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When’s the Last Time You Checked on Your Domain Name?

For today’s business owners, web presence is everything. Making an impact online is how most modern businesses generate leads and make an impact on their target markets. A big part of a company’s online presence is their domain name. Your domain names serve as your company’s internet address, inviting new and existing clients to explore your online headquarters.

Domain Name

Understanding the Basics: What is a Business Domain and Domain Name?

The domain name system is not terribly complex, but it can be tricky for busy business owners to fully understand and manage. In fact, many organizations turn over all control of their domain name to an external agency to manage. However, for those looking to learn a little more about domain name management, let’s explore the basics:

  • A domain name is a web address that defines a designated space on the internet.
  • Like a business’s physical address, a domain name is an online location where mail is received and customers can visit a business.
  • Simply put, a domain name is an address that directs online users to a company’s online domain – namely, their unique business website.
  • Domain names are also very often used for company email addresses, making it the primary way for clients and colleagues to stay in contact.

Breaking Down the Process: How Businesses Register and Optimize Domains

Now that we’ve got the domain-101, it’s important to get a handle on the key things about domain management that business owners should know. From registration to renewal, its critical for business owners to know the ins and outs of properly registering and strategically maintaining their online address.

Here are some key bits of information to help you better understand domain-name management:

  • What is the DNS?

DNS stands for Domain Name System. The DNS is a server that translates a web address into one or more IP addresses.

  • What’s an IP Address?

Your company website lives on a web server and has a specific numerical address assigned to it, called an IP Address, which stands for Internet Protocol Address. IP addresses are made up of four segments separated by a period, like 123.456.789.123.

  • What is a Name Server?

Name servers are machines that route domain names to the proper IP address. When a company’s domain name is assigned to a set of name servers, the name servers have the authority to direct the domain name anywhere. Name servers are usually implemented by the vendor that hosts a company’s website.

  • What is a Domain Search?

Before a company can put their ideas into action, they need to ensure that the domain name they have in mind is available for use. There are plenty of resources online that help business owners search for available domain names and select alternatives if needed. Check out some of the leading domain name search tools here.

  • What is a Domain Registrar?

When you decide on what your domain name should be, it must be externally registered with an entity called a domain name registrar. A registrar is a company that issues and manages domain name registration for an annual fee. Check out some leading domain registrar sites here.

Don’t Let Your Online Headquarters be Sold to The Highest Bidder: Managing Domain Expiry & Renewal

Ok, so you choose a domain name, you search and find that it’s available. You make sure it’s registered, and you’re done, right? Wrong. Domain name registrations expire and must be renewed upon expiry. Business owners who don’t renew their domain name registration in a timely fashion, risk having their online address be put back up for grabs on the world-wide-web.

Even more challenging? When many business owners are getting started and launching their website, they often enlist the help of a tech-savvy friend or one-time tech contractor to get the domain set up and registered. Then, when expiry is looming, business owners are scrambling to figure out how to log in and make sure domain information is updated and renewed. In worst case scenarios, business owners are only made aware of this once their domain is already expired.

While many companies outsource a lot of their web-management responsibilities to an external digital agency, domain name management is the one part of web presence that business owners must have a handle on themselves. Why? As mentioned, a domain name is an address for your company’s online headquarters. It controls how new and existing clients access your website and reach out to you by email. Keeping tabs on managing this critical piece of business helps ensure your unique web presence remains untouched.

It’s also important to note that, while extremely important, domain name management is not that difficult for businesses to control. As long as you have a handle on the domain name expiry and renewal processes, you can put strategies in place to ensure you’re never unexpectedly evicted from your online office.

Here’s a rundown of the various steps in the domain-name expiration and renewal process:

  1. Domain name registration expires

Quite simply, expiration happens when a company does not renew their domain name before the expiry date. However, businesses are given a bit of a break. Once a domain name expires, the domain is placed under the status of a Renewal Grace Period.

During the Renewal Grace Period, a company has the chance to renew their domain name without any additional fees. Renewal Grace Period length varies among different registrars.

  1. Renewal Grace Period Ends

Once the grace period is over, the expired domain name is then placed under the status of Registrar Hold. This status holds expired domain names for 30-45 days, during which business owners still have a chance to renew their domain. However, they will likely pay a redemption fee of approximately $100, depending on their domain registrar.

During Register Hold status, registrars can attempt to sell the domain name to the highest bidder in an open auction. However, if the domain is sold, the buyer must wait the full 30-45-day period before the domain is handed over. If a company renews their domain before the Register Hold period ends, the auction buyer will be refunded. If it the domain is never renewed, it will be transferred over to the auction buyer at the end of the Register Hold status.

  1. Registrar Closeout Sale

If a domain is not renewed by the original owner before the end of the Register Hold period and is also not sold at auction, some registrars attempt a closeout sale once the 30-45-day Registrar Hold has ended. Closeout sales usually offer expired domain names to buyers at a discounted price. Many registrars even go further to waive registration fees during closeout sales, increasing the incentive to buy.

While not all registrars use closeout sales, they are successful for those that do. Sales are first come, first serve and they move quickly – with cheap, expired domain’s flying off the digital shelves.

  1. Registrar Released to Registry

If the domain name doesn’t get renewed or sold, the registrar then releases the domain name to the registry, where it is placed under Redemption Period status. Under this status, the domain cannot be modified or deleted. This status gives original owners one last chance to restore their domain by paying a redemption fee. This status lasts for a maximum of 30 days.

However, it’s critical to note that once a domain name enters the Redemption Period status, a company’s website and email addresses will stop working. Business communications will halt and clients will not be able to access your online headquarters.

  1. Redemption Period ends

Once the Redemption Period status ends, if the domain has still not been renewed, it is then transferred to Pending Delete status. Pending Delete status lasts for five days, during which it cannot be restored by the original owner or the registrar. Company website and email addresses will remain inactive.

  1. Domain name deletion

Once the 5-day Pending Delete period ends, the domain name is deleted and dropped from the online registry. As soon as it’s deleted, it becomes available for registration by the general public.

While it’s apparently possible to manually re-register an expired domain name as soon as it’s been deleted, the chances of success aren’t great – especially if the domain name is potentially valuable to others.

Keeping Your Domain Name Safe: Strategies for Locking Down and Maintaining Your Online Presence

The leading reason companies lose control of their domain is that they realize far too late that their domain name had expired. Therefore, it’s critical for business owners to implement standard policies to manage domain name maintenance and renewal. Even companies who think they have domain name management under control should make a conscious effort to prevent an expiry crisis.

Set an annual date to check-in on domain-name expiry. Keep your eyes peeled for renewal reminders from your registrar in your inbox. If your domain is set to renew automatically, it might fail if your account billing info is outdated. Make sure to keep tabs on the billing information on your domain name account to ensure registration fees are paid effectively.

