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BITS is the IT team you trust to keep your workstations and computer networks protected and running at peak capacity. Quick, responsive and experienced, we make sure our clients stay operational and informed, 24/7. From managed IT services, to threat prevention and data recovery, BITS provides a piece of mind and the technical know-how to keep your business humming.

Take it From Facebook: You Need a Cybersecurity Action Plan

Picture this:

Years from now, you’re sharing a holiday with your family. After overhearing you reminisce and discuss how unpredictable the beginning of the 2020s was–and hopefully how wonderful the rest of the decade was–a child in the family looks up from their tablet and asks you:

“So, were you there for the great Facebook blackout of October 2021?”

Okay, you got us; we’re exaggerating. A kid wouldn’t ask that, and the chances we will be discussing this month’s six-hour Facebook outage in a decade is improbable. However, any time a significant internet player experiences such a sudden, long-lasting interruption, the situation is ripe for an examination, especially because October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month. It’s like they knew!

It also goes to show how quickly the stories (real & fake) will travel, especially if you have an outage. Nobody wants this type of PR!

Why Did Facebook Go Down?

(A) Were the Facebook platform and its owned subsidiaries hacked by an outsider cybersecurity threat?

(B) Was it an inside job due to Facebook’s continued legal and ethical struggles perpetuated by a company whistleblower?

(C) Was it just a stunt to celebrate the coincidence of October as the month dedicated to cybersecurity awareness?

(Spoiler: we think that last one is highly unlikely.)

Here is what we do know, a few weeks after the event:

On Monday, October 4th, 2021, at around noon, the Facebook outage began. Most of the social media juggernaut’s services–including internal company communications and systems–were down due to “networking issues” until approximately 6:08 pm EDT when services finally resumed. Until then, curious internet sleuths–like the team here at Beacon IT Services (BITS)–monitored sites like DNSChecker.org with curiosity, speculating on what caused the tech giant’s DNS routing information to go missing.

The following day, Facebook engineers revealed that a “configuration issue” with their data centers caused their DNS servers to go down. As far as we know, this wasn’t the result of a “hacker,” disgruntled employee, or a strange tribute to National Cybersecurity Month. The issue occurred during the everyday upkeep of the company’s backbone connection between its data centers.

Yep. It was an accident. And frankly, it could happen to anyone.

Facebook was not the only online platform affected. Instagram, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and the virtual reality platform Oculus suffered from Facebook’s downtime. As a result, thousands of businesses across these platforms lost advertising revenue over the six-hour outage, which also hurt the businesses that rely on Facebook for advertising and services. The outage had a domino effect that interfered with much more than your ability to scroll through your Facebook timeline.

Coincidentally, the popular live-streaming platform Twitch (owned by Amazon) suffered from a leak of confidential information just days later, on Wednesday, October 6th. How strange that another huge internet presence had a problem on the heels of Facebook’s outage! This time, it wasn’t just an unlucky maintenance accident, but a real breach caused by an outside source.

These incidents demonstrate that the web is constantly bombarded with cybersecurity threats and technical mishaps across all industries and platforms–including the major internet players.

“Whoa, if even Facebook has issues, then my website is doomed!”

You can stop that train of thought right here; there’s no need to panic! Yes, this kind of situation can happen, even to the big players. Of course, prevention is the best medicine, but recovery is what’s critical. How well are you prepared to get your business back online if a cybersecurity attack happens to you? Your preparations now can determine if a future outage will last for minutes, hours, days, or weeks.

What’s the cybersecurity action plan for your business? Is your team ready to jump into the fray and solve the issue at a moment’s notice? Do you need some guidance?

BITS can help with that! Not only can our managed IT services help to mitigate serious security issues from occurring in the first place, but you can count on us to be right there if anything were to happen. We’ve seen, and handled, most every client issue over the years, stemming from servers to intranets and everything in between.

When your web presence is in jeopardy, you want a team on your side with the know-how to get you back online as fast as possible. Discover why BITS provides peace of mind for handling unfortunate maintenance accidents and cybersecurity attacks from malicious sources. Contact us to discuss your IT concerns and let our experts do the heavy lifting to prepare a dependable security foundation for your business.

By | 2021-10-20T08:24:52+00:00 October 20th, 2021|BITS Team, Cyber Security, IT Services|

Protect Your Business and Network From Disaster During Hurricane Season

It’s Hurricane Season.

Unless you’re a Carolina hockey fan, those words are enough to send a shiver down your spine, especially given how frequent—if not constant—hurricanes and storm warnings have become in recent years.

Beyond the very real threat hurricanes pose to people’s well-being and property, they also pose another challenge to small business owners. A natural disaster may not only severely damage your business’s facilities or stock, it can also destroy the data you rely on every day to get your work done. If a storm, for example, floods your office and wipes out the hard drives where you keep all of your customer and financial data, bouncing back after a disaster is going to be a serious challenge.

That’s why it’s so essential to have both data backup and a recovery plan.

