The Importance of Information Security Compliance

If you own or manage a business, you have likely heard the term “information security compliance” before. Each organization has specific information security compliance duties that cannot be neglected. Let’s take a look at approaches to compliance, the importance of compliance and what happens when businesses ignore this obligation by performing what the IT industry has dubbed as “willful noncompliance”.

Security Compliance

Willful Noncompliance

An organization that determines that abiding by regulatory compliance rules is not necessary will face negative repercussions. Though it might sound like a rare event, willful noncompliance is actually much more common than most assume. A surprising number of companies are willing to risk potential fines and hits to their reputation by bypassing these rules. These groups either view information security compliance as a massive hassle in terms of labor and logistics or they view it as too expensive. Sure, compliance is somewhat of a burden yet the failure to comply with existing laws and regulations has the potential to drastically reduce a business’s security and financial well-being due to hefty fines.

There is No Standard Approach to Security and Compliance Obligations

Those who are familiar with information security compliance efforts are quick to state that most organizations take their own idiosyncratic approach to this responsibility. Some play it completely by the book, documenting the organization’s compliance according to each provision of every nuanced regulation. Other companies have more of an informal approach to information security compliance by striving to stay within the boundaries of regulations. Such a loose approach is generally meant to comply with the spirit of regulations rather than the letter of the law. Other organizations use a unique combination of both of the approaches described above. Those who are experts in information security will testify that the majority of organizations perform a blend of these approaches in a concerted effort to keep their IT operations fully compliant with the law.

Is Failure to Comply Really Worth It?

The failure to adhere to information security standards is quite risky. It can result in a range of costly penalties from civil fines to prosecution in criminal court. The bottom line is that merchants that refuse to comply with the rules of PCI DSS will endure considerable financial penalties. In the worst case scenario, these non-compliant organizations will put their ability to engage in transactions involving credit cards at serious risk. Any individual or organization that is proven to have willfully breached HIPAA rules could face extensive jail time due to their inability to provide “due care.” The legal system labels such a failure to provide due care as “negligence.” In a nutshell, it is not prudent to neglect information security compliance. Just about every organization should view compliance as a requirement rather than a choice. In the end, the investment of money, time and effort in information security compliance is well worth it.

Information Security Compliance Help is Available

{company} is the trusted choice when it comes to staying ahead of the latest information technology tips, tricks, and news. Contact us at {phone} or send us an email at {email} for more information.

What to Look for in an IT Company 

Nowadays, just about every type of business requires IT support. The transfer of digital information in an accurate, prompt and secure fashion is essential to success. However, those who own small- to medium-sized businesses will find that it is quite difficult to afford a full-time in-house IT staff. The alternative solution is to hire an IT company to do the work for you. Let’s delve into exactly what you should look for in an IT company.

Computer Company

Experience

Plenty of IT companies make online claims that they can build websites and provide extensive IT support. However, such online bragging is in no way indicative of the company’s merit. It is imperative that you dig into each prospect’s background in order to determine if they are indeed qualified to perform your company’s IT work. Find out if they have experience in this niche and whether it is extensive or minimal. Obtain references and client testimonials. If an IT company refuses to provide references, move on to the next prospect.

A Physical Business Address

This might seem like an odd concern yet you would be surprised to learn how many phony IT providers tout their services on the World Wide Web. IT companies worth your trust will provide their physical business address without putting up a fight. Once you have the address, check it out on Google maps or in-person to make sure that it is not a house or apartment in which an individual is attempting to operate an IT business.

Can the Company’s Personnel Communicate in a Straightforward Manner?

The importance of maintaining clear lines of communication with your IT company cannot be understated. Yet simply being there to answer the phone or e-mails will not suffice in and of itself. An extraordinary large percentage of IT companies rely on industry jargon rather than communicating to clients in layman’s terms. If a potential IT services provider refuses to communicate directly with you in a language that is easy to understand, it is a gigantic red flag. The company’s staff might communicate in such an obfuscated manner in an attempt to make its work seem overly complicated to justify exorbitant rates. Or, maybe they don’t want to put forth the effort to translate “tech speak” into “everyday speak”.

