Better Security in Three Easy Steps

With the holidays just around the corner, most people are turning their attention to turkey, presents, and long drives to visit friends and family.  As a cybersecurity professional, I always see this as the Season of Spoofing, where bad guys send you convincing emails about packages left on your doorstep, and gift card balances you’ve left behind, all with the goal of stealing your credentials, like some overseas Grinch who doesn’t want you to get any presents.

So, in the spirit of giving, I’d like to kick off this holiday season by giving you three easy steps that you can take towards avoiding the Grinch this year.

Step 1:  Better Passwords

I’m sure we’ve all heard the speech:  Password must be 8+ characters in length, contain a letter, number, special character, and must be changed every 90 days.  But did you know that even those are often easily guessed?  And even worse, they’re often used on multiple accounts, creating a domino effect.  If one is compromised, they’re all compromised.

So, consider using a password manager such as LastPass or RoboForm to generate secure passwords, that are unique to every website.  This will make your passwords significantly more secure.

Step 2:  Security Awareness Training

Now that we have better passwords, let’s make sure we keep them to ourselves!  We can do that by training employees how to spot malicious emails, and what to do when they’re found.  And more importantly, put that training to the test!  A system that sends harmless emails to your employees to trick them into clicking a suspicious link will let you know who “gets it”, and who needs a little extra help.

Step 3:  Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA)

I saved the best for last.  Sometimes referred to as “two factor authentication”, MFA is a fantastic strategy for keeping your data secure.  Every time there’s a login from an unexpected computer or location, you’ll be notified and prompted to either allow or deny the login, from an app on your phone (which is also protected by a passcode, right?).

If you’re using Office 365 for your email, you already have the ability to turn on MFA.  It does take a little work to get up and running, but once configured, we’ve found that folks love the peace of mind that comes with this level of security.

Now, it wouldn’t be Thanksgiving if I didn’t give you something, right?  So, here’s my gift for you, to help you get started with Step 1.  Complete the contact form on the sidebar during the month of November and we will provide you with a Weak Password Report, for free!  This will show you any weak or non-expiring passwords that are used on your network and start you on the path to better security.

Tech Tips: Securing Your Email Messages

Due to the popularity of email in the business world, it’s an extremely popular method of attack for hackers. They can easily send countless messages to targets all over the world with the click of a mouse. Therefore, you have to take email security very seriously. The repercussions of not doing so could be swift and severe. This week’s tip is dedicated to informing your employees of email best practices for the office environment.

Password Security

Passwords might not be the most convenient way to keep accounts secure, but it’s certainly one of the most popular. It’s a best practice to keep different passwords for each of your different accounts, but your employees won’t see it that way. They’ll see it as an inconvenience at best, and it takes more than just simple passwords that are easy to remember to keep your organization’s data safe.

Too many users simply enter in some personal details about themselves, a significant number, and click done, thinking it’s an appropriate password for them. Hackers and cybercriminals know this, and they try to take advantage of it any way they can. This includes looking up sensitive information about the target that they might find on an employee’s personal Facebook page. These kinds of social engineering tactics can be used to dig up dirt on just about anyone in your organization, providing hackers with just enough information to make targeted attempts at guessing passwords.

So… if your password is based on your dog’s name and the year you were born (and both of these can be found on your page), it’s likely that a hacker can use common tools at their disposal to hack your account. This issue compounds when the password is used for multiple accounts.

This issue can be resolved easily enough through the use of a password manager. These applications can store passwords in a secure, encrypted vault and call them only when they are needed. Depending on the email application used, employees might not even really think about their email passwords because the app doesn’t always ask for it, making it difficult to keep passwords top of mind.

Two-Factor Authentication

2FA is a method used to augment password security by requiring a secondary code to access accounts or information. 2FA works by automatically generating a new passcode that is sent to a secondary email address or phone number each time you try to log into an account. These types of solutions make it so that a hacker needs much more than just your original password. They need access to all of your mobile devices and other accounts, too, making the effort to access your account more trouble than it’s worth.

Stop Clicking on Links and Attachments

If you receive an email and it has a link or attachment, your first instinct might be to click on it. Unfortunately, this habit can lead to a hacking attack, as scammers understand that the need to click on a link or attachment can be somewhat compulsive. An intern and CEO alike could make such an easy mistake, making this an effective method of spreading viruses and malware across systems. These phishing attacks can be tricky to identify, but there are certain giveaways that can make it easier. Links to external sites that are unrelated to the subject matter, poor spelling and grammar, and suspicious email domains are a few examples. Always make sure you trust the sender before downloading an attachment or clicking on a link.

 

New Communications Solutions to Move Your Business Forward

As a business owner, it’s your responsibility to keep an eye on how your staff communicates. Email and telephone have long been staples in this regard, and these solutions come packed with features like file storage and instant messaging. With more organizations taking their businesses on the go, these businesses are trying to take advantage of applications with the ability to integrate with their real-time messaging apps. Enter: Slack and Microsoft Teams, two solutions that hope to change the way business communications work.

