Improve Password Security with These Easy Solutions

It’s important to understand the role that secure passwords play in protecting your critical business data. As a business owner or manager, you need to consider that your business network contains over 100+ passwords and it’s rare that most employees create unique and complex passwords for every account they have.

In order to improve password security, you must make it a priority across your organization, involving the compliance of all employees through tools and education to create a strong strategy for creating and maintaining strong and secure passwords. Let’s check out some ways you can help your business create the best passwords for your business security.

Understand Password Best Practices

  • Choose passwords that are 8-14 characters long
  • Ensure the complexity of passwords is set high by including three random words, a mix of upper- and lowercase letters, numbers (3756), and symbols (!#$%)
  • Change your passwords every 90 days
  • Do not use a password that can be easily guessed, such as your birthdate, spouses name, pet name, etc.
  • Be mindful not to repeat passwords, make sure each account has its own unique password
  • Do not share your passwords with others or leave them anywhere visible
  • If you suspect your account has been compromised, change your password immediately.

Use A Password Manager

Password managers such as LastPass, are software applications that are designed to store and manage online credentials, so you don’t have to remember them all. Password managers take the hassle out of creating long-unique passwords and having to remember them. These types of password mangers help you stay on top of password best practices by create secure passwords and alerting you when there are duplicate passwords in your account. All in all, a user only needs to remember one master password for their password manager and use a multi-factor authentication to keep their information secure.

Use Multi-Factor Authentication

Two-step authentication is a process that requires a user to have a single login, such as a password, as well as an additional similar type of login that is sent directly to the user. For example, you may have a password for your first step and then receive a one-use code on your cell phone or to your email as the second step. A two-step authentication just adds as extra step in verifying your identity and keeping your information more secure. However, this is not to be meant as a means of keeping hackers out.

Improve Your Password Security Today

ECMSI offers a state-of-the-art, multi-layered security suite to ensure your network and critical data is being protected. We offer a free network health assessment to answer your questions, show you where you’re vulnerable, and what our recommendations are to keep your network healthy and productive. Follow the link below to schedule yours today!

YOUR COMPANY NEEDS AND IT SERVICE DESK. HERE’S WHY:

Think about it: You’re a business owner. Your company is growing. Your operations are beginning to expand and you find yourself struggling with the growing pains. You decide it’s time to offload your stress and find that there’s an easy way to handle your IT issues and get back on the speeding business track.

Below are Five (5) Reasons Why You Should Utilize an IT Service Desk!

No one has time for the aches and pains of IT issues.

Business is booming – you and your staff are busy.  When your team can’t focus on their work due to pressing IT issues – are they being productive or derailing your potential growth?

An IT service desk gives your team the opportunity to maintain focus on the success of your business and takes the responsibility of your IT issues.

Time = Money.

Again, you’re busy. But did you know you’re losing money the moment one of your employees stops focusing on their work to deal with an IT issue? After an employee tries to fix the issue, they’ve lost time on their responsibilities and trying to regain their focus.  That time would have better been used to continue the momentum of your company.

All these inefficiencies add up. Imagine the potential growth your team could have facilitated if you had the right resources on call.

Temporary fixes do not work!

Many small businesses don’t have an IT expect on staff. This creates a challenge for your other staff members who need to handle these IT issues as they arise. Even if these employees can work around the problem, they may have no idea how to work with technology.

This runs the risk of making things worse! You have the opportunity to solve these problems the first time by utilizing a skilled IT service desk.

Reduction in Operating Costs.

There’s real monetary savings in outsourcing your IT service desk.

When you outsource to an IT service desk, you’re opening your business up to a quality service provider who will address your issues strategically to help you meet your business needs and goals. They’re not just going to fix your issue this time.  They track your network error causing the issues and ensure it doesn’t happen again.

You don’t have to run into the same issues constantly. An IT service desk can provide solutions to better equip your team now and in the future.

Around the clock support.

It’s simply not practical for a small business to staff and internal IT service desk, especially if you’re needing 24/7 support. If you have your own internal IT, you’re limited to your resources by the business hours they work.

When you outsource your IT service desk, they are available all day, everyday.

