11 10, 2019

How to Get Your Devices to Play Nicely Together: Home Networking Help

2019-10-08T13:40:08-05:00October 11th, 2019|Uncategorized|0 Comments

How to Get Your Devices to Play Nicely Together: Home Networking HelpHome Networking

Why can’t we all just get along? You’ve probably thought that before. But the sentiment is also one that goes through our heads when we’re trying to set up home networking. When cables and passwords abound, we can’t help but wish it was easier to get all our devices to play nicely together. Here’s help.

Desktop computers. Laptops. Tablets. Network printers. Routers. Modems. Smartphones. Smart speakers. Media players. Gaming systems. Homes today have many, if not all of these. Each has all sorts of features, and they’d be even more useful if they connected to one another. If only it wasn’t so challenging to get all our devices to relay information between each other reliably.

Home networking can bring so many benefits. You might enjoy:

  • accessing emails on all your devices, wherever you are;
  • being able to share files, photos, and other media with any other networked device;
  • viewing a baby photo album from your computer on your Smart TV during a Sweet 16 birthday party;
  • printing from your smartphone or other devices, even when not connected to the device via cable, using AirPrint or Google Cloud Print;
  • backing up all computers in the house to a centralized location via the network;
  • securing your activity on all devices at home with a protected Wi-Fi network.

Yep, all that sounds pretty great, but we’re right back where we started. How do we get our devices to do all that?

What Your Home Network Needs

First, take a moment to imagine connecting all the computers and smart devices in your home via cables. Ack! As if you want more cables snaking around your home! You don’t want to feel as if you’re rooming with Medusa.

So, you’ll be looking into a wireless home network to connect your devices to the internet and each other. That means setting up a modem and a router (we’re assuming you already have an internet service provider).

The modem is what connects your network to the internet. The router connects your devices to each other and to the internet through your modem. The router communicates the wireless signal between your devices and the modem. A gateway option combines the modem and router functions in one device.

If your home is spread out over several floors or square feet, or you have to deal with thick walls, you might have difficulties at home with Wi-Fi dead spots. Great! You’ve made all this effort, and it’s still not working! You could try a mesh network. Instead of making one device do all the signaling, a primary router and many smaller satellites (or nodes) relay the signals with equal power.

Securing Your Home Network

When you get your devices connected, you’ll want to secure your home network. Taking these simple steps helps protect your personal information and prevent cyber-attacks.

First, change the default passwords on your modem and router, and choose something more complex than “123456,” “password,” or “letmein.”

You’ll also want to set up a guest network if the router supports it. This allows visitors to access the Wi-Fi without you having to share access to your main network.

Also, rename your Wi-Fi network so that it isn’t obvious that it’s your house. For example, if you live at 920 Hassell Place, you wouldn’t name it 920Hassell. Or, if you’re the Wilsons, don’t name it WilsonNetwork. Don’t make it easy for someone trying to target you to identify which network they are trying to hack.

You like using all your devices, but getting them all networked seems like a headache. Still, once you have a home network set up, you’ll wonder why you waited so long. Don’t put off the convenience any longer. We can help you get all your devices playing together nicely and securely.

Contact us today at 319-227-7000!

8 10, 2019

5 Best Practices for Buying Technology for Employees

2019-10-08T12:19:02-05:00October 8th, 2019|Uncategorized|0 Comments

5 Best Practices for Buying Technology for EmployeesBuying Technology

Buying technology for personal use can be exciting once you get past the price tag. Yet there are many factors to consider when investing in technology for employee use.

There are many digital tools available to improve the day-to-day way people do their jobs. Providing the right tech can increase productivity, streamline processes, and improve employee engagement. Yet determining which solutions are smartest for your team takes work.

Investing in a technology that doesn’t suit the needs of your staff can hurt your business:

  • Learning a new technology takes time away from other mission-critical tasks.
  • Employees resent the change when the tech further complicates their day.
  • Staff feel unheard and disrespected when asked to use digital tools that don’t help.
  • Disgruntled employees disengage, which hurts customer experience.
  • Employees look for an easier way to do their work and may change work environments as an answer.

Best practices for buying employee technology

Providing the best technological tools supports a more productive, energized, and motivated workforce. These best practices help bridge the gap between IT ambition and actual employee experience.

