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The High Cost of Recovery from a Security Breach

Small to medium size businesses are what keep this country moving. Unfortunately, for many of these business owners, budgetary needs force them to make cuts that the mammoth corporations do not have to consider. These budget cuts can often result in reduced security and sub par IT services that in the long run can end up costing the company even more money. Reacting to; and the recovery from, a security breach or attack always costs more after it has happened than what it would have cost to prevent it.

This fact has been supported by recent surveys, and may come as a surprise to many small and mid-size companies who are under the false impression that hackers and other security threats target larger corporations. It has been discovered that companies that have less than 500 employees are actually more likely to be at risk of an attack or security breach than a larger corporation. Of course, this becomes a problem when the larger corporation has the resources to maintain higher levels of security at a time when smaller companies are dealing with restricted or; in some cases, frozen IT budgets.

The benefits of hiring a Managed IT Services Provider in preventing attacks and security breaches

With a security breach a real concern for small business owners, many are making the decision to bring on outside providers to address their IT needs. Managed services providers can offer an affordable solution to small business owners who are struggling to manage an internal IT staff. In some cases there isn’t even an IT person on staff, which can be just as costly for the small business when they have to bring in a professional on an as needed basis. Considering the money and time spend recovering from a security attack or breech, more business owners are realizing the cost of not having this level of protection is too high to pay. Here we look at how managed services providers can help business owners level the playing field against those who would infiltrate their security systems.

  • Increased knowledge- Managed services providers are in the business of technology. They have trained staff who are able to prevent security breeches and spot any activity that could be perceived as a threat. Moreover, they have the expertise to stop threats and prevent the loss of sensitive and private information that can lead to costly recovery measures.
  • Less expensive than in-house IT- Other IT professionals can provide the same security but it will cost much more to the business owner. What many owners are realizing is paying a flat monthly fee for security and other services provided by msp’s is actually much more cost effective than paying an internal IT staff or outsourcing based on incident.
  • Proactive is better than reactive- The biggest benefit of having a quality managed services provider in your corner is the fact that you are acting in a proactive manner to ensure all of your systems are managed properly. This is less expensive and less time consuming than waiting for something bad to happen and then reacting.

Any small business can benefit from the security provided by a Managed IT Services provider. They can do so at a fraction of the cost, therefore eliminating the fear and unnecessary cost of trying to recover from a breech in security or attack.

Click here to learn how Integrated Media Networks, Inc. can help you prevent attacks and security breaches with our Network Security Services for your business in Eldersburg, MD and surrounding cities.

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Employees Are Still The Best Defense Against Computer Attacks

The media is covered with stories every day of a cyber-attack here, a data breach there and other computer issues. As a business leader of a small or medium organization, you are at just as much risk as the larger companies. Even the best threat and virus protection do not stop everything. Every day, new strains and new methods of cyber-attacks are launched to the internet. While many are caught and protection are put in place quickly, there are some that have no protection. To prevent these from entering your organization’s environment, your staff is the best defense. Teaching and reminding them of the constant threats is important. Here are 10 items to help you.
•Advertisements on websites are a major source of computer malware. Even the mainstream sites such as news, sports or search engines are often infected with malware. Malicious malware is often attached to advertisements via scripting or links, and since the advertisements usually are not created by the source site, they have little control and often do not review them for threats.
•Malware scripts often are embedded in email via scripts or attachments. Sometimes it is because your contact’s email has been hacked or more often these days because their email is on a list that has been collected and then used to try and get your attention. If you get an email from someone who does not usually send you links or attachments, confirm with them directly it is something they have sent before opening. People are creatures of habit and unusual emails are often a sign of malware or spam.
•If you get a pop-up saying you are infected, shut down your computer immediately and contact your IT professional. While many of these malware’s are harmless, shutting down will stop whatever was happening. If it was just a malicious popup, it will be gone when restarted. If however the issue is a more damaging malware such as the Crypto virus; it will stop it from doing further damage to your systems. Contact your IT professional immediately. Early detection and remediation are critical.
•Phishing to get your usernames and passwords has become a technique used to defraud users out of millions of dollars. The largest targets are often bank websites. The emails look authentic and even sometimes appear to come from an email address at the targeted institution. There are two steps to ensure you are not caught by this malware, first go to the site directly, not through a link. These links usually lead to a site that looks very familiar but is not actually the site you are trying to get to. Second, especially when dealing with bank sites, call the bank directly and verify it is a valid request. Don’t use the number in the email, use the number on your debit/credit card or the bank official website.
•Don’t use the same passwords on all your websites and accounts. Using different complex passwords for each site limits the chance of multiple accounts being hacked at once.
•Be careful what communications and transactions you do at a hot spot such as Starbucks, Dunkin Donuts or other public internet connections. These places can be easy targets for hackers to try and steal your data. The most common stolen information: credit cards, user names, passwords and sensitive emails.
•Change your passwords periodically. Many sites and systems now require it but if not, consider changing them regularly.
•Keep your passwords safe. This means do not leave them where others can get them from your desk or desktop. Storing them on your desktop in an unsecured file is as dangerous as leaving them on your monitor. It is analogous to leaving your keys in your car.
•Stay away from pop-ups telling you in a browser window that you have a virus or speed up your computer, they often are the source of an infection.
•Keep your important information backed up just in case you do get infected, you don’t lose everything if the previous steps fail.