Availability

The best IT service providers are flexible and reliable. There is no sense in hiring an IT company that will not be there to answer your phone calls or e-mail messages during crises. Imagine a scenario in which a bug emerges in your software or hardware and threatens your operations. Most businesses work on strict deadlines that must be met at all costs. If you can’t get in touch with your IT company for support in a timely manner, it will negatively impact the bottom line.

A Focus on Efficiency

A surprising number of IT companies will do the bare minimum amount of work for their clients. These groups cease their efforts once problems are solved, even if the solution might only be a temporary fix. Don’t let an IT company get away with this sort of laziness. Sure, they might be doing just enough to solve your problems in order to manage the demands of their other clients, yet you aren’t paying for just the bare minimum. Your IT company should proactively search for ways to improve your data management and your organization as a whole. If it appears as though a prospect does not sincerely have your company’s best interests at heart, move on to the next prospect.

We Are Proud to Provide IT Services You Can Trust

{company} is the trusted choice when it comes to staying ahead of the latest information technology tips, tricks, and news. Contact us at {phone} or send us an email at {email} for more information.

Why The Customer Experience Is So Important In Customer Service

With the rise of social media and increased competition across so many industries, we have seen a considerable shift in the traditional approach to customer service. In the past, the focus was all about the end result. So much attention was given to such things as average call handling time, and moving through the calls quickly. Now it is all about providing a positive customer experience. Customers are looking to be treated well, and businesses are looking to hire customer service associates that know how to do that.

Customer Service

A New Way of Doing Things

The old approach to doing things consisted of different levels or tiers of support for handling customer calls. This was effective in keeping the average call handling time low but resulted in a poor level of customer service. A more modern approach is steering away from the constant call transferring from department to department and provides a better customer experience. It is important that the initial customer service association be able to solve their conflict personally, or not pass them along until the customer has been made to feel that the associate has made every effort possible to help them, and they are better serviced by another associate. Most importantly the customer needs to feel valued, like they have been listened to, and that a resolution is forthcoming.

This newer approach to customer service makes it easy for businesses to be held accountable when customer experience is poor or negative, and this is a major concern for every company with a consumer focus. Customers nowadays are equipped with many channels and avenues in which to voice their disapproval, and with the arrival of social media and it’s influence this can be very detrimental to a business’s reputation. Negative feedback effects not only the audience it reaches, which on the internet is quite large but directly impacts the future purchase decisions as well.

This modern way of approaching customer service has been brought forth by businesses that are service oriented, as no one better understands the importance of customer experience on your bottom line. In order to achieve this standard, they require systems that allow them to see the entire customer experience in one view. This requires a system that links the various involvements of all teams, including sales, credit, and customer service to be assured no detail is being overlooked. Regardless of the business environment, the demand for exceptional customer service is the same.

Why The Customer Experience Is Critical

With so much more competition, more purchasing information available to consumers, and more options on a whole, customer experience is critical in helping you stand out from the others. The biggest names in business are all realizing that customer experience is the only thing setting them apart from the crowd in a time where so many competitors are offering near the same product and pricing. Gaining new customers and retaining old ones is never a struggle when they feel as though you are there to service them.

Customer service is oftentimes an afterthought for businesses, but for the smartest and most innovative it is now seen as the front lines of customer retention and part of the process of building business value. When a customer calls CS they have the opportunity right there to appease the customer, provide resolution and a positive experience, or to damage the reputation of the business and tarnish customer opinion with a poor experience. When a company puts in the right level of quality and resource into customer service they will undoubtedly reap the rewards and benefits.

To learn more about providing an extraordinary customer experience contact the team of experts at {company}. Give us a call at {phone} or send an email to {email}.

 

 

Why IT Outsourcing Is the Secret to an Improved ROI

When it comes to determining an exact dollar amount to spend on IT outsourcing, keep a number of key factors in mind. For starters, there is no “right” or “wrong” answer to the question of “how much should I spend?” Every company has its own unique goals that need to be addressed by this decision. Only by focusing on what you’re trying to accomplish and determining the best course of action to take in terms of the overall value you’ll receive will you be able to come up with the answer that is right for you.

