Blog

Archive for Tech Tips for Business Owners

Pirates Aren’t Just Threats On The Open Seas

“Know Ye That We Have Granted and Given License to Adam Robernolt and William le Sauvage…to annoy our enemies by sea or by land, wheresoever they are able, so that they share with us the half of all their gain.”

These were the words of King Henry III of England as he issued one of the first letters of marque, effectively employing private sailors to bolster his naval power and fill the royal coffers, all under the guise of lawful privateering. This clever maneuver not only financed the kingdom’s ambitions but also paved the way for the discovery and plunder of new worlds, all at the expense of England’s adversaries.

Fast-forward several centuries, and we find the essence of privateering alive and well, albeit in a new battlefield: cyberspace. Today, businesses, particularly in the United States, find themselves at the mercy of digital privateers.

Recently, the FBI testified before Congress that the People’s Republic of China was preparing to “sow chaos” by taking down the US power grid, oil pipelines and water systems in the event of a conflict over Taiwan.

As small business owners, you are not mere spectators in this digital skirmish but frontline warriors. The misconception that cyber security is a concern reserved for larger entities couldn’t be further from the truth. In reality, the agility and often less fortified digital defenses of small businesses make you prime targets for these modern-day privateers.

The revelation of these threats isn’t meant to dishearten but to awaken a recognition of the critical need for robust cyber security measures. The landscape has shifted, and the onus is on you to protect your enterprise from digital marauders.

The good news? There’s a silver lining in the form of unprecedented opportunity for those ready to fortify their defenses.

Consider this: The investment in cyber security is not merely a safeguard but a strategic advantage. The narrative has evolved from viewing digital protection as an operational cost to recognizing it as a cornerstone of business resilience and growth. CEOs and business leaders are now acknowledging the indispensability of cyber security and integrating it into their core business strategies.

So, where do you stand in this evolving scenario?

This moment calls for reflection, for a candid assessment of your cyber security posture. Are you prepared for the digital equivalent of a storm at sea? Have you charted a course that not only navigates through these treacherous waters but also seizes the opportunities they present?

The urgency cannot be overstated. The threats are real, and the consequences of inaction grave.

We’ve made it easy for you to take the next step toward a proactive defense and invite you to join us for a complimentary 15-minute discovery call. On this call, we’ll get an idea of where your business stands to see if it makes sense to have further discussions. To do this, simply call us at 305-574-2169 or go to: [https://virtualitmanagers.com/free-network-analysis-and-security-assessment/]

The era of digital privateering is upon us, but so is the opportunity for unparalleled growth and security. Let’s embark on this journey together, safeguarding your enterprise and securing its future in the digital frontier.

Posted in: Tech Tips for Business Owners

Leave a Comment (0) →

How $43,000 Got Stolen From A Small Business In The Blink Of An Eye

What you are about to read is a real story showing you how a business can be devastated by cybercriminals in the blink of an eye. Most importantly, I’ll share several ways this could have been avoided. Make sure to forward this to anyone who might be making online payments and, better yet, your entire staff. The name of the company and principals have been withheld so they don’t become a further target.

$43,000 Gone In The Blink Of An Eye

Imagine, on a normal Friday night after a long week of work, you glance down at your phone and see an alert from your bank.

You open it to find that you’ve just paid a company you’ve never heard of $43,000!

This was an all-too-real situation for one small business owner a few weeks ago – and there’s NOTHING the owner, or police, or anyone else can do to get that money back. It’s gone forever.

Thankfully, for this company, $43,000 was a loss they could absorb, but it was still a huge hit and, frankly, they are lucky they weren’t taken for more.

Here’s what happened and how you can keep this from happening to you.

The E-mail That Started It All

Imagine receiving an e-mail so convincing, so utterly devoid of red flags, that you find yourself compelled to act. This isn’t a failure of judgment; it’s a testament to the sophistication of modern cyberthreats.

In this case, an employee in the accounting department received an e-mail from the company’s “CEO” saying they were starting to work with a new company and needed to get them set up in the system and make a payment to them right away.

This was NOT an abnormal type of e-mail, nor was the amount anything that aroused suspicion – they made and received large amounts of money often.

The only telltale clue might have been that it came in on a Friday afternoon and it was made clear that it was an urgent matter that had to be handled right away.

The employee, thinking they were doing exactly what their boss wanted, set the attacker’s company up in the system, including their bank routing number, and made a payment. And the minute they hit “Send,” the money was never to be seen again.

It wasn’t until the CEO called minutes later, after receiving notification of the transfer, that alarm bells started to ring! But by then it was all too late.

So What Happened?

While it’s impossible to know what exactly occurred to kick off this chain of events, the most likely culprit is that an employee, possibly even the owner, received an e-mail sent by a cybercriminal weeks or even months earlier that allowed this person to gain access to some of the company’s systems.

In all likelihood, the e-mail looked normal and had a link that, when clicked, downloaded software onto the recipient’s computer, and that’s where things started to go wrong.

Over the following weeks, the cybercriminals accessed company communications, figuring out who the players were, and devised a plan to make it look like the CEO needed a vendor to be paid urgently.

And when the criminals determined the time was right, they “attacked” and walked away with $43,000 for their efforts.

Home Alone

While this scenario may sound far-fetched, it’s not new.

If you remember seeing the classic movie Home Alone, would-be thieves watched houses immediately preceding Christmas to determine which families would be away for the holidays so they could break into those homes.

