Cloud Solutions For Business: Can Your Company Benefit?

Do you utilize cloud solutions for business and if not, is outsourcing to the cloud smart for you? The benefits of outsourcing cloud services come down to cost and efficiency.  The three main business functions (Email, File Storage, and Business Applications) are the most common data pieces outsourced to cloud services. Without the cloud, the corresponding groups of data for these three functions would have to be stored on an onsite server.  But do cloud solutions for business make sense for your company?

There are substantial costs and inconveniences when purchasing and maintaining a dedicated server, other hardware, and software internally. Your company must be prepared to pay for the cost of labor, set-up, and maintenance of the server and other IT infrastructure and assets.  Consider this:

    • Servers generally need to be replaced within five years at a significant cost
    • Hardware and software need to be maintained, requiring updates and maintenance at regular intervals.
    • There is significant cost associated with using the business application software
    • As technology grows so does the need for experienced technicians with an increasingly diverse range of technical competencies.

Using cloud solutions, your small business can instead pay for the reduced cost of cloud services as opposed to a dedicated server and the costs associated with onsite IT resources.

EMCOs cloud solutions are convenient, secure and easy to integrate into your existing network. This makes it possible for your employees to easily access their files and applications when working remotely.

Cloud services automatically sync and update, so your files are always ready when you need them on all of your devices no matter where the day takes you. Cloud services are easily scalable, so they can immediately grow with your company’s needs as opposed to the time-consuming processes of hiring new IT personnel and buying updated/upgraded IT assets.

We optimize cybersecurity by ensuring that all systems and applications are updated and patched regularly. The cloud makes it easier to practice good cyber hygiene, which will help protect your company against current and future cyber threats.  Cloud services also serve the important function of backing up company data and services. Since your cloud is hosted in secure facilities with numerous backup and restore options, it is possible to quickly restore operations in the aftermath of a man-made or natural disaster. Best of all, EMCO Cloud Services meet a number of regulatory compliance standards like HIPAA, FINRA, Sarbanes Oxley and more!

When it comes to maintenance, as we monitor your cloud services 24/7, we’ll  advise you on when to upgrade to new options that best suit your company’s objectives and budget. Our knowledge and experience makes us uniquely qualified to continually test and fine tune the output of your cloud-based and onsite IT assets in order to maintain the highest level of performance and security.

Finally, we understand that not everyone has the expertise in their own company to understand the purchasing, usage, maintenance and security of cloud computing. We don’t believe in a one size fits all approach and not everything in your business needs to run on the cloud. For many small business, a hybrid approach may be best. EMCO techs have the expertise to assess your unique organizational needs and make the most cost-effective and operationally effective recommendations on cloud solutions for you.

Think your company can benefit from cloud services?

Call us today for a free consultation about our cloud solutions for businesses to move your business forward safely.

Protect Yourself from Scareware

Ransomware is a word you’ve probably heard often over the past few years and it has been the key topic on many articles and information we’ve shared, but we realized this week, is the increasing need to educate you about Scareware.

Forcepoint defines it best: Scareware is a malware tactic that manipulates users into believing they need to download or buy malicious, sometimes useless, software. Most often initiated using a pop-up ad, scareware uses social engineering to take advantage of a user’s fear, coaxing them into installing fake anti-virus software. Scareware goals can vary from selling useless, fake tools to the installation of damaging malware that exposes sensitive data. Scareware has been known to convince users to download ransomware, a form of malware that holds the user’s data hostage in exchange for a payout.

You’ve probably experienced this and may not even realize it.  Have you ever encountered a surprise pop-up telling you your computer is at risk and software needs to be downloaded or installed to prevent damage?  You are smart and most likely, you ignored the message, but not everyone does—and these messages are getting more and more sophisticated and seem very, very legit.

Over the past few weeks, we’ve had a few reports of users experiencing this scareware tactic.  However, in two cases, instead of being contacted through a pop-up or email, the user  was the one who called a number they believed was the manufacture of a piece of hardware and ended up on a bogus call where the person on the other end tried to get them to pay for a solution.  Thankfully, the users were smart enough to know something wasn’t right and left the call before any harm was done.  They called EMCO to give us a heads up about the incidents and that consideration prompted this article for you.

So how do you protect yourself?

Easy, the first thing you do is DON’T BUY ANYTHING!!  If you think there is something legitimate to the claim, seek the advice of IT professional.  You can also search known cyber security threats at https://www.cisa.gov/cybersecurity .