Know how work gets done

Many decision makers think they know how work is done, but they haven’t actually been in the trenches in years. Looking at the metrics to analyze process efficiency isn’t enough. Purchasing officers need to understand the employee’s daily journey. They need a good answer to the question “how is this technology going to make my work experience better?”

Understand the IT environment

Just as technology is evolving, the work environment is adapting too. Before buying employee technology, determine where people are working most. Are they in the office or remote? Do they sit all day at a desk or need to be on the move? Are they customer-facing? Or do they need more collaborative tools with internal teams?

Don’t make any IT purchases without weighing up whether the technology can handle the use it’s going to get. If someone is going to need access to the technology on a shop floor, a brand-new desktop is going to be a bust, whereas an employee who travels all the time for work is going to prefer a rugged but lightweight laptop.

Aim for uniformity

Bringing a shiny new Apple computer into a PC environment can be problematic. Loyalty to one manufacturer or software can help people embrace new tools quicker. Additionally, it makes buying parts and warranty much easier. You’re also more likely to be able to take advantage of product integrations and interoperability.

Develop consistent relationships

If you’re buying a lot of technology at one time you may be eligible for volume pricing. Plus, if you’re returning again to a supplier you’ve worked with in the past, you could ask about a loyalty bonus.

Working with a managed service provider to find the right tech solutions is also useful. Their supplier relationships can lead to volume discounts, better-than-retail pricing, and improved warranties.

Seek employee input

New technology introduces change into the work environment, but people don’t love change, especially if they feel a new system or software is being pushed upon them. It will help to ask staff what tools or technology they want. Often they already know!

Technology is an essential part of how people experience work. It’s easy to get seduced by a bright, shiny new device or promising feature. Instead, make decisions based on whether the technology can do what you need it to do and whether it’s going to make the employees’ work environment better or worse.

Need help making decisions about the right technology for your teams? We can help.

Contact our experts today at 319-227-7000

8 10, 2019

Are You Doing Your IT Due Diligence?

2019-10-08T12:05:19-05:00October 8th, 2019|Security|0 Comments

Are You Doing Your IT Due Diligence?IT Due Diligence

The words “due diligence” may make you think of a courtroom drama on television. Surely, that’s something only lawyers have to worry about? Not so fast. Due diligence is something your business can be doing, too. Are you covering the basics?

Due diligence is about taking care and being cautious in doing business. It extends to how you manage your technology, too. You may think you’re immune to a data breach or cyber-attack, but cyber-criminals can target you regardless of business size or industry sector.

Depending on your industry, you may even have compliance or regulatory laws to follow. Some insurance providers also expect a certain level of security standards from you. The costs associated with these cyber incidents are increasing, too. Don’t leave your business vulnerable.

What due diligence involves

Technological due diligence requires attention to several areas. Generally, you’ll need to show the following:

  1. Each staff member has a unique login. Require complex, distinct passwords. Educate your people to protect these (e.g. not write them on sticky notes that sit on their desktop).
  2. You have a process in place for regular data backup. We recommend a 3-2-1 backup strategy. Keep three copies of your business data. One on the cloud with the other two on different devices (e.g. on your local computer and on a backup USB drive).
  3. You patch and upgrade security consistently. Ignoring those reminders and waiting for the next release is risky.
  4. You’ve installed antivirus software. You won’t know your computers are infected until it’s too late. Be proactive.
  5. Email filtering is in place. These filters help protect your business from spam, malware, phishing, and other threats.
  6. You have installed firewalls to monitor and control incoming and outgoing network traffic.
  7. You limit user access. Instead of giving everyone full access, set conditions based on role and responsibility. This approach minimizes vulnerabilities.
  8. There are physical security procedures to limit access to your environment. You might install security cameras, fence a perimeter, and require RFID scanning in protected areas.
  9. If your company lets employees use their own phones, laptops, or tablets, have a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policy in place. Installing mobile device management software is useful, too (and we can help with that!)
  10. You test your security, too. You can’t take a set it and forget it approach to securing your network, systems, and hardware. Ongoing testing will help you identify risks, repair vulnerabilities, and protect your business.

It can also help you to prove that you’re being diligent by:

  • keeping copies of any training provided and employee handbook messaging;
  • updating your organizational chart regularly;
  • vetting contractors/vendors before granting them access;
  • having a policy in place that quickly denies access to any former employees;
  • inventorying all devices on your network.