Outsourcing IT

Looking Inward

As stated, one of the most important things that you can do to determine how much money you should be spending on IT outsourcing involves taking a closer look at what it is you’re trying to accomplish by making this move in the first place. Do you want to be able to leverage the latest in technological resources without all the initial money usually required to do so? Are you having a hard time finding the manpower to manage your existing resources, and would you prefer to give up a certain degree of control in exchange for the greater efficiency that outsourcing provides?

One of the best aspects of outsourcing in general is that you can choose to move as much or as little of your existing infrastructure to a third party as you choose. If you go completely outsourced, for example, the money you’re spending monthly can pay for itself in that you won’t have to hire your own in-house IT staff. Even if you do keep an in-house staff, you can free them up from the normal challenges of managing IT to work on other projects that will actually help propel your business forward.

IT Outsourcing in the Cyber Security Age

Another important area of IT outsourcing to consider is that of security. When you choose to outsource some or all of your IT resources to a third-party provider, general network security and other infrastructure-related concerns no longer fall under the purview of your in-house staff. This means that not only is general network analytics handled by your provider, but also regular everyday functions like virus detection, updates, maintenance and more.

This situation once again requires that you look at things not in terms of how much money you’re spending, but as to the value you’re receiving. According to a study conducted by the Ponemon Institute, the average cost of a data breach in 2015 rose to $154 per compromised record, or roughly $3.79 million per incident. If outsourcing your IT infrastructure makes it easier to fend off these increasingly common types of attacks, you have to look at the situation from the perspective of both views: “I’m paying $XX per month to help keep my business safe”; AND from the idea that, “I’m potentially saving $3.79 million every time a large-scale cyber breach does not occur thanks to my IT outsourcing efforts.”

In the end, the answer to the question, “how much money should I be spending on IT outsourcing” is as straightforward as, “however much money is required to accomplish the goals you have in mind.” Because the ultimate return on investment isn’t measured only in dollars and cents, but also in streamlined operations, access to the latest technology and increased productivity — whatever you choose to spend will begin to quickly pay for itself tenfold almost immediately.

If you’re in {city} and would like to find out more information about how much your business should be spending on IT outsourcing, or if you’d like to get other answers to all of your important IT questions, please feel free to contact {company} today by calling {phone} or by sending an e-mail to {email}. We’re ready and waiting to leverage the power of modern technology for your benefit today.

Warning from U.S. Homeland Security–Uninstall QuickTime

Warning to Window users with QuickTime installed on their computers–uninstall it, now.

Clients on our managed IT services agreements currently have this addressed.  Questions?  Call us immediately.

According to a statement issued by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Computer Emergency Readiness Team: “Computers using unsupported QuickTime software may increase risks from viruses and other security threats. Potential negative consequences include loss of confidentiality, integrity, or availability of data, as well as damage to system resources or business assets. The only mitigation available is to uninstall QuickTime for Windows”.

uninstall quicktime

Released over 20 years ago, QuickTime is Apple software used to play audio, image and video files. Apple suddenly stopped providing security patches a few weeks ago due to Zero Day Initiative advisories issued by Trend Micro , an Internet security company that originally discovered two, critical QuickTime vulnerabilities–ZDI-16-242 and ZDI-16-241.

Trend Micro told Apple about the security holes in QuickTime, but Apple neglected to patch these vulnerabilities even though they provided an update to QuickTime in January, 2016. When Trend Micro asked Apple why they didn’t fully secure Quicktime, Apple simply stopped updating the software and have since abandoned it to the wilds. Consumers should also be aware that Oracle Java 6 and Microsoft Windows XP are no longer receiving security upgrades and are subject to remote attack from hackers.

Explanation of Quicktime’s Security Holes

ZDI-16-242 and ZDI-16-241 allow hackers to execute random code in QuickTime software. Users must open malicious files or visit malicious pages for exploitation of vulnerabilities to occur. Since the flaw was found in QuickTime’s moov atom, attackers need to specify invalid values for specific fields existing in the moov atom. Once inside, attackers insert data outside an allocated heap buffer, which they use to leverage execution of arbitrary code within the QuickTime player.