Here’s a list of other key strategies for managing domain name renewal:

  • Use a separate email address for the accounts you use to manage your domains. This will avoid communication issues if your email is rendered inactive in case of expiry.
  • Keep and store registration and ownership records and account access details. Make sure this information is stored in a safe and easily accessible place that you’ll remember.
  • A designated person should be bestowed with domain-name control responsibilities. It’s recommended that this responsibility remains with the business owner, however, if you’re going to delegate, be sure to transfer the responsibility to a reliable and trustworthy employee who’s in it for the long haul.
  • Make sure your domains are renewed before expiry every year. Keep track of domain records, account and billing information and renewal history to avoid any confusion or misunderstandings.
  • Keep open lines of communication with your domain registrar. Ask them explicitly to consult with you directly before any domain changes are made and make sure they know the best ways to reach you.

In a business landscape that is increasingly web-based, taking care of your online headquarters is just as important as maintaining your physical office space. A unique domain name gives you a chance to creatively present your business online and develop a unique web presence. Making sure your online address stays secure and well-managed is critical, because an expiry notice can quickly become an eviction notice.

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Windows 10 Creators Update is Your Company’s New Best Friend

The Windows 10 Creators update is in full swing and business owners have been soaking in the benefits. The update has been available since April and so far, it is living up to the hype. The update carries on the Window’s 10 mission to make IT more secure and productive for businesses. As professionals become more connected and continue to take advantage of powerful new devices, the Windows 10 Creators update helps business owners keep up pace with digital transformation.

Windows 10 Creators Update

Heightened Security: Windows 10 Creators Update Offers Enterprise-Grade Security Intelligence Across Devices, Networks, and the Cloud

It’s no secret that the modern cybercrime landscape requires an ongoing and relentless focus on security – especially for business owners. The Windows 10 Creators Update continues to bring new security capabilities to IT administrators to better protect, defend and respond to threats on their networks and devices.

First, there’s the new Windows Security Center that serves as a centralized portal for monitoring, tracking and responding to cybersecurity issues. The Windows Security center allows for one view of all Windows 10 security events making it easier than ever for businesses to keep an eye on network happenings. The Windows Security Center was first released in the Anniversary Update, and links to Office 365 Advanced Threat Protection, via the Microsoft Intelligent Security Graph. This allows IT administrators to easily follow an attack across endpoints and email in a seamless and integrated way.

Next, the Creators Update also adds a variety of new actions and insights in Windows Defender Advanced Threat Protection (ATP). These enhancements help administrators to investigate and respond to network attacks, including sensors in memory, enriched intelligence, and new remediation actions.

Here are some the key improvements to the Windows Defender Advanced Protection system:

  • Enriched Detection

In the modern cybercrime climate, it’s no secret that the methods and means attackers use are increasingly varied, complex and well-funded. Having reliable and powerful threat sensors to monitor network traffic is critical.

Because cyber threats won’t stop, Microsoft isn’t stopping either. The Creators Update introduces enhanced Windows Defender ATP sensors to detect threats that persist only in memory or kernel level exploits. This will enable IT administrators to better monitor networks and detect threats before they become disastrous.

  • Enriched Intelligence

Recent Windows developments have already enhanced Microsoft Threat Intelligence (TI), including a recent partnership with FireEye iSIGHT Threat Intelligence. In the Creators Update, IT administrators are given the ability to feed their own intelligence into the Windows Security Center for alerts on activities based on their own indicators of compromise. This added level of insight will enrich machine learning and memory to identify and block malware more quickly and better protect the unique environment of each business.

  • Enhanced Remediation

The Creators Update also brings new remediation actions in Windows Defender ATP that will give IT administrators the tools to isolate machines, collect forensics, kill and clean running processes and quarantine or block files with a single click in the Windows Security Center, which further reduces response time.

Mobile Application Management: Windows 10 Creators Update Makes On-the-Go and Remote Business Easier

Modern business is defined by anytime, anywhere access. Some businesses have remote employees who work at home or outside the main office. Other businesses have employees who are constantly on the road and still need access to critical network data. Regardless, making sure all team members have access to all the company resources they need is crucial in today’s fast-paced business environment.

One of the most important features of the Windows 10 Creators update is the capacity for dynamic mobile application management. The new feature will help professionals protect data on personal devices without requiring the device to be enrolled in an external Mobile Device Management solution.

Furthermore, in our device-obsessed world, employees use their own devices at work more and more. The Creators Update provides IT administrators with oversight to apply productivity policies to the applications employees use. This helps keep corporate data more secure and keeps employees focused without taking on the added responsibility of managing each employee’s personal devices.

Streamlining Powerhouse: How the Creators Update Allows Businesses to Work Smarter Not Harder

The Windows 10 Creators update implements best-in-class, modern IT tools to streamline business operations and management. While it may be a very exciting time to be in IT, for many business organizations the digital transformation can be overwhelming. For that reason, the Windows 10 Creators Update harnesses the power of the Cloud to bring the very best streamlining tech tools to everyday businesses.

Windows 10 alone has already resulted in a 15% improvement in IT management time for IT administrators. The Creators Update further organizes and optimizes resources and moves tasks to the cloud, allowing users to acquire, provision, support, and secure devices more easily than ever.

Some of the key productivity powerhouses in the Creators Update include:

  • Cloud-based insights with Windows Analytics.

Recently released Windows Upgrade Analytics were introduced to help users move to Windows 10 more quickly by analyzing their environment to identify app compatibility, device and driver readiness. With the Creators Update, Microsoft delivers additional resources to the Windows Analytics dashboard that will help IT administrators better manage and support Windows 10 devices. The additions to the dashboard will enable organizations to use their own telemetry to provide new insights and ensure compliance on the upgrade, update and device health processes within their organizations.

  • In-place UEFI conversion

For some time, Windows Users have expressed the concern that they want to take advantage of new Windows 10 security investments like Device Guard on their existing modern hardware, but many of these new features require UEFI-enabled devices. With the Creators Update, Microsoft has introduced a simple conversion tool that automates previously manual conversion and connection methods. Even better? This conversion tool can be integrated with management tools such as the System Center Configuration Manager.

  • Continued improvements for Windows as a Service

Finally, though consistent Windows updates are beneficial, many enterprise customers have complained about managing the sheer size of the update download. Big updates on an entire network of devices can take up valuable business minutes or hours.

Since the Creators Update, Windows 10 updates will now be differentiated for both mobile and PC devices. Additionally, any updates after the Creators Update will only include the changes that have been made since the last update, decreasing the download size by approximately 35%. Microsoft is also working to improve the System Center Configuration Manager express updates to help reduce the monthly update size by up to 90%.

