Small Businesses Are Under Cyber Attack

Thomas Fox is president of Tech Experts, southeast Michigan’s leading small business computer support company.

Ransomware, crypto jacking and phishing are now the biggest threat to the survival of small- and medium-sized companies (not to mention large companies, local governments, and even the federal government). Here are some sobering statistics:

  1. Ransomware or hackers attack a business every 14 seconds in the United States.
  2. Sonicwall (a major firewall vendor) reported a 300% increase in the frequency of attacks in 2018.
  3. Ransomware attacks on healthcare organizations will quadruple by next year.
  4. The financial impact of ransomware attacks against small companies is predicted to reach $11.5 billion dollars in 2019.
  5. MOST ALARMING: 91% of cyberattacks begin with a spear phishing email, the most common way to infect a company with ransomware.

The threat landscape has changed significantly in the last 12 months. It used to be the reliability of our client’s backups and disaster recovery options that would worry me at night. [Read more…]

Understanding The Value Of Managed IT Services

Depending on their scope and impact on your workday, tech issues can take hours to resolve, if not days. In some cases, you may spend far too much time tracking down a problem, only to come up empty-handed in the end.

In others, such as security breaches, you may not even know there is an issue until the damage has been done.

If you and your team have been handling any tech issues that arise on your own, you could greatly benefit from partnering with a managed IT service provider like Tech Experts.

Here are some of the benefits you can expect from this partnership.

Increases speed of IT repairs
When you partner with Tech Experts, you can report any and all tech issues as they arise and receive a prompt response. Upon receiving your call, we’ll look into the problem and find the most effective solution.

With our years of experience, we’ve probably come across the problem before and already know how to fix it. This makes for very speedy service that helps keep your business operations moving forward without disruption.

Prevents tech issues
Managed IT services prove extremely valuable in the prevention of tech issues of all kinds. From malware attacks to hardware failure, we can stay ahead of the leading issues and potentially keep them from cropping up at all.

Through these preventive actions, you can avoid unnecessary downtime that could otherwise derail the work efforts of your entire staff.

Improves employee productivity
When your employees can hand off tech issues to a dedicated, outsourced team, they can remain on task in fulfilling their daily work duties. This keeps their productivity high, so you can meet your daily business goals and continue to push the annual growth of the company.

With your employees on task, rather than dealing with IT issues, your business operations can continue running smoothly day after day.

Boosts data security
Computer software and hardware issues can have a detrimental impact on the security of your business data. Especially since most of these problems remain hidden from view until a catastrophic loss of data occurs.

Therefore, your company and client information likely remain at risk without help from a skilled IT expert.

We specialize in optimizing security at the network, server and workstation levels, so you can focus on running your business without worry.

Decreases equipment repair costs
You can decrease the amount you spend on upkeep and repair of your equipment with oversight from skilled IT professionals.

Our ability to track down the problem and fix it the first time around will likely prove invaluable as you work on minimizing downtime and boosting employee productivity.

We can also help you time and plan your equipment upgrades perfectly to avoid wasting money on unnecessary items or overspending on parts.

Works well for any budget
With our managed service partnership, you can build your custom IT plan around the exact needs of your company.

You can select the items that will benefit you the most and leave the rest. If you only need computer and cloud support, for example, you can leave all server-related services off your plan. You are not locked into the services you select in the beginning either.

You can also make adjustments to the scope of your managed IT service plan as you expand your operations.

Ability to easily expand
As your business achieves phenomenal growth, you will likely need to add computer equipment and make other key adjustments to accommodate your team and their needs.

We can help you develop a plan that supports your current and future levels of growth. You can build a stronger network, upgrade your software and add computers to your workplace, for example, in support of your company’s continued success.

Peace of mind
When you sign up for managed services, you will give yourself true peace of mind in knowing that all your IT needs are handled.

You can call for service any time that your computer equipment acts up or software programs fail to operate as expected.

You will receive support and oversight in the prevention of problems that would otherwise cause much downtime for your employees.

Through all the managed IT service benefits, peace of mind comes out on top as it allows you to focus on what really matters – accelerating the success of your company.

