How to Avoid Being a Ransomware Hostage

Ransomware, spyware, phishing schemes, and other Cyber attacks are commonplace in today’s world of technology. According to a recent article in Forbes, ransomware attacks grew at an accelerated pace in 2016 with reports of 638 million attacks, almost 200 times more than the number of ransomware attacks in 2015. Most experts agree that Ransomware attacks will continue to occur–so what can you do to avoid being a ransomware hostage? Not All Ransomware is Created Equal Before you panic, find out what type of Ransomware you are up against. Scareware is a type of Ransomware that tricks you into thinking you have a bigger problem. A simple scan may quickly remove the pop from your browser cache and get you back on your way. Some ransomware is truly nasty — your entire system may be encrypted, meaning you will need to wipe your system and start over if you have a good backup. Otherwise, you may find yourself hostage to the cybercriminals to unlock your data. An Ounce of Protection is Worth a Pound of Ransom Data protection is an important element in minimizing the impact of Ransomware. Make sure your network security is fully compliant. Backup your data, update your antivirus definitions and make sure your security patches are up to date. Consider using Cloud Backup, Security as a Service, and Managed IT services to keep your network up to date. Having a strong offense to avoid ransomware is your best defense. Don’t Forget the Human Element Train your employees on a regular basis on the importance of staying vigilant against Cyberattacks and how to avoid being a hostage....

Migrating to the Cloud with Confidence

More and more companies are migrating to Cloud Computing to gain competitive advantage and reduce capital expense. According to CompTIA’s 9th annual Security Trends study, companies reported over 80% net usage of Cloud Computing. Over 59% reported moderate or heavy usage. What’s more, the survey found that 68% reported confidence in Cloud providers’ ability to provide a Secure Cloud Environment. An additional 17% responded they were very confident in the security of their Cloud environment. Let’s explore what drives confidence in the Cloud. How to Assess Cloud Provider Security There are many variables to consider when evaluating security of a Cloud Provider. According to the study, many companies evaluate their Cloud provider based on encryption–when moving data to the Cloud, it should be encrypted at rest and in transit. In addition, companies should consider the disaster recovery plans of their Cloud Provider. Some Cloud Providers adopt industry standards including SAS 70 to provide consistent, compliant cloud security. Industry standards are often used to evaluate a Cloud Provider. Identity and access management are also criteria for evaluating a Cloud Provider. Many companies also consider geographical location(s) of the Cloud Provider’s data center.   Consider your Compliance Requirements Many industries have specific requirements regarding handling data. For example, PCI provides guidelines for how companies handle credit card information. Healthcare, Financial Services and Governments (or companies doing business with Government) also have compliance requirements for handling data. Understanding your requirements is key to ensuring you migrate to the Cloud with confidence. Some data may require implementation of a private cloud environment. Also, a Private Cloud has additional security benefits, being a Cloud...

Reducing Business Risk with Backup and Disaster Recovery

Does your business have a backup and disaster recovery plan? Businesses of any size should know which applications–and their associated data–they rely on and what the cost of interruption would be in the event of an unintended disruption. Cyber Threat, natural disasters, and systems failures may impact your business; however, human error is said to be the top cause of data breach (58%), ahead of technology errors. To avoid unnecessary downtime, here are some questions to ask to help assess your backup and disaster recovery plans. Assess the Risks of Data Loss and System Downtime With Backup and Disaster Recovery there is always a balance between cost and risk. To allocate your technology spending, it is important to focus on your areas of exposure. Maybe your business relies heavily on an order-processing and invoicing system, or perhaps a manufacturing and inventory control system. If these systems go down you may lose revenue and productivity from employee idle time.   You may also have intellectual property that is important to your business. What would be the consequence if this data was lost and could not be recovered? You may also have compliance exposure, if you suffered a breach of privacy or other data that should be encrypted was exposed. Assessing your risks and ranking the exposure is an important step to evaluate your backup and disaster recovery plan priorities. Not all Backup Plans are Alike For systems you rely on heavily, you may consider having an offsite failover system in the event of a data loss. This can minimize your downtime by enabling you to rapidly cut over to a...

Is Your Network Ready for Cloud Backup?

Ransomware, Privacy Breach, Compliance requirements and Business Continuity make the case to protect your company’s data. Cloud backup and Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaas) require reliable network access to ensure your IT assets are backed up and available for rapid recovery. Today’s networks also support a range of applications including Hosted Email, SaaS, VDI, VoIP and Call Center Solutions. Your network needs to be in top shape to accommodate these demands. Here are some tips to determine if your network is ready for Cloud Backup. Assess Your Network for Cloud Backup Readiness When adding Cloud Backup, it is important to understand possible points of failure on your network before they happen. Consider starting with a Network Assessment to stress your network in a controlled environment, in order to determine your backup window. Database and file information on a regular backup schedule may impact your network performance if not properly optimized. Make sure your initial backup and incremental backups run smoothly by simulating peak loads for voice and data on your network. In addition, test your backup and recovery scenarios to identify weaknesses in a controlled environment. Proactive network monitoring can identify potential packet loss and latency that can impact connection speed and uptime. This testing is critical to avoid failed backup and recovery.   Proactively Monitor Your Network for Security and Compliance In addition to network usage, Malware and other unauthorized network access can slow your network performance and disrupt your backup and recovery. Your backup may fail when you need it most. Worse, remediating malware during a recovery scenario may delay your ability to bring critical systems...

What are Managed Services and Why Should I Care?

A managed services provider (MSP) takes on the responsibility for a company’s technology and infrastructure by proactively providing a defined set of IT services for a fixed monthly fee. This approach is preferred by businesses over the traditional Break/Fix services delivered on an hourly rate when needed. By emphasizing high availability and reliability, Managed Services align the MSP’s business model with a company’s business objectives. In contrast, the break/fix model addresses problems when they occur. According to research firm MarketsandMarkets, the global managed‐services market will grow to $193B by 2019, at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 12.5%. Information Technology as a Service According to the fifth annual Trends in Managed Service published by CompTIA, “The central tenet to the MSP model is a provider-customer relationship based on a contract backed by a service level agreement.” This approach provides IT services similar to other utility models.  Many Managed Service Providers (MSPs) rely on remote monitoring and management technologies to deliver a range of core IT services in a scalable and proactive manner. This approach streamlines the process for proactively identifying and resolving issues with IT infrastructure.   What to Expect from an MSP CompTIA research indicates it is common for a managed service provider to include desktop and network management, applications management, and remote help desk in their service level agreements (SLA). Security (including firewall management), server management, storage, network monitoring, Business Continuity/DR, Backup as a service (Cloud Backup), Email, and Virtual desktop are often available as managed services. Benefits of Managed Services The managed service approach is favored by business for a variety of reasons. Managed services...
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