Data Backup

Backing up your data is one of the most important things you can do to protect yourself and your business. You know that, though. The question is, how are you backing up your data, and how often?

serverYou’ll want to be sure that your data is secure and stored somewhere offsite so that if your business facility is physically destroyed, your data remains safe. The cloud offers some of the best offsite data storage solutions, offering the scale and flexibility you need to keep ALL of your important information backed up and easily accessible.

The other key question is how often you are backing up your data. Many cloud storage services allow daily backups, if not more frequent. When did you last check how often you’re updating your data? If it’s too long between backups, you could stand to lose days’ or even weeks’ worth of information in case of disaster, and that simply isn’t worth the risk.

Data Recovery

Of course, securely and frequently backing up your data is only half of the process. You also need a plan in place to recover your data.

To do that, you’ll need to determine key data recovery parameters: the optimum recovery point objective (RPO) and the recovery time objective (RTO).

The RPO determines how old your recovered data can be: in other words, how far back do you need to go get everything you need to get back to doing business. The RTO, on the other hand, defines how quickly you need to get back online. How long can you go with your network down? Can you function at all with no or limited data, or would that be a complete hindrance?

Answering these questions is essential to building an effective disaster recovery plan. Your answers may vary, but you’ll likely want to get back online and back to doing business as soon as possible. Fortunately, protecting and recovering your data and your business can be easy with Beacon IT Services (BITS).

Datto Partners

Datto Partner

BITS is a long-time partner of cyber security experts Datto. Together, we provide the software, hardware, planning, and execution required to keep your data safe, especially in the face of natural disasters. Utilizing Datto’s data protection solutions specially designed for small businesses, BITS is able to implement disaster protection and recovery plans that’ll get you back on your feet in no time.

One of our key services? Instant virtualization to support recovery, which significantly reduces downtime and restores your system instantly with the push of a button.

That’s just one of the many ways BITS can help protect you from disaster. Contact us today to begin developing your comprehensive data backup and recovery plan. There’s no getting around hurricane season, but you can reduce the threat it poses to your business.

By | 2021-09-24T11:16:57+00:00 September 24th, 2021|IT Services|

Don’t Take the Bait: Tell-Tale Signs of Phishing Email Scams

illustration of fish and hook

We’ve all gotten those emails. They’ll come from a company you’ve done business with, or from someone you know. A boss maybe. The wording is odd sometimes—there are always phrases that seem a little off, like “I’m stuck on a conference”—but the tone is usually urgent. Some action or information is needed. A cell phone number. Or credit card or social security data. Or maybe just clicking a quick link.

They are phishing emails: a scam in which a hacker or cyber-criminal sends their target a message intended to trick the target into revealing sensitive information. They are a common security threat, but with their frequently outlandish requests (who knew there were so many Nigerian princes that need our help?), it’s easy enough to view phishing emails as an irritant at worst and comical at best.

However, cyber scammers have gotten considerably more sophisticated in their methods. It’s no wonder that in May of 2021 there was a 440% increase in phishing attacks.

The truth is, it just takes one mistake—whether that’s a gullible employee or a distracted click on a questionable link—to open your business up to a major security breach. That’s why it’s more important than ever to make sure that you and your employees know some of the common signs of spam emails, so they can send these nefarious missives to the trash bin on sight.

Here are three common signs to look out for:

1. Requests for Sensitive Info

Maybe a package you ordered is stuck in transit somewhere, and your credit card information is needed to expedite shipping. Maybe your account with an online shopping service has been suspended, and you need to answer some security questions to log back in. Or maybe an acquaintance is in a jam, and they need your bank account number to wire the cash they need to get home.spam email

Don’t believe it, and don’t share anything: the most tell-tale sign of a scam email is a request for some sensitive information. Simply put, no legitimate company or organization is going to ask for your social security number, tax info, credit card info, or similarly sensitive information over email, especially not an unsolicited email. Your friends and co-workers don’t need that information either. (Unless your friends and co-workers are, in fact, phishing scammers. In which case, get some new friends!)

Of course, some scammers won’t request info but instead will send a link to click or attachment to download. Typically, taking any action can lead to your system and network being invaded by a virus or ransomware. These types of phishing emails can be tougher to detect, so before you take any kind of action, check for other signs that the email may not be legit.

2. Suspicious Email Addresses

When you open your email box, you’re used to seeing new messages from friends or co-workers, as well as promotions from favorite companies. But if you click into one of those emails and something seems off, check the email address of the sender. Is it different from what you might expect in some way?suspicious email addressScammers are now able to make it appear as though their messages are coming from your contacts or businesses you trust, but the truth lies in the actual domain email address. If it’s from a business, does it have extra numbers? A spelling mistake? Does it seem to have no connection at all to the business it’s purportedly from? Then chances are it’s a scam.

Emails from contacts can be spoofed, too. But you know your friend’s email addresses (or should be familiar at least) – is this email from a different address than normal? Or if it’s from a co-worker, is the email coming from their typical work email, or is the owner of your company suddenly emailing you from a Hotmail account? If anything seems off, it’s best to proceed with extreme caution.

