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About BITS News

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.

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|

Challenge and Triumph in 2020: BITS Helps Businesses Weather a Difficult Year

Hand with a cutout of numbers 2020

For many, 2020 is a year that can’t be over soon enough. With a new year on the way and an undoubtedly challenging year behind us, it is time to look back and take stock. There is no question that the challenges of the year have been many and daunting, but there have been triumphs, too. Triumphs for our partner businesses and institutions who have so far endured 2020’s worst challenges. There have also been triumphs right here at BITS, where a combination of teamwork, persistence and drive has allowed us to be a part of our clients’ resilience this year. Join us as we look back on a tough year that we’ve overcome together.

Facing an Unprecedented Challenge

The rise of COVID-19 brought with it a rise in telecommuting across the globe. This need for a change in the professional landscape came seemingly overnight, but making it happen was much easier said than done.

“We take pride in being proactive,” said Kevin Lackey, account executive for BITS. “We monitor and manage systems so they don’t crash. I like to say it’s a lot easier to put on sunscreen to prevent the sunburn than it is to apply aloe after you’ve been burnt, but we couldn’t do that with COVID-19.”

Woman frustrated by computerProviding remote capability to our clients meant far more than providing laptops for employees without them. It meant establishing virtual private networks (VPN) and providing VPN licenses so that our clients’ employees could safely access their work files and programs. It meant improving security and threat protection, data protection, backup and more. Some would work from home and find they weren’t working on compatible versions of software. Some found their servers were too slow to support the new demand.

BITS was there to provide support and solutions every step of the way, and not only for its clients. BITS personnel had to help many fellow Beacon employees transition to remote work as well.

“In March, we had to move all of our customer’s operations from on-premises to virtual literally overnight so that their respective businesses could continue to function,” said John Scaramuzzo, Chief Operating Officer and Senior Vice President of IT Services. “We did this while getting our own operation functional in a remote environment as well. It’s definitely a challenge getting a remote help desk set up!”

Coordinating Efforts

Of the many challenges faced by the BITS team, one of the most difficult was coordinating efforts to meet this massive new demand.

“We had to attack everything differently,” said Lackey. “Let’s say we had to get 100 people ready to work remotely in a week; how would we prioritize these projects? How much bandwidth does our team have to set up VPN licenses? Laptops were going like hotcakes in April, often back-ordered as far as six weeks, so we had to figure out how to stay ahead of that.”

The recent inclusion of project management services into BITS allowed for an organized, unified effort between all of BITS’ moving parts. This provided clients the benefits of being part of Beacon’s larger Project Management Office. Having dedicated project management ensured timely and efficient delivery of services, as well as providing a single point of contact for checking project statuses, asking important questions and more.

Pieces moving strategically on the board“Being able to contact a project manager who is in charge of the deadlines is huge,” said Bradley Burton, project manager for BITS. “It gives the client an update on where all things are, but it also lets them know that we are actively seeking to hit targets set at the start of a project. They’re never left hanging or wondering where things are. There’s no break in the communication.”

This freed up our IT technicians and system administrators to do what they do best. With some careful coordination between project management, account management and BITS’ expert technicians, results began to take form.

“The techs are where the rubber meets the road, and Caleb Pruitt, our services manager, is the traffic director,” said Lackey. “When projects came in, he saw things from a technical perspective, and we had to understand his team’s bandwidth. The level of coordination was beautiful.”

Coming Through for Our Clients

The success of BITS and our clients this year wouldn’t have been possible without the relationships we’ve built over the years. For many at BITS, it was about coming together for each other and our clients.

“When things started going down in March and April, I figured this year could go one of two ways,” said Lackey. “I worried people would shut their doors and we would lose those close client relationships, but—knock on wood—it didn’t go that way; we were needed. More importantly, we could help.”

That pride in accomplishment and gratefulness for our clients’ success has been echoed at every level of Beacon. Reflecting on Beacon’s 22 years in the Triad, Beacon CEO and Senior Vice President Mark Dirks couldn’t be more proud of the BITS team.

“The true culture of a company comes out in times like these,” said Dirks. “I’m just so proud of how the BITS Team met the challenge to care for our customers. Our technicians had to go to client offices to help during a very scary time as COVID-19 emerged. They were ordering computers like crazy, setting them up and getting them out to customers. They even set up a process so customers could drop off and pick up equipment outside our offices to minimize contact.”

Let BITS be your partner in adapting to even the most difficult digital transitions. The BITS team is here for you. Get in touch today to discuss your digital operations goals.

By | 2020-12-17T08:11:31+00:00 December 17th, 2020|IT Services|

IT’s Better Together: Meet The Team Powering Your Business

 

No matter the size or scope of your organization, success is always the result of a team effort. Where talented and driven people come together with a common purpose, amazing things happen. The Beacon IT Services team (BITS) is no different. Coming from a range of experiences and with their own wealth of knowledge and skills, every member of BITS form the kind of IT services team that you’ll come to trust with any project, large or small.

What’s more, this team can integrate itself into your organization so seamlessly that they’ll feel like a part of your own team!

