Would you drive around in a car without car insurance? Then why would you run your business without cyber insurance?
If you’re in business, chances are you handle large amounts of electronic customer data. Whether that’s email addresses, payment information, or personal health information...every business these days has access to some sort of sensitive data.
Our government protects this sensitive data by establishing various privacy and security regulations. Have you heard of HIPAA, PCI, GDPR, or FERPA? How about CCPA? The list of regulations that businesses need to comply with is growing every year.
Although most businesses strive to follow all of the rules and best practices, many are not. It’s simply too much for many companies to keep up with the latest cybersecurity trends, threats, and best practices. And this struggle to keep up with cybersecurity has shown in the business sector. In 2019 alone, over 7.9 billion records were exposed through data breaches.
A security breach can be detrimental to your bottom line. No matter what company you are, or what industry you’re in it’s important to ensure compliance to avoid penalties.
Breaches in HIPPA can range from $50 to $100,000; GDPR has strict fines for non-compliance, up to 4% of global revenue (this is currently only in the EU, but similar issues will be coming to the US very soon). Cyber insurance is relatively easy to get and cheap, but make sure you get the proper provider. A breach in cyber security can be extreme. For example, Target just sued their cyber insurer up to $74 Million for a 2013 breach.
Compliance management is essential for anyone doing business in today's digital age, it can save you from negligence and losing millions of dollars. The United States version of GDPR will be coming soon, within the next year or so; make sure you are ahead of the curve. If you’re not compliant you won’t get MIPS rebates. Allow Method Group to ensure that you are safe from penalties, and fully compliant so that you can focus on what you do best; growing your business.
Thinking about implementing a Microsoft Office 365 solution? First of all, good for you! When implementing any IT-related migration, there are many moving parts that need to be considered. At Method Group, our team evaluates how legacy systems and databases, existing software, and core processes will function within the new environment. We focus on discovery, strategy and roadmap planning, migration, implementation, user adoption and, of course, managed services.
Here are some of the reasons we recommend Office 365:
By maintaining your current processes and systems, you’ll be simplifying the management of your infrastructure, reducing costs, and greatly improving your mobile access to information. You’ll also have access to the latest features Office 365 has available instead of waiting months for the next service pack to be released. We’ll help you augment your current business processes without the need to start from scratch. Sounds good, right?
Migrating to Office 365 increases the efficiency of existing software so you can dramatically improve productivity. Sharepoint allows teams to easily remain in contact while working on a project and share files and updates at the same time. It allows real-time streaming of information allowing improved access to information.
Teams is a chat-based workspace that features group and private messaging, with threaded and persistent conversations. Within each team, users can create different channels to organize their communications by topic.
Here’s a bit more about Microsoft Teams:
● You can create multiple chat rooms or channels within a Team and help keep chats easy to follow, conversations are saved in threads, flow from top to bottom and notify users of updates.
● If users need face-to-face conversation, they can jump straight into voice or video chats with other channel participants with a single click. The number of participants in a video chat is also set to grow, with Microsoft integrating the Kaizala messaging service for large-group communication into Teams.
● Any documents, spreadsheets, presentations and the like that are shared within a Team are synced with a copy stored in Microsoft's OneDrive cloud storage and a local SharePoint environment, so every Team member always has access to the latest version.
● Collaborative editing of this shared content is also possible, with each user's changes reflected in the Office software in real time.
You get world-class data security and are able to completely control and set the transparency of your company’s data. Check out these additional benefits:
● Free storage: OneDrive offers users 15GB of free storage space as well as the chance to earn extra free storage space. Additional storage is also offered if users link OneDrive to their mobile phone’s camera so that it automatically backs up their photos online.
● Easy organization: You can store any kind of file on OneDrive like photos, video, and your most important documents, and then access them from any of your Windows PCs or mobile devices.
● Close collaboration with Office: As a Microsoft platform, OneDrive works closely with Microsoft Office apps like Word or PowerPoint – when you launch one of these applications you’ll see a list of recent documents, including those saved to OneDrive.
● Social networks: On the web version, leading social networks can be linked to your OneDrive account. This allows the sharing of files with colleagues and permissions can be set for each user from read-only to complete access to editing documents.
With Office 365, you get 99.9% uptime and so you know all your important work is accessible no matter what the circumstances may be. Our services offer built in security, unparalleled privacy, continuous compliance and transparent operations!
At Method Group we have experience handling both simple and complex Office 365 migrations and are well-versed in the intricacies involved. Whether you’re simply looking to migrate email to Office 365, or you need assistance with a full-scale digital transformation and content migration, we’ve got you covered. We also provide post-migration training and technical support, ensuring all departments experience a smooth transition.