Setting up a managed IT plan
With a look at these managed IT service benefits, it is clear that there are many ways this arrangement can boost the success of your business. You can get started in building this partnership by giving us a call at 734-457-5000. With this call, you can share the network, equipment and other IT needs of your company to start building your plan.

How To Resolve The Most Common Tech Issues For Small Businesses

Ron Cochran is Help Desk supervisor for Tech Experts.

With the ever-growing need to be connected to your clients and business information, you have to arrange your access to be quick and secure. But would you know how to set that up to keep your data safe? Relying on that one guy or employee that can set up your computer and connect it to the Internet just might not cut it.

There comes a time in the life of a business when the higher powers within need to evaluate the complexity of their technology and decide how they want to handle their tech needs.

However, hiring an internal IT employee involves paying competitively, providing benefits and vacation time, possibly extra training, and more. Do you have enough work to bring someone on full-time?

The other option is to hire a managed service provider (MSP) that can manage all technology aspects of your business.

Managed devices and software include workstations, laptops, printers, scanners, multi-function devices, fax machines, VoIP systems, and more.

Full network management includes wired and wireless networking, installation of new lines and devices, firewalls, checkpoints, switches, and servers. Basically: everything a business would use to keep things running smoothly.

A managed service provider will even manage the quality of service on your Internet or network connection or block out access to certain webpages and content as the business owner sees fit.

If the users need to restart their machines several times a day because of reliability issues or because the devices are crashing with error codes pointing toward hardware failures, it’s time to look at upgrading or replacing your machines.

Your MSP can look at your current situation, determine what should be upgraded or replaced, provide direction, and minimize the impact on your budget.

An MSP will manage all aspects of your technology department from hardware to software. They will interface with your vendors to ensure that all bundles are up-to-date, upgraded when needed.

This will not only keep your data safe, but your clients’ or patients’ data as well.

If you are working in the health care industry, you’ll need to remain HIPPA compliant. If you are in the financial industry, then you’ll need to comply with all security restrictions to be compliant there as well. MSPs can bring you up to standards and perform necessary audits.

Additionally, an MSP can give you the ability to defend and protect against viruses, malware, and intrusions. The last thing you want to have happen is for a software bug or virus to copy all of your data and send it off to some nefarious individuals who will sell or use the data for illicit activities.

By managing your anti-virus software, changing firewall settings, and monitoring machines for odd behaviors, an MSP can keep data disasters at bay by keeping it from happening, catching it early, or taking preventive measures.

Owning and running a small business isn’t just about bringing in customers and clients to further your business: it’s about operating efficiently and securely so that your business and its reputation will be around for many years to come.

If you are considering a managed service provider or considering a switch from the provider you currently have, don’t hesitate to reach out to us, Tech Experts, at (734) 457-5000.

We would be glad to sit down with you and review how you can leave the technological aspects of your business to someone else, giving you back the freedom to focus on what you do best.

Eleven Benefits Of Having Managed IT Support

Chris Myers is a field service technician for Tech Experts.

There are many perks to enlisting a managed service provider to handle all of your technology needs. Here are just a few:

Knowledge Base
You get access to a whole team of experienced professionals who spend all day every day fixing the same problems you are running into. When an issue pops up, chances are we have seen it before and know how to quickly resolve it.

Proactive Support
With our advanced monitoring software, we are immediately alerted to a variety of issues. Often, by the time you notice a problem, we’re already working to resolve it. Detecting and fixing issues early prevents them from escalating into major outages with long down times and expensive repairs. [Read more…]

Why Is A Server Important For Your Business?

Anthony Glover is Tech Expert’s network engineer.

A server is a very important asset to any small business as it provides many features that can help your business run safely and efficiently.

For instance, when lending out a new or existing computer to employees, you can prevent unnecessary access, change passwords, or unlock accounts in one location. This allows management of the computers, enabling full control at all times.

It also allows you to have a centralized location for many of your functions: the server. You can share files and applications and reduce redundancy for all files. Since servers primarily run in a RAID configuration of some sort, you will have extra protection for your most important files.

