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Data Breaches: What Small and Medium Businesses Need to Know

What is a Data Breach?

A data breach is simply when information is accessed without authorization. This can be banking information, health, and other personal records, proprietary information, client lists, business plans, HR records, et cetera. If it’s data it can be breached. 

Small and Medium Businesses are particularly susceptible to data breaches, making up 58% of all reported cybercrime victims. There is a common misperception among small and medium business owners and their staff that hackers and cybercriminals only go after the giants like Netflix, Equifax, and others. The truth is, any business can be a target. Because of the lax security of many smaller organizations, they are specifically targeted as the perfect low-hanging fruit for a hacker looking to make some extra money through cyber fraud, data mining, or even selling personal and business records to the highest bidder. Due to the amount of private information contained in medical records, for example, they can sell for up to $1000 each. Maybe your company does not have to worry about protecting medical records. Do you have Human Resources files? Cybercriminals can use stolen personnel records like these for identity theft and sometimes even extortion. 

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How do you report a data breach?

If your business is the victim of a data breach, it is important to notify your IT partner as soon as possible. They can help you identify what went wrong and how to reduce the risk of this happening again. You can also file a report with the Internet Crime Complaint Center of the FBI. If your breach resulted in the transfer of funds to a fraudulent account, contact your financial institution and ask them to contact the institution where the transfer was sent. Depending on the financial impact and liability associated with the breach, your insurance company may launch a further investigation. 

Additionally,  you may be required to report to your state or other authority, especially if Personal Identifying Information (PII) or Protected Health Information (PHI) is compromised. For example, in Colorado, you only have 30 days from when the breach is identified to notify those affected. If it has affected 500 or more Colorado residents you must also provide notice to the Colorado Attorney General.

How does a data breach happen?

There are lots of causes for data breaches but the biggest vulnerability, by far, is a human error caused by a lack of awareness. Stolen credentials through poor password security, for example, is a very common problem. Security Awareness Training is as important for an organization as Internet access. 

Breaches can also occur as a result of phishing, malware, when a lost or stolen device (like a phone or laptop) gets into the wrong hands, through unprotected networks, through social engineering, through old unpatched security vulnerabilities, and through insider misuse, just to name a few. 

How much will a data breach cost?

How much do you have? There is no limit to how much a data breach can cost your company. It depends on what was breached and how long it takes to identify and contain it. The average total cost of a data breach for companies of all sizes is $200,000, according to the insurance company, Hiscox. 

The longer a breach goes unidentified the more it can cost your business. According to a 2019 report by the Ponemon Institute, the average time to identify and contain a breach is 279 days. Breaches that are caught and contained within 200 days cost about 50% less than those that take longer to manage.

How to reduce the risk of a data breach

Every organization needs to carefully monitor their IT security, especially now, while so much of the workforce continues to work remotely. We have created an IT Security Checklist (link to downloadable item) as a starting point for evaluating your organization’s security policies and procedures. We recommend reviewing these checklist items with your trusted IT partner to ensure that your network and data are secure and that your staff is security-savvy.

Looking for an IT Partner?

Are you looking for more support with your information security, network security, data backup, and Security Awareness Training? We help our customers train their staff and lock down their data and networks so that they are free to focus on what they do best: running the business. We implement reliable solutions that can scale, all while keeping costs under control.

Our approach to delivering the best possible IT service is centered on you.  For a free consultation and security assessment, please contact us today.

We know what it’s like to run a business and we know your time is valuable. We can:

  • learn about your business
  • give you some ideas on what improvements you can make right away
  • provide free advice on your approach to IT security solutions

Schedule a Free Consultation

Interested in learning about how IT security helps arm your data from ongoing threats?

Call (303)-410-2845 or email us at contact us to schedule a free consultation

Securing Your Business Against Data Loss with the Help of an IT Services Provider in Denver

In this information age, businesses of all sizes rely heavily on data to run their operations. Data has become so important that it is often referred to as being a critical business resource. As a leading IT services provider in Denver, we know this critical resource can easily be stolen or lost. Businesses hold important data, including customer credit and personal information, financial data, trade secrets, and intellectual property. The critical and sensitive nature of this data necessitates that you partner with a dedicated managed service provider (MSP) to ensure your data is always safe.

