The Misunderstood Threat of Ransomware

Shedding Light on the True Impact of Ransomware Attacks

The world has become increasingly dependent on technology, and with it, the peril of ransomware looms large, capable of crippling businesses of all sizes. The risk of ransomware has grown to epic proportions within the last few years, and no business is safe.

As long as a business uses a computer system, network, or online resources such as banking, it’s at risk. It’s not a concern just for big businesses but also for small businesses.

Despite the risk, many business owners remain oblivious to the severity of the threat or fail to grasp the potential impact of ransomware infection.

In this write-up, we aim to simplify the message and drive home a crucial point: ransomware has the power to bring your business to its knees. Here’s how:

Ransomware Can Bring Your Business to a Standstill

Imagine a situation where your ability to serve clients, collect payments, and acquire new business abruptly stops. Even the thought of it is devastating!

That is the harsh reality of falling victim to a ransomware attack.

Whether you rely on local servers or cloud-based applications, no matter your technology setup, the impact is the same—temporary yet devastating disruption.

As a business owner, it is crucial to recognize that ransomware is not a mere inconvenience. It has the potential to jeopardize your entire business. Or even shut it down permanently when the recovery cost becomes too much.

The Aftermath of a Ransomware Attack

When ransomware strikes, the repercussions go far beyond inaccessible data. Your computers, online accounts, and vital business functions are rendered useless. Projects remain unfinished, productivity plummets and revenue streams dry up.

The road to recovery from a cyberattack is long and arduous, requiring significant time, effort, and resources. Often, the damage inflicted on your business’s reputation and customer trust can have lasting effects. Convincing your clients and business partners that you can safeguard their privacy and data becomes a challenging task. How do you convince them that the same thing will not happen again?

When protecting your business from ransomware, the key is to take it seriously and act proactively. Prevention is the best defense against cyber threats. Don’t wait for an incident to happen and regret not taking action earlier. There are numerous cybersecurity tools available that can effectively safeguard your business. By implementing these measures, you can avoid becoming a victim of ransomware and prevent irreversible damage to your company.

Collateral Damage to Employees and Financial Stability

While you grapple with the consequences of a ransomware attack, spare a thought for your employees. With systems compromised, their productivity grinds to a halt, leaving you with difficult choices regarding payroll and financial stability.

Perhaps a business has computers that are part of a network and don’t have a central server. The company could do all its computing through internet-based apps such as QuickBooks Online, Microsoft 365 (or G-Suite), an online CRM, online EHR programs and more. Ransomware will prevent access to all these online services, leaving your employees helpless to do their jobs.

In this situation, it isn’t easy to generate new sales or fulfill existing ones without the ability to access any of your systems and work. As a result, cash flow dwindles, leaving little to cover staff wages, bills, and payments to suppliers.

Ongoing expenses, such as rent and insurance will continue to pile up while revenue is severely hampered. Ransomware disrupts your business’s operations and affects the livelihood of you and your valued workforce.

HIPAA Compliance and Ransomware

For healthcare providers, the stakes are even higher. HIPAA compliance, designed to protect patient privacy, cannot be ignored. The devastating impact of a ransomware attack goes beyond financial losses, potentially breaching regulations and incurring severe penalties. Ransomware gives the attackers access to patient data.

Failing to pay the ransom may see the patient’s data sold on the dark web. The regulatory consequences are dire, as the regulators may issue crippling fines and penalties. On the other hand, the media can have a field day with news about patient data breaches. Once the information is out there, the reputation and brand image may take a nosedive.

Patient trust, essential for the success of healthcare businesses, is jeopardized, and the company is now in a pickle.

Interested in real-life examples? Take a look at this recent article on our site. It outlines the experiences of several businesses that faced ransomware attacks and how they managed the situation.

Rebuilding from the Ruins

Recovering from a ransomware attack is a challenging and time-consuming process.

Rebuilding trust with clients and partners while facing the consequences of an attack is no easy task. Building a new client network takes time and the internet’s memory can haunt a brand affected by a ransomware attack. Rebuilding employee confidence and productivity is another hurdle, as they may need to relearn safe internet practices. Additionally, the emotional toll on business owners and staff should not be underestimated. Recreating lost data, addressing security vulnerabilities, and implementing strong cybersecurity measures are essential steps in the recovery process.

After surviving a ransomware incident, business owners often realize the overwhelming challenge of rebuilding and addressing all the necessary tasks, leading some to close their doors ultimately.

Protect Your Business, Secure Your Future

In a world where cyber threats abound, complacency can be a business owner’s greatest downfall. Ransomware poses a clear and present danger, capable of erasing months or even years of hard work in a matter of moments.

But you can dramatically increase your ability to avoid such a scary scenario by embracing a healthy fear of ransomware and adopting robust cybersecurity practices.

Whether your business is based in the Phoenix metro area or elsewhere in Arizona, the need for heightened cybersecurity is universal. Feel free to give us a call to discuss your unique cybersecurity needs, or check out our 15 ways to protect your business against cyber attack for more insight. Remember, your business’s security is in your hands.

About AZCOMP Technologies

AZCOMP Technologies of Mesa, AZ, is a leading provider of technology solutions and cybersecurity for businesses of all sizes. AZCOMP’s mission is to help enterprises to improve efficiency, reduce costs, and increase cybersecurity through innovative tech solutions.

AZCOMP Technologies has provided technology solutions and services to businesses since 2000. Our experienced and committed professionals spend most of their time working on clients’ computers and systems. 

Contact us today for more information about our cybersecurity solutions in Phoenix. 

5 Mistakes to Avoid When Selecting a Full-Service Managed IT Provider

IT Provider

Selecting the right IT provider for your Phoenix area business is a critical decision.

It’s not like shopping for a new car; you can’t simply see the product and know it’s the right fit. Finding the perfect IT provider requires careful consideration because not all providers are created equal. Unfortunately, most business leaders have a hard time figuring out how to properly vet an IT business and resort to making their choice based primarily on price. While price and budget are important, price should not even be close to the determining factor.

Imagine if you were choosing a physician for an important medical procedure. Would you base your decision solely on price? Of course not. The same applies when hiring a key employee for your company. You wouldn’t hire a new CFO based on the lowest hourly wage.

Choosing the wrong IT support company can have serious consequences that are challenging to overcome. That’s why it’s important to know how to identify the best IT firm for your business.

To help you navigate this decision, we’ve compiled five common mistakes to avoid when selecting a full-service managed IT provider. By steering clear of these pitfalls, you can find an IT partner that will enhance your business’s productivity, security, and overall success.

Avoid These 5 Mistakes When Looking for The Right IT Provider!

1: Choosing Based on a Single Phone Call

One of the most common mistakes businesses make when selecting an IT consultant is basing their decision solely on a single phone call.

While a phone conversation can provide a preliminary impression, it’s never sufficient. Take the process further. Invite potential consultants to your office and ask for a written proposal tailored to your business needs. This way, you can gauge their suitability as partners for your business success.

Meeting them in person lets you gauge their professionalism, communication skills, and overall fit for your organization. A competent IT consultant should offer to audit your network before providing any recommendations. They must demonstrate that they know what they are getting into because one business is different from another. When it comes to IT solutions, it’s never a one-size-fits-all kind of situation.

Similar to hiring a full-time employee, have face-to-face interaction and gain confidence in their abilities. It’s up to them to convince you. Not the other way around!

2: Failing to Check References

Another critical mistake is neglecting to check references when selecting an IT consultant. Something that most businesses never forget to do when hiring employees.

Perhaps most business leaders are probably in a hurry to hire an IT firm that “seems” competent because they don’t want to navigate the intricacies of their technical know-how.

Whatever the case, ask for references as they provide valuable insights into the consultant’s track record, reliability, and customer satisfaction.

While a salesperson may provide positive assurances, speak directly with several current clients. Request at least three to four references from clients similar in size and industry to your business.