Another great thing about a server is you can set up a domain for your business, enabling automation features like backups in one place.

This also allows for profiles, including files and applications, to be accessible from any workstation connected to the server. Not to mention, a server will keep you organized and running more efficiently in general by keeping your email, contacts, calendars, and files safe.

Data transferring to and from a server is much faster than transferring from a computer due the overall design of a server. Servers are built for speed, reliability, and security purposes.

This means you are going to get through the day with your time and resources spent more wisely, allowing you to continue with what matters in your business.

This efficiency and organization will increase customer relationships and help build retention with new and potential customers.

Best of all, you can set up a server to curve toward your needs. You can use a server for hosting your own websites, as a backup server, fileserver, or even run your database. You can also upgrade (to an extent) if your needs grow.

Keep in mind, these are only some of the many server configurations available for your server.

File or Backup Server
This server is for file-sharing, active directory, and domain services. It’s primarily used for backups and storage of user files.

This is the best option if you are going to need safe storage services for your business since a server is going to have redundancy storage to keep data safe.

Database Server
This server configuration is for database storage and management of SQL, Oracle, etc. This is a necessary option if you are utilizing a database for your business.

Again, utilizing a server is going to allow safe keeping of your files – this includes your critical files such as your database files.

Web Server
This configuration is for webhosting services and will allow hosting and management of a website from your office.

This is a great option for running web-based applications through your server. This option can also be done off-site by a website host if you prefer to go that route for faster access or security.

Utilizing a server is important for your business and choosing a server can be tough, let alone installing one yourself. Let Tech Experts help you decide and make sure you get the best option possible for your small business.

Why Technology Is Important For Your Small Business

Anthony Glover is Tech Expert’s network engineer.

In modern computing, it is very important that you have a technological solution in place to allow smooth function at your small business. Here are 5 reasons why it’s important to do so.

Business Growth
As your business grows, you’re going to need a plan for expansion if you expect to grow. Technology changes every day and it’s important to stay up to speed with the latest and greatest tech in order to move forward in the growth direction. In today’s tech, there are even data growth solutions that will grow with your business automatically.

This not only saves time with expansion, but allows your business to save money in the long run. Technology is very important and should not be taken for granted in order for your business to thrive effectively.

On-The-Move Tech
As your business grows and you begin to move forward, you will need to be able to run your business from several locations. Technology allows you to do this from one central location. Utilizing tech makes certain that you’re not only monitoring your business at all locations, but that it’s more secure than ever.

From mobile devices to laptops to networking equipment, an IT professional will provide you with the best care needed to keep your business with you at all times.

Fewer Headaches With A Managed Plan
With a managed plan (such as the ones Tech Experts offer), your computer problems are monitored and are taken care of by a tech professional.

This cleans your hands of computer problems and allows you to run your business more effectively — minus the technology headache — and keeps your business running much more efficiently.

All workstations will be managed and up-to-date, along with programs that normally would fall behind due to user awareness.

Our tech team can and will make sure that your workstations servers and network equipment will have the latest firmware and software updates available.

Automate Computation
In today’s tech there are many ways to automate normally manual tasks. Such as automated password or online form completion.

Technology is designed to complete tasks for you while you sit back and save time and save money. Take advantage of a solution that is going to improve your everyday small business life on a colossal scale. Automation is domination in the computer world and should not be taken lightly.

Reduce Redundancy
Your data is a vital component to your business and it is very important that your data does not get overlooked.

When functioning in a business environment, the best practice is to not only have a backup of your data but prevent your data from being lost to begin with. This is when redundancy comes in.

Your server for your business should be monitored, verified, and managed by an IT professional. This will allow you to function throughout the day without worrying about your data being safe and secure, keep an increased outlook on productivity, and allow for a guaranteed solution for data retrieval.

The Benefits Of Managed IT

Michael Menor is Vice President of Support Services for Tech Experts.

It can’t be denied that cost drives business. When the technology your business relies on fails, you have to get it repaired or replaced quickly in order to keep the resulting downtime from damaging your business.

