Managed IT Services

Disaster Response Time

If you’ve ever been in the unfavorable position of seeing your business IT infrastructure compromised, you understand the necessity of an expedient response from your IT vendor. If you haven’t, thank goodness. Unfortunately, the rise in the number of successful web-based attacks increases the odds of you facing this situation sometime in the future.

Successful businesses protect themselves against known risks. So, how do you best prepare for the eventuality of your company network being attacked? Another way to ask this questions is: What are the elements of a good disaster preparedness plan that ensure the fastest response time?

At Beacon, we hang our hat on two essential elements when working with clients to secure their IT infrastructure: experienced live technicians, and a properly-configured remote tool kit.

Live Technicians Make All the Difference

It’s natural and easy to become reliant on technology. Humans have done this at every stage of our evolution. An appropriate present day example is the societal discussion taking place around automation. It’s true – robots and artificial intelligence may very well be the components that someday revolutionize the workplace.

But, even the smartest tech leaders of the most forward-looking companies are re-learning the value of human capital. As Elon Musk, the CEO of the upstart carmaker Tesla, recently acknowledged, there is such a thing as over-automation. It turns out that the key to ramping up the production of Tesla’s highly-anticipated Model 3 is not more robots, but more people.

We’ve always placed a high value on highly personal customer service. In fact, the calling card of Beacon’s IT services is the ability of clients to receive live assistance immediately.

If you’re faced with a cyber attack that took down your network, you don’t want to be reduced to leaving voice mails to your IT vendor. Or worse, relying on a corrupted or compromised network to figure out what’s what. You want to be speaking with a real expert right away, not three hours from now. It is this step that’s going to be the difference between restoring your network in minutes, rather than days.

Remote Tools Help Your Network Recover Quickly

Hopefully, your firewall solution is good enough to keep out any unsavory characters. But, if we’ve learned anything about IT security in the last few years, it’s that breaches can – and do – happen despite the most robust security setups.

If your defenses have been penetrated, what helps you get your systems back online the fastest is a responsive data backup system (that you had the foresight to install prior to the attack). There are two setups that yield the best results: local virtualization and cloud backup. Both can get you back online within hours, if not minutes.

Local virtualization relies upon an on-site device that’s connected to your network. In case of a breach, the device is automatically quarantined. It is then used to restore access to your data by transferring the data to a “clean” server, or by acting as a server itself.

The second method is similar to the first. The difference is in the way the backed up data is stored and accessed. In local virtualization, the backup data can be accessed locally, on the backup device.

With the cloud backup, your data is sent to the cloud at selected time intervals – could be as often as once an hour. The task can be scheduled for non-business hours or overnight, so it does not interrupt normal business operations. If the need arises, you can access the saved data from a cloud portal – a secure, dedicated web page. In this manner, you’re able to restore individual files; or, in a disaster recovery scenario, activate servers in the cloud to replicate the compromised servers on site. In some scenarios, cloud servers can even be set up to mimic the function of your on-site servers, allowing authorized users to access the data the way they normally would.

Is Your Network Protected From Today Exploits? 

If you’re not sure, give BITS a call at 336.546.6660. We’ll be happy to talk to you about your IT security concerns. Our team is experienced in crafting customized solutions for the most stringent requirements.

By | 2018-05-15T11:49:08+00:00 May 15th, 2018|BITS Team, IT Services|

Lessons in Cyber Security & Threat Prevention

Atlanta Ransomware Attack

The ransomware attack that took hostage a number of vital computer systems in Atlanta last month wreaked havoc on residents and sent the city’s administration scrambling. What can we learn from the situation?

Considering that city officials were aware as early as last summer that “severe and critical vulnerabilities” existed within the municipality’s computer network, the biggest takeaway is: DON’T WAIT to shore up your cyber security.

We’re not in the business of beating dead horses. And, surely, Atlanta officials have their hands full orchestrating the recovery from the attack and trying to return vital operations back to normal. Nonetheless, the fact that a 2017 internal city audit revealed an utter lack of preparedness to manage any sort of cyber threat should not go unmentioned.

