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|

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|

The History and Evolution of Managed IT Services

History: we’ve lived through it, and more is being made every day. And while what’s happening in IT services may not seem quite as dramatic as what’s happening in the rest of the world, there’s no doubt that the industry is rapidly evolving in ways that will change how IT business is done going forward.

And it’s not just that the way IT services are handled: it’s in the increasing need for every business to have a robust online presence, and with that, the need for trusted managed IT service providers. So how did we get here? As always, to get a sense of where we are going, it’s worthwhile to take a look back.

From “Break / Fix” To Managed Services 

For a long time, the dominant model for IT services was “Break / Fix.” A business would have their system set up, then when something went wrong, they’d call up an IT team to come fix it. Sure, that meant lots of downtime while they waited for the team to address the issue and big bills to fix major problems. But at the time, companies either weren’t relying as heavily on technology in their day to day business, or least they didn’t believe that they did.

As times changed and technology advanced, it became clear to many companies that technology was absolutely essential to their operation. The long down times and significant work (and income) reductions that came with the “break / fix” model were simply unacceptable. Still, it wasn’t feasible or practical for many companies – especially small businesses – to have their own full-time IT expert. So managed IT services were born.

In the managed IT services model, companies contracted with outside team of IT experts to monitor their technology and fix any issues that arise as soon as possible. This meant that companies no longer had to worry about crashing systems or email being down, but could also leverage more sophisticated and complex technology. The IT team would even update a company’s technology and systems to be up-to-date.

A New World of IT

Today, more business than ever is conducted online. Cloud computing gives companies access to levels of data storage and online collaboration that would have been unthinkable (or at least unaffordable) just ten years ago.

And with so much more happening in that cloud space rather than on hard drives, cyber security is even more essential as well. Fortunately, managed IT services can also put systems in place (like multi-factor authentication) to prevent data from being stolen, exploited, or tampered with.

So it’s no surprise that companies are increasing the resources they give to IT: data shows that 44% of businesses plan to increase their tech spending this year.

And more changes are in store.

Soon, 5G technology will likely transform the digital landscape again, increasing the speed and capacity of online systems while decreasing latency (the time it takes for data to travel between devices and cellular towers- practically, the delay between your action and a site’s response). Soon, people from across the world will be able to collaborate together as though they are in the same room.

The power of 5G technology, along with other revolutionary innovations like the Internet of Things (IOT), could change everything about the way we do business and live our lives. It goes without saying the “break / fix” model wouldn’t fly in this new world. Every business that wants to stay competitive will need a trusted IT team of experts to manage their technology and ensure their cyber security.

And a business that doesn’t adapt to this new world of IT? Well, they’re history.

Take Control of Your Future

Fortunately, a trustworthy IT partner isn’t hard to find. In fact, you’ve got one right here: Beacon IT Services (BITS). 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 managed IT needs, or request a free audit. Your future begins today.

By | 2020-06-25T11:49:34+00:00 June 25th, 2020|System Administration, Computer Related, 5G, IT Services|

Client Spotlight: RSVP Communications, Inc.

At Beacon, our success hinges on how well we know our clients. That’s what empowers us to anticipate their needs and deliver the right solution to the right problem at the right time.

That doesn’t just happen by accident. It happens with a purposeful effort to get to know and understand our clients, their business needs and future goals. And, as with any successful relationship, it all starts with asking questions.

Every once in a while, we wrangle one of our clients for an honest conversation about what we’re doing well and how we can improve. After all, you’ll never know if you don’t ask.

This month, we had the privilege of chatting up Ken Dobbins, Vice President and General Manager of RSVP Communications, Inc.

Conversation with Ken

Beacon: How does BITS help you be successful? 

Ken Dobbins: You play a huge role for us. When we joined up with Beacon we ended up getting a lot of brains and a lot of different perspectives on how things can be done. You get all these smart people in a room that come up with great solutions. We’ve had great success with you guys.

B: What separates BITS from other IT services/providers? 

KD: Your performance is really a cut above. If there’s an issue, you can get somebody over here pretty quick. Your monitoring capabilities are outstanding. And, you guys are reading, developing and understanding what the market is doing every day. That’s your job.

B: What’s the best part of working with BITS?

KD: Your understanding of the industry. The flexibility that you have. And, your customer service – Beacon has got a great team, top to bottom.

Contact Center Upgrade

On top of the core IT services Beacon provides to RSVP, we’ve also had the chance to help out with a couple of special projects. One such opportunity was the expansion of the RSVP contact center.

KD: Here’s what’s amazing. With the help of you guys and three other companies, we were able to rip out the entire Contact Center – all the work stations, all the carpet, all the wiring, all the electrical – and come in and run new electric with drop downs from the ceiling, instead of in the floor. We were able to – in a three-day period – come in, rip it all out, put it all back in, and on Monday morning, the agents were able to come in and go right to their work stations and go to work.

Warehouse Expansion

In addition to upgrading the Contact Center, Ken also oversaw the expansion of the RSVP Communications warehouse from 79,000 sq. ft to 109,000 sq ft.:

KD: You guys were instrumental in coming in and making very good recommendations on what equipment we should have, what equipment we shouldn’t have, and monitoring the guys who were doing the actual install – pulling the wire, putting the equipment in – monitoring all that to make sure that they’re putting in the right stuff.

At the end of the day, there were some issues that you identified that we were able to get fixed along the way.

It’s not that anyone was doing a bad job. It’s just that you guys were just doing a great job to ensure that it was being done right. That was extremely successful, and the new facility is up and running flawlessly pretty much.

About RSVP Communications

The company delivers a number of services, helping clients market, sell and deliver their products to their customers. These services require a broad set of competencies – from web developers creating custom CRM applications and friendly customer service representatives managing customer questions and orders, to a robust warehouse operation ensuring that the right products are shipped on time and where they need to go.

That’s quite a complicated operation. But all the complexity is skillfully managed with strong infrastructure, experienced people, proven systems and reliable technology.

Client Profile

Name: RSVP Communications, Inc.

Size: 80+

Industry: Product Fulfillment, Call Center Services, Marketing

Location: Greensboro, NC

BITS Services: end-user support (managed IT), server support, IT consultative services, expansion support

By | 2020-09-22T12:27:03+00:00 September 25th, 2019|System Administration, BITS News, IT Services|

Lessons in Cyber Security & Threat Prevention

Atlanta Ransomware Attack

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

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

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

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

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

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

Protection Through Prevention

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We’re Here to Help

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

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