Cybercriminals do the same thing, but from a distance, and you’d never know they were ever there.

The scary fact is, your system could be compromised right now, and you would have no way of knowing it, until an attack happens.

In the cybercrime world, the kind of attack this company suffered is referred to as spear phishing. Criminals identify a single point or person in an organization who they believe could fall victim to a scam like the one that happened here, and they engineer a scheme to specifically target them.

What You and Your Employees Need To Know To Help Thwart Attacks

The sad fact is that there is no 100% safeguard against cybercriminals. But, just like our robbers in Home Alone, cybercriminals go after the low-hanging fruit. If your house has a gated entry, security system, outside cameras and lights, and has three vicious-looking dogs roaming around, would-be thieves are much more likely just to move on to a house without all these layers of security.

Cybercriminals operate in the exact same fashion, looking for companies that aren’t protected and then targeting them specifically. So, the best thing you can do is have layers of protection for your company, along with education for your employees.

3 Things to Do Right Now To Protect Your Company

  1. Multi-factor authentication (MFA), also called two-factor authentication (2FA), is not just a tool but also a shield against the relentless barrage of cyberthreats. An example of MFA is when you try to log into a program, and it sends a code to your cell phone via text that needs to be entered before granting access to the program. While often deemed a nuisance, MFA isn’t an inconvenience – it’s the digital equivalent of locking your doors at night. It’s a simple yet profoundly effective measure that can be the difference between a secure business and a cautionary tale.
  2. Employees are your first line of defense. Just like you’d teach your kids not to open the door for someone they don’t know, you NEED to educate your employees on malicious threats. Teaching them about the common scams, how to avoid them and what to do if they think they’ve inadvertently clicked a link they shouldn’t have, is key. You need to ask your IT company to provide this training, and often they have programs that you can require your employees to go through a couple of times a year. The program then quizzes them to ensure they have the knowledge. While this process isn’t something you or they will look forward to, the reality is that it could take just 10 to 15 minutes a couple times a year to keep you out of the news and your money out of someone else’s account!
  3. Get cyber security services in place. MFA is just the start of a comprehensive security plan. You need to talk to a qualified company (not your uncle Larry who helps you on the side) about getting more than a firewall and virus scan software. What worked a decade or two ago – and may still be helpful on a home network – would be like protecting a bank vault with a ring camera. It’s just not going to cut it. NOTE: We offer a variety of security services for companies of all sizes and can certainly talk to you about options that make sense for your situation.

Whatever You Do, Don’t Do This!!!

Maybe the worst thing the owner of the company that lost $43,000 did was they then posted a video and story on social media.

While their intentions were good because they wanted to warn other business owners not to fall victim to the same scam, they might as well have had T-shirts made with a big target on the back.

It’d be like having cash from your house taken, then going online and telling people exactly how it happened – you’re just inviting more people to come try to take your cash.

Not Sure If You’re as Protected And Prepared As You Should Be?

To make sure you’re properly protected, get a FREE, no-obligation Cyber Security Risk Assessment. During this assessment, we’ll review your entire system, so you know exactly if and where you’re vulnerable to an attack.

Schedule your assessment with one of our senior advisors by calling us at 305-574-2169 or going to

Posted in: Tech Tips for Business Owners

Leave a Comment (0) →

Best Practices To ‘Celebrate’ National Change Your Password Day: How Does Your Password Stack Up?

Each year on February 1st, we celebrate Change Your Password Day. While it’s not a holiday that gets you off work, it serves as a good opportunity each year to do a quick check-in and make sure you’re using strong passwords that will keep your accounts protected.

The suggested ‘rule’ used to be to change your password every three months. With advanced tools like password managers and data encryption, experts now say the type of password you use is more important than how often you create a new one. We’re sharing up-to-date advice on how to create a strong password that will keep your account secure and hackers guessing.

Make It Complex

Aim for complexity by combining uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers and special characters. Avoid easily guessable information like birthdays, names or common words. The more intricate and unique your password, the harder it is for hackers to crack it.

Longer Passwords Are Harder To Crack

Long passwords provide an added layer of security. According to Hive Systems, brute-force hacking can crack an eight-character password in less than one hour! When creating a new password, aim for a minimum of 12 characters, and consider using passphrases—sequences of random words or a sentence—which can be both strong and easier to remember.

A random passphrase would be something like: cogwheel-rosy-cathouse-jailbreak.

This passphrase was generated from the website useapassphrase.com, which will auto-create a four-word passphrase for you if you’re stumped.

Use Unique Passwords For Each Account

Resisting the temptation to reuse passwords across multiple accounts is crucial. If one account is compromised, having unique passwords for other accounts ensures that the damage is contained. Consider using a reputable password manager to help you generate and store complex passwords securely.

*Do NOT use Google or your browser’s password manager. If your Google account is compromised, all of your passwords will be too. Talk with your IT team about what password management tool they recommend for you and your organization.

Update Passwords Yearly

As long as your account hasn’t been compromised, you only need to change your passwords once a year to minimize the risk of unauthorized access. The only time a regular password change routine would be exceptionally helpful is if someone has access that you don’t know about. A frequent password change can make it more challenging for attackers to maintain access to your accounts over an extended period of time.

Engage Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA)

Implementing multi-factor authentication is another easy way to make your password bulletproof. MFA typically involves combining something you know (your password) with something you have (like a code sent to your phone). Even if your password is compromised, MFA significantly reduces the chances of unauthorized access.