These references provide better insights into the consultant’s capabilities, responsiveness, and overall quality of their services. They speak in your language, which is in terms of the overall business value.

A reputable IT consultant should be willing and able to provide references. If they hesitate or cannot provide references, treat it as a red flag about their performance and customer satisfaction.

3: Overlooking Remote Monitoring and Support Capabilities

In today’s digital age, remote monitoring and support capabilities are essential when selecting an IT consultant. Of course, on-site visits are necessary in certain situations, but a competent IT provider should offer robust remote monitoring and support services. You can ask the references provided about the firm’s remote monitoring and support capabilities.

But why is it important?

Remote monitoring enables proactive identification and resolution of potential issues before they escalate, ensuring maximum uptime and minimizing disruptions to your business operations.

Furthermore, remote support allows for faster response times, immediate assistance, and quick problem resolution, which is crucial in an increasingly interconnected business environment. Choosing an IT consultant with remote solid monitoring and support capabilities helps optimize your network’s performance, enhance security, and reduce downtime.

4: Not Prioritizing Defined Processes and Results

Choosing an IT consultant without a defined process for supporting and managing your technology is a significant mistake. An exceptional IT service provider should have well-defined systems and procedures to deliver consistent, reliable results.

These processes ensure your technology infrastructure is efficiently managed, secure, and aligned with your business objectives. A structured approach to service delivery sets great IT consultants apart from average ones.

Before deciding, inquire about their methodologies, service frameworks, and incident management processes. By selecting an IT consultant with a clear and defined approach, you can have confidence in their ability to consistently meet your technology needs and drive positive results for your business.

5: Failing to Select a Specialized Healthcare IT Provider

For businesses in the healthcare industry, choosing an IT consultant with specialized expertise in healthcare IT is imperative. But why’s that?

The healthcare sector has unique regulatory requirements, such as protected health information (PHI) security and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) compliance. An IT consultant who understands these requirements makes it easier to protect patient data and maintain compliance. Compliance is vital to any healthcare institution; overlooking it can affect its continuity.

A healthcare-focused IT consultant will have in-depth knowledge of practice management software, electronic health records (EHR) systems, and other industry-specific technologies. They will understand the critical nature of these systems for your practice’s operations and patient care.

By entrusting your network and data security to a healthcare IT specialist, you can ensure that your IT infrastructure aligns with industry best practices, ultimately reducing risks and avoiding costly compliance violations.

Additional Tips for Hiring the Perfect IT Provider for Your Business

To access more valuable tips on selecting the perfect IT company for your business, download our Complete Guide to Hiring an IT Consultant. With this guide, you’ll learn everything to know about hiring an honest, competent, responsive, and fairly-priced computer consultant.

Takeaway

Selecting the right full-service managed IT provider is a pivotal decision that can significantly impact your business’s efficiency, security, and success. It’s a decision directly connected to your business’s lifeline.

By avoiding these five common mistakes—choosing based on a single phone call, failing to check references, overlooking remote monitoring and support capabilities, neglecting defined processes and results, and not selecting a specialized healthcare IT consultant—you can make an informed decision and forge a beneficial IT partnership.

Contact us for a 15-minute phone call to explore how our services can help your business thrive with technology.

About AZCOMP Technologies

AZCOMP Technologies provides Managed IT services and technology solutions for Mesa/Phoenix metro area businesses.

Do you wish IT was easier? We do that!

We make it easier for you to get help. We make it easier for your employees to be productive. We make it easier for upper management not to have to deal with IT frustrations. We make it easier for you to leverage technology in your service or product delivery. We make it easier for you to be secure and compliant. We help your technology improve and become a driving force for success in your business.

We make IT easier so you can make your patients happy, run an efficient business, AND never have to be stressed about IT again.

AZCOMP Technologies has provided business technology solutions and cybersecurity services since 2000. AZCOMP offers these services in Mesa, Tempe, Scottsdale, Chandler, Gilbert, Phoenix, Glendale, Apache Junction, Queen Creek, San Tan Valley, Gold Canyon, and more.

Request your IT consultation today!

AI-Powered Cyberattacks and Scams Are on the Rise – Are You Prepared for What’s Coming?

AI-Powered Cyberattacks

In an alarming AI-powered cyberattack incident, an Arizona family recently fell victim to a harrowing ransom call that utilized the power of artificial intelligence (AI) to clone their daughter’s voice. Even more surprising is that the mother couldn’t tell the scammers were using a deep fake.

But how could they when it sounds so real?

This chilling example showcases the growing trend of cybercriminals employing sophisticated AI-powered tools to extort money from unsuspecting people.

It’s emerging as the new way of doing business for cybercriminals.

With the rapid advancement of AI technology, it has become imperative for individuals and businesses alike to understand and prepare for the imminent dangers posed by these evolving cyber threats. The technologies are making it easier to break into systems.

And so, more than ever, prevention is better than cure, especially in the current era of AI and automation.

The Deep Fake Dilemma

The ordeal faced by the Bock family sheds light on the disturbing reality of deep fakes, where scammers can convincingly mimic voices to manipulate emotions and extract sensitive information.

If it weren’t for the police, who were aware of the scam, the target family could have quickly fallen victim and only realized later it was a scam. Using deep fake voices is the next level of scams. Anyone could be the next victim as it’s becoming harder and harder to authenticate voices.

In this case, the scammers expertly replicated the daughter’s distress, leaving the parents vulnerable to their malicious ploy. This incident serves as a wake-up call, emphasizing the need to stay vigilant in the face of increasingly sophisticated AI-driven deception.

AI in the Wrong Hands

The exploit deployed by the scammers in the Bock family’s case is just one example of how hackers are utilizing AI to produce deep fakes for their illicit gains. Imagine the implications of AI-generated simulations of CEOs’ voices, signatures, or writing styles used to deceive employees into unauthorized actions that could compromise an organization’s security.

Additionally, cybercriminals may employ similar tactics to defraud clients or patients, coercing them into divulging confidential information or making fraudulent payments. When misused, AI’s power can substantially harm individuals and businesses.

Password Vulnerabilities and Beyond

As AI technology continues to evolve, so does its capacity to crack passwords swiftly. Studies reveal that over half of the commonly used passwords can be deciphered using AI algorithms in less than a minute.

Even complex passwords with a combination of upper and lower case letters, numbers, and symbols provide minimal resistance to AI-powered attacks.

So, what does it mean for organizations and individuals?

The changing cybersecurity risk landscape underscores the importance of implementing robust cybersecurity measures beyond reliance on strong passwords and basic antivirus software.

One way to do this is through security awareness.

Security Awareness

As a business owner, you must prioritize security awareness training for your employees as a crucial defense mechanism against cyber threats. Simply sharing educational resources like this article can significantly enhance employees’ ability to detect and thwart scams.

However, occasional information-sharing is insufficient. It’s just a part of other measures you require to safeguard your business.

Consistent reminders and formal training programs are also essential to ensure employees remain vigilant and maintain a proactive stance against potential attacks. The misconception that employees are “too smart” to fall for scams must be dispelled, as cybercriminals can exploit even the most cautious individuals.

For example, deep fakes are a relatively new concept; most of your employees haven’t heard of it. Others have heard of it and may be casual about it because they don’t believe they could also be victims.

Awareness of deep fake technology and understanding how it can be used to manipulate media is vital. Evaluate the context in which the content is presented. Deep fakes are often used to spread misinformation or propaganda, so your employees should be skeptical of content that aims to provoke strong emotions or manipulate public opinion.

The more you know, the better prepared you’ll be to detect potential deep fakes and other emerging cybersecurity threats.

Also, repeated education and reminders play a critical role in reducing human errors that risk your organization’s computer systems and network.

Collaboration with IT Service Providers

A proactive partnership with a reliable IT company is paramount to safeguarding against cyber threats. Businesses must ensure their IT service providers have implemented robust cybersecurity tools, comprehensive protection measures, and efficient disaster recovery protocols.

