Real Risk of Hacking

canstockphoto28698382The Real Risk of Hacking for Businesses

Small business owners beware – hacking is a real threat for companies of all sizes. Recent security breaches at corporate giants like Sony and Target have brought cyber crime back under the public eye. Unfortunately, many small and mid-size organizations don’t fully appreciate the risks involved.

Cybercrime costs the global economy hundreds of billions of dollars every year. While many of these incidents involve sprawling international entities, the risks for small companies are growing by the day. Security breaches can be just as expensive as a physical break-in, with costs ranging from hundreds to over $100,000. A single cyber security breach can put a company at risk of financial ruin.

Types of Attacks

Computer viruses and suspicious emails aren’t the only types of cybercrime that threaten Canadian businesses. As companies integrate technology into all of their operations, they also expose themselves to several types of cybercrime, including:

Ransomware – These malicious programs invade your system and lock down important information. The hackers hold the data hostage, forcing the victim to make a hefty payment to regain access to vital files.

Wire Fraud – Some cyber criminals infiltrate company inboxes and other sensitive communications to identify patterns that they can exploit. They use this information to initiate transfers of funds that appear to be from an authorized origin.

Phishing – Basic identify theft is always a risk for businesses. Whether the information belongs to employees, customers or the company itself, hackers can use personal data to profit at their victim’s expense.

How to Fight Cyber Crime

Cyber criminals tend to operate at the cutting edge of their field, so you can expect them to stay up to date with new operating systems, devices and security measures. Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to stay ahead of the bad guys:

Train Employees on Best Practices – Many cyber attacks are successful because employees don’t fully understand the risks associated with browsing the web or opening a simple email. Keep your workers informed, so they understand why they must tread the internet with caution.

Consider and Insurance Plan – Some businesses find financial security in insurance policies that protect them from losses incurred by hacking. There are many types of coverage available to fit budgets of different sizes.

Use Reputable Vendors – Third-parties are a risk factor when it comes to cyber crime. No matter how secure your networks are, they can still suffer from an attack through a vendor’s product or access point. Make sure your associates are also security-oriented.

Hire Managed Services Experts – A team of IT professionals is your best bet at combating cyber crime. Managed services experts, like those here at Matrix Connectivity, can help train your employees, install security software and evaluate your systems to find security risks.

 

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Internet Use at Work

canstockphoto27563289Handling Internet Use at Work

Office employees spend a lot of time on computers and mobile devices that allow them to browse the internet. This capability saves a lot of time by making communication and information access more efficient. Unfortunately, it also introduces a new potential distraction for employees, and potentially exposes company computers to viruses.

Social media sites and general net-surfing can be a time-waster for employees, especially if it becomes a pervasive habit in the workplace. Many businesses benefit from an established internet use policy for all employees to follow. However, they must be careful to avoid heavy restrictions or invasive monitoring practices that violate employee privacy or lower morale.

What are the Options?

There are several strategies you can use to encourage your employees to be productive at work. It can be challenging to find the best approach that compliments your company culture, so it’s important to consider all the choices available.

Limited Access (Blacklist): Blocking employees from accessing certain websites can be a simple and effective way to curb internet misuse. Some companies create a blacklist of popular social media and entertainment sites to prevent employees from navigating to time-wasting sites while at work.

User Monitoring: Recording all user activity on company computers is a direct way to identify time-wasting and crack down on internet abuse in the office. Activity can be recorded with keyloggers and other software that track all input from the users.

Honor System: Many companies choose to institute a policy based largely on the honor system. While occasional personal calls, emails and social media messages are permitted, workers are expected to keep it brief. When using this method, it’s important to train employees on proper internet use practices and cultivate a sense of personal accountability.

How to Make the Decision

Ultimately, the decision on how to regulate employee internet use falls to each individual business. If you are struggling to choose a strategy, consider contacting Matrix to create a plan for your company. Hiring outside help also gives you the chance to see your situation from a new perspective to find fresh solutions to the problem.

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Cloud vs Premises Hosting

canstockphoto12285180The Hosting Decision: On the Ground or in the Cloud?

As your company replaces outdated software and hardware, it will inevitably face the debacle of data storage. When it comes to hosting, there are more options available now than ever before. Variety is great for building a personalized and effective strategy that fits your company’s needs, but it can make decision-making a murky and laborious process.

The Benefits of Cloud Hosting
With low installation cost compared to on-site hosting and no need to routinely replace server hardware, companies can save a lot of money on infrastructure by using cloud hosting. The costs, labor and other maintenance requirements of maintaining the virtual network are lumped into monthly payments to the service provider.
Cloud hosting makes it easier to get lost data back and recover from disasters that would be crippling for on-site servers. You may also benefit from back-up servers that keep your network and website running even if there is a local power or internet outage.

What about Physical Servers?
Premises hosting also offers some advantages compared to cloud, and there are some organizations and companies that choose this route. Keeping physical servers on-site gives the owner direct control over the information. Government agencies and some companies use physical networks to protect confidential files.
Companies with on-site hosting can also retain some use of their servers during an internet outage. If your business connects to a cloud that is hosted elsewhere, then your access relies on your internet connection.

