Important Information About A Serious Security Risk

Over the last week, we have seen an increasing number of email scams. The way these are constructed makes them impossible to fully prevent (even with all of our proactive monitoring and safeguards) and, as a result, it is critical that we all take note of these important reminders:

  1. Don’t respond to emails asking for your information
    • Legitimate sources will not randomly send you an email to confirm your username/password or any personal information.  As a result, never respond to any random emails asking for this information, even if it appears to be from a trusted source such as a bank, the IRS, UPS, Microsoft 365, etc.
  2. Confirm the source
    • Never open any email attachments or click on links that you were not expecting, even if it appears to be coming from someone you know. If you get a random email with a link or an attachment you weren’t expecting, pick up the phone and call the source to confirm.
  3. Trust your gut
    • If something looks suspicious or out of place, verify the source or open a ticket with your IT help desk.  NOTE: Never verify a suspicious email by asking in a direct reply, criminals often monitor the replies and will respond to appear legitimate.
  4. Don’t send money
    • Ignore all emails coming out of nowhere requesting immediate payment, or funds transfers. If you get a request, particularly a random email purporting to come from someone within your company, take the time to contact them via phone to confirm. There is currently an uptick in people using publicly available information to pull off these “phishing” scams
  5. Check The “From” address details
    • Look at the “From” address on all emails. Scammers/malicious actors can use a Gmail, Yahoo or another freely available email service to create an email account and put a trusted name in the display name. This can easily be spotted by looking at the “from” address. For example, the from field could look like “Jane Doe jdoe@companyname.com (jeat8080@gmail.com)” – an attempt to look like it’s coming from Jane, but is really from the randomly named Gmail account in the header.  IGNORE these emails.

In summary – be careful, cautious, and smart to keep you and your computer network safe and secure.

Have a question about cyber security?

Looking for help assessing and improving your current network security? We are happy to help – give us a call (860.656.9110) or send in a request to talk by clicking here.

Will you be left behind?

Kodak. Yahoo. What do these companies have in common and why does it matter to you?

They’re examples of companies who didn’t look at where technology was going and didn’t embrace what people wanted.

Below is a short clip of Ari Santiago, President of IT Direct, at the recent 2017 Marcum Long-Term Care Symposium.

Hear what Ari has to say about ensuring that you use technology to your advantage to move strongly into the future vs. being left behind.

Please contact us or give us a call (860-656-9110) to set-up a 15-minute phone call with Ari.

What is Your Business Continuity Plan?

What is Your Business Continuity Plan?

Every good business follows through on its obligations to its customers, even under extenuating circumstances. Sometimes businesses that are heavily reliant upon technology deal with technical difficulties that can hamstring operations for a day or more. But with proper preparation and a cool head, a smart business team can continue operating even in the face of a major disruption.

Having a business continuity plan ensures you have procedures tailored to dictate how your specific business can remain functional after almost any kind of crippling interference.

So what’s yours?

Preparation is Key

Even if your business is completely up-to-date with all the latest hardware and software and a secure network, there’s a good chance that something will eventually go wrong – even through no fault of your own. In situations like these, where your business is accustomed to running like a well-oiled machine, continuity plans are more important than ever. Having a contingency plan increases your ability to deal with disruptions, even if the plan itself doesn’t survive first contact with the problem. Keeping your business in a position to easily pivot and go about its work –  unconventionally if necessary – is a healthy precaution to maintain productivity and customer confidence.

A good mindset is a great start, but business continuity plans don’t begin and end with your business’s ability to wing it. There are concrete, proven technological approaches guiding a business continuity plan as well. If you aren’t confident in your current data backup systems, you should talk to a professional and refine your practices so that a hardware or software failure doesn’t set you back days or months.

Even if you think you’re protected, it’s a good idea to have a professional do some troubleshooting. Proper backup procedures, vigilance and cloud computing can have your business back on its feet within minutes of a major disruption.

Redundancy Is a Good Thing

In many fields redundancy carries a negative connotation. We’ve all heard that quote about how perfection is achieved not when there is nothing else to add, but when there is nothing left to take away. Writers, for example, are often taught to pare down their sentences to the most necessary elements, removing superfluous expressions and unnecessary adverbs. When it comes to network safety and sustainability, however, redundancies are essential.

To minimize risk, your business should take as many precautions as possible to ensure redundancy. Decentralizing your data storage by making use of cloud storage and regular system backups ensures that there will always be a reasonably updated copy of your essential records on hand. Switching from traditional handsets to VoIP-capable phones doesn’t just save money – it reduces your dependence on the telephone company.