But why do I need an IT service provider?

You see, keeping your devices and software up to date with the latest security patches and anti-malware solutions is only part of the measures you may take yourself. It can help protect against hacking attempts or malicious software that may be used to create or distribute deep fakes.

You need hands-on experience, expertise, and round-the-clock availability to keep your business secure. A competent IT service keeps tabs on the available deep fake detection tools and techniques.

Investing in top-tier cybersecurity solutions should be viewed as a critical necessity rather than an area to cut corners. Many business owners underestimate the potential severity of a cyber or ransomware attack, which can inflict significant financial and operational damage. Prevention is far more cost-effective than recovering from a devastating cyber incident.

Building a Resilient Cybersecurity Strategy

To help businesses devise a comprehensive cybersecurity plan, we have prepared a valuable resource, “15 Ways to Protect Your Business from Cyber Attacks,” which provides specific recommendations and best practices.

Access the infographic by visiting www.azcomp.com/15ways, and empower your organization with actionable steps to mitigate risk.

Need help with implementing any of those 15 items, or help with any other aspect of the technology in your business? Contact us today for a free 15-minute IT consult, and we’ll be happy to point you in the right direction.

About AZCOMP Technologies

AZCOMP Technologies of Mesa, AZ, is a leading provider of Managed IT services and technology solutions for businesses. AZCOMP’s mission is to help Arizona businesses to improve efficiency, reduce costs, and increase cybersecurity through innovative tech solutions.

AZCOMP Technologies has provided business technology solutions and cybersecurity services since 2000. AZCOMP offers these services in Mesa, Tempe, Scottsdale, Chandler, Phoenix, Glendale, Apache Junction, Queen Creek, San Tan Valley, Gold Canyon, and more. Request your IT consultation today!

How to Spot a Phishing Email: Protecting Your Business from Cyber Threats

Cybercriminals use tons of different strategies to infiltrate business networks to steal data or money. Even though phishing emails are one of the oldest tricks in the digital book, it is still one of the most common tactics because of its effectiveness.

Phishing emails are fake emails sent to you by scammers. They are designed to trick you into clicking on malicious links or divulging sensitive information. The attacker then uses the information you provide to steal from you or extort you or initiate something bad for your network like ransomware.

As a business, educating your staff on how to spot phishing emails must be at the top of your to-do list early and often during employment at your company. Your employees should be able to spot phishing emails to prevent potential security breaches and prevent losing money.

Want to learn more about phishing emails? Read this other post of ours for more information.

Here are a few practical tips to help recognize phishing scams so you can avoid becoming a victim:

Check the Sender’s Email Address

The devil is in the details. If the sender’s email is suspicious or unfamiliar, take caution.

The first step in the phisher’s playbook is to make the emails look as legitimate as possible. They’ll use email addresses that closely resemble legitimate organizations or individuals.

Like in this obvious example:

Phishing email example

In the screenshot example above, the sender’s name is manipulated to make the recipient think it is a trusted source but does not match the sender’s email address. They attempt to distract you from the sender’s email address by providing some information in the sender’s name that appears to be safe. But upon closer inspection, the sender’s email address is unfamiliar and not to be trusted.

This other example isn’t as obvious:

The sender’s name is Corporate Office. That is an immediate red flag because I know there isn’t an AZCOMP “corporate office.” However, a newer employee might easily fall for this. But then the email address contains our actual domain of @azcomp.com. That is a trick called “spoofing.” These hackers have successfully spoofed our email address. But then, once again, using the email address corpoate@azcomp.com is easy for me to spot as a fake because I know that address doesn’t exist. Other employees may have no idea if that is a legitimate email address.

Lesson number 1 – if you have any doubts or questions, just delete the message or ask someone.

What are the principles of identifying a suspicious email address?

  • Pay close attention to misspellings or variations in the domain name. For example, an email claiming to be from “yourbank.com” could be a phishing attempt if the actual domain is “your baank.com.” More specifically, as an example, they could use an email address like info@bankofaamerica.com when the real email address is info@bankofamerica.com.
  • Be careful when the correct domain name is in the email address, but other words are included. For example, instead of “support@businessname.com,” the email may come from “support@alerts-businessname.com.” In the example below, the sender’s email address is quarantine@alerts-microsoft.com. Microsoft.com is a real domain name, but it’s been sneakily altered to alerts-microsoft.com. I don’t know if the email address of @ alerts.microsoft.com is real, but that would be trickier to determine if the email is fake or legit.
  • As we talked about earlier, be careful of spoofing. Spoofing is where they create a phony email server using your company’s actual domain but then use a fake email box. Our business domain is azcomp.com. In the past, we have received emails from fake email boxes like ceo@azcomp.com, hr@azcomp.com, or corporate@azcomp.com. Those email addresses don’t exist here. Don’t trust emails coming from addresses like that.

Beware of Urgent or Threatening Language

Phishing emails often employ urgency or threats to manipulate recipients into taking immediate action. Be cautious of messages that insist on urgent action or threaten negative consequences if you don’t comply.

Legitimate organizations typically communicate important matters professionally and avoid alarming tactics.

For example, if you have an account with Netflix, and there is something wrong with your account, they likely won’t send you an email asking you to click a link from the email to update your credit card information urgently. Instead, they will send you an email informing you that they’ve noticed your credit card will expire in the next 30 days and will ask you to log in to your account by going to the Netflix website and will tell you to get it figured out within the next 30 days.

Scrutinize Requests for Personal or Financial Information

A common tactic used by phishers is to request personal or financial information. Legitimate organizations rarely ask for sensitive data via email, such as credit card details.

Exercise caution and only provide such information after verifying the authenticity of the request through alternative channels, such as a phone call to the organization’s official contact number.

If you’re ever suspicious, use the phone number on the back of your credit card to call the credit card company. Or find the phone number on their authentic website. Or log in to your account from their authentic website.

Look for Poor Grammar and Spelling Mistakes

Many phishing emails originate from non-native English speakers or automated systems, resulting in poor grammar, spelling errors, and awkward sentence structures.

Take note of these linguistic red flags, as they can indicate a phishing attempt. Legitimate organizations typically maintain a higher standard of writing in their official correspondence.

Hover Over Links to Reveal the True URL

Hovering over hyperlinks in an email can reveal the genuine destination URL, even if the email text suggests otherwise.

Phishing emails often employ deceptive tactics by masking malicious links with innocuous text. Before clicking on any link, hover your cursor over the link to ensure the URL matches the stated destination or leads to a legitimate website. If you’re looking at emails on your phone, you can press and hold the link with your finger to get the URL to display without clicking the link.

Here’s an example:

The intention was to trick the target victim into clicking the “download audio message” link.

But if you hover over it, you’ll see the URL is a dead giveaway. If they were a little more sophisticated, they could have manipulated this link to look like it was www.azcomp.eratak.in/.

That spot with the 00info in the URL is called a subdomain. Anybody can take a URL they own and then make any subdomain they want.

Using a recognizable name in a subdomain, coupled with a fake domain, is a way to trick you into thinking the link is legitimate.

Do not click links if any part of an email seems suspicious. Another way to say this is if you’re not 100% convinced any email is legitimate, do not click links.

Be Wary of Attachments

For this article, the last thing we’ll discuss is attachments.

Attachments in phishing emails can contain malware or viruses that can compromise your system’s security. A long time ago, there were only a few specific file types you needed to be cautious of. It was mostly a .exe file type.

Now, almost any attachment type has the potential to be dangerous. Even if the file is a .pdf, .doc, .txt, .MOV, or .mp4, or any other file type, the file could have malware or spyware or ransomware coded into it. Be very certain you trust the file before clicking to open it.

Exercise caution when receiving unexpected or suspicious attachments, even if they appear to be from a trusted source. If in doubt, contact the sender through a separate email or phone call to confirm the authenticity of the attachment.