Making the Choice
The decision to use on-site or cloud hosting for your IT needs is not an easy one. Cloud technology offers many benefits to small and mid-sized businesses, but there is also merit to on-site and hybrid strategies to maximize your productivity and return on investment.
To fully understand how hosting options impact your business, you should contact the professionals at Matrix to determine your specific needs and situation. Whether you want to move completely to the cloud or take a hybrid approach to hosting, we can help you make the transition quickly and painlessly. We can also help Canadian organizations with special data security requirements, including those enforced by the law.

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Windows 2003 Expiration

July 14: The End of Windows Server 2003 canstockphoto4707658

Mark your calendars, because the end of Windows Server 2003 has arrived!

July 14, 2015 was the last day that the operating system will be officially supported by developer Microsoft. After 12 years of patches and updates, users of the 2003 OS will be on their own after the cutoff date. This means that individuals and companies still using the software will have to migrate to a new server setup soon, or risk facing security threats all on their own.

What’s at Stake?

While many server operators have already migrated to newer software, millions of individuals and companies around the world still use Windows 2003. In fact, some tech experts see the expiration of the OS as one of the biggest cyber-crime risks of the year. As official support for the software ends, hackers will be able to find and exploit vulnerabilities with ease.

Migrating server platforms is a daunting undertaking that is easy to put off until a later date. Unfortunately, that “later date” is now right around the corner. If your server is one of those still running 2003 software, then you don’t have much time left to make the transition.

How to Handle the Transition

Matrix Connectivity is ready and able to help you develop a migration plan and execute a transition with minimal interruption to normal operations. Switching servers is a complex task, but it doesn’t have to be a scary one. Software expirations are inevitable, which is why we prepare ourselves to help our clients overcome the challenge of upgrading their servers.

You can use the transition as an opportunity to consider new server options, like cloud hosting or a hybrid system. Say “No” to procrastination and give us a call to move your company forward today!

 

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Adopting Windows 10 for Businesses: Why You Should Wait

Windows 10 is here, but is it the right time to update? windows-10-logo-100465106-large

The prospect of a free Windows upgrade is tempting to many professional consumers, but adopting new operating systems immediately after release can actually hurt your business. While there are plenty of reasons to switch to the new OS, Matrix Connectivity recommends that our clients wait until the first hot fix or service pack is released.

About the Windows 10 OS

For owners of eligible computers and devices running Windows 7 or 8.1, upgrading to the latest Microsoft operating system is free for the first year following the July 29, 2015 launch. Users that wait past the deadline will have to pay for the new OS.

There has been high interest in Windows 10 among information technology professionals before and after the launch of the new OS, according to a recent survey. There are plenty of changes that businesses can look forward to, including convenient modifications of the user interface on the “Client” and “Server” editions.

The Risks of Adopting Windows 10 Early

There are several big reasons we recommend that our clients and other business owners wait to switch over the new Windows OS.

  1. Operation Errors: Since your operating system is tied to virtually all system functions on your computer or mobile device, unexpected bugs are a frustrating disruption at work. Early adopters of the technology inevitably encounter errors with new software or hardware, despite rigorous trials prior to release.
  2. Security Loopholes: The security of Windows 10 is still somewhat unknown. It can take several week or months of mass use for developers to identify loopholes in the system’s defenses. By waiting until the first fix, our clients can avoid some of the risk associated with any new operating system.
  3. Streamlining: As Microsoft developers collect information from users following launch, they are able to find ways to improve performance across the board. In some cases, a new OS may use resources inefficiently and decrease performance of the device.
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Are Managed IT Services Right for your Company?

From one-man startups to established corporations with hundreds of employees, businesses of all shapes and sizes turn to professional IT firms for crucial services. The question is not IF you will need the help information technology specialists, but rather WHEN you will need it.Managed Services Success

This holds true for any kind of modern organization. If you rely on computers, networks, internet access or related technology at your workplace, then you will certainly need assistance from IT experts on a regular basis. We’ve seen this trend first-hand as we work with clients come from all kinds of local industries, from janitorial service providers to certified accounting firms.

Is my Company Big Enough to Warrant Outside Help?

If you are like many other small business owners, then hiring a full-time “IT guy” is out of the question. It simply isn’t worth the investment to take on another employee at this stage of your growth. However, that doesn’t mean you should abandon the idea of hiring experts to secure your networks and maximize your technology resources.

We encourage entrepreneurs and small business owners to contact us to discuss their IT needs. Chances are you are not too small to benefit from optimized work computers, secure networks and a data backup plan that can recover lost information. Managed services are a great way to get the benefits of IT specialists for far less than the cost of the salary and benefits of a full-time hire.

In fact, the peace of mind that accompanies a reliable and accessible service provider like Matrix makes this option even more appealing.

Matrix Tailors Plans to Fit Your Business

We craft a customized strategy for every client that covers the areas that are important and relevant to them. Our services can be scaled and tailored to fit your company, whether you have dozens of computers across multiple networks, or just a few machines and devices on WiFi. Check out our Testimonials page to learn more about our clients and how they use our services to boost their business!

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