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9 Most Common Misconceptions About The Cloud

Cloud computing has grown more popular as businesses, end users and customers decide to store their data or share their files. In fact, the worldwide public cloud will have grown from $182.4B in 2018 to $331.2B in 2022 according to Gartner.

Even with this rapid growth, organizations are still learning about the cloud or don’t properly understand its function. As a result, business leaders have developed misconceptions about how to leverage the cloud in their industry.

However, the cloud can be an extremely effective tool and knowledge on its uses, services and functions can save you time, energy and money. With that, here is a list of a few common misconceptions about the cloud.

The Cloud is Unsafe/Risky

A cloud infrastructure not only protects business from cyberattacks and theft, it secures your data against outages, natural disasters and any other unforeseen damage to your physical business. The cloud serves as a massive back-up system using the internet to store critical data. A private cloud, however, offers computing services on a private internal network.

Cloud service providers invest greatly on cybersecurity as a means of guaranteeing the best possible service. In reality, the majority of cyber security breaches on the cloud were caused by user error.

On the cloud, all data is encrypted and backed up as well so users are protected from data theft.

All Cloud Providers Are The Same

There are many different types of cloud providers. It’s important to research which company fits your business needs best. Furthermore, there are different types of cloud services. There is a public cloud, a private cloud and a hybrid cloud which combines elements of the other two. Determining which cloud service suits your goals best is just as important as the service provided.

When you choose a cloud provider You have to commit to it indefinitely

As mentioned above, there are many different types of providers, offering a range of services. And some cloud services are better with some providers than with others. There might be certain features of your existing business you don’t wish to migrate with one provider. Cloud services are not an all or nothing affair.

As a result, many organizations are opting to adopt a multi-cloud solution. Multi-cloud solutions offer flexibility in pricing, services and compatibility. Additionally, a multi-cloud strategy reduces the risk of certain cyber attacks and can further prevent data loss.

Cloud Migration means transferring everything to the cloud

When moving to the cloud you can keep certain things in-house as well. What you keep internally and what you transfer over to the cloud all depends on your goals, costs, budgetary constraints and performance. Optimization doesn’t necessarily mean complete cloud migration. For some businesses optimization could be moving certain features and data to the cloud and keeping others on premises.

It Costs Less Than What I Pay Now

Cutting costs is often touted as one of the biggest benefits of adopting a cloud infrastructure. It’s more complicated than that. The fact of the matter is, businesses focus too much on savings without researching how to implement new cloud technologies once they’ve migrated.

Moreover, businesses fail to calculate costs during busier periods of the year. Reality is more complicated than a selling point and costs could vary.

Cloud Computing Means Giving Up My IT Team

Many business leaders believe that upon adopting cloud services, their existing IT team will become redundant. However, this is not necessarily the case. Nerds Support, for instance, is a Managed Service provider that offers Co-management services. Co-management means our partners keep their existing IT department and we provide additional support when they need it.

This option works best for smaller companies experiencing growth and increased workload. Or alternatively, companies that wish to focus on larger IT projects and need assistance taking care of less essential tasks.

You Can’t Rely On The Cloud

What happens if you experience downtime and lose connection to the cloud? If your office loses power in an electrical storm or through a power outage, the cloud allows you to access mission critical data from any device.

Think about it. If a server goes down in your office using an in house network, the entire business stops. Data saved on the cloud takes a matter of minutes to access so you can pick up where you left off.
Automated back-up systems are an inherent part of any good cloud provider.

Migrating Is Too Complicated

this depends on the complexity of the network and environment. Assuming it’s a company that requires few services, it takes about ten to 14 days. Cloud providers often migrate businesses that work with third party vendors or have massive networks because of the nature of their business. These can take about six months to complete.

Maintaining compliance will be too difficult

Meeting compliance standards is a big issue for many businesses. Nevertheless, the right cloud provider will guarantee you achieve compliance. Cloud compliance helps keep both the cloud provider and the client accountable and there is nothing built into the cloud itself that prevents it.

In fact, cloud vendors have made compliance a main focus since banks, CPA’s and financial advisers began migrating to the cloud. If you’re in a highly regulated industry, there are cloud providers that specialize in specific regulations like SOX, FINRA and SEC compliance to name a few.

