a call at 214-343-3550 and let us get to know your business so we can help you upgrade your technology, along with your bottom line!

Network Security Basics

The modern threat landscape is filled with horror stories of people that have been the victim of software vulnerabilities, hackers, and situations that could have been managed differently. Today, we will go over some of the best ways to keep your business from being a victim of a data breach, data theft, or malware attack.

Authentication

The best place to start is at the beginning. The first tip is to have strong authentication procedure. Most machines, network-attached devices, and wireless devices that use company Wi-Fi will already have a password-based authorization system. With strong enough passwords in place, a password-only system can be enough to keep most threats out, but these days your business depends on you being sure that all threats are prevented. A multi-factor authentication (MFA) system is a great solution to this issue. Often deployed with two-factor authentication (2FA), an authentication system works to make getting into a system more difficult, therefore enhancing security.

 

The way two-factor authentication works to secure authorization is pretty simple. A login system with a password is used as normal, but after the login and password are entered, instead of taking the user to the information, it takes them to another screen that requires a randomly-created code processed by a third-party authentication app to be entered. Most people choose to use their mobile device to facilitate (and expediate) the entire process. If this is the case, the device has to be given authorization by an administrator of the 2FA system. Ultimately, for the modern small business, 2FA can improve their authentication procedures enough to ensure security is maintained.

Protecting Your Environment

For the Local Area Network or Wide Area Network, security best practices are pretty straight forward. First, you start with authentication (of course), but in order to secure the machines and data that make up the computing network, there needs to be a dedication to three entirely separate strategies. They are: software, physical security, and training.

Software

Software has long been a part of a comprehensive network security strategy. Firewalls, antivirus, content filtering, spam detection, and other software tools are deployed to protect organizational data. Some organizations are now using email encryption systems to ensure that business messages aren’t able to be intercepted.

 

Tip: To find the right software solutions, and where to deploy them, consider your organization’s data flow. The more you know how your data flows, the easier–and more cost effective–implementing security will be.

Physical Security

You may not think that physical security is that important to protect network security, but all it takes is one person to gain one set of login credentials to put your whole endeavor in jeopardy. Deploying biometric authorization for your business and server room has become en vogue recently, while a dedicated surveillance system with alarms and cameras can make all the difference in protecting your physical hardware and access information.

 

Tip: To ascertain what kind of physical security you need to implement for your business, hiring an outside consultant may be the best way to get the kind of security-first perspective you need to ensure your data, hardware, and staff remains safe.

Training

With so many threats out there, every business needs to have a comprehensive training platform in place to help educate and test your staff, who are statistically the weakest link in your whole organization’s network security strategy. You need to make sure they know what threats are out there; and, what their responsibility is in keeping your network free from threats.

 

Tip: Phishing is the number one problem for businesses and individuals, alike. Start there and move to more complex issues as needed. Everyone will be more effective the more cognizant they are of phishing tactics and remediation practices.

Remote Solutions

Nowadays, organizations need solutions to protect their physical networks, but they also need to ensure that their staff’s mobile devices don’t bring in unwanted problems onto the network; and that workers that work outside the confines of the LAN or WAN can have access to company files and resources.

 

Cloud computing has been one of the fastest-growing technologies for businesses. Since it transfers costs and eliminates some major capital expenses, it is being rolled out more now than ever before. The cloud also gives people outside the network the ability to access data and applications remotely. Many cloud platforms come completely managed and with powerful security and privacy options to ensure resources are secure.

 

Since most people nowadays rely on their mobile devices, businesses have to have a plan on how to manage them–or, better yet, use them–to the organization’s benefit. Creating a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policy that utilizes powerful mobile device management software to give you control over endpoints is the smart way to handle these problems.

 

Network security needs to be a major component of your IT strategy. For more information about how VentureNet can help, call us today at 214-343-3550.