No matter the shape, size or industry of your business, the Windows 10 Creators Update offers tools for optimizing digital transformation for professionals. Whether you’re looking to tighten security, better manage your employee devices or streamline operations, the Windows 10 Creators Update has features to make your life easier.

Whatever you do, don’t get in the habit of avoiding updates or hitting the “Remind Me Later” button. Staying on top of tech transformations and software updates is critical to maintaining a productive and competitive professional edge.

If you’re wondering how to best implement the benefits from the Windows 10 Creators Update, get in touch with a local technology firm for consultation and guidance. Taking control of your company’s technology is easier than you think.

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Help Employees Understand Cyber Threats  

Companies can combat a lack of employee awareness about cyber-attacks by offering regular, consistent training, communication, and awareness.

Cyber Security Training

recent study by Wombat Security Technologies reveals some startlingly alarming insights about workers’ awareness of cyber threats.

The study indicated that there are large sections of employees who are not aware of the threats from bad actors and what they can do to prevent attacks that can cripple companies’ credibility, brand, and bottom line.  Fortunately, there are a number of steps companies can take to better educate the workforce and prevent inside threats from unwittingly inviting potential catastrophe.

The study of 2000 working adults, evenly split between the United States and the United Kingdom, provided interesting results about some of the core threats companies face today. Among the findings:

  • 39 percent of U.S. employees and 22 percent of U.K. workers did not know that malware is a type of software that can harm files, devices, and systems.
  • 30 percent could not define phishing correctly as fake emails sent to prompt someone to open a file or visit a website that creates a security vulnerability.
  • Only 37 percent of U.S. workers and 42 percent of U.K. employees correctly defined ransomware as software that blocks access to files and disables operating systems unless payment is provided to unlock the systems. Twenty-one percent of U.S. workers and 39 percent of U.K. employees did not even hazard a guess.
  • Fifty-eight percent of U.S. respondents and 37 percent of U.K. respondents falsely believed anti-virus software can stop a cyber-attack.
  • Thirty-five percent of survey takers use 4- or 6-digit pins to unlock mobile devices, while 11 percent use no lock at all.
  • Far more U.S. employees (71 percent) than U.K. workers (39 percent) have corporate-issued smartphones or laptops, which are most frequently used for checking email, online shopping, streaming media and reading news.
  • One notable difference: 45 percent of U.K. employees do not allow family members or friends to use corporate devices to check email, view social media, shop, read the news, complete homework or play games. For U.S. employees, anywhere from 39 percent to 50 percent allow others to use such devices for one or more of those tasks.

Managing Risk

The lack of awareness is borne out in some of the statistics regarding ransomware and other cyber intrusions.  The Justice Department’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) tracked 7,700 complaints of ransomware from 2005 to 2016, resulting in an estimated $58 million in damage to affected companies, government agencies, and nonprofits.  The costs include ransoms paid (between $200 and $10,000) to regain system control and costs related to lost data, repairs, and communication about the incidents.

These attacks are growing more frequent, too.  In 2015 alone, the center logged 2,500 cases costing $24 million to affected organizations.

Security software company Symantec reported some alarming statistics in April 2017 about the growth in number and size of attacks:

  • In 2016, there were 15 breaches affecting more than 10 million exposed identities, up from 13 in 2015 and 11 in 2014.
  • Nearly 1.1 billion identities were exposed last year, about the same as in 2014 (1.2 billion) and nearly twice those exposed in 2015 (564 million).
  • Of the 1,200 breaches Symantec reviewed in 2016, the average breach exposed 927,000 identities.
  • Attacks on mobile devices are growing, with 606 identified vulnerabilities on iOS and Android mobile systems in 2016, up from 552 a year prior and just 200 in 2014 (which included 10 BlackBerry exposures).
  • Symantec identified 463,000 ransomware attempts from 101 different families of infection, with the average ransom amount paid at $1,077. Those numbers skyrocketed in one year, with 2015 having seen 340,000 attempts from 30 families and an average paid ransom of $294.

As technologies have evolved, so too have the risks of a cyber attack.  The growing use of cloud computing and the Internet of Things means there are more devices and more locations that need to be protected.

Employees at the Front Lines

Employees are an essential first line of defense in the battle to protect systems, devices, and data from potential harm.  With the right education and training, bolstered by rigorous operational monitoring of systems, the organization can stay secure.  Here are a few tips for helping employees learn about and prevent harm.

  • Communicate Frequently. Employees need to be made aware of the importance of cybersecurity. Lay out the impact of an attack on the organization and its operations.  Spell out employee obligations when it comes to vigilance.  This communication needs to be direct and frequent, not relegated to an annual signature acknowledging understanding of IT policy.
  • It Starts at the Top. Senior leadership can be particularly vulnerable to attack, partly because IT staff often are lenient, partly due to the amount of travel and access to unsecured networks, and partly due to the potentially greater damage that can be done by accessing executive files.
  • Impress on Employees Their Impact. Employees should understand the ease with which a hacker can gain access to a system.  Encourage cooperation and close eyes.  Encourage employees to question suspect emails and files and report them to IT staff.  Recognize that workers are only human and that mistakes will be made.
  • Create Deliberate Training. Consider making cybersecurity a part of new-employee onboarding. Hold regular conversations with employees over meals or at their staff meetings.  Reference recent news stories about large attacks and the impact of those intrusions on the companies affected.
  • It’s Not Just Email. Employees should be aware of the multichannel approach to infiltration that hackers use today.  Some have resorted to calling employees, posing as a customer or colleague, in order to gather useful information.  Social media invites, blogs, and suspect links can all lead to an attack, too.
  • Know How to Recognize. Employees need help with identifying when something is suspicious.  Train and communicate the step-by-step instructions employees should take if they suspect they’ve been attacked or see something curious.  These steps include disconnecting the device from the corporate network and notifying a manager and IT staff immediately.  False alarms are OK.  It’s better to err on the side of caution and employees should never be criticized for raising a flag.

There are many things the organization can do as well to ensure safe computing, including:

  • Create and review a business continuity plan in the case of a ransomware attack.
  • Use strict access controls, especially for administrative access.
  • Monitor usage patterns, logs, and other employee activity, looking for patterns of irregular behavior that could indicate an employee is intentionally causing damage or setting up for an infiltration.
  • Use multiple and overlapping defensive systems to protect against failures in any one technology.
  • Develop a data security policy that determines whether data is encrypted when transmitted and at rest
  • Have strong password requirements and require users to change passwords often.
  • Keep operating systems and software programs updated on all devices for all users.

Vigilance, commitment, and sound policy will help companies and their employees keep data and systems secure.  With each new successful attack, hackers become emboldened to try to do more damage.  Protection is the key to keeping the bad guys out.