Office 365 is constantly changing and evolving, so you’ll need us to ensure that you get the greatest possible benefit out of the suite of products. We offer long-term strategic guidance to help make Office 365 work for your organization, both now and in the future.
Follow These 5 Steps to Give Your Business the Best Gift of All
As the year comes to an end, business owners are keeping an eye on the latest holiday deals to purchase new items for their companies. Ergonomic keyboards, dual monitors and stand-up desks are great ideas to consider, but there’s one gift that should be at the top of your list — cybersecurity.
Hackers are targeting small and mid-size businesses in addition to big corporations. According to Verizon’s 2019 Data Breach Investigations Report, 43 percent of victims are small businesses.
How Is My Business at Risk?
Phishing has emerged as a popular way for hackers to inflict damage. A phishing attack typically comes in the form of an email that appears to come from a trusted source but contains a fake link or attachment that installs malware on your network. This malware can come in many forms, but most notably, ransomware. Ransomware is when hackers block access to your data, then give it back after you pay the hacker money. However, there is no guarantee you’ll get your data back after you pay. According to the Hartford Courant, less than a quarter of people who pay the ransom get their data back.
Fortunately, there ways you can improve your cybersecurity. Here are five steps you can take to give yourself the gift of peace of mind this year.
Invest in Employee Training
Can your staff recognize a phishing attack? According to Tech Radar, 90 percent of data breaches are caused by human error. Consider investing in cybersecurity training so your team can work smarter by avoiding blatant hacking attempts.
Move to the Cloud
It’s time to say goodbye to only saving your data on your local drive. When your information is in the cloud, you can rest easy knowing that all your data is being protected with automatic backups while being flexible enough to scale with your company.
Create Multiple Forms of Backup
Always have a backup plan ready. If your business runs on a local server, it may be time to consider getting a cloud or offsite backup. That way, if your local server ever gets compromised, you’ll still have access to your data.
Install Two-Factor Authentication
It’s harder for hackers to break through two levels of protection instead of one. With two-factor authentication, an access code will be sent to the corresponding user’s phone or email after entering a program password. If someone tries to break into your network, you’ll know right away.
Replace Outdated Tech
Money can be tight for some small businesses, and using older tech may seem like a cheaper solution, but that can be shortsighted. Microsoft is planning to end its support of many popular hardware and software solutions — including Microsoft Server 2008 and Windows 7 — in January 2020. If you’re using tech without continuing support, then you won’t receive any security patches in the future, opening the door for hackers to expose weaknesses in your system. When you update your software, you're protecting your business and increasing office morale. Your employees will appreciate working with the latest tech.
How We Can Help
Don’t let a Grinch ruin your holiday season by wreaking havoc on your IT network. Let our cybersecurity specialists help you protect your business so you can get some peace of mind heading into 2020. Contact us today to find out how.
Don’t think you’re vulnerable to a data breach? Think again. In 2018, businesses reported 1,244 breaches – and small businesses accounted for 58 percent of victims. In honor of National Cybersecurity Awareness Month, here are seven ways to prevent a data breach in your business:
Take Inventory of Your Risks
Conduct a complete audit of your systems, including on-premises, cloud and third-party IT assets that could lead to your network. Think about not only obvious points, like your servers and applications, but also your employees’ devices, Internet of Things-enabled devices, and industrial control systems.
Once you’ve taken stock of your infrastructure, prioritize any issues you find. Likely, you’re dealing with limited resources, so decide which problems are putting you at the most risk, like unpatched software or weak passwords.
Control User Access
When possible, employees should only have access to the data they need for their positions, and sensitive data should only be accessible to authorized users. It’s unlikely that all of your employees need access to all of your data, all the time.
Think also about how to handle departing employees and temporary employees like vendors and contractors. Provide the necessary passwords, key cards, laptop access and more that those employees need, but make it a priority to rescind access as soon as their work with your company ends.
Keep Software Updated
Many high-profile data breaches, including the WannaCry ransomware attack in 2017, are a result of hackers exploiting a weakness in older software. In the case of the WannaCry attack, Microsoft had already released patches to close the exploit, but many companies had failed to apply the patches or were using out-of-date Windows systems that no longer had support.
Fortunately, the fix for this is fairly simple. Patch and update your software as soon as the developer releases those options, and upgrade your software when it’s no longer supported by the developer. This is especially timely now with the end of support for many Microsoft products starting in January 2020.