What is Slack?

SLACK is an acronym for “Searchable Log of All Conversations and Knowledge.” It takes all of the great features of enterprise email solutions and combines it with an instant messaging program for a single comprehensive interface. This type of combined solution is great for making communication much more efficient and manageable. Slack is hosted in the cloud, so it is available on any device that can access it, as well as drag-and-drop file sharing.

The bottom line is that Slack is used for collaboration amongst your employees. A user can set up a chat feed (think forums) determined by their responsibilities within your organization, complete with custom notification settings for each chat they are involved with. This gives a single worker a custom interface for each of their roles, allowing them to be productive on multiple fronts. Project management is also a major part of using Slack, as each project can have its own feed. Individual departments can be equipped to work on individual parts of each project, streamlining processes considerably.

Perhaps the biggest part of what makes Slack so effective for productivity is the countless productivity apps that Slack can work with. It can connect with Google Hangouts, Google Drive, Twitter, Asana, WordPress, Mailchimp, and so much more. Slack can give your organization the ability to work faster than you’ve ever imagined. Slack can be used for free, but an enterprise edition is also available for a small cost per user.

What About Microsoft Teams?

Microsoft Teams is a chat and collaboration platform that can help your organization streamline communications and project fulfillment. Compared to Slack, Microsoft already has a major foothold in the business productivity environment with their Microsoft Office 365 offering. Teams basically ties all of these apps together, including Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, SharePoint, Power BI, all in one easy to use interface.

Since Microsoft Office 365 is already used so much, this central hub can be a great way to change the way your organization manages itself. You can streamline access to files, take advantage of internal sites, and leverage dashboards, all controlled through Office 365. There are over 70 connectors that can help your Enterprise Office 365 offering provide value, including GitHub, Evernote, Mailchimp, and Salesforce.

Does your business need a communications management system? KiteTech can help. To learn more, reach out to us at 855-290-KITE.

 

Managing and Maintaining Complex Networks

IT is extremely important for not just enterprises, but small businesses as well. IT administrators are able to save businesses a considerable sum just by monitoring and maintaining network infrastructures. By carefully looking after systems, downtime can be reduced, leading to more resources being available for other purposes. Of course, considering the fact that an organization’s network can quickly grow far beyond expectations, this task becomes much easier said than done.

What Makes a Complex Network?

Computers are by no means simple things. If you’ve ever tried to administer even basic maintenance without knowing the details, then you know this is a task best handled by professionals who dedicate their working lives to understanding these complex machines. Traditionally, the workplace infrastructure is made up of centralized servers, which are then connected to endpoints (workstations) and networking components. These machines all communicate with one another toward your business’ end-goal. The Internet makes this even easier, as networks can rely on the Internet for data dispersal, but security takes a hit for this convenience.

Going even further, the more endpoints that you hook up to a network make it more complex. Think about all of the workstations, laptops, tablets, smartphones, and other devices that all have access to your organization’s data. It quickly becomes a major issue for organizations that are constantly growing. Keep in mind that this doesn’t even include data that’s stored in virtual environments, like cloud platforms and websites.

Network Monitoring Best Practices

There are many network monitoring best practices, but we want to mention first that it’s much easier to trust the security of your network professionals. Not only does it save countless hours on your end, but it also improves security overall by having trained professionals on the task at hand. Our managed IT services solution is a great way to make sure that your network remains maintained, even under the worst of circumstances.

5 Monitoring Practices to Consider

  1. Pay Attention: If you can keep your network healthy, you’ll be sure to suffer from fewer system errors. This type of proactive maintenance is made easier if you are paying attention to issues on your infrastructure so they can be resolved before they become major problems.
  2. Find an Overreaching Solution: End-to-end monitoring can help you focus less on individual parts of your network, taking a look at the whole picture rather than just a fraction of it. You want a solution that can be used on both a wireless and wired network, as well as virtual and physical environments, databases, and applications. It should support all the necessary protocols and languages as well, on all types of different devices.
  3. Optimize Bandwidth: Data flow bottlenecks are major issues that can get in the way of your business’ tools being used effectively. You should be monitoring bandwidth levels to keep this from becoming a problem.
  4. Prepare to Scale: Scalability is incredibly important for modern businesses, as you can never know when you need to make changes to improve productivity or data access. You should be able to scale up or down to meet your business’ specific needs at any point in the near future.
  5. Ensure Your Solution is Flexible: When selecting a monitoring platform, be sure that it offers flexibility in its licensing models. This should allow it to be used on many different types of devices and applications.

Kite Technology’s IT professionals can hook you up with the best monitoring and management network tools on the market. To learn more, reach out to us at 855-290-KITE.

