How SMBs Can Utilize the Cloud To Build Their Business

There has been a lot of talk lately about the cloud and its ability to put small to midsize businesses (SMBs) and startups on a level playing field with large global enterprises. Can this be substantiated or is it a load of trendy hype to push SMBs to cloud-based solutions? We’ve compiled this breakdown of how the cloud can be used to boost profitability. How SMBs Can Utilize the Cloud To Build Their Business.

The Convenience Factor

It once took smaller companies and startups weeks to launch and configure their own IT infrastructure. Doing so also required a ton of overhead costs. Today’s cloud technology provides the benefits of this very same infrastructure but on an as needed and on-demand basis. SMBs can build a technology infrastructure for themselves online in less than a minute.

For example, a smaller agency that provides apps for its clients, can turn to a Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) cloud provider. A PaaS provides companies an environment that enables them to more easily host and deploy apps. They do this by shielding developers from the hassles that come with the set up, configuration, and management of things like servers and databases.

Without having to worry about things on the infrastructure side, the company and its application developers can focus on creating innovative apps that will generate business revenue. Once their server is online and available, they can launch instantly with a 1-click deployment of their application.

Mission Critical Agility & Scalability

In the tech industry, everyone must channel his or her inner Maverick and Goose* because there is a need… a need for speed. Speed is everything and agility is mission critical. The cloud’s rapid provisioning of computer resources can offer additional storage space in mere minutes rather than weeks.

Having that kind of agility bodes particularly well for the scalability needs of SMBs. As business grows and the need to store more data increases, the cloud is flexible enough to resize your infrastructure on the fly and grow with you.

The cost of cloud-based solutions is much more beneficial to SMBs than the cost of traditional shared or dedicated hosting plans. This eliminates the high overhead that comes with buying dedicated hardware and hiring staff to run the servers.

Cloud technology has empowered SMBs by eliminating any need to make the same kind of costly upfront investments that large enterprise are able to incur. There is no longer a need for SMBs to spend thousands of dollars building out a massive infrastructure to support their big data applications. Better yet, backing up that big data is also inexpensive compared to traditional hosting solutions.

* Top Gun, 1986, in case you were wondering

Contact us at Kinetic Technology Group

The Good, Bad, and Ugly of Mobility and BYOD

There are a lot of advantages to mobility in today’s workforce, but the Bring-Your-Own-Device (BYOD) movement has also brought its share of headaches as well.

We live in a society where everyone must have the newest technology. We are inundated with ads reminding us that the smartphone or tablet we just bought a year ago is laughably outdated and inferior to the upgrade that just hit the market.

The Good, Bad, and Ugly of Mobility and BYOD

People who have just bought the latest technology don’t want to have to set it aside to use a separate company-issued device. As a result, businesses are beginning to grant these employee-owned devices access to their file and email servers, databases, and applications.While this brings certain competitive advantages to employers, it naturally carries many risks, too. Let’s take a look at The Good, Bad, and Ugly of Mobility and BYOD.

Let’s begin with the pros…

The Advantages of BYOD

Greater Flexibility and Productivity – Personal devices allow workers more flexibility, which in turn can increase productivity. Today’s employee isn’t restricted to their office workstation or cubicle. They can carry out job responsibilities from home, a coffee shop, their child’s dance recital, or while traveling.

Reduced Costs – Purchasing even the most basic Blackberry for an employee can cost a company $900+ per worker. Costs like that can be completely eliminated by adopting a BYOD policy where employees are required to use their own device.

Happier Employees/Attractiveness to Job Seekers – Recent studies have found that 44% of job seekers are attracted more to employers who are open to BYOD and occasional remote work. Beyond this hiring advantage over competition, it has been found that employees as a whole are generally happier using the devices they own and prefer for work purposes.

Better Customer Service – This goes hand and hand with more flexibility and productivity. Mobility allows employees to occasionally resolve or escalate urgent client issues outside of normal working hours, and clients remember that kind of response time.

And now the cons…

Disadvantages of BYOD

Compromised Data Security – Unfortunately, letting employees use their own smartphones, tablets, and laptops increases the likelihood of sensitive company or customer/client data being compromised. It is important for companies to establish a comprehensive mobile device security policy and never make any exceptions to it whatsoever. Really. No exceptions. Ever.

Employee Privacy – Many employees may oppose using their own devices for work, especially if it’s a company requirement that they aren’t reimbursed for. You have to remember that these are the same devices employees use to log into their Facebook and Twitter accounts or do their online banking. In this age of constant paranoia over big brother watching our every move, employees may be concerned that their employer will spy on them or access their personal passwords and information.

Handling Employee Turnover – Companies must consider how they will address the retrieval of company data and information from an employee’s device if the employee either quits or is fired. Some companies may require that employees only save or edit company files on their servers or use cloud-based sharing software like Dropbox to share and edit docs.

The Importance of a Mobile Device Management Tool

Obviously, businesses must keep track of all of the devices that access their server, applications, and data. Mobile Device Management helps enterprises centralize what is an otherwise chaotic hodgepodge of devices and operating systems. This ensures that all devices are configured, deployed, and properly monitored and managed. This is a smart way for businesses to embrace BYOD while securing data and applications across multiple devices.

Contact us at Kinetic Technology Group

SMBs Must Proactively Address Mobile Hack Threats

 More cyber criminals are targeting small-to-medium sized businesses. One reason for this is too many workplaces have insufficient bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policies in place. Some have none at all. Although firms are generally more knowledgeable about network security risks than in years past, they still woefully underestimate the security vulnerabilities linked to mobile devices like smartphones and tablets.
SMBs Must Proactively Address Mobile Hack Threats

This is a real cause for concern since data breaches have the ability to put many already financially challenged SMBs out of business.If customer/client data has been breached, there could be potential litigation costs, and naturally, lost goodwill and an irreparable hit to brand or company reputation. Don’t Just Say You’re Worried About the Bad Guys… Deal With Them. SMBs say they view network security as a major priority but their inaction when it comes to mobile devices paints a different picture. A recent study found that only 16% of SMBs have a mobility policy in place. SMBs Must Proactively Address Mobile Hack Threats.

Despite the fact that stolen devices are a major problem in today’s mobile workforce, only 37% of mobility policies enforced today have a clear protocol outlined for lost devices.

Even more troubling is the fact that those firms who have implemented mobility policies have initiated plans with some very obvious flaws.

Key components of a mobility policy such as personal device use, public Wi-Fi accessibility, and data transmission and storage are often omitted from many policies.

Thankfully, most SMB cybercrimes can be avoided with a comprehensive mobility policy and the help of mobile endpoint mobile device management services.

A Mobility Policy Is All About Acceptable/Unacceptable Behaviors

Your initial mobility policy doesn’t have to be all encompassing. There should be room for modifications, as things will evolve over time. Start small by laying some basic usage ground rules, defining acceptable devices and protocols for setting passwords for devices and downloading third-party apps. Define what data belongs to the company and how it’s to be edited, saved, and shared. Be sure to enforce these policies and detail the repercussions for abuse.

Features of Mobile Device Management Services

MDM services are available at an affordable cost. These services help IT managers identify and monitor the mobile devices accessing their network. This centralized management makes it easier to get each device configured for business access to securely share and update documents and content. MDM services proactively secure mobile devices by:

  • Specifying password policy and enforcing encryption settings
  • Detecting and restricting tampered devices
  • Remotely locating, locking, and wiping out lost or stolen devices
  • Removing corporate data from any system while leaving personal data intact
  • Enabling real time diagnosis/resolution of device, user, or app issues
It’s important to realize that no one is immune to cybercrime. The ability to identify and combat imminent threats is critical and SMBs must be proactive in implementing solid practices that accomplish just that.
Need help with securing your company’s mobile devices? Contact us at Kinetic Technology Group

Three Things to Consider Before Jumping Into BYOD

You’ve read it time and time again. “Bring Your Own Device” isn’t a trend, it’s the future.

Three Things to Consider Before Jumping Into BYOD

 

Workplaces where companies let workers use their own devices for work purposes are the new normal. BYOD attracts new hires and lifts employee morale and productivity. But this doesn’t mean a small business owner should recklessly jump right into BYOD just because everyone else is doing it. Data and network security concerns have to be thought out, defined, and addressed in a comprehensive BYOD policy. Here are Three Things to Consider Before Jumping Into BYOD.

Cost of Support

Most businesses salivate at the thought of the money saved by having employees participate in a BYOD program. With employees using their own devices for work, there is no need to shell out thousands of dollars for desktop PCs, smartphones, tablets, and laptops. While that’s undoubtedly a huge incentive, extra support costs must also be factored in. Chances are your employees aren’t necessarily tech savvy and will need help deploying applications and performing basic yet very necessary maintenance techniques. Unless you have a dedicated IT support team, which most SMBs do not have, you will need to turn to a Managed Service Provider (MSP) in your region for support. A MSP can provide specialized expertise and leverage Mobile Device Management (MDM) tools to keep your network infrastructure and business applications monitored, secured and fully optimized.

Limited Number of Support Devices

Obviously you can’t accommodate EVERY employee-owned device. Limiting the types of devices accepted in your BYOD program will mitigate any need to pay for software or equipment upgrades for outdated devices and keep your infrastructure safer as a whole. It’s important to not be too exclusive, select a broad range of devices and their more recent releases to accommodate the varied preferences/tastes of your employees.

Legal Risks

Adopting BYOD at your workplaces will expose your company to more legal risks. Sensitive business or private client/customer data can potentially be exposed if devices are lost or stolen. The personal online habits of your employees can also increase your network’s vulnerability to viruses, phishing, or hacking schemes designed to steal such data. These increased legal risks are another reason why SMBs must take precautions such as working with a MSP that offers a solid MDM solution to ensure all employee devices are configured, deployed, managed and monitored in a manner that prioritizes data integrity and security.

Contact us at Kinetic Technology Group

A Smarter Approach to Mobile Device Management

A Smarter Approach to Mobile Device Management : More people today use personal mobile devices like smartphones and tablets for business purposes. Such devices, coupled with greater Wi-Fi accessibility and cloud services, have empowered us with the ability to access data and do business from practically anywhere at anytime.
A Smarter Approach to Mobile Device Management
Needless to say, many small-to-medium sized business owners have embraced the BYOD (Bring-Your-Own-Device) revolution. The benefits are obvious; increased employee productivity, enhanced services to customers/clients, and better overall customer and employee satisfaction.But what about the potential consequences associated with this mobility revolution? Are small business owners doing enough preemptive planning to address potential risks that could arise with the use of BYOD devices?
Mobile Device Management – Questions Every SMB Should Ask.
 First, it is important that small business owners honestly assess whether their systems, networks, data, and overall infrastructure are ready for the use of an array of mobile devices.Once it is firmly established that both internal IT and components in the cloud are prepared for BYOD, solutions should then be put into practice that are concurrent with terms of use policies or any guidelines pertaining to remote/telecommute workers or the sharing of sensitive data. The following questions should be answered.
  • What particular devices or applications are permissible for work use? Assuming security requirements are in place, not every device or application will meet those.
  • Will anyone in the company be tasked with the daily management of BYOB strategies? What should BYOD policies cover and what kind of management solutions will be needed? Would a BYOD management tool that collects device information, deploys and monitors usage, and offers insight into compliance be helpful?
  • Which costs will be the responsibility of the employee? This pertains to any fees associated with usage – from network plans, to the device itself, to software, accessories and maintenance costs.
  • What data will be accessible? Will data encryption be necessary for certain information traveling through the personal devices of employees? Which employees will have read, write, update/delete privileges?
  • What is the process when handling sensitive data stored on lost or stolen devices, or the personal devices of ex-employees? Does the company or organization have the right to wipe out the entire device or just corporate data and apps?

BYOD is here to stay as it affords smaller-sized companies the mobility of a corporate giant without a huge investment. But when it comes to ensuring that devices, applications and networks are safe from the variety of threats linked to greater mobility, small business owners may find it necessary to enlist the help of a managed service provider to adequately take on mobile management challenges and provide ongoing consultation.

Contact us at Kinetic Technology Group

4 Essential Pieces for Small Business BYOD Strategy

4 Essential Pieces for Small Business BYOD Strategy. Believe it or not, once upon a time, kids at the bus stop didn’t have cell phones and the mobile device strategy of many businesses was typically “you’ll take what you’re given, refrain from using it for any personal use, and the data may be scrubbed clean whenever we please.”
4 Essential Pieces for Small Business BYOD Strategy
We’ve come a long way. Today, businesses really have no choice but to let employees use personal devices for work purposes. Blurred lines now make it difficult to differentiate between what is professional and what is personal. A company or organization may partially pay for an employee’s tablet computer or smartphone, but that same device is used to upload photos to Facebook or download torrents of this season of Game of Thrones.Naturally, security and privacy issues are a concern since these devices sync to the company network. Larger corporations may be able to hire IT support or produce sophisticated BYOD guidelines for employees to adhere to, but smaller businesses have limited resources.In fact, recent surveys suggest that the small business sector is doing very little to preemptively prepare for potential network security risks that could arise with the use of BYOD devices. This could prove to be disastrous.The practical reality is that employees are going to use their mobile devices for personal use. However, too many firms have overlooked what this means for their data security.Implementing a comprehensive BYOD policy right now, rather than when it’s too late, is important. In this blog post we will look at 4 Essential Pieces for Small Business BYOD Strategy.
  • It must clearly be outlined what specific devices are permitted for work use.
  • The company/organization must have the ability to remotely delete company-sensitive data from mobile devices without the device owner’s permission. Remote deletion capabilities are much more refined these days; simplifying the removal of enterprise-related data from devices, while leaving other content like personal photos, contacts, apps and music downloads intact.
  • Written policies should be put into effect that correspond with terms of use policies and any guidelines pertaining to remote/telecommuting workers or the sharing of sensitive data. There should be clearly defined consequences for violating any or all policies.
  • Employee privacy should be discussed within the BYOD policy since employees often use these devices to check personal email, browse or post to Facebook and Twitter feeds, instant message, and store personal documents, photos, music and movie downloads. Employees must understand that employers still have access to the content stored on these devices. Location tracking, which gives employers the ability to locate employees, is also something to discuss since many people don’t necessarily welcome that kind of surveillance.

It is understandable that BYOD and more mobile employees have some small business owners feeling anxious and nervous. But mobile management tools, periodic conversation, security checks, and research will do wonders when it comes to keeping small businesses safe.

Contact us at Kinetic Technology Group

In-House IT or Managed Service Provider

Your business is growing and In-House IT is overworked. They have certain skills that you’d love to use to develop innovative applications and revenue-generating projects– but they’re too busy running around fixing things that break. Or performing the most mundane and routine tasks day-in-and-day-out just to keep things secure and running smoothly. So…the big question is, In-House IT or Managed Service Provider?

managed IT services, outsourced IT

  • Focus Primarily on Cost-Cutting and Revenue Increasing Projects: First things first, you have to realize that in-house IT cannot do everything all the time.  Whether it’s processes that help drive down costs or ones with the potential to raise revenue, evaluate the projects in the queue and rank them by what impacts the bottom line the most.
    Once that’s done, look at the day-to-day processes designed to keep things running securely and efficiently. What can be off-loaded to an MSP? Determine which of those tasks can be automated either through the cloud or managed services.
  • Take to the Cloud: Some IT people fear the cloud spells the end to their job security. Meanwhile, the cloud can actually help them take on a more prominent contributing role in the company’s success.
    The cloud should be seen as another tool that further eliminates the mundane yet necessary daily drudgery from their workday. Those who work WITH the cloud will find that they have more available time to take on more meaningful cost cutting or revenue generating projects.
  • Use a Managed Service Provider: Using outsourced managed services not only alleviates much of the daily IT pressure and stress, but also boosts productivity and gives the company a much improved ROI (Return-on-Investment) on their technology investment.