Enforce BYOD Policies
Your employees are probably using laptops, tablets and smartphones for at least some of their work. Unsecured endpoints can lead hackers straight to your network, rendering your other security measures much less effective and making your sensitive data vulnerable to a breach.
To combat this threat, you need a dedicated mobile device management program. Whether you provide the device or employees use their own personal devices, implement data security measures to ensure that employees are handling, retrieving and sending data safely. If a device is lost or stolen, create a policy to protect your data, such as remotely wiping the device.
No one likes managing their passwords, but unique passwords are critical to preventing a data breach. Don’t leave password strength up to chance. Require your employees to use complex passwords that are changed frequently, at least every 90 days. Employees should not write passwords down where others can find them.
A password management tool such as LastPass or OneLogin can store and remember multiple encrypted passwords to reduce the hassle of employees forgetting complex passwords. Another security best practice is multi-factor authentication, where passwords are supplemented by passcodes, challenge questions and other identification measures. Even if an employee accidentally gives their login information away in a phishing attack, two-factor authentication will minimize that damage.
Security-wise, employees are your weakest link; 95 percent of cybersecurity breaches are due to human error. Train your employees to identify and report signs of a data breach, but more importantly, train them to prevent a data breach. When your employees fully understand and support initiatives such as BYOD security or password management, your security will be stronger across the board.
Perhaps the most crucial area for employee training is email. Since the majority of malware, ransomware and phishing attacks stem from illegitimate emails, training your employees how to spot and report strange senders, links or attachments can drastically minimize the chance of a breach.
Back Up Files
Our last tip is to back up your files. While this is always a best practice for all businesses, it can especially pay off when your business suffers a ransomware attack. When your files are securely backed up to an off-site or cloud location, you won’t have to debate whether or not to pay the hacker. You’ll simply clean your systems, retrieve your data and continue your day.
Unfortunately, backups are no longer a set-it-and-forget-it measure. Hackers are disabling backups and then waiting 30, 60, 90 days to take systems down, leaving companies with no choice but to pay a ransom to retrieve their data. Regularly testing your backups to ensure that they’re working as intended is key to protecting yourself.
How We Can Help
Implementing all of these security procedures can be time-consuming and costly, especially for a small or mid-size business. We assess your security needs and implement procedures to help you minimize the chances of a data breach or quickly identify and contain a breach in progress. Don’t ignore the threat of data breaches – contact us today.
January 14, 2020 is the fast-approaching date when a long list of Microsoft® products and solutions will reach their End of Support. That’s a lot of widely used products, and there’s a good chance your company relies on at least a few of them to get your job done every day.
Why it Matters
Microsoft solutions likely represent a big part of your daily software use. Even still, you might be tempted to ignore those incoming reminders from Microsoft about End of Support – but it’s imperative to your business and your clients that you don’t. Every Microsoft solution on the End-of-Support list will need to be upgraded or you will be facing three serious issues.
Security is Down – Without the ongoing patching and updates that come out regularly from the Microsoft team, your solutions will be vulnerable to the resulting security and compliance risks that can happen without proactive maintenance.
UX is Lacking – As patches stop happening, updates aren’t applied and support disappears, your users will start seeing user-experience issues that will make their everyday tasks significantly more complicated.
Support is Over – If you’re used to calling Microsoft when there’s an issue with one of the solutions on this list, that won’t be an option anymore. Microsoft’s support team will no longer be offering support for any of the listed solutions.
Proactive planning and aggressive action are the keys to making sure this transition leaves your business successful, protected and ready for growth. So how do you make it happen?
What to Do
If you’re ready to be proactive about updating your solutions, you have a few important steps to take.
Replace your Windows Server instance with cloud-based Azure and Windows Server 2019
Make the move to Windows 10
Replace your SharePoint and Office instances with Microsoft 365 and Office 365
These three steps represent a big change for your business and your end users, but making the switch means future-proofing your business and building a stronger foundation for growth. Upgrading to cloud-specific solutions can offer you the flexibility of the cloud without the added cost (and expiration date) of paying for Extended Support from Microsoft.
But to make the transition to the cloud as successful, simple and stable as possible, you’ll need an IT expert solely dedicated to your solutions and systems. Don’t have one on staff? That’s where we come in.
How We Can Help
We are the IT experts you need to take the pressure of the 2020 End-of-Support date off of your shoulders. With our comprehensive IT support, we can help you create an upgrade timeline, update your systems and avoid a dip in productivity. Don’t wait until the final hour to think about how your business will handle Microsoft’s 2020 End of Support. Call us today and we’ll get started on your upgrade plan.
