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Tag Archives: Computer Support
3 “Must-Do” IT Resolutions for 2017
“Never before in the history of humankind have people across the world been subjected to extortion on a massive scale as they are today.” That’s what The Evolution of Ransomware, a study by Mountain View, California-based cybersecurity firm Symantec, reported recently.
If you have any illusions that your company is safe from cyber-attack in 2017, consider just a few findings stated in a recent report by the Herjavec Group, a global information security firm:
- Every second, 12 people online become a victim of cybercrime, totalling more than 1 million victims around the world every day.
- Nearly half of all cyber-attacks globally last year were committed against small businesses.
- Ransomware attacks rose more than an astonishing 300% in 2016.
- The world’s cyber-attack surface will grow an order of magnitude larger between now and 2021.
- The US has declared a national emergency to deal with the cyberthreat.
- There is no effective law enforcement for financial cybercrime today.
Clearly, your company’s information and financial well-being are at greater risk than ever in 2017. And you cannot count on the federal or state government or local police to protect your interests. That’s why I strongly suggest that you implement the following resolutions starting TODAY.
Resolution #1: Tune up your backup and recovery system.
The #1 antidote to a ransomware attack is an up-to-date backup copy of all your data and software. Yet managing backups takes more than just storing a daily copy of your data. For one thing, if your business is at all typical, the amount of data you store grows by 35% or more per year. If your data management budget doesn’t expand likewise, expect trouble.
Resolution #2: Harness the power of the cloud—but watch your back.
Huge productivity gains and reduced costs can be achieved by making full use of the cloud. Yet it’s a double-edged sword. Any oversight in security practices can lead to a breach.
Here are two things you can do to harness the cloud safely:
- Determine which data matters. Some data sets are more crucial to your business than others. Prioritize what must be protected. Trying to protect everything can take focus and resources away from protecting data such as bank account information, customer data and information that must be handled with compliance and regulatory requirements in mind.
- Select cloud providers carefully. Cloud vendors know that data security is vital to your business and promote that fact. Yet not all cloud vendors are the same. You can’t control what happens to your data in the cloud, but you can control who’s managing it for you.
Resolution #3: Set and enforce a strict Mobile Device Policy.
As BYOD becomes the norm, mobile devices open gaping holes in your network’s defenses. Don’t miss any of these three crucial steps:
- Require that users agree with acceptable-use terms before connecting to your network. Be sure to include terms like required use of hard-to-crack passwords, conditions under which company data may be “wiped” and auto-locking after periods of inactivity.
- Install a Mobile Device Management System on all connected devices. A good system creates a virtual wall between personal and company data. It lets you impose security measures, and it protects user privacy by limiting company access to work data only.
- Establish a strong protocol for when a connected device is lost or stolen. Make sure features that allow device owners to locate, lock or wipe (destroy) all data on the phone are preset in advance. That way, the user can be instructed to follow your protocol when their phone is lost or stolen.
I hope you will find this post informative and useful. I am looking forward to hearing your comments. That’s all I have for today, until next time make it a great day!
$1.5M Cyber-Heist Typifies Growing Threat
Efficient Escrow of California was forced to close its doors and lay off its entire staff when cybercriminals nabbed $1.5 million from its bank account. The thieves gained access to the escrow company’s bank data using a form of “Trojan horse” malware.
Once the hackers broke in, they wired $432,215 from the firm’s bank to an account in Moscow. That was followed by two more transfers totaling $1.1 million, this time to banks in Heilongjiang Province in China, near the Russian border.
The company recovered the first transfer, but not the next two. They were shocked to discover that, unlike with consumer accounts, banks are under no obligation to recoup losses in a cybertheft against a commercial account. That meant a loss of $1.1 million, in a year when they expected to clear less than half that. Unable to replace the funds, they were shut down by state regulators just three days after reporting the loss.
Net result? The two brothers who owned the firm lost their nine-person staff and faced mounting attorneys’ fees nearing the total amount of the funds recovered, with no immediate way to return their customers’ money.
Avoid Getting Blindsided
While hacks against the big boys like Target, Home Depot and Sony get more than their share of public attention, cyber-attacks on small and medium-sized companies often go unreported and rarely make national headlines.