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Why Every Business Should Consider Outsourcing IT Services

There’s no denying that today information is more accessible and easier to obtain than ever before.  From the internet, tablets, smartphones, and even your laptop information is everywhere and can be accessed from anywhere.  But do we know all the ins and outs of making this “connect from anywhere” information stream work?

Computer Management

As a business owner, big or small, why would you put the pressure and stress of maintaining your own IT services as well as trying to run your company and turn a profit when you can let someone else take on that worry.  Allow someone whose sole job is IT services handle things like data storage and server maintenance, allowing you to worry about other things like payroll or sales.

An IT services provider is equipped to handle issues that can lead to devastating downtime or loss of function.  The service provider will have the knowledge and the current technologies to handle the problem and get you back up and running with minimal downtime or effect on your business.  Plus, you do not have to use one of your salesmen to fix someone’s laptop or install a new server.

If you’re still on the fence as to why you should hire an outside source to maintain your IT services, take these points into consideration:

  • Efficient cost management

This is probably the number one reason any business would want to switch over to outsource your IT services.  It lowers cost and frees up funds for other aspects of the business.  Who doesn’t want to save money?

  • Reap the benefits of freed up resources

As a business owner, you have limited resources already, so why use up even more of those resources maintaining something that you know little about?  So why not let someone else take over the management of your IT services, freeing up your resources for other aspects of your business. You can finally free up Bob from accounting to do his job and let an IT professional fix the busted laptops.

  • Share the risk burden

Another big positive of having a third-party company handling your IT services is that you share the infrastructure risk.  This will allow you as a business to become more flexible and agile, allowing you to deliver better products over the long run.  Again, this goes towards lowering costs and the stress of having to maintain a network when you may not understand all the ins and outs of a network.

  • Re-focus your priorities

Letting someone else handle the IT services allows you to focus more on your business.  If you’re worried about your network or data storage issues you’re not focused on your business.  It is not productive to split your time between six different computer issues and trying to make a sale to stay in the black.

  • Access to data management expertise

If you were an IT pro, you would be in the managed service provider business.  So why try maintaining your own network?  Allowing an MSP to maintain your network and handle your IT services gives you access to experts in the field who know the most efficient way to run data storage or supply you with the most up-to-date equipment for your computer network.

Using an outsourced IT company frees up your staff to do the job that they were hired to do, and to do what they do best and shine.  With how rapidly tech changes, how is Bob from accounting supposed to keep up?  Plus, the professionals that work for the outsourced IT company are experts in their field and are paid to keep up with the most up-to-date tech out there.

Now that you’ve seen the benefits of switching over to outsourced IT services, the next step is determining what you need to turn over to the IT professional. The easy answer is everything that has to do with techs, such as computer maintenance and networking.  But there is much more to a smooth-running office than just computer failures.

An outsourced IT provider can handle many things for your business:

  • Data center operations,
  • Disaster recovery,
  • E-Commerce web design functions
  • Basic support services (help desks, etc.)
  • Security management,
  • E-Mail marketing management,
  • Virus protection,
  • Data backup and recovery,
  • Wireless support,
  • Purchase consulting,
  • And network architecture.

It is up to you to ensure that your business is running at its peak performance. Your employees need to be able to send and receive emails, order supplies and communicate with clients.  If your staff couldn’t communicate with clients and vendors, how long would your business last?  With the proper IT provider, you will have access to first-class technology, allowing you to streamline processes that make them more efficient and productive.  This will help your company to be able to take advantage of opportunities much more quickly.

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Malicious Misuse:  Learning from the DocuSign Breach  

How to prevent suffering from malicious misuse of your data – a risk revealed by the recent breach at DocuSign, where hackers impersonated the electronic document company to distribute malware.

Docusign

The DocuSign episode is an example of a multi-stage threat.  In the DocuSign case, the multi-stage threat involves malicious misuse of data assets by hackers.  Stage one was the initial data breach.  This was problematic, but on the surface, its potential impact on DocuSign’s business was relatively low.  It was embarrassing, but not deadly.  Stage two was the malicious misuse of DocuSign customer information.  Used for the sophisticated spear phishing that took place, later on, this was a much more serious threat.

If you’ve ever bought or sold a home, you’ve probably used DocuSign, the leading electronic document management company.  The service has over 100,000,000 users.  DocuSign facilitates the execution of legally binding contracts online using electronic signatures.

Now, imagine you got a signature request over DocuSign from someone you know.  It’s routine, or so it seems.  When you download the document, however, your device gets compromised by malware.  What went wrong?

Did a hacker infiltrate DocuSign and embed malware in their code?  That would be quite a feat. But, something like it did happen recently.  As reported in Krebsonsecurity, hackers breached DocuSign’s defenses and stole customer names and email addresses.  A cybersecurity professional might deem this as “low value” data, but the nature of the attack shows this assumption to be mistaken.

The attackers proceeded to impersonate DocuSign with realistic-looking web pages and forms. They sent out signature requests to DocuSign customers by posing as DocuSign.  Unsuspecting users, already familiar with the service, unknowingly clicked on malware links and were infected.

How Multi-Stage Threats Challenge the “Heat Map” Approach to Cybersecurity

The DocuSign episode is an example of a multi-stage threat.  In the DocuSign case, the multi-stage threat involves malicious misuse of data assets by hackers.  Stage one was the initial data breach.  This was problematic, but on the surface, its potential impact on DocuSign’s business was relatively low.  It was embarrassing, but not deadly.  Stage two was the malicious misuse of DocuSign customer information.  Used for the sophisticated spear phishing that took place, later on, this was a much more serious threat.

DocuSign’s exposure is significant, going beyond a mere security incident to encompass damage to brand image and possible legal liability.  Their whole business and brand are built on the perception of integrity.  The breach tarnishes that image in addition to causing direct, financial damage to the firm.  This is the risk that virtually every business faces from multi-stage threats.

A multi-stage threat creates multiple risks.  As a result, they challenge the conventional cybersecurity “heat mapping” process of matching countermeasures to threats.  In a heat map, a security manager identifies your most valuable data assets and systems.  Then, factoring in the probability and potential business impact of an attack, they focus security resources on the areas with the great potential for attack and highest business impact.

Using this approach, the database holding customer names and email addresses would probably receive a lower “heat” level and a commensurately smaller investment in cyberdefense. A more critical system, like the repository of signed electronic documents, would likely be rated “hotter” and get more robust and costly countermeasures.

While the heatmap approach is useful in many situations, it is not well suited to a malicious misuse case like the one suffered by DocuSign:

  • It is difficult to predict how “low value” data will be used in a more serious attack.
  • Security managers for small to mid-sized businesses have to keep up with evolving threats.