About AZCOMP Technologies

At AZCOMP Technologies, we understand the importance of safeguarding your business against cyber threats. We are a trusted IT service provider based in Phoenix, Arizona, specializing in the healthcare and dental industry. We offer comprehensive IT services and security solutions.

Our team can help train your employees to identify phishing emails, implement robust security measures, and provide ongoing support to protect your business.

Reach out to learn how we can assist you in creating a secure and resilient IT infrastructure that safeguards your sensitive data and dramatically decreases your risk of a cybersecurity disaster.

Ready for better technology results?

 

Computer Updates – Safeguarding Your Digital Fortress through Software Updates

Do you know the saying “the devil is in the details”? Computer updates, which are also called software updates or patching, are one of those pesky details that deserve your dedicated attention.

Computer updates are #4 on our 15 ways to protect your business from a cyber attack. See the entire list in this article here.

Updates may seem rather small and insignificant, but still, to this day, cybercriminals are exploiting networks that are not updated with the latest security patches.

What is it about updates that the experts make sound so critical? Is your dental or medical practice in the Phoenix area vulnerable to attacks just by falling back on a few updates?

The Patchwork of Protection

What Are Computer Updates, Software Updates, and Patches?

When we talk about updates, we encounter a vast realm of possibilities.

Software updates, computer updates, or “patching” are ways to improve and fix problems with your computer’s programs and operating system. It’s like getting minor upgrades or fixes to make your computer work better, faster, and more securely. These updates are similar to updating apps on your phone, keeping your computer up to date and protected from bugs or security issues. They help ensure your computer is more secure, runs smoothly, and stays compatible with new technologies and features.

Software updates hold one of the keys to safeguarding your digital kingdom.

According to Verizon Data Breach Investigations, 70% of attacks came through known vulnerabilities on unpatched computers (and a patch was available).

An unpatched computer or old software is like an open gate into your facility’s computer systems and network, and there’s nothing that intruders love more!

This is true, and this is such an easy way for hackers to gain access to a system because software vulnerabilities are published to the public when a software update becomes available.

An Explanation of Why Patching Is Critical

Imagine you have a computer with a new operating system, like Windows 11 from Microsoft. When it was first released, the developers knew it wasn’t perfect because creating flawless software is challenging. They had to meet deadlines, so they made it “good enough for now.”

As people started installing Windows 11, the developers continued working on the program to fix minor issues and make the software more secure. When they made significant improvements, they released an update, along with release notes explaining what they fixed and how they enhanced security.

Here’s where cybercriminals come in. They analyze these release notes to identify vulnerabilities they can exploit. Once they understand how to exploit these weaknesses, they search for computers without the updates. Finding an unpatched computer is like finding an open door—it gives them easy access to that computer or network.

That’s why it’s crucial to install updates promptly!

You might wonder why developers publish release notes if it gives cybercriminals insights into vulnerabilities. The truth is, if developers didn’t share release notes, people wouldn’t know why they should update. Simply saying, “Update #1 is available. Trust us!” wouldn’t give enough information to understand why the update was released.

By publishing release notes, developers inform users about the fixes and security enhancements, encouraging them to stay protected by updating their systems. It’s about transparency and keeping everyone informed to avoid cyber threats.

Extreme Example: 2017 WannaCry Ransomware Outbreak

The 2017 WannaCry outbreak is a perfect example of how dangerous it can be to have unpatched computers.

If you’re unfamiliar with this event, an estimated 230,000 to 300,000 computers across 150 countries were infected with the WannaCry ransomware over just a few hours. The estimated damages range between hundreds of millions of dollars to billions of dollars.

The hackers were obviously skilled at their craft, but the only reason they could inflict so much damage so fast was due to unpatched computers. If you want to get more detail on this, read the first two paragraphs on the Wikipedia page about this incident.

This is an extreme example. However, computers with unpatched operating systems or other software are getting exploited every day, so it is vital to stay vigilant in keeping all the computers and other devices in your organization up to date and patched.

What Needs to be Updated or Patched?

Operating Systems:

Operating systems like Windows, macOS, or Linux often require updates. These updates include fixes for security vulnerabilities, improvements to system performance, and new features. Updating your operating system ensures that your computer or device remains secure and functions optimally.

Browsers:

Web browsers such as Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, or Microsoft Edge also require regular updates. Browser updates often address security issues, enhance compatibility with websites and web standards, and introduce new functionalities. Updating your browser is essential for safer browsing, improved performance, and a better web experience.

Phone Operating Systems:

Phone operating systems, like iOS (for iPhones) and Android, frequently receive updates. These updates bring security patches, bug fixes, performance enhancements, and new features to your phone. Updating your phone’s operating system ensures you have the latest security protections and access to the most current capabilities.

Phone Apps:

Mobile apps on your phone, such as social media apps, productivity tools, or games, also need regular updates. App updates often include bug fixes, performance optimizations, new features, and security enhancements. It’s important to update your apps to ensure they work correctly, remain secure, and provide you with the latest features and improvements.

Other Software:

In addition to operating systems, browsers, and phone-related software, other applications on your computer may also require updates.

Software like antivirus programs, productivity suites such as Microsoft Office, media players, and graphic editing tools often release updates. These updates address security vulnerabilities, fix bugs, introduce new features, and enhance performance. Staying up to date with software updates helps maintain a secure and efficient computing environment.

Regularly checking for and installing updates helps keep your digital experiences smooth, secure, and up-to-date.

How to Stay Current with Updates & Patching in Your Business

For business owners in the Phoenix/Mesa area with multiple employees and various devices to manage, keeping everything up to date can be daunting. However, you don’t have to do it all alone. Here are a few options for how to implement patching:

Employees:

Educate your employees about the importance of updates and security practices. To ensure patches and updates are installed on all company-owned computers, you can require that your employees promptly install updates. Regular training sessions and communication about the significance of updates can create a culture of proactive security within the organization.

This is a quick and easy way to check the box of trying to accomplish patch management. However, it can lead to many questions, and if employees choose not to do it, it’s hard to know that all systems are up to date.

In-House IT Team:

An in-house employee, such as a junior IT engineer or any other employee, can manage and implement updates across the organization. This task can be done by going from one computer to the next and installing updates. This task should be done weekly.

This option is a little resource-intensive but is also a quick and easy way to check the box of trying to accomplish patch management. This method can also be disruptive to your employees, who will need to step away from their computers temporarily while installing the updates. If not well managed, this method will likely lead to unpatched computers and vulnerabilities in the system.

Outsourced IT Service Partners:

Business owners can work with outsourced IT service providers, such as AZCOMP Technologies, that provide comprehensive IT support. These providers can take care of patching and updates. They have the software tools to handle updates and patching automatically after hours or over the weekend. Outsourcing IT responsibilities to a trusted IT partner will ensure that the patching gets done every week without fail and without disrupting your operations.

This option is the best in terms of making sure that patching is actually done on a schedule. Rest easy knowing that your computers and software are up to date. The downside is that it is an extra expense to the business.

The Bottom Line

The bottom line is that one-way-or-another, patching needs to be done every week without fail. If not, the business is needlessly at higher risk of cyberattack.

About AZCOMP Technologies:

AZCOMP Technologies of Mesa, AZ, is a leading provider of Managed IT services and technology solutions for businesses. AZCOMP’s mission is to help enterprises to improve efficiency, reduce costs, and increase cybersecurity through innovative tech solutions.

AZCOMP Technologies has provided business technology solutions and cybersecurity services since 2000. AZCOMP offers these services in Phoenix, Mesa, Tempe, Scottsdale, Chandler, Apache Junction, Queen Creek, San Tan Valley, Gold Canyon, and more. Request your IT consultation today!

Ready for better technology results?

Cybersecurity Headlines May Be Hyperbolic, But the Stakes Are Real

Cybersecurity

In an increasingly plugged-in world, the sophistication and frequency of cyber-attacks have upped the ante. Cyber-attacks are now more sophisticated and common, and, as expected, tabloids have been having a field day with the topic of cybersecurity.