With a group as close-knit and dedicated as BITS, you won’t encounter the frustration of some larger companies that run you around from one IT tech to another before bringing you a solution. With us, you’ll get to put names to faces, build relationships, and trust that whoever fields your IT-related questions is capable of addressing your needs quickly and effectively.

Learn more about how our culture of collaboration and teamwork can bring you unparalleled IT support, and get to know a few of Beacon’s talented IT professionals! You’ll be seeing us around!

Mel GonzalezMel Gonzalez – IT Support Specialist

With a combined IT experience of nearly 10 years, Mel has seen it all. A self-professed math fanatic, Mel combines two of his passions to bring BITS’ clients a first-class service experience. First, his love for solving complex problems means he welcomes a challenge and is eager to rise to the occasion. Second, his desire to continue learning means every new experience only improves his ability to meet those challenges. Working with BITS means you’ll bring Mel’s extensive experience, quick thinking, and lifelong passion for creative problem solving to your team!

“We have so many clients with so many different needs, systems and configurations. By sharing knowledge, we are always getting stronger. We examine previous challenges we’ve had with other clients, apply that knowledge and develop a solution for you quickly.”

Dustin Shives

Dustin Shives – IT Support Specialist

Dustin came to Beacon after a 15-year career in the healthcare field and is currently finishing his bachelor’s degree in systems administration and cloud computing from WGU. While moving from healthcare to information technology might seem like a big change, Dustin doesn’t see it that way.

“At Beacon I get to keep that sense of teamwork and personal interaction that I enjoyed in healthcare. In a hospital, you have your CNA’s, nurses and doctors. Here, you have your level-one technicians, level-two technicians, system administrators and so on, but you’ve still got to have the teamwork. If you don’t have a team, if you don’t work as a team, you won’t create that common goal for your patient or client.”

Marissa ScaramuzzoMarissa Scaramuzzo – IT Support Specialist

As her father, John Scaramuzzo, cofounded Beacon when she was two years old, you might say Marissa is one of Beacon’s longest-running team members. Growing up alongside the business brought her close to computers at a young age, and her passion for technology has only grown now that she’s a bona fide BITS member. In addition to studying web design and computer sciences in high school and college, Marissa has also learned a great deal from her fellow BITS members. For Marissa, it’s this built-in culture of knowledge sharing and collaboration that sets BITS apart.

“Much of my IT knowledge comes from what Beacon’s Finest have taught me. For each person on your IT team, chances are you’ve added at least one unique skill to your repertoire. Our communication and comparing notes is crucial because it allows us to gain a larger, more detailed picture of the problem so we can better determine how to resolve it.”

Caleb PruittCaleb Pruitt – IT Services Manager

Encouraged at a young age to pursue law, medicine, engineering, or architecture, Caleb first trained as an architect, but he always knew he was made to work in information technology. Now, as BITS’ IT Services Manager, Caleb combines nearly a decade of experience and a lifelong love of technology to bring your institution the rapid and quality IT support your institution depends on to run smoothly.

As IT Services Manager, Caleb does a bit of everything: day-to-day business management, tech support work, system administration, office administration, and more. Caleb takes great pride in his fellow BITS team members and their ability to share knowledge and coordinate efforts.

“At bigger companies, your tier-one technician may only be able to help with passwords or something like that. They read off a list of solutions to a certain point and then they pass you off.  Here, our tech support and system administrators openly collaborate and a lot of knowledge transfer occurs, so our specialists are strong in all areas. Any one of ours would wipe the floor with a tier-one technician somewhere else. You won’t be working through some major hierarchy that takes days and days to resolve. Based on our metrics, we resolve 95% of all calls on the day we receive them.”

Make Our IT Team Your IT Team!

BITS is the IT team you can 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 peace of mind and the technical know-how to keep your business humming.

We’ve been helping our clients manage their IT since 1998: we’ve been there through IT’s history and evolution, and we can help you ready your business for the future.

Contact us today to discuss your IT needs, or request a free audit. We look forward to introducing our team to yours!

By | 2020-11-18T06:51:32+00:00 November 18th, 2020|BITS News, BITS Team, IT Services|

Top 3 Scariest Cyber Attack Trends of 2020

For many, October is a time to embrace the truly scary in the world. Whether in costumes or in late-night horror-movie binges, people steer into all things spooky for a thrill. But, as with anything truly scary, it’s the threats closest to home that really get the hair on the back of your neck standing on end. What’s worse than the threat you can’t see? What’s scarier than the threat that might already be knocking on your door ?

A cyberattack occurs every 39 seconds, but unlike zombies, vampires and werewolves, you can protect yourself from these threats, no silver bullets or wooden stakes needed.

Here are three of the scariest cyberattack trends of 2020, as well as important steps you can take to protect your organization.

Masked hacker

1. No Target Is Too Large or Too Small

A number of high-profile cyberattacks this year has further proven that attackers can be fearless, targeting small and large businesses alike.

