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Network Security

Understanding Network Security

These days, businesses are often so concerned with day-to-day operations that they have forgotten to invest in network security. Others understand the need for complete network security, but have a relaxed strategy in regards to their IT, which can be just as dangerous in the event of a data leak or issue.

What is Network Security?

  • It’s protection from getting hacked and helps keep the bad guys out
  • It’s keeping your data secure and backed up, automatically
  • It’s preventing your system from getting infected by a virus or malware attack
  • It’s performing routine maintenance and patching to keep your system up to date
  • It’s about being aware of possible security threats – Not sure how to do this? Click Here for a free IT Report on how to protect and preserve your data!

Network Security

What Can Network Security Protect Your Business From?

Bugs, Viruses, and other vulnerabilities have all existed since the beginning of computing, but the threats found in today’s technology world have vastly outnumbered and outperformed them.

In part, this is due to how society has grown heavily reliant on the internet and technology. Here are some of the threats which proper network security can protect your business from:

  • Spyware and Adware: While not particularly threatening they can invade your privacy and pave the way for more dangerous infections to enter the network. Spyware can log your keystrokes, providing the bad guys with your valuable information. While adware is simply an annoying means to gain profit, through things like pop-ups.
  • Phishing and Identity Theft: Hackers will often try to pose as a reputable institution which your business has relations with in attempt to steal information from you such as your credit card numbers, banking information, or passwords. They do this by appearing legitimate through an email address or a website designed to look like the real thing.
  • Viruses, Malware, and Exploitation of Vulnerabilities: The goal of the hacker is to infiltrate your databases and steal your information, or to leave behind a backdoor for later access at their leisure. Hackers often infect systems with viruses or malware which can either cause damage or allow for the hacker to gain remote control to the machine. These measures are difficult to remove as they are often implanted into several areas of the machine and hidden very well.

Network Security from AZCOMP Technologies

At AZCOMP Technologies, we take security very seriously. We take preventative measures to keep the threats from ever entering your system in the first place.

This lets you avoid costly repairs or downtime that often follow a hacking attack. We offer a comprehensive network security solution, that keeps threats of all kinds from entering your network and neutralizing those that already have. Some of things included in our network security solution are:

  • Next Generation Firewalls:  Firewalls are your first line of defense against outside threats. A firewall will analyze the traffic and data going to and from your network. You can think of it like a virtual bouncer which keeps dangerous things from entering your network.
  • Antivirus Software: If a virus or piece of malware does manage to get through your firewall, it can be killed off quickly with an enterprise-level antivirus software. An antivirus eliminates threats as quickly as possible while limiting the damage done.
  • Spam Blocking: Not only is spam annoying and useless, some phishing emails might slip through your defenses. Instead of going directly to the inbox where it may be accidentally opened, it goes to the spam folder, where it can be promptly ignored or deleted.
  • Content Filtering: Not all web content is safe for viewing, so it’s important that your team can tell when a site is fake and when they are real. Content filtering allows you to block certain websites from accessing your data. It’s also good for increasing productivity in the office by limiting employee access to time-wasting websites like Facebook, BuzzFeed, etc.
  • Security Patching: We ensure that your machines are up to date with the latest security patches available to help keep your network as secure as possible!

A Healthy network is a strong network, AZCOMP Technologies can handle all this technical information for you while you reap the benefits of a protected network.

Give us a call at 480.730.3055 or click below to receive your free report on what every small business owner must know about protecting and preserving critical data!

Why Does Restarting a Computer Fix So Many Issues?

“Try Restarting Your Computer”

Few things cause more eye rolls than being told to restart a device. Most of us are used to hearing it by now. Many of the people that we help have already restarted their computers before they even call us, and there are some people that tend to have a “face-palm” moment when they’ve forgotten this technology fix-all.

Other people almost seem to take offense when they hear it, like they’ve somehow been insulted with this too-simple-to-help advice.

But guess what? It Does Work! We estimate that more than half of all issues in technology can are fixable with a simple reboot.

But why does rebooting fix problems?