At IT Direct we’re committed to building as many levees as necessary to shelter your business from the tides of technological disaster. We believe that real security comes through collaborative IT work and a commitment to preparedness.

If you want to take the next step and make sure your business can weather any storm, don’t hesitate to get in touch – we’d love to sit down with you and the other decision-makers at your company and start work on your business continuity plan today.

Quality Changes!

I have some exciting news! Changes are afoot at IT Direct to drive more value to you and it’s all because of your feedback. Although all of our survey scores are well above industry norms, the area we are most asked to improve is in turn back reduction / first time accuracy improvement. To drive consistent and measurable improvement in this area, I am proud to announce a Total Quality Manager (TQM) position at IT Direct, which we have filled!

At IT Direct Sammy will be doing more of the same, including building out and launching our Quality Management System (QMS) based on ISO 9001:2015 standards to ensure continuity of quality throughout IT Direct. Taking quality to the next level will drive myriad benefits for you including:

1. Reduce project planning time
2. Faster and more consistent deployments
3. Improvements in first time accuracy
4. Reduction in re-work
5. More uptime and productivity

We aren’t satisfied with above average.  You deserve best in class and that is where we are heading!

Dedicated to your success,

Ari Santiago
President
IT Direct

Backup Your Business Needs

Backup Your Business Needs

If you own a small business, it’s more than likely that most of your data is now stored and managed digitally. It’s been years since using technology in the workplace was considered innovative; at this point, using technology in the workplace is less of a luxury and more of an expectation – and in many cases it’s really a necessity.

Of course, storing your data digitally instead of cramming another filing cabinet into the storage room is convenient, but it isn’t necessarily less risky. Technology has its faults and failures, and it’s important to take the necessary precautions to protect your business and your customers from the unexpected. One of the most effective solutions is making sure to regularly and thoroughly backup your data.

Data Backup Without the Hassle

You’ve probably gotten that nagging message dozens of times and learned to ignore it.

“This device has gone 23 weeks without a backup.”

Taking the time to backup your devices both at home and at work is incredibly important, but most of the time we find it too inconvenient to take the time to actually do so. Unfortunately this is an unsustainable habit; eventually everyone will deal with some kind of technical difficulty, and our dedication to backing up our devices determines how easy it is to recover from a catastrophic failure. The trick is figuring out how to backup data without the hassle.

Managed service providers like IT Direct have the answers you’ve been looking for. There are several ways to backup data without turning it into a chore. Working from a cloud platform like Google Drive at work, for example, maintains a running, decentralized backup of your work that can be accessed from anywhere. Performing regular, automated system backup of your devices can also protect you in case of a complete system failure.

Avoid the Consequences of Catastrophic Data Loss

Your business’ data is its lifeblood. Without great record-keeping and a steady stream of new data, going about business is like going on a road trip without a map; you may know the general direction you need to go, but wrong turns will be much more frequent and you may find yourself going in circles.

Losing access to your data because of a technological failure can take the wind out of your sails, and in some cases it could do serious damage to the image and legal standing of your business. Medical, educational and financial records are all covered by regulations and must be protected at any cost. Luckily, there are a wide variety of security solutions available to set your mind at ease, including but certainly not limited to professional data backup.

And the right expert can help you get started and map out the best options for you and your team. At IT Direct, we understand the importance of data security and want to do everything in our power to protect Hartford-area businesses from the risk of data loss.

We’d love to sit down with you and discuss data backup and other IT solutions to help protect and advance your business – just drop us a line any time.

Presentation being given to an office by an IT Consultant

Three Things You Should Expect from an IT Consultant

It’s a title tossed around often in corporate America. “Consultant.” There are all kinds of consultants out there, but one that’s continued to consistently grow in popularity over the years with all types of businesses is the IT Consultant. When you choose to take advantage of an IT Consultant, you should have certain expectations for the experience. Here are just a few:

You Should Expect a Strategic Partner

Don’t get us wrong: some “IT Consultants” define their role differently than we do. You may well interview an IT Consultant and learn they intend only to make technical equipment purchase recommendations – nothing more. In that event, you’re receiving an IT consultant who is simply fulfilling the most basic aspect of their position. What you should expect is someone who will get to know you, your people, your company. Someone who develops a vested interest in seeing your company succeed and making it a mutual goal. Someone who will partner with you to ensure you achieve that goal

You Should Expect Your Workflow to Improve

Yes, an IT Consultant is expected to improve your technological equipment, but you should also expect them to help improve your workflow processes. One of an IT Consultant’s many roles should be to make strategic changes to free up time, resources, and people in order to improve workflow and save you money.