Windows users keeping QuickTime installed on their computers could potentially suffer negative consequences, such as loss of data availability, loss of confidentiality and extensive damage to business assets and system resources. Attackers taking advantage of QuickTime’s security holes are typically identity thieves or hackers searching for bank account numbers, passwords and data that allows them access to funds.

This warning does not apply to Mac users, since Apple continues to provide security updates for QuickTime Player 10 installed on Mac computers.

Although QuickTime will continue to operate normally, it is strongly recommended users uninstall QuickTime if they are using Windows. Instructions for uninstalling Apple QuickTime for Windows can be found here: https://support.apple.com/HT205771

Problems for Creative Cloud Users

Adobe recently issued a statement warning Creative Cloud users may experience disruption of their service due to “several codecs remaining dependent on Quicktime installed on Windows”. According to Adobe representatives, they are currently working to correct this problem but have yet to develop initiatives capable of overruling QuickTime vulnerabilities.

Top 5 Advantages of Microsoft Office for Business

Originally released all the way back in 1990, Microsoft Office evolved from its simple origins into the dominant productivity suite on the planet. According to research conducted by Softpedia, there were over a billion Microsoft Office users worldwide as of 2012 – many of whom were business users. There are a wide range of different advantages that Microsoft Office brings to the table for small business users in particular that you can no longer afford to ignore.

Microsoft Office

The Cloud

Perhaps the biggest benefit that more recent versions of Office and the Office 365 platform usher in for business users has to do with how it embraces the cloud-based world in which we now live. Data created and stored online, Office is now accessible from any computer on the planet with an active Internet connection. This allows employees to be just as productive at home (or in an airport lounge, or in a local coffee shop) as they could be if they were sitting in front of a computer in their office.

Embracing Mobile

Along the same lines, another massive benefit of Microsoft Office for business has to do with the way it allows its users to embrace mobile computing. As most of the modern day smartphones that millions of people carry around with them are literally more powerful than the shuttles that sent men to the moon in the 1960s, it makes sense that a solution would come along to allow them to leverage that power to their advantage. Microsoft Office lets users create documents from any device, anywhere, with no exceptions.

Value for the Price

Modern day versions of Microsoft Office are also inherently scalable, which is another significant benefit for business users. Businesses can now choose the exact deployment tract that fits their needs, allowing them to pay for exactly what they need without also spending money on applications they never use. Business users who choose to purchase the “Office 365 Business Essentials” plan, for example, will pay just $5 per user per month. Buying the software outright is also always available, with packages starting at just $229.99 for Microsoft Office Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook and OneNote for a single PC.

Safety and Security

Another big benefit for Microsoft Office business users comes down to safety. All data stored in the cloud is housed in one of Microsoft’s own data centers. This extends real-time scanning of messages and documents for things like viruses and malware, as well as other security provisions that all adhere to multiple industry-standard specifications.

Collaboration Tools Like Never Before

Modern day versions of Microsoft Office also unlock the power of collaboration at the business level. It offers a wide range of different tools that make it easy for multiple employees to all work on the same files from separate computers. Office 365 also includes calendaring, contacts, online meeting and other functionality designed to make it easier than ever to collaborate with people OUTSIDE a business as well. A business user and their own client can remotely collaborate on the same files at the same time, making it easier to meet demands and exceed expectations across the board.

If you live in {city} and you’d like to find out more information about the many different benefits that Microsoft Office can bring to your business, or if you’d like to sit down and talk to a professional about your current IT needs in a little more detail, please don’t delay: call {phone} or email {email} today to speak to someone at {company} right away.

How To Determine If Your Business Needs a vCIO

Business

Businesses in this day and age are becoming more reliant on technology than ever before. This trend is only going to continue, which is a good thing. It provides more solutions and allows businesses to grow quickly and produce in more efficient and automated ways. Furthermore, businesses can depend upon security and consistency as a result of technology.