Defining Data Loss Prevention

Data loss prevention (DLP) is a process which identifies your firm’s critical data, then tracks it as it moves throughout the firm to prevent unauthorized access by creating and enforcing disclosure policies for staff at all levels.

Why DLP Matters

Corporate data is valuable; this fact is very clear both to you as a business owner and to hackers who will go to any length to get their hands on your data. It is, therefore, up to you to ensure your critical data is secured. Securing data at the corporate level might be difficult, this is further complicated by the:

  • Rapidly changing compliance regulations;
  • Fact that employees are allowed to bring their own devices to work;
  • Growth of workforce mobility; and
  • Increased cases of data breach incidents and advanced persistent threats.

Causes of Data Loss

To come up with the best data loss prevention plan and execute tailored countermeasures, it is important for you to start by understanding the causes of the problem. In our experience as an IT services provider in Denver, we have found five main causes of data loss:

  • Human error
  • Hardware malfunctions
  • Computer viruses and malware
  • Software corruption
  • Natural disasters

Advantages of Data Loss Protection

Firms that have embraced DLP enjoy a number of advantages, such as:

  • Avoiding accidental exposure of their critical data to third parties by employees;
  • Tracking data across the firm to ensure it does not fall on the wrong hands; and
  • Protection from costly lawsuits and loss of reputation and credibility.

Need Help with Your DLP?

At Xlingshot, Inc., we are a dedicated IT services provider in Denver ready to help you draft a DLP strategy that will work for you. Contact us now to know how we can help you.

Why Hire an IT Support Provider in Denver as Your Virtual CIO

The rapid changes happening in the business environment are data-driven. To keep up with these changes, it is important for you to have a forward-thinking chief information officer (CIO) to manage your IT department. Having a fully functioning in-house IT department can be very expensive, and as such, many small-to-medium enterprises (SMEs) struggle to afford one. However, if you own an SME, you need not despair; there is a way your firm can also enjoy state-of-the-art IT infrastructure and the benefit of expert skills. Our IT support team in Denver offers virtual CIO (vCIO) services.

What is a Virtual CIO?

Our IT support team in Denver can supply you with professionals who are tasked with proactively monitoring and maintaining the IT health and security of your corporate network. The vCIOs operate in the same way any traditional CIOs operate. The only difference is, these experts are not employees of your firm, so you’re able to engage them on an as-need basis.

Do vCIOs Replace MSPs?

The short answer is a resounding no. Managed service providers (MSPs) are engaged in day-to-day upkeep of their clients’ software and hardware both locally and in the cloud. On the other hand, vCIOs offer services that go beyond what MSPs offer. We give our clients strategic insight they require to make accurate business decisions in real time.

Benefits of Working with vCIOs

There are many benefits that accrue to businesses that hire vCIOs. Here are three key perks:

  • Facilitates business growth – vCIOs have the insight needed to help increase your business profits. These professionals analyze your business model to see how IT could be deployed in an efficient way to make your operation more productive. They also advise on how you can deploy IT to cut costs.
  • Fortifies network security – vCIOs help businesses catch security vulnerabilities before such threats become serious, providing proactive security. This includes deploying defensive mechanisms to ensure loopholes are sealed, software is patched, and access to computer hardware is controlled.
  • Increases staff productivity – Outsourcing IT functions to vCIOs ensures your staff have time to concentrate on the core competencies of your business.

At Xlingshot, Inc., we are a skilled IT support provider in Denver offering virtual CIO services. Contact us now to discuss how we can help your business thrive.

How IT Services in Denver Can Optimize RTO and RPO

As a trusted IT services provider in Denver, we can help your business reduce costs by decreasing downtime. Backup and data recovery (BDR) is the process that brings systems back online after a catastrophe knocks them out of operation. There are multiple aspects which define the effectiveness of your BDR. The two most important factors to consider are recovery time objective (RTO) and recovery point objective (RPO). They are often confused.

What’s The Difference?

RTO refers to how long your business can operate without the use of a specific application. Sometimes when systems go down, certain applications may not be able to be brought back online as quickly as you’d like. The right IT services in Denver can help reduce this time and increase the effectiveness of your RTO. Ultimately, this gets things functioning quicker than internal solutions from your managed service provider (MSP).