IT due diligence protects your business. Meeting these security standards can also cut costs and preserve your brand reputation. Demonstrating vigilance helps you avoid hefty compliance or regulatory fines and fight litigation. In the event of legal action, you’ll also want to prove the efforts you made. So, be sure to thoroughly document all IT security efforts.

Due diligence doesn’t have to be difficult. Our experts can help you determine the best preventative measures for your organization. Some business risks will pay off, sure, but when it comes to your IT, caution will have the best results.

 

Give us a call at 319-227-7000 for your IT needs.

24 09, 2019

Making Technology Another Target for Continuous Improvement

2019-09-03T15:46:38-05:00September 24th, 2019|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Making Technology Another Target for Continuous ImprovementMaking Technology Another Target for Continuous Improvement

Your business likely talks a lot about continuous improvement. It’s everyone’s goal, right? Yet “set it and forget it” is a common approach to handling business technology. Here’s why IT needs your ongoing attention too.

Your competition is increasing, and it can feel as if it is doing so exponentially. Why? There are lower barriers to entry in many businesses. The marketplace has gone global. Transaction costs are declining. Technological advances, automation, and AI are making processes more efficient and increasing productivity.

Your business can’t stand still. Don’t leave your IT sitting unattended either. Sure, the very term “continuous improvement” may have you twitching with discomfort. Not that buzzword again! Yet taking an “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” approach to IT could be hurting your business. Settling for “alright” or relying on “the way we’ve always done it” could leave you lagging behind competitors.

Your business may not have a CIO lobbying for the latest tech, but every business can benefit from asking itself: “can we be doing this better?”. Of course, you don’t know what you don’t know. You are focusing on your industry, not all the new technology, automation, artificial intelligence, or machine learning to:

  • Innovate process
  • Automate routine, repetitive tasks
  • Increase productivity
  • Enable global collaboration
  • Streamline workflow
  • Integrate existing applications
  • Support informed decisions
  • Optimize information access
  • Enhance document, data exchange
  • Advance analysis-based action

The Value of a Strategic MSP Partnership

A managed services provider (MSP) can answer the technology questions you don’t even know to ask. Don’t rely on the old way of doing things. You don’t need to suffer through long, drawn-out processes and the inefficiency of manual work. Your business can partner with an MSP to embrace the power of digital transformation.

Protecting your business from cyber bad guys isn’t the only thing an MSP can do. An MSP can help you improve processes, exceed customer expectations, and reduce costs, all while minimizing your risk.

The MSP will get to know the ways in which you do business and your vision for the future. The MSP can help your business work smarter and reach its goals faster. Understanding available improvements, the MSP can make recommendations to fit your budget and help you become better, faster, and more agile.

Of course, incorporating continuous improvement in your technology can mean making changes to the way you work. Your employees may shudder. That’s why it’s important to work with a partner that can help you clearly articulate the value of digital transformation.

Your people will want to know “what’s in it for me,” and the MSP can help you provide the answer. Explaining how innovation will help employees do their job better or drive business outcomes is key. Working with an MSP means intentional strategy drives your technology improvements. That’s the foundation for successful implementation and adoption.

Don’t settle for a one-size-fits-all, set-and-sit approach to information technology. Your competition will be happy if you do. Instead, work with an MSP that doesn’t just keep your technology running and your systems secure. Join forces with a service provider who is your strategic partner, they’ll ensure your technology is continuously improving.

You’re not alone. Adapt with us.

Technology’s rapid pace of change was a top threat for business leaders, according to a 2017 survey of business school grads. Digital advances surpassed economic, political, and environmental changes. But you’re not alone in your struggle to continuously improve.

Turn to the experts who can answer your questions and plan strategic improvement. No matter what your industry or business size, you can enjoy our technology expertise. Talk to us about a technology assessment. Our experts will suggest options that suit your needs and help you beat the competition. Reach to us at 319-227-7000.

17 09, 2019

To Backup or To Archive? ‘Tis The Question

2019-09-03T15:15:06-05:00September 17th, 2019|Uncategorized|0 Comments

To Backup or To Archive? ‘Tis The QuestionTo Backup or to Archive

Hamlet worried about whether to be or not. You may be more preoccupied with whether backup or archiving is better for your business. You know you need to secure your data, but how? This article examines the different benefits of both options.