The take away here is to do your research. The cloud is an important tool. And like most tools, they are useful only to those who are willing to understand how to use them.

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How to Improve Data Quality

Poor data quality is extremely risky when it comes to how you market and operate your business. The ultimate goal is to earn profits by using data to turn website visitors into customers. This process is also important for brick-and-mortar businesses. Poor data makes business owners, managers and other leaders perform unnecessary processes that are ineffective and unproductive. To illustrate, approximately $15B was spent in 2018 by businesses, based upon bad data.

This amount of spending, in some instances, could potentially tank businesses.  In those cases, poor data management prevents them from using resources that could spark their operations to succeed. CRM, or customer relationship management, is essential these days for businesses looking to improve their overall data quality.

This strategy is one that allows you to effectively manage engagement with your current and potential customers. CRM uses detailed analysis and produces data that businesses can benefit from to focus their marketing and sales activities. Let’s take a look at some strategies that can be used in order to improve the data quality you are getting.

Checking the Data

One of the first steps in the process of improving data quality is checking it. This is very important for business owners who utilize mailing lists and email lists for marketing campaigns. There are scrubbing programs available that can be used to determine if the information being used is accurate. However, manually searching the data may be time-consuming but effective.

Furthermore, there are data validation services available for businesses and companies to use. The expenses associated with these services should be considered an investment in your operations. Good data is essential to achieving sales and marketing objectives. Dun and Bradstreet, a  data, analytics, and insights provider for businesses, is one example in this category and has software for this type of validation.

Setting Strict Data Standards

Another good way to ensure good quality data is to set strict standards. This can be done by limiting variations for the type of data you are looking for. At the same time, it is important to remember to increase data structure. This could mean the difference between a search for some keywords and those with acronyms, as well.

The process by which your CRM system acquires data should be precise. This alone is a way to get the data that you want. Some experts say that this is also an effective approach for cleaning the data itself. The more dependable the data the more opportunities you have to use it. Strict standards are how successful businesses connect the dots between marketing and revenue goals.

Observing Management Standards

The process of actually observing the data management standards that you use is crucial. This is elaborated by Trailhead, to create, process, and maintain your data. There are terms related to these standards that have individual meanings. Knowing what these are and how they can benefit you in improving data quality is critical.

Naming is one of the terms that are used here to set details for your records, as it has to do with abbreviations or suffixes. This prevents bad data because only standard abbreviations or suffixes are allowed. Businesses that need monthly updates for active leads remember quality as another term for data results. The ability to score and measure this data offers additional benefits for operations.

 Confirming Email Addresses

Email blasts are trendy ways to market, currently, and are being used in virtually every industry. These are sent to existing customers who have provided their contact information. In order to benefit from these emails, the email addresses have to be correct. Incorrect email addresses leads to bad data that ends up wasting time and resources.

It is necessary to use systems that help you to confirm this information. There are also traditional uses for physical addresses in marketing plans. These must be confirmed, as well, so those materials are mailed to the proper place. This material may be a way to advertise new locations, products, as well as, sales and promotions. Point-of-sale sites should verify the data by asking users to confirm their information a second time.

Cross-Checking for Duplicates

It is important to save your staff time by cleaning up bad data effects. Duplicate email addresses, for example, are included here. In some cases, this occurs when customers use different name spellings. Sending duplicate emails may result in SPAM designations that are not being seen by existing and potential opportunities.

Having reliable IT and cybersecurity protection facilitates this process tremendously. If there is an outage, your company risks loosing important data you could use to improve client relationships. Companies like Nerds Support protect online operations from downtime, cyber threats and outages so you can focus on running your business.

For more articles on Technology, Cloud, cybersecurity and more visit our blog. If you have any questions on data security, I.T., feel free to contact us and we’ll be happy to help.

 

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How to Resolve Your Biggest Cyber Security Concerns

Businesses face all types of issues. However, advances in technology have made a handful of concerns more pertinent than others.  In a poll conducted by Nerds Support, we discovered the top concerns businesses had related to data loss, compliance and security. As a result, we’ve addressed just a few ways your business can resolve these problems from most important to least.