3. Awkward Language and Spelling Errors

phishing email languageWe know that writing can be tough (not everyone can write IT company blogs, cough cough), but when you see an email with numerous spelling mistakes, missing words, and odd phrases, it’s fair to assume that something might be awry. Though scammers are getting better at writing convincing emails (or utilizing increasingly sophisticated AIs), phishing emails are typically full of obvious errors.

After all, a major corporation will likely ensure that its email correspondence is clean and typo-free. And while your acquaintances or co-workers may not have the luxury of copy editors checking their work, if their email is filled with phrases or language they don’t typically use, you can rightly suspect it may not be their words.

Get Extra Phishing Protection from BITS

It’s true that some of these signs may seem obvious. But with the amount of correspondence we tend to get each day, it’s easy to let your guard down and click a link or download an attachment from a scammer. It can, and does, happen.

One thing that can help is a service called KnowBe4. It can send out emails designed to resemble standard phishing scams, meant to tempt employees to click. If they do, they can receive training from KnowBe4’s experts to help them recognize scams.

Even with that extra layer of protection though, the worst can occur. Fortunately, even if it does, you don’t have to be on your own. With cybersecurity from Beacon IT Services (BITS), you’ll have safeguards and firewalls set up to prevent scammers from causing too much damage. In addition, our data recovery services can help you get you back on your feet after an attack with minimal downtime for your business.

Contact us today to get started on securing your network. After all, you never know what’s lurking in your email inbox.

(Oh look! An email from Amazan.com. My package shipped but they need me to click a link to confirm my address… oh, wait a minute… something’s not right here…)

By | 2021-08-27T06:36:35+00:00 August 27th, 2021|Cyber Security, IT Services, phishing email|

Cyber Insurance: Why You Need It and How Beacon Helps You Save

person at computer

Bear with us here, because we’re going to take a moment to talk about a subject that isn’t particularly fun.

Insurance.

Ugggghhhh, right? Unless you are in the insurance business (in which case, sorry), there is nothing particularly enjoyable about insurance. It costs money, and if you ever use it, it means something bad has happened. Nope, no fun at all.

Insurance IS important though, and it can provide some peace of mind that if the worst does occur, you won’t be financially ruined. Chances are you already have a lot of insurance in your personal and professional life: auto, health, life, liability, the list goes on. But now it’s getting increasingly important to add cyber insurance to that list.

Here’s what you need to know about this new and evolving area of the insurance industry.

What is cyber insurance?

Sometimes also called cyber liability insurance, this type of insurance covers or mitigates the costs for a business that has been the victim of a cyber attack, whether it’s ransomware, a phishing scam, a virus, or some other form of hack.

Man with computer and phoneDo I need cyber insurance?

If you store important or sensitive data on your network, a hard drive, or in the cloud, then the short answer is, yes, you probably do. Or if a cyber attack on your business could lead to a significant loss in productivity and income, then the answer, again, is yes.

Though there might be some basic cyber coverage in your liability insurance, cyber insurance will offer you much more protection. It’s especially important if you store any personally identifiable information about your employees or customers, such as names, social security numbers, credit card or bank data, email addresses, or birthdays. Any of that data could be used by a hacker to target an individual, who could in turn sue you for the security breach. Many cyber insurance policies can help cover the costs of settling that litigation.

What does cyber insurance cover?

Even if you aren’t targeted by a lawsuit, you’ll still have extensive costs in the wake of a hack. Cyber insurance covers a variety of these, including:

  • The recovery of your system or data;
  • Notification of customers or clients of the security breach that may affect them;
  • The costs of business loss due to downtime or suspended operations;
  • A forensic investigation into your hack to prevent future attacks.

All of these costs, and others, are typically covered by a cyber insurance policy.

tiny cart of cash next to computerOkay, sounds like I need cyber insurance. What’s it gonna cost me?

Costs vary depending on the size of your business—and the size of your policy. Some policies may cost as little as a few hundred dollars a year, while others are in the tens of thousands.

Aside from your business’s size and coverage needs, your costs can be affected by some other factors. One is location. If, for example, you store your data on a European server, it may be subject to foreign laws regarding data security and insurance, such as the recently passed EU Cybersecurity Act. So, it’s important that you have a full understanding of your network and data storage setup before you begin exploring your cyber insurance options.

Another key factor in your insurance costs is your cyber security. Just as many health insurance policies go up in cost if you have too many risk factors, your cyber insurance costs will increase astronomically if you don’t have proper security measures in place. If, on the other hand, you have robust security—including precautions like multi-factor login credentials, antivirus software, firewalls, and VPN usage for remote access—your premiums will likely be much lower.

Furthermore, if you fail to take preventative measures to protect your network and data, your cyber insurance claim—no matter how much you pay for it—may well be denied. Some cyber insurance providers won’t even offer you a policy if you don’t have proper security in place.