While technology has gotten easier for the end user, it has become more complex on the backend with the advent of virtualization, cloud computing, and advanced infrastructure.

Using an MSP gives your in-house access to a trusted advisor, a 24/7 help desk, remote monitoring and management tools, mobile device management tools, and much better disaster recovery and business continuity solutions. All without the overhead that comes with hiring more help. MSPs offer a consistency to not just your end-user but also your main IT guy who will certainly appreciate the help.

Contact us at Kinetic Technology Group

Is Your Business Technology Ready?

It’s a fast business world. Brilliant business ideas can be conjured up at some hipster-filled vegan coffeehouse, a website is thrown together, and poof… in no time at all there is a living, breathing, small business venture accessible from anywhere in the world. Click, Click, BOOM – Is Your Business Technology Ready?

Is Your Business Technology Ready?

But as your head hits the pillow at night, with visions of becoming the next Mark Zuckerberg dancing in your head, understand that many obstacles will greet you on your road to entrepreneurial success. A fresh innovative idea is merely a start. For every successful startup like Groupon, there are even more that have faltered. Some great, even revolutionary, business concepts that just faded into obscurity; leaving behind nothing but tales of what could’ve been and insurmountable debt.

Failed business technology is often a big reason for this. Many startups think big but tend to operate small-minded to keep overhead and costs down. They then find themselves completely unprepared to meet the demands of growth, particularly when it comes to their IT infrastructure. There is no one-size fit all approach to how to manage technology for optimal efficiency, uptime, and profitability. Especially given the challenges of limited budgets and the need to keep overhead down.

So exactly how do SMBs make sound decisions regarding their technology infrastructure? Choices that are cost-effective enough to get their business off the ground and running without screwing them over once it truly takes off?

Combine On-Site and Off-Site Support for the Best of Both Worlds

Over 45% of SMBs have no dedicated in-house IT staff and no contracted IT consultant regularly monitoring and managing their technology. Roughly only 7 percent of SMBs have a full-time onsite IT technician on payroll. The rest rely on third-party on-call IT companies who appear only when technology goes haywire and disrupts business. These on-call companies can sometimes take a day or two to even show up, which means issues aren’t resolved in a timely and efficient manner. And did we mention they’re expensive?

Most SMBs say they simply can’t afford full-time in-house support. Even those who do budget for it face overwhelming challenges. They often experience a revolving door of on-site help who leave for a larger company and better salary once they’ve beefed up their resume. And those hires that do remain loyal often feel as if they have no reliable help and become overworked and frazzled as the business and their responsibilities grow. Discontent may even set in if wages aren’t raised proportionately to the added responsibilities, or if they grow bored of doing the same mundane repetitive work everyday.

But today’s SMB has access to technology that won’t drain resources. In particular, the evolution of cloud computing and managed services can either automate or re-assign a lot of the day-to-day caretaking of technology to remote employees, leaving onsite support available for more meaningful and potentially profitable projects.

Better yet, it saves money on equipment costs.

Whenever possible, a mix of on-premise and off-premise IT support is the best way to make your technology scalable and prepared for growth.

Contact us at Kinetic Technology Group

Three Steps To Fix IT Management for SMBs

Three steps to fix IT Management for SMBs. Small-to-medium-sized businesses (SMBs) tend to have a more difficult time managing IT than larger enterprises. Despite being as technology dependent as larger enterprises, SMBs have tighter budgets and fewer resources to devote to IT management. This leads to a more reactive “break-fix” approach to their technology that never does any smaller company or organization any good.
Three Steps To Fix IT Management for SMBs
Here’s what break fix most often leads to. If the burden rests on the shoulders of hourly or salaried in-house IT support, and they’re too busy putting out fires all day, then their skills and talents are essentially wasted.If there is no in-house tech support, and many smaller companies and organizations don’t have even one onsite “IT guy”, SMBs are commonly taken for a ride by some of the more unscrupulous on-call IT consultants.Although “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” is a popular saying, it should never be applied to the management of business technology. The cost of downtime can crush any barely surviving small business. The combined impact of lost revenue, lost productivity, and lost brand reputation is a severe hit that many SMBs aren’t built to withstand.It pays to be proactive, not a reactive about technology. This requires a cultural shift from how IT has commonly been handled in the past. Say goodbye to manual, yet necessary, processes and hello to a better way for businesses to meet their technology needs – a smarter and more cost-efficient way. Lets take a look at three steps to fix IT Management for SMBs.

Three Steps To Better Manage Your Business Technology

Be Proactive – More often than not, it’s the things that aren’t caught early on that turn into costly business disruptions. For instance, many of the hardware, software, and application failures that cause downtime occurrences are preventable; they’re just not detected and addressed early enough.

SMBs today have the advantage of using a Remote Monitoring and Management (RMM) tool to help their existing in-house support staff get a grip on their workload.

A RMM tool, combined with an outsourced 24/7 Network Operations Center (NOC), monitors your technology all day and all through the night via one comprehensive interface that is even accessible with a mobile device. This kind of around the clock monitoring transforms technology management. Problems can be nipped in the bud with an alert and prompt ticket resolution before they turn into major issues that disrupt day-to-day operations.

Automate/Schedule Mundane Tasks – Free the in-house support staff from everyday manual maintenance and monitoring by automating a broad range of IT security and monitoring tasks.

Get More From Your In-House Team – If you have any in-house IT support, you’ve likely hired some incredibly skilled and talented people who would be more worthy contributors to your company or organization if they weren’t always so tied up fixing things and performing monotonous tasks. With RMM and NOC solutions, SMBs can put these individuals to work on projects that matter. They are freed-up to work on concepts, strategies, and application development that better serve your customers, employees, and suppliers, truly giving business a competitive advantage.

Contact us at Kinetic Technology Group

Difference Between a Help Desk and NOC?

It’s no secret that any growing small-to-medium sized business must monitor and manage its business technology in the most cost-efficient way. The tricky part is figuring out how to do this without sacrificing the overall experience of the end-user. End-users can be clients and customers or employees. Both rely on the efficiency of a firm’s network, servers, and applications, and the availability of the company’s data center. What’s the Difference Between a Help Desk and NOC?

Difference Between a Help Desk and NOC?

Thanks to the evolution of managed services, it’s actually possible these days to reduce costs, which strengthens IT support and infrastructure. It’s just a matter optimally integrating all available resources.

Difference Between a Help Desk and NOC?

It’s a Staffing Conundrum for Most SMBs

Most SMBs tend to be short staffed. This isn’t just another reference to the many SMBs with little to no onsite tech support. While that’s true, and problematic, it’s actually all operations that tend to be short staffed.

Small yet growing companies and organizations aren’t just short on tech support; it seems like even their administrative assistant needs an assistant to keep up. Customer support and sales teams are also overworked, and often hindered by having to understand and troubleshoot tech problems when they have no tech expertise whatsoever.

There is no, “Hold for a moment, Sir. I’m about to transfer you to our tech support team.” There is no tech support team.

This is where managed service providers (MSPs) step in to save the day. MSPs help SMBs better manage their technology to achieve greater ROI (Return-on-Investment). One way they do this is by augmenting a SMBs existing on-site staff with the remote support of a 24/7 Network Operations Center (NOC) and Help Desk.

What’s the Difference Between a NOC and Help Desk?

This question is asked a lot because it’s really not uncommon to see both referenced interchangeably, which leaves many to assume they are one in the same. They are not. Here is the easiest way to distinguish between the two.

NOC: Most of the work performed by a NOC focuses on the network and systems. The NOC can almost be viewed as a mission control center. They monitor and manage an IT network. A 24/7 NOC typically monitors the network and system security, performance, and backup processes.

Help Desk: The Help Desk is more customer-oriented. The Help Desk has interaction with the end-user, or someone representing the end-user, to directly respond and resolve technical problems as they arise. Customers or employees can typically reach the Help Desk by clicking a support icon, emailing them, or dialing a toll-free number.

Do the Help Desk and the NOC Interact?

What’s the Difference Between a Help Desk and NOC? Although the NOC and Help Desk are different, they do work together, along with any in-house tech support, to provide cohesive tech solutions to end-users. The Help Desk typically has three tiers of support and may sometimes have to escalate tickets to the NOC for resolution.

This open communication, and ease of escalation, improves the end-user experience and serves as a proactive cost-efficient approach to managing SMB technology.

Contact us at Kinetic Technology Group

Understanding Managed Services and How They Benefit SMBs

Small to medium sized businesses (SMBs) receive a lot of calls each day from slick sales people peddling the next technology trend that’s going to save them money and revolutionize how they do business. They’re all too quick to caution that if you don’t listen to them, you’ll fall behind the times, and eventually be swimming in a sea of debt and out of business. Understanding Managed Services and How They Benefit SMBs.
Understanding Managed Services and How They Benefit SMBs

No doubt you’ve heard, or you’ve at least read about, the benefits of managed services. Managed services refer to clearly defined outsourced IT services delivered to you at predictable costs. You know the exact IT services you’ll be getting and what you’ll pay for them. There is no surprise sky-high bill for services rendered. So are solicitation calls that pertain to managed services worth listening to? We think so. Then again, we’re in the managed services industry. There may be a bit of a bias here.

How Managed Service Providers Work

Managed service providers (MSPs) use remote monitoring and management (RMM) tools to keep an eye on their performance and overall health of the IT infrastructure that powers your business operations.

Your MSP should have a 24/7 Monitoring that acts as your mission control center. If the monitoring alerts them to any issue with your servers, devices, hardware or software, they respond quickly to resolve the issue.

Your MSP  should perform regular systems maintenance such as:

  • Automated tasks like the cleaning of temporary files
  • Applying tested security patches as required
  • Installing virus and Malware protection
  • System backup and disaster recover/business continuity processes

Additionally, your MSP should give you access to a Help Desk that services your customers and employees – speaking to and working with them directly as if they’re part of your staff.

This proactive maintenance, stabilization of your IT environment, and rapid as-needed remediation helps SMBs control technology costs and better serve the end-users who rely on their technology.

Is Managed Services Better than Other Ways to Manage IT

We find that far too many companies have no real perspective about how much IT management costs them. Let’s review some of the alternatives to managed services.

Hiring In-House IT Support

Typically, a firm with anywhere from 20-60 employees may feel that one person can manage their technology. Understand that this one full-time employee can demand a significant salary since they’ll have to be proficient with desktop, server and network support, and interact with both end-users in the Help Desk role and management. They will likely be overworked and vulnerable to error or oversights that may prove to be costly. And what happens if they’re out sick or on vacation?

The Break/Fix Mentality

The majority of smaller companies take this route because they feel as if they’re too small for a more sophisticated 24/7 approach to IT management. They also feel pressure to direct all resources on the product or service, not behind-the-scenes operations. They decide to use on-call IT techs when broken technology has already disrupted business. The on-call team’s response time and overall lack of familiarity with your systems extends downtime and proves to be a much more expensive resolution to IT management. It’s reactive, not proactive, and it’s a costly mistake too often made.

This is why many SMBs today feel that managed services are the most cost-effective way to support their IT infrastructure and the best way to get more bang for their buck.

Contact us at Kinetic Technology Group

Are Managed IT Services Right For You

How do you get a small business to recognize the value of Managed IT Services? In the start-up environment, we encounter an eclectic bunch of personality types. There is a reason people become entrepreneurs or C-level execs. When we meet the owners or decision makers at smaller companies and organizations, we can tell right away why they’re where they are. They’re visionaries, risk takers, competitive and they want to be in charge! So – Are Managed IT Services Right For You?

Are Managed IT Services Right For You

 

Therefore, they aren’t always quick to place the fate of their business technology in the hands of a third party. They’ve come as far as they have by being in control and they’re hesitant to give up that control. But we’ve learned a few things along the way.

For example, the Type A personality is highly independent but also very competitive. So we tap into the competitive advantage that managed IT services gives them.

The Type B personality is creative and doesn’t like static routines. But their ears perk up when they hear terminology like “cutting-edge” and we can then paint the big picture for them once their listening.

But anyone we do business with has to be committed to the efficiency, security, and stability of their business technology to see our value proposition. And they have to recognize that managing their IT infrastructure is an investment they cannot take lightly.

So here are a few things we commonly have to address before any deal for managed IT services is signed.

Is my business large enough to even consider managed services?

The truth is, any company, regardless of its size or the number of people they employ, will run more efficiently if its technology is monitored, maintained, and managed properly.

These are facets of your operations that drive profitability and give our Type A personalities that competitive edge they crave. And they can rest easy whenever business is booming because their technology is built to sustain their growth. That’s the big picture that our Type B personality can appreciate.

How is making another IT investment a cost-savings move for my business?

There are still many SMBs who feel a greater focus and investment should go towards their core operations or marketing and sales. They only worry about technology when it breaks, figuring they’ll just call a service technician to come to the office and fix whatever the problem is. Or buy some new hardware at Office Depot.

There are some very obvious flaws to this strategy.

  • You’re paying way too much when it’s way too late – An issue that was likely preventable with early detection has escalated into a full blown business disruption and that on-call technician likely charges a high hourly rate, on top of hardware replacement costs, and may not get to your site right away. Being proactive rather than reactive to technology issues is important.
  • Don’t forget productivity killers – It’s taking your employees too long to boot their computers. Servers and applications are running slowly. Employee devices are full of Malware. Non-technical employees are running around troubleshooting tech problems. If you see this, your present approach to IT management is killing employee productivity and your bottom line.
  • What happens internally is noticed externally – Don’t think for a second that customers or clients don’t notice outdated or slow internal technology and mismanagement. If your site or applications are down often, run slowly, or your customer service rep tells them “I’m sorry, our system is down”, they’re noticing and it’s hurting your business.

When all is said and done, professionally managed IT services will give you a competitive edge, guarantee your business is always leveraging the newest most cutting-edge technology, and enhance your relationships with customers and clients – all while reducing costs.

Contact us at Kinetic Technology Group

Downtime Kills Small Businesses

Downtime is bad news for any business whether big or small. Downtime Kills Small Businesses

Downtime Kills Small Businesses

 

A recent two-hour New York Times’ downtime occurrence sent Twitter ablaze and their stock price plummeting.

Google going down for one to five hours resulted in lost revenue up to $500,000 and decreased overall web traffic by 40%.

We know what you’re thinking. Holy crap, Google makes $100,000 an hour? Yeah… insane, huh?

While the hourly cost of downtime for a small-to-medium sized business won’t be nearly as large as that astronomical Google figure, downtime is often more detrimental to smaller companies. Smaller enterprises are more susceptible to downtime and are neither large nor profitable enough to sustain its short and long-term effects.

Downtime Leads to Unhappy/Unproductive Employees

Even the happiest of employees become dissatisfied when they can’t perform basic day-to-day job functions or properly service customers or clients.

While some employees may use downtime as an excuse to lean back, put their feet up, and comfortably collect their hourly pay, we’re talking about those employees who come to work to actually work.

And don’t forget your IT guy or tech crew. They can’t necessarily sit back and twiddle their thumbs when downtime occurs because they’re typically taking the brunt of the storm. They will ultimately grow tired of the daily routine of having to put out fires and having neither the additional manpower nor resources to change things for the better.