Nerds Support Poll Top Security Concerns 2020

1) Data Loss Prevention

Data is the most important currency any successful business has today. Furthermore, if you’re in a heavily regulated industry like financial services, data security is everything. That means data, and how companies manage it, often comes to define them. Losing Data can completely disrupt, and in many cases, destroy a company. Here are few ways you can prevent data loss in your business.

Back Up Data

Backing up your data is simple, not easy. Businesses often neglect to back up information when they’re busy or prioritize other tasks instead. Creating an effective backup strategy is the best way to commit to scheduled backups. You probably have data with varying levels of importance. Data that is critical to your business and data that is less so. Therefore, you should designate what data to back up daily, weekly, monthly, etc., in your plan.

Encrypt Your Data

Many organizations collect personal data from their clients. This data can come in the form of names, social security, financial information and more. If this data is stolen or leaked, the organization responsible for keeping the data safe would be in jeopardy. Potential lawsuits, investigations and the backlash from a data breach could destroy a business’s chances of recovery as a result.

Invest in a service that encrypts backups automatically to secure your data against anyone looking to steal, abuse, or access it. Cloud back-up services does just that.

The More (Backups) The Merrier

If you have important data back it up as often as possible. Backup all data imperative to your business in multiple formats to ensure its safety. Three backups are the standard for particularly important data. Moreover, backups on a cloud server and a hard-drive prevents data loss if your physical office is damaged or if there’s an outage.

Be Smart About Where You Work

Bring-your-own-device culture is more popular than ever. With cloud computing, employees can use their own laptops and mobile devices to work outside the office when they’re sick or on the road. Although this is good for productivity, they can also leave your data vulnerable if misused or misplaced.

Make sure to avoid public Wi-Fi networks as they can be exploited by a hacker to gain access to your device. If you’re going to use a mobile device or personal computer, purchase a VPN to encrypt your information. Using personal hotspot are also a good option since they’re private and cannot be accessed as easily.

Work With Professionals You Can Trust

If you do lose your data for whatever reason, trying to recover it yourself might worsen the damage. That is why it’s important to confide in experts that can keep your data safe and facilitate recovery when it occurs.

2) Maintaining Compliance

Regulatory changes, managing costs and meeting deadlines make maintaining compliance a struggle for businesses. The cloud, however, could resolve those issues and simplify compliance work dramatically.

Compliance Work Made Easy

Companies are often reluctant to leave paper filing and in-house storage behind. Trusting a third-party cloud provider to store important data seems daunting and unreliable, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. In reality, the cloud allows for quick and accurate data analysis that can cut down costs associated with compliance.

The cloud makes auditing easier. With its automated data backups and file sharing capabilities, auditors and employees can keep track of and review electronic files effectively. That also means the business becomes more transparent on the cloud.

Tracking Proper Documents

Compiling all the necessary documentation is half the battle. Internal Auditor Magazine recommends using applications that multiple users can review and edit. You also need a reliable IT department to monitor where the records are stored. As alluded to above, downtime and outages can be a real nightmare if your data isn’t properly backed up or stored in multiple formats.

If your IT department is overloaded with work or is too small properly manage record storage, then a co-managed IT department might be your best option. A co-managed contract with a managed service provider allows you to bulk up your IT department and delegate tasks to that your own department can’t do on its own. Co-managed solutions are great for growing financial firms, for example.

For smaller companies, outsourcing tech responsibilities means securing all necessary data without having to hire more individual techs.

3) Social Engineering & Ransomware

Social engineering is an issue impacting every industry. That’s because social engineers attack individual users with deceptive emails. Individual users are usually employees. If a cybercriminal can get one employee from your company to click on a link, they can access their machine. If they can access their machine, they can access the company’s systems.

Once in, a cyber-attacker encrypts data with malware and holds it ransom until the company pays a large fee.

Training

When employees recognize a potential phishing email in their inbox, it’s harder to trick them. Whenever you receive a dubious email containing a link or an attachment, send it over to your IT department to analyze. Even if it seems harmless, send it over.

Social engineers tailor scams to specific individuals and they’ll use personal information to get a click. It could be a message from your bank asking you for payment card information. It might be a store the user shops in offering online deals.

Investing in anti-phishing software helps protect employees from email scams.