What that means is the March 22 attack wasn’t a technology problem. As with most hacking efforts, it’s not the code that sinks you – it’s the human element that’s exploited for criminal gain. In this case, the human element was the inability of city administrators to respond to known threats. Not only was the city not equipped to handle an attack on its networks, it also didn’t have a proper response plan ready.

The number of ransomware attacks spiked sharply in the last year. So, if you don’t have an updated plan for your organization’s network security, you may very well be the next target of SamSam – the group responsible for the Atlanta situation – or another criminal outfit.

The good news is that there’s an army of cyber security professionals who are very skilled at crafting customized solutions. We, at Beacon, have been good at it for quite a while.

Protection Through Prevention

The best way to avoid a ransomware attack is to make sure that your network has a sufficiently strong firewall in place. A firewall identifies incoming web traffic and filters any suspicious or unapproved activity. The effectiveness of any firewall depends on how well it is configured. Typically, large networks require complex firewall configurations and a team of IT specialists for maintenance and monitoring.

Firewalls are great at protecting against known threats. However, new hacking techniques are developed every day. To defend against these zero-day exploits and other sophisticated attacks, IT pros deploy advanced automated audits that boot the threat off the targeted network. About 80% of current Beacon clients rely on this type of advanced protection. And, ideally, that number would be 100%.

Of course, even the most well-designed security setups can be breached. Criminal hackers know that people are the weakest link in network security and design attacks to take advantage of unwitting networks users. (There’s that human element again.) However, the odds of such attacks succeeding are low if your organization takes security awareness training seriously. Security seminars should be made available to every person on staff, and be repeated at least once every three years.

Recovery: It’s Good to Have a Back-Up Plan

Let’s be honest – sometimes hackers succeed even when you’ve done everything right. If that happens, you don’t want to find yourself in the same position as the folks in Atlanta. Backing up your network will protect you in case of a catastrophe.

While the concept is simple, data backup is actually a fairly complex process that takes considerable forethought. You’ll need to decide how often your network needs to be backed up (hourly, daily, weekly, etc). You’ll also have to examine how long your organization can go without access to your data.

A busy medical center, for example, would need to have its data backed up hourly to capture changing patient statuses, doctor’s orders, prescriptions, etc. With lives at stake, it would also be imperative to restore access to that data as quickly as possible.

Organizations that don’t deal with life and death issues would probably have less stringent requirements for their data protection plan.

We’re Here to Help

Have questions about your company’s cyber security? Give BITS a call at 336.546.6660, and we’ll be happy to talk to you about your concerns and data protection needs.

By | 2018-04-12T11:22:11+00:00 April 12th, 2018|IT Services|

What to do if Your Business is Victimized by Ransomware

Your computer is acting funny. You can’t access certain files. Then, you receive a pop-up message. You read the message only to learn that your data has been encrypted and you no longer have access to it – UNLESS you send a large wad of cash to the hijacker in unmarked bit-bills.

Unfortunately, bitcoin payments don’t arrive with dye packs that blow up on delivery. So, how do you get access to your data? What do you do when your business has been attacked by a hacker with ill intent?

Step One: Don’t panic.

First and foremost, remove the infected computer from your network.

Before complying with any demands, you may wish to verify the existence of malware. Hackers have been known to create threats that aren’t really there, all for the express purpose of extorting money from you. The hope is that you never actually check to verify that a threat really exists. Hackers rely on you to panic and pay the fee without thinking. So, take a deep breath and…

Step Two: Run an anti-malware scanner to check for an infection.

Reboot your computer and run it in safe mode. This will enable you to run your anti-malware software. If the ransomware is fairly innocuous, your anti-malware software will be able to remove it. Once you know that’s the case, there’s no harm and no reason to pay the hacker. Then, your next step is to…

Step Three: Develop a prevention strategy so that you won’t have to go through this again.

Call the IT experts at Beacon and we’ll check your network for other vulnerabilities. We’ll copy your hard drive, desk top files and applications and install a backup system that protects you from future malware attacks.

If you’re unable to remove the insurgent threat, you should attempt to….

Step Four: Identify the ransomware.

If the anti-malware application will not remove the threat, your next step is to identify the ransomware. You can do this through ID Ransomware. Upload the ransom note, forward a file that cannot be opened or simply input an email address from your network. This free website can often identify the ransomware that has encrypted your data.

