World Backup Day is a time when every business should contemplate whether or not they have proper data backup strategies in place. Considering it was about a month ago, did your organization take the time to think about it? Granted, there isn’t a single day in the year that could explain what your data means to your business, the importance of data backup, and that your businesses should always do what it can to avoid data loss.
The Causes of Data Loss
Approximately seven-of-ten companies experience some type of data loss, so you need to do your part to understand what causes it. Consider how much data you could lose from a natural disaster or user error. Natural disasters only account for roughly one percent of all lost data, however, so while protecting against something massive like that is prudent, it is dwarfed by the 78 percent caused by hardware failure or other system malfunctions.
How Does Perception Influence Data Loss?
It’s clear that most of the attention regarding data loss comes from external factors, such as natural disasters or hacking attacks, even though the majority of problems arise from failing to take care of your network infrastructure and hardware. That being said, it’s important to consider whether this fact actually matters. Data loss is data loss, no matter how it happens, and while the consequences of any given disaster might vary, it’s important to keep this in mind.
This isn’t to say that the causes don’t matter–rather, we want you to keep in mind how you can prevent the causes from leading to data loss. Understanding why data loss occurs in the first place is the best preventative measure you can hope to leverage, but data backup is going to be the catalyst that enables you to recover from data loss of any kind.
Guaranteeing Data Backup
Reliability is key to making sure that your data backup doesn’t wind up holding your organization back from a recovery scenario. It’s easy to find yourself in a situation where you need to recover data, only to find that it’s corrupted or unavailable. This is why you always test your backups and store them in the cloud. Not only will they be accessible when they’re needed most, but they will also be practically guaranteed to work as needed. You can never go wrong with data backup. It will pay for itself in the long run.
To learn more about how your organization can take advantage of data backup and disaster recovery, reach out to us at 214-343-3550.
We thought we would do something a little bit different for this week’s tip. Instead of giving you some software tips or some kind of thing you can use to make your business more productive, we thought that we’d help you with the thing that you already know, but may not realize:
Server maintenance is incredibly important.
You might be thinking, “well, no duh”, but you would be surprised how many small and medium-sized business owners don’t actively manage and maintain their centralized hardware.
For any type of business that relies on onsite servers, ensuring that they are working effectively creates a degree of efficiency. When data is easily accessible and reliably secure an organization has fewer problems all the way around. Processes move efficiently, workflows aren’t interrupted, and your staff’s time, undeniably your organization’s biggest expense, is used constructively.
If your hardware is getting on in years and there are signs that there is a major problem on the horizon, however, you have to start making some determinations that aren’t always all that welcome but aren’t necessarily dire either. At this point, you can likely still manage the hardware in a way that it won’t fail before you have a chance to move applications, storage, or processing to a new server. If you don’t address the situation, however, there is more room for risk to turn into major operational problems. Without a comprehensive plan to manage and maintain your servers you are accepting high levels of risk.
Let’s face it, you don’t exactly have a spare server in your back room, after all. Even if you did, the server in your back room isn’t the same as the one you lean on daily to help run your business. A failing server equals downtime, there’s no way around it; but it doesn’t have to get to that point.
At VentureNet, our technicians use cutting-edge technology fueled by automation to mitigate minor server issues before they can destroy your efficiency. We offer the following services:
- Proactive Maintenance– With our state-of-the-art tools, we manage the health of your business by keeping your hardware and network working effectively. Issues that arise are dealt with by our team of remote technicians so that you have fair warning if your hardware needs to be replaced, promoting organizational uptime, and keeping revenue generating processes working as intended.
- Patch Management – We also support your organization by making certain that its software resources are patched and up-to-date, providing new features and reducing vulnerabilities.
- Backup and Disaster Recovery– We also promote a comprehensive backup and disaster recovery strategy. Using powerful backup processes and the power of the cloud, we promote data redundancy, ensuring that if something happens where you lose data, you can restore from a backup and keep going.
- Consulting and Procurement– We provide professional consulting that will position your company to interact with some of the best IT vendors on the market, providing the IT solutions your business needs when they need them.