But with or without the screaming headlines, the stakes are real. There is news of major cyber-attacks on large corporations such as T-Mobile, Nvidia, or Colonial Pipeline everywhere you turn. You may have also come across headlines about Russian cyberwarfare against Ukraine. 

The thing is, these headlines are often sensationalized. They can make it seem like large corporations are the main targets of these cyberattacks. Of course, it’s bigger news when the big boys are on the receiving end. But not so much for the little businesses. 

However you look at it, it doesn’t hide the fact that cyberattacks are also a concern for small businesses. There are no favorites!

Small businesses are also a target 

The widespread misconception among small business owners is that their businesses are too small for cyberattacks. They think that their enterprises don’t have anything of value to hackers. But this is a perilous line of thought.

You see, small businesses are low-hanging fruit because of their weaker security measures than large corporations. If it’s easy to get, why not? Breaking into some small firms’ systems is like shooting fish in a barrel for cybercriminals! 

The cyber pirates are aware of the vulnerabilities of small businesses and are always more than ready to grab the chance. 

While small businesses may fail to make the headlines, it doesn’t mean they’re immune to cyber attacks. They are as much a target as the big corporations, and sometimes more! 

According to a report by Verizon, 43% of cyber-attacks are aimed at small businesses. That means more than four businesses in ten are a target. A sad state of affairs! 

Common cyber-attacks on small businesses

Ransomware attacks are a dime a dozen for small businesses. In other words, the percentage of small firms falling for ransomware attacks is growing by the day. But what is ransomware?

Ransomware is malware that scrambles a victim’s files, intending to make them inaccessible to demand payment. The impact of ransomware on a business can be devastating. 

The firm cannot access its files, which means it cannot work, make new sales, or collect on accounts receivable. This can stop a business from generating income until the ransomware situation is resolved.

The consequences of a ransomware attack are not limited to just the business itself. The attack can also affect the business’s customers and partners. This potentially leads to lost business and damage to the business’s reputation. 

Cybersecurity is not just a business issue; it is a community issue.

Examples of small businesses that have been a target 

Attacks on small businesses may not make big headlines, but they do sometimes make the news. If you look hard enough, you’ll find them. 

Some examples of recent attacks include the Brookside ENT and Hearing Center in Battle Creek, Michigan. The attack forced the business to close its doors permanently.

Dr. Shayla Kasel in Simi Valley, CA. permanently closed her 20-year-old practice four months after the attack. Also, The Heritage Company, Arkansas, had to lay off 300 employees during recovery efforts, but no follow-up information has been provided.

We know numerous other examples of attacks because these businesses called us asking for help. Full details are not disclosed because releasing this information is not our place. 

  • A small doctor’s office with 20 employees in two locations (Mesa and Scottsdale, AZ) was the victim of a ransomware attack. They had to cancel all appointments and surgeries for about five days. In the second week, they could slowly return to normal operations.
  • A small cloud software provider in Mesa, AZ, with 50 employees, suffered a ransomware attack. All their clients were offline and unable to use their software for four days while they completely rebuilt their entire environment.
  • Another small cloud software provider in Austin, TX, with 35 employees, experienced a ransomware attack. All their software clients could not access their systems for nearly two weeks while they rebuilt them. 
  • There was another small cloud solutions provider in Southern California with over 100 users who suffered a ransomware attack. All their clients could not access their services for over three weeks while they rebuilt their systems.
  • A small medical billing business in Florida with four employees experienced ransomware attacks three different times over 18 months. She rebuilt her business from scratch with new data the first two times before deciding to close doors on the 3rd ransomware attack.

Those are a few examples we’ve recently heard about within our limited network. And those stories never made it into the news. Ransomware cases like these happen daily but never get reported in the news.

Takeaway

The sad truth about all these examples is that the ransomware or cybercrime event is preventable. With today’s tools and security services, these ransomware attacks could have been stopped before they became major problems for these businesses.

Many business owners are complacent about security or ignorant of the risks. Others may think it is inevitable, so there is no need to burden about trying to stop it. 

But the fact is that if small businesses implemented the security recommendations that are out there, they could prevent all the shutdowns. They could stop the wanton job losses, the extra IT expenses, the lost revenue, and the massive headaches.

The information is accessible to those who want to take a stand against these criminals. For example, check out our guide – the 15 ways to prevent cybercrime for your business. 

Many small businesses are interested in implementing a cybersecurity system but lack the skills or the time to do it independently. For those businesses, let us at AZCOMP Technologies help. 

Our team can implement a simple or comprehensive security solution for your business, depending on your budget. Contact us today for a brief cybersecurity consultation to get the process started.

About AZCOMP Technologies

AZCOMP Technologies of Mesa, AZ, is a leading provider of Managed IT services and technology solutions for businesses. AZCOMP’s mission is to help enterprises to improve efficiency, reduce costs, and increase cybersecurity through innovative tech solutions.

AZCOMP Technologies has provided business technology solutions and cybersecurity services since 2000. AZCOMP offers these services in Mesa, Tempe, Scottsdale, Chandler, Phoenix, Glendale, Apache Junction, Queen Creek, San Tan Valley, Gold Canyon, and more. Request your IT consultation today!

Ready for better technology results?

2 Use Cases for AI That Will Boost Productivity in Your Business Now

Harnessing the Power of AI in Your Business Today

In today’s rapidly evolving business landscape, leveraging cutting-edge technologies like AI can be a game-changer for your organization. By embracing AI tools such as Bard, ChatGPT, and Bing AI, businesses can unlock many opportunities to streamline operations, boost productivity, and enhance customer experiences. And even beyond Bard or ChatGPT, many other software developers are creating new software applications daily that could be useful to your business. In this article, however, we will focus on just two uses of AI that can revolutionize your business right now.

AI Tools: Bard, ChatGPT, and Bing AI

Before delving into the specific use cases, it’s important to understand the specific AI tools we’re focusing on in this article. Bard, ChatGPT, and Bing AI are powerful platforms that provide valuable assistance across various tasks. Having personally used all three of these tools, I prefer Bard and ChatGPT as of this writing. Both tools offer unique benefits and capabilities that are better than Bing AI. While this article focuses on Bard and ChatGPT, I recommend experimenting with all three tools to determine which best suits your business needs.

Writing Assistance

One of the most versatile applications of AI in business lies in its ability to aid in various writing tasks. Bard and ChatGPT can be invaluable assets in streamlining the writing process, enhancing content quality, and saving time. Consider the following applications:

  1. Editing: AI tools can effectively proofread documents for grammar and spelling errors, ensuring professional and error-free content.
  2. Rewriting: AI makes transforming a document into a different style or format easier. It can help revamp articles or documents while preserving the core message. If prompted, it can even rewrite anything in the style of a known person, like Hemmingway, Martin Luther King, Jr., or John Grisham, for example.
  3. Generating Suggestions: AI tools can provide valuable feedback or recommendations on areas for improvement in an article or document, assisting in enhancing its overall quality.
  4. Outlining: Bard and ChatGPT can aid in creating outlines for articles, emails, and other documents, offering a solid framework for your writing tasks.
  5. Generating Content: AI tools can generate comprehensive content for various purposes, from providing topic-based article writing to conducting research and offering references.
  6. Research Assistance: Leveraging AI’s capabilities, use it to research specific topics, expanding your knowledge base and providing valuable insights.
  7. Refining: Create an ongoing dialogue with the AI tools. If the AI writes anything you’re not happy with, prompt the AI to rewrite it again. You can ask the AI to rewrite certain sections or specific sentences. Keep asking it in different ways over and over until it produces exactly what you’re looking for.
  8. Fact-Checking: While AI tools are proficient in generating content, it is essential to cross-reference the information provided. Ask the AI for references, and it will give them to you. Use those references as a starting point to verify the facts on your own.