Set Up Strong Password Recovery Alternatives

Leverage password recovery options like security questions or alternative e-mail addresses. It’s important to choose questions with answers that are not easily guessable or have publicly available information so “What’s your mother’s maiden name” is out!

Use Password Managers

You don’t have to try and remember every password, and you shouldn’t write them down on a sticky note on your desk. Instead, use a good password management tool that is secure and will handle keeping track of your passwords for you.

Bonus points for turning off the auto-fill feature. Hackers can infiltrate sites and install a little bit of code on a page that creates a second, invisible password box. When your password manager autofills the login box, it will also fill in the invisible box, giving hackers your password. This isn’t overly common, but it still poses a risk.

Regularly Review Account Activity

Monitor your account activity for any suspicious logins or activities. Many online platforms offer features that notify you of login attempts from unfamiliar devices, allowing you to take swift action in the event of unauthorized access.

It’s also always good to be aware of phishing attempts, never click suspicious links or attachments in e-mails, avoid public Wi-Fi and only use secure connections and educate and train your team on what to look for when it comes to cybercrime so they can protect themselves, you and the company.

As cyber threats continue to evolve, mastering the fundamentals of cybersecurity, like creating strong passwords, becomes paramount. By making informed choices and staying proactive, you can significantly enhance your online security.

However, as the leader of your organization, it’s important to remember that nothing is foolproof. Educating your team on cybersecurity best practices is essential, but mistakes can and will still happen. For most, it’s not a matter of if, but when. You must have a robust cybersecurity plan in place. The right IT team will make sure you have every protection in place to keep you safe and a crisis management plan ready if something goes wrong. To find out what gaps you have in your cybersecurity system, we’ll do a FREE Cybersecurity Risk Assessment. Click here to book yours now. Or visit our website : https://virtualitmanagers.com/free-network-analysis-and-security-assessment/

Posted in: Tech Tips for Business Owners

Leave a Comment (0) →

How “Cheaper” IT Providers Sneak In Expensive Hidden Costs

Is your company looking to hire an IT firm? Unfortunately, unless you’re tech-savvy or experienced with IT contracts, there can be hidden costs that you wouldn’t expect or know to look for. While it can sound appealing to go for the cheapest firm, that decision can end up costing you more in the long run due to carve-outs and hidden fees in the contract. Cheaper IT firms will omit certain services from the original agreement and later nickel-and-dime you to add them on or by quoting you inadequate solutions that you’ll later need to pay to upgrade.

To help you weed out these companies that are not the bargains they advertise themselves to be, there are a few key elements to consider determining if your quote is insufficient, overpriced or underquoted.

Insufficient Compliance And Cybersecurity Protections:

A ransomware attack is a significant and devastating event for any business; therefore, it’s imperative that the IT company you’re working with isn’t just putting basic (cheap) antivirus software on your network and calling it a day. This is by far the one critical area most “cheaper” MSPs leave out.

Antivirus is good to have but woefully insufficient to protect you from serious threats. In fact, insurance companies are now requiring advanced cyber protections such as employee cyber awareness training, 2FA (2-factor authentication), and what’s called “advanced endpoint protection” just to get insurance coverage for cyber liability and crime insurance. We provide those standards in our offering, so not only do you greatly reduce your chances of a cyber-attack, but you also avoid being denied an important insurance claim (or denied coverage, period).

Inadequate Recovery Solutions:

One thing you also want to make sure you look for in your IT firm proposal is that they do daily backups of your servers and workstations, as well as any cloud applications your company uses (Microsoft 365, Google Workspace, etc.), because online applications do NOT guarantee to back up your data. You also need to make sure your backups are immutable or unable to be corrupted by hackers. Again, most insurance companies now require immutable backups to be in place before they’ll insure against ransomware or similar cyber events.

Transparency About On-Site And After-Hours Fees:

This might take you by surprise, but most IT firms will charge EXTRA for any on-site or after-hours visits. We include ALL of this in our agreements, but ‘cheaper’ MSPs will intentionally leave this out and add it on later to make the sticker price appear lower. Make sure you understand what is and isn’t included in your service agreement before signing.

Nonexistent Vendor Liaison And Support:

Will they help you with all your tech, or just select pieces that they’ve installed? Some IT firms will charge you hourly to resolve tech support issues with your phone system, ISP, security cameras, printers, and other devices they didn’t sell you but that still reside on the network (and give you technical problems). These fees can stack up over time. As a client of ours, you get all of that INCLUDED, without extra charges.

Cheap, Inexperienced Techs And No Dedicated Account Managers:

One way some companies cut costs is by skimping on customer support and expertise. Many of the smaller MSPs will hire technicians under a 1099 agreement or find cheaper, less experienced engineers to work on your network and systems. The more experienced and knowledgeable a tech is on networking and, more specifically, cybersecurity, the more expensive they are.

Further, many smaller MSPs can’t afford dedicated account managers, which means you’re depending on the owner of the company (who’s EXTREMELY busy) to pay attention to your account and to look for problems brewing, critical updates that need to happen, upgrades and budgeting you need.

Good account management includes creating and managing an IT budget, a custom road map for your business and reviewing regulatory compliance and security on a routine basis to make sure nothing is overlooked. You get what you pay for, and this is NOT an area you want overlooked.

BEFORE you sign on the dotted line, it’s important to make sure that you fully understand what IS and ISN’T included in the service you are signing up for. It’s VERY easy for one IT services provider to appear far less expensive than another UNTIL you look closely at what you are getting.