These things lead to high employee turnover and the expenses that come with training and re-training a revolving door of employees.

Downtime Leads to Customer Dissatisfaction

Customers and clients grow weary whenever critical components of your operations – or the services they either expect or pay for – cannot be accessed.

Nearly 50% of customers will move on to a competitor if they encounter downtime of five minutes or more. These customers represent significant lost revenue.

While some suggest this is a bigger problem in the retail sector, other types of businesses are impacted as well. Have you ever clicked a link from search engine results only to quickly bolt when the page didn’t load, you couldn’t complete an online transaction, or you were greeted with a “Technical Difficulties – Be Back Up Soon!” message?

Did you give up on finding what you were looking for or did you wait it out? You did neither. You went back to Google and found someone else offering a similar service or product that satisfied your yearning for instant gratification.

Downtime Ruins Your Reputation

One of the most commonly overlooked consequences of downtime is the hit your company’s reputation takes online. In this age of social media, one person’s bad experience is broadcast to dozens or even hundreds of followers. Bad news spreads faster than ever and has lasting repercussions.

“It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.” — Warren Buffet.

Protect Your Bottom Line

The challenge for small businesses has always been how to minimize single-point-of-failure downtime using their limited IT resources. This is why downtime kills so many small businesses. They can’t prevent it and they can’t react quickly enough.

Thankfully, there are end-to-end business continuity solutions available today that integrate Remote Monitoring and Management (RMM) software, 24/7 access to a Network Operations Center (NOC), and advanced backup and disaster recovery solutions to alleviate this issue.

Not only do these methods minimize downtime and get businesses back up and running quickly, but they can reduce the cost of technology infrastructure maintenance by as much as 80 percent.

It’s time that small businesses stop being victims to the silent killer that is downtime.

Contact us at Kinetic Technology Group

 

 

 

 

 

Do You Have A Business Continuity Plan?

Technology is full of difficult jargon. To further complicate things, certain terms are often used in a different context between one publication or service provider and the next. An example of this is the usage of backup, disaster recovery, and business continuity. These terms are commonly used interchangeably, often resulting in confusion. In an effort to alleviate some of this confusion, let’s describe each physical process. You will see an overlay among all three, although they are each different processes. Do You Have A Business Continuity Plan?

Do You Have A Business Continuity Plan?

Backup – In IT lingo, the most basic description of backup is the act of copying data, as in files or programs, from its original location to another. The purpose of this is to ensure that the original files or programs are retrievable in the event of any accidental deletion, hardware or software failure, or any other type of tampering, corruption and theft.

It’s important to remember that the term “backup” refers to data only and doesn’t apply to the physical machines, devices, or systems themselves. If there were a system failure, disk crash, or an onsite physical disaster, all systems would still have to be replaced, rebuilt, and properly configured before the backed-up data could be loaded onto them.

Disaster Recovery – Backups are a single, albeit crucial, component of any disaster recovery plan. Disaster recovery refers to the complete recovery of your physical systems, applications, and data in the event of a physical disaster like a fire; hurricane or tornado; flood ;earthquake ;act of terror or theft.

A disaster recovery plan uses pre-determined parameters to define an acceptable recovery period. From there, the most satisfactory recovery point is chosen to get your business up and running with minimal data loss and interruption.

Business Continuity – Although backup and disaster recovery processes make sure that a business can recover its systems and data within a reasonable time, there is still the chance of downtime from a few hours to many days. The point of a business continuity plan is to give businesses continuous access to their technology and data, no matter what. Zero or minimal downtime is the goal.

Critical business data can be backed up with configurable snapshots that are instantly virtualized. This allows files, folders and data to be turned on and restored in seconds. Bare metal restores of hardware, where an image of one machine is overlaid onto a different machine, is also utilized along with cloud replication for instant off-site virtualization.

Many businesses also keep redundant systems and storage at a different physical location than their main site as part of their business continuity process. They may also outline procedures for staff to work remotely off-site. Some businesses or organizations may go as far as to have printed contact lists and other critical data stored off-site to keep their business moving if a disaster wipes out power and their ability to access anything electronically.

This should clarify the differences between backup, disaster recovery, and business continuity solutions. Choosing what works best for your business will come down to your current IT infrastructure, your budget and how much downtime you can reasonably accept.

Contact us at Kinetic Technology Group

Reasons SMBs need Data Recovery and Business Continuity

The foundation of any successful business continuity solution is the ability to retrieve data from any point in time from anywhere. When the topic of data recovery and business continuity comes up, you get the feeling that many decision makers at smaller businesses and organizations wish they could channel their inner six year old, simply cover their ears, and sing “La, la, la. I Can’t Hear You. I’m Not Listening.” Here are some Reasons SMBs need Data Recovery and Business Continuity.

Reasons SMBs need Data Recovery and Business Continuity

 

Everybody thinks bad things only happen to other people. Just because we hear about a fatal car accident on the morning news, doesn’t mean we fixate on that news when we ourselves get into a car and drive to work.

So no matter how many times the owner or executive of a small to midsize business (SMB) hears of other small businesses being crippled by hurricanes, tornados, fires, or flooding, they aren’t necessarily overcome with fear to the point that they feel an urgency to take action.

Sure, they may think about backup and data recovery solutions a little more that day, but not enough to initiate immediate change or reverse a lenient approach to their processes.

If you fall into this category, here some cold hard truths to consider

  • Cyber attacks through malware have grown exponentially in the past four years. Malware is hitting everything from PCs to Macs to mobile devices and it’s inflicting damage.
  • Over half of the small businesses in the U.S. have experienced disruptions in day-to-day business operation. 81% of these incidents have led to downtime that has lasted anywhere from one to three days.
  • In the US 90% of companies employing less than 100 people spend fewer than eight hours a month on their business continuity plan.
  • 80% of businesses that have experienced a major disaster are out of business within three years.
  • 40% of businesses impacted by critical IT failure cease operations within one year.
  • 44% of businesses ravaged by a fire fail to ever reopen, and only 33% of those that do reopen don’t survive longer than three years.
  • Disaster recovery solution providers estimate that 60% to 70% of all business disruptions originate internally – most likely due to hardware or software failure or human error.
  • 93% of businesses unable to access their data center for ten or more days filed for bankruptcy within twelve months of the incident.
  • 34% of SMBs never test their backup and recovery solutions – of those who do, over 75% found holes and failures in their strategies.

It’s critical that small businesses review their backup and disaster recovery processes and take business continuity seriously. Given the vulnerabilities associated with the cloud and workforce mobility, the risk of critical data loss today is quite serious and firms must be truly prepared for the unexpected. If your business falls into any of the categories above or you need help creating a disaster recovery plan, Kinetic Technology Group is here to help.

SMBs Taking to the Cloud

There has been a lot of hype about cloud computing transforming the way small-to-medium sized businesses do business. Proponents of the cloud say that cloud computing has leveled the playing field, allowing SMBs to finally compete with bigger companies despite their limited financial resources and staffing. The Sky’s the Limit for SMBs Taking to the Cloud.
SMBs Taking to the Cloud
Still, many are apprehensive to make the jump. They’re hesitant to give up control and they fear the cloud will expose them to greater security risks. Moving to the cloud definitely requires a leap of faith, but a recent ComScore study, completed on behalf of Microsoft, suggests that those who are froggy enough to take the leap (sorry) have no regrets once they do.In fact, more than half of those surveyed wish they had adopted it earlier and feel that the benefits far outweigh their initial worries.What are those benefits?

Enhanced Privacy and Security

According to the study, 94 percent of companies who’ve adopted cloud services believe they’re now more secure than they were before, thanks to the cloud’s spam management and up-to-date systems and antivirus protection.

Less Downtime and More Confidence

61% of those surveyed reported fewer instances of downtime since their move to the cloud. Even those who still experienced downtime events felt that they were shorter in duration and that full recovery could be achieved much quicker.

93% indicated that they were more confident in their ability to fully recover after an outage. Comparatively, 73% responded that they felt the integrity of their data in the cloud was stronger than previously, which is interesting since data integrity has often been the biggest worry about the cloud.

Environmental Friendliness

Any company striving to be more “green” will appreciate the environmental benefits of moving to the cloud.  A recent six-month study conducted by the Berkeley Lab found that moving 86 million U.S. office workers to the cloud resulted in the use of 87% less energy, leaving enough leftover electricity annually to power a city the size of Los Angeles for twelve months.

Cost Effectiveness

Cost effectiveness and greater ROI (return on investment) are the most important factors in getting CEOs and major decision makers to support shifting to the cloud.  A Rackspace commissioned study conducted by Vanson Bourne, found that 62% of respondents felt that adopting cloud computing strategies freed up money that could be reinvested in other operations like marketing, customer service, product development, and expansion into new markets.

Conclusion

While there is a competitive advantage that can be realized by moving to the cloud, those who are still apprehensive should migrate to the cloud at a pace they’re comfortable with. Once they implement cloud monitoring, and understand it a bit more, most SMBs grow more comfortable with the cloud and expand their use of it.

Contact us at Kinetic Technology Group

Why You Should Get On The Cloud

A recent article by The Guardian (UK) states that the cloud industry is set to see a growth of around 30% soon. But many small and medium business owners are still struggling to make sense of the cloud and how it can benefit them. Is your company wondering if the cloud is for you? Why You Should Get On The Cloud.

Why You Should Get On The Cloud

1. Connectivity – Being on the cloud gives you unparalleled connectivity to your data—from anywhere and at any time. All you need is a device that can connect you to the web and you are set!

2. Save On Hardware Costs – Using the cloud for certain programs spares you the cost of investing in specific hardware. Even devices as simple as your smartphone or a tablet can help you access those applications so you don’t have to spend money on dedicated hardware. Studies have shown that cloud users end up enjoying as much as a 17% IT cost reduction compared to their non-cloud counterparts.

3. Cloud Enables SAAS – The cloud allows you to use software as a service. Microsoft 365 is one such example. When you use software as a service, you enjoy certain benefits such as more regular updates at a lower cost and the ability to have anyone work on the program for you by sharing the access credentials with them.

4. More Efficient Use of IT Staff – Moving to a cloud-based environment puts the burden of maintenance and downtime reduction on your service provider. That means you can use your limited IT staff more efficiently and also don’t have to worry about the costs associated with such maintenance or downtime.

5. Improved Productivity – Studies have shown that cloud users enjoy better productivity than their non-cloud counterparts. This could be because cloud service providers are better equipped to handle any IT eventualities than the average SMBs.

So, perhaps it’s time to ‘get cloudy’ and enjoy all that the cloud has to offer your SMB. And…if you need help in doing that, we are just a phone call away!

Kinetic Technology Group is a Managed IT Service Provider that truly cares about your business operations. Give us a call at (214) 269-1200 or click here to work with us.

Understand How Data Losses Happen In Order to Prevent Them

Small business owners are often worried about data loss. Rightly so, because data loss has the potential to wipe out a business. We have identified the most common forms of data loss so you can see how they fit into your business and assess the risks related to each of these pitfalls. Understand How Data Losses Happen In Order to Prevent Them.

Understand How Data Losses Happen - In Order to Prevent Them

1. Human Error – Human error – by way of unintentional data deletion, modification, and overwrites – has become much more prevalent in recent years. Much of this is the result of carelessly managed virtualization technology. While virtualization and cloud computing have enabled improved business continuity planning for many businesses and organizations, humans must still instruct this technology how to perform. The complexity of these systems often presents a learning curve that can involve quite a bit of trial and error. For instance, a support engineer may accidentally overwrite the backup when they forget to power off the replication software prior to formatting volumes on the primary site. They will be sure to never do that ever again, but preventing it from happening in the first place would be more ideal.

2. File Corruption – Unintended changes to data can occur during writing, reading, storage, transmission and processing – making the data within the file inaccessible. Software failure is a leading cause of data loss and is typically the result of bugs in the code. Viruses and malware can also lead to individual data files being deleted and hard drive partitions being damaged or erased.

3. Hardware Failure – Storage devices may be at risk due to age, or they may fall victim to irreparable hard-disk failure. Viruses and hackers can also potentially shut down a hard drive by inserting undeletable malicious code and huge files via open, unprotected ports. If these malicious programs cannot be deleted, the entire hard drive may have to be reformatted, wiping out all the data.

4. Catastrophic Events/Theft – The threat of catastrophic events such as fire, flooding, lightning and power failure is always a concern. Such events can wipe out data in a millisecond with no warning. Theft is also a data loss risk that companies must address. While advances in technology like anytime/anywhere connectivity, portability and the communication/information sharing capabilities of social media and crowdsourcing have revolutionized business – the risk for theft is even greater due to this increased accessibility. More people are doing daily business on their laptop, iPad and mobile phones. They are also carrying around portable media like thumb drives, USB sticks and CDs. Physical theft of any of these devices can spell big trouble.

Data loss is as unique as the various sources from which it comes. The key is to identify the areas in which your business is weak and work towards a mitigation plan for each one of them. An MSP can act as a trusted partner in such cases, holding your hand through the process of safeguarding your data.

Kinetic Technology Group is a Managed IT Service Provider that truly cares about your business operations. Give us a call at (214) 269-1200 or click here to work with us. 

The Benefits of a Managed Service Provider

Managed Service Providers – or MSPs – are often recommended as a cost-effective IT solution for small businesses. For a monthly fee, MSPs provide a reasonably priced solution to the complex technology pains of small businesses. Here’s a look at The Benefits of a Managed Service Provider can offer your business…
The Benefits of a Managed Service Provider

 

  • Freed-Up Resources and a Renewed Emphasis on Core Business – Business owners would much rather focus on revenue enhancing tasks like product development or the creation of cutting-edge applications/services. An MSP can provide routine monitoring and maintenance which is often neglected and can to be detrimental if neglected.
  • A True Partner Sharing Risks And Responsibilities –The goal of an MSP is to deliver on contracted services, measure, report, analyze and optimize IT service operations, and truly become an irreplaceable catalyst for business growth. Managed Service Providers not only assume leadership roles, they enable risk reduction, enhance efficiency and can introduce new technologies and processes.
  • Access to Expertise, Best Practices, and World-Class Tools and Technologies – MSPs have experience with a variety of businesses and organizations. Managed Service Providers can keep your business relevant and on track with continually evolving technology, support, and productivity demands. Let’s face it, no small or medium sized business can afford to fall behind with technology trends in today’s business world.
  • The Benefit of a Full-Time Fully Staffed IT Department at a Fraction of the Cost – Most small business owners live and die by proactive management. They just haven’t had the budget, resources or access to on-demand expertise to be proactive with information technology management. A Managed Service Provider gives business owners affordable computer and server support, remote monitoring of critical network components like servers and firewalls, data backup and disaster recovery, network security, custom software solutions, and technology evaluation and planning.

Rather than being stressed about technology, business owners can instead get back to focusing on growing their business. All while enjoying the benefits of highly-trained IT experts boosting their network’s reliability and performance.

Kinetic Technology Group is a Managed IT Service Provider that truly cares about your business operations. Give us a call at (214) 269-1200 or click here to work with us. 