ECMSI knows IT Service Desk Support

If you’re an small business owner and you’re serious about getting the IT service desk support you need when you need it, ECMSI is ready to help. Our service desk support is unparalleled. This is one of those business tools that can truly set you apart from the competition.

If you’re ready to focus on growing your business and alleviate the stress of IT, contact ECMSI today.

SIGNS THAT IT’S TIME TO UPGRADE YOUR PHONE SYSTEM

We’re preoccupied with the speed, storage, and software of our computers – but how often do you think about your phone system? If you’re like most, it rarely crosses your mind. However, it’s important to keep your phone system up to date before it becomes too expensive to repair or becomes obsolete. We don’t consider the risks to a failing phone system: lost calls, panic of finding a new system as soon as possible, disrupted business operations which results in decreased revenue, to name a few.

Now that you’re thinking about it, let’s look at the most common ways to identify an aging phone system.

1. You’re having to reboot your phone system more and more often due to intermittent quirks and delays, but you can never find a specific issue

2. You’re experiencing more frequent hardware failure.

3. The software used for your phone system won’t work, even when you do the latest updates – or there are no updates available.

4. You have someone who services your phone, only they don’t service your system any longer and you’re having difficulty finding a qualified provider who does.

5. Replacement parts don’t exist any longer or you can only find used/refurbished parts that cost a fortune.

The above signs are indications that your system is outdated. Experiencing a decrease in productivity are more likely to become apparent to you as time goes on. To avoid the risk of sudden hardware failure, you might want to start researching into upgrading your phone system before it becomes too costly.

ECMSI has teamed up with Allworx® to provide one of the best-in-class phone systems to all of our partners. If you are a current partner, find out how ECMSI can help implement Allworx® in your office to deliver the best phone experience that includes the following:

  • Real-time sharing of contacts across mobile devices (via Reach), Outlook (via Interact Professional), and Verge IP phone
  • Remote control of Verge IP phone using your mobile device (via Reach)
  • Instant handoff of calls to and from your mobile device and Verge IP phone (via Reach)
  • Bluetooth® hands-free

ECMSI and Allworx® power an easy-to-use voiceover internet protocol (VoIP) phone system, whether in the cloud, onsite or hybrid, and will improve your business’s processes and boost staff and client communication. Let’s talk today: (330) 750-1428

https://www.ecmsi.com/voip-phone-systems.html

HOW TO KNOW WHEN TO OUTSOURCE YOUR IT

Technology is relied on by every company. As companies continue to grow, the role of technology becomes more necessary – making sure the business has the support they need 24/7. Typically, businesses hire internal employees but more increasingly, they’re outsourcing to a third-party provider. Check out the information below and determine if the benefits of outsourcing your IT is right for your company.

Benefits of Outsourcing Your IT

Prior to making any decision, it’s imperative to understand the benefits of outsourcing your IT functions. Here’s some benefits of outsourcing:

  1. Decreased Expenses: It’s more cost effective to outsource IT, as you won’t be paying for the overhead of full time employese.
  2. Scalability: Your outsourced IT services can be scaled up for down, depending on your continually changing business needs.
  3. Less Headaches: By outsourcing your IT, your business no longer needs to worry or prepare for maintenance, upgrades, repairs or any other technological problems that may arise.
  4. Reduced Downtime: When you outsource your IT, you no longer need to deal with the issues of downtime or other workflow interruptions – your provider is proactively monitoring.
  5. Better Utilization of In-House Resources: Your focus should be on growing your business, not working on IT issues. By outsourcing your IT, you no longer need to split employee focus.

So, Should You Outsource Your IT?

It’s challenging to consider what might be best for your company. Deciding whether to outsource or continue growing an internal team comes with the consideration of many factors. While considering your options, be sure to weigh the pros and cons by ensuring you’re comparing the right services. While it’s important to compare cost and savings, it’s more important to make sure your network is secure and covered across the board.