Protecting the information of any organization is the responsibility of every user. Education and reinforcement periodic on the importance of data security and best computer practices should be part of every businesses’ IT plan.

If you are a small to medium size business, and would like to learn more about protecting your organization, give us a call. Integrated Media Networks, Inc. specializes in IT support for businesses like yours. We also work with the Non-Profit community with affordable plans! To schedule an appointment, give us a call at 877-269-7373. To learn more about us, visit our website at http://www.imni.net.

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Those Annoying Pop-Ups

Those annoying pop-ups can be caused by many different sources. The first is due to something on a web page you have visited. Sometimes they are intentional, sometimes they are caused because someone maliciously altered the site you are visiting. The second cause can be a malicious program running on your PC. Generally these can be added by opening an attachment in an email or clicking on a link on a web page. What can you do to limit your risk of getting one of these malicious programs?

  1. Stay away from clicking on ads, especially when they happen to pop up on a page you are looking at and you didn’t request the information it is offering.
  2. All major browsers have pop-up blockers and they should be left activated. If you have a specific site that requires pop-ups to be allowed, add them to the safe sites list on your browser. This will allow it where you need it but provide the additional protection.
  3. Make sure you have some reputable form of Anti-Virus on your machine that includes protecting against browser issues.
  4. For work computers, stay to work related sites. This reduces the risk of an unwanted malware being accidentally added to your machine.

If you think you have an issue, take the time to solve it sooner than later. Too often users just ignore and move on and the issue becomes larger because of the delay. The first step is to run an anti-virus program on your computer. Unfortunately, these programs don’t always find browser related issues. Second step is to use a reputable Malware cleaning program to scan your computer. There are a number of safe utilities available on the internet. When downloading these programs, be careful of the source. Some common programs are Malwarebytes, ADWCleaner, SuperAntispyware and Spybot. If the site you find these programs from want to use a download manager to download to you, find another source. As you do the install, pay attention to the items the programs say they want to install. There have been a number of sites lately who will take one of these cleaning programs, repackage it and add more adware software to your PC.

Finally, backing up of your critical data on your computer is the best defense in case you get infected. There are times none of the tools or steps listed above will remove the problem and having a backup of your data will allow you to limit your data loss.

If you are a small to medium size business, protecting your computers and data is critical. Integrated Media Networks,

Inc. specializes in IT support for businesses like yours. We also work with the Non Profit community with affordable plans! If you would like to learn more about our services and schedule an appointment, please contact us at 410-970-2410.

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5 Reasons to Implement a Managed IT Services Solution

Information Technology services are essential to the success of every organization, large or small. With increasingly competitive business environments, CEOs and small business owners are under great pressure to maintain a highly qualified staff and to make sure their technology is obtaining a better ROI than their competitors’.

These goals are not easily achieved, particularly for young or small businesses with less financial resources and time available. Having your own successful information technology department can eat up too much of the company’s budget and time resources, and eventually cause a loss of its competitive edge. These disadvantages of maintaining an in-house IT department are why companies of all sizes have turned to using managed service providers to either assist their existing IT department or become their virtual IT department, handling all of the technology involved in keeping their businesses running at optimal levels.