A vCIO is a virtual Chief Information Officer. This person would be responsible for the overall leadership and technical expertise of the technology within an organization. Determining whether your business needs one of these is important – and a decision that needs to be made effectively.

What Are the Benefits of Hiring a vCIO?

A CIO is someone who can determine how best to employ technology throughout an organization. This role includes a significant amount of strategy and decision-making. However, adding a full-time CIO to your organization also means adding a full-time salary. A virtual CIO can add the same level of talent and expertise, without the same costs associated with the position.

C-Level Expert

Take a good look at your organization and who you have in place. If you do not have a C-level strategist, you are likely going to benefit from a vCIO. This is because they are going to help you with such things as:

  • Analysis of IT infrastructure
  • Developing a comprehensive technology strategy
  • Improving competitiveness and productivity of the organization
  • Staying on top of trends and changes in technology

Budget

As much as it is important to stay up to date on technology, it may not be possible to hire a CIO. As an alternative, a vCIO can ensure the necessary IT infrastructure is in place to help your organization grow and stay ahead of trends. A vCIO is going to be a considerably more affordable option because you will get the same level of knowledge and expertise while minimizing the total financial investment.

The position is not located inside your office, which means you don’t have to deal with providing office space. You also don’t have to provide a full-time salary, benefits package, pension, or other full-time employee perks. This can be a considerable savings to your organization while you still reap the benefits of having the position.

Managed Services will provide you with a vCIO. This will allow you to remain as competitive as possible when it comes to IT infrastructure and overall management of technology. This virtual position levels the playing field for both small and medium-sized organizations. You can take advantage of comprehensive reviews of security and infrastructure and implement various technology solutions that will help you to meet business objectives more effectively. Strategic guidance will be close by at all times, and you can start to meet the organizational and technological needs of your business.

Achieving Goals

Ultimately, you have to look at how you are currently achieving goals – and determine whether it will be easier to achieve these goals if you have better technology in place. When you don’t have a computer/tech background, you cannot be expected to understand all of the different technology that is currently available and how the trends are going to affect you.

Additionally, you may not have the funds needed to hire a CIO full-time — and you may not need one. Particularly if you are a small or medium-sized organization, it may be a waste of company funds to bring someone on for 40+ hours a week.

A vCIO helps to overcome this obstacle. You will be able to achieve your goals more effectively because you will have the knowledge of an expert at your fingertips while still being fiscally responsible. It helps you to get the edge that you need to compete in the marketplace and enjoy peace of mind knowing that you are making better decisions for your business as it pertains to IT infrastructure and other aspects of technology.

What’s The Secret to Growing Your Company Exponentially?

Do you have an in-house IT person or staff that helps you handle issues or implement new hardware and software? If so, that’s fantastic. But the secret to growing your company exponentially goes above and beyond handling issues or implementing new hardware and software. The secret is simple: Outsourcing to an experienced IT company to handle some or all of the management of your information technology.

Business Growth

Why is outsourcing the secret to growing your company exponentially? Because an in-house IT person or staff, while they might be great at what they do, simply doesn’t offer the expertise, resources, or time needed to help you handle your entire infrastructure – all while finding innovative ways to reach goals and objectives.

If you have an in-house IT person or staff, it’s likely beneficial for you to go ahead and augment some of their capabilities. If you don’t have an in-house IT person or staff, it’s extremely important to make sure you’re outsourcing to an IT company that’s able to help you out.

{company} helps you focus on what’s important: running your business while saving time and money. We’re here to take over some or all of the management of your information technology.

If you aren’t convinced yet, here are some key factors that might change your mind:

Reduce your operational costs.

  • Cut down the costs of hiring additional internal resources that require salaries, benefits, and the expense of training and certifications.
  • Eliminate the amount of unnecessary issues that lead to incredibly costly downtime.
  • Stay current with the latest technologies, which means less performance issues that slow staff members down.

Pay only for what you need.

  • We specialize in the areas you need most (no non-sense).
  • You benefit from the collective knowledge and experience of a team of individuals and their skill sets.
  • All our staff have industry training and certifications.
  • You’re able to get the most out of your network and the best solutions for your business.