When you are using your computer, you’re opening programs, installing and installing software, and moving files around. Sometimes windows like, internet browsers are open for hours, or even days at a time. There are a lot of background services that stop and start too, but you never really see these services.

We use our computers a lot, especially over the course of weeks or months.

What you may not realize, is that a lot of what you and your operating system does, is leaving behind a footprint. Usually this footprint is in the form of background processes you don’t really need running anymore or programs that didn’t quite close all the way.

These “left-over” items hog your system resources, and usually, your RAM.

When too much of this happens, you start to get problems, like a sluggish system, programs that won’t open anymore, etc.

When you reboot your computer, every single program and process ends as the power leaves your computer during the restart process.

Once the computer starts back up, you will have a clean state (of sorts) and more than not, a faster, better working computer.

Note: Restarting your PC is the same as rebooting or powering it off and then on. Restarting is not the same as resetting, which is a much larger process and usually includes erasing everything and returning to “factory defaults”.

 

Frequently Restarting May Indicate a Bigger Issue

Restarting your computer occasionally, is perfectly normal, and if you’re doing the type of work that requires multiple programs, it is encouraged.

However, if you find that the reboot is only a temporary fix for you, there may be a bigger problem at hand.

Hardware may be failing; important operating system files may be damaged or you may even have virus or malware files on your machine.

Give us a call, and we will work with you to find a solution any computer or network issues impacting your business. We’ll get the computer problems slowing down your office resolved quickly, and if you’ll allow us to, we’ll perform an assessment to determine what is causing your problems in the first place. This is called an IT Network Assessment, and we’ll do it for FREE! Call us now at (888) 799-4777 and we’ll start working on resolving your pressing computer issues.

 

Password Tips to Keep You Secure Online

How to Keep your Passwords Safe Online

  1. Create strong passwords

Strong passwords, by definition, have at least eight characters, with a mix of uppercase letters, lowercase letter, numbers, and symbols. They also avoid the use of personal information, such as birthdays, first, middle, or last names. Create strong, secure passwords that you’ll remember.

  1. Use a different password for each account

Using a different password for each online account is important because, if you share passwords across accounts, one compromised password can be used to log into another account. This is especially important regarding online banking and financial accounts.

  1. Get a password manager

Password managers, like LastPass or 1Password for example, can help you store multiple passwords, often in an encrypted manner, for easy access. Typically, they will require one master password with additional layer of authentication to access the stored passwords.

  1. Turn on multi-factor authentication

Multi-factor Authentication adds an additional layer of security on top of your standard password. For example, an app may require you answer a security question, input a unique code, or use a fingerprint scanner on top of using your password. Check the security settings of your favorite apps and passwords to see if multi-factor authentication is available.

Join Us For a Free Lunch n Learn Training!

The #1 biggest threat to your network is what your employees allow in. Training them on how to recognize potentially dangerous emails and online scams is critical. Protect your business with this important online safety training.

think before you click training

Managed Services Defined

What is Managed Services?

The new term relating to IT Support is “Managed IT Services”, or just “Managed Services”. But what does this mean?

Generally, Managed Services allows the business to allocate their IT operations to an outside source, known as a Managed Services Provider, or (MSP). Managed Service Providers assume an ongoing responsibility for 24-hour monitoring. MSP’s managing and provide problem resolutions for the network systems, and do it all for a fixed monthly fee.


It all started at “Break-Fix”

Small businesses outsourcing their IT needs to an IT service firm isn’t a new concept. It started with what is called the “break-fix” model. This is easy to understand. When the business experienced something broken on a computer or their network, they would call someone to fix it.

Some small businesses use this break-fix model but an employee within the company has the adopted roll of an IT technician and struggles through diagnosis and problem resolution wasting valuable time.

Over time, the best of the IT technicians had developed procedures to periodically come on-site to review of logs and user information looking for hints of issues before they became a big issue. In some instances, a detailed checklist was used to track system usage, traffic, etc.

There are several problems with the Break-Fix model.

Even with good technicians and their checklists, they are limited in what they can see, and thus are limited in predicting potential problems. There is a lot of guess work involved. Also, computers and networks crash a lot in this model, meaning that there are a lot of employees without the ability to work and productivity is lost along with profits.