As a business owner, the buck stops with you. Your employees rely on you to have the answers when a problem occurs. But what are you going to do when you find out a hurricane or wildfire is heading your way? What about massive hardware failure? Will you be prepared?
Nobody wants to think about a natural or manmade disaster affecting their business, so that’s why companies delay or ignore creating an emergency plan. A Travelers Insurance study found that 48 percent of small businesses have no plan in place.
To be prepared in the event of a data, natural or manmade disaster, companies need to have a business continuity plan in place before a crisis occurs. A business continuity plan is a document outlining how a business will continue services following an emergency.
With that in mind, here are four ways a business continuity plan can help your business:
Do you know the minimum requirements for running your company? One of the primary goals of a business continuity plan is to identify the core functions of your business. These functions are what need to be addressed first to get back up and running at a minimum acceptable level. That way, you can reopen while continuing to address other issues.
Every hour your website, production line or office is down costs you money in lost profit. Following a disaster, 90 percent of smaller companies fail within a year unless they can resume operations within five days, according to FEMA. With a well-developed plan, your employees will know what to do to get operations running again as quickly as possible.
While doing a business impact analysis, you may find gaps in your plan. For example, if you’re in manufacturing, do you have a secondary location to shift operations if the main facility is inoperable? If not, then you may need to come up with a plan to temporarily use a rental facility or stock up on emergency inventory.
Researching and developing a business continuity plan can be a daunting task, no matter the size of your company. But once you’ve tested your plan and it works, you’ll be glad you have it. You and your employees can rest easy knowing that if the worst happens, you’ll be ready.
Unfortunately, not all small-to-midsize businesses have the time to halt work and focus on building a plan. Luckily, they don’t have to do it alone. Our team of experts can help simplify the business continuity process to help prepare your business if the worst ever happens.
Stop worrying about the worst-case scenario and contact us today.
As a business owner, you’re always focusing on how to best move your company
forward. But have you taken time to consider the potential threats to your operations?
Having a backup and disaster recovery (BDR) plan is the best way to safeguard your
data from all types of loss and destruction. Get to know these threats and the
preparations you can make to keep your business going when dark clouds begin to
You may assume backing up your data locally on a hard drive is the best way to recover
it in the event your primary system fails. But what would you would do if that hard drive
(and the entire building it resides in) was destroyed by a natural disaster?
Be it a hurricane, earthquake, fire or flood, the threats to your vital data are very real.
But even if your business becomes a sinking ship, you can have enough lifeboats for
The best course of action is to store all data in a secure location using cloud services.
This way, when it’s time to pick your business back up, your only concern will be
selecting new office furniture.
A common way for cyber criminals to steal your data and make money is ransomware.
This malicious software holds data hostage unless a specified amount is paid.
“WannaCry” ransomware was a recent program that received worldwide attention for its
effectiveness in blocking access to crucial data. Unfortunately, many of those who paid
the ransom never had their data returned.
Setting up a firewall will block most attacks, but having an active image of all your data
stored is the best defense. Data images provide a comprehensive and usable mirror of
everything you’ve worked on and provide access when your primary system is locked
out. It will also save you time on setting up new servers and reinstalling applications.
Technology will induce audible rage in even the quietest cubical when it malfunctions for
seemingly no reason. Sometimes data loss can occur due to forces from within your
company. Even though you invested in the best servers and equipment, there’s always
the chance something will cause a catastrophic failure and the loss of everything your
business relies on to function.
Data loss can also stem from basic human error. Employees who are new, temporary or
even long-term could mistakenly delete vital data. There’s also the unfortunate reality
that data could purposely be deleted or corrupted by disgruntled employees.
With so many unpredictable threats looming, BDR is your shelter from the storm.
Disasters do happen, but you can rest easy knowing that the most important things will
survive. Contact us now and ask how we can disaster-proof your business.
Does your website or company accept payments online or store financial records digitally? If you answered “yes,” then you need to be compliant with industry regulations.
In simple terms, compliance is the act of meeting established industry or government guidelines. These guidelines are in place to protect you and your customers’ data. As technology changes, these compliance regulations evolve, and it can be difficult for some businesses to keep up with the changes.
Here are two compliance regulations businesses need to be aware of regarding financial information:
With more and more financial transactions conducted online than ever before, you have to be vigilant in protecting your and your customers’ payment information. All it takes is one data breach for your customers to lose trust in your business. Enter the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard, or PCI DSS. These regulations and requirements are designed to ensure that all companies that accept, store, process or transmit cardholder data during a credit card transaction maintain a secure environment.