You Should Expect an IT Consultant Who Cares

As mentioned before, the last thing you want is an IT Consultant who merely provides you with a monthly service. You need someone who wants a seat at your table – who will work with you through failures and celebrate with the team through successes. When your IT Consultant is part of the team, you have a powerful partner whose only job is to make your company grow.

Find Your IT Consultant at IT Direct

At IT Direct, we’ve offered caring IT consulting for many years, and we would love to partner with you and your organization. Let’s talk.

Godfather lookalike without IT consultant

Value Your IT Consultant as The Godfather Values His Consigliere

Everyone needs advice from an expert – from ship’s captains to family leaders to those in business management. While these people are expected to be the ultimate decision makers, many wisely opt to surround themselves with learned people with whom they may consult with on important decisions.

In The Godfather, Don Corleone’s consigliere was his adopted son, Tom Hagen. Tom diligently consulted the Don on almost all important “family” matters. With all the underworld seediness aside, your IT Direct IT consultant will give you the guidance and execution (no pun intended) you need to boost sales, increase profits, and help the family – the work family, that is.

Increase Acquisition Value

“This is business. Not personal.”

With stability comes strength, with strength comes power, and with power comes value. It’s nothing personal to grow your business bigger and better than your competitors. It’s just business. Your consigliere – er, IT consultant – will advise you every step of the way as to how to become the most stable, strong, powerful, valuable company possible.

Make Everyone’s Life Easier

“I’ve come to ask a service for a friend . . . ”

You want things done quick and easy? You want all your equipment to play nice-nice with each other? That’s what your IT consultant is for. They look over every aspect of your . . . operation . . . and implements fixes that takes away less time from your people, which translates to more dollars in your pocket. Badda-bing-badda-boom.

Keep the Phishers Sleeping with the Fishes

“It’s a Sicilian message. It means Luca Brasi sleeps with the fishes.”

Protection. It’s big in the world of IT. And there are those out there who would find a way around this protection to do you harm. Phishers may be at this very moment sending your team members emails that look like they came from you, and asking for sensitive company information. Your IT consultant will train them in what to look for, what to avoid, and how to make the phishers . . . let’s just say, “no longer a problem,” Capisce?

IT Direct Has an Offer You Can’t Refuse

We’ve been in the business a long time . . . a long time. We know what to do to keep you in the best graces with your people, your clients, and your overall business. Let’s talk about how our family can help your family.

Improve Client Retention with VoIP Service

Why Outsourcing IT Is a Smart Business Decision for SMBs

When you first think of outsourcing IT, dropping cables, installing servers and network monitoring might come to mind. However, technology is penetrating the workplace at an increasing rate. Budgets across every industry are changing to accommodate more infrastructure investments.

To help small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) remain competitive and profitable, the outsourced IT field is also having to change its model. Managed services providers (MSPs) are going above and beyond traditional IT work. They are beginning to aid companies as strategic business partners, helping them make smart decisions regarding technology purchases. Here’s how:

Mitigating Risks as Your Consultant

The IT marketplace is incredibly vast. The number of services and solutions that seemingly fit your business needs are most likely overwhelming – unless your industry is highly niche. While any successful company must take risks, mitigating as many as possible must also be a part of your strategy.

You should rarely – if ever – take risks with your network investments. The stakes are much higher than just throwing away money. Your technology directly impacts the products and services you provide.

Hiring an outsourced IT firm as a consultant will ensure your technology investments are profitable and fit your needs now and in the future.

Some of the core aspects of IT consulting involve:

  • Creating a strategic IT plan that is scalable
  • Providing proactive recommendations
  • Eliminating existing IT inefficiencies

Giving You Direction as Your CIO

Acquiring a consultant is perfect for ensuring all your technology investments are strategic. An MSP can also partner alongside your business as a Chief Information Officer (CIO).

Having access as an SMB to a CIO has many benefits. Although not every MSP treats this function the same, some of the core functions of a CIO can include:

  • Fiscal budgeting with periodic reviews
  • Technology vendor management
  • Continual refinement of strategies

Ultimately, the goal of an outsourced CIO is the same as someone you would hire internally: to give direction regarding your technology investment so that you continue to grow.

A Leader in Outsourcing IT

As an experienced and business-savvy MSP, IT Direct’s goal is to remain on the leading edge of the outsourced IT field. As a result, we don’t view consulting and CIO services as quick add-ons to what we provide for SMBs; they are central to everything we do because strategic planning is paramount to your success.