Second, DON’T PANIC and get help. Call your IT department or tech support company, and if you are experiencing this on your personal equipment and don’t have an IT dept to call, call a local tech company like us for some guidance.

Third, understand a reputable software company like Microsoft, Apple or HP will NOT call you about issues with your computer nor will they threaten you via email.

Recent data breaches such as SolarWinds affected some of the most reputable Fortune 500 companies, so chances are we will continue to see an increase in ransomware and scareware events.   Continue to be diligent and smart about protecting yourself  against and reacting to these events.

What the Heck is ‘Smishing’?

If your anything like me your phones become an integral part of managing your day-to-day life both personally and professionally.  In many ways this has improved both the ease of accessing many vital services like banking, while also helping to secure them with technologies like multi-factor-authentication (MFA). Its hard to beat the convenience of looking up a product review, ordering it and receiving it as early as that day, and most of the time it’s smooth sailing. Unfortunately, as with all good things there’s a lot of room for malfeasance here and enterprising criminals have been quick on the uptake.

While most of the text messages (or Short Message Service ‘SMS’ if you want to be technical) you receive are probably legitimate, chances are you’ve gotten a few like this too:

Now I love winning things as much as anyone, but my complete lack of a Costco subscription was more than enough to tip me off to what was really going on here, a Smishing Attack. ‘Smishing’ like its older brother ‘Phishing’ are communications with a link to an infected site or designed to convince you to share PII or other critical info; Smishing is simply Phishing over SMS instead of E-mail. While many of these are easy enough to notice thanks to grammatical errors or incongruencies like I experienced above, some of them are harder to notice if you’re not on guard.

Smishing attempts like this are often designed to look official and apply to the broadest range of potential victims as possible. Since most of us order packages, we might not think twice before clicking on that link or perhaps a phony tracking number. Unfortunately, that’s all it takes for an adversary to potentially hijack control of your phone and all the data on it, and if you’re a business owner you should consider that every employee of yours is at risk of falling victim to these Smishing attacks which could put your business in jeopardy.

These are real messages I’ve received on my phone and just two of the dozens I’ve gotten in the past couple of years. Please be warry of unsolicited messages and think twice before clicking on any links even if they seem legitimate. If you’re concerned about any messages you’ve received or want to know more about software solutions that could help protect you and your employees from Smishing EMCO technology can help!

This One is For Our Accounting Friends

We recently received a call from an  accountant, who wanted a second opinion  after his firm’s server had experienced an intrusion that resulted in malware being placed on the server.  This  gave the intruder access to customer’s names, birth dates, addresses, social security numbers, tax returns,  and other information used to file returns.  He wanted our professional advice as he felt his IT had missed something critical in his security.

After the fact, we had to help this firm notify their customers of new procedures to prevent this from happening in the future.

ONLY AFTER BEING HACKED, did the firm decide it was worth their money and time to enhance their data security procedures.  ONLY NOW are they looking for malicious code to remove from their system, enable extra levels of security and upgrading their security.

ONLY AFTER BEING HACKED.

The firms customers, on the other hand, now have to monitor their credit, change their passwords, initiate a fraud alert, and be diligent about watching their financial accounts and identities.

This costs them time and money from someone they trusted to be secure about protecting their sensitive information.   These clients have cause to pursue legal recourse for lost time, security and money, especially if they become a further victim.

We aren’t saying there is a guarantee to keep your company’s data from being breached because of the software or IT company you may use, but if you aren’t being proactive and paying attention, your security may be lacking which is going to cost you more in the long run.  EMCO also engineers multifaceted solutions that protect your data and make it difficult to breach.

Cyber criminals are smart and stealthy.  If you aren’t keeping up with them by investing in the right levels of security in terms of hardware and software, you are putting your business and your clients at-risk unnecessarily.   EMCO makes it our business to be smarter than the cyber criminals.

Don’t let this happen to you.  Investing in data security is more important now than ever. Not being proactive and prepared is going to affect your bottom line more than making the short term investment now.

Call us for a free consultation to review your current security protection and we’ll give you our best recommendations to protect your business and your client’s trust.

Is Your Tech Ready to Re-Open?

As the business world prepares to reopen, there are many new things owners need to consider in order to do so. Unlocking the doors and turning on the lights isn’t going to fly in the face of a 2 month+ shutdown and COVID-19 regulations now imposed on every business.

When it comes to moving your technology back from a remote work environment, to the office setting, it is important to consider the time it will take to reintegrate your team back to their new normal environment.

Many companies may continue to have employees working remotely and both business models need to be prepared to provide as much business continuity as possible.