If ID Ransomware fails to identify the ransomware type, there are decryption tools that may be able to help you unlock your files. There are decrypters available to combat ransomware such as Locky, HydraCrypt, CryptoLocker, and Petya. You’ll be taking a shot in the dark so to speak, but if you hit on the right one, you’ll be able to unlock your files.

If not, we suggest that you…

Step Five: Go Back to Step Three and Call Beacon

By now, you may have decided to pay the ransom. While we don’t recommend doing so, only you know what this ordeal is costing you in lost revenue and/or reputation. If circumstances dictate it, one cannot be blamed for protecting one’s customers by paying the ransom. However, the IT team at Beacon can put the kind of prevention plan in place that best fits your need and budget, protects you and your customers and prevents the same kind of mishap from every happening again.

Get a free assessment of your network. Contact me directly or speak with a member of our IT team at 336-447-3379. We’ll make sure you’ve got the necessary system in place to protect you from ransomware threats so that you can focus on your core business.

By | 2018-03-13T06:50:05+00:00 March 12th, 2018|IT Services|

Crypto Currency: Ransomware & Your Vulnerability

Crypto mining is not against the law, nor is it a nefarious activity. At least not most of the time. But in order to fully understand why crypto mining can be a problem, we need to start from the beginning.

Our story starts with the creation of a crypto currency called “Bitcoin”.  Like Paypal, Bitcoin is an online transaction system. Unlike Paypal, Bitcoin is decentralized or “open source”. In other words, it’s open to all users, meaning any developer can modify the code that makes the software do what it does. However, all modifications must pass muster with the software’s lead developer, Gavin Andresen.

With Paypal, each transaction is authenticated by a single authority or custodian. By contrast, Bitcoin uses something called a blockchain. A blockchain is a public record sent to everyone in the network. When a transaction occurs, the computers in the network automatically adjust the balances of the addresses involved in the transaction. The beauty of this system is that it’s impossible for anyone to edit and makes for a permanent record of the transaction.

What Crypto Miners Do

Crypto miners are computers along that chain. Their sole purpose is to donate their processing power, enabling verification of transactions included in the current “block”. Once that is complete, a new block is created and a new public record is distributed. In exchange for use of their CPU power, crypto miners receive 12.5 Bitcoins for every ten minutes of processing power.

Being that crypto mining is computationally intensive, it requires resources that far exceed your average laptop computer (although in Bitcoin’s infancy, that wasn’t the case). It requires dedicated processors, graphic cards and more. There is overhead involved in mining currency.

Cryptocurrency Malware

As a way to circumvent these costs, disreputable miners developed malware that can imitate the botnets that normally perform this function. This malware can hijack your CPU and slow everything down – sometimes to a halt. Delivery of crypto malware can occur through all of the usual means – spam emails, links and unwanted applications.

And then there’s Ransomware

These same malwares can present themselves in the form of ransomware. Ransom is always requested in Bitcoin or any of the other 700+ cryptocurrencies around today. The reason for this is simple. Cryptocurrency works with complete anonymity. You can’t trace the sender or the receiver.

Develop a Plan

At Beacon, that’s what we do. As IT professionals, we work with you to ensure the safety and security of your online business.  Get a free website security assessment or contact us at 336.447.3473 with any questions regarding your businesses’ IT needs. Together, we can develop a prevention plan that’ll keep your proprietary information in and cyber criminals out.

By | 2017-12-11T11:36:53+00:00 December 8th, 2017|IT Services|

Is Hacktivism a Problem for Your Business?

Back in the 80’s, when someone hacked a website, they left a message not unlike graffiti. “Hackers rule” or something silly like that. It was relatively harmless. These days, hackers have grown up and hack with resolve. If they should deem your website or business counter to their beliefs, you could find yourself out of business within days.

Research suggests that 1 in 5 hackers are hacktivists. That is, their motivation for hacking is activism. Some of this activity may be seen as productive. For example, a hacker once created an open source software that enabled people in China to circumvent government censorship. Through the use of this software, one could access restricted websites such as CNN or Amnesty International, even in countries where it had been banned by government.