The traditional method of computer repair is much like when your car is in disrepair: when your technology isn’t working properly, your organization reacts to the problem by calling your friendly, neighborhood computer repair guy.

The technician will come to your office and try to fix the technology that is broken. When they figure out they can’t fix the problem on the spot, they will give you a quote.

The time and materials of summoning these technicians to the office will cost you money, so will the replacement technology, and most notably, the downtime you accrue.

Add that to the variable cost of fixing the malfunctioning technology… and your business has a real problem.

At Tech Experts, we offer a proactive IT support platform that utilizes remote monitoring and management software to ensure that the technology that’s attached to your network – and your network itself – is up and working properly. Additionally, our whole IT services platform is billed in one monthly payment.

If you add it up, you are saving money in every aspect of your business.

You not only remove the variable costs of keeping your IT running smoothly, but you also get proactive support that, in many cases, gives you the time to replace hardware before it fails, saving you from the doldrums of companywide downtime.

The fact is that small and medium-sized businesses (SMB) need to cut their technology support costs if they want to compete with larger organizations.

There are a myriad of benefits that come from a managed services provider like Tech Experts handling the administration and support of your technology. Besides the obvious cost savings, four other huge benefits include:

Comprehensive Support
A major speedbump SMBs have when shopping for any service that claims to help their business is the quality of that service.

For those that worry that our managed services are too good to be true, we employ certified and trustworthy technicians that are proficient in finding solutions for today’s most challenging business technology problems.

Single Point of Contact
As an alternative from having to manage several vendors, our IT service provides you with a single point of contact for all of your technology needs. Since we understand the intricacies of your network, we can get issues resolved faster.

Faster Support
Through the use of remote support that we offer to all managed clients, we can more quickly address issues you might be having.

Many problems can be solved without an on-site visit. Additionally, annoying obstacles like forgotten passwords and account lock-outs can be resolved in a few minutes when we already have account configurations on file.

HIPAA Compliance
While it may not apply to all businesses, doctors’ offices and other related medical facilities can maintain HIPAA compliance when using our services. By collaborating with us on your organization’s policies, you can avoid costly government fines in the event of a medical breach or network inspection.

Managed IT services can provide you with many other benefits. For more information about how our managed IT services can benefit your organization, call us at (734) 457-5000 today.

IT Consultations: Trust In Those That Know

Scott Blake is a Senior Network Engineer with Tech Experts.

It seems that these days anyone can read an article or watch a video online and consider themselves an expert in one way or another, but when it comes to upgrading or making changes to your business infrastructure, is it wise to take and follow the advice of someone that has no hands-on or working knowledge of the IT industry or your business?

Ask yourself this: if your car needed repairs, would you take it to a lawyer or a mechanic?

Instantly, you answer “the mechanic” because the mechanic works on cars.

So in comparison, should you follow the advice of a visiting client, sales rep, or friend of an employee?

No, because none of these people know the intricacies of your business IT needs and functionality.

Will they know to check with your software vendors to verify compatibility with a new operating system?

If the plan calls for upgrading workstations and/or servers that are running outdated, unsupported operating systems, you need to check and make sure your existing software is supported on the new operating system.

Usually, accounting and office productivity software are the types most affected by changes in operating system platforms.

In some cases, a business may have spent large amounts of money to have specialized software written years ago, but unfortunately, it may not install or run on a modern operating system.

Will they know how to check and see if your internal network wiring needs to be upgraded?

If the plan calls to move your business phone system to a VOIP system, you need to make sure your existing network cabling will support it.

Cabling has categories and certain categories are more applicable to your needs than others.

Whoever is handling your IT needs to recognize what would be best and what wouldn’t work in your situation.

Keep in mind that when upgrading, you’re also future-proofing. It’s best to spend a little more on higher-quality equipment to extend the life of your upgrade.

Will they know how to calculate the amount of disk and cloud storage your business will require?

Electronic storage for your business is key. Knowing what needs to stay local and what needs to be stored in the cloud is paramount to your business’ success (and recovery, should there be a disaster).