Six Steps to Better Data Backup and Quicker Recovery

Think Quicker Recovery Time, Not Quicker Backup – Six Steps to Better Data Backup and Quicker Recovery. While incremental backups are much faster than executing a full-backup, they also prolong recovery time. In the event of data loss, a full restore will require loading the most recent full backup and then each incremental backup tape. Having too many incremental backup tapes not only adds time to this restoration process, but it also increases the probability of not recovering all of your data. A tape could be lost, unintentionally skipped over, or contain corrupted data. Be sure to focus on optimizing the restore time to ensure faster data recovery. A quicker recovery time should be the main objective, not the need for a quicker backup process.

 

Six Steps to Better Data Backup and Quicker Recovery

 

Maintain Sufficient Backup History – Within the blink of an eye, current data files can become corrupted and inaccessible. This will necessitate the loading of an earlier data backup that is clean of corruption. Many smaller companies make the mistake of failing to keep a sufficient backup history.

Be Sure to Backup Essential Data AND Applications – Some businesses don’t feel the need to backup all data, but be sure essential databases, documents and records are backed up frequently. Don’t overlook applications that are critical to day-to-day business operations either. Many companies fail to backup applications, only to realize when it’s too late that they don’t have access to the original installation disks when they’re trying to recover from data loss or an outage.

Have Off-Site or Online Backup – Some businesses backup data simply by moving essential files to tapes or external hard drives that are then stored somewhere onsite. But if they’re kept onsite, what happens if a fire, flood or other natural disaster takes out not just your server but your backup tapes and drives? Onsite backups can also be susceptible to theft. Having secure off-site, or even online backup, is simply the smart thing to do to ensure quick recovery when trouble comes to town.

Fix Broken Access Controls on Your File Server – Many businesses have folders with confidential data residing on a file server with overly permissive access controls. Why take the risk of having a disgruntled – even former – employee access and misuse this data when access can be limited to only those in the company who need it?

Be Sure to Test Restores – It happens time and time again. Business owners think they have a data backup plan in place. Tapes are changed diligently each day and everything appears to be backed up and good to go. However, it turns out the backups haven’t been working for months, sometimes even years, right at the very moment they’re needed. Either the backups had become corrupt and useless or large segments of data were not being backed up. This happens often. Don’t let it happen to you.

If you are an SMB, you don’t have to fear technology failure. A trusted MSP can help you resolve these challenges in a more effective and efficient manner. Give Kinetic Technology Group a call today, we would love to talk with you.

Mitigate Costly Technology Risks for Continued Stability and Profitability

Partnering with a managed service provider (MSP) is one new approach being used by many companies like yours. Mitigate costly technology risks for continued stability and profitability. Experienced MSPs have access to newer tools that reduce costs by automating many routine in-house labor intensive processes. Break-fix is labor intensive, and labor is one of the most expensive operating costs within your IT infrastructure.

Mitigate technology Risks for Continued Stability and Profitability

MSPs deliver a trusted foundation for your team and your customers. Some of the services and tasks offered include:

  • Remote Desktop Management and Support
  • Predictable Management of Critical Patches and Software Update
  • Fractional Resource Availability of Best-In-Class Expertise – scaled to your needs
  • Implementing and Testing Backup and Disaster Recovery Processes
  • Performance of Inventory and Audits of Computer/Network/Software
  • Enforcement of Network/Security Policy
  • Monitoring of Network/Operating System and Alerts
  • Updating Anti-Virus Software and Detecting Spyware

Erase any misconception that managed service providers are nothing more than “outsourced” tech help priced to displace your in-house IT technician or team. The new MSP has defined new methodologies and technology partnerships to offer valuable preventative services that proactively locate and eliminate threats before a bigger problem arises.

MSPs today put considerable effort into understanding the operational and business needs of SMBs to develop and deliver a set of specific services that align technology with the SMB’s business objectives. This is the reason you hear managed services often referred to as “partners.” A present day MSP offers quantifiable economic value, greater ROI and decreased total cost of operation by streamlining costs and eliminating unnecessary lost productivity, revenue, and avoidable on-site IT consultant fees, in addition to eliminating the need for costly hardware/software repairs or replacement.

Give us a call today and let us help you with your IT needs. Our experts will ensure your data and network is safe and secure.

Keep your Business Safe from Virtual Threats

Did you know that 50% of small business owners think their businesses are too small to be targeted by the thieves of the virtual world? Contrary to popular belief, 72% of hacker attacks often happen to smaller firms – firms with less than 100 employees! So how prepared is your SMB?  Here’s a checklist to help you keep your business safe from virtual threats.

Keep your Business Safe from Virtual Threats

1. Do you have Antivirus protection? – An antivirus software program can protect you from threats that originate from emails such as phishing and virus attacks. However, the most striking fact is that 61% of small businesses don’t install any antivirus software! If you are one of them, then it’s time to change!

2. How sturdy is your Firewall? – A good firewall system protects your computers from the variety of threats that exist in the virtual world. Examples include harmful cookies, viruses, worms and other such malicious programs used by hackers.

3. Do you use a Spam filter? – Using a simple spam filter for your emails keeps junk out of your inbox. The bonus to having a good spam filter is that your employees save time, as they are not distracted by irrelevant emails, but the major perk here is that the potential virus and phishing threats are lessened as spam emails are unlikely to be opened.

4. Do you do backup your data regularly? – Agreed – backups don’t really protect your data, but they are the only way to recover it if data loss does happen. So, be sure you have a regular and reliable backup plan in place – and it is actually being deployed.

Data loss can prove very costly—especially to SMBs, sometimes even resulting in them having to close down. Prevention is certainly better than a cure in such cases.  Give us a call today and let us help you with your IT needs. Our experts will ensure your data and network is safe and secure.

Identifying Email Phishing Schemes

Research has revealed that over half of all users open fraudulent emails and often even fall for them. Phishing is done with the aim of gathering personal information about you, generally related to your finances. The most common reason for the large number of people falling for fraudulent emails is that the phishing attempts are often so well-disguised that they escape the eyes of a busy email reader.  Did that email really came from your bank or is another attempt at defrauding you… Here are a few tips that can help when identifying email phishing schemes.

Identifying Email Phishing Schemes

1. They are asking for personal information – Remember, no bank or financial institution asks you to share your key personal information via email, or even phone. So, if you get an email where they ask for your ATM PIN or your e-banking password, something’s a miss.

2. The links seem to be fake – Phishing emails always contain links that you are asked to click on. You should verify if the links are genuine. Here are a few things to look for when doing that:

  • Spelling – Check for the misspellings in the URL. For example, if your bank’s web address is www.bankofamerica.com, a phishing scheme email could misspell it as www.bankofamarica.com or www.bankofamerica-verification.com
  • Disguised URLs – Sometimes, URLs can be disguised…meaning, while they look genuine, they ultimately redirect you to some fraudulent site. You can recognize the actual URL upon a mouseover, or by right clicking on the URL, and selecting the ‘copy hyperlink’ option and pasting the hyperlink on a notepad file. But, NEVER ever, paste the hyperlink directly into your web browser.
  • URLs with ‘@’ signs – If you find a URL that has an ‘@’ sign, steer clear of it even if it seems genuine. Browsers ignore URL information that precedes @ sign. That means, the URL www.bankofamerica.com@mysite.net will take you to mysite.net and not to any Bank of America page.

3. Other tell-tale signs – Apart from identifying fake URLs, there are other tell-tale signs that help you identify fraudulent emails. Some of these include:

  • Emails where the main message is in the form of an image, which, upon opening, takes you to the malicious URL.
  • Another sign is an attachment. Never open attachments from unknown sources as they may contain viruses that can harm your computer and network.
  • The message seems to urge you to do something immediately. Scammers often induce a sense of urgency in their emails and threaten you with consequences if you don’t respond. For example, threat of bank account closure if you don’t verify your ATM PIN or e-banking password.

Finally, get a good anti virus/email protection program installed. It can help you by automatically directing spam and junk mail into spam folders and deactivating malicious attachments. Kinetic Technology Group is an innovative managed service provider for innovative companies. Give us a call today and let us help you with your IT needs. Our experts will ensure your data and network is safe and secure.

How Much Does Downtime Really Cost Your Business

Many SMB owners think IT downtime only costs them a few productive hours, but there’s more at stake when your systems go down such as customer satisfaction, loss of brand integrity, lost productivity and a drop in sales. How Much Does Downtime Really Cost Your Business?

How Much Does Downtime Really Cost Your Business?

Here’s a few other ways downtime can hurt your business:

1. Customer Loss – Today’s buyer lacks patience; They are used to getting everything at the click of a mouse, at the tap of a finger. Suppose they are looking for the kind of products/services that you offer and your site doesn’t load or is unavailable—even if temporarily– you are likely to lose them to a competitor—permanently.

2. Damage to Brand Reputation – Customers are now using Social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter and blogs to vent their bad brand experiences. Imagine an irate customer who doesn’t know if their card was charged on your site, or not, due to a server error. If it’s your bad day, they could probably be using Facebook or Twitter to share their bad experience, and it could be viewed by hundreds of people, causing irreparable harm to your brand image.

3. Loss of Productivity – When your systems don’t work, this can have a direct impact on your employees’ productivity. Consider a research firm of 200 employees where they primarily rely on internet connectivity to access the knowledge base. If the server hosting the knowledge base is down, there’s a total loss of at least 1600 work hours for one day.

4. Overtime, Repair and Recovery, Compensatory costs – In the above case, imagine the overtime wages the business would have to incur if they were to make up for the work loss they faced owing to downtime. In addition, there’s always the cost of repair—the money the business would have to shell out to fix the issue that caused the downtime and get the server up and running again.

In some cases, businesses would have to incur additional costs to make customers happy. These could include giving away the product for free or at a discount, or using priority shipping to make up for a delayed order.

5. Possible Lawsuits – Businesses could also be at the receiving end of lawsuits. For example, a downtime that has an impact on production, delivery or finances of the customer could invite litigation.

6. Marketing Efforts Rendered Useless – Consider a pay-per-click advertisement that shows up for the right keywords on Google, or an extensive e-mail campaign that your business engages in. However, when the prospect clicks on the link, all they see is an error message – Isn’t that a waste of your marketing budget?

The bottom line—one natural disaster, one technical snag or just one power outage has the power to put you out of business – both virtually and in reality. It’s probably time to think about how you can mitigate the threat of a possible downtime and whether your MSP can act as an effective and efficient ally in this battle for you. Give us a call today and let us help you with your IT needs. Our experts will ensure your data and network is safe and secure.

Five Things You Should Do to Preserve Your Network and Systems

In the nearly daily reports we see in the doom and gloom headlines – businesses of all sizes can fall prey to outside attacks from hackers. In this blog we will take a look at five things you should do to preserve your network and systems.

 

Five Things You Should Do to Preserve Your Network and Systems

1. Backup Files Every Day – As catastrophic as data loss is, the number of businesses that still are not backing up their network is unbelievable. According to recent surveys of small to medium businesses, only 23% are backing up their data on a daily basis and fewer than 50% are backing up data weekly. Any number of events can result in data loss, so the importance of frequently backing up your data cannot be overstated.

2. Ensure Backup Procedures Are Checked Regularly – Many times business owners think that they have a backup system in place only to find out after it’s too late that it hasn’t been working properly. It may seem like your files are being backed up daily, however, the backup could have become corrupt or it is not backing up huge chunks of critical data. Check your backup procedures regularly to ensure they are working properly in order to be sure that ALL of your data can be recovered. In the age of BYOD (Bring-Your-Own-Devices) it is also important to frequently backup data on your employee’s personal laptops, iPads or Androids, so make sure you have a procedure in place to check those backups as well.

3. Make Sure Updated Virus Protection and Firewalls Are Always Enabled – Far too many companies either have no virus protection, expired virus software licenses, or disabled virus programs that aren’t running at all. This makes their business technology vulnerable to virus attacks from emails, spam, data downloads, and unreputable websites. Further, because of inadequate firewall protection about 40% of small to medium businesses will have their network accessed by a hacker. Chances are, when these businesses are attacked they will be entirely unaware it is happening. In order to protect your valuable data and assets, ensure your virus protection is adequate, up-to-date and functioning properly and that your firewall is intact. Finally, don’t forget to update security patches and change passwords when an employee leaves in order to deter hacking attempts.

4. Monitor Server Drives – Dangerously full server drives can bring their own set of problems – ranging from program and server crashes to sluggish email delivery. Proactive monitoring and maintenance of your server can spare your business a lot of problems down the road.

5. Regularly Check Critical Built-In Logs – Very few problems with technology emerge suddenly. These problems typically progress over time and evolve into more serious problems. Frequently review your critical built-in log files to help identify the problem before it has gotten out of control and wreaks havoc on your business infrastructure.

All of these services are covered when you are supported by Kinetic Technology Group. We are an innovative managed service provider for innovative companies. Give us a call today and let us help you with your IT needs. Our experts will ensure your data and network is safe and secure.

Data Loss Can Cause You to Shut Down

Small and medium-sized businesses today are relying more than ever on IT systems to efficiently run their business, support customers and optimize productivity. These systems house sensitive digital data ranging from employee and customer information to internal emails, documents, and financial records, sales orders and transaction histories. This is in addition to applications and programs critical to daily business functions and customer service. Data loss can cause you to shut down.

 

Data Loss Can Cause You to Shut Down

 

While corporate-level data losses and insider theft are well publicized, many smaller businesses have also become casualties of data loss and theft. Following a significant data loss, it is estimated that a small-to-medium sized business can lose up to 25% in daily revenue by the end of the first week. Projected lost daily revenue increases to 40% one month into a major data loss.

According to The National Archives & Records Administration in Washington, 93% of companies that have experienced data loss, coupled with prolonged downtime for ten or more days, have filed for bankruptcy within twelve months of the incident while 50% wasted no time and filed for bankruptcy immediately. Finally, 43% of companies with no data recovery and business continuity plan actually go out of business following a major data loss.

Still, a survey conducted by Symantec SMB revealed that fewer than half of SMBs surveyed backup their data each week. Only 23% of those surveyed said they backup data every day and have a business continuity plan in place.

Businesses play on a much bigger playing field than they did two decades ago. Any disruptive technological event – even the smallest of incidents – can have an amplified impact on day-to-day business and profitability. Being proactive with data recovery solutions, and having emergency response procedures in place prior to a disruption or data disaster, is the only way to minimize downtime and soften the impact of such events.

Want to know if your data is secure? Contact Kinetic Technology Group today.  We are an innovative IT provider for Dallas and Fort Worth.

Can You Really Afford Not to Have a Backup Plan in Place?

In a recent Gartner Report, 50% of SMBs admit to having no backup and disaster recovery plan in place. 41% of those surveyed confessed that they had never even given much thought to implementing a disaster recovery or business continuity plan. If you are one of them, then you really need to think about whether you can afford the status quo. Answering these questions will help you decide, can you really afford not to have a backup plan in place?

Can You Really Afford Not to Have a Backup Plan?

1. How often is employee productivity and customer accessibility or service stalled each day from a downed network or system?

2. How much downtime can your business truly afford and what kind of backup or recovery solutions are in effect when systems are unavailable?

3. What level of IT support can be accessed? Can it be accessed quickly enough to minimize damage? Are you confident that your business can either be back online or be able to access lost data with minimal disruption, no matter what?

4. Is your most critical data frequently backed up? Is the data on the personal laptops, iPads or Androids of employees backed up? Are all backups stored in a location off-site and quickly accessible in the event of theft, fire or flooding? Are you using any custom installed software and is the supplier still in business should this software need to be re-installed or updated? Are account details, licensing agreements, and security settings somewhere on record, and is it duplicated off-site?