However, there is a dark side to hacktivism. Hackers often use open source hacking tools to penetrate Windows networks and employ “denial of service” attacks to bring down legitimate businesses. Essentially, a “denial of service” or DoS attack bombards a server with more requests than it can handle until it ceases functioning. More effective than a traditional protest or picket line, a DoS attack can cut off a business’s sole source of online revenue, crippling it in the process. DoS attacks can be implemented through email spam, downloads and various other methods.

These open source tools go by names such as Social Engineer Toolkit, John the Ripper and Metasploit. Anyone can use them and they’re readily available for download online. Go ‘head. Perform a Google search and see for yourself. It’s more than a little bit scary.

Here’s a number that’s scarier, still. 60% of small businesses call it quits within 6 months of a cyber attack. Don’t be one of them. Follow a few simple precautions.

  1. Use the latest versions of software. Software updates ensure that vulnerabilities identified by the author have been addressed. If a software doesn’t have a recent update, then it may be wise to seek an alternative software.
  2. Make sure security extends across mediums. Anything connected to your network needs to be secure including cell phones and tablets. Use of a PIN code is highly desirable.
  3. Don’t rely on W-Fi. It’s risky and easily exploited. Make sure that employees use a VPN when accessing the network off-site. A VPN (or virtual private network) provides a layer of security as one must log on before being able to access an open wireless network.
  4. Educate employees. Just today, users of a common browser cleaner called CCleaner learned that the latest version has been compromised when hackers breached the author’s security. As a result, CCleaner version 5.3 not only contains software updates but a multi-stage malware payload. Approximately 2.27 million users are affected. Make sure your employees know what they should and should not download on their work stations. Create a list of approved tools.
  5. Be proactive. Develop a risk management plan. Identify your vulnerabilities and most valuable assets. Develop a strategy to secure the most valuable information first and work from there.

For certain business markets, hacktivism is an obvious threat. A fur business knows it has to protect itself from PETA activists. Political parties must protect themselves from their ideological counterparts.

For some of us however, the answer isn’t quite so obvious. So, consider the worst case scenario. If you were to lose your most important asset to a network hack, could you overcome it?

Feel free to leave a comment or email me with your thoughts and ideas on hacktivism. If you think your business is at risk and wish to take action to protect it, call me at 336.447.3473.

By | 2017-10-03T05:21:30+00:00 September 17th, 2017|IT Services|

Do Your Employees Hide Cybersecurity Incidents?

While advanced hackers may use malware, they often start by attempting to exploit the easiest point of entry. This typically includes phishing emails similar to the Google Docs email link that had Google on its toes recently.

If your employees leave events such as this unreported, the consequences could be devastating to your cybersecurity. With that in mind, let’s discuss some things you can do to mitigate your company’s exposure. From office culture to properly managed hosting, there are steps you can take to prevent a cybersecurity meltdown.

Is this problem unique to small business?

In fact, businesses of all sizes experience vulnerability from within. A recent report indicates that while roughly 40% of employees working with medium size companies hide incidents, the percentage drops significantly with companies of under 50 employees. This makes a great deal of sense. Here’s why.

Office culture plays a significant role in incident disclosure.

A smaller staff generally means a more easily controlled office culture. There are fewer people to educate or inform. This becomes evident when one looks at businesses of less than 50 employees. Here, the incident rate drops to roughly 30%.

The message one conveys to office staff is of paramount importance. It should be one of education, not punishment. Ask yourself why employees hide a potential breach. The answer is simple. Fear. If an employee is threatened with termination for such a mistake, it is clearly in their best interests to sweep it under the rug.

To summarize, take an educational approach to your cybersecurity office culture. Emphasize responsibility while reducing fear of punitive consequences. You’ll be amazed at the difference it makes.

Take reasonable security measures.

Start with basic password protection. Require that users re-log in after periods of inactivity. Restrict use of the office network for business. File sharing of a personal nature or access to inappropriate content begs for a security breach. When working remotely, employees should be working through a company VPN requiring a robust password.

Make sure your security software is up to date.

Set up appropriate firewalls and make sure that your IT department or hosting partner has an intrusion detection and monitoring system in place. Make sure that they are staying on top of anti-virus updates and installing patches accordingly.