Hotel giants MGM and Marriot have seen massive breaches so far in 2020. For MGM Resorts, what was initially thought to be a breach of 10.6 million guest records turned out to be a loss of nearly 142 million records. The records were discovered on a hacking forum and included personal and contact details like names, addresses, phone numbers and dates of birth. The breach occurred because of unauthorized access of the company’s cloud server. Marriot suffered a similar blow (its second in three years) that resulted in the theft of 5.2 million guest records.

Even Fortune 500 healthcare companies like Magellan Health aren’t safe. In April of 2020, more than 365,000 patient records were compromised in a sophisticated attack on the company’s cloud storage system using a combination of phishing and ransomware. Among the data stolen were employee credentials, social security numbers and tax information.

Large businesses aren’t the only ones at risk. According to the Verizon 2020 Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR), 28% of all cyberattacks are launched against small businesses (those with less than 1,000 employees). Although small business are targeted less frequently, data breaches that do target them yield confirmed data disclosure more than 50% of the time. Breaches affecting large businesses result in confirmed exposure approximately 6.6% of the time.

2. Public Schools and Colleges Are in the Crosshairs

Empty classroomRich with sensitive student, staff and faculty data, universities worldwide are unfortunately becoming more and more attractive targets of cyberattacks. This year, Michigan State University was the victim of not one, but two attacks. The first came in May, when NetWalker malware encrypted and stole sensitive information and threatened to publish it unless a ransom was paid. The second occurred over the summer, when the university’s online shop was compromised, resulting in the theft of more than 2,600 shoppers’ credit card numbers.

Similar attacks on educational and research institutions are on the rise. According to researchers at Check Point, weekly cyberattacks on education increased 30% in July and August of this year when compared to May and June. And this trend shows no sign of slowing down. This year alone:

  • University of Utah paid cyberattackers $457,000 for ransomed data.
  • University of California, San Francisco paid a staggering $1.1 million, one of the largest payouts to cyber attackers in the education sector ever.
  • Attackers shut down servers in New York, North Carolina and Illinois community colleges, among others.

Universities aren’t the only education targets of cyberattacks, as a number of attacks on K-12 public schools has demonstrated in recent years. At the time of this writing, the K-12 Cyber Incident Map, which tracks cybersecurity-related incidents in K-12 public schools in the U.S., has tracked 1,043 cyber incidents since 2016. One of the most brazen attacks this year occurred in one of Connecticut’s largest public school systems. The Hartford Public School system was attacked by a file-locking malware that impacted more than 200 city servers and forced schools to close.

3. Attackers Are Exploiting the Pandemic

The number of incidents in U.S. public schools had already tripled in 2019 from 2018, but the problem has only worsened since COVID-19 forced many workers and students to work and study Woman riding a bus wearing a medical maskonline. As working and learning from home expands, so too do the opportunities attackers have to infiltrate vulnerable systems or exploit unaware users. It may be no coincidence that nearly 8.4 billion records have been compromised in the first quarter of this year alone (as compared to only 4.1 million records during the first quarter of last year).

One way cyber criminals have exploited the pandemic is to target the products so many have come to depend on as they work and learn from home. While these products have helped many protect themselves from exposure to COVID-19, they also have opened them to another kind of exposure. Within months of a nearly global shift in working habits, attackers stole 500,000 Zoom user records and put them up for bid in the dark web.

Social attacks, like phishing, camouflaged as COVID-19 relief information and government health advice can sneak in payloads of ransomware, keyloggers, trojans and more. One study found that between February and March of this year, ransomware attacks increased by around 148%. What’s more, the same report by Carbon Black found that notable spikes in cyber attacks occur shortly after major COVID-related news, highlighting the opportunistic nature of cyberattackers.

What You Can Do

If you find this information frightening, you’re not alone. But you’re also not defenseless.

  • Regularly train staff and students on cyber security According to the 2020 DBIR, phishing has emerged as the most common threat to both big and small businesses. As phishing is a social attack, one of your best routes to preventing it is regular, thorough security awareness training of your staff. For schools and colleges, it’s not enough to train your staff and faculty on the importance of security awareness; you must also make sure your students understand cyber security best practices.
  • Let BITS equip your organization with anti-virus software This may sound self-explanatory, but as some of your employees are working from home, make sure they are only accessing your systems from approved, secure devices. For educators providing students with laptops, provide adequately-protected devices. Beacon IT Services (“BITS”) can help with all your anti-virus needs!
  • Partner with BITS to establish a strong perimeter Our experts can help you create, maintain and monitor firewalls and gateways to protect your network from cyber attacks. In many of the attacks, including those on Marriot, Magellan Health and Michigan State University, the vulnerabilities were found in unprotected or under-protected networks and servers.

Contact us!

The experts here at Beacon IT Services are ready to handle your IT security needs. Request a free audit or contact us with any questions about how we can help with your security and threat protection needs! It may not be silver bullets or wooden stakes, but with BITS, you can be sure you’re doing everything you can to protect yourself from threats.

By | 2020-10-26T07:56:43+00:00 October 26th, 2020|System Administration, Cyber Security, IT Services|
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