Use our endless resources.

  • Reduce the risk of costly technology decisions that don’t work out.
  • Safeguard your IT from malware, viruses and hackers.
  • Meet all regulations regarding privacy for data in your industry.
  • Take advantage of responsive tech support.

{company} knows we have a job to do, and that’s getting you back to yours. The life of a business owner is stressful enough, we’re here to help you forget about the technical side of it.

Contact us at {phone} or email us at {email} to find out more about our managed IT services. We’re the preferred choice for businesses looking for responsive IT support in {city}.  

How Does Managed IT Services Save You Money?

Companies allocate money to cover costs for various services such as payroll, vendors, supplies, and maintenance. To ensure that there is enough money to cover these services, businesses need to establish a budget for the year. One way for companies to stay on budget is to have costs controlled. One area where costs can be tricky is the IT budget. Costs can remain steady until something goes wrong, or an upgrade is needed. Then the company can realize that they have not budgeted enough money to handle these extra costs.

managed it services

How can a company control the costs associated with their IT budget?

A great way is to leverage managed IT services.

Fixed Costs

Managed IT services mean less money spent on benefits, vacation and payroll. You do not pay an employee but instead, pay for a service. These fees can be budgeted for, and any variation will be discussed and agreed upon ahead of time. Whether the service is paid for monthly, bi-monthly or yearly, the amount can be broken down and money allocated each month to cover the costs. When employees are involved, there can be staff turnover, continuing education costs, new staff training, etc. With managed IT services, there is a fixed cost.

Years of Experience

The staff of the outsourced IT services firm have years of experience, and they are readily available when you need them. The team can pool their knowledge base to offer the best possible options for your business. Most of the staff have varied backgrounds, which goes to enrich your experience with them.

Computer Trends

The staff of the outsourced IT services firm remains up-to-date on the latest trends in computer and software technology. They can offer the most cost-effective solution for your business needs. You can discuss various changes you would like to explore for your business, i.e. moving data storage to the cloud, and they can offer suggestions on how to implement that.

Managed IT services is a way to control employee costs, budget for technology services, and have access to staff who are knowledgeable on the latest technology information.

Call {phone} or email us at {email} to assist you with controlling costs and maintaining a steady cashflow. Our managed IT services are the perfect choice. {company} is here to handle all of your information technology needs.

Owning Words For Your Business: The Importance of Association

“Being first in the market isn’t as important as being first in the mind.” – Ries & Trout

As a business owner, it is imperative to own words for your business – equally important is to stand behind the words you’ve given with great technology.

Business Owner

By choosing to take ownership of just one word, there have been various companies who have developed and solidified their global presence. Listed below are a few companies who understood the effect that a word could have to transform their brand and ensure their spot as both the first in the market, as well as the first in the mind.

  • When people think of “overnight” and shipping, they think of Federal Express.
  • Apple has become world renowned thanks to their “i”.
  • “Safety” goes to Volvo.
  • And when people think “search”? Google.

In order to achieve this sort of impact, your business must start by defining your brand and positioning it relative to your competition. To help, ask yourself questions like:

  1. What do you want to be the “go-to” person for?
  2. How can you differentiate yourself from others with the word that you own?
  3. What are your ultimate goals and what word do you need to associate with your personal brand to reach them?
  4. Is the word you’re considering an accurate description of what your customers will actually receive from you?

Something important to remember is that unless you’re leading the market, customers will only listen to information that is consistent with your rank. For example, Acer can’t possibly claim to have America’s favorite tablet – Apple already owns that title.

Most important of all is that branding is a long-term strategy. It’s crucial that once you define the word you want to own in people’s minds that you commit to it for the long run. It never hurts to listen to consumers and keep an eye on your competitors, as well.

By owning a one-word brand promise, your customers’ view of your business will be more clear.

Here at {company}, we take a proactive stance to help you achieve your goals. Call {phone} or send us an email at {email} to discover how we can help you improve your technology in order to be first in the market, and first in the mind.