Here are our Top 9 Activities to Prep Your Tech for Reopening:

(1). Your tech team should be the first person on-site before other employees return to the office. Give them time to check on systems that were left in the office and make a list of issues that need to be addressed. In fact, we should recommend that any PC that has been left off for extended time should be turned on at least one or two days before returning to work so that the machine has time to perform lots of updates.

(2). If you have outsourced your IT to a third party, be in constant communication with them to help you get up and running. While you may need someone to physically turn servers and devices on, your IT Partner can remote in to do much of the updates and virus scanning you need.

(3). Clean and dust. Make sure to take the time to clean computers of dust and debris on a regular basis. Additionally, dust that collects in the air vents of the PC could cause overheating, so be sure to move CPUs and clean the back of them.

(4). Inspect power supply and devices. Most offices more than likely use surge protectors or similar devices to power their computer. It’s crucial to make sure these devices are in safe working order.

(5). Probably the most important is updates. Turn machines on, make sure everything boots up then start running any necessary updates. Shut down or restart the computer at least weekly and whenever the program tells the User to in order to install updates. This helps to make sure software and security updates are properly installed.

(6). Run antivirus. It is possible that computers may have vulnerabilities that clients haven’t noticed if they don’t have security or an IT person that may have been monitoring this over the past few months. It’s important to run a antivirus scan weekly to make sure any changes made or files downloaded have not compromised their system.

(7). Don’t respond to email, instant messages, texts, phone calls, etc., asking for passwords. Only click on links from trusted sources. This includes any link where they can’t tell where it will take them. Don’t open unsolicited or unexpected attachments. If they can’t verify an attachment is legitimate, delete it.

(8). Folks coming back to work are going to forget all their passwords. Now is a great time to develop a new password security policy and add password security software to your systems.

(9). Check the batteries!!! It may seem silly but keyboards, mice or other peripherals lying around untouched for weeks may need new batteries!

Your IT protocols may need to change moving forward.  For businesses who will have remote workers, work with your IT team and partners to design the best remote working solution for your staff.  Your solutions need to provide workers the right tech to stay productive, but also security and compliance.

If you find that your IT provider has closed, or isn’t open for business when you are, or perhaps your IT employees aren’t returning to work just yet, don’t hesitate to reach out to the EMCO team for a free consultation.

 

The End of Windows 7. What Should You Do Now?

Time has run out. Running Windows 7? Today is the Day to Upgrade!

As of today, Microsoft is no longer supporting the Windows 7 operating system.  What does this mean for your business?  While, yes, your computers will still run, they will, however, be left vulnerable to malware attacks that may be sitting dormant on your computer right now but will also expose updated computers on your network to security breaches.

There are free updates for users to upgrade to Windows 10 from Windows 7 or 8, but you need to know if your equipment can handle the update.

What you need:

  • Processor: 1 GHz or higher
  • RAM: 2 GB, but upgrading to 4GB+ would be better
  • Hard Drive: at least 32GB

Check your peripherals such as printers and scanners to ensure they are compatible with the update too.

Updating can be cumbersome.  Are you or your staff ready?   There are 3 ways to go about this:

  1. Replace with New Hardware (Recommended): For all but the newest of machines, replace Windows 7 workstations with new hardware running Windows 10. Given our experience with system performance when upgrading the OS on the same hardware, we recommend simply replacing Win 7 systems outright. This will ensure the system is new and performance will not be a problem. It also alleviates the need to spend significant money to upgrade the operating system on an older system, only to spend again in a year or two.                                                                                                                                              
  2. Clean Install of Win 10 on Existing Hardware:(Recommended for any system less than 2 years old) This upgrade path will allow you to reuse the older hardware, however, the process includes backing up all data from the Win 7 system, reformatting the hard drive and installing Windows 10 Pro as a fresh install. This has been proven to be the cleanest most effective way to install a working copy of Win 10 on older hardware.                           

 

  1. In-Place Upgrade Win 7 to Win 10 (Not Recommended): This option would attempt to upgrade the existing OS on existing hardware from Windows 7 Pro to Windows 10 Pro. Although less expensive and the quickest option to attempt, this migration path is frequently unsuccessful. We have seen a high percentage of machines that fail to upgrade due to hardware/drive incompatibilities. We’ve also seen a high percentage of instances where a machine will upgrade, but system performance will be degraded due to a new operating system using older hardware / software.

Is this something you have planned for and your team could handle?  Let us review your situation and make personal recommendations for the best way to proceed with the updates for your unique business.