Yikes! I guess I need to beef up my cyber security, too.

You sure do. Fortunately, that’s where Beacon IT Services (BITS) comes in.

We offer extensive cyber security and threat protection services to our clients in addition to cloud integrations, data backup, and other key managed services.

Contact us today to begin exploring how we can make your business more secure. Because after all, an insurance policy is the last line of defense for protecting your business, and with BITS providing security, you reduce the potential of having to put it to use.

By | 2021-07-23T07:31:05+00:00 July 23rd, 2021|Computer Related, Cyber Security, IT Services|

How To Protect Your Business From Costly Ransomware Attacks

It’s never good news when cybersecurity is in the news. Unfortunately, that’s certainly been the case this year, as story after story has emerged of cyber attacks and hacks crippling major corporations and utilities. The ransomware attack that halted Colonial Pipeline, hiking prices and causing gas shortages on the East Coast, was one of the most well-known recent incidents, but certainly not the only one: hackers also targeted food suppliers, insurance companies, communication companies, and many more. Indeed, one prediction from Cybersecurity Ventures predicts that businesses will be attacked by ransomware every 11 seconds by the end of 2021.

Though that particular estimate is on the higher (and more alarming) end, there’s no question that cybersecurity is an absolutely essential part of any responsible business’s IT agenda. If you run or work for a small business, you may not be a target of the multi-million dollar schemes affecting some of the major, international corporations, but you are still at risk. There’s no need for panic though. With a few precautions, you can make sure your business is protected.

Why Ransomware Attacks Are So Common Now

To begin understanding how you can protect your network, employees, and business, it’s important to understand what exactly is happening.

hacked laptopTo start, let’s look at exactly what a ransomware attack is. Essentially, ransomware is malicious software (or malware) that infects a computer or network, taking control and restricting access to files and programs. The only way for the system’s owner to regain control and keep their data from being destroyed or publicly leaked is to pay a ransom to the malware’s creators.

Lately, attacks like this gotten more frequent. Many exporters and observers agree that this is most likely a side effect of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Why? Due to the pandemic, many workers transitioned from working in offices every day to working from home. Unfortunately, many also began using unsecured remote networks to do their work, opening themselves up to attack.

At the same time, hackers took advantage of the fear and uncertainty bred by the pandemic to start sending out targeted phishing emails. Using subject lines with topics related to coronavirus prevention and safety measures, these emails, often falsely attributed to reputable sources like the World Health Organization or the Center for Disease Control, tried to dupe worried readers into surrendering important data and credentials. Sometimes it worked.

How You Can Keep Your Network Safe

Even as we better learn to battle COVID-19 and life returns to something closer to normal, the threat of ransomware attacks persists. Fortunately, protecting against them is not as difficult or complicated as it may seem.

Here are three steps to take:

icon of virus-free smartphone

1. Enlist the aid of managed services pros

To start, one of the key things to remember is that you don’t have to fight this by yourself. Partnering with a trustworthy and proven network management team like the experts at Beacon IT Services (BITS) can go a long way towards securing your network and your data. (Not to mention all of the other benefits of our services, including cloud migration, data recovery, and general systems maintenance.)

2. Set up a VPN

Next, your BITS team will work on securing your remote network. In most cases, that will mean setting up a virtual private network (VPN) for you and your team to work on. VPNs offer the security and function of a traditional, hardwired private network while still allowing users to access it remotely. BITS partners with SonicWall to offer a variety of secure and reliable VPNs that will secure your network.

3. Prepare your team to spot scams

You also must train your employees to recognize the signs of potential phishing emails. From keeping an eye out for suspicious and overly complex email addresses to unusual requests for social security numbers, credit card info, and other sensitive data, there are some simple things employees should always watch out for. Your IT expert can provide info on essential best practices and can offer recommendations on valuable services like KnowBe4 if more in-depth anti-phishing measures are required.

BITS will also install powerful firewalls and anti-virus software on your network to keep it safe from other threats. Our 24/7 network monitoring also allows us to identify any issues as they arise—before they become a problem for you and your business.

Don’t Fall Victim to Ransomware: Contact BITS Today

Don’t waste time: contact us now to get to work on securing your network.

If you already partner with us, don’t hesitate to reach out if you have concerns about your security. We’ll work with you to make sure everything is secure and that you have the best protection possible.

By | 2021-07-23T07:32:09+00:00 June 24th, 2021|System Administration, Cyber Security, IT Services|

Avoid A DIY Disaster: Call in the Pros for Your IT Needs

flaming computer vs. girl smiling with working laptop

We get it: when you’ve got a problem, the temptation to handle it yourself is strong. It’s why there’s a whole do-it-yourself (DIY) industry, devoted to giving you the tools you need to get the job done on your own.

And it’s so satisfying and fulfilling, isn’t it? Fixing your house and putting together a new piece of furniture are great DIY projects. So it’s easy to say, “I can fix it”, when your computer, network, or something else in your information technology (IT) setup needs attention, right?