5. Are your systems truly protected from theft, hackers, and viruses? Are passwords to sensitive data changed whenever employees leave the company or business unit?

6. When was the last time you tested backup processes to ensure they are working properly? How quick were your back ups?

Answering these questions will help you understand if you are needlessly bleeding money every day by subjecting your business to the high hourly rates, service charges, trip fees and wait times of on-call IT support. If you are an SMB, you don’t have to fear technology failure. A trusted MSP can help you resolve these challenges in a more effective and efficient manner. Give Kinetic Technology Group a call today, we would love to talk with you.

Making Cloud Migration Easier

What’s the big deal with the Cloud

Why are so many businesses planning for a Cloud migration? In recent years, the number of Cloud deployments have increased dramatically. Here are five Cloud computing stats that every CIO should know for making cloud migration easier.

  • It is predicted that the global market for cloud equipment will reach $79.1 billion by 2018
  • Throughout the next five years, a 44% annual growth in workloads for the public cloud versus an 8.9% growth for “on-premise” computing workloads is expected
  • 80% of cloud adopters saw improvements within 6 months of moving to the cloud
  • 82% of companies reportedly saved money by moving to the cloud
  • If given the choice of only being able to move one application to the cloud, 25% of respondents would choose storage

Many organizations are finding major benefits of moving their data and applications to the Cloud rather than hosting them on-premise. The most popular reasons being: to extend existing apps, utilize Desktop as a Service (DaaS), strengthen Disaster Recovery, deploy automatic software updates, and increase flexibility.

Here are five steps to guide you through your next Cloud migration:

1. Basic Assessment

Identify which applications, workloads, services, and operations need to be migrated to the Cloud and determine what needs to be done to make them Cloud-friendly.

2. Compliance is Key

Be mindful of the latest regulatory compliance regulations and make sure you consider how to keep your infrastructure compliant in a Cloud context.

3. Address Security

Assess the current state of your IT security – everything from data encryption and patch management to mobile security and secure web browsing.

4. Seek an Expert

Those with little Cloud experience should partner with a solutions provider with expertise in navigating various Cloud options and guiding organizations through a successful Cloud migration.

5. Provide Training

Proper training can make or break a Cloud migration. Keep your employees informed and aware of how the software operates and how they can properly use it.

Here at Kinetic, we provide the best cloud computing services to make your work life easier and stress-free. For more information, please contact us for a free consultation!

Data Loss Caused by Hurricane Damage

Everyone has been glued to their TV’s watching the news of devastating hurricane’s Harvey in Texas and Irma in Florida. The costs are being tallied for the loss of homes and businesses due to the massive force of hurricane winds and record-breaking floods in Houston and Jacksonville. As people are allowed back to their homes and businesses to survey the damage and count the loss, they will begin to realize not only the physical loss of possessions but the data loss caused by hurricane damage.

Data Loss Caused by Hurricane Damage

Dealing with the loss.

Hopefully most individuals and businesses will only need to replace computers to restore their data to from a cloud backup, but for those that store all data on their computers or local servers the story turns even more tragic. Family photos, financial documents, business reports, school reports and essays, favorite recipes and expensive company collateral could all be lost if you did not plan for a disaster like hurricane Harvey or Irma.

When dealing with water damaged hardware it is very important that one does not take matters into their own hands. Unless you are a skilled IT professional with the right set of hardware and software tools, you may do more damage to your computer or backup drive. Several data recovery companies have stepped forward to help assist individuals and businesses that need to recover important data from water damaged hardware.

There is hope for your devices

DriveSavers announced they would provide data recovery services to Texas residents who have lost data as a result of Hurricane Harvey in Houston, Austin, Corpus Christi and all other affected areas. The company has donated time, resources and years of expertise to retrieve data from water-damaged hard drives, smartphones, tablets, laptops and other data storage devices. “DriveSavers is known for recovering data from severely damaged devices including those that have been dropped, burnt, crushed and fully submerged in water,” said Scott Moyer, president of DriveSavers. DriveSavers is only one of a handful of reputable data recovery companies to offer expertise to hurricane victims who have lost irreplaceable data like photos and videos of loved ones, business files and financial records.

What should I do?

When dealing with water damaged computers, Nas Drives, Raids and other data storage hardware, never attempt to power on a device that has suffered water damage and do not open or pry the device apart to obtain the flash or hard drive. Search for a data recovery center in your area as soon as possible. It is important to act quickly, while hard drives are sealed pretty well, water can seep in and begin to corrode the drive.

Being prepared with off-site cloud storage and backup before a natural disaster occurs is your best chance for full recovery. If you have questions about the security of your company’s data, please reach out to Kinetic Technology Group today to setup a free consultation. We would love the opportunity to come out and meet with you.

 

 

Managed Services or Break Fix?

Does your company need Managed Services or Break Fix? With innovations in technology such as Virtualization, Cloud Computing, and VoIP, companies are faced with making adjustments to their IT infrastructure in order to stay relevant. When it comes to choosing the right IT provider to give you support and coverage, there are many options to consider.

Managed Services or Break Fix?

 

Here are some questions that can help you determine which type of partner you should be looking for:

Is technology aligned with your business processes?

No matter what kind of organization you run, it’s important to ensure that every business process is optimized and streamlined to lower the risk of failure and increase uptime. With the guidance of a Managed Service Provider (MSP), you’ll be equipped with a complete set of solutions and services to support your operations and gain the assurance that all of your processes are working as efficiently as possible. Unlike break-fix IT guys – who only address surface-level problems without a strategic focus – MSPs are capable of providing tailored solutions that cater to your business-specific needs and demands. Are you having problems servicing customers due to a poor communications infrastructure? With the help of an MSP, you’ll gain secure, stable, and complete support for any and all challenges you face.

What kind of support are you getting?

For break-fix IT guys, there is no incentive for them to make your network as efficient and stable as possible. Their only duty is to provide reactive support whenever something goes wrong. Essentially, they thrive off of your destruction and don’t invest in network management tools that could help you increase productivity. An MSP, on the other hand, can sufficiently support clients with proactive support. By monitoring your systems 24/7, an MSP can prevent problems before they strike – saving you from unwanted downtime and business disruption. With proactive support, your network can maintain its health at all times.

Have you looked at ROI?

Return on investment, or ROI, is one way to measure whether or not you are saving money and being more efficient with the assets you currently have as opposed to your past way of doing things. With break-fix IT, it’s almost impossible to measure your ROI because you’re paying for upfront costs whenever something breaks. MSPs on the other hand, will go above and beyond to ensure the best ROI outcome possible. According to a survey from Business Solutions Magazine, 30% of respondents saw an increase in managed IT services revenue between 25-100%. Additionally, 7% of respondents saw an increase in managed services revenue over 100% – a huge growth potential for any industry.

MSPs offer a lot more savings and efficiency potential for small and growing companies because they can offer unprecedented experience. Asking the right questions before you make your partner selection can help you find the right managed service provider.

Here at Kinetic, we provide the best Managed IT services to save businesses valuable time, resources, and revenue. For more information, please contact us for a free consultation!

Benefits of Kinetic’s Network Security

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Benefits of Kinetic’s Network Security

You already know how critical keeping your data protected is to your business. You spend your valuable time, money, and resources developing projects and new products and services for your customers. Unfortunately, hackers, viruses, spyware, and malware can steal, damage, or corrupt the data on your network. Here are some of the benefits of Kinetic’s Network Security. We monitor your network 24/7 so you don’t have to, providing peace of mind and ensuring that your data is kept safe at all times. Online threats such as viruses and malware are always evolving as hackers become more sophisticated, trying to find new ways around existing firewalls and antivirus products. Our team continually updates our network security processes, so we can adapt to new and evolving online threats and keep them away from your network.

Kinetic strives to make sure that your network is protected at all times. We will maintain the integrity of your servers with a deep data packet inspection that can keep viruses, malware, and other online threats from infecting your network. We’ll provide you with detailed usage reporting so that you know exactly what’s going on with your network security. Let our team at Kinetic get to work for you, securing your network and all of your critical data.

 

Network Firewall

Our network firewall solutions are specifically designed to let your authorized users move through your network while keeping out the unwanted viruses, malware, and hacker threats. Our network firewalls work on any sized network, regardless of how much traffic comes through on a regular basis.

Intrusion Detection and Prevention

What use is a network security service if it can only deal with an online threat after your network has been breached? Our team at Kinetic can identify potential threats and
keep them out of your network before they become an immediate problem adversely affecting your business. We take prevention seriously, acting proactively to keep our clients’ businesses up and running without work disruptions. In the rare event that there is a successful intrusion, we’ll notify you in real time and take immediate action to rid your network of the threat.

Gateway Antivirus

With our Gateway Antivirus service, we’ll scan all incoming and outgoing traffic from your network to determine if any files have been infected with viruses, worms, or malware.
If we detect any potential threats, we will notify you immediately and block the file upon your request. Infected files can also be quarantined so that they never touch your network and expose your critical data to a virus. With flexible controls, you determine what actions your network should take based on file type, specific user or group, and the type of threat encountered.

Security Education

Cyber criminals are very smart and always changing their tactics to take advantage of your business and employees. CEO Fraud and Ransomware are big business for hackers, netting them billions of dollars just this year alone. Earlier this year Spyware made a comeback as a security threat repackaged in Adware which tends to be lower on the security threat level. Identifying Phishing Emails is not always easy. They are one of the fastest growing security threats facing businesses today. It is important to educate your employees on the techniques that a phishing artist will use to manipulate them. Kinetic Technology Group can educate you and your staff on Email Phishing, CEO Fraud and Ransomware so that you are equipped with the knowledge to know when these threats occur. Cyber attacks are becoming more frequent and more costly. A big cost that is rarely calculated is downtime. When workstations and servers are down, it costs your company valuable time you cannot afford to waste. Putting a solid network plan in place will guard against threats and unwanted downtime.

Stay secure and save money by partnering with a Managed IT Service Provider that truly cares about your business operations and security. Kinetic Technology Group is simply the best managed IT provider in the Dallas and Fort Worth area. Give us a call at (214) 269-1200 or click here to work with us. 

Identifying Phishing Emails

Tips for Spotting Social Engineered (Phishing) Emails

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Identifying Phishing Emails is not always easy. They are one of the fastest growing security threats facing businesses today. It is important to educate your employees on the techniques that a phishing artist will use to manipulate them. The following is a list of key points to look for when receiving suspicious email.

1. The message asks for personal information
No matter how official an email message might look, it’s always a bad sign if the message asks for personal information.
 
2. The message contains a mismatched URL
Check the integrity of any embedded URLs in a suspicious email message. Oftentimes the URL in a phishing message will appear to be perfectly valid. However, if you hover your mouse over the top of the URL, you should see the actual hyperlinked address
 
3. URLs contain a misleading domain name
A phishing artist can create a child domain bearing the name Microsoft, Apple, or whatever. The resulting domain name looks something like this: Microsoft.maliciousdomainname.com which can lead you believe this is a legitimate or official email.
 
4. You’re asked to send money
One telltale sign of a phishing email is that you will eventually be asked for money. Maybe not right away, but sooner or later, phishing artists will likely ask for money to cover expenses, taxes, fees, or something similar.
 
Wire transfer fraud is currently one of the fastest growing email scams. Requests appear to come from a CEO or other financial person in your company and as many companies perform wire transfers regularly this type of phishing email is highly effective. According to the FBI wire transfer fraud costs the US and several other countries billions of dollars each year. It is recommended that companies setup an internal process for 2 step verification before allowing a wire transfer.
 
5. The message appears to be from a government agency
In the US, Government and law enforcement agencies follow certain protocols. Banks and other financial or government agencies rarely if ever use email as a means of requesting personal information.
 
6. Use good old common sense
You know the old saying that if something seems too good to be true, it probably is. That holds true for email messages too. If you receive a message from someone unknown to you who is making grandiose promises, the message is probably a scam.
Trust your gut! If you receive a message that seems suspicious, it usually is. Simply avoid acting on the message and delete it immediately
  

Let’s look at a phishing email line by line to better understand how the phishing artist crafts their fraudulent message.

From:
You don’t recognize the sender’s email address.
Not from someone in your company or someone you have a business relationship with.
To:
You were CC’d on an email sent to one or more people but you don’t know the other people.
Received an email that was also sent to an unusual mix of people or seemingly random group.
Date:
Email was sent at an unusual time like 3am or 1:59am, when you do not normally receive business or personal related emails.
Subject:
Subject line could be irrelevant or does not match the content.
The email message seems to be a reply that you never sent or requested.
Content:
Sender is asking you to click a link or open an attachment to avoid a negative consequence or gain something of value.
Email is out of the ordinary and may contain bad grammar or spelling.
Sender is requesting a wire transfer for a large sum of money
Do you get an uncomfortable feeling about the sender’s request to open an attachment or click a link.
Hyperlinks:
If you hover over the link with your mouse in the email message and the link displayed does not match this is a big red flag.
The spelling of the hyperlink is slightly off but close to something familiar to you.
Attachments:
The attachment is possibly a dangerous file type or one that you do not recognize.

Making your Mac or Windows Computer Secure

Making your Mac or Windows Computer Secure is not a matter of should you, but rather why would you not. Given the amount of security threats we see in the news recently it is important to know there are steps you can take to make sure your Mac or Windows machine is safe and secure from out side threats

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In another blog post we discussed password creation and some do’s and dont’s to keep in mind. Here is a little refresher on that:
Don’t use any personal info that you think is private, birthday (yours or a family member’s), phone number, social security numbers etc…don’t use your email password for signing up to a shopping website. If you are on a Mac using Safari you can let Safari auto generate a password and save it in Keychain, a password management application built in to your Mac. There are a plethora of password management tools to choose from for multiple computer platforms these days. Choose a password or pass phrase that you can easily remember and be sure to use upper and lowercase letters, numbers and special characters. For example, Minnesota is a simple password but could be more cryptic if written like M!nn3sot@. Be creative and have fun with it.

Is your data encrypted?

Computer encryption is another layer of security to safeguard your data in the event your computer is lost or stolen. Encrypting your data will prevent unauthorized access to the information on your startup disk.  On the Mac you can employe Filevault 2 which gives you full-disk encryption. FileVault 2 uses XTS-AES-128 encryption with a 256-bit key that can be  stored in iCloud for safe keeping. Filevault 2 comes standard on all Macs and there is no additional fee.

Windows 10 does not offer integrated encryption tools to everyone. You may have to pay for the Professional edition of Windows 10 or use a third-party encryption solution to encrypt your Windows 10 computer data. On most Windows 10 machines where the encryption is offered, it is turned on by default when you login to Windows using a Microsoft Account. A recovery key is then uploaded to Microsoft’s servers for file recovery should you ever need it. Another option for Windows users is Microsoft’s BitLocker encryption tool. This encryption tool has been part of Windows for several versions. However, Microsoft does restrict BitLocker to the following Windows 10 editions; Professional, Enterprise, and Education.

Keep your guard up!

Mac users have always touted they do not get viruses or malware like Windows users do. However with Macs having more exposure to businesses they too are becoming more susceptible to outside threats. Phishing emails, Spyware, Viruses, Malware and most recently Ransomware can be avoided if you stay vigilant. Phishing emails that look like they are from reputable sources can easily get you to click on what you think is a safe link, before you know it you have entered a site that is deploying malware on your PC or you are wire transferring large sums of money to what you think are legitimate companies. That last part is sadly a true story.