If you’d like to see what dependable, quality IT support looks like, book a call with our team, and we’ll be happy to give you a quote that covers everything you need. To Schedule Your FREE Assessment, please visit https://virtualitmanagers.com/free-network-analysis-and-security-assessment/ or call our office at 305-574-2169.

Posted in: Tech Tips for Business Owners

Leave a Comment (0) →

New Security Features To Protect Your Phone In 2024

Long gone are the days when phones were simple devices used to make calls. Today our phones are advanced, handheld supercomputers that can do everything from pay a bill to order lunch for delivery to edit videos and more.

But with more capabilities come more risks. Because our phones are computers and connected to the Internet, they are susceptible to the same security risks that any other computer would be. Worse yet, personal devices often contain private information like bank account numbers, which, if accessed by the wrong person, could result in dangerous and expensive problems like drained bank accounts, identity theft and so on. Still, despite the obvious risks, most people do not treat phones like the security threats they pose, making them easy, no-brainer targets for cybercriminals.

To give perspective on how severe the problem is, Apple recently shared a study from MIT revealing a shocking 2.6 billion personal records were breached in 2021 and 2022 and were expected to increase in 2023. According to Kaspersky Security Network, in Q3 of 2023 alone, a total of 8,346,169 mobile malware, adware and riskware attacks were blocked, with adware being the most common tactic at 52% of total detected threats.

The risks are even more serious for business owners. Does your organization have a mobile policy for employees? Are employees accessing sensitive work documents or accounts using unprotected devices? If you’re not sure, you need your IT department to look into this immediately. It only takes one entry point for a hacker to break into your network.

There are a few ways to protect your devices now. Both Apple and Android have developed powerful security systems with advanced protective features you can start utilizing today.

Apple:

End-to-end encryption has been the default for Apple iMessage, iCloud Keychain, and Health data, but with a recent update, Apple rolled out Advanced Data Protection (ADP). This feature is an optional setting that offers Apple’s highest level of cloud data security by encrypting messages in iCloud, iCloud Backup, Notes, Photos, Safari bookmarks, Siri Shortcuts and more.

Activating this setting protects your data in the event of a cloud-based data breach by only allowing trusted devices added by you to decrypt the information. Not even Apple can access your data.

Here’s how to enable Apple’s Advanced Data Protection Setting:

  1. Make sure devices signed in with your Apple ID have been updated to at least iOS 16.2, iPadOS 16.2, macOS 13.1, tvOS 16.2, watchOS 9.2 or later.
  2. Open the Settings app on your iPhone.
  3. Tap your name at the top.
  4. Select iCloud, scroll to the bottom, and tap Advanced Data Protection.
  5. Tap Turn On Advanced Data Protection.

NOTE: If you don’t have a recovery contact or key set up, you’ll be prompted to do that first.

  1. Once a recovery contact/key is set up, return to Settings > iCloud > Advanced Data Protection and tap Turn On Advanced Data Protection.
  2. Follow the prompts.

NOTE: You may be asked to update other devices signed into your iCloud account before enabling end-to-end encryption (E2E).

You can also remove devices with old software to continue the process.

If your device is new, for security reasons, Apple might make you wait to enable the feature. If that’s the case, that timeframe will show on your screen during setup.

Android:

While Apple is known for having a robust security system that reduces vulnerabilities and protects users’ data, Android’s security features are not far behind. Google Play Protect analyzes every app before it’s available for download, and any new apps where a security risk is detected are unable to be accessed. The software also runs daily scans to help identify and disable malware and other harmful applications installed on your phone to protect your data.

Furthermore, Android backups are regularly uploaded to Google servers and encrypted with your Google Account password for security purposes.

How to keep data secure if you’re using an Android:

If you’re using Google One, you can set up automatic backups on your Android device to ensure that if disaster strikes, your data is securely stored in the cloud:

  1. Open the Google One app on your Android.
  2. At the bottom, tap Storage.
  3. Scroll to “Backup” and tap View.
  4. If this is your first phone backup, tap Set up data backup.
  5. If this isn’t your first phone backup, tap View Details.
  1. To review backup settings, tap Manage backup.
  2. Choose your backup settings.

NOTE: If you get a message to install an app, update an app or change your settings, follow the onscreen steps. Then, go back to the Google One app to finish.

  1. If asked, tap Allow Permissions.
  2. At the top left, tap Back.

NOTE: Google One backups may take up to 24 hours to complete.

How To Protect All Of Your Devices:

These features are not the end-all, be-all for phone security, but they will add a layer of protection for your data. To ensure every device on your network is secure, we recommend getting a third-party Cybersecurity Risk Assessment. This is a free, no-obligation assessment where one of our experts will examine your network and let you know if and where you’re vulnerable to an attack, including your mobile device policy.

Schedule your assessment with one of our senior advisors by calling us at 305-574-2169 or going to https://virtualitmanagers.com/free-network-analysis-and-security-assessment.

Posted in: Tech Tips for Business Owners

Leave a Comment (0) →

5 New Cybersecurity Threats You Need To Be Very Prepared For This Year

The year of 2023 marked a significant turning point for cyber-attacks with the introduction and wide proliferation of AI (artificial intelligence), now in the hands of people who wish to do you harm and who are actively using it to find faster and easier ways to rob you, extort you or simply burn your business to the ground.

