2020 has been far more educational than most organizations realize. This past year’s events have set the stage for how all business will be conducted moving forward. The strongest and most dynamic companies adapted their communications and collaboration technologies to work efficiently from any location.
“Communication is key” may read as cliché, but that doesn’t make it any less true. Whether you’re aiming to grow a business relationship or strengthen an internal team’s ability to collaborate, clear and concise communication will always unlock success.
Before the arrival of COVID-19, less than five percent of the U.S. population was working remotely full-time. A Gallup poll conducted in early April 2020 determined that over 60 percent of employed Americans worked from home during the crisis. This year, remote work became a necessity. With social distancing guidelines, government restrictions and serious concerns over a health crisis, businesses worldwide have had to adapt to the times, including allowing all non-essential employees to work from home.
If you’re like most busy executives, compliance is a top priority — but it’s not necessarily at the top of your to-do list. Yet businesses of all sizes are governed by federal (and sometimes even international) regulations, and whether you like them or not, they’re in place for a good reason. As a business owner, it’s up to you to stay compliant and protect your precious data, but it’s a responsibility that nobody should shoulder alone.
Running a successful business is hard work, and at the end of the day, the last thing you want to be worrying about is noncompliance. But in many industries, executives have no choice but to devote time and energy to meeting federal, and in some cases, even global regulations.
Businesses are required to maintain compliance with regulations that are constantly changing or risk being penalized with costly fines or worse. Not only is your reputation on the line, but you could be putting your customers’ or patients’ sensitive data at risk. These headaches can be forgotten with Compliance as a Service (CaaS), which facilitates the management of private information and keeps everything HIPAA compliant and PCI compliant. If you’re handing personal details about someone’s health or credit cards, you can protect that data and reduce stress with CaaS.
In the wake of COVID-19 – an unprecedented situation – businesses have begun to realize the importance of planning for the unpredicted. A disaster recovery plan (DRP) is the best place to start because it ensures you’ll have access to everything you need to continue to conduct business in the event that something happens. But where do you begin, and what do you need to do to get started? We’ve pulled together four necessary steps to disaster recovery.
Yet another massive ransomware attack called NotPetya (or Goldeneye) was launched this week using some of the same techniques to spread as the WannaCry ransomware. We anticipate that this will become an increasing trend in 2017. Last month, we sent a similar notice to call attention to the urgency of the issue, provide Windows Update instructions, and additional helpful information for ongoing protection. As a courtesy, we have included the same information again below.
Like the WannaCry ransomware attack, this attack is unique in the way it spreads. Initially, the virus infects a system typically through an email attachment or website link. Once a single user is infected, the ransomware virus attempts to spread throughout the local network like a worm by scanning and exploiting unpatched security holes in the Windows operating system on other systems. The specific security holes exploited are among those that came to light after the recent high-profile NSA hack. Unlike before, the virus may also attempt to spread throughout the network by harvesting administrative credentials from processes running in memory on the same system and use them to issue network management commands via WMI or PSExec to other systems.
A patch was released by Microsoft in March for supported operating systems which resolves some of the security holes used to push the infection over the network. Operating systems that are fully patched with the latest Microsoft updates are not vulnerable including Windows Vista, Windows Server 2008, Windows 7, Windows Server 2008 R2, Windows 8.1, Windows Server 2012, Windows 10, Windows Server 2012 R2, Windows Server 2016. In breaking with tradition, Microsoft has released patches for long unsupported operating systems to help protect users including Windows XP, Windows 8 (not upgraded to 8.1), and Windows Server 2003.
For anyone whose workstations are not covered under a monthly IT management agreement with us, action is required on your part to ensure that your systems are fully patched. In the Control Panel under Windows Updates (Windows XP through 8.1) or Start Menu Settings under Update & Security (Windows 10), download and install all available updates as soon as possible for all Windows-based systems. As a reminder, a reboot is usually required to complete the update process which will be indicated by a prompt. You may need to repeat this process more than once until there are no more updates listed. Once all updates have been installed, your system will be fully patched. Additionally, you should make sure that all systems are protected with a paid security software as most free products lack critical protections necessary to detect ransomware.
Keep in mind that an unpatched security hole is only one of the ways this particular virus spreads. With any malware it is still possible to contract an infection by opening virus attachments in an email or visiting an infected website. We would like to take this opportunity to remind you to exercise caution when opening any emails with attachments or website links – especially if the email was unexpected. It is a best practice to be skeptical of any email containing attachments or website links regardless of sender. Always take care to vet the authenticity of the email before opening the attachment or clicking on any links. It is easy for an attacker to spoof (or “fake”) the sender address of an email in an effort to have you open it. Other times attackers use generic wording to accomplish the same task referencing a voicemail, package delivery, fax, IRS correspondence, or wire transfer. When in doubt, contact the sender by phone or by sending a new separate email (do not use the reply option) to confirm the original message is legitimate.
Ongoing protection against this type of attack or mitigating the impact of such an infection successfully requires the following key IT systems in place:
We offer a variety of monthly services to proactively address all of these components which will take the guess work out of protecting your systems. Please contact us for more information or with any questions.
As you may have heard recently, Microsoft is ending support for Windows XP on April 8, 2014. You may be asking, what does this mean for me? Generally speaking, it means that nothing will change on your computer immediately. Your Windows XP-based computer and software will continue to run normally for the immediate future. Long term, however, your computer will become more susceptible to virus and malware infection due to unpatched security holes that may be discovered in the future. It also means that as time goes on your computer will be less compatible with new hardware, software, and websites. If you are a business and must meet certain compliances (ie: PCI, HIPPA, SOX, etc), you may no longer be in compliance if you continue to operate on Windows XP.
We recommend that you replace your Windows XP-based computers sooner than later to avoid these issues. In addition to our own brand of computers, we have access to a wide variety of name-brand systems. Have questions? We love questions!
Contact us today to see how this will impact you.
In today’s web browser market, there are many choices and sometimes it is hard to who which one to choose. There is no right or wrong answer as it ultimately comes down to personal preference. There is certainly no harm in running more than one browser on your computer but not all websites display properly in all browsers. Further, websites that require ActiveX controls will only work in Internet Explorer.
From our experience, we find that modern versions of Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, and Google Chrome work well and display most sites correctly on modern operating systems. If you are running Windows XP, you are not able to install the latest version of Internet Explorer and should consider Google Chrome for the best performance.
Still not sure which browser to choose? Call Aspire today!