A 20 min call could save you a ton of time, money, downtime and stress. 

  • EMCO has upgraded 55 client computers already. The majority have opted to purchase new machines in addition to the system.  Machines were old.
  • Went to their offices and swapped out the machines and got them up and running in about 2-4hrs of downtime. Great time for meetings, right?  No data was lost.
  • We have found most of the time the desktop printers haven’t been compatible, and we took care of ordering new printers in budget and quickly. A dictation office needed a whole new peddle—so really check your peripherals.
  • It’s a nice time to hit refresh. Make an investment in your biz—update screens for better resolution, update the printers and scanners as well as desktop and laptops because if those devices are running win 7 or 8, THEY ARE OLD!

Now is the time.  The EMCO Team will help your business stay up-to-date, safe and running!

Another Data Breach

ANOTHER DATA BREACH

The Wawa data breach occurred in March and yet wasn’t discovered until November. The longer that “dwell time” is, the more damage hackers can do. If a company doesn’t have the right technology or expertise of people monitoring their IT/Security during this time, they’ll fall prey to massive data breaches (and thus lawsuits) just like Wawa.

ALL businesses should have an IT/Security budget and take full advantage of all of the available technology to keep their data as safe as possible.

Antivirus alone is NOT the solution. Malware hides and waits. You MUST have a layered approach to security.

Learn the lesson Wawa didn’t. This article shares steps you can take as a consumer to monitor your data if you think you’ve been compromised. http://bit.ly/35d9LAp 

Get Your Tech On Track for the New Year

December is the time to finalize your technology plans and goals for the coming year.  Here are some tips to making next year the most efficient, effective year yet for your business technology.

Take Advantage of Year-End Discounts & Incentives
Manufacturers want to close their fiscal/calendar year on a high note, so hardware discounts and incentives are often available.  If possible, consider making larger technology purchases capital expenses in your budget; this type of purchase may count as a deduction on your taxes, as long as the purchases are invoiced, or you’ve partially paid for the purchase, prior to the start of the new year.*

Consider Industry Changes & Company Goals
Review current technology trends and upcoming industry-specific regulation changes, if applicable.  Discuss with your in-house and/or managed services provider if the new tech would mesh with your company’s needs and goals and if it complies with industry requirements.   

“The technology discussions that we have with businesses really set the tone for the new year,” says Emil Pilacik, Jr., president + CEO of EMCO Technology, Inc., in Levittown, Pennsylvania. “Our customers ask great questions, and the conversations are very important and insightful as we create their technology plan for the new year.” 

Your Tech is On Track
Developing a proactive plan for the next 12 months gives you an opportunity to enjoy the holidays with a sense of calm.  You’ll be confident about what is currently running in your server rooms or in the Cloud, and you’ll be prepared with strategic, technology-related next steps for the new year.

 Ensure your technology will support your efforts for the upcoming year.  Consider a quick discussion – either in person or over the phone – with EMCO Technology.  It’s not too late to enjoy the holidays, secure in the knowledge that experts are monitoring your tech during this busy season, and ready to support your continued business success next year.

*Not intended to be tax advice. Consult your tax professional for details.

How to Protect Your Business When You’re Protecting Your Business

What is Cyber Liability Insurance?

According to The Hartford insurance company, “[c]yber liability insurance and data breach insurance…helps cover costs like notification, identity protection solutions, public relations, legal, liability and more depending on the coverage you choose.”  Should your data be exposed, lost, or corrupted, the costs associated with managing the situation are contained using the policy’s settlement funds.  It also helps to offset the costs of business lost as a result of the breach.

A Tangled Insurance Web

In concept, Cyber Liability insurance is a valuable contribution to the well-being of your business.  However, the application and claims process can be tricky for those not familiar with it. If the application isn’t completed properly, you may find it difficult to file a claim and receive a settlement.

When you apply for Cyber Liability insurance, the insurer requires that applicants fill out an intensive assessment questionnaire, focused on your company’s technology, as well as its processes and procedures.  Providing the information requested, correctly and honestly, is crucial.  “A strategic approach is necessary when completing this evaluation so that businesses can secure their settlements if the need should arise,” says EMCO Technology President + CEO Emil Pilacik, Jr.   If companies don’t provide proper answers, they find they’ve been paying premiums for, essentially, no coverage.  “If something within their technology strategy, processes, or procedures doesn’t fit the insurance company’s criteria, their claim is denied,” explains Emil.