One of the biggest problems is that the worse your system gets, the more you are paying the IT company to keep coming and fixing things. It’s like an auto mechanic. The more car problems you have, the more you must pay the mechanic. It makes it difficult to control costs and you never know how much to budget.

Managed Services as an Alternative

With the recent introduction of Managed Services, it has caused a major change in the way that many businesses deal with their technology. Instead of following the traditional way of break-fix action where you literally wait until devices fail and then rush to fix them, a business with a Managed Service Provider (MSP) can consistently enjoy a stable network and stable computers.

When you hire an MSP to manage the IT side of your business, you generally are getting several things.

One is that you are getting an IT team, so you have a wide range of skills and abilities working on your system. You are also getting pro-active maintenance along with threat detection and prevention. Another huge thing you are getting is consultations about your system- someone that functions like a Chief Technology Officer for your small business.

The result of all of this is you have a team of highly skilled IT technicians servicing your system, keeping your data secure, keeping your system up and at peak performance, someone to ask questions to and easily fix little issues and avoid the big issues. And, you get all of this for less than if you hired a dedicated IT staff for your business, at a fixed monthly fee.

“Break-Fix” VS “Managed Services”

Let’s look at the two solutions side-by-side.

Break-Fix Pro’s:

  • Only paying for services rendered when they are rendered.

Break-Fix Con’s:

  • Unpredictable computer or network performance. One computer or the entire system could go down at any moment.
  • When there is a failure, you must wait until your IT support firm has the availability to help you. If your IT support is currently dealing with another emergency, then you must wait. This could result in long periods of down-time, wasting the time of your employees and draining profits.
  • The more unstable your system, the more you end up paying. Costs are unpredictable from month to month.
  • When the customer has problems, it takes up a lot of their time dealing with the IT support firm.

Managed Services Pro’s:

  • Near elimination of risk for computer or network failure. The business will experience close to zero down-time.
  • All computers and components of the system will run at peak performance.
  • A team of trained IT professionals monitors and maintains your system. Pro-active measures are taken to ensure system stability when trouble is on the horizon.
  • If any problems arise, it is already determined how to request service and technicians will begin working on the problem quickly.
  • Outside threats to your system (such as viruses) are dramatically reduced.
  • The entire system is backed up the right way. If any sort of major event were to happen, the entire system could be brought back quickly to get the company back to normal business operations.
  • The cost of all of this is very predictable because it is all done for a flat monthly rate.

Managed Services Con’s:

  • Theoretically, there is no down side to managed services. However, one down side could be false expectations of the consumer. When you hire an MSP, this does not mean that you will never experience network or computer issues again. With an MSP, you aren’t getting perfection. But, you are dramatically increasing the overall health of your system, your uptime, your productivity and much more.
  • The cost. Some small businesses that investigate managed solutions for the first time can feel the price is high. Purchasing managed services usually isn’t cheap, but neither is on-call IT support. However, many businesses don’t realize how much they are spending on their flawed IT support. They are paying for their break-fix IT support technician, plus for lost time and inefficiency, for ill-equipped employees trying and failing to successfully manage their network, and potentially much more.

Why Break-Fix is no longer good enough for your business

It today’s business environment, businesses heavily rely on their computers, their network and being up and connected all the time. No business can really afford to have a shaky network, or be down for any period.  No business can really afford to willingly expose themselves to all the new-age online criminal rings. A good business doesn’t has the time to deal with major outages, or data corruption, or data theft, or systems held together by a shoestring

Is It Time for Your Business to Make the Switch?

If your small business is currently using the break-fix model for IT support, you may want to consider making the switch to managed services. Here are a few questions to ask yourself when you think about the possibilities.

  1. Is an employee or the business owner, either of which have no real IT credentials, managing your computers and network?
  2. Over the past year, did your server go down or go off-line? How many times and for how long?
  3. Over the past year, did any of your computers crash, become unresponsive, or have to be restarted because things were getting weird? How many times?
  4. Over the past year, have you had to call an IT support technician to come to your office to investigate problems? How many times?
  5. Are any of your employee’s wasting time by waiting for programs to load, or basically everything on the machine is running sluggish? How much time is being wasted every week or month?
  6. Have you ever lost business data that couldn’t be recovered? Or, did it take a long time to recover?
  7. How many problems are you currently just “dealing with” because you don’t want to spend the time or money to have someone look at it?