In the DocuSign example, two common and lower-level attacks combine to form a much greater threat.  A simple data breach gave hackers the ability to conduct spear phishing.  The two threats merged.  In spear phishing, the attacker impersonates an individual known to an email recipient.  The intent of spear phishing is to trick the recipient into clicking on a malware link or sharing login credentials to a system.

Spear phishing can be difficult to prevent because its emails are personalized, informal and lacking in identifiable markers of fraud, e.g. “I’m a Prince with a million dollars.  Can you help me?”  Those can easily be flagged by spam and malware filters.  Spear Phishing emails often slip through such filters.

It is highly probable that the DocuSign attack also involved social engineering.  The attackers might have cross-referenced public records of real estate transactions and posed as a realtor or other named individuals that recorded the deeds.  The phishing victim would be getting an email from a person known to be associated with a recent real estate deal.  The email asks the recipient to click on a DocuSign link.  It looks legitimate.  It would take extreme vigilance to detect any sort of wrongdoing in this case.

Are You at Risk for Malicious Misuse of Your Data?

Your business may be exposed to risks of multi-stage attacks like malicious misuse of your data assets.  The exact nature of the attack will, of course, depend on your business, but one can imagine a variety of scenarios:

  • A law firm sends emails that lead to the theft valuable personal information from clients.
  • A medical practice inadvertently violates patient privacy by hackers who use patient email addresses to steal personal information or exact bogus payments for services not rendered.
  • A small business gets impersonated by a hacker who diverts electronic payments to his bank account, not those of the company.

Defending Against Malicious Misuse

As providers of IT security and IT services for small to mid-sized businesses, we can tell you that effective prevention of malicious misuse is quite challenging.  However, there are a number of things you can do to improve your defenses against this kind of threat without spending a lot of money.  These include:

  • Enhancing technical countermeasures – One of the best moves you can make is to defend yourself better against the basic data breach that would lead to theft of your information. This might involve beefing up firewalls and intrusion detection systems.  It could mean encrypting data at rest, so even if you get breached, the bad guys can’t get much they can use.  Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) could help in certain processes – to reduce the risk that a malicious actor can penetrate key systems. Phishing defenses are also useful, given that phishing is one of the most serious attack vectors for data breaches.  There are now some very powerful anti-phishing solutions on the market.
  • Addressing the threat through security policy – The structure of your security controls may help or hinder your defense against malicious misuse. You may have vulnerabilities that you haven’t considered in the context of malicious misuse.
  • Investigating and remediating legal and insurance aspects of risk management – Understanding the potential impact of malicious misuse, it’s worth reviewing your insurance policies and legal agreements to make sure you are protected as much as possible from the threat.
  • Planning for malicious misuse incidents in advance – there’s no excuse for getting caught flat-footed with this kind of attack now. Have your response plans written, your remediation workflows thought through, your customer emails prepared, and so forth.

Conclusion

We work with small to mid-sized businesses to help them improve their cybersecurity postures. In our experience, it is possible to build robust defenses with reasonable, incremental investments in highly targeted solutions.  There is no 100% guaranteed defense against a threat like malicious misuse, but we can help you bolster your protections and preparedness.

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Saving Content to Read Later

:Using an App that Actually Helps You Read that Article Later

Read Articles Later

Saving articles to read later is something we do; we save.  But reading the articles we save isn’t something we do as often.  The reason:  organization, or lack thereof.  But with organization comes action.  And the action is prompted by the right app.

There is a wealth of information on the web.  Though the information is vast, the sources are not always the most reputable or responsible.  When we find good articles to read, we want them, but we don’t always have the time to read them right there.  Some of us just keep the tab open until there’s either too many open sites or your computer crashes.  Some of us just bookmark it using the respective shortcuts offered by the various web browsers.  Both these processes, the tabbers or the bookmarkers, so to speak, get what they want:  saved articles to read later.  But to what utility?  Do you really go back and read them?  How many of these articles did you actually save this way?  Will you even find the article you want at the moment you want it, or will you have to scan and search endlessly because your list of to-read-later articles is way too long or seriously stress-inducing?

From an IT tech perspective, there’s no reason this should happen.  You should be able to save your articles (or videos and/or podcasts) to read (or view and/or listen) at your convenience and on any of your gadgets (phone, iPad, tablet, Kindle, computer, or other), and you should be able to find the exact article you want without hassle.  Technology is too advanced today not to offer this service.  So why haven’t you already asked about such an app yet?  Because, in fact, there are two apps that have been around for a few years, and with recent updates, they help you manage your read-it-later content so that you will indeed read them later.

Instapaper:  It’s All About the Highlights

Instapaper has been around for a few years and is a popular content bookmarking tool for both iOS and Android devices.  With Instapaper, you can “save anything,” “read anything,” and highlight and add notes, and much, much more.  All you need to do is download the app Instapaper.

  1. Create an account. It’s simple, just add your email and create a password and voila.
  2. Download the extension specific to your browser: Safari, Google Chrome, Firefox.  An Instapaper icon will appear in your reader toolbar.  If you go back and forth between browsers on your different devices, you can log in and download the respective extensions.  Instapaper also automatically syncs the articles to all your devices, whether it’s a Kindle, iPad, iPhone, Android, or another device.
  3. Create folders.  On the homepage of Instapaper, you will want to create folders in advance, if you already know a few subjects you want to be categorized for your article-saving pleasure.
  4. Browse the web and identify an article you want to save.  When you find an article, simply click on the button in the customized toolbar. The article is then saved to your Instapaper homepage.
  5. Drag and drop saved articles to the appropriate file.

Instapaper has a sophisticated, completely clutter-free appearance.  No ads, nothing to distract you.  The best thing about Instapaper, however, isn’t its ease-of-use and management-friendly application, but it’s the extra intuitive tools.

  • Read offline.  You can read anything offline. This is a fantastic tool for those who don’t want to overload their WiFi or who are travelers and are out of reach of
  • Highlight & Comment.  To the innate researcher and forever-student, this tool is essential. You can add highlights and make comments directly on the article.  One caveat, you only get to use this tool to a certain extent before you must pay for an upgrade.  You can even tweet a highlighted section.
  • You can change the fonts in reader view to your preference.
  • Create Playlists.  That’s right, you can create a playlist and have the article read out loud to you while driving, exercising, or sleeping. This, of course, is part of your upgrade.
  • Speed Reading.  The text highlights the words as you read. It can provide “reading times,” too.  But again, this is part of your upgrade.
  • Robust Search Engine.  On the homepage, you can conduct a search and results are quite spectacular. You can make Instapaper your homepage and never need to leave it again.  The search engine comes with the free version, this time there’s no need to upgrade.