If your business could use any of our server maintenance services to keep your business running efficiently, call us today at 214-343-3550.
Social media has overtaken both the professional and personal aspects of online communication and connection, and while it might provide a considerable boon for both, it increases the odds of being contacted by scams and other malicious attempts. The best way to make sure you don’t fall prey to a scam is to remain vigilant. Today we’ll discuss the various scams that are created for use with social media.
Many of these might not seem to apply to a business’ social media presence, but we assure you that it’s worth considering. Furthermore, considering how easy it is to blend the two together, we urge you to limit how closely linked your personal and professional social media accounts are, as a breach on either end could put the other one in danger.
“See PHOTOS of the celebrity that secretly lives in your area!” “You’d never believe who DWAYNE JOHNSON spends his free time with!” “You’ll be SHOCKED to learn which beloved ‘90s sitcom cast formed a blood cult!”
Chances are you’ve seen some Facebook ads like those above or have seen someone you know sharing them on their news feed. People look at the lives of celebrities and try to live vicariously through their experiences, and it often leads them to falling prey to scams by downloading malware. Avoiding these scams is relatively simple, as long as you can avoid clicking on gossipy headlines. Besides, if you’re ever asked to download a program, it should be from the actual source, not a sketchy website that you’ve been redirected to.
Nigerian Scam/Stuck Abroad Scam
“Hello Dearest Friend, I am Prince Akinola. During the recent uprising in my country, my father was murdered in his sleep. To protect his riches, I seek a trustworthy Person to help me transfer 3 million US dollars into an account for a time. Helping me, you will be able to keep 35% of it to use as you see Fit. Please reply to me immediately with your name and phone number so I can leave this country and transfer the money to you.”
These are some of the more infamous scams, originally appearing in Nigeria and spreading worldwide. Instead of providing you with a percentage of a fortune, the victim has their banking credentials stolen, or they are asked to pay processing fees before a payment can be delivered.
“I’m so glad I got the chance to send this message. I’m overseas in Europe and my wallet was stolen! I need $1,300 to get home. Could you wire over the money for me?”
In this version of the scam, a hacker will take over someone’s account and spread a story of being stranded overseas, desperately in need of money so they can find a way home. In cases like this, verification of the story needs to happen, whether it’s from someone closer to this friend or from a family member.
Lottery Scams/Who Viewed Your Profile Scam/IQ Scam
“Congratulations! A gift card worth $1500 is reserved for you!”
While it would certainly be nice to win some money, you know what they say… if it’s too good to be true, it probably isn’t. Some of these scams will ask for contact information so they can charge data fees to you, while others will flat-out steal your banking credentials. It’s very important that you keep in mind that you can’t win a contest you haven’t entered.
“Want to know who’s been looking at your profile? Install this application to find out.”
This particular scam tries to use popularity and curiosity as a means to get users to install a malicious application. While it might be nice to have more people notice a post, remember that scammers often utilize these traits to their advantage.
“Your IQ evaluation is finished. We’ll need a few more details to calculate your score, including your age and phone number.”
These apps and plugins will offer to test your intelligence, which appeals to the average user’s curiosity about their IQ score. These might ask for your phone number or other information, which in turn creates expenses for the user.
Account Cancelled Scam
“We are writing you to confirm the account cancellation request that your submitted. To confirm or cancel this cancellation request, please link click below. Thank you, The Facebook Team”
Receiving a message about an account being cancelled might not seem like a suspicious thing to receive in your email but take a closer look. It might be a message from someone trying to steal your login credentials. Look for grammar and spelling errors in the message. After all, the real Facebook or Twitter has plenty of capital to hire editors and other professionals to ensure their messages are properly handled.
Photo of You Scam
“Oh my god! LOL is this actually a photo of you?”
Some scammers can replicate another user’s profile and attempt to scam others with a message indicating shock at the user being in a photo. The link will then provide the scammer with information about the user. Try not to click on links that don’t look right and consider changing your profile settings so that only those with a connection to you can send you a message in the first place.