By harnessing AI for your writing needs, you can expedite important tasks such as composing emails, creating blog posts, developing Standard Operating Procedures, crafting sales scripts, writing a memo to your employees, or even drafting speeches. The assistance offered by AI enables you to communicate more effectively, saving time and improving the quality of your written communication.

It is best to remember that tools like ChatGPT or Bard are there to be helpful to you. In your writings, use these tools to help you quickly get 25% of the way or even 90% of the way to the finish line of your task. Anything that the AI produces will need some personal touch to finish it just right.

Summarizing Meeting Transcripts and Creating Task Lists

Meetings are integral to business operations, and AI can simplify summarizing and extracting actionable insights from meeting transcripts. Here’s how:

Step 1: Transcription Acquisition

A written transcript of the meeting is needed to begin. Depending on the meeting venue, there are multiple ways to obtain a transcription.

Virtual meeting platforms such as Microsoft Teams or Zoom have features that allow you to transcribe your meeting or have the meeting recorded. If you can get a recording, send it to your favorite transcription service to have it transcribed for you. If you can get a transcription from the meeting, you’re ready for the next step.

Record the audio using your phone for in-person meetings and send it to a transcription service.

In the case of phone calls, obtain the audio file from the call recording feature of your phone system and send it for transcription.

Explore transcription services like Rev.com for accurate and efficient transcriptions.

Step 2: Summarization and Task List Creation

Once you have the written transcript, copy and paste it to ChatGPT or Bard and request a summary and task list. Witness the magic unfold as the AI summarizes the meeting and creates an organized list of actionable items within seconds.

That’s all there is to it.

Now, after any meeting, you no longer need to wonder what tasks you must complete. If you’re the organizer of the meeting, when the meeting is over, you now have an easy way to send everyone their assignments. If someone else was supposed to attend the meeting but couldn’t, you can easily send the summary.

Last week, I tried this for the first time in one of my Microsoft Teams meetings. At the beginning of the meeting, I turned on the transcription feature. At the end of the meeting, a document was generated for me. I copied the entire transcription and then pasted it into Bard and ChatGPT both as an experiment. I prompted the AI to “summarize this transcription and create a task list.” About 3 seconds later, I had a summary paragraph of the meeting and a nice list of action items with the name of the person responsible for completing that item. I then copied and pasted that into an email to all the meeting participants.

Businesses can use this process for online meetings, customer or prospect meetings, department or team meetings, employee reviews, meetings with vendors, patient exams, training sessions, and many other meeting scenarios.

Embrace AI in Your Business

By embracing AI for tasks like writing assistance and meeting summarization, your business can experience immediate benefits. Getting started in using AI for these simple tasks will put you in a position to use it for more and more tasks down the road. Moreover, as AI advances and integrates further into existing software and platforms, you will be well-prepared to leverage technology for future success.

Incorporating AI tools like Bard and ChatGPT into your business processes can yield substantial advantages. From improving writing efficiency and quality to simplifying meeting summarization and task management, AI empowers you to accomplish more in less time. Remember to experiment with different AI tools to find the one that aligns best with your unique requirements.

About AZCOMP Technologies

AZCOMP Technologies, as a full-service IT solutions provider in the Phoenix/Mesa area, is committed to assisting you in implementing AI solutions for your business. By embracing AI now, you position your business to stay at the forefront of technological innovation and drive growth in the future. We’re also helping businesses establish a solid technological foundation to grow and achieve their business goals. Should you require any guidance or support in harnessing the power of AI, feel free to reach out to us. Let us know how we can help your business by requesting a technology consultation.

Microsoft 365 Migration Horror Stories – And How To Avoid Them

MIcrosoft 365

Microsoft 365, formerly Office 365, needs no introduction in the current business space.

The cloud-based platform provides businesses access to Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, Teams, OneNote, SharePoint, OneDrive applications, and much more.

Because Microsoft 365 is so diverse and offers so many different productivity tools for businesses; naturally, Phoenix area businesses are migrating to Microsoft 365 in droves.

But migrating to Microsoft 365 isn’t as simple as you might imagine. As a business, if you don’t have a solid plan for your migration and don’t know how to implement that plan, things won’t turn out how you hoped. A lot of businesses sort of just go for it and end up being another one of the numerous Microsoft 365 migration horror stories.

Importance of a Well Thought-Out and Smooth Microsoft 365 Migration for Businesses

Migrating to Microsoft 365 can be complicated, so the process must be well thought out. A poorly executed migration can lead to lost data, downtime, and employee frustration. You don’t want that to happen to your medical practice, dental practice, or your business!  

To ensure a successful migration, have a clear plan, assess your network infrastructure and application compatibility, and provide adequate employee training and support. For a project like this, it might be way easier when you let the professionals give you a hand! Don’t you think?

Common Microsoft 365 Migration Horror Stories

Our IT professionals have encountered more than their fair share of horror stories from Arizona businesses that tried the Microsoft 365 migration on their own.

Perhaps these businesses want to cut the cost of hiring a professional service. Others think the migration process is as easy as a plug-and-play device and are shocked to find that it’s the opposite. Here is a quick list of the most common Microsoft 365 migration horror scenarios:

  • Lost Data: Often, this happens when businesses don’t have a good plan for moving data from point A to point B. Imagine a situation where your healthcare business loses crucial patient data during migration. Where do you even start? We always insist on a better understanding of cloud storage and a backup plan in case of any data loss.
  • Unexpected Downtime/Delays/Frustrations: Another typical migration horror story is unexpected downtime, delays, and frustrations. Most migration attempts are on trial and error, meaning the project often drags on forever. Most business owners calling us for help are so green that they don’t understand how things are supposed to work or don’t have the experience to execute the plan properly.
  • Incorrect User Licenses: Businesses may also encounter problems with user licenses when trying to get Microsoft 365 to work correctly for their intended use. Some businesses will often purchase the wrong application or services they don’t need. Assessing user needs and obtaining the correct user licenses is essential.
  • Employee Confusion and Frustration: These can arise during the transition period and are often connected to a lack of training or understanding of the new system. Providing adequate training and support can help employees adapt to the new system.
  • Poor Execution or Implementation: When businesses don’t have a clear plan or don’t work with an experienced IT consultant, the result may be a bungled migration process.

The Importance of Advanced Planning

Pre-Migration Assessment

Planning ahead is the best way to avoid these common migration horror stories. Assessing user needs, network infrastructure, and application compatibility is essential. A pre-migration assessment can help create a master plan and determine what Microsoft 365 can do for the company.

Planning the Data Migration

Planning the data migration involves:

  • Assessing the amount of data to be migrated.
  • Organizing it in a structured manner.
  • Determining the best approach for transferring the data to SharePoint and/or OneDrive.

Consider data dependencies like linked files or databases and user permissions to ensure a smooth transfer.

Assessing Network Infrastructure

A robust and reliable network is necessary to support the increased demand for data transfer, collaboration, remote access, and everyday use. Assessing network capacity, bandwidth, and security measures helps avoid performance issues and potential vulnerabilities.

Understanding Data and Application Security

Developing a comprehensive plan for data and application security in Microsoft 365 is crucial. So, what does this entail?

In a nutshell, it’s implementing appropriate access controls, encryption, and backup strategies. Regular backups are essential to avoid data loss and provide a safety net for the unexpected.

Planning for Training and Support

Your staff must have the knowledge and skills to utilize the new platform effectively. Comprehensive training sessions, documentation, and ongoing support will help employees adapt quickly and minimize frustration.

Why Work with an Experienced IT Consultant for Microsoft 365 Migration

Technology is constantly changing, and there’s always something new with each update. For an everyday user, Microsoft 365 migration may not be easy. This is where an experienced IT consultant comes in.

