Archive Monthly Archives: October 2017

This is Why You Need a VPN – Even at Home

When people want to feel safe in their home, they take security very seriously. They move to a safe neighborhood, get some kind of security system set-up, and maybe even get an additional form of self-protection, whatever that may be.

But, in today’s world, there are other ways for bad people to infiltrate well beyond your household walls – and it’s all done through the Internet. Your Internet security is just as important as your physical home security, because you need to be protected from the dangers that lurk in cyberspace – as silly as that may sound.

One of the easiest and most effective ways to do this is by downloading a VPN on your network. It may seem as though a VPN is only necessary for businesses or people traveling abroad, but that’s not the case. If you use WiFi in your home, you’re just as much as a target as a major company – if not more.

Keep yourself safe, and consider utilizing a VPN for your remote access network.

What is a VPN?

VPN stands for “Virtual Private Network.” It’s a way to access the Internet through a private, secure connection, and it’s also a way to share information over the Internet while remaining protected. You could think of it as a firewall that protects you while you’re online, and stops hackers and viruses from getting in and taking your information.

If you need a little help visualizing how it works, it’s nice to think of a VPN as a “tunnel” – a tunnel that leads you right to where you’re intended destination is, without risking any detours, leaks, traffic jams, or accidents (hacks) along the way.

There are plenty of VPNs you can get for free online. However, some of those can slow down your connection and, in general, aren’t as useful or reliable as paid VPNs.

Why Everyone Should Use a VPN

Nowadays, people need to protect their business online just as much as they protect their physical, household possessions. The Internet can reveal a lot about an individual, and when that information gets into the wrong hands, you can find yourself in a lot of trouble.

As it is, people could be doing more to protect themselves online, like practicing better password strategies or staying away from harmful URLs. Adding a VPN is another layer of protection on top of all that.

Whether it’s to guard your private messaging conversations, hide your location from those who don’t need to know it, or even streaming your favorite TV shows at top speeds, everyone can find a good reason to use a VPN.

When and Where to Use a VPN

There are really no rules when it comes to when and where a VPN should be utilized. As we mentioned before, it certainly won’t hurt you to use a VPN at home when you’re accessing the Internet over WiFi. However, one could argue that a VPN is best utilized when you’re accessing a public WiFi network that is not trusted (perhaps at an airport or a cafe).

Additional Benefits of Using a VPN

One of the most important benefits of using a VPN is that you can do what you need to do online without having to worry. Whether you want to access your online banking, book a trip or make a purchase, apply for a mortgage, or stream a live event, a VPN lets you do all of this as safely as possible.

But, besides security reasons, using a VPN also has other benefits. For one, it helps you access certain websites from abroad, especially if those sites are unavailable in your location. For instance, if you’re traveling in a country where a website like Paypal or an app like Venmo isn’t yet available, a VPN can help you access it without any issues.

So, based on all this information, why NOT get a VPN?!

Is Your IT-Team Prepared for Disaster Recovery? Ask Them These Questions to Find Out

When it comes to managing your company’s data and cybersecurity, there are a lot of different people involved. Whether your outsourced CIO is making the decisions or your company leader is calling the shots, the IT team needs to be in the loop of what’s going on. And, although your IT team should never be substituted for an unbiased, outsourced professional, they are the ones staying on top of the systems from day to day so that business can run smoothly.

Therefore, if your IT team isn’t prepared for a disaster if and when it strikes, your business is going to suffer. If you want to make sure they’re ready, then hold a meeting and ask these questions:

“Where Exactly is the Data Being Stored?”

As a business, every single piece of data you have now or have collected over the years has played an important role in the growth of your business. It could be archives of your various web designs or brand logos, an extensive email list of your customers and leads, or even the sensitive information belonging to your clients.

So, with all that in mind, where is this information being stored? Can your IT team tell you exactly where it is on your network? How secure it is? Is it encrypted? Who has access? Where the servers are located, etc.?

“Do We have a Disaster Recovery Process and Procedure Documented?”

Unfortunately, no company is invincible to cyber attacks. They can happen any business, no matter how big or how small. That being said, you shouldn’t have any reason to worry — as long as your whole team has a specific protocol to follow. If a cyber attack or blackout does occur, the entire IT team should have a clear document outlining the process and procedure to reach recovery and get back up and running again, without losing any data. These procedures should be in print, of course, and easily accessible in the case of an emergency. Also, as a C-level leader,  it’s important to make sure any new staff you hire is aware of these procedures right from their first day

“Do We Frequently Test Restorations?”