If you decide it’s time for your business to proceed in outsourcing it’s IT operations, make sure you’re using a checklist that will appropriately compare providers, like this one here! As we’ve stressed before, the cost of outsourced services should not be the most important factor. Reliable, secure and high-quality services are what’s essential to keeping your business up and running. If you have any questions regarding MSP’s and how one can help your business, please feel free to give us a call at 330-750-1428. ECMSI is here to make IT easy!

RANSOMWARE ATTACKS: HOW ARE YOU PROTECTING YOUR BUSINESS?

How do you truly protect your business? Here’s our checklist:

  • A major vector for an attack is an attachment in an email. You can do a couple things to safeguard from this vector. First, scan all attachments with a good anti malware solution and make sure the definitions are up to date and your solution provider has some protection from zero day attacks. Secondly, and maybe most important, is to train your staff to be weary of attachments –even if they come from a trusted source. If it looks suspicious, do not open it. If it is something that you feel may be important or it appears to come from someone you know, contact them and ask if they sent it. Another related vector is malicious websites that are a conduit for malware. Be sure your anti malware solution can block suspicious websites and web links.
  • Have a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policy and a solution of managing and mitigating the impact these devices have on the security of your environment. You need control over the notebooks, mobile devices, and tablets that enter your network. Your solution must provide you with sufficient visibility into what’s connected to your network and what those devices are doing. You need to be able to enforce policies that prevent users from accessing compromised websites or downloading suspicious files.
  • Run modern operating systems. Systems like Windows 7 may be user favorites and may support some legacy applications, but they are the cyber criminals’ dream. They lack the sophisticated built-in defenses found in operating systems like Windows 10. If your business uses Macs, you are not immune. Be sure to get users on the latest version of Mac OS as quickly as possible.
  • Patch every server, network device and endpoint with the latest security patch. This is critical as it can be an effective vector for attack and many IT departments are lax about patching.
  • Secure your network by deploying a layered approach; protecting your endpoints, network, email, and DNS layer. Do not ignore IoT devices. They are vulnerabilities too! They’re often ignored or even unknown to the IT department, but by removing simple points of vulnerability, you can effectively block the attack before it enters your infrastructure.
  • Protect your assets by segmenting your network to prevent an attack from being able to spread. Segmented networks will limit the number of resources that that can be attacked from a single entry point. This also allows you to deploy the strongest defenses where the highest value services and data reside without burdening the entire network with the expense and complexity of these defenses. This is all intended to ensure that your entire network is not compromised in a single attack and any damage that does occur is in the lowest value portions of the infrastructure.
  • Closely monitor network activity. This allows you to identify patterns of attacks before they can cause real damage. Deploy a good Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) tool and use it.
  • Most importantly, have a business continuity plan that details how to respond in the event of an attack. Carefully choreograph all the steps you need to take and what your users need to do to be sure they do not make the situation worse and are ready to resume work once your systems are back online. Core to this plan is a disaster recovery solution that is designed to restore your critical business functions quickly enough to avoid the effect of a prolonged outage. This is your life vest when all else fails and the criminal gains sufficient access to your systems to cause major damage. It is the only option available today that can foil every known attack.
  • Orchestration eliminates the panic by allowing you to rely on a pre-planned, automated, and tested recovery. To be effective, the business continuity solution needs to continuously protect your data and has orchestration that automatically restores your entire infrastructure, including servers, network devices and storage to an offsite virtualized environment. The automated orchestration is a key element because it translates to speed and predictability of the restore process when your team is operating under the pressure of an outage.

As we know, ransomware is on the rise and it is clearly here to stay. Ransomware is doing some real damage to businesses, and increasing in its sophistication to better target vulnerabilities. All businesses are at risk unless you take action to lower your susceptibility to an attack. The true fix is an effective business continuity plan that restores your systems and gets users back online as quickly as possible. For more information: Shane Nesbitt, IT Consultant – (330) 750-1428

www.ecmsi.com

Co-Managed IT Services: Your IT team deserves high-impact resources

Your in-house IT team is made up of high-quality technology professionals who support and facilitate the pursuit of your organizational objectives. We applaud them, their efforts, and their commitment to excellence. 

We work alongside your IT department to enable your IT specialists to focus on pro-growth and big- picture IT department goals. Enterprise tools that might have been out of your budget’s reach are now available to you through our partnership. 