Give us a call when you’re ready to partner with a technology firm that understands the business side of things as well.

co-location services

Co-Location Means You’re Backed with a Custom Network Infrastructure

Loss of business data is enough to cripple a company completely. The safety of your vital information depends entirely on your network infrastructure. If you care about your data, and your ongoing business success, you need to have the best network infrastructure in place, ready with a solid backup and disaster recovery plan.

Co-location services keep your data safe with a custom network infrastructure designed to maintain continuity no matter what.

How a Custom Network Infrastructure Keeps Data Secure

Whether you choose to keep all of your data off-site through co-location, or use co-location solely for backup, the network infrastructure in place can be built specifically for your needs to ensure you have your data safely stored and retrievable when you need it.

When you use co-location for your network infrastructure, you are keeping your critical information off-site, so anything that threatens your workplace environment does not threaten your data. While you retain control over your hardware, software, and data, it is physically located elsewhere.

Having a custom-built, off-site network infrastructure may seem like it would be costly. But in fact, co-location is a wise investment. When you consider the potential damaging costs of data loss and the cost of building and maintaining a custom network infrastructure at your location, it makes sense to secure your data while keeping it regularly maintained and updated through co-location.

Managed Co-location Adds More Security

If you choose to have your network infrastructure managed by your co-location provider, you are putting even more security measures in place for your data. You can rely on your provider’s expert staff to monitor your data, move quickly into crisis mode in the event of a disaster, and make your information available for you to access if need be. There will always be someone in place, watching your network infrastructure and ensuring your data is where you need it to be.

Choosing managed co-location for your network infrastructure is the best of both worlds — you can have input on how your system is designed and set up, while having expert guidance and a committed, qualified team in place to maintain, update, and manage the infrastructure at all times. You’ll take the burden off of your staff and benefit from the type of constant monitoring that your company may not be able to provide for your data.

When you have a solid custom network infrastructure in place to secure and manage your valuable business data, you can focus on your core business objectives knowing that all of your information is safe and easily accessible in the event of an emergency.

Do not let your company fall because of lax backup, storage, and recovery plans. Use co-location to create the best network infrastructure possible, and rest assured that your business info is in good hands.

co-location IT solutions

Can Your Facility Host a Variety of Critical and Complex IT Solutions?

To successfully handle the critical and complex IT solutions that keep your company running smoothly, you need to have the right people, the right technology, and the right space. The odds are that your facility is not ideally suited for these solutions. Even if it is, you may still be better off outsourcing to experts who focus solely on keeping your IT solutions working well.

Considering if Your Facility Meets Your Needs

Managed co-location services handle all of your IT solutions and IT support needs, keeping all of your critical data secure.

When considering if your facility can host your critical and complex IT solutions, you need to factor in several aspects.

Do your staff have the expertise and the time to handle all of your IT solutions?

With co-location, trained professionals will dedicate the entirety of their working hours to handling client data, including yours. Your provider will handle all aspects of data storage, backup, and recovery, including crisis management as soon as it is needed.

Can Your Facility Meet Your Technical Needs?

Co-location provides for improved technology, higher security standards, and a high level of connectivity. Your servers are kept in a private, secure location with high bandwidth speeds, numerous redundancy measures, and engineers at the ready to solve any problems that could occur.

Does Your Facility Offer Stability?

In the event of a crisis or disaster, it often makes more sense to have your data stored off-site so that something that threatens your business doesn’t take out your data, too. With co-location IT solutions you can access your data and keep business continuity no matter where you are or what you are facing.

The Cost Benefits of Co-Location IT Solutions

Even if you have identified the benefits to moving data out of your own facility, you may think that buying into co-location IT services is too costly. In fact, it offers many benefits to your budget.

Co-location IT solutions regulate your IT costs, ensuring that you are not having to replace aging infrastructure at your own facility, or upgrade your infrastructure as your company grows. You will save time and money by having expert engineers handle your data and infrastructure off-site, making this IT solution lucrative for your company.

Many companies are moving to the model of co-location IT solutions, for good reason. It makes sense to keep data located in the most secure, controlled environment possible, with qualified people ready to protect and optimize your infrastructure.

Instead of handling these critical and complex systems on your own, opening your company up to breaches, disasters, and other threats, you can make the most of your budget and your time by outsourcing to the providers who focus on this kind of IT solution, day in and day out.

Make the move to co-location IT solutions and realize the advantages of moving data out of your own facility.