There are many third party subscription based services to guard against the attacks on your computer as well as tools that ship with your particular OS. Deciding which of these services or tools to use can be confusing. For a hands on approach you can turn on your computer’s firewall, and most modern day browsers such as Safari, Chrome or Microsoft Edge have very robust security features built in to help you guard against malicious sites and questionable downloads. If you like a more automated approach you can subscribe to an online service that will scan your computer regularly and quarantine any suspicious files found in email or downloads. Whatever you choose, it is recommend to also employ a good dose of common sense, being aware of suspicious emails and websites that encourage you to download something to your computer. When receiving a suspicious looking email it is best to not open it and delete right then and there, eliminating the threat.

Kinetic Technology Group is an Innovative Managed IT Service Provider for innovative companies with experience in computer security and has been safeguarding company computers from malicious attacks for many years. Kinetic can help you choose the right security software for your computer and keep you safe from outside attacks. If you would like to know more about Anti Virus software and subscription services for your SMB give us a call today!

 

Securing SMB Wireless Networks

When choosing a wireless network for your SMB, whether you are upgrading to a more robust solution or building a new wireless network, there are many factors to consider such as wireless security, ease of setup, guest access and scalability. The most important of these factors is often security.

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Securing your wifi with authentication is not the only consideration. You will need to be concerned with who you are granting access to. Obviously your employees will need access, but there will be guests in your office who will need connectivity and possibly contractors or vendors. For non employee access to your wifi, you should have the ability to setup a Guest Wifi that will restrict the guest from the local network and data, only granting them access to the internet.

When setting up a new wifi network you must consider the possibility of advanced threats which can be used to access data from local storage devices and disrupt wireless connectivity, both of which are incredibly damaging to your business. Using both authentication and segmenting your wifi are crucial to keeping your data safe and secure. BYOD (bring your own device) is a top consideration when implementing best security practices for your wireless LAN. Not having control over the devices that access internal resources requires a new layer of security between the foreign end device and the wireless network.

Wi-Fi Protected Access 2 — typically referred to as WPA2 — is a security protocol that incorporates all of the necessary security elements found in the 802.11i IEEE security specification. WPA2 is the protocol that is most widely used for protecting your wifi network. You should also make sure that any local access to the WAP management requires a unique username and password.

In addition to securing your wireless network and WAP with the proper protocols and authentication methods another option is hiding your SSID (service set identifier) or name of your wifi, from the world to see. By doing this you hide the otherwise visible name of  the wireless network from potential malicious attackers seeking to gain access to your network and data. Only your employees and the trusted people you have granted access should know the SSID.

When choosing a new Wifi for your SMB, do your research and don’t settle for an easy to install consumer solution from your local computer store.

Kinetic Technology Group is an Innovative Managed IT Service Provider for innovative companies with extensive experience designing and deploying secure wireless networks. Kinetic can help you choose the right wireless for your network and keep it safe from outside attacks. If you would like to know more about wireless for your SMB give us a call today!

Advantages of Migrating Email to O365

There are many advantages to migrating email to O365, here are a few that we feel are important for you to know. For those who do not know by now, Microsoft Office 365 is a cloud hosted solution for your company email as well as desktop applications including Word, Excel and Powerpoint. O365 is a subscription based solution and not only saves you money but eliminates the need for hosting a costly Exchange server on site.

Work From Anywhere

If you have an internet connection you can check email using Microsoft Outlook which is part of the O365 applications or through a favorite web browser on your Mac or Windows computer, iOS device or Tablet.  This is great for remote or contract employees who might use their own computer for work. Employees who travel will enjoy this feature with their work laptop, all they will need is an internet connection in their hotel or in the client’s office to access emails and important documents. Because O365 is Cloud Based and highly secure there is no need for employees to access VPN to the company network before checking their email.

Latest Versions Up to Date

Unlike many software solutions which require you to run time consuming updates with downtime to your business, not to mention costly annual upgrades, O365 updates require little time from the end user or IT Provider and does not require a lengthy uninstall and re-install to keep your computers up to date with the latest and greatest versions and features. Compatibility with other computers or clients are not an issue with O365’s ability to save back a version or two if needed.

Collaborate With Your Team

O365 offers many collaboration tools for business professionals. With O365 sharing capabilities there is no need to email documents around the office and possibly lose track of the latest version. You can easily add, respond to, and even track comments and status updates on a document. Keep your team in sync and up to date with the latest project emails and files all in one easy to find location. O365 allows your business and employees to keep moving forward as a team. Click here for a complete list of all collaboration tools that O365 offers.

You Are Secure With O365

With security threats in the news nearly everyday, businesses are concerned with email and file security. O365 has a very thorough set of security features which include Data Prevention Loss that complies with the strictest business standards and industry regulations. Mobile devices play a big part in how business gets done these days with employees using them anytime and anywhere. Using O365’s Mobile Device Management (MDM) you can rest assured that your company’s devices are protected by setting device security policies, access rules, and even wipe mobile devices if they’re lost or stolen.

Kinetic Technology Group is an Innovative Managed IT Service Provider for innovative companies and has extensive experience migrating businesses to Office 365 with great success and minimal downtime. If you would like to know more about migrating from your current email to O365, give us a call today!

 

New Mac Pro is Not Quite Here

While we have had a long wait for the new Mac Pro we are going to have to wait a little longer it seems before we see a complete redesign, as the new Mac Pro is not quite here yet. Apple originally released the Mac Pro at WWDC in June 2013 and just recently brought the price points down to the current design, for $2,999 we now get a 6-core Intel Xeon processor, dual AMD FirePro D500 GPUs and 16GB of memory, and for $3,999 an 8-core processor and dual D700 GPUs.

Mac Pro

Although Apple has just announced a change to the pricing/specs structure for 2017 it is likely we will not see a brand new redesign, what Apple is calling “modular”, until possibly Summer of 2018.  As many of us have wondered whether Apple had forgotten about the Mac Pro we were recently reassured they have not. Speaking to a number of journalists at their Product Realization Lab in April, Phil Schiller, Apple Senior Vice President of Worldwide Marketing  said, “If we’ve had a pause in upgrades and updates, we’re sorry for that” adding: “What happened with the Mac Pro – and we’re going to come out with something great to replace it.” Schiller went on to say: “We have a team working hard on it right now. We want to architect it so that we can keep it fresh with regular improvements, and we’re committed to making it our highest-end, high-throughput desktop system, designed for our demanding pro customers.” According to Schiller, Apple is also working on developing a pro-level display they will hopefully release the same time as the newly designed Mac Pro.

It’s not the first time that the devoted Mac Pro users have had to wait a lengthy amount of time for an update to what is supposed to be the ultimate Mac. Prior to their launch of the redesigned Mac Pro in 2013 customers had been waiting since 2006 for the update from Apple. Craig Federighi, Apple’s SVP of Software Engineering when speaking about the current Mac Pro said, “We designed ourselves into a bit of a corner, what we didn’t appreciate completely at the time was how we had so tailored that design to a specific vision that in the future we would find ourselves a bit boxed in — into a circular shape.” Schiller added, “We’ve asked the team to go and re-architect and design something great for the future that those Mac Pro customers who want more expandability, more upgradability in the future”.

So until the Summer of 2018 we will all have to wait and see what the new redesign of the Mac Pro will look like and what it’s configuration will be. Meanwhile if your company has a current Mac Pro, laptop or server in need of ongoing support, don’t hesitate to call Kinetic Technology group and learn about our Managed IT Services. Give us a call today, we look forward to talking to you.

 

The Future of Wireless Technology

Everyone has had their own predictions for the future. This was evident especially after Marty McFly and Doctor Emmett Brown traveled back into the future and landed in a highly advanced 2015. Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale, co-writers of Back to the Future Part II, did their best animation of what they envisioned the advancement of technology would be like and where it would take us. Through the power of imagination and creativity, many pictured the invention and innovation of technology more as fantasy rather than reality. However, today, the future of wireless technology has now come to life, and the concepts for this year are accurate as they are thrilling. 

wireless kinetic technology group

What to Expect from Wireless Technology:

  • The telecom industry has already started working on the next 5G.
  • On February 12th, AT&T, America’s second-largest mobile operator, said it would begin testing whether prototype 5G circuitry works indoors, following similar news in September from Verizon, the number one operator.
  • South Korea wants to have a 5G network up and running when it hosts the Winter Olympics in 2018.
  • On February 11th, Qualcomm, a chip-design firm, introduced the world’s first 4G chip set that allows for data-transmission speeds of up to 1 gigabit per second.

The innovation of wireless technology will provide many life changing solutions to everyday problems we did not know existed. The Internet of Things is driving the market expansion with virtual reality, smart watches, smart homes, and drones with every passing moment. These new applications will open doors to a more creative and productive society if embraced correctly. New devices and wireless technology products and services will set higher standards for consumers. If these new applications are leveraged wisely, our society will be able extend a new range of technical possibilities. The new Wi-Fi product announcements highlight what more we can expect from wireless technology.

If you are seeking highly skilled gurus, we are your IT professionals. Let’s prepare for the future of wireless technology together! Call today for your free consultation.

Benefits of Hiring Managed IT Services

In-house IT helpdesks, while historically were more familiar with the ins-and-outs of the company’s IT set-up and systems, usually require a large sum to start and maintain. This would mean added costs due to hiring and training IT experts, which is a rather heavy load for small to mid-sized business (SMB). For people with small to mid-sized businesses, the benefits of hiring Managed IT Services is generally more cost-effective due to having staff trained to handle a wide variety of IT problems.

This helps businesses focus on their their core business instead of being distracted with things outside their field of expertise. That being said, if you’re considering switching to an outsourced IT support company, here are a number of benefits you can expect from making that decision:

1. Better Cost Management

With start-ups and SMBs attempting to cut back costs, a more consistent budget allotted for Managed IT Service support becomes more feasible compared to the enormous expenses incurred from in-house IT staff. An in-house IT support team incurs quite a lot of expenses, from training to equipment purchases, upgrades, and maintenance.

This makes it hard for companies to track and manage their finances, as expenditures would keep popping out of nowhere, from a server that suddenly crashes, to IT employees who quit. Surges in terms of expenses can cripple a small company and bog down operations, especially if the in-house IT team fails to keep the company’s operations up and running.

An outsourced IT support team, on the other hand, apart from being able to solve IT-related problems quicker, can also give you a more consistent and controlled monthly expense that only increases as your company grows.

2. Focus on Your Unique Selling Proposition

One of the main reasons why a lot of start-up companies fail is that they don’t have a Unique Selling Proposition (USP), which is a factor that separates a company from its competitors, whether it’s having the lowest price or being the first of its kind.

In a world where one’s survival is contingent upon one’s relevance, companies have to keep finding new ways to grow and innovate; otherwise, they become redundant and eventually perish. That being said, one should focus on developing the company’s USP and delegate unrelated but time-consuming tasks to companies that specialize in doing them.

By outsourcing an IT team, you no longer need to allocate company resources just to maintain an in-house team. Instead of wasting time trying to figure out why technology in your company doesn’t work the way it should, you can let other companies who’ve spent years of training in solving IT problems do it for you. That way, you can focus on what truly matters, doing what you do best, and doing it better than your competitors.

3. Better Security

Going back to point number two, if your company doesn’t specialize in IT, then chances are that an in-house IT team, especially at the beginning, will make a few security mistakes that could put your company’s sensitive information at risk.

Security breaches often come from unscrupulous hackers using a mix of social engineering and other black hat techniques to steal confidential data. Fortunately, IT companies, having studied and dealt with a lot of attacks from these hackers, are more familiar with their techniques, and therefore have faster and more efficient ways to deal with the security issues of your company.

4. A Complete IT Toolbox in Your Fingertips

Imagine if you had only learned to add numbers all your life and then all of a sudden, you’re asked to divide, multiply, or subtract, a problem that one has never encountered before, it can take an immense amount of time to solve.

This is why, wherever your company is located, enlisting an experienced IT support company should be a core part of your business strategy. A good IT company will have dealt with a wide range of IT-related tasks, and with their comparative wealth of experience in the field, they can locate issues faster and help users get up and running in much less time than you are likely to be able to.

5. Disaster Recovery

Whether due to a fire, flood, or cyber-attack, a business’s data is its most precious resource. Most businesses are ill-equipped for recovery from such disasters, any of which can cause a company to have to halt its operations indefinitely.

While disaster can strike at any minute, all businesses will get back on their feet far more quickly with the help of outside professionals who are well-versed in the latest disaster recovery and backup technologies.

6. More Available Resources

When you own a startup or SMB, you can’t afford to waste time handling IT-related issues while your competitors are busy developing their products, winning over customers, and coming up with innovative content marketing strategies.

By outsourcing an IT support team, you can free up valuable company resources so you can focus on marketing, product development, and customer experience.

It can seem rather daunting to make even the smallest changes, especially if one is still starting up or if one doesn’t feel the need to fix a working system, but growth requires change. If there’s one thing companies like Nokia learned through failure, it’s that you don’t pass up a chance to learn, a chance to change, and a chance to make it big.

A Managed IT Service Provider will give you a chance to free up your company’s internal resources so you can focus on finding new opportunities and staying relevant to the industry.

Avoid distractions and save money by partnering with a Managed IT Service Provider that truly cares about your business operations and growth. Kinetic Technology Group is simply the best managed IT provider in the Dallas and Fort Worth area. Give us a call at (214) 269-1200 and reap the many benefits associated with partnering with our team.

6 Signs an Email Message is SPAM

6 Signs an Email Message is SPAM, If you have an email address, you have received a spam message at some point in your life. Spam filters are getting better and catching these bogus weight loss offers, deals on medications, and other sketchy offers, but no filter is perfect, and a few of these messages are sure to make it through.

 

The good news is that bogus email messages tend to come with a few key warning signs. If you know what to look for, you can keep your email box safe from these scams and send these messages to the spam folder where they belong.

Grammar Errors and Misspellings

The scammers have gotten a lot better in recent years, outsourcing their writing to native English-speakers and working hard to clean up obvious grammar problems and spelling mistakes. Even so, some problems still sneak through, and these types of mistakes should be big red flags.

Always read unexpected or unknown email messages thoroughly, going beyond the headline to see what the entire message has to say. Be wary if you spot obvious word usage problems, spelling errors, and other signs that the sender is not who they say they are.

A Warning to ACT NOW

A great deal will still be a great deal tomorrow. An exhortation to ACT NOW, or ORDER TODAY, should always be a warning sign. Watch out for emails that try to scare you into action by implying that something terrible will happen if you fail to act; these are almost always warning signs of a phishing scam or bogus email offer.

Even if you want to ACT NOW, take a step back, set the email aside, and come back to it in a few days. If you still think it is worth your time, take a closer look and check for other signs that the email is a scam before making your move.

A Personal Email Address

Be skeptical of email offers that original from personal email addresses. Emails with an @yahoo.com, @gmail.com, or other such suffix are always cause for concern, as many scammers use these free and easily available addresses to spread their scams around the world.

A professional email address is no guarantee that the offer is legitimate, but a personal email address is a big warning sign that the offer is less than it seems. Many people simply ignore the email address, but they do so at their peril.

Strange Links

Embedded links are a scammer’s best friend, and every year millions of people are taken in. They click on a seemingly legitimate link from their bank or a retailer they trust. When the link opens in a new window, they are prompted to enter their username and password, and they do so in complete trust.