The benefits of using a managed IT services solution are numerous, but the top 5 benefits of managed services for business include:

  1. Benefit from the expertise of a specialist, without having to spend time and financial resources training your staff to become experts
  2. Decrease your technology risks with Managed IT Services. Your company doesn’t have to worry about losing and trying to replace trained staff members, or about repairing, implementing or replacing complex technology solutions with Managed IT Services
  3. Enjoy access to the most up-to-date, sophisticated technology solutions without having to invest in expensive equipment.
  4. Experience ultimate control over your business technology without having to manage an information technology department. This gives you the time you need to focus on what you do best: your business functions.
  5. Reduce stress and improve efficiency of your staff. When you make good use of Managed IT Services resources, your staff isn’t tied up with IT concerns and they have more time to focus on tasks that are productive for the business.

Click here to learn how Integrated Media Networks, Inc. can help you benefit from managed IT services in Eldersburg, MD and surrounding cities.

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Can Small Businesses Afford Managed IT Services Providers?

When determining the affordability and ROI of engaging with Managed IT Services Providers, small business owners often find themselves in a position of trying to balance a limited budget while making sure they have the proper tools to grow their business. It is a challenge many business owners face, in that they recognize the need for additional products or services that will allow their business to continue to thrive. However. funds may be in short supply to achieve these goals. This is especially true today, when small business owners find financial institutions less willing to extend credit in the current economy.

Faced with this challenge, many small business owners are forced to make difficult decisions as to where they can afford to spend money to improve their business. One of the areas in which business owners are on the fence is whether or not hiring a managed services provider is something they can afford. In some cases the cost is not worth the benefits, however there are many situations where cutting costs will end up costing you more money in the long run. Here are a few reasons why managed service providers may be more affordable than the alternative.

Technology – In order to be competitive in this day, small businesses must remain up-to-speed with current technology. The amount of money invested in this area can be quite large, making it necessary to ensure you have someone in your corner who can help manage and support the technology used in your business. While the average person is becoming increasingly well versed in the use of basic technology, there remains a need for experts in the industry to ensure your business can stay up and running on a daily basis as well as in the event of a natural or man made emergency.

Internal IT – Larger corporations have the budget necessary to support an internal IT department that provides expertise and support of the technology used by the company. Small businesses do not have the same resources and often find themselves either without backup or paying a high price when they have to bring in an outside expert.

Services provided by MSP’s- When a small business enlists the help of a managed service provider, they will agree to a contract which covers specific services at a specific price. This allows the the small business owner to see upfront what they are paying for and how it will work in the budget. Some of the services provided by msp’s include; computer and server support, data backup and disaster recovery, network security, custom software solutions, remote network monitoring and technology evaluation and planning. Depending on the business these services can be customized to meet the specific needs of the client, making it possible to reduce costs in certain areas.

There are many reasons why a small business owner might feel managed services providers are not something they can afford. Unfortunately the services provided are often not realized until there is an emergency, where small business owners quickly discover the amount of money spent to “fix” a problem or recover from a disaster is much more expensive than planning for it in the first place. In this case it is not a matter of if you can afford manages services, rather if you can afford NOT to have them.

Click here to learn how Integrated Media Networks, Inc. can help you save on IT costs with our Managed IT Services for your business in Eldersburg, MD and surrounding cities.

 

 

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Is the iPad Useful as a Mobile Computing Device for Businesses?

Some businesses have jumped on the iPad wagon and are finding creative ways to use the iPad as a mobile computing device. For example, the Global Mundo Tapas restaurant in Sydney, Australia uses the iPad as an interactive menu. There’s a budget airline, Jetstar Airways, using the iPad for in-flight entertainment, rented for $10 a flight. A luxury sedan by Hyundai comes with an iPad instead of a user manual. Other than these extreme cases, how can an iPad be used to increase productivity or convenience by the average business owner?

Conventions and Workshops

Do you travel to conventions and workshops for your business? Many people bring their laptop to these events. While laptops are of course very convenient compared to a desktop pc for traveling, the iPad weighs less and could be even more convenient if you’re traveling from room to room at a convention or workshop. These events are also often designed for networking – so you’re not just sitting at the table all day, glued to your laptop. The smaller, 2 pound iPad could be slipped into your purse or a small bag while you walk around the room, or even carried in your hand for easy access as needed, but without being cumbersome.