IT Director/CIOCEO/CFO
Leading the internal IT department of a growing business is a monumental undertaking. Everything from end-user requests to horizon- level cyberthreats drain your team of resources. You want to leverage your expertise to drive digital transformation in the organization, but time, financial, and manpower constraints are holding you back. We’re here to support you. Your company is highly dependent upon your IT assets, and your internal IT organization keeps those assets running flawlessly. But they’ve let you know that your next big growth steps are going to take a toll on their limited resources. Give your IT organization access to a full complement of IT specialists and tools, freeing up your IT organization’s time and expertise to tackle the high-impact technology challenges you face. 

How does our co-managed IT service work? 

We’re here to do as little or as much for you as needed, but we’re not here to take over or displace your team. We love to work with like-minded IT professionals! 

Our supplemental IT services team accomplishes the daily tasks so that your resources can tackle the projects that are piling up and slowing your forward momentum. 

  • Infrastructure management
  • Antivirus management
  • Patch management
  • System updates
  • Backup verification and monitoring
  • Vendor management
  • Backup management

Keep your IT staff—Let us fill in the gaps 

A co-managed agreement gives you access to a full team of professionals to support your internal IT resources. Our clients lean on the niche specializations of our team for everything from daily IT tasks to helping with project rollouts. 

The benefits of co-managed services 

Leverage economy of scale with advanced IT management technologies: Tools that may have been out of reach or out of your budget now become available to you. Rollout our tools on day one—no need to wait for training. We can immediately begin to monitor and manage on your behalf, increasing efficiency across your IT department. Access to other solutions out of our stack enables you to drive higher efficiency while saving your the investment in those tools. 

Retain institutional expertise and knowledge: What your internal IT organization brings to the table is irreplaceable. Keep your current team happy and in place while giving them the support and tools they need to get more done. 

Keep IT department budgets in check: If the wages, benefits, and tax obligations associated with hiring additional in-house IT professionals are not in the budget, that’s OK! We’ll fill in the gap. We offer customized pricing geared specifically to your requirements of our team. 

Access IT specialties: Your internal IT specialists have a wealth of knowledge and skill, but no one can know it all. Our co-management specialists are happy to add their expertise in niche areas to your already-robust knowledge base. 

Obtain after-hours and vacation coverage: Your IT team members deserve their time off. Our co-managed services ensure they can get the rest and relaxation that they need to be at the top of their game. 

Gain some breathing room and space to grow: Your internal IT organization has to have the capacity to grow with the company. If your in-house IT team is bogged down and overworked, they can’t help you achieve your objectives. 

Do you think your team could benefit from co-managed services? We’re here to talk about it! Find out what it’s like to have a true partner in IT, and not just another service provider.

https://www.ecmsi.com/internal-it.html

Keep Your Business Thriving in a World of Risks

Managed security can protect your Business from cyber attacks.

In the early 2000s, cybersecurity risks began to increase in their effectiveness, but antivirus (AV) solutions kept small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) safe. With AV updates, employee training, and software patching, most SMBs were able to avoid the worst of cyberattacks—until now. 

Incidents like the WannaCry ransomware attack, which affected organizations across the globe, served as wake-up calls for many that cyberthreats are changing, and many companies still aren’t prepared. Many SMB owners know someone who’s been forced to pay a ransom to retrieve data or even had to shut down because data and systems were too costly to restore or weren’t restored as promised. Still others have experienced cleanup costs from other malware attacks. 

Many SMB owners think they won’t be targeted due to their size or small attack surface. Yet as this chart shows, that simply isn’t the case. Cybercriminals increasingly target SMBs, as it much easier to circumnavigate their defenses than those of enterprise companies. 

The Truth About Security for Your Small to Mid-sized Business

Yes, you are a target: 43% of all cyberattacks targeted small to medium-size business (SMB) operations in 2018. Source: Verizon. Here’s why: Many cyberattackers see SMBs as an easy entry into their larger customers. SMBs were responsible for the Target and JPMorgan Chase data breaches. Even if they aren’t targeting larger partners, cybercriminals can still make money off SMBs who have valuable data (and they almost all have valuable data). 
You may not know you’ve been hit: It takes companies an average of 279 days to realize they’ve been hit by a data breach, increasing the business harm. SMB clean-up costs are high: The average cost of a data breach for organizations with fewer than 500 employees was $2.74M in 2018. 
Did you know?: Of all SMBs that are attacked, 60% do not reopen.