That is a big mistake, since the link goes to a scammer site on a random server somewhere. Fortunately, you do not have to click on a link to see where it goes; just hover your mouse over the link to see the link address. If it does not belong to the proposed sender of the email, simply delete the message and get on with your life.

Unusual Instructions

If there is a legitimate problem with your bank account or product order, the email should include instructions for contacting customer service or logging on to your account. A fake email, on the other hand, might include a warning to change your password (using the embedded link of course) or click a link.

Always read the email carefully and look for alternate ways to contact the purported sender. Look for a phone number or a way to reach the sender without clicking a sketchy link or putting your identity at risk.

The Fine Print

Most scammers do not take the time to write their fine print from scratch. Instead they lift that section of their emails from legitimate sites. As a result, the fine print of a phishing email may not match the rest of the message.

It may take some time (and possibly a magnifying glass), but you should read the fine print carefully before responding in any way. If the email claims to be from your bank but the fine print still shows Amazon.com or eBay, you know you are dealing with a scammer.

Email scams are spreading fast, and if you are not careful, you could be putting your identity at risk. Knowing what to look for is the best way to avoid getting scammed, and the list above is a good place to start.

Want to get rid of spam in your Inbox once and for all? Give Kinetic Technology Group a call at (214) 269-1200 or email info@kinetictg.com. Our spam protection service will block spam and viruses and keep your business secure. Contact us today!

5 Signs You Have A Virus On Your PC

Potentially unwanted programs (PUPs) are malware applications that run on your PC without your knowledge. They’re contained in software that packages PUPs with legitimate installation processes. You can also become a victim of PUPs by visiting a malicious website. Here are 5 Signs You Have A Virus On Your PC.

 

When a PUP is packaged with legitimate software, it seems like you’re installing just one application, but these third-party add-ons are installed without your knowledge. These programs perform a number of malicious activities such as installing adware, redirecting your search engine queries to ad sites, or sending hackers private information stored on your computer. PUPs are not only annoying, but they can also cause identity theft when they expose your computer and data to a hacker. Most PUPs run silently, but there are specific signs that alert you to the possibility of malicious software running on your computer.

Home Page Redirection

Some malware is meant to hijack your browser window and redirect you to a malicious site. The malicious site could host more malware, or it could be a page full of advertisements that help the hacker make money.

Typically, PUPs replace your home page with its own website page. When you open your browser — whether it’s Internet Explorer, Chrome or Firefox — your preferred home page is no longer active and a third-party site opens instead. This is a clear sign that your computer has malware intended to hijack your browser. Some PUPs switch your home page back to the malicious page even when you change it in the browser’s settings. If your home page settings don’t stick, you might have malware running in the background.

Search Engine Redirection

Search engine redirection is usually combined with home page redirection. When you type your favorite search engine into your browser, a different website shows up. For instance, when you type “google.com” into your browser’s address bar, an alternative search engine appears. This browser hijack is intended to get you to buy third-party software or send you to an ad site where the hijacker makes money on ad clicks. In some cases, the third-party website wants to install even more malware on your computer using ad popups.

Random Ad Popups

Malware often adds random popups to your computer system. Popups happen at random occasions depending on your computer activity. The goal for the malware writer is to identify your computer activity and send a popup that makes the malware owner money. For instance, popups display when you open a search engine page, when you play music, open certain software, or even just browse a website randomly. These popups are usually adware that display website content or try to download software to your computer. One sign that you have this type of PUP is that your ad blocker is disabled. If you notice your browser’s popup blocker no longer works, you probably have a PUP.

Your Email Gets Hacked

Hackers like to access your email and send malicious links to your contact list. When an email comes from a friend, you’re more likely to click the link and trust the website. Hackers bank on this concept and send malware from your own email address. However, hackers indiscriminately send email in bulk without checking if the email is valid. Old email addresses that aren’t active anymore send a return message to your inbox telling you that the email was undeliverable. You receive these errors in your email inbox, which is a sign that your email has been hacked. If you receive undeliverable return messages from emails you did not send, your email is hacked and you should change your password. This hack can happen if you’re unknowingly running a keylogger on your system or you fell for a phishing website scam.

Antivirus or Firewall Software Sends Warnings

As long as you continue to keep your antivirus and firewall software active and updated, these programs will detect some malware. If your antivirus software displays a warning for any program, you should immediately scan your system for more unwanted programs or malware. Malware usually replicates itself to install on the system in several places, and it tries to hide from antivirus software. Update your antivirus definition files and scan your entire computer if you get a warning.

PUPs are dangerous programs as well as annoying. Most people assume that third-party sites such as Google or Bing are hacked when they receive popups. When their browser redirects from Google to another site, they blame Google. However, in most cases, the user’s computer has malware and it must be removed. You can avoid PUPs by downloading and installing software only from official sites. Always keep your antivirus and firewall software updated and know the signs of malware before it exposes private data. With the right security precautions, you can ensure that your computer is free from PUPs.

Worried about viruses on your business computers? Contact Kinetic Technology Group today at (214) 269-1200 or email info@kinetictg.com. We’ll keep your computers and data protected better than other IT companies in the Dallas and Fort Worth area.

4 Tips Creating Secure Passwords You Can Remember

Given how valuable your passwords are, it’s important that they be secure, yet not too hard to remember so here are 4 Tips Creating Secure Passwords You Can Remember. Not only do passwords protect your Facebook information, your bank account and your e-mail account, but also many accounts linked to your credit card, such as your Amazon, eBay and PayPal accounts.

Here are 4 tips showing how you can create secure passwords:

Tip #1: Size Matters

With passwords, bigger is better. A 4-character password can be cracked using “brute force” techniques – where a computer simply tries every possible combination of characters – fairly quickly. A 6-character password will take much longer; 8 characters even longer. If you want to be really secure, go for 12 characters or longer.

Tip #2: Variety is the Spice of Life

There are four types of characters you can use in passwords:

lower-case letters (a, b, c)
upper-case letters (A, B, C)
digits (1, 2 3)
“special characters,” which include punctuation (. ; !) and other characters (# * &)

There are 26 lower-case letters, 26 upper-case letters, 10 digits and, depending on the web site, as many as a couple of dozen special characters (some sites won’t let you use certain characters). If you create a password with 6 digits, there are a million possibilities. If you use, however, six lower-case letters, the number jumps to over 300 million. And if you use a combination of upper- and lower-case letters, you get 2 billion different combinations. Add in special characters and the number of possibilities is in the hundreds of billions.

Combine this with tip #1 and use a longer password, and see these numbers expand faster than the universe during the Big Bang. If you only use letters and digits, an 8-character password can have as many as 200 trillion possibilities. Move to 12-character passwords and the number is so big I don’t even know how to define it (it’s 1023, plus a bit).

Tip #3: Create Unique Passwords

Here’s an easy way to create unique, memorable passwords that are impossible to crack. (Well, the NSA might be able to do it…) You should set a password like this for the user account on your personal computer, because if anyone can get into your account, they can access a lot of your files and personal information.

To start with, you want something memorable. As an example, let’s say you’re a fan of the Game of Thrones TV series. You could create a password like this:

gameofthrones: That’s 13 characters, so it’s fairly long, but it’s all lower-case letters. Let’s throw in a couple of upper-case letters to make it more complex, but not in the expected locations, such as the “g” or “t”:

gAmeoftHroneS: That’s a bit better. But now, let’s spice it up with a couple of digits. These have to still be easy to remember, right? How about this:

gAm3oftHr0neS: And the addition of even one special character makes this much, much harder to crack:

gAm3oftHr0n&S: This isn’t too hard to remember, but it could be a bit easier. So let’s just use one capital letter, one digit, and one special character; that’s more than enough to make it unbreakable:

gAm3ofthron&s: You now have a password that is secure. According to the site HowSecureIsMyPassword.net, it would take about 423 million years for a desktop computer to crack this password.

Tip #4: Use Your Keychain to Store Passwords, or Use a Password Manager

While you have a really secure password, you still don’t want to use it on all your web sites. You can use a password manager application to keep track of all your passwords. You can also use one of many programs that store passwords, but make sure that the master password you use for this software is as strong as the example above. If you have a Mac, you can use the built-in Keychain application. If you use Windows, LastPass is a popular option.

Need help with implementing a password policy at your office? Kinetic Technology Group has the best IT security experts in the Dallas and Fort Worth area. Give us a call at (214) 269-1200 or email info@kinetictg.com.

Keep Your Wireless Network Safe

According to the National Cyber Security Alliance, 1 in 5 small businesses falls victim to cyber crime each year, and of those, some 60% go out of business within six months as a result of the associated financial damages. Keep Your Wireless Network Safe

Most small business owners are unaware of these threats, as 77% say their company is safe from cyber-attacks, yet 83% have no formal cyber security plan.With the number of security attacks and threats out there today, even small businesses need to make sure that they have appropriate IT security features in place.

Unlike a traditional wired network, which requires a “rat-nest” of wires to connect all one’s devices to the internet, Wi-Fi networks are much more convenient and practical as they allow for easy internet access and scalability of necessary bandwidth for small business owners.

However, this convenience doesn’t come without shortcomings and unlike traditional wired networks, which are extremely difficult for someone to hack into, an unsecured Wi-Fi network exposes the business or network owner to necessary risk from outside intrusion.

When left unsecured, Wi-Fi networks can present unnecessary risks:

–Decreased Internet access speed when you end up sharing an internet connection with unauthorized users
–Security hazards when hackers get access to sensitive files or download malware or illegal files through an owned network

Securing a Wireless Network …

For small business owners, many of whom are already running on tight margins, these additional risks can lead to catastrophic losses, data breaches, and ultimately, business failure if left unchecked. Fortunately, these risks can largely be mitigated, and in some cases even avoided, by taking proper precautions to secure the network:

Enable Encryption

WPA or WPA2 protocols are needed to replace the older WEP protocol that most wireless networks typically rely on

Change your network’s SSID name and password to something unique

This makes it harder for malicious users to find a Wi-Fi network and attempt to gain access by impersonating the owner. A large majority of people use ‘Admin’ or ‘Linksys’ and hackers know that. Also, most default, factory-setting passwords are publicly known and if you’re still using the same password, it’s only a matter of time before someone gains access to the system.

Update Your Wireless Router’s Firmware

You can find the existing firmware version is the router’s basic configuration screen.

Disable Remote Login

This is often the first strategy of a brute force attack by a router worm/virus attempting to gain access to a network.

Disable Wireless Administration

Change the setting that allows administrating the router through a wireless connection to ‘OFF’ (meaning that someone would need to connect with a LAN cable for administration). This disables any wireless hacking into the router.

In short, by using a WPA2 encryption, creating a complex password, and using up-to-date firmware should provide sufficient security for most wireless networks against most common attacks. But if a business network contains something of value, like credit card information or sensitive data, hackers will be more motivated to gain access, at which point more security may be warranted.

While it may seem like a lose-lose situation for small business owners, securing the Wi-Fi connection for a business will go a long way towards preventing the most common types of threats and forms of attack found online.

Additionally, recent technological developments like cloud computing have made adding these types of security features to smaller outfits more practical. They can also be relatively painless if you go the route of a plug-and-play solution designed specifically for non-tech savvy individuals that requires only a small, router-like device that plugs in to the internet connection and sits between any data collection device at a store, like a point-of-sale (POS) computer, desktop PC, or credit card terminal.

Wondering how you can better secure your wireless network? Contact Kinetic Technology Group at (214) 269-1200 or info@kinetictg.com. Our IT experts will ensure your wireless network is ironclad and secure. We are the go-to provider for IT Services in the Dallas and Fort Worth area.

The True Cost of Business Downtime

In a recent survey, 78% of companies reported some sort of major disruption to their business operations in the past five years. On average the true cost of business downtime across all respondents was $204,850 per hour and the average cost for a small-to-medium sized business was $11,500 per hour. The numbers are staggering and the risks increase each year.

 

What causes downtime?

The majority of downtime is small and mid-sized businesses related to power, hardware, software, viruses, cyber crime and natural disaster. Almost all incidents that cause outages and downtime are entirely preventable with a good managed IT service provider who is able to put the correct technology and procedures in place.

Avoiding Business Downtime

Your clients and employees count on your IT systems to always be available. Your network is the backbone of your entire business and even a few moments of downtime can cost you big money. Downtime not only chips away at your team’s productivity, it frustrates clients and prevents you from closing new sales. Having redundant, fail-over technologies in place combined with a reliable offsite disaster recovery plan is a great way to avoid downtime.

Solution: A Partner Who Can Help

Despite the potentially devastating consequences that downtime can have on small businesses, more than half of small businesses reportedly do not have a disaster recovery and business resumption plan. One of the most common reasons business owners cite for not having a plan is cost. However, when considering the cost of downtime and all the associated ripple effects, contracting with a reputable IT Services provider will save you big bucks in the long run and keep your business operational.

Tired of your network going down? Need a better IT company? Contact Kinetic Technology Group at (214) 269-1200 or email info@kinetictg.com and we’ll implement IT solutions that eliminate downtime and increase productivity in your business.

6 Reasons To Implement Cloud Backups

One of the most recent developments in this new world of online computing is the accessibility of cloud services. As with many tech buzzwords, “the cloud” can be used to refer to many different things, but in the context of data backup, it’s especially noteworthy.

Businesses today can purchase server space in the cloud from services that specialize in technology to make backup seamless and more secure. Cloud backup technology is safe and scalable while being extremely cost-efficient. Let’s look at the benefits companies can take advantage of by utilizing cloud backup technology.

 

The Top Benefits of Cloud Backup for Business

The main purpose of backing up your data is, of course, the ability to roll back and access your archives in the event of local hardware failure. To do business today, you need the confidence of knowing that in the case of catastrophe, your data will be protected and available.

By backing up your information in the cloud, you have the perfect destination for your archives, as your files will be at once everywhere; no longer dependent on any single computer or server. Virtual server environments are in reality vast networks of server centers located around the globe, so that even if an entire facility fails, another failsafe is in place.

The cloud has other advantages as well. With virtual server-based remote backup, in the event that you need to restore your data, you should be able to do so extremely quickly and smoothly – as compared to digitally reconstructing damaged drives. Simply managing your data in the cloud, moreover, should be as simple, mindless and seamless as managing files on any computer.

The cloud is also remarkably affordable.

It has the advantage of requiring no physical location that you’ll need to handle maintaining on your own. A competent IT administrator can keep you connected and can manage your data remotely without too much hassle.

Six Key Benefits of Cloud Backup

As you can see, the benefits of taking your backups to the cloud are numerous. Let’s break them all down into six primary elements.

1. Zero Infrastructure Investment

With cloud-based data backups, your existing corporate computer network is all you need in terms of hardware. Your backup – and potential recovery – is as simple as a download and doesn’t require any expensive additional equipment.

2. Set It and Forget It

Once your data is backed up in the cloud for the first time, you can determine the settings you want for automated backup times, and all of your company’s data is synced once again without you needing to do anything further. That is, you simply establish an automatic backup routine whereby your company data is saved automatically at a set time every day (or hour or week, depending on your needs) or intervals (every six hours or every 12 hours, for example). From that point on, you don’t need to do anything to make it happen – the backup occurs on schedule, and you can relax.

3. Quick Recovery

Compared to antiquated solutions like tape backup, the cloud offers extremely fast recovery time in the event that it is necessary. It should be a straightforward and speedy process – almost as fast as you can communicate with your provider.

It’s important to consider and understand how much bandwidth is available to you as well. This will impact the speed, as well as the amount of data you are backing up; which should be measured as well. The details should all be spelled out in your service level agreement (SLA).