As I write this, I’m well aware there’s a tendency to shrug and just accept the “we’re all gonna get hacked anyway” mantra to avoid having to deal with it. Further, like overhyped weather reports, it’s also tempting to just ignore the warning signs, thinking all of this is just fearmongering rhetoric designed to sell stuff.

However, it truly is becoming a situation where the question is no longer IF your organization will be hacked, but WHEN. The Hiscox Cyber Readiness report recently revealed that 53% of all businesses suffered at least ONE cyber-attack over the last 12 months with 21% stating the attack was enough to threaten the viability of their business.

This year is going to be a particularly nasty one, given the U.S. presidential election along with the ongoing wars between Russia and Ukraine and Israel and Hamas. Tensions are high and hacking groups are often motivated by revenge as well as money.

Now, here are the 5 biggest developments in cyber threats you need to know about.

  1. The Proliferation Of AI Powered Attacks:

If cybersecurity is a chess game, AI is the Queen, giving the person in possession the most powerful advantage for whomever plays it best. All cyber-related reports expect to see highly sophisticated deepfake social engineering attacks on the rise designed to separate you from your money.

We’ve already seen scams using AI-generated voices of family members, calling relatives to claim they’ve been injured, kidnapped or worse, to extort money. This is also being used to hack into companies by getting employees to provide login information to people they think are their IT department or boss.

This is where employee awareness training comes in, as well as controls such as MFA (multi-factor authentication), come into play.

  1. Increased Risk of Remote Workers:

The expansion of remote work is a trend that is not going away; and with that comes an exponentially greater risk for cyber threats. From laptops being carried around and connected to suspicious Wi-Fi to mobile phones providing a “key” to logging into critical applications (like your bank account, Microsoft 365, line-of-business and credit card applications), these devices pose a high risk for being easily lost or stolen. Further, when people use their own devices or work remote, they tend to mix business and personal activities on the same device.

That employee who frequents gambling or porn sites may be using the same device used to login to company e-mail or critical applications. Even logging into personal social media sites that get hacked can provide a gateway for a hacker to get to YOUR company’s information through a user’s (employee’s) personal accounts.

  1. Escalation Of Ransomware Attacks:

There are an estimated 1.7 million ransomware attacks every day, which means every second 19 people are hacked worldwide. If you’ve been lucky enough to avoid this, know that someone else is getting hacked on a very frequent basis, and you are very likely to be hit.

Last year, ransomware attacks increased by 37% with the average ransom payment exceeding $100,000, with an average demand of $5.3 million.

Fortunately, not all ransom attacks are successful. Businesses are getting much smarter about cyber protections and have been able to put in place protections that prevent hackers from successfully extorting their victims.

  1. IoT Attacks:

IoT, or “Internet of Things,” is a term to describe the proliferation of Internet-connected devices. Today, even kitchen appliances, like a refrigerator, can be connected to the Internet to tell you when it’s time to change the water filter to alerting you if there’s a power outage.

This means hackers have a FAR greater number of access points into your world. If there are 100+ more doors to walk through in a house, you have a much greater security risk than if there are only five. That’s why IoT attacks present such a problem for us, and a huge opportunity for the hackers.

While many people know they should lock their PC, they might not be as meticulous in locking down their fridge or their dog’s tracking collar, but those could all provide access to you, your devices, e-mail, credit card and personal information.

  1. Cyber Protection Legal Requirements

To try and combat the out-of-control tsunami of cybercrime, the government is initiating more comprehensive federal and state laws requiring business owners to have in place “reasonable security” protections for their employees and clients.

The FTC (Federal Trade Commission) has been the most active in this space, bringing numerous actions against companies it alleges failed to implement reasonable security measures, issuing monetary penalties.

Of course, all 50 states plus Washington D.C. have passed laws imposing security requirements as well as data breach notification laws that require businesses to notify anyone whose data and PII (personally identifiable information) has been stolen or accessed by hackers via the company. For example, in California, under the California Privacy Rights Act (CCPA), a business could face a penalty of $100 to $750 per consumer and per incident if that company gets hacked and the court determines they failed to put in place reasonable security procedures.

Not Sure If You’re As Protected And Prepared As You Should Be?

To make sure you’re properly protected, get a FREE, no-obligation Cybersecurity Risk Assessment. During this assessment, we’ll review your entire system so you know exactly if and where you’re vulnerable to an attack.

Schedule your assessment with one of our senior advisors by calling us at 305-574-2169 or going to https://virtualitmanagers.com/free-network-analysis-and-security-assessment/.

Posted in: Tech Tips for Business Owners

Leave a Comment (0) →

Your 15-Step IT Profitability Road Map For 2024

If you’re hoping to cut costs and boost profitability in 2024 without compromising productivity or efficiency, assessing the technology you use in day-to-day operations is one of the first areas in your business to examine.

We’ve created a road map that you can use to go step-by-step through your organization to determine if and where you can be saving money or utilizing new or better technology to improve operational efficiency.