RPO is similar but has a broader scope than RTO. When something knocks your systems offline, RPO is the amount of time that passes before the amount of data you lose is beyond the “tolerance” of your business continuity plan (BCP).

Obtaining More Ambitious Objectives

RPO and RTO are both expedited through cloud computing solutions as managed by an external tech group. Additionally, the right tech group can increase the security of your operations, cut down on redundancies, optimize network function, and proactively monitor operations. This is especially important when it comes to BDR.

When proactive monitoring solutions define an MSP’s operations, they can identify negative trends more quickly. This proactively resolves issues that likely would result in eventual downtime. Additionally, when an unavoidable crisis hits your business network, the MSP can deploy a strategic fix almost immediately.

The need for recovery solutions is even more vital as businesses continually upgrade to new and developing tech solutions. “Smart” phones have led to “smart” cars, “smart” houses, and even “smart” manufacturing. All of these things are part of the Internet of Things or IoT.

IoT and BYOD Considerations

IoT and cloud technology have grown in tandem and can save businesses money by reducing overheads through operational optimization and general cost reduction. As you outsource portions of a given network to the cloud, you are able to reduce the cost you would have absorbed pertaining to on-site equipment. Pair that shift with the movement toward “bring your own device” (BYOD) spaces, and entire offices can be disbanded in favor of employees working from home. You can readily reduce staff needs, infrastructural needs, and physical space requirements by doing this, which often is a more convenient solution for everyone.

But as you may have guessed with expanding solutions, you’re going to need more security, support, and disaster recovery solutions like BDR with adequate RPO/RTO objectives.

IT services in Denver through Xlingshot can substantively reduce operational expenses. We offer comprehensive BDR services designed to upgrade both your RTO and RPO. Contact us to safeguard your systems in a way that will decrease your overall expenses while allowing for more continuous, sustainable expansion.

You Need Two-Factor Authentication from Your Managed IT Services Partner in Denver

Security should be a top priority for your managed IT services partner in Denver, as cyber-attacks have increased in recent years. Using two-factor authentication is one way to make it harder for hackers to penetrate your network. After people enter their password to sign on, they need to answer a personalized question that strangers have no way of knowing. Here are some reasons you should use at least a two-factor system to strengthen your security:

Why Two-Factor Authentication Works

Hackers rarely work as hard as people might imagine. Most hackers use software to gain access with brute force. What the hacker is hoping for is to find easy-to-breach accounts. Since it’s easier to hack an account with one-factor authentication, the hacker is likely to give up on trying to breach an account with multi-factor authentication.

If your managed IT services partner in Denver implements two-factor authentication, it is adding a second security layer. This layer is designed to re-confirm your identity. It is particularly useful if you’ve already followed other security measures such as choosing a difficult password. The more you can make it a hassle for hackers to learn your password or additional authentication steps, the less likely your system will be breached.

Overlooked Security Factors

One of the most overlooked security factors is when employees don’t take security seriously. They may even let other co-workers know their passwords. The weakest employee decisions, however, are when they choose simple common passwords. Often, words like “password” are the first words tested by hackers, knowing many employees use defaults as passwords. Another problem is 65% of employees use the same password on multiple accounts.

Social media has helped hackers in the sense it has given them valuable information that might answer authentication questions. Common questions might ask about your grade school, your first concert or the name of your first pet. This information is often on an individual’s social media profile. Mostly, hackers need to have a close personal relationship with you to have access to the most important authentication data.

Deeper Levels of Authentication

Authentication factors can be described in three categories. The main category involves something you know, such as a password or PIN number. Another category of authentication may involve something you own, such as a SIM or ID card. The third category includes your own characteristics, such as face or voice recognition. This third category can be costly and is not as prevalent as the first two. Additional authentication categories relate to time and location.

Most employees are well-protected if they use multi-layer authentication. Businesses that should absolutely use this more advanced security include online banks and stores, even those that use cloud storage accounts. Email and apps for communication services such as Skype and MailChimp should also be associated with at least two-factor authentication.

Conclusion

As a managed IT services provider in Denver we understand that two-factor authentication slows down cyber-attacks. If you realize you need stronger security, contact us here at Xlingshot to learn more. We offer a wide range of solutions designed to protect and enhance your business.