Don’t let this lull you into a false sense of security. The number of crippling attacks against everyday businesses is growing. Cybersecurity company Symantec reports, for example, that 52.4% of “phishing” attacks last December were against SMEs—with a massive spike in November. Here are just a few examples out of thousands that you’ll probably never hear about:
Green Ford Sales, a car dealership in Kansas, lost $23,000 when hackers broke into their network and swiped bank account info. They added nine fake employees to the company payroll in less than 24 hours and paid them a total of $63,000 before the company caught on. Only some of the transfers could be canceled in time.
Wright Hotels, a real estate development firm, had $1 million drained from their bank account after thieves gained access to a company e-mail account. Information gleaned from e-mails allowed the thieves to impersonate the owner and convince the bookkeeper to wire money to an account in China.
Maine-based PATCO Construction lost $588,000 in a Trojan horse cyber-heist. They managed to reclaim some of it, but that was offset by interest on thousands of dollars in overdraft loans from their bank.
Why You’re a Target—And How to Fight Back!
Increasingly, cyber thieves view SMEs like yours and mine as easy “soft targets.” That’s because all too often we have:
1. Bank accounts with thousands of dollars.
2. A false sense of security about not being targeted.
3. Our customers’ credit card information, social security numbers and other vital data that hackers can easily sell on the black market.
If you don’t want your company to become yet another statistic in today’s cyberwar against smaller companies, and your business doesn’t currently have a “bullet-proof” security shield, you MUST take action without delay—or put everything you’ve worked for at risk. The choice is yours.
Immediate Action Items
Here are three things you can do right away:
1. Remove software that you don’t need from any systems linked to your bank account.
2. Make sure everyone with a device in your network never opens an attachment in an unexpected e-mail.
3. Require two people to sign off on every transaction.
Let Us Help
When it comes to defending your data, whether it’s bank account information, customer and employee records or proprietary intellectual property or processes, do not take chances.
I hope you will find this post informative and useful. I am looking forward to hearing your comments. That’s all I have for today, until next time make it a great day! Continue reading
Gazelle’s Growth Summit 2016
October 25-26, 2016
We are looking forward to attending this great event and hope you will join us. It is a must attend event for leaders that want to Scale-Up. We are particularly interested in meeting Patrick Lencioni.
For more info: gazelles.com/summits/growth-2016
“Mission Possible: How To Have The Vision, Tenacity And Courage To Achieve Your Own (Seemingly Impossible) Moon Shot “
How To Have The Vision, Tenacity
To Achieve Your Own (Seemingly Impossible) Moon Shot
Recently I had the opportunity of meeting Buzz Aldrin. He is 86 years old and still going 90 miles an hour. How much energy are you putting into everyday?
Buzz is a big thinker. He is always thinking outside the box. This thinking got him to the moon. How far will your thinking take you?
Buzz’s latest mission is to get people to Mars by 2039, the 70th anniversary of his own moon landing. He helped establish the Buzz Aldrin Space Institute at Florida Institute of Technology.
Buzz is a great advocate for aiming high and pushing our limits. He is a great inspiration to me to strive harder and reach higher in everything that I do.
Could The Dog Days Of Summer Be A Threat To Your Business?
How To Ensure The Heat Doesn’t Fry Your Server
(And Your Profits!)
With the “dog days” of summer upon us, most business owners are looking for ways to keep their company’s sales and profits HOT, while keeping their IT expenses COOL. But if proper attention is not given to your server and network equipment during the summer, all that heat outside can actually bring your company’s growth to a grinding halt and increase your IT expenses significantly.
Excess heat can be a big problem for small to mid-sized business servers, since a server that becomes overheated usually costs more in energy, fails more often and is more likely to crash. For most companies, a server crash can mean hours or days of downtime, unproductive employees, HUGE amounts of stress and thousands of dollars in lost opportunity.
7 Steps Every Business Owner Must Take To
Prevent a Heat-Induced Server Crash
Here are a few simple things you can do to prevent your server and network equipment from overheating and crashing this summer:
1. Tidy up the server room; a neater room will increase airflow.
2. Keep the doors to the server room closed and seal off the space.
3. Make sure cold air reaches all the equipment.
4. Have a redundant A/C unit that is specifically designed for computers.
5. Buy a rack enclosure where the cooling is built into the bottom of the rack.
6. Keep the temperature at no more than 77 degrees Fahrenheit.
7. Consider virtualization or cloud computing so that you are generating a lower amount of heat in the first place.
Don’t let the summer heat get you down.