Here’s the thing about IT DIYs though: Don’t.

Okay, if your computer is having a problem, do the old “turn it off, turn it back on” trick. This certainly works, sometimes. Beyond this, it’s just not worth it. Do IT right and turn to IT pros that solve these issues daily, like the knowledgeable and helpful experts from Beacon IT Services (BITS). It will save you valuable time AND money.

Two of our experts—Lead IT Support Specialist Caleb Pruitt and Account Executive Kevin Lackey—share some common issues they’ve dealt with firsthand. These seemingly easy-to-solve problems can quickly go awry and cause serious trouble for your business and network.

burning cityscape

This is what happens when you try to DIY your IT issues.

3 Examples of Why You Need an IT Pro

1. Setting Up and Monitoring a Firewall

Woman frustrated by computerSetting up a firewall is a must for enhancing your security. By filtering traffic and stopping outside users from accessing your network, it can keep you and your data safe. But setting up the firewall can be a real challenge: it needs to be set up to protect against a wide variety of threats, including phishing attempts, ransomware, viruses, and more, and updated to keep up with fast-evolving cybersecurity threats. Ensuring that your firewall works as intended and to its fullest potential requires the expertise of a dedicated IT team.

Even more importantly, you need someone to monitor your firewall. Otherwise, your not really protected because no one is handling alerts in a timely manner when intrusions or security issues occur. “It’s like having an alarm system but leaving your door wide open,” explains Caleb.

2. Migrating Your Email Server

email icon“Email migrations are not for the faint of heart,” says Kevin. And between maintaining and updating your passwords and logins across multiple servers and managing the transfer of data for everyone in your organization, he’s got a point. There are a lot of details to consider, especially to maintain business continuity.

Still, you might think you can handle it all yourself. After all, many servers, like Microsoft Office 365 seem like they’d make things easy. But the truth is there’s plenty that can go wrong. For example, Office 365 only backs up your data for 30 days at a time. So if you need to dig up an old email for reference, or to support a legal issue, you may not have it archived. Again, why not make sure all the configurations are set up to take advantage of technology and optimize the outcome?

This is another great time to ask an IT Pro for help, like the BITS Team, to provide back-ups and other security measures – for around $4 per employee.

3. Cleaning Out Your Hard Drive

Distressed man looking at computerYou’ve got hundreds, thousands—more even—of files saved. Your hard drive is filling up fast, and soon you’ll be out of room – and your business will come to a screeching halt. Surely, deleting some files and clearing out space is something you can handle yourself, right?

Not so fast.

There are a couple of pitfalls here. You could accidentally turn off your anti-virus software and expose yourself to viruses and scammers. Or you could accidentally delete some file(s) that you need, and if you haven’t backed up all your data effectively, then that file is gone forever. Even worse, you could end up inadvertently deleting a file or program that your system needs to run properly. We’ve seen it happen: a client deleted an essential Windows file while trying to clear space, bringing their entire system to its knees.

So don’t take the risk. Contact BITS for help. Or even better, have them sync your network to the Cloud so you can have all the storage space you’ll ever need and never have to worry about running out of space.

Maintain Your Network with BITS

You can trust BITS to solve just about any IT issues that come up. We’ve been doing this for 20 years. But more importantly, the constant maintenance and updates you get from managed services professionals mean that most problems won’t arise at all. “Think of BITS like your auto mechanic,” says Caleb. “If you bring your car in for regular maintenance, you can count on it to run smoothly. But if you try to fix problems yourself or just neglect them, you lose that peace of mind, and more often than not, it’ll create bigger issues in the long run.”

Or, as Kevin explains: “We try to be the SPF to prevent the sunburn, not the aloe to soothe it. We want to keep the fires from even starting, but if they do, we are already in front of it… and it’s much easier to put out.”

In other words, whether you have an IT issue that needs resolution or you’re looking for a partner that protects you from challenges and disruptions down the road, you should contact Beacon IT Services (BITS) today. You’ll regret trying to fix that problem yourself, but you won’t regret choosing BITS.

Is Your Head In the Cloud? Here’s Why That’s Good For Your Business

clouds in a blue sky

How’s that saying go? “Head in the clouds?” It’s a term that usually has negative connotations, but maybe not for much longer.

That’s because nowadays, the term “cloud” has become synonymous with technology and cloud computing, a service that lets users store data and programs on a remote server—the cloud—and access it from anywhere they have an internet connection.

It’s quickly becoming apparent that migrating their network to the cloud is an absolute must for businesses that aim to stay on the cutting edge: in fact, a Verizon study in 2017 found that 77% of businesses felt that the cloud gave them a competitive advantage (and that number has surely only gone up since then).

Cloud servers offer far more data storage than you’d get from a typical server (and certainly more than saving directly to your hard drive). The cloud offers more than just storage solutions, though. Here’s a look at some of the key benefits of cloud computing, and why you and your business should get your head (and network and data) in the cloud.