You Need IT Support in Denver For Your Cloud Networking Needs

Cloud networks have gained prominence in recent times with businesses looking for ways they can utilize this new form of computing. There are both benefits and challenges to businesses which opt to embrace this cutting-edge technology. When it comes to innovation, however, you cannot risk being left behind; you have the choice of either embracing new technology or risk being rendered irrelevant by it. In this article, we will discuss why you should allow us, your reliable IT support provider in Denver to guide you towards the adoption of cloud networking for your firm.

Before you hire a managed service provider to handle your cloud networking needs, you first need to decide on which type of network you would like to invest: private, public or hybrid. Private cloud networks are owned by large organizations, and public cloud networks hire space to smaller firms, while hybrid cloud networks combine both. There are pros and cons to each of these options but in this article, we will focus on the benefits and challenges of having a hybrid cloud network.

Most firms have found it both practical and economical to blend public and private cloud networks. Adopting a hybrid cloud infrastructure will afford you the security and control that comes with private cloud networks while at the same time benefiting from low cost and flexibility of public cloud networks.

The Benefits of a Hybrid Cloud Network

  • Cost savings – When you work with our IT support team in Denver, we can redirect your IT needs during peak times toward public cloud networks where you will only pay for the infrastructure you need instead of having to pay for more on a private cloud network.
  • Improved security – Backing up your data in the cloud is one of the safest ways to secure your data. You can redirect sensitive and critical functions to be handled by the private cloud infrastructure which has enhanced security features, while the other functions which are not sensitive can be handled by the public cloud.
  • Enhanced agility – Your organization can leverage the flexibility afforded by public cloud networks during peak hours to avoid down times.

The Challenges of a Hybrid Cloud Network

  • Tools and skill set – Managing and operating a hybrid cloud requires staff that has skills, tools, and expertise. Your organization might have to look for outside talent to handle this kind of network.
  • Cost – Building a private network can be a costly undertaking. Similarly, unchecked use of the public cloud can prove to be expensive in the long run.
  • Security – While cloud computing is considered to be secure, you must ensure that access to the system is limited only to authorized people.

Weighing the benefits and challenges presented above, it is clear that you stand to gain more from a hybrid cloud network and that any challenges which may arise can be overcome. At Xlingshot, we are a leading IT support provider in Denver with skills and expertise needed to help you build your hybrid cloud. Talk to us today!

IT Services in Denver Can Help You Determine If Backup or Disaster Recovery Is Best

The Business Continuity Angle

As an IT services in Denver, we can provide both disaster recovery and data backup. For many companies, a synthesis of the two is desirable. Still, for some, going with one or the other may be best for a time. The issue is often deciding whether to just go with backup or to incorporate disaster recovery as well. If you’ve only got a backup solution, then you simply aren’t going to be able to maintain continuity in the event of a disaster. You’ll be able to reboot, but between the moment your business experiences an issue and the moment you get systems online again, you’ll experience some downtime.

Downtime can be expensive. If you’ve got two hours’ downtime weekly, that translates to 104 hours annually. If it only costs your small to medium-sized business $1,000 per hour of downtime, that’s $102, 000 you’re losing every single year. One thousand dollars per hour is a very conservative estimate of operational losses during downtime. It’s integral to limit downtime as much as possible. The cloud provides exceptional redundancy, allowing for easily-maintained continuity. Part of downtime losses come from revenue reduction due to inaccessible systems during the emergency. Continuity can reduce this cost by ensuring your systems are always available to potential and existing clients; even as you and your tech team troubleshoot the issue and re-establish operations.

Mirroring Your Systems

IT services in Denver providing Disaster Recovery (DR) services often do so by “mirroring” your systems. Instead of files and operating systems requiring total reboot, when a “disaster” occurs— be it a system crash or one of the natural variety— it takes much less time to switch to the mirrored solution. This also curtails downtime in addition to making it possible for clients and employees to maintain system access. Lost time is substantially diminished.