The cost of secure cloud storage needs to be weighed against the cost of maintaining on-site local data storage. Localized storage will allow for faster access while in the building.

However, if your business has remote employees, cloud storage would be the optimal way to allow access to documents, applications, and software without having to support RDP or VPN connections into your network. This reduces the risk of outside intrusion.

Are they able to suggest the correct security devices and software for your business?

The security needs for every business are different. What works for Bob’s Golf Land may not be the best solution for your business.

A proper evaluation of your business network needs to be performed. Certain questions need to be asked and answered, such as “is a software-based firewall best for your business?” or “will you need dual WAN routers to allow for multiple ISP connections?”

If you have any doubt after considering these questions, you’ve got the wrong person for the job.

Seek out an experience and established IT professional and before making any changes, consult with them. Trust their advice. They will evaluate your business infrastructure and build a plan of action for successfully upgrading your business network and equipment.

Interested in a network evaluation or an infrastructure upgrade consultation? We can do those too… and we do it right! Contact us at Tech Experts — (734) 457-5000, or info@mytechexperts.com.

Seven Smart Tips To Secure Your Business Network

Thomas Fox is president of Tech Experts, southeast Michigan’s leading small business computer support company.

Hackers are constantly on the lookout for digital data they can use to make a profit, either by stealing money electronically or by selling the information to third parties.

Therefore, it is important to protect your precious data; here are seven tips to get you started:

Policies
Your staff is the front line of defense against hackers. Human error is one of the leading causes of data security breaches, so you need to have policies in place to ensure your employees are promoting the security of your network while working.

Strong passwords
People generally opt for simple easy-to-remember passwords that hackers can easily crack.

A simple “dictionary attack” (using an automated tool that uses a combination of dictionary words and numbers to crack passwords), is sufficient to uncover many passwords.

On the other hand, coming up with a complicated password and saving it to your computer as opposed to writing it down is a simple but very effective way to prevent hacks.

Multi-factor authentication
It is highly advisable to establish multiple layers of technology dedicated to security that you would apply to all your devices, including desktops, mobile devices, file servers, mail servers and network end points.

Multiple security blocks hacking attacks and alerts you to any problems beforehand so you can take the appropriate measures.

Data encryption
Encryption is yet another great security tool that you can use to protect your data. For instance, if your hard disk is stolen or your USB drive is lost, anyone trying to access your data would be unable to read it if it is encrypted.

Backupicon with gold lock
Security makes up half of your data protection, while a proper backup strategy makes up for the other half.
Even with great security, you need to be able to recover your data if you have a failure. Back up often, and remember to test the backup regularly.

Audit
You need to identify the vulnerable areas of your network or which data needs to be protected.

Your entire IT infrastructure, including your computers, mobile devices and network should be audited by a professional IT specialist to determine the appropriate steps to prevent hackers from accessing your data.

Managed services
Managed services are an alternative and highly-effective approach for achieving the best possible security, including backup and recovery.

Many small businesses are unable to adequately meet the daunting and expensive task of securing their data.

With a managed-service provider specialized in data security, you get the benefit of professional services and skills without having to hire an in-house security expert, thus cutting on costs. In addition, you get access to the latest security technology and support professionals.

(Image Source: iCLIPART)

Why Third-Party Monitoring And Managed Services?

As technology advance and organizations face increasing demands for efficiency in their business, their IT infrastructures have become increasingly complex. Applications are far more interdependent than ever before, and their business tools, whether hardware or software, are making up a diverse web of systems from a wide range of vendors.

The challenges of dealing with this complexity are something that businesses have to deal with on a daily basis. In a recent study, nearly 50% of global business leaders have called “increased reliance on technology” the No. 1 risk to their organizations. Another 37% said the “business complexity of the organization” is their top risk.

All the same, businesses need to deliver high performance and high availability, typically without accompanying increase in budgets
to accomplish these goals.

So how can companies cope with the dual challenges of managing an increasingly complex infrastructure, while remaining focused on achieving business goals and delivering high quality products and services to their clients?