Pocket:  Because You Can Bring It Everywhere

Pocket is another app that’s been around for awhile, it was the original Read It Later app.  Like Instapaper, Pocket offers a clutter-free reading and viewing experience as well as the capability to sync across all devices.  But shared features almost end there.  If you are saving more images, videos, or built-in media and are more socially inclined, then Pocket might be for you. To use Pocket, simply download the free app and begin.  Some features offered or perfected by Pocket are not available through Instapaper:

  • Email articles to Pocket.  Have you ever copied and pasted links to an email and sent them to yourself to save? But then they just get lost in the mix of your other emails?  With Pocket, you can email the articles directly to add@getpocket.com.
  • Get social.  With Pocket’s desktop app, you can save and share articles with others via email, Twitter, Facebook, Evernote, etc.
  • Get updates.  You can have updates sent directly to Pocket.

These two apps are perfect for the person who wants to read and view it all but just can’t do it right then and there.  Instapaper is better for the researcher-type who wants to devour what he or she reads and engage the text, while Pocket is better for the social-type who want to engage friends or followers.  But for the person who is all these things, you might want to look at these two apps as complementary.  Like all things today, we section off pieces of ourselves for different interests, there’s no reason our apps can’t be used in the same way.

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Is Your Charitable Organization at Risk? – Cybersecurity Tips for Non-Profits

If tomorrow’s headlines read your non-profit organization’s data and donor info was breached, what would be the ramifications?  Are you taking enough appropriate steps to stop cybersecurity threats?

Is Your Charitable Organization at Risk? Cybersecurity Tips for Non-Profits

Charity Computer Risks

Almost weekly, we hear about an internet or computer security breach at a large retailer, bank, or recently, a major credit reporting service.  These breaches create problems for not only the companies involved but for their customers.  Personal information is often exposed, and the carefully crafted reputation a company may have built for years or decades can be destroyed.

As of yet, we haven’t heard of any major breaches at a non-profit organization.  The key words are “as of yet.”  Non-profits often store a significant amount of data about their board members, employees, volunteers, donors, corporate supporters, and more.  A security breach for a non-profit will not only be embarrassing but it could have significant adverse effects on future funding. These are some of the reasons non-profits should be proactive in taking steps to button up computers and online security.  Here are nine cybersecurity tips of which non-profits should take note.

Increase the difficulty of your passwords and change them at least quarterly. If your organization is using simple passwords because it is “easier”, you should keep in mind it also makes it easier for others to gain access.  Many experts agree that the most secure passwords should be a random series of eight letters and numbers with at least two capital letters included in the sequence.  With the frequent turnover in staff members and volunteers, passwords should be changed at least every three months.  Don’t allow staff to write their passwords on Post-It notes attached to their computers.    It happens.

Set security protocols for staff and volunteers in writing.  Don’t assume those around you know about phishing and spear phishing and the dangers lurking behind pop-up ads and downloads. Many non-profit organizations have older volunteers who may not be aware of the latest dangers and tactics being used to gain access to data.  Having staff and volunteers sign off on a one-sheeter acknowledging they understand basic security guidelines can demonstrate they are aware of the potential problems.

Upgrade security software. Of course, non-profit budgets are tight but they will get much tighter if there is a breach in your data and donors feel their information is not secure.  Make it a point to get security software from a major supplier that you can feel comfortable with and keep it updated.  Providing a secure firewall or malware protection after experiencing a cybersecurity attack will do little to build confidence in your organization.

Upgrade computers and hardware.  The older your equipment is, the more likely it is susceptible to a cybersecurity threat. Board of directors may not be willing to invest in new computer systems just because of the bells and whistles they include.  If the security of their sponsor and donor data is at risk, however, it may get their attention and provide support for new equipment.  If your non-profit has not looked into TechSoup for deep discounts on software and hardware, it should.  The application process can be a bit tedious but the savings are significant.

Make sure your online donation processing is impregnable.  It is critical your donors have absolute confidence when making online donations. While services like PayPal are simple and relatively easy to set up, they may not instill the confidence of a more robust payment system.  Giving donors payment options can also help facilitate more and more frequent donations.

Limit access to important files and data. One of the benefits of working for a non-profit is that there is often a team atmosphere, with staff and volunteers working toward a common goal.  Unfortunately, this can lead to sloppy security and over-sharing of files and data.  Computers may be left unlocked when not in use and unnecessary personnel may have access to sensitive files.  Limiting access will not only protect your information in-house but will help in limiting external access.

Back up data on an external drive.  How quickly can your organization restore current data and software if you had a significant hard drive crash? Computers are generally more stable than ever, but this can lead to a false sense of security and even complacency about backing up data.  Make sure data is backed up regularly and frequently and the back up is kept off-site.  This can be done in the cloud, on a CD or on an external hard drive.  If the hard drive on your computer or server were to irretrievably crash today, what would the ramifications be?  If you don’t know or if the word “disaster” comes to mind, create an off-site backup and restoration plan.

Get professional assistance.  If you are not confident in the steps you are taking in keeping your organization’s data secure from threats, get the advice of someone experienced in the field. Discuss cybersecurity with other profit and non-profit organizations you may come in contact with and ask for recommendations.  Cybersecurity doesn’t have to be that complicated when it is made a priority but if you are not comfortable taking it on, get the help of an expert.

Document the steps your organization takes to protect the security of its data. In the event of a cybersecurity attack, it won’t take long for fingers to be pointed and blame to be placed.  This is why it is important to have a security plan in place and document what is being done.  This can demonstrate, even after the fact, that your organization was aware of the possibility and was taking proactive steps to keep its computers and data safe.  This should include how your social media is handled and who is responsible for it.

Make cybersecurity a priority, get everyone involved, and document your plan and processes. Greater awareness can go a long way in protecting the data of your non-profit organization.

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How to Keep Kids Safe Online

The Internet has the potential to cause harm to your children and teens, but there aren’t rules and restrictions governing it like we have with other things in our society.  The Internet is like the Wild West—There are very few controls, and it’s not private.  So how do you keep your kids safe online?

Child Safe Online

The best way to keep kids out of trouble online is to educate them.

The following is some information for you to share with your kids.

Some staggering statistics

  • 20% of social media accounts have been hacked or taken over by someone without the user’s permission.
  • 11% of Internet users have had their personal information stolen (like their SSN, credit card number or banking information.
  • 41% of children aged 8 – 17 who had a visible profile, had their profiles set so that anyone could see it.
  • 1 in 5 people has had their social networks or email compromised by hackers.

What are the potential online threats to watch for?

Viruses, Malware & Ransomware

Malware is a broad term that covers all sorts of unwanted malicious code including viruses, spyware, Trojans, and ransomware. These viruses can duplicate themselves in your files and emails and can be sent to others.

  • 16 million households have experienced a serious computer virus problem in the past two years.
  • 8 million households have suffered from spyware in the past 6 months.
  • 1 million households lost money or had their accounts compromised from phishing.