“Hey baby, I can’t wait to meet you, but I can’t quite swing the money for the ticket… could you send some cash to help me cover it? Looking forward to meeting in person.”
Romance in particular is a dangerous enabler for online scams. The Federal Trade Commission saw more than 21,000 reported romance scams in 2018 alone, and they cost a total of $143 million. The median loss to one of these scams in 2018 was around $2,600, more than seven times the median loss for any other fraud types.
If you think you’re being catfished, try to reverse engineer the profile of the person who is supposedly catfishing you to see if they are associated with multiple accounts. Furthermore, never send money to anyone who you haven’t met in person.
Utilizing social media in a secure fashion can be challenging, but it’s far from the only method of securing your business. For more ways to keep your company safe in an online environment, reach out to VentureNet at 214-343-3550.
How many devices and technology solutions does your organization have to manage on a day-to-day basis? More often than not, small businesses have a limited quantity to work with for IT services, whether it’s a budget that’s too small or a workforce that’s too stretched. The problem is that IT troubles wait for no one, so you have to do everything you can to prevent them–even if it means asking for help from others.
There is often a stigma associated with asking for help, but it’s important to remember that nobody knows everything, and IT is no exception. If you don’t have an internal IT department for any range of factors (geographic location, lack of qualified workers, limited budget, etc.), your business might have trouble guaranteeing the type of IT support needed to ensure a sustainable future, but small businesses have more trouble than large corporations with practically endless resources.
In the past, small businesses relied on break-fix IT to make ends meet. They would try to save time and money by only repairing technology when it needed to be repaired. Unfortunately, this practice led to increased downtime, as issues that could have been resolved easily were instead exacerbated due to being ignored for too long, adding even more cost to the downtime incident–and that’s without mentioning the costs associated with replacing faulty devices or components.
On the other hand, preventative managed IT services provided by a managed service provider give businesses a more affordable alternative that can mitigate downtime and significantly reduce operational expenses. This kind of IT wouldn’t normally be possible, but thanks to the professional technicians at VentureNet, your organization can leverage quality technology maintenance without the immense up-front costs associated with hiring new employees or shelling out for hardware replacements.
There should never be any shame in outsourcing, especially with a technical job like the ones done by managed service providers. It is not only a great way to shore up weak points in your organization’s operations, but also an excellent way to supplement current resources. Here are just some of the services offered by a managed service provider like VentureNet:
- Cloud hosting and management
- Data backup and disaster recovery
- Email hosting
- Network maintenance, monitoring, and management
- And more!
When you get creative with IT solutions, a managed service provider can find a way to improve, manage, host, or maintain just about anything you want to do. Whether it’s deploying a complicated software solution or investing in new hardware that will make operations more streamlined, a managed service provider can work you through the process from the planning stages to continued maintenance and management.
VentureNet can be a pillar of support for businesses that either don’t have IT assistance or simply want to supplement internal resources. To learn more about what we can do for your business, reach out to us at 214-343-3550.
Small businesses have a unique challenge that must be overcome. The fact that some companies rely so much on traditional telephone providers is a testament to this. With a reliable Internet connection practically being a necessity in today’s business world, it’s no surprise that Voice over Internet Protocol has taken off in the business environment. If you give VoIP a try, you might find it to be the most valuable investment you can make for your company’s communications solution.
A business that utilizes VoIP for communications rather than a telephone provider can expect to benefit in many ways. These are just a few of them.
Growing is Easier
Growing pains are one of the worst parts of being a small business. Your organization could rapidly increase the size of its clientele in a relatively short period of time, leading to staffing issues–and we’re not talking about the bad kind. For example, you might have to figure out where to house your workers, as offices only have so much space. This dilemma extends into the telephony space, as you need to run phone lines whenever you add a new extension. Instead of using this telephone infrastructure, VoIP only needs enough bandwidth and a phone application.
Pay What You Want for Services You Need
Too often businesses find themselves paying money for services that are either underutilized or unused altogether. With telephone providers, you might have services such as satellite Internet or cable television bundled together with your telephone services. Rather than pay for services you don’t need, you should instead opt for a service that only requires your Internet connection to function. You will still have access to the same features you have always known and loved, only at what’s likely to be a fraction of the cost.