Partnering with AZCOMP Technologies for your Microsoft 365 migration project benefits your business in the following ways:

●       Expertise and Experience

AZCOMP Technologies has extensive expertise and experience in Microsoft 365 migrations. We have migrated our own business to Microsoft 365 and performed dozens of migrations for medical practices, dental practices, and other companies. Many of those migrations we’ve performed were for Phoenix area businesses stuck in the middle of a project and needed help figuring out how to get unstuck.

Our team of IT professionals understands the platform’s intricacies and can provide valuable insights and guidance throughout the migration process. Our knowledge and experience can help businesses navigate potential pitfalls and successfully transition.

●       Guidance and Support

AZCOMP Technologies can provide valuable guidance and support at every migration stage. From the initial planning and assessment to data migration, application compatibility, and security considerations, our team can offer tailored solutions that align with your business’s specific needs and goals. We can also address any concerns or challenges during the migration process.

●       Avoidance of Common Mistakes

By working with AZCOMP Technologies, you can avoid common migration mistakes leading to data loss, downtime, or employee frustration. Our experience handling various migration scenarios enables us to anticipate and mitigate potential issues, ensuring a smooth and efficient transition to Microsoft 365.

AZCOMP Technologies will Help with Your Office 365 Migration

Our expertise, guidance, and support can help you navigate the complexities of Microsoft 365 migration. This minimizes risks and maximizes the benefits of the platform. 

If you’re considering a Microsoft 365 migration for your Arizona-based healthcare or dental practice, contact AZCOMP Technologies today to learn how we can assist you in achieving a seamless and successful migration.

About AZCOMP Technologies

AZCOMP Technologies is a leading IT services and solutions provider in Mesa, AZ. We provide Managed IT Services and IT Solutions for medical offices, dental offices, and other businesses in the Phoenix Metro area and Arizona. 

We’re a little different than most IT support companies – we make IT easier. We make it easier for you and your employees to get help. We make it easier for your employees to be productive. We make it easier for upper management not to deal with IT frustrations. We make it easier for you to leverage technology in your own product or service delivery. We make it easier for you to be secure and compliant. We help your technology improve and become a driving force within your own business so you can reach your business goals.

We have been delivering phenomenal technology services since 2000 in Mesa, Tempe, Scottsdale, Chandler, Phoenix, Glendale, Apache Junction, Queen Creek, San Tan Valley, and Gold Canyon.

Request an MS365 or any other type of IT consultation today!

Ready for better technology results?

Protecting Your Business with Anti-Ransomware Software

Anti-Ransomware

Anti-Ransomware Software: Protect Your Phoenix Metro Arizona Business

We’re in a digital era, but keep in mind that it’s a double-edged sword. There’s a lot of good with digitization, but unlike in the past, cyber-attacks are more frequent and sophisticated. Ransomware is among the most devastating of cyber-attacks, with the potential for significant damage to a Phoenix area business. But how can Arizona businesses defend against ransomware attacks? Usually, the answer is anti-ransomware software.

A ransomware cyber-attack can halt operations and compromise sensitive data. The resulting cost to the businesses could run into thousands of dollars to regain access to encrypted files.

But is the software a competent safeguard on its own against ransomware attacks? We explore more on the topic.

How Does Anti-Ransomware Software Work?

Anti-ransomware software is among the cybersecurity tools designed to protect against ransomware attacks. This program works by monitoring your network and computer for suspicious activity that could indicate the presence of ransomware. When such attacks are detected, the software immediately stops the attack in its tracks. 

But how does the anti-ransomware software detect ransomware attacks? The answer is the use of signature-based detection and behavioral analysis techniques. 

Signature-based detection is a fancy way of saying “programming.” The anti-ransomware programming is designed to compare the code of a file or program against a database of known ransomware signatures. When the program scans the files and programs and any of the code matches any of the signatures in the known ransomware database, the software will block the program or file from executing.

Because this aspect of the software relies on a database of known ransomware, it is crucial that the ransomware software is updated routinely so it always has the most current database of known ransomware.

The other aspect of anti-ransomware software is behavioral analysis. The anti-ransomware software analyzes the behavior of the files and applications on your computer or network. It looks for patterns that are consistent with ransomware attacks. This could include increased network traffic and sudden changes in file encryption. If it strides like a duck and quacks like a duck, then it’s definitely a duck!

When anti-ransomware software detects suspicious activity, the next step is to prevent the ransomware from infecting your computer or network. This could involve quarantining the affected files. The software can also stop the ransomware process or even shut down the entire system to prevent further infection. 

The Benefits of Anti-Ransomware Software

Using anti-ransomware software comes with its advantages. For example, it can prevent unauthorized encryption of important files and keep your data safe from cybercriminals. Preventing encryption is a vital safeguard because once your files are encrypted, there’s no way around it except to pay the ransom. 

On the other hand, anti-ransomware software helps you avoid the reputational and financial costs associated with a ransom attack. Your reputation is the currency for customer loyalty and should be guarded at all costs. Therefore, preventing a ransom attack can save your business tens of thousands of dollars and a potential loss of customer trust and goodwill. 

The Limitations of Anti-Ransomware Software

Keep in mind that anti-ransomware software is not the silver bullet. Undoubtedly, anti-ransomware software is an essential component of a layered cybersecurity plan, but it’s not foolproof. 

Skilled hackers can find ways to infiltrate a computer or network through other means. For example, they can exploit vulnerabilities in outdated software or use social engineering tactics to trick employees into inadvertently downloading malicious software. When a skilled hacker figures out how to get behind your anti-ransomware software, they can deploy their ransomware attack undetected.

So, what do you do? 

In addition to the anti-ransomware software, implement multiple layers of security measures as well. Ensure regular software updates and employee training. Also, implement intrusion detection systems, a Security Operations Center, Application Whitelisting, and more. All these measures can significantly reduce the risk of a successful ransomware attack on your establishment. 

Ransomware attacks can be devastating for Arizona businesses. However, anti-ransomware software can help protect your business from ransomware attacks. But keep in mind that anti-ransomware software may not be effective in isolation. Instead, implement all 15 cybersecurity measures for more comprehensive protection for your business. 

About AZCOMP Technologies

AZCOMP Technologies of Mesa, AZ, is a leading provider of Managed IT services and technology solutions for businesses. AZCOMP’s mission is to help enterprises improve efficiency, reduce costs, and increase cybersecurity through innovative tech solutions.

AZCOMP Technologies has provided technology solutions and services to businesses since 2000. AZCOMP employees offer our services in Mesa, Tempe, Scottsdale, Chandler, Phoenix, Glendale, Apache Junction, Queen Creek, San Tan Valley, and Gold Canyon. Request your IT consultation today!

Affordable IT Services in Arizona

IT Services

A Local AZ IT Services Company that Offers Affordable IT Services

In an increasingly digitized world, technology has become the extra limb for your Arizona business, regardless of size or industry. Your business gets more done with technology – more employee productivity, more sales, effective delivery, and efficient operations. IT services can help streamline these processes. 

A better working technology gives your business a much-needed competitive advantage in your industry. But there are times when technology may not work for you as expected. 

For example, technology may get in the way or cause time wastage and frustrations because of persistent IT issues. In such a case, IT acts as a barrier and hurts your business. 

Ways That Businesses Address Their IT Needs

Some of the ways Phoenix Metro Arizona businesses address their IT needs fall into four categories: 

● You may have hired an employee for a role other than IT, but the individual doubles up as the “IT guy” because they are “pretty good with computers.” 

● You hire an employee who is either trained or not trained to act as your dedicated, on-staff “IT guy.” 

● You outsource third-party IT services from a company or individual, or 

● You use some combination of the first three mentioned options

A logical argument can be made that the first 2 options are the least cost-effective and have the worst results. Sometimes, the on-staff “IT guy” might be the business owner or the president, making it an even more costly option. IT management is sensitive and time-intensive, so there may not be enough time to do it effectively. 