  1. Technology Inventory:
  • Conduct a comprehensive inventory of your current technology assets, including hardware, software licenses and peripherals like monitors, printers, keyboards, etc.
  • Identify outdated or underutilized equipment that can be upgraded or decommissioned.
  1. Software Licensing And Subscriptions:
  • Review all software licenses and subscriptions to ensure compliance.
  • Identify any unused or redundant software and eliminate unnecessary expenses.
  1. Cloud Services Optimization:
  • Evaluate your usage of cloud services and consider optimizing resources based on actual needs.
  • Monitor and adjust cloud service subscriptions to match fluctuating business demands.
  • Evaluate security protocols for cloud-based services to ensure you’re not at risk of a data breach. This can be an expensive problem, so do not skip it.
  1. Energy Efficiency:
  • Implement energy-efficient practices, such as consolidating servers, using energy-efficient hardware and optimizing data center cooling.
  • Consider virtualization to reduce the number of physical servers, saving both energy and hardware costs.
  1. Remote Work Infrastructure:
  • Optimize remote work capabilities to support flexible working arrangements. Inefficiency in this area will decrease productivity, inflate costs and increase cyber security risks.
  • Invest in secure collaboration tools and virtual private network (VPN) solutions for remote access.
  1. Data Storage Optimization:
  • Assess data storage needs and implement data archiving strategies to free up primary storage. Are you saving documents you don’t need? Are there redundant files that should be removed?
  • Consider cloud storage options for scalability and cost-effectiveness.
  1. Network Performance:
  • Regularly monitor and optimize network performance to ensure faster and more reliable data transfer, reduce downtime, enhance the user experience and support cost savings, ultimately contributing to the overall efficiency and success of your business operations.
  • Implement quality of service (QoS) settings to prioritize critical applications and services.
  1. IT Security Measures:
  • Regularly update and patch software to address security vulnerabilities.
  • Ensure that antivirus, anti-malware and other security solutions are up-to-date and active.
  • Conduct regular security audits and employee training to prevent security breaches.

           
NOTE: This cyber security measures list barely scratches the surface. If you haven’t had a professional dig into your security solutions, this needs to be a priority. Data breaches are expensive and can shut a business down. Click here to book a call with our team.

  1. IT Help Desk Efficiency:
  • Implement or optimize an IT help desk system to streamline support requests.
  • Use a faster, more efficient ticketing system to track and prioritize IT issues, improving response times and resolution rates.
  1. Mobile Device Management (MDM):
  • Implement MDM solutions to manage and secure mobile devices used by employees.
  • Enforce policies that ensure data security on company-issued or BYOD (bring our own device) devices.
  1. Vendor Management:
  • Review vendor contracts and negotiate better terms or explore competitive options.
  • Consolidate vendors where possible to simplify management and potentially reduce costs.
  • Evaluate vendor cyber security practices to ensure your data is as secure as possible. If they are breached and your data is released, you’re still at fault.
  1. Employee Training Programs:
  • Provide ongoing training programs to enhance employees’ IT skills and awareness.
  • Reduce support costs by empowering employees to troubleshoot common issues independently.
  1. Energy-Efficient Hardware:
  • Invest in energy-efficient hardware to reduce electricity costs and contribute to environmental sustainability.
  • Consider upgrading to newer, more power-efficient devices when replacing outdated equipment.
  1. Paperless Initiatives:
  • Explore paperless solutions to reduce printing and document storage costs.
  • Implement digital document management systems for greater efficiency and cost savings.
  1. Telecommunications Optimization:
  • Review telecom expenses and consider renegotiating contracts or exploring alternative providers.
  • Utilize Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) for cost-effective and scalable communication solutions.

By systematically addressing these areas, business owners can enhance their IT infrastructure, drive productivity and achieve cost savings that contribute to overall profitability. Regularly revisiting and updating this checklist will help businesses stay agile in the ever-changing landscape of technology and business operations.

If you need help implementing the action steps on this list, our team is ready to help. Click here to book a FREE 10-Minute Discovery Call with our team, where we’ll discuss what your company needs and answer questions you might have or contact us at :

Posted in: Tech Tips for Business Owners

Leave a Comment (0) →

Beware Of Cybersquatters!

Have you ever searched for a specific website but landed on a completely different one after misspelling a letter or two in the URL? This deceptive tactic is known as cybersquatting. This practice not only jeopardizes the online presence of businesses and individuals but also poses a significant challenge in the ever-evolving landscape of cyber security. The scariest part is that you can be a victim of a cybersquatted domain and not even realize it.

Here’s what you need to know about this type of cybercrime:

What Is Cybersquatting?

Cybersquatting, also known as domain squatting, involves the malevolent act of registering a domain name that is confusingly similar to that of a legitimate entity, be it a business, organization or individual. The primary motive behind this maneuver is often financial gain, with cybersquatters aiming to exploit the recognition and success of well-known brands. However, the repercussions extend beyond monetary losses, as cybersquatting can stain the reputation of its victims.

Types Of Cybersquatting

There are many types of cybersquatting scams, but here are the most common ones that you need to be aware of.

  1. Top-Level Domain (TLD) Exploitation:
    A TLD is the final element of a domain name, such as “.com,” “.co.uk” and “.org.” Because there are so many variations, it’s difficult for small to medium-sized businesses to register all of them for their brand, and it’s even more difficult for celebrities or famous individuals.

    Cybercriminals will register matching domains using different TLDs and either create offensive or inappropriate websites, requesting the original domain owner to pay them to take them down, or they will use these websites to gain customers’ trust and make them susceptible to phishing attacks.

  1. Typosquatting: This form of cybersquatting involves intentionally registering misspelled domain names to capitalize on common typos, leading unsuspecting users to malicious sites.

    If you take Facebook.com, for example, here’s how a cybersquatter might buy their domains:

  2. Faecbook.com
  • Facebokk.com
  • Faceboook.com

Typos are easy to make, so misspelled domains can generate a lot of traffic.