What are the biggest risks?

  1. Viruses—57%
  2. Trojans –21%
  3. Trojan Downloaders—7%
  4. Unwanted Software–$4
  5. Adware—3%
  6. Exploits—3%
  7. Worms—2%
  8. Password Stealers and Monitoring Tools—2%
  9. Backdoors—1%
  10. Spyware—0.01%

Online Scams

These try to take advantage of your children to obtain their personal information or even money. Many target younger kids and try to get their Social Security Numbers because they have clean records. Tell your kids to let you know if they see any of these:

  1. Phishing email scams that try to get your child to click a dangerous link
  2. The Nigerian scam where the scammer says a large amount of money is waiting for you if you contact them and send a small fee.
  3. Greeting card scams where you get a notice saying you have a card waiting and instead, it’s a malicious link.
  4. A guaranteed bank loan or credit card scam. Banks never send you this kind of information online. (Always make sure any bank or financial websites are secure with https in the address and a little lock icon.)
  5. Lottery scam saying you’ve won money if you send a small fee to receive it.
  6. Hitman scam that claims someone you love will be killed if you don’t send money.
  7. Romance scams where people try to seduce you online. This takes weeks to develop a relationship where they then ask for money.
  8. Fake antivirus software where a popup from a website appears saying your antivirus isn’t working, and to click here.
  9. Facebook impersonation scam (where someone else’s profile has been high jacked)
  10. Make-money-fast scams
  11. Travel scams
  12. Fake shopping-site scams

Hackers

These are criminals who try to get into your computer and steal information or money.  Unfortunately, your information could be stolen and you won’t even know it.  (Like with the Equifax hack.)

47% of American have had their personal information exposed by hackers.

How to protect your child from these threats.

  • Tell them not to open emails like the ones above. They should let you know if they receive them.
  • Don’t open emails in the spam or junk folder.
  • Be careful on gaming and social media sites. Don’t click on the banners.
  • Be cautious about logging into free WIFI or other websites. Sometimes criminals can get into them and view your information.
  • Keep a login passcode enabled on all your kids’ devices.
  • Add 2-step verification wherever you can. When you enable this, you add an extra layer of security to your accounts.
  • Use different passwords for different accounts.
  • Beware of suspicious and phishing emails.
  • Be careful about what information you share on social media sites. (selfies, photos of their home or room)

Privacy is important.

  • 40% of Internet users between the ages of 18-35 have regretted posting personal information about themselves.
  • 35% of 18-35-year-olds think people share too much about their personal thoughts and experiences.
  • Remember, whatever you post online has the possibility of existing forever. (Colleges and HR executives will scan your child’s social media account to see what kind of person you are.)
  1. Tell your child to think carefully before they post anything.
  2. Delete messages from your social network that may impact you later.
  3. Cut back your social-media contact lists. Only share personal info and events with family and close friends.
  4. Get educated on cyberbullying and don’t take their “bait.” Don’t respond to them.
  5. Be clear about privacy boundaries. Don’t post where you are and that you’re not at home.
  6. Ask friends and family not to post photos or info about you unless they clear it with you.

Cyberbullying

  • 43% of teens aged 13 to 17 report they have experienced some sort of cyberbullying in the past year.
  • Tell kids to talk to you if this happens to them.
  • Use software to block Bullies’ IDs.
  • Save the evidence—Take screenshots. To protect your child, you may need to contact school officials or even the police.

How do you protect your device from these threats?

Use Complex Passwords.

Use passwords that are easy to remember but hard for others to guess. Have your child think of a phrase like: “Mydogiscuteand8yearsold” and use the first letter of each word—Mdica8yo.

Change your child’s passwords often.  Do this at least every three months.

Don’t let browsers save passwords. While most websites don’t store actual passwords, they do store a password hash for each username.

Check online accounts regularly. If you don’t, someone else could be using them. Do this for all your accounts, even the ones that you don’t use anymore.

Use a password manager. Like LastPass or Dashlane.  They will generate strong passwords and remember them for your child.

Use Firewalls. There are two types: a software firewall and a hardware firewall. They are like a security gate between your computer and any unauthorized attempts to access your computer.

Have an up-to-date Antivirus on all your devices.  Make sure it stays current or you won’t be protected.  There are free ones, but the ones you pay for will be better.  Put antivirus software on your phones and tablets too.

Install Spyware software on your computer devices.  This will keep criminals from loading spyware on your devices that can track everything you do. Make sure there’s no spyware on your computer devices to make sure your child is safe.

Set your Web browsers at a high-security setting.  This might be a little aggravating as things could load more slowly, but it’s worth it.   At least you’ll have a choice when you go to a website whether you want to share your information.

Protect Your Child from Online Predators

  • Don’t’ let them post personal or location-related information online.
  • They should think carefully before posting pictures or videos.
  • Don’t accept friend requests from people you don’t know.
  • Always tell parents about strange friend requests or emails.

Online Safety Software

Helpful Resources Connect Safely

In summary—A few more tips to remember:

  1. Create addresses and usernames that are gender neutral
  2. Don’t use photos of yourself as part of online profiles.
  3. Look into the setting of any apps with messaging or file-sharing features to see if it can be disabled.
  4. Don’t accept friend requests from people you don’t know.
  5. Always tell your parents about strange friend requests or email.

Our children are at risk, even when at home and when you’re there. Teach your children about online risks and protect your devices from viruses and malware. For more information about helping your children stay safe online, contact Paradigm Network Solutions in [city} at (416) 490-9019 or sales@ittoronto.com.

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When Law Firms Should Switch to Managed Services 

Technology is ever-changing, and law firms need it to run a business.  But, a lot of things can go wrong, such as security breaches and forgotten passwords.  Some law firms have a small IT staff, but there may be signs that it’s time to hire outside managed services.  At what point is it time to partner up with a managed service provider?  Here’s a list of some red flags that its time.

Law Firms Managed Services

Inefficient Integration of Line of Business Applications (LOB)

With LOB applications constantly growing, so do the challenges to these tools.  Cost recovery systems, document management systems and more are vital to law firms. These applications need to work synergistically with Adobe Creative Cloud, Microsoft Office Suite, and other standard tools.  When LOB applications seem like they are resulting in less efficiency than expected, it’s time that a managed service provider is in order.

Substantial Downtime

A red flag is waving if there’s a critical software application or server failure that’s not responding.  Users can’t access the needed data.  The industry of law is time-sensitive, and law firms can’t afford to have significant downtime.  Time equals money in the law industry.

Underperforming Applications

If attorneys are sitting there tapping on their desk with a sluggish application, work is put on hold.  Law firms need technology that works fast every day of the week.  When things aren’t working fast enough, it’s time to consider hiring a managed service provider.  If it’s broke, it needs to be fixed.