Questions about your company’s cybersecurity?

If cybersecurity is an issue you’re giving thought to, give the folks at Beacon a ring. Call one of our team members at 336.447.3473 or send me an email. Better yet, take our FREE network assessment and let us help you understand your current state of vulnerability and what you can do about it.

By | 2017-08-31T11:45:18+00:00 September 6th, 2017|IT Services|

Cybersecurity Threats & Trends

Despite significant investment in cybersecurity, businesses are seeing more cyber-attacks that ever before. Remember back to Black Friday, October 21. We saw the largest DDoS attack of its kind, bringing down sites such as Twitter, Netflix and CNN. And things are trending worse.

There were almost 1000 reported data breaches in 2016 according to the ITRC (Identity Theft Resource Center). In 2015, there were under 800. That’s about a 25% increase in reported incidents. Noting past threats and recognizing trends can be an important part in deterring future intrusions.

“Call now and we’ll send you a second set of ransomware free!!”

Almost 60% of ransomware infections were found to have been delivered through email and infected email transmissions increased by a whopping 6000% last year. Yes, that’s three zeroes.

Perhaps worst of all, many of those who were adversely affected simply considered it the cost of doing business. Nearly 70% of those hit paid the ransom. Look at these numbers (particularly the last one) and you can see why this will remain a problem. Hackers have every reason to continue a very profitable activity. There’s an underground market for open source ransomware, too.

In fact, anyone can build and launch ransomware from their own home. Buying a kit on the dark web is almost like shopping on late night TV. Yesterday’s ShamWOW is today’s AKBuilder ransomware kit. As a result, the threat of cyber-attacks has the potential to increase 10 fold in 2017.

Employee Error: Loose Lips Sink Ships

There’s a huge underground market for access to email accounts, phone numbers and private data, as we all know. Even on a locked iPhone, one can gain access through voice-activated commands.

Additionally, irresponsible use of mobile devices by employees continues to be a problem. Remember “jailbreaking” your iPhone? Some of those who chose to do so unwittingly sent their personal information to a server in China. Even foreign governments are in the hacking business.

What kind of name is Siri, anyway? Does she sound American?

“Hacktivism” is Here to Stay

If you run almost any kind of business, you may be in the crosshairs of a group representing a cause or political objective. These groups are becoming increasingly hostile towards those with alternative viewpoints and have been embracing the idea of hacking the sites of their adversaries.

We’re all familiar with WikiLeaks and the CIA debacle. One can debate whether the cause is good or bad. One cannot (or should not, in my view) condone cyber theft under any circumstances.  But as a society, we often look the other way when it suits us. As long as that’s the case, this problem will persist.

The Last Word

If you’re in the process of evaluating your network security and/or stability, I invite you to contact Beacon directly and speak with a BITS specialist. We’re happy to answer any questions and get you started on protecting your business’ proprietary information. Call us at 336.232.5675 or email klackey@beacontec.com.

By | 2017-08-21T09:12:22+00:00 August 21st, 2017|IT Services|

Is It Time to Move to a Cloud Based Server?

Applications are running slower. Productivity is suffering. So, you’ve decided to face the music and  update your network servers. But your business partner is singing a different tune. He wants to go with what’s trendy. It’s what all the kids are talking about, he says. It’s called Cloud Hosting.

In our respective business spaces, we all want to be the Rolling Stones, not Gnarls Barkley*.  With that in mind, do we go with the traditional dedicated server or the trendy, cloud server? Cloud server vs. dedicated Server. You can look at this as the IT version of American Idol or, for the baby boomers among us, Dick Clark’s American Bandstand.

Cloud Hosting – One Hit Wonder or Here to Stay?

Are cloud based servers the one hit wonders of IT or are they in it for the long haul? Before we proclaim cloud hosting as the greatest thing since The Beatles, let’s examine the pros and cons.

What are the Advantages of Cloud Servers?

Backup & Recovery – This is a huge upside, especially for small and medium size businesses. Backup is automatic and Cloud based backup service requires no large up-front investment. In the event of an unexpected event, disaster recovery is as easy as 1-2-3.