  1. Look-Alike Cybersquatting: This form of cybersquatting involves creating domains with common words added to mislead customers, even if they aren’t confusingly similar at first glance.

Here are a few examples:

  1. Original: Google.com
    Lookalike: G00gle.com
  2. Original: Amazon.com
    Lookalike: amaz0n.com or amazon1.com
  3. Original: Microsoft.com

Lookalike: Microsofty.com

Looking at these, you might not think they’d easily trick users, but they still do!

How To Avoid Being A Cybersquatting Victim

You can avoid being a cybersquatting victim by taking a proactive approach. Here are a few steps to take:

  1. Register Your Trademark: To benefit from the full protection of the Anti-Cybersquatting Consumer Protection Act (ACPA) and Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP), it can be helpful to register your trademark early. These regulations will still apply if a cybercriminal registers a cybersquatting domain name and you have an unregistered trademark; however, you’ll need to prove you were using it for business before the domain was registered. Trademarks aren’t required, but they can make this easier.
  1. Invest In Multiple Prominent TLDs: When you register your domain, also register it with the most popular TLDs, like .co and .org.
  2. Be Cautious Of What Websites You Visit: When typing URLs into the address bar, double-check to make sure you’re going to the correct website.

    This applies to links you click too! Hover over links with your mouse to confirm that it is the correct link. For extra security, skip clicking links and type them into the search bar on your own.

Cybersquatting is only one method hackers use to cause chaos. Cybercriminals are constantly coming up with new ways to scam businesses and individuals alike. If you want to double down on security to make sure you and your company are protected from sneaky attackers, we can help.

We’ll conduct a FREE, no-obligation Security Risk Assessment where we’ll examine your network security solutions to identify if and where you’re vulnerable to an attack and help you create a plan of action to ensure you’re protected. Click here to book a 10-minute Discovery Call with our team to get started.

Posted in: Tech Tips for Business Owners

Leave a Comment (0) →

How IT Support CompaniesCharge For Their Services – Part 2 Of 2

Continuing on from our previous blog post, we’re answering one of the most common questions we get from new prospective clients: “What do you charge for your IT services?” In the last blog posted, we discussed the most common models – break-fix and managed IT. In this post, we’ll discuss the actual fees.

The price ranges provided are industry averages based on a recent IT industry survey conducted by a well-known and trusted independent consulting firm, Service Leadership, that collects, analyzes and reports on the financial metrics of IT services firms from around the country.

We are providing this information to give you a general idea of what most MSPs and IT services charge and to help you understand the VAST DIFFERENCES in service contracts that you must be aware of before signing on the dotted line. Please note that the actual price is not what’s most important but instead what you are getting for your money. There are a lot of ways “cheaper” IT firms hide the true cost of their fees, and the lowest bidder might actually end up costing you a lot more than you bargained for.

With that in mind, here are the fee ranges for IT services and IT support for small businesses in Miami, Florida:

Hourly Break-Fix Fees: Most IT services companies selling break-fix services charge between $150 and $250 per hour, with a one-hour minimum. In some cases, they will give you a discount on their hourly rates if you purchase and pay for a block of hours in advance.

As we discussed, this approach works best for microbusinesses that are not hosting or processing client data that is considered “sensitive,” such as health records, financial information like credit cards, Social Security numbers, etc., and that have very simple IT. This is definitely not the approach a growing business with five-plus employees would want to choose.

Project Fees: If you are getting an IT firm to quote you for a onetime project, the fees range widely based on the scope of work outlined and the complexity of the project. If you are hiring an IT consulting firm for a project, I suggest you demand the following:

  • A detailed scope of work that specifies what “success” is. Make sure you document what your expectations are in performance, workflow, costs, security, access, etc. The more detailed you can be, the better. Clarifying your expectations up front will go a long way toward avoiding miscommunications and additional fees later on to give you what you REALLY wanted.
  • A fixed budget and time frame for completion. Agreeing to this up front aligns both your agenda and the consultant’s. Be very wary of hourly estimates that allow the consulting firm to bill you for “unforeseen” circumstances. The bottom line is this: it is your IT consulting firm’s responsibility to be able to accurately assess your situation and quote a project based on their experience. You should not have to pick up the tab for a consultant underestimating a job or for their inefficiencies. A true professional knows how to take into consideration those contingencies and bill accordingly.

Managed IT Services: Most managed IT services firms will quote you a MONTHLY fee based on the number of devices, users and locations they need to maintain. The average fee per user (employee) ranges from $146.08 per month to $249.73 per month – and those fees are expected to rise due to constant inflation and a tight IT talent labor market.

Obviously, as with all services, you get what you pay for. “Operationally mature” MSPs typically charge more because they are far more disciplined and capable of delivering cyber security and compliance services than smaller, cheaper-priced MSPs.

They also include CIO (chief information officer) services and dedicated account management, have better financial controls (so they aren’t running so lean that they are in danger of closing their doors) and can afford to hire and keep knowledgeable, qualified techs vs. junior engineers or cheap, outsourced labor.

To be clear, I’m not suggesting you have to pay top dollar to get competent IT services, nor does paying “a lot of money” guarantee you’ll get accurate advice and responsive, customer-centric services. But if an MSP is charging on the low end of $146.08 per employee or less, you have to question what they are NOT providing or NOT including to make their services so cheap. Often they are simply not providing the quality of service you would expect and are leaving out critical security and backup services that you definitely want to have in place.