Lagging Behind the IT Security Curve

Protecting the sensitive information of clients and cases is paramount to law firms.  IT security cannot lag.  Today, law firms often find themselves trailing behind the IT security curve.  And with new threats every day, law firms can best implement the best security practices.  Plus, compliance issues can cause a lot of headaches for law firms.

Access to Needed IT Support

Some law firms have in-house IT managers and staff.  Yet, these employees are often overwhelmed by the complexity of the changing IT landscape.  Too much time is spent on tactical things instead of what really needs to be done.  In-house IT teams cannot provide the 24/7/365 IT support to provide support for the challenges law firms face with technology.  With a managed service provider, law firms get IT support for the entire IT infrastructure at all times and when it’s needed most.

IT Costs Too High

Both small and large law firms need to keep a very close eye on operating expenses.  The cost to employ IT support can easily exceed $100,000 per year.  Not only can that team be available 24/7, it’s likely they won’t have the depth and knowledge required to support different technologies.  In the long run, it’s more cost-effective to hire a managed service provider because the cost to implement and maintain an in-house solution is cost-prohibitive for most law firms.  Law firms are beginning to realize that a managed service provider has invested the time and money to provide expert IT support, and they can leverage their expertise at a fraction of the cost with an in-house IT team. Let these professionals save your law firm money.  Like any other industry, the bottom line for law firms is turning a profit.

Not Getting What Your Firm Needs

Most law firms cannot get everything they need from in-house IT staff.  Case calendars, document management, billing contacts, email encryption and case management software have created more of a need for reliability, infrastructure security, and performance.  And with mobile devices, document collaboration and video conferencing, law firms just need more from their own IT internal staff.  If you’re an attorney and not getting everything you need from your own in-house IT team, it’s time to turn to a managed service provider.  Their expertise and knowledge of the law industry can serve your firm well.

Seeking a Holistic Approach

If your law firm is seeking a holistic approach to the deployment and operation of an IT legal environment, this is a wake-up call that a managed service provider is in order.  A managed service provider can handle everything.  These IT professionals offer:

  • A flat-fee structure, so there’s no worries with costly billable hours
  • A highly predictable cost structuresales@ittoronto.com
  • Better ROI on IT costssales@ittoronto.com
  • Privacy, compliance, and security
  • A scalable IT infrastructure

Inefficient integration of LOB apps, substantial downtime, underperforming systems, IT security curve, IT support, IT costs and getting your IT needs to be met are all indicators that it may be time to consult with a professional and experienced IT managed provider.  With a managed service provider, law firms can operate more efficiently, avoid security breaches and better serve their clients.  The Paradigm Network Solutions in Toronto and The Greater Toronto Area understands the technology challenges law firms face on a daily basis. Call Paradigm Network Solutions at (416) 490-9019 or email at sales@ittoronto.com to learn how they can help your law firm stay focused on the legal work that matters most.

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The Benefits of Managed Services for Law Firms  

In response to the ever-increasing cyber threats on law firms, “companies are demanding a level of security.  Pressure from clients is causing firms to invest and focus on cyber risk.  According to the 2016 ABA Legal Technology Survey Report, 30.7 percent of all law firms and 62.8 percent of firms of 500 lawyers or more reported that current or potential clients provided them with requirements.  Corporate clients are now demanding that law firms have detailed cyber-security plans and prevention tools.”  But how can law firms deliver with technology constantly evolving and hackers investing new strategies to break in?  The answer is to use managed services.  Managed Services offers many benefits to law firms.  Here’s a list of some of the benefits.

Law Office Managed Services

Enhanced Security

Law firms keep highly confidential data and information on clients and companies.  The nature of this highly confidential demands the best of security.  And if a breach of that information occurs, lives can be ruined and even the reputation of the law firm can be forever damaged.  Plus, law firms don’t have the time to worry about the security of their network and computer systems.  Managed providers give 24/7/365 security to law firms by protecting them against viruses, alerting them to suspicious activity and taking immediate, effective action when a breach does occur.  Managed service providers use the latest software and applications to keep on top of things.

Technical Expertise

Law firms know the law but not technology, as it is always progressing.  There are also constant new complexities, such as Bring Your Own Device to work.  It’s these types of things that can affect security and revenue.  Law firms need to be able to survive in the dangerous arena of cybersecurity. IT managed providers provide the most technicians with the most technical expertise and skill.  The bottom line is that it’s in the best interest of law firms to take advantage of their technical expertise.

Compliance with Government Regulations

Client information is protected by law.  For example, HIPAA has many strict records protecting patient medical records.  If the laws aren’t followed, there can be both stiff fines and penalties for law firms.  Hardware and software may be exposed to hackers just because the in-house IT team is behind with updates.  Managed providers keep everything updated and in compliance with continually changing government regulations.

Easy and Fast Accessibility

Managed providers give attorneys and law firms easy and fast accessibility to files anytime and anywhere.  It’s not uncommon for a lawyer to be in court and suddenly realize they need information from an important document that they didn’t bring along.  With managed IT services, attorneys can have all of their files stored in the cloud and retrieve them on-demand from any carried device.

Coordination Between Multiple Sites

Most law firms operate a business from more than one location.  With IT managed services, law firms can bring uniformity and the necessary coordination to function multiple sites.  Most law firms don’t have the capability or the monies to do that.  Plus, managed services can give security and lower the risk of network problems when doing this.

24/7/365 Monitoring

With managed services, there’s always someone at the helm.  Managed services can help ensure a surefire way to control and avoid security breaches and hacker attacks all the time. This is something that companies cannot afford to do on its own, as it requires 24/7 labor and a significant investment in hardware and software.  It’s helpful for all law firms, especially the smaller ones.

Manages Growth

Managed services are a necessity for business continuity and for revenue growth.  When all law firms required a few printers, a fax machine and a couple of computers, managing growth was easy.  There were no hackers way back trying to hack into computers.  But today, there are many software packages, servers, and desktops required to run and grow a law firm.  With a managed service provider, law firms are privy to the latest technologies in order to manage, monitor and grow their business.

Lower Operating Costs

There are many disadvantages with an in-house staff.  The break and fix strategy is not a practical one for law firms with sensitive networks.  In the long run, it actually costs more due to the fact that law firms lose productivity and money if there is a breakdown.  The IT techs at a managed service IT provider fix a disaster as soon as it happens, which minimizes downtime. There’s no price tag one can put on a peace of mind.

All around, law firms should not ignore the many benefits of managed services.  If you’d like to learn more about how to protect your law firm against cyber attack, contact Paradigm Network Solutions in Toronto and The Greater Toronto Area at (416) 490-9019 or email at sales@ittoronto.com.  They are always happy to answer any questions that you may have.

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