Monitor Your Systems at All Times

MSP’s are a good option for companies looking to increase security as well. They monitor activity 24/7 and are available to answer questions and concerns a user might have about potential threats. Nerds Support, for example, trains and informs users on social engineering red flags, working with the user to review emails and files they’re unsure about.

A culture of healthy skepticism will improve an employee’s chances of avoiding a ransomware attack. However, employee awareness is not enough. Having updated cyber security software and dedicated cyber experts to assist in dealing with threats should be part of any business’s cyber security plan.

I’ve briefly touched upon the biggest concerns businesses have, but if you want more in depth articles on these topics visit our blog.

If you’d like to talk to real cyber experts about your biggest business concerns contact us and we’ll be happy to answer any questions about the cloud computing, cybersecurity and MSP’s.

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Tech: 4 Things To Expect in 2020 and Beyond

Technology continues to develop and impact how individuals, businesses and communities function. In 2020 cyber security will need to be front and center of every organization’s agenda and for good reason.

1) Cyberattacks Will Get Worse

Cyber breaches were all too common in 2019. The news flooded with stories of cyberattacks on schools, municipalities, cities and even big name private companies. If you think this is as bad as it gets, you’re wrong. In fact, cyberattacks are increasing against small businesses. Industry experts estimate cybersecurity incidents will cost businesses more over $5 trillion within the next five years alone.

The cost associated with cybercrimes are dangerous for businesses. Even worse, a business might not even know the totality of damage caused by an attack until years afterward.

That’s because cybercrime costs include not only stolen money or data, but lost productivity, reputational damage, and more.

Despite global spending in cybersecurity reaching $1 trillion by 2021, organizations admit feeling under-prepared to deal with advanced cyberattacks. We aren’t talking about a guy in his mother’s house trying to access files from his laptop. These are coordinated attacks organized by highly skilled criminal networks.

2019 Attacks on Banks are Attacks on Government

Financial Institutions were particularly popular targets because they have valuable information hackers can use or sell. As well as the indirect impact they have over governments. Governments rely on financial institutions for economic stability. In other words, if a banks are vulnerable, economies are vulnerable.

In February of 2019 several credit unions across the U.S. were hit by spear-phishing emails impersonating compliance officers from other credit unions. Fast forward to May, FirstBank, Colorado’s largest locally-owned bank, experienced a breach that resulted in the cancellation of many customer payment cards.

The most famous example of a breach this past year was the Capital One Data Breach. The bank announced the breach compromised around 100 million card holders after a software engineer hacked into its cloud server. Based on this, we can expect that these types of breaches will only become more frequent.

2) IoT Will Increase Vulnerabilities

And now, with Internet-of-Things (IoT) technology growing in popularity, security risks are only going to increase.  As a matter of fact, by 2020 it is estimated that approximately 20 billion devices will be connected to the internet.

A few months ago, a story broke about a family in Texas who had their Ring security camera hacked and the hacker used it to harass their children.

The Ring doorbell system is an example of Smart home, IoT devices and they are becoming increasingly popular.  By the end of 2020, projections state that 28 percent of total households will be smart homes. It’s speculated that this trend has to do with lowered device prices and market preferences. As IoT grows in popularity, property owners integrate smart devices into their homes.

Businesses are also getting in on the action. Business owners save energy costs with smart lighting, thermostats and sensors by regulating temperature and light according to the time of day.  Integrating smart devices means more data to store. In this case, developing security measures to protect this new data will become imperative. IoT, however, is only the tip of the iceberg.

3) Look Out for AI

Artificial Intelligence becomes more mainstream, we’ll see the deployment of AI based malware or phishing attacks in 2020. With AI technology, a cybercriminal can perform multiple attacks on a network with ease.

That’s because AI can learn to attacks by itself and increase its knowledge on its target. In the age of machine learning, AI malware may very well become among the most serious threats.

Another threat to look out for in 2020 is the use of Deepfakes. Deepfakes are media that replace an individual’s face with the likeness of another using advanced software. A malicious actor could superimpose the face of an employer onto their own and create a video requesting access to sensitive data, for example.

This technology’s main purpose it to proliferate disinformation and create confusion among its targets. As a result, cybercriminals are already using deepfakes to scam companies into relinquishing large sums of money.

Costs related to deepfakes will exceed $250 million in 2020.