Mobility and Remote Collaboration

The days of work being confined to the office are over. Whether you and your team are working from home or logging in to get some tasks done while traveling, remote work is now the norm. Fortunately, the cloud makes this easy. With all of your data and important applications housed in the cloud rather than in the office, you can be sure that everyone on your team can access what they need, when they need it, regardless of their location.

Even better, the cloud allows easier collaboration between remote colleagues, or even between two people working on their computers in neighboring offices. With the cloud, everyone is able to work on the same version of a file, in real-time. Ever spend an hour working on a document only to discover that a co-worker has already gone in and made changes, making your work incorrect or moot? With cloud computing, that frustration can be a thing of the past.

cell phone

Security and Disaster Recovery

Of course, the cloud offers massive and scalable data storage solutions. But beyond just offering you more storage, it offers more secure storage, too. Though your data will be on a remote server, most reputable cloud hosting services offer full security monitoring and encryption that’s far more robust and cost-effective than you can implement internally. One 2015 survey found that 94% of businesses that synced their network with the cloud saw an improvement in their internal security.

The cloud also offers optimal disaster recovery capabilities. Regardless of how prepared you are, disasters do strike, in the form of accidents or natural disasters affecting your office, or network issues affecting your data. With your data secure in a remote cloud server though, you can recover much (if not all) that you lost. Not only that, you can recover your data much quicker from the cloud, meaning less downtime and lost revenue for your business.

Cost-Effectiveness and Sustainability

field of flowers and wind turbineWhile migrating your network to the cloud does present some initial costs, those will be offset in the long run by significant savings. For one thing, with the cloud, you’ll only be paying for the server storage space that you actually need and use. You also won’t be spending money and building and maintaining your own servers. The flexibility of the cloud and various services and software that typically come with cloud hosting packages will also save you considerable money (and time), allowing you and your team to work faster, smarter, and more efficiently.

Beyond the costs for your business, the cloud also offers tremendous savings on energy used. Running a business is always going to leave a significant carbon footprint, but the cloud offers one of the most environmentally sustainable solutions. Not only does the cloud cut down on paper waste and other physical expenses, cloud computing is also considerably more energy-efficient than on-site data centers. That means lower energy bills in the short term and a real investment in the planet and your community in the long term.

Find Your Silver Lining in the Cloud With BITS

Flexibility, collaboration, security, efficiency: these are just a few of the ways that migrating to the cloud will benefit you. Your business will be faster, safer, and more able to adapt to whatever challenges and innovations come along.

Don’t get caught standing in the rain: contact Beacon IT Services (BITS) to migrate your business to the cloud. Our expert team of technicians will work with you to seamlessly transition your network and data to the cloud without disrupting your business and service to your customers. Then, we’ll work with you and your team to fully understand the new technology and procedures. Bottom line – We will help you make the most of this powerful new tool.

Ok, one more cloud-related saying: “every cloud has a silver lining.” Well, with cloud computing, it’s all gold. Help your business be its best today and prepare for the future by contacting BITS. We’ll get you migrated right away. After all, with the cloud, the sky’s the limit.

sun shining through clouds

By | 2021-04-23T10:35:15+00:00 April 23rd, 2021|Hosting Services, Computer Related, IT Services|

Business on Top, PJs on the Bottom: Optimize Your Remote Office To Keep Working For You

woman working at home in business jacket and pajama pants “Are you working from home?”

It’s become a common question this past year as the COVID-19 pandemic upended our lives. When it was suddenly unsafe to work in the offices we’d spent years commuting to every day, we adapted fast: spare rooms were transformed into makeshift offices, old chairs were drafted into service as desk chairs, and our home wireless routers were pushed to their limits handling the new wave of traffic from video calls, file transfers, and Slack conversations.

We figured out how to use Zoom and GoToMeeting. More importantly, we discovered very fast that, angled correctly, our computer cameras would only capture the top half of our bodies, so we could throw on a respectable shirt and still maintain weekend-level comfort in pajama pants and slippers.

Yes, with the easier dress code, homemade coffee, and no time spent commuting, working from home definitely had its perks, even if what led us to that situation was tragic. But now, there are some encouraging signs that things may be improving, even if we’re not out of the woods totally yet.

Moreover, even as things return to something like “normal,” going to the office every may be a thing of the past. As more companies permanently move to offer remote work models, it seems increasingly likely that successful businesses looking to attract the best talent will need to take a hybridized approach, where employees can fluidly move from working at home to working at the office and back again.

The key to a set-up, like that, though, is ensuring that your business is optimized for remote work. If it is, you and/or your employees will be able to seamlessly transition back and forth between the home office and the traditional office as changing times and situations demand. If you’re not optimized, you may run into serious hurdles that impact your work.

Take a moment and ask yourself a few questions about your home office set-up, and determine if it’s working for you as well as it should.

coffee and computer at workstationAre you optimized for efficiency?

Because the pandemic hit so quickly, many were forced to scramble to set-up remote work solutions. Things simply needed to get done. But when it comes to ensuring that you can connect with your company servers and databases and collaborate effectively while remote, the quick solution may not be the best one.