Software Updates Are Automatic – Providers roll out regular software updates so you don’t have to. This includes the all-important security updates. Best of all, it frees up more time for business as usual.

Low Upfront Cost – Cloud servers are subscription based so there is no upfront hardware expense. You simply pay as you go.

Remote Workstations – You can have access to your documents or desktop from anywhere. Additionally, you can offer remote opportunities to employees, making it easier to attract the best talent.

Security – Lost a laptop? No problem. As well as having the safeguard of a cloud backup, one can wipe data from a lost laptop so proprietary information doesn’t find its way to a competitor.

This is just a short list. There are other advantages, too.

What are the disadvantages of a cloud based server?

Downtime – You are at the mercy of your internet connection. When it’s offline, so are you. If your connection is reliable, then all is good. But, if you’ve experienced frequent outages in the past, think carefully before you take the plunge.

Data Breach – While hosting companies have made significant strides in this area, hacking still occurs. Despite added security features, your data is not 100% secure here or anywhere, for that matter.

Data Transfer Costs – While transferring data to the cloud is generally free, you should be aware that outbound data transfers over the basic monthly allowance of the agreement are charged a fee.

The Votes Are In

If this were American Idol, we’d invite this contestant back. In American Bandstand terms, it’s got a good beat and you can dance to it.

How ‘Bout a Dedicated Server?

Dedicated servers are like Elvis. At one time, they were the hippest thing out there. And let’s face it, who doesn’t want “a hunk, a hunk, o’ burnin’ love”? I know I do. But there’s a little bit more to it than that. So, let’s look at the advantages and disadvantages of having your own dedicated servers.

What Are the Advantages of Designated Servers?

It’s Dedicated (Not Shared) – In some cases, the resources of a single cloud server can be tried by other clients who suck up CPU and RAM. This cannot happen with a dedicated server, by definition.

Performance – Since you know that you’re not sharing the server with tons of other people’s traffic, performance should be great. However, if you’re seeing a large influx of your own traffic, you may have outgrown it.

Unique IP Address – On a cloud server, you share an IP address. If your neighbor is spammy, your performance, rankings and more could be adversely affected. This is never an issue with your own dedicated network server.

What Are the Drawbacks of Designated Servers?

CostUpfront cost can be prohibitive.You’re purchasing a lot of hardware that, in the case of a cloud hosting arrangement, resides elsewhere.

MaintenanceUnless IT is a core competence of yours, you’ll need a full-time IT staff or someone to troubleshoot problems as they arise. You’ll incur expense from tech support as well as possible revenue gaps from downtime.

The Kids Are Alright

Just as with cloud services, we’d invite them back. And the kids say you can dance to this, too. Truth is, either solution may be right for you depending on your organization’s individual and unique needs. Feel free to contact us at 336.447.3473 with any questions regarding your server needs and situation. One of our BITS experts can help you determine which solution is best for you and help punch your ticket to your own Rock n Roll Hall of Fame.

*Gnarls Barkley’s “Crazy” peaked at #2 in the charts in 2006. The duo never made it to the top 40 again.

By | 2017-08-07T11:15:57+00:00 August 7th, 2017|Hosting Services, IT Services|

What is a Firewall and Why Do I Need One?

If you’re like most people, you know what a firewall does on a very basic level. However, many are unclear as to how they work – and in some cases, if they have one enabled in their network. Below, we’ll discuss the whys and wherefores regarding firewall protection and provide some clarity to anyone asking “Do I need a firewall?”.

What Is a Firewall?

Your network security depends on a gatekeeper to sort out those who wish to communicate with or access your business network for legitimate reasons from those whose intentions are less than ethical.  A Control model defines what type of traffic the firewall allows to pass and which traffic is denied access. Some types of firewalls include:

  • Access Control Lists
  • Proxy
  • Next Generation (NGFW)

Access Control Lists

Access control lists or ACLs perform a basic function. Through some very simple rules, they determine network access based on IP addresses. However, ACLs provide only the most basic information on incoming traffic and are not nearly adequate enough to filter out traffic threats.

Proxy Firewalls

Acting as a middleman of sorts, a proxy firewall can make more intelligent decisions. The proxy firewall vets the incoming communication and determines its legitimacy.  If it decides to grant access, the information is repackaged with the proxy server as the source address. This is referred to as packet filtering. This process breaks the one to one connection between the two computers so that there is a single gateway between the network and the rest of the WWW.