Back in the day, businesses kept important information on paper. They stored important records and notes in nearby filing cabinets for easy access.

When there were too many files to close the cabinet drawers any longer, someone would do a big clean out. Older, important documents would get boxed for the basement or other storage area. They might still be needed for tax, or compliance, or other reasons. But you didn’t need those files readily accessible any longer.

A similar scenario is true of digital business data. You can back it up to recover from hardware failure, cyber-attack, or disaster event. Or you might archive the data for space management and long-term retrieval.

Deciding Between Backup and Archive

When it comes to the right form of data storage you’ll need to weigh:

  • the period of time you need to keep the data;
  • what protections from loss or illicit access your method offers;
  • whether the data can be easily restored or retrieved;
  • how accessible, searchable, and quickly available the data will be;
  • any industry or compliance standards that need to be met.

The backup is a copy of your data. On a regular basis you’ll make a copy of the business data to provide you with a starting point in the event of a disaster. You’ll decide how often to backup based on how often the data changes and the importance of data currency.

Backing up data, an operating system, or application files, doesn’t delete the originals. However, your older backup may be deleted when you make the new copy. If not, the backup can have another use. It can allow users to go back and review or recover earlier versions.

It’s not a bad idea to have several backups. We recommend the “3-2-1” backup strategy. You’ll have three copies of your business data. One would be on the cloud, the other two on different devices (e.g. on your local computer and on a backup drive).

Archiving puts a copy of business data into long-term storage. This is the data equivalent of moving that box of files to the basement. Typically, the archived version becomes the only available copy of that data.

The archives’ permanent record of data may prove useful in future legal disputes. Archived data is often tagged to enable streamlined search down the road. Moving information to archive can also improve processing speed and storage capacity.

While a backup may be overwritten, archived data is generally not altered or deleted. In fact, it’s often physically disconnected from the computer or network. So, you’ll turn to a backup to restore your data if necessary, and to archives to retrieve information data.

Key Takeaway

Both backup and archive can prove useful. It’s not going to happen every day, but entire digital archives can be lost if a server is drowned by a flash flood. All the paper backups can be burnt to cinders in an electrical fire. That external hard drive could be stolen or crushed by falling debris in a hurricane.

It’s best to avoid having a single point of failure. Both backing up and archiving business data is a smart precaution. Ensure business continuity by preparing for the worst. Our computer experts can help you backup, archive, or both. Start securing your business data with our support today! Call us at 319-227-7000.

10 09, 2019

Facebook is for Sharing, Not Storing

2019-09-03T12:53:00-05:00September 10th, 2019|Backup|0 Comments

Facebook is for Sharing, Not StoringFacebook is for Sharing

When was the last time you held an actual photo album or actual prints of photographs in your hands? Maybe you look back at older photographs only when Facebook’s TimeHop app reminds you of a pic from five years ago. If so, you may be risking your visual history.

Facebook is a great way to share photos with friends and family around the world. You get to enjoy their comments and the affirmation of their likes. But using Facebook as storage for your photos is not a good plan. Here’s why.

Some people treat Facebook as their photo album archive. They delete the originals from their devices or digital camera when they need more space. But Facebook compresses images for faster download. It satisfies impatient social media users, which means photo quality suffers. If you wanted to print those photos in the future, they wouldn’t look as good as the originals.

That’s not the only drawback. When you trust Facebook with all your photos, you’re letting a company control your visual archive. It’s hard to imagine, given Facebook’s reach today, but what happens to your photos if the company goes defunct? We don’t know. The people who were keeping their photos on Myspace in 2006 might have an idea.

The younger crowd is already moving onto other social platforms. Plus, Facebook’s growth rate in North America and Europe is slowing. Those daily active users are the primary source of revenue. So, you know Mark Zuckerberg is in some meetings about that.

Even if Facebook continues as the business behemoth it is today, we don’t know what policy changes it might make. It could change its terms of service whenever it wanted (if you even read those in the first place). Users have no guarantee for how long Facebook will store their images or any type of content.

Keep in mind also that many of the photos showing up in your timeline are actually taken by friends. Facebook provides an entire album of other people’s photos when they’ve tagged you, but if they decided to untag you or remove it, that photo would be gone.

