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Pressure Testing Your Business Continuity Plan

Are you looking to pressure test and update your current business continuity plan (BCP)? If not, you should be. Testing your Business Continuity Plan (BCP) not only provides essential employees with real case scenario experience in carrying out your business’s plan of action; it also helps you to identify the strengths and weaknesses of your plan. This article will provide you with some tips on how to test your BCP and objectively analyze the results.

Tip #1 Test, review, and revise

Taking the time to pressure test your BCP is only one step in a three-step process. After performing a test you need to devote as much time and energy into reviewing and revising your plan. The main objectives of a BCP are to minimize losses, reduce downtimes, and lessen the impact a system failure has on not only you but also your customers. Once you perform your test, you need to review your results and make all necessary suggestions for improvements. Outline a plan to implement all your revisions and monitor their success during your next test. Almost as important as the testing is making sure you update your documentation with new updates and discoveries found during testing.

Tip #2 Consider upgrading your backup appliance

Your business has spent countless hours and dollars in devising the strongest BCP possible. When it comes to purchasing a backup appliance, this is not the time to cut corners. Look at the purchase of your backup appliance as an investment. An advanced appliance is built not only to restore your data in the event of a server crash, it is also capable of restoring all your apps and settings which will significantly reduce the amount of time you need to devote to getting back to business as usual. An advanced backup appliance is the best piece of equipment you can buy to protect your business in the event of a server crash or system failure. If you are not satisfied with the amount of time it takes to get back up and running during a pressure test, consider upgrading your backup appliance.

Tip #3 Test your BCP quarterly

Many businesses make the mistake of testing their continuity plan on an annual basis opposed to testing it more frequently. You should test your plan quarterly to maximize its effectiveness and keep all your data as current as possible. As your business grows and technology evolves, it is important that your continuity plan grows with it. Your BCP should progressively match the growth of your business which is why every business should pressure test BCP on a quarterly basis.

VoIP and Your Remote Workforce

Whether you are considering transitioning your business to a remote workforce utilizing VoIP technology or if you are a start-up exploring the available options for launching your business, obtaining a comprehensive understanding of how to use VoIP technology to manage a remote workforce will help you determine if it is the right fit for your business. Learn more about how VoIP technology works and the benefits of operating remotely using a VoIP system below:

How does VoIP technology work?

VoIP technology provides a flexible and affordable way to stay connected with employees working from remote locations. VoIP works as a virtual phone system allowing employees to work from any location with a data or internet connection. Whether they are at home or on the road, they can remain in touch and productive by staying connected to your business. Features such as basic call routing, conferencing, and softphone technology provide widespread access to workers employed remotely by allowing smartphones and laptops to replace the traditional office phone system. A VoIP system requires minimal setup and hardware to get started and offers extensive accessibility to all remote workers.

How can my small business benefit from utilizing VoIP technology?

Creating a remote workforce allows you to hire the best talent available residing in virtually any location as opposed to being limited to the best talent locally available. VoIP technology allows small business owners looking to actively and effectively manage employees residing across the different locations without having to rely on expensive infrastructure and the high overhead costs of maintaining a dedicated office location. Devote your time and money to developing your core business instead of wasting it on an expensive office location designed for the sole purpose of housing staff.

How can I find the right managed service provider to handle my small business VoIP?

Finding the right managed service provider to set up your business’s VoIP system will require some homework. Look for a provider offering a comprehensive system including technical support opposed to one that is looking to sell you the equipment you need to get started without any support after launching your VoIP network. Choose a provider that can get your VoIP system up and running quickly, effectively, and with the support necessary to grow alongside your business’s evolving needs.

Ransomware Attacks on Businesses are on the Rise

Specialty insurer Beazley has analyzed their clients’ data breaches thus far in 2016 and concluded that ransomware attacks will be four times higher this year compared to last year’s number of attacks. During the first nine months of 2016, Beazley Breach Response (BBR) Services unit managed 1,437 data breaches on behalf of clients, compared to 931 breaches during the same period last year. This upward trend should serve as a warning for small to mid-sized businesses that do not have adequate cybersecurity protection. It is only a matter of time until your business falls victim to a ransomware or other cybersecurity attack that could cost your business money and damage your reputation.