4) Cloud is Taking Over

Public cloud services is set to grow 17 percent in 2020 to a total of $226.4 billion, according to Gartner, Inc. Moreover, the largest market segment in terms of growth will be Software as a service (SaaS). Gartner predicts further that  cloud based application services industry will be 143.7 billion by 2022.

This new decade promises rapid growth in smart technology, AI, and cloud software, but the more connected we become the more vulnerable we are. Cyber-attacks will increase and evolve as attackers adopt newer technologies to improve their effectiveness. Managed IT services will become more prominent as businesses migrate to a cloud provider for their data and IT needs.

Governments and businesses will have to make cybersecurity a top priority in 2020 to ensure their data and information isn’t stolen, used or sold on the darkweb.

For more information on how you can prepare for this new decade of cyber threats, IT consulting Miami, or cloud news visit our website or read our blog on how to keep your business safe against cyber attacks.

 

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What Should Concern Businesses About the New Orleans Cyberattack

The city of New Orleans experienced a cyberattack so severe Mayor Latoya Cantrell declared a state of emergency.

The attack occurred on Friday, Dec. 13 and caused the city to shutdown government computers. Officials announced the shutdown via social media posts.

City Shutdown Government Computers

The attack started at 5 in the morning, according to the city of New Orleans. At around 11 a.m., employees noticed what they considered suspicious activity. As a result, the city’s IT department ordered employees disconnect from Wi-Fi and close down their computers.

Fortunately, an investigations into the attack is currently underway as Federal and State agencies gather more information. As of now, nothing is known about the malware used during the attack and the Mayor said no ransom demands had been made yet.

Louisiana’s Third Cyberattack

This ransomware attack is the third to affect Louisiana in five months. In November, another attack prompted Louisiana’s Office of Technological Services to shut down multiple state agencies. And in July, cyber criminals attacked several Louisiana school districts, shutting down their networks for ransom.

As a result of the schools attacks, Governor John Bel Edwards declare a state of emergency that allowed state agencies to help local governments recover from the attack.

What’s the Damage?

Unfortunately, it’s always difficult to tell the extent of the damage. It could take months and, in some cases, years to truly understand what information was stolen.  Furthermore, hackers could have stolen government employee information, financial information and more from New Orleans.

Moreover, they will have to contact financial institutions and implement new procedures to address cyberattacks like this as well as increase security on their networks.

This begs the question, if State governments have to shut down entire systems and declare a state of emergency to deal with a cyberattack, what will it cost a small business?

Since the attack in November, The National Governors Association (NGA) has urged states to develop a formal continuity plan for responding to cyber threats. Additionally, cyber forensic experts will need to be brought in to investigate the breach.

New Orleans Government Cyber Attack Statistics

Cyber Response Plan

The NGA released a State Cyber Response plan in July, that governments are developing and 15 states have made their plans public.

Without a doubt, the impact of ransomware attack is nothing to scoff at and governments are learning the hard way. Ultimately, having a continuity plans in place ensures recovery from a breach runs as smoothly as possible.

Cybercriminals Declare Hunting Season

The FBI issued a warning in October declaring an increase of cyberattacks on “big game” targets. These are targets with money and sensitive information, willing to pay ransoms to restore their systems.

That doesn’t just mean local and state governments, municipalities and agencies. For instance, hackers often target businesses, hospitals, accounting firms and financial advisers for their data.

Additionally, businesses have to adapt and invest in security if they expect to succeed. The first of several security lessons: no one is too big or to small to get hacked.  Sensitive data is always in high demand. More importantly, dark web marketplaces, like Joker’s Stash, are always willing to sell it.

The Future of Cybercrime

Researchers warn that ransomware attacks will intensity in 2020. What’s worse, attacks are getting more sophisticated.

On the other hand,with the year coming to a close and a new one beginning, now is the perfect time to audit your IT infrastructure and verify it’s competency against these types of threats. Fortunately, 2020 will also see the rise of things like cyber insurance, AI and cloud-based security solutions.

Transitioning to a cloud-based solution, like a hybrid cloud,  might help industries across the board avoid scenarios like the ones in Louisiana.

You can read our article on how businesses can protect themselves from a cyberattack.

If you want to know more on cybersecurity news, the cloud, managed IT services and more contact us or visit our blog.

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