Our case study of an OB-GYN clinic in Gilbert, AZ, in 2019 had owners doing all the IT stuff independently. However, they had HIPAA compliance and cyber security concerns, and various issues affected their productivity. The staff at the clinic were spending too much time troubleshooting and attempting to solve the problems with the IT hardware and software. 

The third option may seem like the safer bet, but it could also turn out bad when outsourced to the wrong company or individual. Just because an outsourcing firm offers the cheapest services doesn’t mean they are the best or will benefit your business. 

Picture this:

● Suppose one IT services company provides IT services to your business for $500 per month, but your employees are still unproductive. In that case, your security posture is still weak, and nothing has improved for your business. Is that $500 well spent?

● Suppose a different IT services company provides IT services to your business for $2000 per month, but your employees are now productive with the technology. In that case, security is improved, and your business is noticeably more efficient and effective due to the enhanced technology process. Is that $2,000 a better value than the $500?

What Your IT Professional Should Do for You

The IT personnel play a vital role in the success and continuity of the business. But what do they do, or what should they do?

The IT consultant or manager ensures your computer systems work efficiently and effectively. As a result, they ensure other employees work smoothly and productively on their computers without headaches. 

It is up to them to limit disruptions, downtimes, and lost productivity due to poorly managed or faulty tech. 

If there are faulty tech or systems, the IT staff should assess the risks and determine the best way to address them cost-effectively. It is the job of your IT team to keep track of everything and ensure the systems and hardware are well-maintained and up-to-date. 

Your IT staff should make the work of crucial managers easy because they’re not spending a lot of time deliberating on IT issues. They should identify problem areas, new or current risks, new solutions, and areas for improvement. Your IT people should prepare a plan or a budget and implement the project. Their primary role is to make IT better and better and better.

In summary, it boils down to these 6 points:

● Reduce IT Frustrations:

Better working IT systems and infrastructure is an asset for any Arizona business. However, the people working on such systems are as important. Getting someone to handle your systems and infrastructure because they’re “pretty good with computers” is never enough. It is a recipe for IT frustrations and can hurt your business. 

Before we became their outsourced IT partner, the staff at the Lily of the Valley OB-GYN clinic in Gilbert, AZ, were not tech-savvy, and issues with the equipment would cause frustrations and delays. These frustrations would spill over to patients and reduce their service satisfaction. 

So, does your IT provider ensure the systems are working effectively and efficiently to support productivity? If not, they’re not helping your business, and you must rethink your IT strategy. 

● Improve Employee Productivity:

Like others, your business looks to continually improve productivity to grow and succeed in an increasingly competitive market. Good working IT systems and support are the foundation of such productivity. 

Therefore, investing in technologies, tools, and IT support can automate repetitive tasks and streamline workflows. Your employees can then focus on strategic and more important issues, which increases their productivity. 

● Enhance Operations:

You can achieve business growth by enhancing operations, and your choice of IT support services has a big say. When technology and tools are used right, businesses can optimize processes, automate routine tasks and streamline operations. Qualified IT staff can help implement enterprise resource planning (ERP) tools for inventory, supply chain, and financials. Or even customer relationship management (CRM) to track sales, automate marketing campaigns, and manage customer interactions. 

Combining tools and IT services can reduce costs and improve operational efficiency. They can also help your business make better decisions based on real-time data. 

● Better Customer Service: 

Your customers are the lifeline for your business, and the goal is to establish long-lasting relationships with clients. Unlike in the past, customers now have higher expectations of the quality of customer service you offer. They expect the service to be responsive, fast, and personalized across multiple channels. 

But how can your business achieve this? 

By leveraging technologies that offer seamless customer experiences, such as social media, chatbots, and mobile apps. Efficient IT support services can ensure you use customer feedback tools correctly and securely. This helps you measure customer satisfaction and point out areas for improvement. 

● The Burden of IT Management is Removed from the Owner:

IT issues can take a considerable chunk of your time which you should use in other vital areas. But by outsourcing your IT management, you leave the technical aspects to experts, and you can shift your focus to other core competencies. Competent IT service providers can manage IT networks, infrastructure, and systems, ensuring they’re up-to-date, secure, and functioning correctly. You can therefore improve system reliability and reduce costly downtimes. 

● Predictable IT Expenses:

Not knowing how much it will cost you to keep the IT systems working can be a source of anxiety. On the other hand, managed IT services with flexible pricing and custom services can help you budget and plan effectively. Your IT expenses become predictable, and you avoid unpredictable costs such as IT emergencies and downtimes. You can then invest in IT infrastructure to take your business to the next level. After all, you know that no IT issue will surprise you, and you can only go up. 

Dedicated in-staff personnel that most often fulfill all the above roles are not budget-friendly. That’s where managed IT services come in. 

Why You Need Managed IT Services

One of the reasons the popularity of managed IT services is busting in popularity is its cost-effectiveness and efficiency in technology management. 

The affordability of IT services is a significant issue for small businesses with limited resources. The cost of hiring a full-time IT employee or outsourcing the services can be pretty prohibitive to some companies. So, what do you do? 

AZCOMP Technologies is a local IT services firm that prides itself in affordable IT services to small and medium businesses in Phoenix and surrounding areas.

AZCOMP Technologies – Providers of Affordable IT Services

Affordable and quality IT services for your business are not always readily available; if they are, they may not be the best fit for your business. So why choose AZCOMP Technologies?

● Affordability: AZCOMP Technologies have been providers of cost-effective and efficient solutions for businesses for a long time. While it doesn’t necessarily mean that our services are the cheapest, we offer the best value at a fair price. 

We achieve all the objectives of what an IT manager should do, so we have a process for doing it well. This means we achieve good results and can repeat the process with any company – predictable results every time. It doesn’t mean we’re cheap, but we deliver exceptional results at a fair price. Our range of managed IT services is available at competitive prices to help your business get the most out of technology investments. 

Our managed IT services use the best team of qualified IT professionals who do away with the cost of hiring full-time IT personnel. Our pricing options are flexible, transparent, and straightforward. There are no hidden fees because we aim to help your business achieve its objectives and goals while keeping your IT infrastructure reliable, secure, and efficient. 

● Expertise: we have a dedicated team of qualified IT professionals who provide customers with the highest level of service and support. AZCOMP Technologies works with businesses of all sizes, from startups to huge corporations. We pride ourselves on offering customized IT solutions that meet your business’s unique needs. Our expertise and professionalism have kept our clients happy and confident about their IT and business. 

● Proactive IT management: working with AZCOMP benefits your business in various ways, including a proactive approach to IT management. That means we take action before something happens that affects your IT systems. The result is fewer disruptions, less downtime, and increased productivity. 

● A range of other IT services: AZCOMP’s services available to your business include data backup and recovery, network security, cloud computing, and more. We ensure that your IT infrastructure is reliable, secure, and efficient. We aim to help you leverage technology cost-effectively to achieve your goals and objectives. 

● 24/7 support: we understand that IT issues don’t wait for work hours to happen. You don’t have to suffer through the weekend or the night before you can get IT solutions. AZCOMP support is available throughout so you can reach out in case of any challenge or query. We provide regular reports and updates to keep you in the loop about our progress and ensure you get the most from our services. 

So, are you after affordable IT services for your business and quality, proactive, and professionally managed IT services?  

Contact us at AZCOMP Technologies today to learn how we can help you with your IT infrastructure to achieve your goals and objectives. 

About AZCOMP Technologies

AZCOMP Technologies of Mesa, AZ, is a leading provider of technology solutions and services for businesses of all sizes looking to automate their processes. AZCOMP’s mission is to help enterprises to improve efficiency, reduce costs, and increase cybersecurity through innovative tech solutions.

AZCOMP Technologies has provided technology solutions and services to businesses since 2000. AZCOMP employees provide our services in Mesa, Tempe, Scottsdale, Chandler, Phoenix, Glendale, Apache Junction, Queen Creek, San Tan Valley, and Gold Canyon. Request your IT consultation today!