Ask An Expert

Emil recommends that Cyber Liability applicants consult an expert to guide them through this assessment process.  “Their expertise can provide insights and recommendations for the business, so they can make needed adjustments.  It improves their chances of receiving the coverage they need.”

EMCO Technology provides C-level technology consulting and advising services to companies of all sizes.  If you are considering a Cyber Liability insurance policy for your business, contact Emil Pilacik, Jr., at EMCO Technology to learn more about how EMCO can assist you during the application and/or claims process.

Reference in this blog post to any specific commercial product, process, or service, or the use of any trade, firm or corporation name is for the information and convenience of the public and does not constitute endorsement, recommendation, or favoring by EMCO Technology, Inc.

The Three Tenets of Luxury IT: Why It’s a Luxury You Can Afford

When you hear the word “luxury,” what comes to mind? Exclusivity. Premier quality.  Customization. Ease and convenience. Freedom.  Luxury is a concept that defines what we all strive for: the opportunity to do what we want, without worry.

Consumers of Luxury IT experience just that when it comes to their business technology.  They work with confidence, wherever they want, knowing their IT is designed to help them achieve success now and the future.  And their IT service provider is obsessively committed to that success, too.  That’s Luxury IT.

What are the components of Luxury IT that make it so unique?

Tenet 1: Zero Down Time Commitment

When your technology works smoothly and efficiently, your business is poised to reach your objectives.  But when it experiences a failure, and your technology is down, it’s a frustrating, costly mess.

Andrew T. Gilinsky, CPA, PFS, MBA, CFP of Clairmont Paciello & Co., PC , an accounting firm, explains the import of Zero Downtime for his business.  EMCO Technology “manages the problem, mainly after hours, so we are not disrupted during normal working hours, with little disruption,” he says.  “They are [also] extremely sensitive to our tax season, and perform maintenance prior to tax season to ensure a smooth season with no computer issues. They have designed and implemented an offsite backup solution which can be utilized in an emergency. Luckily, this has not been necessary.” 

Luxury IT centers around minimizing disruption to your workday by designing premier-quality IT plans for each specific client, using exceptional equipment and unsurpassed knowledge and experience to improve security, prevent outages, and implement updates and upgrades.  While you work with your technology seamlessly, everyday, your Luxury IT provider is working invisibly, around the clock, to ensure it works as it should.

Tenet 2: Dedicated Network Technicians

Many IT Managed Services providers utilize a first-available model of service, which means you’ll receive the Technician who is currently available or closest to your location at the time of your support request.  While it may be immediately convenient, that Technician probably doesn’t know you, understand the complexities of your business and your goals.  They probably haven’t designed your IT strategy, so they need to familiarize themselves with the equipment and layout on-the-job.  This can not be a time consuming process, and may also put you at a disadvantage when it comes to determining the best solutions.

“I cannot express to you how knowledgeably and professionally our EMCO on-site technician has performed, and how much they have contributed to our success,” says Samuel Kupperstein, CPA, Controller at Atlantic American Fire Equipment.

Luxury IT requires that each client is served by one primary Network Technician.  With this best practice, EMCO Technology builds relationships with the company leadership and employees, and designs strategies and solutions to meet – and exceed – their needs and expectations.  Troubleshooting occurs more quickly and problems are resolved in a top-quality manner (which means no short-term fixes), because the Technician knows the needs of the company and its people, and understands the technology inside and out.

Tenet 3: Understanding Makes IT More Valuable

Technology is complicated, confusing, and even intimidating to many of us.  Though we’re reliant on it, it’s very difficult to understand how it works.  But with a basic understanding of how the technology works, we not only value it more, but we may also minimize (if not prevent) technology complications that can slow business down.

Deb Juliano, Director of Recruitment for The Columbus Organization, states it well.  “Our EMCO Technician is so understanding and patient with us non-IT folks, and has such a soothing demeanor when working through even  the smallest of IT things with us.”

Luxury IT emphasizes education and understanding for Clients, to help them better grasp the value of their IT investment, understand how it works and how to maintain it properly, from an end-user standpoint.  When we better comprehend our investment, it becomes even more important, more valuable, and far less intimidating.

Overall, Luxury IT is a luxury you can afford.  From reliable technology that allows you to work smoothly and worry-free, to the relationship you build with your Network Technician, who will not only design and build the system you need, but who will also take the time to explain it to you.  Luxury IT takes the stress, worry, and guesswork out of managing your technology, and replaces it with calm, confident, total technology care that lets you focus on the business at hand: your business.