There’s no question that companies should be backing up their data as frequently as possible. But, don’t assume that just because you think it’s being backed up, it actually is being backed up. Sometimes, there are problems with the hardware or someone just forgets to click a button. Whatever it is, these back-ups need to be checked consistently and disaster recovery restorations need to be tested on a regular basis. IT teams don’t want to catch a mistake in the disaster recovery process in real-time; better to do a few drills and know the system is ready to go.

“How Far Can We Go Back if It’s Urgent to Retrieve Data?”

This is a big question that might not be the first thing C-levels think of. But, here’s why it’s important. In general, we know how to restore important information — or, rather, what we think is important at the time.

Think about it.

If you were asked to pick out the five most crucial pieces of data that if lost, would pose a huge threat to your business, you could probably think of them very quickly. But, if the time actually comes when your company is a victim of a cyber attack or power outage, you might realize right then and there that you forgot to add something to that list. Something so important, but didn’t occur to you because the last time you checked the file was more than a year ago.

You don’t necessarily need to think about those items now. But, what you do need to think about is asking your IT team how far back they can retrieve data if the worst case scenario happens.

“In the Case of a Natural Disaster or Outage, How Long Until You’re Up and Running Again?”

And, last but not least, there are disasters that happen and they aren’t due to any hacker or any human errors. It’s simply Mother Nature. The power goes out. A local computer burns out. A snowstorm is coming. Any of these things can happen, and it can sometimes put business to a complete halt. Therefore, you need to know how long it will take your IT team to get things up and running again. And, if it might take a while, be aware of how much each minute down can cost your business.

You have the right to know your IT team is prepared. As long as they can answer these questions without hesitation, your business should be in good shape for a disaster recovery.

How Cybersecurity Can Be Used for Client Acquisition

By now, most business leaders are well aware of how important it is to practice cybersecurity in their company. Companies who don’t implement strong and consistent security strategies are putting themselves at a huge risk. The slightest breach can leak your most sensitive information and the information of your customers. Depending on what kind of business you’re running, failing to follow cybersecurity compliance laws can give you much more trouble than just losing the trust of your customers; although that’s, of course, enough of a reason to make it a top priority.

But, if that alone isn’t quite enough incentive to convince you of the need for cybersecurity, what if we told you that investing in it could seriously increase your client acquisition? Would you reconsider it then?

Here are a few of the ways that using cybersecurity can help you actually bring in more leads:

Hacks are Becoming More Prevalent, and Businesses are Vulnerable

As technology has become more advanced, so have the types of hacks we see and the frequency of them occurring. Whether it’s ransomware, malware, a phishing scam, or any other type of hack, there are so many ways it can be executed. If businesses aren’t staying on top of what’s out there and how to take preventative actions against hackers, the potential results could be devastating. The more developed hackers become with their methods, the more vulnerable businesses become, since it’s not really possible to know everything that’s out there. That being said, businesses who are trying their absolute best to combat these hackers are going to be seen as more reliable. This in itself can lead to more customers.

Consumers Don’t Know All the Different Ways a Hack Can Be Disguised

As much as you don’t know all the kind of hacks that are out there (which is why, of course, you hire a CIO to help you), your clients may know even less. For example, if they see an email that looks like it came from your business, but it’s actually a hack, they might not think twice before clicking on it. If you take the time as a company to really be proactive about your cybersecurity, stay on top of anything fishy that’s happening, and keep your prospective clients in the loop, they’ll love to join you.

Proof of Cybersecurity = Trust

These days, the average consumer knows about the risk of companies getting hacked and their information getting exposed to people it doesn’t belong to. Even the most well-known companies: Yahoo!, Bank of America, and most recently Equifax, have fallen victim to significant cybersecurity breaches. Whether you were personally a victim or not, it will definitely make you think twice before signing up to use the services provided by any of these companies.

If you have a good history of solid security and can ensure your customers that you’re taking as many precautions as possible to protect them, they are going to be more inclined to do business with your company over a similar competitor that’s not putting as much attention on their cybersecurity situation. As you can see, cybersecurity leads to trust with your potential clients.

Any company is more likely to gain more clients if they are attentive to their cybersecurity and transparent with their current and potential clients about what they offer. Of course, if you hire a managed service provider who acts as your CIO, you’re going to have a much easier time with this.

>