Indeed, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to remote work. Every business has different needs, and finding a remote work solution that best meets those needs is crucial. For many companies, a virtual private network (VPN) will offer the speed and reliability they need. Other companies may find that they also need a remote desktop set-up, so they can access programs they don’t have on their laptops.

Either way, choosing the option that works best for your company will allow your business to run smoothly no matter where you and your team are working from.

Is your network secure?

It’s unavoidable. Working with remote networks opens you and your business up to a variety of cyber-security risks. From viruses and hacks accessing open networks to data and records being stolen from Zoom, the systems and processes that allow for working outside the office allow numerous opportunities for hackers and others to compromise your security.

Does this mean that remote work should be avoided? Not at all. But a bit more diligence is required to stay safe. There a few simple solutions that can make a major difference.

For example, it’s invaluable to train and regularly update your team on best practices for spotting phishing scams and other potential attacks. It’s also important to password protect all valuable data and servers, with multifactor authentication.

One of the most important things you can do is set up a secure shared drive on the Cloud. Not only will this allow multiple people to work on the same file at the same time, it also offers protection through encryption.

man working at computer, smiling

Do you have the tech support you need?

As a beloved band of paranormal exterminators once asked, “who you gonna call?”

In a typical office, when something goes wrong, like a network outage, you know to contact your office IT pro for assistance. But working from home, an outage can make you feel completely cut off. It’s essential to have processes in place to address issues as they arise.

Even better, though, is having a dedicated IT team who monitors your network and can solve problems before they arise and cut you off. Even beyond maintenance like that, a dedicated and professional IT team can troubleshoot bigger picture issue’s with your company’s remote working set-up, and propose solutions and fixes that will prevent any issues from occurring.

We can help you find a remote office solution that really works.

Determining what home office setups work best for you and your team—now and in the long term—can be a daunting task, as can enabling all the protocols and protections you’ll need for cybersecurity. There are so many elements to consider, and there may even be technology and hardware issues you aren’t aware of.

Fortunately, you don’t have to figure it all out yourself. Your Beacon IT Services (BITS) team is ready to work with you to create a remote working solution that will deliver for your business and monitor your network. From selecting the best solutions to getting your network set up to being on-hand to make any changes that you need or address any issues that may arise, BITS will have your back every step of the way as you navigate the best ways to work in this changed (and changing) world. We’re just a click away.

So don’t trade in the sweatpants and slippers for slacks and loafers just yet. (Or ever). Contact us today and we’ll make your home office work as well for you as the real one, for as long as you need it to.

By | 2021-03-24T07:28:46+00:00 March 24th, 2021|System Administration, Cyber Security, IT Services|

A True Love Connection: Reliable Networks and Caring Service

hands sharing a cut out paper heart

 

Ah, February. The season of Valentine’s Day, of romance.

What, you don’t find the gray skies and mushy, freezing rain common to the bleakest winter months romantic? Have some chocolates.

Anyway, what is romance all about? Love, trust, support, and most of all, connections.

Ok, we know what you’re thinking now: why is this IT services company blog going on about romance and connections? Because here at Beacon IT Services (BITS), connections are what we do: network connections, cloud connections, and connections with customers like you so that you can then connect with your customers.

We’ll explain.

Relationships Matter

Whatever your business specializes in, the way that you serve and take care of your customers can make all the difference.

Do you quickly respond to your customers’ requests? Do you resolve their problems efficiently? Are you truly attentive to their needs? As in any relationship, these are critical factors that determine whether your connection with your customers is weak or strong.

It’s the strength of that connection that keeps your customers coming back, and will keep them from choosing your competitors over you.

So how do you deliver for your customers in a way that keeps your connection strong? It takes a connected network that’s reliable, speedy, and weds all the different aspects of your business into an effective unit.

smiling woman at computerCommunication: The Heart of Your Business

Communication is the key to any relationship, and a connected network allows easy communication and lets workers in varied locations come together to work as seamlessly as if they were in the same room.

Network connectivity works by bringing various parts of a network together, typically through the usage of technology like switches, routers, and VPNs. There’s also your connection to the Cloud, giving you and your workers instant access to a wealth of data far exceeding what you can keep in a file cabinet.

In short, network connectivity is the heart of your business, ensuring that data flows smoothly across your entire enterprise, so you can better share, access, and utilize it.

As a result, if your network connectivity fails, it can have real and significant consequences for the running of your business.

A Team You Can Rely On

Trust, of course, is another key factor in a strong relationship. The importance of your network connectivity means you trust its setup and maintenance to just anyone: you’ll want a team of reliable experts who can build you a network that will run seamlessly and act fast to address issues before they become problems.

You can trust on the team from Beacon IT Services (BITS) to get the job done for you. We specialize in providing comprehensive, on-site, and cost-effective managed IT services, tailored to your unique business needs.

illustration of connected peopleWe also understand the importance of the one-on-one connections you make with your customers and how important those relationships are. That’s because those relationships are central to how we do business, too.