4. No More IT Headaches

Relying on the cloud also means that your IT department can focus on doing IT development and other such tasks for the ongoing maintenance and growth of your company. They’ll no longer need to worry about managing your backup hardware and protocol – or at least the work involved will be severely reduced.

5. Much Better than Tape Backup

Backing up data on tape involves some serious pitfalls that cloud backup avoids. Tape backup is often highly expensive, and it’s at risk of becoming obsolete any minute. Moreover, tape is a physical entity that can be lost in transit, or stolen without resorting to cybercrime – merely pilfering the tape while it is being transported offsite is all it takes for your data to get into the wrong hands when you aren’t using virtual backups.

Aside from tape being notoriously unreliable, they can also be time-consuming when recovering your data. Think of it in this way: to play a certain track on a CD, you can push a couple buttons and go there immediately. But finding that same track on a cassette tape takes time fast-forwarding or rewinding to find the right play point.

6. Tiered Cost-Value Alignment

You know those files from several years ago that you never look at but really ought to be kept regardless? That’s what happens – your data loses value over time. It only makes sense that the resources invested in maintaining archives should diminish commensurately. Thanks to “backup lifecycle management” capabilities, cloud solutions allow you to align your data accessibility needs with the costs involved since you’re able to assign different accessibility statuses to different sections of your archives.

Transitioning to the Cloud

With so many advantages associated with cloud backup, it’s amazing that there are still companies relying on antiquated, inferior systems – or worse, no solution for data backup at all.

Need help backing up your business data to the cloud? Contact Kinetic Technology Group at (214) 269-1200 or info@kinetictg.com today. Our industry-leading cloud backup service gives you a worry-free solution and keeps your business protected. We are the premier IT provider in Dallas and Fort Worth.

6 Tricks to Improve Windows 10 Performance

Windows 10, Microsoft’s latest offering, has been recognized as a success and back to form after the disastrous Windows 8. Windows 10 performs better, it brought back the classic start menu, and it looks stunning when compared with previous versions.

It’s possible to tweak some of the settings to get Windows 10 to run faster. One of the biggest problems with improving the performance of Windows 10 is that most people will tell you to turn off some of the better visual features.

windows 10

Here are some ways to improve the performance of Windows 10 for free, without sacrificing some of the prettier features that Windows 10 has to offer.

Remove Bloatware

Many manufacturers of laptops and desktops will include a whole range of “helpful” apps which will pop up and often interrupt you when you’re otherwise happily using your computer. These apps run in the background and cause your computer to slow down. If you don’t use or need any of them, you should remove them.

To remove apps installed by the Windows Store, you can go to the “Apps & Features” settings and select the ones you want to remove from the list. If you’ve got more traditional style apps (i.e., ones that weren’t installed via the Windows Store), you can remove them from the control panel.

Reduce Startup Processes

The more programs and services you have running during startup, the slower your computer will run. In Windows 10, you can stop programs from running at startup by using the Task Manager. To access the Task Manager, either right click on the task bar and select “Task Manager” or press Ctrl-Shift-Esc at the same time. Click on the startup tab at the top of the window and you’ll see a list of programs which load during startup, run silently in the background, and otherwise slow down your computer.

If there are any programs in the list which you don’t use, or you use rarely, then it would be a good idea to disable them during startup. This will free up valuable resources and speed up the general operation of your computer.

Clean Your Computer

Download and install the free version of CCleaner to clean your hard drive and fix registry errors. As your hard drive begins to get full to capacity, you’ll notice a negative effect on the speed of your computer. Therefore, reducing the amount of data stored on a hard drive will help to keep it running as fast as possible.

Also, errors in the Windows Registry can cause Windows 10 to run slower. Keep the registry free of errors to ensure that Windows 10 is running as fast as possible.

Disk Defrag

If you’re using one of the old-fashioned mechanical hard drives, then you should regularly run disk defrag. As data on hard drives become more fragmented, it takes longer to find the various sectors which make up a file. The longer it takes to find these sectors, then the slower the computer will become.

By defragmenting your hard drive, you can rearrange the data so that it’s easier to find. If the data is easier to find, your computer will run faster as it takes less time to find all the sectors required to open a program or file.

Perform a Virus Scan

Viruses, malware, and spyware can all cause your computer to slow down. Use a free anti-virus program to ensure that your computer is clean. Usually viruses will cause your computer to divert hardware resources away from your other programs and slow down your computer.

Viruses can be a huge drain on your computer’s resources, and removing them will cause a noticeable effect on the speed of your computer.

Maximum Power Settings

In the power options of Windows 10, you’ll find options that can help you to save electricity. If you want to improve the performance of Windows 10, you’ll want to ensure that it’s running at full power and not in power saving mode.

Go to “Power Options” in the Control Panel and then select “Change Advanced Power Settings.” At the top of the window select “High Performance” from the dropdown list. This will ensure that Windows isn’t intentionally slowing down your PC to save you a few cents on your electricity bill.

Although Windows 10 is probably the fastest operating system produced by Microsoft, there are a few things you can do to speed it up even further. However, to preserve all the animations and other visual features which look good you can try tweaking a few of the settings to get the most out of your computer.

It’s possible to improve the performance of Windows 10 for free by changing a few settings and keeping your computer free of bloatware, viruses, and unnecessary data. If you’re looking to improve performance even further, you can try removing some of the visual effects which take up a lot of hardware resources and slow down your computer.

Need help implementing Windows 10 in your business? Give Kinetic Technology Group a call at (214) 269-1200 or email info@kinetictg.com and our IT experts help you with Windows 10 and keep your business operating at full speed.

Is My Printer Really a Security Risk?

One of the most commonly overlooked resources in a network is printers. They may seem harmless and uninteresting to hackers, but printers are indeed a risk in an enterprise environment. So is my printer really a security risk?

Document Theft

Printers aren’t normally monitored in the same way as a critical server, router or desktop. Companies don’t usually place any security cameras on the printer, and no one thinks twice when someone removes a document from it. This leaves printers open to document theft. Theft could be done by a disgruntled employee planning to resign or a social engineering hacker who was able to gain access to the premises.

One way to stop document theft is to place printers in an open area where other employees can see who is accessing the printer’s documents. You can also place cameras on printers, but these devices are usually for finding a root cause after theft occurs rather than being a preventative measure. You can place cameras in obvious areas of a printer room to deter thieves. If they see the camera, they might be less inclined to steal documents from the device.

Saved Documents

Most high-end printers have memory where documents are stored and then printed when the user is ready. Users can also print documents to memory and have them faxed. A hardcopy is never actually printed, but this makes the printer vulnerable to hackers who can gain access to printer memory.

Printer memory should be treated just like you treat security on a regular desktop. Password protect printer copies stored in memory. Some printers allow you to password protect configuration changes or access to any part of the control panel. This helps prevents hackers from redirecting printer memory content to another location such as the hacker’s hard drive or web server.

Eavesdropping on Printer Communication

Printer traffic is just as vulnerable to eavesdropping as regular network traffic. If it’s not encrypted network communication, a hacker can intercept it and read the document content. The hacker doesn’t need the full image of the document. He just needs the text contained within the file. If the hacker can obtain even a small portion of a sensitive document, he’s successfully breached your data security.

Eavesdropping can happen from the internal network or when a user connects to an insecure Wi-Fi hotspot. Always encrypt traffic that communicates across the Internet. internal network protection is a little more complicated, because it’s assumed that employees aren’t attempting to breach security. However, disgruntled employees are a prominent threat in the workplace. Encryption within the organization and using a switched network environment helps prevent internal eavesdropping.

Dumpster Diving

One social engineering technique in the hacking world is a method called dumpster diving. You can probably guess what this means. The hacker digs through your trash to find sensitive documentation. While this isn’t a direct printer hack, it can be successful due to poor printer security.

When a user prints a document and isn’t satisfied with the result, he puts it in a trash can next to the device. The document isn’t shredded, because it’s not a full document printout or it wasn’t a quality print job. This means that readable information is still contained on the document and thrown away.

Even if the print job isn’t a full document, small snippets of information can be taken from it. Dumpster divers steal bags of paperwork, take them home, and sort through all of your trash. If the right information is found, the hacker can sell the data to your competitors or the black market.

Some hackers will actually ask for blackmail money in exchange for keeping the blunder a secret. For instance, suppose you run a HIPAA compliant healthcare facility. A user throws away paperwork that contains patient information and health records. The hacker knows that this is a huge HIPAA violation and asks you for a ransom to keep the mistake a secret.

The answer to this security issue is to place a shredder next to a printer and ask users to shred any documents that contain sensitive information.

How to Combat This Problem: Secure Your Printers

While you can’t completely ensure your printed documents are safe, you can take the necessary steps to improve security. Keep printers in open areas of the office or place a visible camera next to them to deter dishonest employees.

Don’t assume printer traffic isn’t important. Encrypt any communication across the network even printer data. Finally, keep a shredder next to printers and ask employees to shred documents if they decide to throw them away.

Need someone you can trust in Dallas and Fort Worth to secure not only your printers — but ALL devices used in your business? Look no further. Contact Kinetic Technology Group at (214) 269-1200 or email info@kinetictg.com and our IT Security experts will ironclad your network right away!

5 Benefits You Gain with Offsite Backups

Disasters can strike a business at any time. Many business owners fail to prepare themselves from the devastating effects of data loss or employee sabotage. With viruses and malware becoming more sophisticated and easier to get, your business operations are threatened. We see it time and time again, an employee of a business using unsafe email and web browsing and accidentally downloading a virus to their computer and the virus corrupts the entire organization’s data and brings the business to a screeching halt. Your business needs to need be prepared for disaster recovery. It’s not a matter of IF you’ll need it, but WHEN. Every good disaster recovery plan includes offsite backups. It’s not enough to have a backup system only at your office. What if a tornado wipes out your building? What if there is a fire that destroys everything? Or flood? Hardware can easily be replaced, but a company’s data cannot. Here are 5 benefits you gain with offsite backups.

 

 

Backup Automation

A major benefit of remote backup is that it can be automated. Your files are updated on a daily basis, or you can set a schedule for when your data backs up offsite (such as after hours, overnight). Because these solutions work over the Internet, you will be able to recover files quickly. Beyond that, the servers that offer this solution are often located in numerous locations, which ensures that your backups are always available, even if one server crashes.

Reduced Workload

Traditional backup solutions require a person, whether you or an IT professional or an employee, to manually back up or copy files. Because these processes are highly automated, if they are conducted in-house, there is need to take time and manually change backup media. If you go with remote backup, you won’t have to spend time changing backup media or worrying about locating where it is stored. This will save you time.

Pain-free Setup

No need to worry about paying a fortune to setup offsite backups. In general, the setup of offsite backups requires very little configuration and setup needed. Typically offsite backups can be setup in under 30 minutes, so you can rest assured you don’t have to break the bank to get this functionality in your business.

Secure, Encrypted Backups

Any reputable offsite backup provider will ensure your data is securely stored offsite. This is accomplished by using advanced encryption tools to ensure data security. Not only is the storage of your offsite backup secure, but the transmission of the data from your office to the offsite storage is all secure and encrypted.

Save Money

If you have numerous computers with large amounts of data that you back up regularly, you know that physical storage solutions can be costly. The majority of remote backup solutions are billed on a monthly-basis and support a near unlimited amount of backup space. If your company operates in an industry where backups are mandatory, or you have a large amount of files to back up, these options will save you money.

Contact Kinetic Technology Group today at (214) 269-1200 or info@kinetictg.com and learn more about the value of offsite backups and how we can fully manage your offsite backups.

What is a firewall and why do you need it?

With cyber threats at an all-time high, network security is more important than ever. Protecting the computer systems of your business is just as important as installing locks and security cameras to keep intruders out. Having a firewall appliance device in place prevents malicious users from breaking into your network and stealing your data. What is a firewall and why do you need it?

 

The Threat is Real

Any computer that is connected to the internet is at risk for an attack. Malicious software might divert a portion of your bandwidth for its use (to host pirated software, for example). Other attackers might try to bring down your network or delete crucial data. Online criminals may charge purchases to your company’s credit cards or even steal money from your corporate accounts. With the internet being democratized and increased computer know-how, more and more businesses may become threats. Even your competitors may be able to access your customer data, gaining an advantage.

Importance of A Firewall

The firewall is a key tool for network security, and no serious company can afford to operate without one. Luckily, these devices are affordable with numerous options available.

A firewall is a cornerstone of a network security strategy. It functions like a high-tech gate—it inspects the data that passes in or out of your company network to ensure that all the traffic is legitimate. A properly configured firewall allows legitimate users to access to all of the resources they require while keeping malicious programs or users out.

Firewall protection should be a part of your company’s overall computer security plan. Your plan may also include written policies about using external networks, data storage, bringing flash drives or disks from other computers, and other such activities. Aside from a robust firewall, you might also need to implement malware and virus scanners, encryption for your data-storage devices, business-class wireless security, email encryption, web content control, and spam protection. It is highly recommended to bring in an IT service provider to take care of the setup of your firewall and other critical IT security services if your company currently does not have expertise in-house (which most do not).

Need a new firewall? Worried about IT security? Contact Kinetic Technology Group by calling (214) 269-1200 or email info@kinetictg.com and you’ll have instant access to our IT security experts.

5 Reasons Why You Need an Annual Risk Assessment

5 Reasons for Annual Risk Assessment

Have you conducted your annual risk assessment? If not, you’re not alone. Many small businesses fail to perform an IT security risk assessment. Some business owners do not even know an annual risk assessment is actually required in their industry. A security risk assessment provides the framework for keeping your company at a desired security level by assessing the risks you face, deciding how you will mitigate them, and planning for how to keep your security practices up-to-date. Given that most small businesses cannot operate without technology, an IT risk assessment is critical. Here are 5 reasons for annual risk assessment.

Data Protection

If you retain confidential information from clients or customers, you’re often contractually obliged to protect that data as if it were your own. If you fail to protect it, you could face a loss of goodwill, and even legal consequences.

Regulatory Requirements

It’s critical that small businesses understand all of the privacy and security laws related to the data they store. These include state breach notification laws, FTC Red Flags Rule, and the HIPAA-HITECH data breach requirements.

PCI Compliance

Small businesses should pay close attention to Payment Card Industry (PCI) regulations associated to credit card transactions, especially as more small businesses use mobile devices to swipe credit cards. Failure to comply with these regulations could have a significant financial impact on your business.

Physical Security

Often times physical security is overlooked in small business. It is important for company servers and networking equipment to be located in a secure, locked area of your building with only authorized access. Old equipment needs to be properly disposed. A building alarm system and surveillance system is helpful for physical security as well.

Administrative Safeguards

Your annual risk assessment also takes a deep look into administrative procedures as it relates to data protection. Often times threats come from within. Meaning employees getting viruses that corrupts company information or a disgruntled staff member that deletes important company files. The security assessment will provide valuable information and recommended risk mitigation.

Today it’s vital that every small business conduct an IT risk assessment to ensure that its security is keeping its businesses network and data safe, preventing cyber threats, and meeting regulatory guidelines. Ensuring your businesses is meeting these security essentials will help prevent your business from being impacted by today’s most common security risks.

Need someone you can trust to conduct your security analysis? Contact Kinetic Technology Group today at (214) 269-1200 or info@kinetictg.com and our IT experts will perform our top-notch IT Security Risk Assessment and help keep your network safe.