Finally, there’s also the risk of your account getting shut down or hacked. You’ve probably had friends warn you not to accept any new friend requests from them because they’ve been compromised. You wouldn’t want a thief to steal all your photo albums. Similarly, you don’t want a cyber-criminal to gain access to all your images.

Our Recommendation

Just as with data, we recommend you have a “3-2-1” backup system for your digital photographs. This means having three copies of the photos you care about. You don’t need to back up the blurry ones if you don’t want to.

You might keep one copy on the original device, but you’d have two other copies of the high-quality, uncompressed, original image as well. One might be kept on an external storage device such as a USB thumb drive, and the other you could upload to cloud storage.

The cloud backup gives you access to the photos from any device in any location. So, if a flood, hurricane, or fire devastates your home, and you lose your device and the USB thumb drive, you still have a backup. Your Facebook photos and videos are just there to be shared with friends and family.

Not sure where or how to safely store your photos and videos? We can help!  Give us a call at 319-227-7000

3 09, 2019

The Dark Web and Its Impact on Your Business

2019-09-03T12:24:25-05:00September 3rd, 2019|Security|0 Comments

The Dark Web and Its Impact on Your BusinessThe Dark Web

Business owners today know the internet is not only a force for good. Some people exploit the Web for ill intent. They congregate on the Dark Web, and small businesses need to understand the risks.

What is the Dark Web?

You and your employees spend time daily on the Web. They’re researching clients, checking out competitors, and searching for information. They are not accessing the Dark Web. The Dark Web houses dangerous, often illegal activity. This includes black-market drug sales, illegal firearm sales, and illicit pornography.

The Dark Web’s collection of websites is inaccessible using standard search engines or browsers. Users employ a Tor or I2P encryption tool to hide their identity and activity, and they spoof IP addresses.

To go into the Dark Web, you also need to be using the Tor or I2P service. Plus, you’d need to know where to find the site you are looking for. There are Dark Web directories, but they are unreliable. The people on the Dark Web don’t want their victims to find them. Ultimately, it’s not somewhere you or your employees need to be.

So, why do you need to know about it? Because Dark Web users can buy:

  • usernames and passwords
  • counterfeit money
  • stolen credit card numbers or subscription credentials
  • software to break into people’s computers
  • operational, financial, or customer data
  • intellectual property or trade secrets

The Dark Web is also where someone can hire a hacker to attack your computers.

The Dark Web business risk

The Dark Web itself isn’t illegal, and not all its traffic is criminal. It is also visited by journalists and law enforcement agencies, and it’s used in countries prohibiting open communication.

Yet the number of Dark Web listings that could harm your business is growing. A 2019 research study found that 60% of all listings could harm enterprises, and the number of those Dark Web listings has risen by 20% since 2016.

Business risks from these Dark Web listings include:

  • undermining brand reputation
  • loss of competitive advantage
  • denial-of-service attack or malware disruption
  • IP theft
  • fraudulent activity

With media attention on data breaches impacting millions, it’s easy to think a small business is not at risk. However, bad actors don’t target a business for its size, they look for ease of access.

Dark Web information is up to twenty times more likely to come from an unreported breach. Privacy specialists told a Federal Trade Commission Conference victims included medical practices, retailers, school districts, restaurant chains, and other small businesses.

Reduce your risk

If your information ends up on the Dark Web, there’s little you can do about it. The bright side, at least, is that you would know that your business security has been compromised. Be proactive instead. Keep your security protections current, and install security patches regularly.

Consider a unified threat management (UTM) device, or UTM appliance. The UTM plugs into your network to serve as a gateway and protect your business from malware, illicit access, and other security risks.

Your UTM security appliance can provide:

  • application control
  • anti-malware scanning
  • URL and content filtering
  • data loss prevention
  • email security
  • wireless and remote access management

Or let a managed services provider (MSP) take care of all aspects of protecting your business. Pay a consistent monthly fee for an MSP to handle all your technology, patching, monitoring, and assessment needs.

Stay on top of the latest cyber-security threats with an MSP, or learn more about installing a UTM. We can help protect you from the dangers of the Dark Web. Call us today at 319-227-7000!

27 08, 2019

Why You Need Professional Virus Removal

2019-08-01T16:34:16-05:00August 27th, 2019|Computer Repair|0 Comments

Why You Need Professional Virus RemovalProfessional Virus Removal

“Your computer has a virus.” Such a dreaded five words! We don’t want to come down with a human virus; we’ll feel awful and miss work. But when a virus hits our computer, we could lose valuable information or be vulnerable to attack. Chicken soup won’t cut it.