“SIMPLE NUMBERS, STRAIGHT TALK, BIG PROFITS!”
Take the mystery out of small business finance with this no-frills guide to understanding the numbers that will guide your business out of any financial black hole. Author Greg Crabtree, a successful accountant, small business advisor, and popular presenter, shows you how to use your firm’s key financial indicators as a basis for smart business decisions as you grow your firm from start-up to $5 million (and more!) in annual revenue.
Jargon-free, and presented in an easy-to-follow, step-by-step format, with plenty of real-world examples, Crabtree’s down-to-earth discussion highlights the most common financial errors committed by small businesses, and how to avoid them.
-Why your numbers are lying to you (and why you are the cause!)
-How labor productivity is the key to profitability and simplifying human resource decisions
-Why the amount of tax you pay is your number-one key performance indicator
-Take advantage of Crabtree’s years of experience teaching clients how to build successful businesses by “seeing beyond numbers” with this practical guide to increasing your business’s profitability.
Our Gazelles coach, Kenyon Blunt, recommended this book to me and it has changed the way I look at the numbers. It is an easy read and I have jumped in and started implementing Greg’s suggestions.
I hope you will find this post informative and useful. I am looking forward to hearing your comments. That’s all I have for today, until next time make it a great day!
Here’s a shocker to most business owners: Your bank often can NOT reclaim money stolen from your bank account due to fraud or cyber-crime. That means if money gets drafted from your business bank account from a hacker, phishing attack, identity theft or by any other means, you have little to no chance of getting it back.
This often comes as a surprise to businesses who think the FDIC will “save” them from getting their accounts wiped out, and can get the money back once taken. The reality is that the FDIC insurance is to protect you from bank failure, NOT fraud. So if your debit card or account information gets accessed by a hacker and you don’t notice it within the same day, you can pretty much kiss that money goodbye.
Recent studies have shown that 83% of small businesses take no formal measures against cyberthreats even though almost half of all attacks are aimed at them.
Here are 5 essential steps you can take right now to protect your business:
1. Enforce A Strict Company Password Policy. This is a simple step, but it is still violated by many companies every day. Make sure that you and your employees change passwords regularly, don’t use the same password for all accounts and require complex passwords.
2. Set Up A Firewall. Small business owners tend to think that because they are “just a small business”, no one would waste time trying to hack into their network. The fact is that hackers will target the weakest link. Without a firewall, that “weak link” is YOUR company.
3. Designate A Banking-Only Computer. Banking fraud is one of the biggest threats to small business. The 2011 Business Banking Study showed that 56% of businesses experienced payment fraud (or an attempt at fraud) and 75% experienced account takeover and fraud online. By using a single computer solely dedicated to online financial transactions (no e-mail, web-surfing, Facebook, YouTube, etc.) it’s much harder for outsiders to gain access to your information.
4. Back Up Your Files Daily. It just amazes me how many businesses never back up their computer network. You can lose data as well as money in a cyber attack. Thanks to many new cloud based technologies, you can even schedule offsite backups to occur automatically. If the data in your business is important to you, make sure that you have more than one copy of it.
5. Educate Employees. You staff is the first line of defense AND your biggest security hole at the same time. Uneducated employees are one of the most common causes of data breaches. Make sure that they are aware of the do’s and don’ts for your company with regards to data security.
An IMPORTANT Security Warning For Businesses Running Windows Server 2003
If your organization is currently running Microsoft Server 2003 on one or more servers in your office, you need to know about a dangerous security threat to your organization that must be addressed very soon. Please take a moment to read this important announcement.
As your local Microsoft Registered Partner, we are aggressively reaching out to all businesses within the Greater New Orleans Area that use Microsoft Windows Server 2003 to alert you to this serious security risk to your organization and inform you about what you need to do now to protect your company.
Server 2003 Changes Must Be Made Between Now And The Middle Of 2015
Microsoft has officially announced that it will retire support on the Server 2003 operating system on July 14, 2015. Once support ends on this 11-year-old product, there will be no further patches or security updates, exposing any company running this software to major security and compliance risks. Any server with this software installed will be completely exposed to serious hacker attacks aimed at taking control of your network, stealing data, crashing your system and inflicting a host of other business-crippling problems you do NOT want to have to deal with.