Relationships are a two-way street, and we care about our clients and want to see you succeed. When you call us for assistance, you won’t be stuck on the line with an automated answering service – you’ll speak to a member of our local team who will be able to offer immediate support and understanding. And when we do work for you, we take the time to explain exactly what we’re doing, why, and how it will benefit your business, so you can trust you’re getting the best quality work.

That trust is what sets us apart, and lets us connect with you. And with your network running properly and providing you the information you need, you can focus on building a rewarding relationship with your customers and clients.

man at computer talking on the phoneLet’s Connect

Want to find out what BITS can do for you? You can get started by requesting a free network health check. Or just send us a message describing what kind of IT services you’re looking for. We can’t wait to speak with you and begin building a relationship that will help your business to thrive.

 

By | 2021-02-17T07:11:22+00:00 February 16th, 2021|System Administration, Other, BITS News, IT Services|

Client Spotlight: W. Schillig – “BITS Keeps Us On Track”

When it comes to business, you never want there to be any downtime that can get in the way of delivering for your customers or getting the job done. And when your business is spread across the globe in multiple time zones, it’s absolutely essential that your network is reliable and working all hours of the day and night.

“If somebody from one of our factories in Germany calls us at 3 AM, our computers and servers have to be running,” says David Most, Vice President of Sales with W. Schillig. Fortunately, David and his team don’t have to worry about service outages because they partner with Beacon IT Services (BITS).

 

W. Schillig sofa

What Doesn’t BITS Do For Us?

W. Schillig logoSince its establishment in 1949, W. Schillig has been delivering high-end, European style home furnishings. With U.S. operations based out of High Point, N.C., the company specializes in modern, contemporary sofas and furniture produced with high-quality German engineering. In addition to selling beautifully designed finished pieces to customers and retailers, shoppers can also personalize their items with more than 70 design options and dozens of choices of color and fabric.

With factories located throughout Europe and Asia and a distribution base throughout the U.S. and Canada, the people of W. Schillig absolutely rely on their computer technology to keep them connected with their customers and each other.

Several years ago, it became apparent that W. Schillig’s IT provider wasn’t delivering on all of their needs. “They just weren’t available enough,” says David.

They decided to give BITS a try. It started with just a few small projects, but upon discovering the dedication, tenacity, and follow-through of the BITS team, the partnership quickly grew. Today, BITS covers the majority of W. Schillig’s managed services needs.

“What doesn’t BITS do for us?” David says. “They handle just about everything: hardware purchases, programming our machines. It goes from installing a new server—which BITS did last week—to helping us turn on the computer and put in the right password. I don’t even know everything BITS does for us because it’s seamless. If someone is having an IT issue, they just call BITS and it’s taken care of.”

A Remote Working Superhero

Mel Gonzalez

BITS came to W. Schillig’s aid in a major way in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic. Wanting to keep safe and socially distanced, W. Schillig’s employees quickly transitioned to remote working using laptops but quickly discovered their VPN wasn’t quite up to the increased workload. Tasks that should have taken minutes suddenly took an hour.

Then, while addressing a separate issue, BITS IT Support Specialist Mel Gonsalez heard about the slowdown. Mel discussed the issue with David, explaining that if they connected their laptops to workstation terminals, employees would be able to work as quickly and efficiently as if they were sitting at their desks. David was skeptical at first, but Mel quickly convinced him.

“Mel explained everything and told us what we needed to do to speed up our processes,” David says. “Within a few days of that conversation, we took action and hooked up our terminal system. Now our people can connect and work at a better pace. Some of our key programs even function better. It was a big deal and saved us so much time and frustration. Mel is kind of a superhero for our company.”

KeeW. Schillig sofa and roomping the Ship in Motion

Of course, Mel isn’t the only BITS team member who’s gone above and beyond for W. Schillig. David explains: “BITS’ brand is really all about the people. The people make the brand. And BITS has great people, very proactive.”

For David, it’s that dedication, as well as a talent for clear communication, that sets BITS apart.

Recently, a BITS team member contacted David to let him know that W. Schillig’s server might need replacing. “He said, ‘Your server is over 10 years old, and you could have a situation if you don’t replace it,'” David says. “He really made the situation simple and clean for us. We aren’t IT specialists, so that explanation was hugely helpful.”

As a result of that conversation, the server was replaced and the new server is running better than ever. That kind of proactive problem solving that characterizes BITS’ work gives David the peace of mind to focus on his business and not worry about IT.

“Our ship is in motion. It has to keep going forward,” he says. “If one thing breaks, the ship slows down. BITS keeps us on track. And that’s critical.”

No Worries, We Got IT

Interested in finding out what BITS can do for you and your business? Contact us today or request a free audit. We can’t wait to get to work for you.

By | 2021-01-15T09:02:08+00:00 January 15th, 2021|System Administration, Computer Related, BITS News, BITS Team, IT Services|
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