Telephone communications are generally limited to your standard features offered by the provider, like call forwarding, conference calling, and others that might have proven fruitful in years past. VoIP offers more dynamic options, like video chat, instant messaging, and other helpful tools that help you get the most out of your communications.
VoIP can help you challenge the boundaries set forth by your telephone provider. To learn more about how you can go above and beyond what you have expected in the past, reach out to us at 214-343-3550.
Phishing attacks are the bane of modern businesses, and any organization’s employees need to be cognizant of the threat they pose. Unfortunately, no matter how much you protect against them, hackers are usually crafty enough to work their way around even the most well-defended security measures. However, not even the best security measures can keep your employees from making a split-second decision to click on a link or download an infected attachment.
What Are Phishing Attempts?
Phishing scams are any attempt by hackers to steal credentials from your organization through crafty methods, such as posing as individuals within or without your business, targeted attempts on specific individuals (spear phishing), or impersonating a company’s CEO (also known as “whaling”). Whatever it’s called, the end result for a phishing attack is one that makes someone within your organization hand over credentials or other important information.
Vectors for Attack
The most important thing to remember about phishing attempts is that they can happen through a variety of ways. Social media applications, phone calls, and email are all the ways you might encounter a phishing attack. Here are some ways you can identify a phishing attack through a number of vectors:
- Email messages that spoof addresses and try to convince users that they are someone from an organization or company you’re associated with.
- Phone calls from people impersonating tech support or someone of authority, like the police or government agency.
- Social media messages on both personal and professional accounts are used by identity thieves to impersonate people you may know.
Suspicious messages are the first throwaway sign of a phishing attack, but it’s not always so simple. Whether it’s a message from someone you haven’t heard from in a while, or one containing some strange words that don’t seem like the right ones used by the sender, you might be facing a phishing attack. Here are some of the other common ways you might identify a phishing attack.
- Spelling and grammar errors:There are often spelling and grammar errors in phishing messages, as well as embedded media that might be blocked due to being suspected threats. These threats might be warranted, so if you see blocked media or spelling and grammar errors, be sure to be extra cautious.
- A sense of urgency: If the message urges you to react immediately, there’s a good chance that the message is a phishing attempt. The only ones who benefit from you not thinking about something like this enough is a hacker, so be sure to take a message’s measure and ensure it’s legitimate.
- Suspicious account activity:Social media accounts can be faked pretty easily, so if a friend is reaching out to you and it seems out of character for them, always be cautious–especially if the request is asking for money or for you to click on a link bringing you out of your Gmail.
To limit the threat of phishing attempts, take the following actions now:
- Implement a spam blocking solution. While it might not help with more specialized phishing attempts, it should limit the most generic ones.
- Educate your employees–this point speaks for itself. If users know what to watch out for, they will be less likely to make mistakes that expose sensitive data.
VentureNet can help you keep your users and network safe. To learn more, reach out to us at 214-343-3550.
Your organization needs to take network security as seriously as possible. While it might seem tempting to just implement security solutions and hide behind them, thinking you’re safe, it’s much more important that you invest time and consideration into your organization’s culture. We’ll walk you through how you can minimize threats to your network, as well as provide a primer for what to expect from comprehensive enterprise network security solutions.
What’s At Stake?
What would happen to your business if an employee accidentally exposed your network to entry from unauthorized entities? Even sensitive documents could be stolen and sold on the black market. In particular, personally identifiable information fetches a handsome price. Furthermore, your business has to deal with the fallout that comes from suffering from a data breach, which can be a considerable issue to surmount. With fines and blows to your reputation, there is a good chance your business could be put down for good.