Unless you don’t care about cybercriminals running rampant in your company’s server, you MUST upgrade any servers running this operating system.
Important: The average server upgrade project takes nearly 200 days to complete. Don’t wait until July when everyone is begging for urgent help.
5 Easy Things You Should Do To Protect Your Business Now
Let’s face it: no one likes to think about bad things happening to them, much less plan for them. But since September is National Disaster Preparedness Month, we want to give you a quick “brush-up” on some simple things you can (and should!) be doing to protect your business.
1. Review Your Business Insurance Carefully. Most businesses carry some type of general liability insurance that would pay them if their building and the things in it were damaged. However, many businesses do not have enough coverage to replace all the computer equipment and devices, desks, art, supplies and other things they’ve accumulated over the years that are housed in their office. Make sure you review your policy every year and keep in mind new additions and assets you’ve accumulated during that year.
2. Consider Cloud Computing. One of the biggest advantages of cloud computing is that your data and assets are stored off-site in a highly secure, high-availability data center, with failover and redundancy built in. That means that if your building were destroyed and you had to evacuate, or if your server melted down due to an unexpected hardware failure, everything you’ve worked so hard to create over the years is safe and not a sitting duck in your unsecured closet or server room.
3. Secure Your Data. Making sure that your data is protected from theft is a never-ending battle you don’t want to lose. Companies that get hacked and expose sensitive client and employee data can face severe penalties, lawsuits and massive loss of credibility in the marketplace. Make sure you never have to send an e-mail to your customers explaining the bad news that a hacker accessed their info through you. Further, if you keep any sensitive information (even passwords to portals containing sensitive information) on portable laptops, phones and other devices, make sure you have a way of controlling and safeguarding that information.
4. Write A Simple Disaster Recovery Plan. The key word here is “simple.” If your plan gets too complicated or difficult, you won’t do it. But at a minimum, think of the disaster that is most likely to happen and that would have a severe and negative impact on your company’s survival.
5. Review Your Employee Internet Policy. With so many people “addicted” to Facebook and Twitter, it’s important that your employees know where the line is in what they can and can’t post online. We also recommend content-filtering software to block content and web sites you don’t want employees visiting during work hours.
The 3 Biggest Problems New Orleans and Northshore CEOs Have With Most IT Firms
If you are a highly successful, results-oriented CEO who wants to focus your time, energy and money on growing your company, but find yourself constantly distracted and slowed down by chronic computer problems and incompetent IT support, then you probably don’t need us to tell you how frustrating that is.
Our research shows that most successful New Orleans and Northshore CEOs have 3 big problems when dealing with most IT support companies. See if you agree…
Problem #1: You Have Constant Technical Problems.
Maybe you’ve experienced this yourself: you hire a so-called IT expert to support your computer network, but every time they “solve” a problem, two more crop up. Or the problem they were supposed to have solved keeps coming back again and again. Then, to add insult to injury, they don’t check their work, they keep charging you to come back and repair the same issues or they waste your time trying to explain why the problem is happening instead of just taking care of it.
Problem #2: They Don’t Understand How Critically Important Your Time Is.
If you’re like most busy executives we work with, you’re the most important player on the team, with multiple time-sensitive projects and critical deadlines that can NOT be missed, yet most computer guys don’t seem to understand this. When you call their office, you get voice mail. When they finally get around to calling you back, they waste your time with a million dumb questions and walking you through a number of mind-numbing tasks (like rebooting), wasting even MORE of your time while they try to get a clue. If they can’t fix your computer that way, then you have to wait around for them to show up, take it back to their office, fix it and bring it back – a process that could take days. Meanwhile, your blood pressure is going through the roof because you need to get back to work.
You shouldn’t have to tolerate this type of poor service. Our stance is that you shouldn’t be having those kinds of issues in the first place. Second, when you DO have a problem, it should be addressed IMMEDIATELY – not hours or days later.
Problem #3: Poor Communication And Service.
From arrogant technicians who talk over your head to zero communication on the status of your requests and projects, another BIG problem many business owners have with their IT person is poor communication skills. On top of that, NONE of them seem to understand basic business concepts and want to have a conversation about the technical details rather than just getting it done.
Imagine being able to just tell your consultant what you’re trying to achieve in your business and they make it happen – and provide REAL value by advising you on how to make those outcomes happen faster, cheaper and with less effort.