There are different compliance levels, determined by how many online credit card transactions your business performs within a year. Each major credit card company has its own specific requirements, such as annual questionnaires and quarterly network scans by a third-party vendor.
In the early 2000s, the U.S. government passed legislation to crack down on inaccurate financial information following scandals involving high-profile corporations such as Enron and WorldCom. This legislation became known as the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, or SOX. The act protects shareholders and the general public by improving the accuracy of corporate financial disclosures.
The financial and IT departments of all public companies are required to follow SOX regulations. The act outlines which records need to be stored and how long you need to maintain a secure backup of your financial data.
What Happens if You’re Not in Compliance?
For companies that are not in compliance with PCI, SOX or other regulations, there can be harsh penalties. For example, if you’re found in violation of the SOX requirements, you could get kicked off your exchange listing and face multimillion-dollar fines.
How We Can Help
If your business takes any kind of online payment, you need to be in compliance. We perform audits and assessments to determine whether your company meets industry regulations. Most importantly, we can create policies, controls and procedures to ensure your company prevents future issues and meets compliance every time.
Don’t navigate complicated compliance and industry regulations alone. Contact us today to get started.
Project management (PM) software plays a critical role in how successfully you implement a new solution or resolve a task. In fact, a study by Hive found that 77 percent of high-performing projects use project management software. So, if projects are more successful using PM software, why aren’t more companies using it?
The answers are as unique as each company, with one of the top responses being that there is a general misunderstanding of how project management impacts your services. But, how do you know if a project management software solution is truly right for your business?
Start by filling out this checklist:
0-3 Yes: You need a project management software solution ASAP. You’re likely losing valuable time, money and resources on projects that you don’t quite have a handle on. You’re missing deadlines and struggling to get the entire team on board with process changes. By adopting a PM solution, you’ll gain visibility and control over your projects and deployments – helping you keep on schedule and budget.
4-7 Yes: You have a handle on some things, but you’re likely losing valuable visibility when it comes to where projects are being held up or how your team’s time is being spent. Don’t let a deployment come to a screeching halt because your teams lack communication about when a task has been completed and when another task should begin. A PM solution will help your team stay on the same page and work towards a common goal – total project euphoria.
8-10 Yes: You have a handle on most things, but do you have a comprehensive solution that lets you assign tasks, track time, create project reports and manage timelines all in one place? A PM solution makes it easier to monitor and manage your team and work together across different departments. Cut out the costs of adopting multiple software programs when a single solution can help you streamline and optimize your business.
To learn more about project management software, which solution is right for your business and how we can help you keep it secure, contact us today.
As your business grows, you’ll eventually need someone to help you choose and deploy technology to protect your business, improve processes and support your organization’s goals. If you’ve never heard of a virtual CIO, you might assume you don’t need one – but virtual CIOs, or vCIOs, give companies the benefits of a high-level technology executive without the cost of hiring an in-house CIO.
Virtual CIOs examine your current infrastructure, locate gaps in security and productivity, and implement solutions to improve your business operations. They bring their personal experiences and a network of technical resources to work with you and determine the best IT solutions for your business. Here are five aspects of your business that you can outsource to a vCIO:
Have you been putting off large projects because you’re worried about not having enough bandwidth to successfully manage them? Virtual CIOs can be brought in on an as-needed basis to oversee strategy IT initiatives that promote long-term growth and competitiveness within your organization.
Business Continuity Planning
Natural disasters, employee errors, even potential data loss during a planned system update or migration – there are numerous threats facing your business’s mission-critical information. A vCIO designs a comprehensive strategy to keep your business in operation during and after a disaster.
Technology trends come and go, but the right solutions can make a measurable impact on your efficiency, growth and profit. Your vCIO keeps on top of emerging technologies and identifies opportunities for innovation in your business to help you make higher-ROI technology investments.
Small and medium-sized businesses aren’t immune to cyberattacks – in fact, hackers often view them as easy targets. With help from an experienced vCIO, you can protect your business by implementing strong security measures to deflect malicious software and unauthorized access.
Technology costs can vary wildly from month to month – or, you can partner with a vCIO who helps you stick to a predictable IT budget. Plus, virtual CIOs implement technology strategically to reduce operating costs and drive revenue, allowing a larger budget for your business to expand and thrive.
Virtual CIOs are ideal for businesses that don’t have the budget for a full-time, in-house CIO. With our vCIO services, you get access to a team of knowledgeable IT experts at a price that makes sense for your business. To discuss how a vCIO fits into your company, contact us today and start your business transformation.