The Risks Your SMB Faces Grow Every Day 

Connections are growing: Businesses are using more devices, applications, and cloud services than ever before. Shadow IT is a real problem: Your employees are likely using more cloud services than you know about, creating a blind spot for your IT team and your organization’s security. 
Passwords are a weak link: Employees often reuse passwords across accounts and use easy-to-guess passwords. Human error is hard to prevent: Your employees may use public Wi-Fi to do their work, accidentally click on phishing emails, or share sensitive data on cloud services or flash drives. 
The latest threats elude AV: Weaponized documents, fileless threats, zero-day threats, and ransomware lack signatures and can slip through scheduled AV scans. You may have compliance risks: If your SMB works in a heavily regulated business, you could face regulator fines in addition to cleanup costs. 
Data sharing: Your partners may not have air-tight security, exposing your data to unauthorized access. 
Businesses today rely on their digital assets increasing security risks.

What You Can Do About Cybersecurity Risks? 

It pays to get tough on cybersecurity. Enhancing your security posture proactively can help you harden your defenses and protect yourself from threats before they hit your company networks and disable your business, systems, and data. 

When you invest in managed security, you get: 

  • A comprehensive solution for all your security needs 
  • Cloud-based solutions that are updated automatically with the latest threat data 
  • The ability to “roll back” any systems hit with ransomware to a pre-infection state 
  • Complete security coverage and simplified cost structures 
  • An end to security management headaches and worries 

Get started with managed security today. 

As soon as you focus on preventing downtime events instead of reacting to them, your IT infrastructure will increase your productivity. EMCSI offers a FREE Network Health Assessment to identify what devices are on your network and where your vulnerabilities lie.  Call Shane Nesbitt, IT Consultant, today to schedule : (330) 750-1428

www.ecmsi.com

Top Five Reasons Companies Are Choosing Managed IT Services

Of all the reasons you started your business, running an IT environment probably wasn’t one of them. But the more you rely on digital tools to connect with customers, plan schedules, keep records, process sales or whatever else you use it for, the more dealing with technology can seem like a full-time job.

That’s especially true with concerns about security on the rise. One recent survey found 62% of small and medium-sized businesses lack the skills to deal with security issues themselves — and 52% felt “helpless” to defend against new cyber-attacks.

You can relieve your burden with a managed IT service arrangement. We take on the responsibility of securing, monitoring, and maintaining your technology so you can focus on your business.

Five top reasons companies are choosing managed IT services

1. Stronger IT security

Businesses face more cyber threats than ever before. It’s hard to keep up as threats evolve — or be confident you’re protected. With a managed service arrangement, we can implement proven layered security processes and always up-to-date solutions to keep your business safe and compliant with data protection laws and regulations. Our approach can cover everything from endpoint protection for your devices to patch management for your applications, password management processes for your team, network firewalls, external vulnerability scanning and more.

2. Strategic budgeting and predictable costs

With managed services, you gain more control over your IT expenses. A cost structure tailored to your business billing means you can budget with confidence instead of incurring unexpected costs when something breaks down. Planned maintenance helps prevent those breakdowns in the first place, and with a partner managing your IT environment, your team can spend less time dealing with IT issues. We can also advise you on technologies to invest in to meet your business goals — so you can plan for those expenditures in advance.

3. Operational efficiency and business growth

With a managed service arrangement, we help ensure you get full value from the technologies you’ve invested in. That means maintaining peak performance of the hardware and software you already own, reducing or eliminating downtime, and strategizing on the tools and systems that will best serve your needs down the road. All of this helps you be more productive and efficient so you can grow your business however you choose

4. Data protection you can count on

Power outages, fires, floods, pandemics, and other unexpected events can disrupt your business in the blink of an eye. To get back up and running as quickly as possible, you need a rigorous, well-designed data backup and protection plan. We can put in place business recovery measures that protect you against data loss even if something happens to your physical IT equipment.