Continuous Backup Is Preservative

A disaster recovery solution is usually facilitated via cloud computing. The cloud is used to continuously back up and store your information in the event of a disaster. While cloud solutions can be used like a tape system for facilitating backup, it just makes sense to go the mirrored approach. It’s a small enough transition and the potential savings are definitely worth considering. If you can cut your downtime in half, at $1,000 per hour, you’d save $52,000 in accordance with the previously explored scenario. If operation costs are higher for you, then you’ll see even more savings.

Multiple Areas of Cost Reduction

While a smaller business who completes very few transactions online— and does not have a ubiquity of employees working digitally— may be able to stand a few hours downtime waiting for a backup. The larger your operation the less likely it is you’ll be able to get away with this. Meanwhile, backup and data recovery:

  • Reduce losses from client access restrictions
  • Reduce losses from employee inactivity
  • Expedite systems recovery

Comprehensive Security

IT services in Denver through Xlingshot can help you save time and money by curtailing employee inactivity and clientele losses while speeding up recovery time. Contact us to safeguard your business against the unexpected.

The Dangers of Ransomware and How Managed IT Services in Denver Can Help

Ransomware is one of the fastest growing cyber security problems that managed IT services companies in Denver deal with. In fact, it has grown from 4 million in 2015 to over 638 million in 2016. The majority of attacks happen when victims open infected emails or click on pop-ups, enabling malicious code to travel throughout the computer, which eventually locks down. A message is then displayed, which demands that the victims transfer money (typically a specific amount of bitcoin) to regain access to their computers. If the victim is an administrator with access to multiple computers, ransomware can lock out each computer, which may result in shutting down the whole company. The rise of “ransomware-as-a-service” (RaaS) has significantly contributed to the spread of ransomware, as it allows more cyber criminals access to this malicious form of software.

Here are a few more ways that RaaS has caused widespread havoc throughout the IT industry:

Accessibility

Ransomware-as-a-service is designed to be easily accessible for a wide variety of users, even those without programming skills or sophisticated equipment. Advanced criminals write the code for this malicious software, but they make it readily available for anyone to download and use. Sometimes they charge a small fee, while other times it is free. Nevertheless, the accessibility of ransomware has made it much easier for anyone to use, contributing to a dramatic increase in attacks.

Easily Spread

Besides being cheap and easy to download, ransomware can spread rapidly in only a short amount of time. Many corporations are turning to managed IT services companies in Denver –like us at Xlingshot– to combat against these cyberattacks. With RaaS allowing anyone access to ransomware, it is more readily available than many other forms of cyberattacks. Ransomware can be more lucrative than stealing someone’s identity, and there is a lower risk of being caught when payments are made through Bitcoin.

High Costs

Ransomware attacks can result in excessive costs in only a short amount of time. Many companies pay the ransom because they cannot afford to be shut down for an extended length of time. Large corporations have paid millions of dollars in ransom because they were unable to find the source of the attack. As long as companies pay these criminals, ransomware will continue to be one of the most popular cyberattacks.

As you can see, the use of ransomware-as-a-service has become a major concern. Companies that rely on our managed IT services in Denver can avoid becoming the next victim through the use of the latest security updates. At Xlingshot, we offer the latest security to help businesses avoid becoming the next victim of ransomware. Using the latest technology, our technicians specialize in helping businesses of all sizes assess their risk and protect themselves from cyberattacks. Contact us today and let us help guard your business from the ever-changing threats in today’s world.

IT Support in Denver Transcends the Break-Fix Era

IT support in Denver only providing break-fix service solutions is likely to cost you money and the reason is developmental progress. IT network management has come a long way since computers initially took hold in the corporate world. Before, when something broke, your IT showed up to fix it— if you were lucky. Redundant backup systems became a key aspect of operations. While these are still somewhat effective today, you can actually find better BDR (Backup and Disaster Recovery) solutions through an MSP providing flat-rate services.

Technological systems have gotten to a point where proactive maintenance can be successfully applied. This was impossible in previous years, because systems of remote monitoring and support were not quite at the level they are now. Previously, MSPs functioned as substantively separate entities who worked in conjunction with local IT staff during emergencies— many MSPs at any rate.

Now, MSPs can cohesively manage your business remotely, watching the operation of varying systems to ensure they’re working as they should. Should an issue be discovered, it can be curtailed before it compromises operations. Break-fix services would be comparable to changing your car’s oil only when it breaks down. You’d likely have a seized engine at that point. Regular maintenance is encouraged. Now imagine if you could get that maintenance continuously, fixing any problem as it happened. This is what an MSP can do. If a vehicle’s lifespan can stretch until it transcends the million mile mark, imagine what can be done for your information technology applications.