According to the report, the ransomware growth trend is particularly evident in financial institutions, healthcare, and in retail and hospitality sectors. The report indicated that hacking and malware breaches accounted for 39% of the data breaches suffered by financial institutions, and that 19% of healthcare breaches were a result of hacking and malware. An alarming trend reveled that more than half of the breaches suffered by retailers originated from hacking and malware.

Katherine Keefe, global head of Beazley’s Breach Response Services explained, “From what we are seeing, it appears that many hackers are finding it easier to make money by holding companies to ransom for bitcoin than through selling personal data on the dark web.” While this is a sharp change from past trends, it is still proving costly to businesses. Even though a ransomware attack may only request a payment of $1,000, the financial repercussions are far more extensive for the business. Companies targeted by hackers looking for a quick dollar must often also pay for an in-depth review of their systems and data to ensure that the malware has been removed and that their data is clean.

What does this data breach report mean for your business?

The rising number of ransomware attacks should encourage you to take on a proactive approach in heading off these and other types of attacks. Take the time to train your employees on cybersecurity and help them to identify potential threats. Learn about hacking protection and how malware works. Hire a managed service provider that will work around the clock to protect your business against ransomware and other cybersecurity threats.

Hackers work relentlessly to find and financially exploit new targets that will fall victim to their schemes. Be proactive in protecting your business from evolving cybersecurity threats and avoid becoming another rising cybersecurity crime statistic.

Understanding Office 365 Cloud Storage and How It Can Improve Your Business’s Data Management

Is your business considering making the switch to Office 365 cloud storage? There is a lot of contradictory information circulating around on the web concerning cloud storage and what it entails. This article will provide you with some helpful truths about cloud storage to help you determine if this is the right move for your business.

Truth #1 – Most businesses benefit from the flexibility and cost savings that come when moving to the cloud.

Moving your business to cloud storage with Office 365 not only provides much more storing and sharing flexibility than data centers, it also can save your business a lot of money. The cloud can reduce business startup expenses, preserve capital, allow more employees to telecommute, and save your business all the monthly costs associated with storing and managing data in a data center.

Truth #2 – Your data is secure on the cloud

Microsoft prioritizes security and provides businesses with peace of mind through transparency, privacy, and compliance. Unlike many other cloud storage options, Microsoft combines platforms (e.g. devices, applications, infrastructure), with product offerings (e.g. Windows Server 2016, Azure Active Directory, Office 365 Advanced Threat Protection) and then adds on intelligence from telemetry, data streams, and machine learning. Ultimately this means that even if someone tried to access your business’s data, Microsoft has deep and broad detection points to help protect it. Microsoft is the first major cloud provider to adopt the world’s first international standard for cloud privacy which establishes a uniform, international approach to protecting privacy for personal data stored in the cloud.

Truth #3 – The cloud is safer than keeping data on premises

While on-premise storage may seem more secure since it is both physical and tangible, the requirements needed to maintain a high security level can be more demanding and costly for your business. With cloud applications, security features are built in and real-time updates are integrated into the framework so your business is always working from the latest versions, with the best possible protection and security. The goal is for businesses to be able to access their information from anywhere, on any device, at any time. The cloud includes advanced processes and procedures such as backup and recovery solutions.

Truth #4 – You do not have to move everything to the cloud

Cloud migration is rarely an all-or-nothing scenario. Most implementations start with a hybrid approach – moving a single application, like email, and growing from there. This is not only a good way for businesses to become comfortable with the cloud, it’s also a great way to learn how the computing power and capabilities of the cloud can scale based on a business’s specific needs and demand.