Business-Minded Security Solutions
The most common security measures for businesses are enterprise-grade, meaning that they are quite powerful while remaining accessible to businesses, depending on the service provider. In particular, you’ll want to focus on implementing the following: Unified Threat Management, Virtual Private Networks, and Mobile Device Management. These are all services that provide security while also providing value in your investment. An optimized security plan will take all of these into consideration:
- Unified Threat Management:A UTM solution is what you get when you put together four enterprise-level solutions into one tool. A UTM includes a firewall, antivirus, spam blocker, and content filter. Proper implementation of a UTM can help you keep threats in check both before they enter your network and after they have taken hold.
- Virtual Private Network:A VPN provides a critical connection to data on your in-house network while out of the office. Through an encrypted network, you can securely access important information without the threat of onlookers stealing data while it’s moving from point A to point B.
- Mobile Device Management:Mobile devices have infiltrated the workplace in many different forms, be it the wearable smartwatch or the prevalent smartphone. These devices put your data at risk every time they access your network. Mobile device management is a way to prevent damage in the event a device is lost, stolen, or compromised. With measures like user access control, remote wiping, and whitelisting/blacklisting applications, you’ll have enough control to keep your devices (and their data) in the right hands.
It’s one thing to talk about implementing security solutions, but another entirely to do so. VentureNet can help you get all the details right so you don’t have to worry about it in the future. To learn more, reach out to us at 214-343-3550.
Communication plays a critical role in the way you develop relationships and clients. To optimize communication with your clients and customers, proper use of technology is essential, but it also makes for a much nicer experience from an operational standpoint. How can your business utilize this powerful communications technology?
Communication Technology Benefits Your Business
The right communications solution is one that can help you improve the way you do business. In fact, the right communication solution can help your organization function better on both the internal and external sides of things. In particular, it helps to keep the various members of your organization connected to each other, maintaining clear communication with your clients, and providing value on the relatively large investments this infrastructure costs.
Whether it’s a solution that lets you communicate directly with clients or one that presents additional benefits for your existing business, there are a lot of benefits to be had through the implementation of a dynamic communications solution. Here are some options to keep in mind:
Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Systems
CRMs are great solutions that help businesses connect to their clients seamlessly. A dedicated CRM helps your employees keep track of their ongoing projects by keeping interactions in a centralized location, making data accessible to clients on demand, and streamlining the workflow that dictates the success of these projects.
These solutions generally integrate with other business applications, and come with great features like billing and e-sign capabilities. A CRM can also provide valuable insight through social media integration and assist in your client acquisition strategy. Additionally, a CRM solution can help you increase client satisfaction by up to 35 percent.
It might seem daunting to manage your contacts and prospects, but it’s much easier with a proper communications solution that can capture information. Automation is key in making this happen. For example, an automated workflow means that when someone purchases an item or service, each member of the supply chain (or sales process) will be notified. This means that you can help your organization get products and service delivered faster, enhancing customer service and support.
Voice over Internet Protocol
VoIP’s main draw is its portability. Most solutions are available as an app on a smartphone that works on both your in-house and mobile networks, meaning that you can take your work phone and contacts on the go with you. This can mean the world to your sales team who may be close to sealing a deal, but haven’t quite convinced a prospect to pull the trigger yet. Even in the office, VoIP can be an effective communication tool, as it means you don’t have to be tethered to your desk to take calls.
VentureNet can help you implement great IT solutions, including those meant for communication. To learn more, reach out to us at 214-343-3550.
All good things must come to an end eventually, and Windows 7 is no different. Microsoft is officially ending its support of this operating system relatively soon, but this doesn’t mean that you should jump ship without a plan. In fact, Microsoft realizes that some businesses and organizations simply can’t make the jump in time, so they have implemented contingency plans for these companies. The problem is that it’s expensive. We’ll walk you through everything there is to know about how Microsoft is handling the end of life events for Windows 7.
Windows 7 is one of the most popular operating systems of all time. More PCs ran Windows 7 than any other operating system in history. In fact, Windows 10 was launched in July of 2015, even being offered as a free upgrade from Windows 7 and 8.1 for a time; still users persisted with Windows 7, and the numbers for Windows 10 failed to exceed those of 7 until December 2018. Windows 10 now runs on over 700 million devices.