 

How Your Backup System Provides an Immediate ROI

Data backup has the nasty misconception that it’s only worth having if you actually use it, but this isn’t necessarily the case. Businesses let this misconception get in the way of an important aspect of business continuity, simply because they don’t want to waste money on something that they won’t actually need. Little do they know that data backup is the only thing standing in the way of your organization failing forever.

There are certain parts of backup and disaster recovery that business owners like yourself need to determine before investing in a solution. You can break the average enterprise-level data backup solution into three distinct parts–all of which work together to ensure you reap a positive return on your investment, with or without a data loss incident.

Data Backup

First, you’ll need to choose a backup platform. Small businesses have a lot of options, like network attached storage, hard disk drives, and tape backup drives, but by far the most efficient one is cloud storage. No matter the system you use for your data backup, though, you should always look at your data as an asset. Therefore, it needs to be protected in whatever way you can to ensure its continued safety and longevity.

Kite Technology can offer you a comprehensive data backup and disaster recovery solution that uses network-attached storage to push copies of your data to the cloud, where it’s safe from external threats. This is the kind of data backup that every organization needs–the end-to-end data backup that keeps an infrastructure safe even under the worst scenarios.Some data isn’t necessarily important, though. Small businesses collect a lot of data, and it can be difficult to gauge the importance of some of the minor data that you collect. Data analytics help your business determine what data is most important, and what you can do to keep it safe.

Data Recovery

If you want to yield a positive ROI, data recovery is where this begins. Your organization needs to set acceptable parameters for how much data you want to restore. You’ll need to clearly define both a recovery time objective (RTO) and a recovery point objective (RPO). It’s critical that you should have both of these outlined before investing in a data recovery system.

Your recovery point objective is determined by how much data you need to have restored to keep operations going, while recovery time objective is how much time can your business sustain itself without it’s data. These figures aren’t necessarily static, as they will likely change over time as your business’ needs change. Different systems might carry different data, so naturally they will have varying RTOs and RPOs.

The ROI Equation

Now it’s time to put together your return on investment in the form of a calculated equation. This is great for determining value because numbers are hard to argue with, whereas an opinion might only provide a subjective value that can easily be discarded.

● Determine your business’s hourly realized revenue. This will be the amount of revenue your organization takes in over the year and divided by the total working hours of your staff. ● Identify how much you can stand to lose both with and without a data backup system. ● Multiply the hourly realized revenue with both figures you calculated in the last step. Next, take down the difference. This will represent your total avoided loss in the form of dollars. ● Once you’ve done this, plug the figure into the following formula to measure your backup system’s ROI.

ROI = (Avoided loss – Cost of backup and recovery system x 100%)

The numbers say it all–a data backup solution yields a positive return on investment, with or without your organization suffering from a disaster. If your business wants to get started with data backup, reach out to us at 855-290-KITE.

 

Strategies for a Successful Business

It takes a lot of work and determination to make a successful small business. There are countless parts that need to be managed and maintained–so many that it can be difficult to assign a priority at times. There are certain requirements that your organization must achieve in order to remain successful, but it takes a little more than just business savvy to keep your organization ahead of the game. Let’s take a look at some of the ways your business can make itself stand out and achieve success.

One of the best ways to make the next leap toward success is by implementing the right technology services. Since we at KiteTech consider ourselves technology professionals, we want to help your business improve operations by implementing the best and most powerful solutions specifically crafted for your needs.

Designing Your Infrastructure for Success

First of all, consider the tools that your organization is using at the moment. Are they scaling to meet your specific requirements at any given time? If your business were to grow, would it be able to adapt to this change? One of the biggest reasons why businesses are turning to the cloud is because it allows them to achieve this kind of flexibility. It can be applied to many different parts of your organization, be it for communication, data storage, and more.

Guaranteeing Reliable Storage

Data storage is one of the most useful aspects of the cloud. Even a small business can collect a large amount of data, and as such, it needs a place to store it. The cloud offers many benefits to data storage, the primary one being that you’re not required to purchase or maintain on-site hardware to host your data. All you need to maintain an adequate connection to your business’ data is a stable Internet service, meaning that anyone who has an account with valid credentials can access your business’ data. It’s also exceptionally helpful in the event of a disaster scenario, as your office might be destroyed by a disaster, but data in the cloud would be safe.

Building a Better Company Culture

The first step for working toward a great company culture is creating an environment where the most work can get done in the most efficient way. Sometimes a company culture can develop naturally out of a situation like this, but it’s your duty as an administrator to help it grow. Otherwise, it can fester and spread out of control. A great company culture achieves balance between success and recess. The same thing won’t work for all companies though, so it’s up to you to determine the best way to keep your employees both happy and productive.

KiteTech can help your business take advantage of technology solutions meant to improve operations and enhance productivity. To learn more, reach out to us at 855-290-KITE.