Perhaps you have an antivirus product installed on your computer. This computer software is intended to prevent, detect, and remove viruses. Antivirus tools are designed to keep infections out. They can also delete any viruses that may already be on the computer when the software is installed.

The software provides protection by tracking malicious code and other computer threats via:

  • classifying the actions the file or code drives (as malicious or OK);
  • inspecting file signatures for matches to an existing signature in its virus dictionary;
  • scanning for rootkits that can change how your operating system functions.

However, antivirus software isn’t that good at cleaning up. When it detects a malicious file, it will delete it. But what if the virus spread before discovery? If the infection spreads before virus deletion, it can do all sorts of damage.

Think of it this way: you have a cyst on your knee. Doctors decide it is pre-cancerous and operate to remove the cyst before it spreads. But, that’s all they do. They have seen the cyst. They go for the cyst. However, they don’t notice the cancer that’s in your shin or femur, because they were only working on the cyst. The rest of your leg remains unhealthy, and you don’t even know it!

Getting a Second Opinion on Viruses

If the antivirus software is your primary physician, a computer professional is the specialist you go to for an expert second opinion. For one thing, antivirus products don’t always remove all the malicious files. Many viruses start as one thing but can mutate into several different strains. The antivirus software may not be programmed to identify all of the virus variants. A professional actively looks for undetected strains on your computer.

Viruses are always evolving. A recent strain of malware, SquirtDanger, let hackers take computer screenshots, capture passwords, download files, and empty out cryptocurrency wallets.

Some viruses can change the settings of your computer. For instance, a common virus changes your computer’s DNS, which is a bit like the Yellow Pages for the internet. On a virus-free computer, when you type in “Google.com”, your browser goes to Google’s servers located at the IP address “216.58.203.100.” However, an infection can make Google.com on your computer go to a different address. Perhaps a server address cyber-criminals use to capture your personal data. It still looks to you like Google, but it’s no longer safe. These settings can still remain after the infection is long gone.

Viruses can also leave behind browser toolbars, extensions, and other nasties designed to spy on your Web browsing habits. If you’re consistently redirected to unwanted sites, or seeing unwanted pop-up advertisements, it’s likely your computer’s infected with a browser hijacker.

Ultimately, if you detect a virus on your computer, check with a professional. Don’t trust that your antivirus software is going to do the same, thorough job an expert can offer. Sometimes your computer isn’t fully safe until the operating system is reinstalled, but you can’t know that until someone can go in and see what the virus did and what remnants are still there, lurking.

Cyber-criminals are growing more sophisticated and better able to design viruses that disguise their tracks. Avoid being an unwitting victim. A computer security expert can diagnosis when your computer gets a virus, or determine if there are strains on your device you don’t know about. Let a security expert protect your computer from harm today!

Call us at 319-227-7000.

20 08, 2019

Getting Rid of Single Points of Failure

2019-08-01T16:25:05-05:00August 20th, 2019|Managed Services|0 Comments

Failure is Not an Option: Getting Rid of Single Points of Failuresingle points of failure

You might think that your business is going to be OK even if a single device goes down. After all, there are other devices your people can use. It’s not as if the entire system is going to fall like dominoes. Or is it? Get rid of single points of failure to make sure one vulnerability doesn’t take down your network.

A single point of failure (SPOF) can be a design, implementation, or configuration weakness. Star Wars fans will already be thinking of the Death Star’s ill-designed thermal exhaust port. That was the SPOF Luke Skywalker exploited.

Yet, cyber-criminals don’t need the Force to target IT fatal weaknesses. SPOFs for technology include:

  • Having only one server that runs an essential application. Without that server, your employees can’t use that particular business tool.
    • Solution: Plan for the worst with built-in server redundancy. Have multiples of any hardware that is business critical. Migrate to the cloud so you can continue accessing applications, software, and storage.
  • Power outages can wreak havoc on computers and devices operating your network.
    • Solution: An Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) device can help prevent intermittent power interruptions to your computers, switches, and modems. Cloud solutions reduce the risk of this problem too. Employees can continue to access data and software working at different locations.
  • Your physical location could also be the SPOF. What if road closures, fire, floods, or a violent storm prevent you from being able to get to the office? Without a backup, you’ll struggle for business continuity.
    • Solution: Pool computer resources in the cloud (servers, storage, applications, and voice services). This provides continued access anywhere, anytime, and often from any device.
  • You can’t get online without an internet connection. Yet you’re reliant on an external provider for that access. Planned downtime for maintenance is easier to plan around. Still, unexpected issues can cause the internet to go out.
    • Solution: Have a backup solution to pick up the slack if the main connection goes down. A router that supports having a 4G modem, for instance, could be a good failover.