Helpful Tips on Protecting Your Business Against Cybercrime

This past year alone, one in five small to mid-sized businesses have been victims of some form of cybercrime. Cybercrime is criminal activity that involves the internet, computer technology, or a computer system. Cyber criminals target businesses looking for ways to illegally generate revenue. As a business owner, it is your responsibility to protect your business against cybercrime and to make sure all of your employees are aware of the dangers associated with this rapidly growing criminal threat.

Tip #1 Learn about the different types of cybercrime and how cyber criminals target businesses

Knowledge is power. By arming yourself and your employees with information regarding cybercrime you will gain awareness about the severity of the problem and the consequences of becoming a cybercrime victim. Take time to learn about the different types of cybercrime and the various tactics criminals use to obtain sensitive data online. Cybercrime is big business. Criminals look for ways to directly steal money from financial accounts but they also look for ways to steal information and to sell it to other criminals operating online. There are various types of cybercriminals ranging from solo hackers that operate on a small scale to organized groups of hackers that treat cybercrime as a multi-billion dollar business.

Tip #2 Hire a managed IT service provider for optimal protection against cybercrime

Instead of trying to take on IT management in-house, hire a managed service provider capable of providing your business with adequate protection. Cybercrime is always evolving. New threats can pop up on a daily basis. A managed service provider will work relentlessly to make sure that your business’s data and financial assets are protected and that your confidential data is securely encrypted. A managed service provider can also provide your employees with direction in setting up strong passwords, learning how to evade phishing scams, and in guarding company data while using mobile devices. The best defense against cybercriminals is to hire a managed service provider that prioritizes cyber security.

Tip #3 Make cyber security part of your daily routine

Understanding how dynamic and evolving cybercrime is will help you to remain vigilant in protecting your business against this threat. Unlike a security system that can be installed and then left alone to do its job whenever it is activated by its code, cybercrime protection is something that should remain a priority every day. Train all new employees to utilize malware and phishing protection in their web browser. Make sure your computers’ defenses are optimized and that your firewall is always on. Keep your antivirus protection turned on and updated at all times. Devoting a few minutes each day towards cyber security is the best approach to personally safeguarding your business’s assets.

Important Steps to Maintain Business Continuity in the Event of Server Failure

Business servers crash on a daily basis. Unfortunately, many businesses find out the hard way that their continuity plan and system backup hardware is deficient. As a business owner, it is your responsibility to ensure continuity in the event of a server crash. Follow these steps to ensure your business will be back up and running as normal within minutes of a crash:

Step #1 Have a Business Continuity Plan
The most important thing that you can do is to devise a comprehensive continuity plan that can be put into action immediately following a server crash. Compile a file folder containing written documents composed of all the pertinent information your business needs to operate. Store this file in a secure location that can be immediately accessible in the event of a server crash. Include all of your business’s important account numbers and names, important contact information, copies of bills with your account info from all utility companies and service providers, and any other information your business needs for day to day operations and to contact in the event of an emergency.

Step #2 Practice Your Backup Plan Quarterly
Many businesses practice their backup plan annually. We recommend testing your plan on a quarterly basis to maximize its efficiency. Put your backup plan to the test and take time to review and revise it. You may find that the steps have changed and need revision. Downtime means dollars spent and updating your plan during a test will mitigate business productivity loss or worse an entire loss of data. As your business grows and technology evolves, it is important that your continuity plan grows with it. Quarterly testing, reviewing, and revising will ensure your preparedness.

Step #3 Invest in a Backup Appliance with Advanced Capabilities
In the event of a server failure, your backup appliance can be used to replace your main server while your server is being repaired for a smooth transition that will have your business back up and running within minutes of a crash. This device takes your data, encrypts it, and sends it offsite to be accessed in the event of a system failure. A backup appliance with advanced capabilities is able to take backup one step further by backing up your settings and apps in addition to your data. Average devices will store your data, but cannot restore all of your preferred settings and applications which typically will take a day to restore. Some very advanced backup appliances will also test your data on a nightly basis and update you with any issues. An advanced model will store all of your settings and apps to provide a more seamless transition. Investing in the right backup appliance will save you valuable time in getting your system back fully operational.