There are a lot more questions that could be asked, but that is a good list to start with. If you answered any of these questions in the affirmative, then it could be a good time for your business to consider making the switch to managed services.

Is your current IT solution not getting it done at your business?

Call AZCOMP at (888) 799-4777 to discuss your IT situation and needs. We can help!

Learn more about AZCOMPs managed service solution at our website here.

Is Your IT Guy Holding You Prisoner?

Don’t Let Your IT Guy Hold You Prisoner

Here’s a question to think about: If your IT guy were to go away, would you know where all of your passwords, data, software licenses and disks, key codes, and other important information were stored? Do you know the process to log into your server? Do you know the passwords needed to access your employee’s workstations? Do you know where your offsite data is stored, and how to access it? Is your network documented so that another IT person could come in and pickup where it was left off? If not, your IT guy may be holding you prisoner.

If he’s doing his job well, you might not mind too much; however, you should require that they document your network in the event that they don’t show up for work one day.

Occasionally I’ve run across potential new clients who aren’t truly happy with their IT guy’s work, but stay with them out of fear. As one business owner to another, this is NEVER a good reason to stay with your current provider.

If you can’t trust the person with the most access and power over your computer network – the core of your business – you need to find someone you CAN trust. A truly professional person or provider would NEVER hold their client hostage or do any harm in handing over the “keys” to another company. In addition, any good IT Professional should be able to walk you through the transition to prevent that person from doing any damage.

How To Know If Your IT Is Doing A Good Job

Another reason business owners stay with their current IT solution, is simply because they don’t know what good service really is.  Time and time again, I’m absolutely SHOCKED by the incompetence and irresponsibility that I discover when auditing most business networks. In 98% of the computer networks I review, I find faulty or non-existent backup systems, security loopholes, half-helpful reporting, and broken or flawed systems that simply cost more to maintain.

Why do so many businesses pay for substandard computer support? Simply because they don’t know how to truly verify that their network IS secure and they end up having to take someone at their word.

 


Here’s a quick test to see if your IT guy is doing his job well. If your technician does not score a “yes” on every point, you could be paying for substandard support

  1. Do they answer their phones “live” and respond to support issues in one hour or less?
  2. Are they remotely monitoring your network 24-7-365 to keep critical security settings, virus definitions, and security patches up to date?
  3. Do they INSIST on monitoring an offsite as well as an onsite backup, or are they letting you rely on outdated tape backups?
  4. Do they INSIST on doing periodic test restores of your backups to make sure the data is not corrupt and could be restored in the event of a disaster?
  5. Do they consistently (and proactively) offer innovative ways to improve your network’s performance, or do they wait until you have a problem to make recommendations?
  6. Do they explain what they are doing and answer your questions in terms that you can understand (not geek-speak)?
  7. Do they complete projects on time and on budget, or does every project end up taking longer and costing more than you expected?
  8. Do they offer any guarantees on their services?
  9. Do they have other technicians on staff who are familiar with your network in case your regular technician goes on vacation or gets sick?
  10. Do their technicians maintain current vendor certifications and participate in ongoing training, or do you feel as though they are learning on your dime?
  11. Do you have to manage their progress on projects, or do they provide frequent updates, status reports, and follow-up calls and e-mails?
  12. Do they take calls from other clients while working on your network (and on your dime)?
  13. Do they offer flat-rate or fixed-fee project quotes, or do they give themselves an open playing field with “time and materials?”

If your current IT solution failed This test, we would like to give you a FREE Network Assessment to ensure things are done correctly!

If you’re NOT happy with your IT person and have a suspicion that they aren’t doing the best job possible, then call us for a second opinion. At no cost or obligation to you, we’ll come to your office and conduct a network assessment to look for problems with your backup, security, speed, and any other problems that could lead to data loss, downtime, and high repair fees.