Flights and Traveling

It’s true a laptop can go on a flight with you, but even the smaller netbooks and laptops add to the weight of your carry on bags and can be frustrating when in the small seats of the plane. If you’re sitting in coach, you know every time the person next to you has to get up to use the bathroom you’re trying to balance the laptop and whatever else you happened to have out in your hands with turbulence knocking you around the aisle. The iPad could be slid into the pocket of the seat in front of you if you have to get out of the way for the passenger next to you – it’s about the size of a magazine.

The same holds true on trains, in taxi cabs, or as a passenger in someone else’s car. Just don’t try to use your iPad while driving, yourself.

Presentations & Sales

Do you travel to client offices to give presentations? How sleek would it be to whip out your iPad and give a sales presentation or demonstration? Apple reports that iPads can connect to the majority of projectors, so you could even broadcast that presentation over a large screen for a larger audience if necessary.

Replace Your Briefcase

Sure, the iPad has a word processor and spreadsheet. Those are always useful for business people. It would be much more convenient to read and edit documents on an iPad over your iPhone while on the road.

But what about the stack of magazines and newspapers you lug around with you in your briefcase? You could have all of your reading materials ready for you on the iPad and skip the briefcase. Use it as an ebook reader, newspaper subscription, and file storage and you’ve literally got everything at your fingertips. With the use of third party Apps, there’s little you can’t do with the iPad for as a mobile computing device for your business.

Click here to learn how Integrated Media Networks, Inc. can help you get the most out of your iPads, Smartphones and other mobile devices with our Mobile Computing Services for your business in Eldersburg, MD and surrounding cities.

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When Is Your Business Ready For Managed IT Services?

If you are a small business owner and considering whether or not Managed IT Services will benefit your company, the answer is almost always- yes. There is little doubt that most small businesses can benefit from Managed IT Services, yet that in itself does not always justify the cost of bringing on a third party provider. Accepting that Managed IT Services Providers can offer solutions to common problems found in small business operation, the real question is: when does it make sense to switch from in house IT solutions to the next level which includes Managed IT Services?

There is a good chance if you are already considering Managed IT Services the time might be near when you are ready to make the switch. Small business owners do not have the luxury of a never ending IT budget, therefore it is very important to recognize when your current IT management is no longer cost effective. For most small businesses this occurs when the business grows to the point of needing either a contract with a local service provider who is “on call” for IT needs or hiring a full time IT person to remain on staff. There is of course another option for small business owners to consider and that is hiring a Managed IT Services Provider to oversee their IT needs.

If you are still unsure that your business is ready for the switch, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do you find IT costs are continually increasing?
  • Is it difficult to find and retain quality IT staff?
  • Is your network and workstation performance and speed decreasing?
  • Are your employees spending more time dealing with IT issues than focusing on job they have been hired to perform?
  • Do you have problems with viruses, spyware and other security issues that could threaten the confidentiality of proprietary information?
  • In the event of a natural or man-made disaster, would your network be at risk? Would recovery be a concern?
  • Do you find network downtime is increasing?

If you answered yes to one or more of the above questions, then your business is ready for Managed IT Services.

Now that you have determined Managed IT Services are right for your business, the next challenge is finding the right provider of these services. This is a decision that should not be made lightly or rushed as the wrong provider can end up costing your company more money than your current situation. Before you begin the search for a Managed IT Services Provider you should first consider your IT budget as well as issues or problems you want to be addressed. It is important to remember that Managed IT Services are not a one-size-fits-all type of solution to business problems. Each business and industry has their own issues to contend with and a qualified Managed IT Services Provider will work with you to find the solutions that will benefit your company the most. If a potential provider is more intent on selling you services and not listening to the needs of your business, move on to another provider who is willing to listen to your concerns and offer customized solutions that address these needs. The point of outsourcing your IT management is to save money while freeing up time to focus on other business operations. For this reason it pays to put forth the effort to find the best Managed IT Services Provider to oversee your technology needs.

Click here to learn how Integrated Media Networks, Inc. can help you benefit from Managed IT Services for your business in Eldersburg, MD and surrounding cities.

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