3 Signs You Should Invest in a Managed IT Service Provider

Thinking about switching to a managed IT service provider to handle your business’s data management and security needs? If any of these three signs apply to you and your business it is time for you to hand the reins over to a professional:

 

#1 You have no idea how reliable your system back-up plan is or how to put it into play when your server crashes.

Many small to mid-sized businesses believe that they can trim money off of their bottom line by opting to handle their own IT services. Unfortunately, these businesses often find that is not the case the hard way and ultimately end up losing out tenfold. Using a subpar backup system could cripple your business. Servers crash every day. How would your business function if your system goes down? Do you have a backup server that can instantly pick up where your server left off? A server crash will cost you thousands of dollars in lost revenue, and it could also severely damage your business’s reputation.

#2 You aren’t sure what the legal and financial repercussions are for a data breach or network hack.

Does your business store customers’ personal and financial information? Even if you are running a small to mid-sized business you have an obligation to keep your customers’ information secure. How confident are you that all of your business’s sensitive data is protected from ever-evolving network hacking? Hackers work relentlessly day and night to obtain sensitive information and to exploit it. Small to mid-sized businesses make easy targets for these criminals because many of them do not employ a comprehensive managed IT service provider to handle their security concerns. Don’t make the mistake of leaving your business’s and your customers’ sensitive information in jeopardy. Get the protection you need from a professional managed IT service provider.

#3 You are devoting too much of your time and resources to IT management and it is taking away from your core business development.

If you operate a mid-sized business, you shouldn’t have to employ in-house IT personnel. By outsourcing your IT needs you can save money and have a more effective IT management service provider make sure all of your business’s needs are being met. The average mid-sized business owner does not know how to effectively manage in-house IT employees and ensure standards are maintained. Using your time and resources to employ and monitor in-house IT personnel distracts from core business developing and restricts your growth. Hiring a managed IT service provider frees up your time and provides 100% confidence that your business’s IT needs are fulfilled so you can focus on your core business.

How a Managed IT Service Provider Can Solve Your Business’s Biggest Problems

Are you considering hiring a managed IT service provider to handle your business’s security, maintenance, and network needs? Many small to mid-sized businesses make an attempt to tackle their own IT needs. This can prove to be a costly and dangerous mistake.

The truth is that it is often too late when a business recognizes that it should not be managing its own IT services. This realization usually occurs after a serious data breach or a total system failure. Don’t make the mistake of trying to cut costs and take on your own IT services. Only a professional managed IT service provider with a proven track record of success can provide you with the support and protection your business needs.

Learn more about how a managed IT service provider can solve your biggest problems below:

1) Hiring a service provider allows your business to focus its resources on developing core business competency
Why waste time and valuable resources handling IT issues and system maintenance when you can let a managed IT service provider take care of all of your IT needs? For a small to mid-sized business, there often aren’t enough resources available to devote to comprehensive IT management. Instead of focusing your time and money on system security and file storage, use your valuable resources on growing your core competency. Spend your time strengthening and expanding your business and let your managed service provider handle anything IT related.

2) Security threats can cripple any type of business and are always evolving
Viruses, malware, and ransomware are very real threats that can affect your operations at any time and cost your business thousands of dollars. A top notch managed IT service provider stays one step ahead of these threats and will work diligently to protect your business from current and future network threats. Your business is responsible for protecting your client’s personal and financial information. Let your managed service provider safeguard your business with innovative tools and software designed to tackle even the most advanced security threats.

3) Only a top notch managed service provider can protect your business’s interests and offer full business continuity in the event of a system failure
System servers crash every day, resulting in lost revenue and sheer panic. Don’t leave your business vulnerable to a system failure. A first-rate managed service provider will ensure business continuity in the event of a server crash. In fact, they will even take preventative measures in monitoring the health of your system and use automation to diagnose a pre-symptomatic failure before it happens. A comprehensive managed IT provider not only backs up your files, but they will install redundant servers that can instantly be activated in for a seamless transition in the event of a system failure. Your company will be back to business as normal within minutes in the event of a system failure.