The Best Way to Value Managed IT Services

Can you place a value on your organization’s IT solutions? Sure, but the true value of them is really how much money they save you in the grand scheme of things. On the opposite end of the spectrum, the amount of capital your technology solutions cost could completely sink any profits your business pulls in. How can you optimize efficiency? After all, you can make as many sales out there as you want, but if you have no way of keeping track of things, you’re asking for a failed business venture. The answer is simple: managed IT services.

 

In the past, some businesses thought they could get away with administering the bare minimum amount of maintenance. This would entail fixing technology if and only if it ever experienced technical issues. The problem with this model was that it eventually became incredibly costly to small businesses. Yet, due to limitations on their budgets, they felt that they had little choice, as it was next to impossible to find an affordable IT administrator who could manage and maintain their in-house infrastructure.

 

The main difference between managed IT and other models of service stems from the issue of downtime. When a business is not running at its best, it starts to lose money. Technology that was initially implemented to save money wound up costing you in the short term, despite addressing the issue and resolving it. The issue is that it happened after the fact, and thus, downtime took hold and created unnecessary expenditures.

 

Managed IT seeks to actively prevent downtime through remote monitoring and maintenance. By preventing problems from happening in the first place, you can save money by correcting these issues before they become massive pitfalls for your budget. Since managed IT can be leveraged on a per-month basis at an affordable price, you have no excuse to not properly maintain your technology solutions. Ask yourself this question: if you could save money in the long term with a small monthly payment, wouldn’t you want to do it?

 

VentureNet’s managed IT business model is perfect for small and medium-sized businesses due to how easy it is to fit into just about any budget out there. To learn more about how we can make technology work for you, reach out to us at 214-343-3550.

Boost Your Organization’s Productivity

Productivity is a hot-button issue in the workplace. On one hand, you want to make sure that your employees have all the tools they need to succeed. On the other, you need to be sure that they are using the tools to get their work done and remain as productive as possible. How can you be sure that your employees are staying on-task and focused? It starts by understanding their motivations and their long-term goals.

Understanding the Employee Perspective

What’s in it for your employees? Depending on who you ask, you’ll get different answers to this question. Some are in it for the money, while others might be using the experience to learn and move on to a different workplace. Some might be in it for the long haul, and they might see themselves at a business for years or even decades. Regardless, understanding your employees’ hopes, dreams, and aspirations will make it easier for you to motivate them in the direction of productivity.

 

To this end, you’ll need to give employees reasons to invest in your company and do their best. Keep in mind that doing the job for the sake of doing the job might not be their ultimate goal; they might be trying to develop certain skills, learn about industries, etc. You should do what you can to help them foster the skills they want to develop (within reason, of course), because it might make or break their experience with the company. Plus, if you stifle their personal growth, you might inadvertently stifle your business’ growth due to decreased motivation and productivity.

Augmenting Productivity

Productivity is required in order to maintain operations without a loss, so you should do your best to establish principles and guidelines for your employees to follow. We’ve established a couple of ways you can augment productivity, but before we dig too deep into these, keep in mind that the following could have the exact opposite effect if you fail to address the above, which is the last thing you want.

 

  • Establish KPIs for friendly competition: Key performance indicators can help you establish metrics for whether employees are completing tasks on-time and on-budget. However, rather than advertise it as a minimum guideline for productivity, market it as a chance to establish competition between departments or workers. If they are working to one-up others in the company, they will surely reach your established goals. Plus, if they are more aware of their own performance, they can address issues as they become known.
  • Implement a content filter to keep folks on task: We all know the Internet has all of the content in the world, and it’s easy to become distracted with websites like social media and YouTube around every corner. While self-policing is always encouraged, there might be certain problem employees who can’t seem to keep themselves away from these websites. You can implement a content filter to help them stay focused during the workday.

 

VentureNet can help you implement technology solutions to keep your employees focused and on-task, boosting productivity in the process. To learn more about what we can offer your organization, reach out to us at 214-343-3550.