Further Applications

Notable features of our IT support in Denver include:

  • Cloud Computing Support
  • BDR Solutions
  • Proactive Monitoring
  • Consultation
  • Installation
  • Periodic Maintenance
  • IoT Application

As an MSP solutions we can provide so many other things for your business, but these are some of the most popular characterizing the industry today. Break-fix solutions simply cannot compete with that kind of service provision. A business that wants to remain competitive must apply these kinds of solutions.

Cloud Perks

Cloud computing can outsource an on-site network. Retain the barest component for highly sensitive data, and put that on a hybrid cloud model. Then you’ve got backup and data recovery for the worst case scenario in addition to cost-reduction through elimination of increasingly antiquated equipment.

With the right MSP, your systems will be monitored proactively whether cloud-based or not. Also, they can help give you consultation pertaining to upgrades, expansion, and transition. Sometimes the cloud is a great idea, but you’d be wiser to make a slow transition than to immediately put everything on such a suspended network array.

Maintenance

For on-site technology needs, MSPs like us at Xlingshot can periodically maintain systems we regularly monitor, thus getting the maximum life out of software and hardware components across your network; and in conjunction with your network’s outward expansion.

Lastly, via IoT, you can collect data on operations, distribution, employees, and more; this allows you to further streamline your business.

An MSP Service Solution

IT support in Denver through Xlingshot can help your business streamline operations competitively while cutting costs and expanding technologically. Contact us for optimization solutions that provide you with more reliable services.

Why You Should Ask Your IT Services Provider in Denver About MDM

Smartphones, tablets, notebooks, and laptops have become such a big part of the workplace that providers of IT services in Denver already added mobile device management (MDM) as one of their offered solutions. Organizations of all sizes are beginning to realize how much help they need when it comes to handling the gadgets their employees use for work.

What is MDM?

Many of the gadgets used by employees for work are also their own. This practice is spurred by the growing popularity of Bring Your Own Device policy or BYOD for short. As a result, organizations need to balance that fine line between keeping their staff happy and securing confidential information. The answer comes in the form of MDM, which is the remote administration and control of mobile devices deployed for enterprise use.

Why is MDM Beneficial?

There are several advantages of MDM, some of which are:

Supports BYOD

Because BYOD allows employees to use their personal devices for their jobs, the policy helps decrease an organization’s expenses on tools and equipment. At the same time, it improves productivity for the staff. However, BYOD would not be possible without MDM. Otherwise, how can organizations manage multiple and different devices that they don’t even own? It’s because of MDM that BYOD works.

Creates backup

The portability of mobile devices makes them convenient to use, and also easy to lose. When a gadget is misplaced or stolen, the data in it is also gone— unless there’s backup. Thanks to MDM, the loss of a mobile device doesn’t equate to the loss of data. Information is still restorable from a different source. As an IT services provider in Denver, we usually tie up with a cloud provider like AWS for multiple backup locations.

Secures data

But what happens to the data in a missing device? A data breach can occur if it lands in the wrong hands. Nevertheless, MDM prevents that by remotely wiping off the data from the device. It’s not just misplaced devices that are kept safe, though. Other security measures are implemented for devices in current use, such as two-factor authentication, device registration, password policies, etc.

Automates updates

It’s quick to manually update three or four devices, but not a hundred or so. When an organization has many employees using gadgets for work, it’s more practical to automate the update process through MDM to save time and effort. It also ensures all devices are updated at the same time.

What Can You Expect From Providers of MDM?

MDM can be overwhelming for an organization that’s just beginning to explore the power of mobile devices at the workplace. If your organization is newly venturing into MDM, you should communicate your inquiries with your chosen provider. Most providers are happy to discuss strategies with their clients.

For a reliable provider of MDM and other IT services in Denver, consider us at Xlingshot as your partner. Our extensive experience in delivering solutions to various clients from different sectors makes us an expert in the industry, so you can trust us to handle your IT needs with ease and efficiency. Contact us now to know more about what we can do for you.