Organizations are increasingly turning to third party providers that delivers advanced monitoring and resolution services for your IT assets.

If you work with a knowledgeable vendor —one that is familiar with your infrastructure — there are big advantages to taking this approach, including:

  • Lower total cost of ownership
  • Higher availability of applications
  • Reduced downtime, (planned or unplanned)
  • Reduced workload on your own people to deal with IT issues
  • Improved application performance
  • Ability to proactively monitor and thereby mitigating issues as they arise, as opposed to after it’s too late

An advanced monitoring and resolution service should consist of 24/7 secure remote monitoring and resolution delivered by skilled engineers using proven practices.

The service should offer rigorous security certifications to ensure remote experts safely deliver proactive monitoring and administration of internal applications and hardware systems.

Don’t think of it simply as an outsourcing solution. Rather, think of it as a team of experts supplementing your own team, providing a number of products and solutions that it would be next to impossible to maintain in-house.

Because of the complexity of today’s systems, it is often difficult to identify exactly where and why systems fail. This can result in dissatisfied customers and less productive workers.

These problems can be severe enough to put the organization at risk. With proactive monitoring and advanced support, however, the organization will be made aware when (and why) vulnerabilities occur.

An advanced monitoring service means looking after performance or availability of all your critical systems and applications. This monitoring can extend through your entire infrastructure — applications, databases, servers, storage, networks and backup. Problems, can be addressed using best practices for incident, change and problem management.

As a client, you can choose to deploy the services according to your own needs, from full remote services to full onsite solutions or some combination.

The process of monitoring and remediating problems within your IT, you will learn a lot about your risks and vulnerabilities. Are there peak usage times that are impacting application slowing down the performance of mission-critical applications? The key is to continuously improve performance and availability.

You should meet regularly with your professional services team to review processes and set strategies for continual performance improvement. You should also have a plan that includes regular hardware and software health checks.

Your company gets the revenue as well as interacts with your customers through your applications. When performance slows down, the entire business suffers and is put at risk for lost revenues, lost profits, lost customers and general damage to your brand.

Advanced monitoring and resolution services lets you keep track of application performance at all times. Monitoring agents create alerts when systems or applications are under-performing, so you can fix issues before they impact the company further.

End-user monitoring takes the service a step further, whereby you can collect, process and present details — even going so far as to track user requests and follow them through to resolutions.

You can collect information on the length of time it takes to complete a business transaction and the length of time it takes to search, select and pay for a specific product. You can easily see how you can improve revenue and profits.

Predictive incident management diagnostics lets your vendor partner identify issues with configurations and performance before they become full-scale problems.

For example, advanced monitoring lets a service provider leverage complex algorithmic models and thereby identify potential issues with individual transactions within the database.

Advanced monitoring and resolution delivers significant improvements in IT support. You can measure the performance in meeting service requests, including trends on how long it takes for repairs to be performed, response by incident type, and reporting and measure performance against standards on all systems, including backup, emergency storage and system uptime.

A third-party supplier will have access to tools, methodologies and best practices your organization may not even be aware of.

Advanced monitoring and resolution is what they do every day, so your organization is always taking advantage of the experience the vendor has gained from working with other businesses, as well as the latest in diagnostic and recovery tools.

They often employ thorough diagnostic tool sets that cover all your systems. By using these tools, they are able to identify and qualify new incidents, automatically compare new incidents with a knowledge base of past incidents, and use the past experiences as the basis to quickly and effectively resolve issues.

Clearly you will want advanced monitoring and resolution to deliver 24/7 support for all your systems, databases and mission-critical applications. But some vendors can also offer more specialized services, such as end-user monitoring; firewall and VPN management; continuous risk assessment application management; and intrusion detection systems to mention but a few.

Because IT has grown in complexity, it is difficult and costly to hire and retain all the in-house expertise required to manage everything.

The other problem comes with internal politics, often resulting in finger-pointing than actual problem solving. An outside vendor gives you not only access to a team of service professionals with deep expertise. They are focused on fixing your problems, and not assigning blame.