All things considered, Windows 7 is still running on over 600 million devices, and as of January 2020, Windows 7 will likely be run on over 30 percent of devices in the world. As a result of this widespread popularity, there are naturally many organizations out there that can’t feasibly pull off an upgrade to Windows 10 in time for the Windows 7 end of life. Unsupported software can create issues with security and compatibility, which is the primary reason why organizations should be upgrading away from out-of-date software. Of course, it’s never as easy as it sounds, which is why Microsoft is providing extended support.
Windows 7 Extended Security
Organizations that can’t get away from Windows 7 can continue to receive support from Microsoft, but for a price. In situations like this, where there is a considerable amount of computers still running the operating system not even a year from its EOL date, Microsoft has made Windows 7 Extended Security Updates available. This program provides support through January 2023, providing plenty of time for organizations to “get it together,” so to speak.
While it might sound convenient, the price tag is going to be the heavy hitter. The add-on support is sold on a per-device level in one-year increments, with the costs doubling every year. Covering a single Windows 7 PC for three years would run approximately $175 if the company is already a Windows 10 Enterprise or Microsoft 365 Enterprise customer. If it isn’t, or doesn’t plan on becoming one, the cost jumps to $350 per Windows 7 system. There are other fees that must be included in this as well for organizations that require coverage in the second or third year following the end of life event.
What Are Your Options
Overall, you really need to love Windows 7 if you want to pay this much to avoid an upgrade to Windows 10 for as long as possible. It basically becomes an ultimatum–either pay up or grade up. If you’re having trouble upgrading your systems, or you are concerned you won’t be able to make it in time for the end of life event, consult the technology professionals at VentureNet.
In part 1 of this two-part series, we discussed how robocallers collect your information. Today, we continue our discussion on data privacy and what you can do to keep your organization and personal data safe.
Pay Attention to What You Agree To
Marketers Love Big Data
This personal data is used by marketers to identify potential consumers and to generate customized advertisements to entice them. Many find targeted ads annoying, but the fact of the matter is that they work; why would they be used if they didn’t?
Even if you aren’t going to give in to the robocaller, for example, there are plenty of people out there who won’t think twice about doing so. When a business has access to the technology that sends out countless messages to prospective buyers, it’s no surprise that there will be at least a couple of takers–even for shady business like this. Of course, a business can just pay money to target only the most valuable customers with their personal data, making it more profitable than even the smaller targets.
All of the data shared in this manner adds fuel to the fire. Businesses need to ask themselves if they would take advantage of these technologies to connect with potential customers who would pay for their goods or services. It certainly might be tempting.
This is a double-edged sword in a sense, as people might have good experiences from using apps and websites, but they are doing so at the cost of their personal privacy. On the business end of things, you might enjoy the data for the purposes of collecting clientele, but you don’t know where the data comes from, who has access to it, and whether or not someone has given consent.
Hackers and Cybercriminals Aren’t Completely out of the Picture
A cybercriminal could easily steal data while it’s in transit from an app to a website, but this isn’t even necessarily the case here. The truth of the matter is that it’s not always clear how data is collected, who has access to it, and where it ultimately ends up. We’ve seen this countless times when a large organization is hacked, and millions of customer records are stolen or leaked online. Sony, Target, Marriott, and Equifax are only a few of the notables here. The data may have been collected normally, but was stolen by nefarious users. Hackers might even be willing to scrape together some funds to purchase some of this data from the dark web.
Privacy Continues to Be an Issue
It might just be tempting to get rid of social media, the smartphone, and live far away from the Internet, but this simply isn’t the answer. Technology is so ingrained in the way that society functions that it’s borderline impossible. The answer is being more mindful of the data and services used. It’s understandable why data sharing is helpful for so many organizations, even if we don’t like it.
Thankfully, there are methods being put into place to protect the privacy of users, like the stringent policies put into place by the EU’s GDPR. While it has established policies to help privacy, it has also created issues for businesses that can’t afford to comply. To this end, we want to help your organization best understand how to protect the data it collects. To learn more about how we can help your organization ensure data privacy, reach out to us at 214-343-3550.