Are you done with ongoing IT problems, downtime and ineffective systems? Then it’s time you gave us a call and let us deliver the responsive, quality IT support you want with friendly, US-based techs who are both knowledgeable and easy to work with.

Schedule your free initial consultation with one of our senior advisors by calling us at 305-574-2169or going to https://virtualitmanagers.com/free-network-analysis-and-security-assessment/

On this call, we can discuss your unique situation and any concerns you have and, of course, answer any questions you have about our services and how we might be able to help you. We are also happy to provide you with a competitive bid.

Posted in: Tech Tips for Business Owners

Leave a Comment (0) →

How IT Support CompaniesCharge For Their Services – Part 1 Of 2

     Before you can accurately compare the fees, services and deliverables of one IT services company to that of another, you need to understand the two predominant pricing and service models most of these companies offer. Many companies offer a blend of the two, while others are strict about offering only one service plan. The two most popular are:

  • Time And Materials (Hourly). In the industry, we call this “break-fix” services because the IT company is called to “fix” something when it “breaks” instead of doing regular maintenance and support. These services are typically priced by the hour. The price you pay will vary depending on the provider you choose and the complexity of the problem. Ransomware removal will require a more experienced and skillful tech vs. a simple printer problem.

    Under this model, you might be able to negotiate a discount based on buying a block of hours. The scope of work might range from simply resolving a specific problem (like fixing slow WiFi or resolving an e-mail problem) to encompassing a large project like a software upgrade, implementing cyberprotections or even an office move. Some companies will offer staff augmentation and placement under this model as well.

    Similar to this are value-added reseller services. VARs typically do IT projects for organizations that have internal IT departments. The term “value-added” reseller is based on the fact that they resell hardware (PCs, firewalls, servers, etc.) and software, along with the “value-added” services of installation, setup and configuration. VARs typically service larger organizations with internal IT departments. A trend that has been gaining ground over the last decade is that fewer VARs exist, as many have moved to the managed IT services model.

  • Managed IT Services (MSP, or “Managed Services Provider”). This is a model where the IT services company, called an MSP, takes on the role of your fully outsourced IT department. In this model, they handle everything related to your IT “infrastructure.” That includes (but is not limited to) the following:
    • Troubleshooting IT problems (help desk support).
    • Setting up and supporting PCs, tablets, Macs and workstations for new and existing employees, both on-site and remote.
    • Installing and setting up applications such as Microsoft 365, Google Workspace, SharePoint, etc.
    • Setting up and managing the security of your network, devices and data to protect against hackers, ransomware and viruses.
    • Backing up your data and assisting in recovering it in the event of a disaster.
    • Providing a help desk and support team to assist employees with IT problems.
    • Setting up and supporting your phone system.
    • Monitoring and maintaining the overall health, speed, performance and security of your computer network on a daily basis.

In addition to managing your IT, a good MSP will provide you with an IT road map and budget for necessary projects to further secure your network and improve the stability and availability of critical applications, as well as ensure that your IT systems are compliant with various data protection laws (HIPAA, FTC Safeguards, PCI, etc.) and that your cyberprotections meet the standards on any cyber insurance plan that you have.

     The advantage of break-fix services is that you only pay for IT support when you need it, without being locked into a monthly or multiyear contract. If you’re not happy with the service you’re getting, you can change providers easily. If you’re a microbusiness with only a few employees, very simple IT needs where you don’t experience a lot of problems and don’t host or handle sensitive data (medical records, credit cards, Social Security numbers, etc.), break-fix might be the most cost-effective option for you.

     However, the downsides of break-fix services are many, particularly if you’re NOT a microbusiness and/or if you handle sensitive, “protected” data. The five big downsides are as follows:

  1. Break-fix can be very expensive when you have multiple issues. Because you’re not a managed client, the IT company resolving your problem will likely take longer to troubleshoot and fix the issue than if they were regularly maintaining your network and therefore familiar with your environment AND had systems in place to recover files or prevent problems from escalating.
  2. Paying hourly works entirely in your IT company’s favor, not yours. Under this model, the IT consultant can take the liberty of assigning a junior (lower-paid) technician to work on your problem who may take two to three times as long to resolve an issue that a more senior (and more expensive) technician may have resolved in a fraction of the time because there’s no incentive to fix your problems fast. In fact, they’re incentivized to drag it out as long as possible, given that they’re being paid by the hour.
  3. You are more likely to have major issues. One of the main reasons businesses choose a managed services provider is to PREVENT major issues from happening. As Benjamin Franklin famously said, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”
  4. You can’t budget for IT services and, as already explained, could end up paying more in the long run if you have to constantly call for urgent “emergency” support.
  5. You won’t be a priority for the IT company. All IT firms prioritize their contract managed clients over break-fix clients. That means you get called back last and fit in when they have availability, so you could be down for days or weeks before they can address your problem.

     Are you done with ongoing IT problems, downtime and ineffective systems? Then it’s time you gave us a call and let us deliver the responsive, quality IT support you want with friendly, US-based techs who are both knowledgeable and easy to work with.

     Schedule your free initial consultation with one of our senior advisors by calling us at 305-574-2169 or going to https://virtualitmanagers.com/free-network-analysis-and-security-assessment/

      On this call we can discuss your unique situation and any concerns you have and, of course, answer any questions you have about our services and how we might be able to help you. We are also happy to provide you with a competitive bid.

Posted in: Tech Tips for Business Owners

Leave a Comment (0) →
Page 1 of 11 12345...»