Having one device out of commission is frustrating, but not necessarily the end of the world. But, when the damage wrought by a single weakness spreads business-wide, you could face serious consequences.

Downtime for systems failure or data breaches can be:

  • Expensive – In addition to potential overtime for IT staff remedying the situation and possible revenue losses, your company may also face fines.
  • Time consuming – your people must adapt to a new reality while IT resources are spent trying to get back to business as usual.
  • Reputation damaging – any disruption to business as usual could undermine customer trust and prompt churn.

IT professionals understand the danger of SPOF. Avoid weaknesses that can lead to system wide failures or loss of business information. Partner with computer specialists who can identify and eliminate these vulnerabilities at your business.

Contact us today at 319-227-7000!

13 08, 2019

What to Do When You Get a Renewal Notice

2019-08-01T16:10:49-05:00August 13th, 2019|Managed Services|0 Comments

What to Do When You Get a Renewal Noticerenewal notice

Your business relies on any number of service providers. You’re likely contracting for domain names, website hosting, data backup, software licenses, to name just a few. And that’s only your online presence! So, when a renewal notice comes in, you might just forward it on or file it away for future reference. Here’s what you should be doing instead.

First, when you get a renewal notice, you should confirm that it’s legitimate. This is especially true of domain names. Your business’s domain name and expiration date are publicly available. Anyone could look them up and send you an invoice. Scammers do. They monitor expiring domain names and then send out emails or convincing physical notices telling you it’s time to renew. They are not doing this as a civic service!

Instead, they will be trying to get you to switch your domain services to a competitor or, worse, hoping you’ll pay your renewal fee to their account, which has no connection to your domain.

  • Look out for the following indicators that the notice is a fraud:
  • The price is much more than you’d expect.
  • The deadline is within seven days.
  • You don’t know the business name.
  • This business has never contacted you before.
  • The notice requires you to send a check.

Handling Authentic Renewal Notices

Once you’ve determined the authenticity of the renewal notice, you’ll want to take stock. Putting your licenses or other online services on auto-renewal plans can be easier, but it may not be cost effective. Before re-upping your plan consider:

  • Are you still using this service?
  • Do you really still need it?
  • Do your current needs meet your current plan?
  • Should you upgrade or downsize?

You might also contact your provider directly and ask:

  • Is there a better product available now?
  • Are you eligible for a loyalty discount?

The company you’re dealing with wants to keep your business (hence, the renewal notice). That can give you some leverage in negotiating what you are paying or what service you are getting. You could treat an annual renewal notice as an opportunity to renegotiate terms. It’s not always going to work, but it can be worth a phone call as you try to keep business expenses under control.

Finally, you should pay attention to any deadlines on the renewal notification. Some are sent months in advance. That seems so helpful, but if you put it away to deal with later, before you know it you’ve missed an important date and the service is stopped.

You should always get a renewal notice for something like a domain name. The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) requires companies to send reminders approximately one month and one week before your domain name expires.

Don’t leave your renewal to the last minute. With expired domain names, for instance, you can lose your website or email will stop working! Options and fees for renewing domain names, including expired ones, are going to vary, so be sure you know what your subscription involves.

Also, there are bad actors out there who monitor domain expirations to buy them up at bargain prices. Then, when you notice the subscription has lapsed, you have to pay a king’s ransom to get the Web address back. Yes, it can happen to you. In fact, the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) handled a record 3,074 cyber-squatting disputes last year.

Avoid being overwhelmed by all the subscriptions and service plans your business relies upon. A managed service provider (MSP) monitors your license and domain expiration dates to ensure your business is current. At the same time, the MSP has the expertise needed to determine what plans best suit your business needs.

Give us a call at 319-227-7000 to enjoy the peace of mind a managed service provider brings!