5. Proactive Approach

Ultimately, the managed IT service approach is all about being proactive: anticipating problems instead of reacting to them and keeping your technology working at its best instead of waiting for it to break down. This brings you greater security, productivity and return on your technology investments — and also peace of mind

ECMSI is the area’s leading Managed Service Provider with the most proactive IT approach and quickest response time in the industry. To learn more about ECMSI and our services call Shane Nesbitt, IT Consultant, at (330) 750-1428

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Backing Up to the cloud is your best option

The cloud is an important and resourceful business tool that can help organization and productivity. However, some business professionals question the security of the cloud – especially in an environment of ever-evolving cyber threats. Rest assured that the cloud is an effective and secure way of storing your business data – especially your data backups!

Your Tape Backup is Outdated.
A tape backup is a data storage device that reads and writes data on a magnetic tape. For most small to medium sized businesses, tape backups are still utilized. If you’re still relying on your tape backup, chances are your system is incompetent compared to new and emerging backup solutions. If your staff forgets to set your backup to occur every night, you’re running the risk of losing your daily critical data – all due to human error and negligence. Take a backup using tape is a very resource and labor-intensive procedure that can’t be done during business hours.

The Cloud is Superior.
A cloud-based backup solution provides several qualities that an outdated tape backup cannot present. Cloud backup solutions are capable of automatic snapshots of your critical business data. Since this completely eliminates the possibility of human error or negligence, you not only save time but precious business resources. Your network can benefit from the reduced strain of a long backup process by taking multiple backups throughout eth day, rather than one huge backup that can cause an increase in downtime and a decrease in productivity. Cloud backups will track file changes and backup new files as they become available.

ECMSI’s Backup Solution
A managed backup service from ECMSI ensures that all files are automatically backed up as frequently as every 15 minutes if needed. And it will likely cost less than your monthly phone bill. So, how much is your data worth?
Call Shane Nesbitt, IT Consultant, to learn more about ECMSI’s managed services, security services and backup solutions: (330) 750-1428

Email: Is it your business’s weakest link?

Email is one of the most important forms of communication in the business world today. This digital post office gives an organization the chance to communicate not only internally but also to their clients, partners and customers. An organization can use email from marketing, to customer service and everything else in between. Many organizations go to great lengths to protect their email data knowing that there is a lot of company information being exchanged through this medium daily. This makes email the most vulnerable and targeted forms of communication in the cyber world. According to a study done by F-secure, of all hacking attempts, 34% of them are accomplished with phishing and malicious email attachments.

What does this mean for email in the future? Here are what security trends we can expect:

  1. Email based attacks continuing to rise.
  2. The attacks will focus on each company’s network of vendors and customers.
  3. Email authentication will become standard.

Levels of interaction using email is very high, and this always comes with a degree of trust, thus someone targeting a major corporation will attempt to mimic their various clients and vendors. We are already seeing emails that attempt to look like they are from “Microsoft” or “eBay” with fake branding that could make you question and click through. Therefore, we will see an increase in mandatory authentications when accepting an email to be delivered.

Since email is so highly targeted some of the best ways to prevent having your company’s information compromised is training employees to see the malicious activity in their inbox. Most problems can be avoided when your team has the ability to protect themselves and be suspicious as to what they are clicking on. To prevent these emails from ever coming in, companies need to establish a highly secure spam filtering and email encryption service. If spam is consistently infiltrating to your employee’s inbox this could cut productivity and end up costing your business.

Small to medium sized business who have not devoted the time to securing their email will be huge targets and could run into some major issues soon. These firms need to ensure they have proper spam filtering in place that will filter out all suspicious emails with strange domains. Those businesses that may be dealing with important financial or health information will need to ensure their emails are encrypted and cannot be compromised that could potentially even lead to legal issues.

ECMSI is here to answer any questions or concerns you may have about your organizations email network. Call today and schedule your FREE Network Health Assessment: (330) 750-1428

Making IT Easy