Next Generation Firewalls

While the description above is a gross simplification of the process, one can easily envision hackers finding a way around a firewall through development of more sophisticated malware. Next generation firewalls (NGFWs) are even more sophisticated, combining traditional firewall protection with added filtering functionalities. They can be more granular in their inspection of incoming traffic and can detect more sophisticated application specific attacks, for example.

Why Do I Need Firewall Protection?

Make no mistake about it, hackers would love to compromise your POS system and harvest your customer’s credit card data. Some may simply want to hijack your high speed connection to send out spam email or viruses. Either way, they can do tremendous damage to your company’s reputation.

A firewall provides protection against session hacking, viruses, malicious worms and identity theft, among other things. Here are just a few of the bigger threats that are out there:

  • Viruses and their after effects
  • POS Intrusions
  • Hacking
  • Phishing (Identity Theft)
  • Denial of Service (DoS) attacks
  • Rootkits (Spyware)
  • Ransomware

Even next generation firewalls (NGFWs) aren’t 100% effective. It may be advantageous to review your current network firewall setup to ensure that the network security you currently have in place isn’t outdated. When it comes to network threats, it is often more cost effective to be proactive rather than reactive.

What Can BITS do for your business to ensure your network security?

With over 20 years’ experience in network security, the BITS team of network security experts can ensure that your network is protected from hackers, viruses and the many other security risks that exist. Working with primarily small and medium sized businesses, our network consultants can assess your current situation, install a brand new hardware based firewall or make recommended changes to your existing network security.

Take the first step to ensuring your businesses’ network security by getting a FREE network assessment from the IT professionals at Beacon. Or, call 336.447.3473. Either way, you can rest assured that you’ve taken the first step to securing your computer network from the increasingly sophisticated threats that await.

 

 

By | 2017-07-12T07:49:27+00:00 July 6th, 2017|IT Services|

Which is Better; Hosted Email or Local Email?

The importance of a sound email system for your business cannot be overstated. Each has its advantages. And while both hosted and local email solutions have their advantages, a 3rd party hosted solution has been an option exclusive to larger companies with more substantive budgets.  The good news is that a hosted email solution is no longer out of reach to small and medium sized businesses. The only question is….

Which email solution works best for your individual needs, Hosted Email or Local Email?

If you’re in the process of auditing your current email delivery solution, you may have noticed that the landscape has changed considerably since the last time you considered your alternatives. In the past, the biggest obstacle to those who prefer a hosted email solution has been cost. This may be the biggest change in the past several years. Blackberry devices are no longer popularly used, hence the decreasing costs of support for these devices. Support for newer Android devices is a bit more reasonable. Additionally, mailbox limits have increased significantly for many hosted services. Still, both hosted email and local email solutions have their distinct advantages.

The Balance Sheet: Hosted email vs. Local Email

When faced with a decision such as this one, I like to make a balance sheet or “plus and minus” list, if you will. You’ll find just such an exercise below. Here’s the advantages and disadvantages of each, starting with hosted email.

HOSTED

Advantages

  • No need to purchase a software license.
  • No need for an internal server or a designated resource to maintain it.
  • You can get your email off site if/when network is down.
  • Spam filter is included.
  • Dedicated support.

Disadvantages

  • Monthly fee per user.
  • Phone access is extra.

LOCAL

Advantages

  • No mailbox limit.
  • No email phone costs.

Disadvantages

  • You need to run a server.
  • You’ll need a dedicated resource to maintain said server.
  • You’ll need to purchase spam filter software.

I’ve kept this list as general as possible so as to appeal to as wide a business audience as possible. That having been said, hosting services vary considerably in the features, services and support they provide.  If you’re in the process of evaluating which option or looking for a great IT provider, I invite you to contact Beacon directly and speak with a BITS specialist. We’re happy to answer any questions, provide needed detail and discuss alternatives. Call us at 336.232.5675 or email klackey@beacontec.com.

 

By | 2017-07-10T09:10:34+00:00 June 20th, 2017|IT Services|
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