MFA (Multifactor Authentication)—Because Strong Passwords Are Not Enough
The scourge of recent high-level hacking has many businesses worried. Much of your most valuable data is now stored online. Hackers and their automated bots are roaming the Internet constantly searching for vulnerabilities to be exploited. These threats are real, constant, and have effected large companies and important infrastructure.
The good news is that it only takes a minimum level of security to eliminate most of the threats. Not using “Password123456” for sensitive accounts is a start, but more is needed. Multifactor authentication or “MFA” is a simple but highly effective layer of cyber security that is no longer optional.
“But My Information Isn’t Valuable”
Small business owners, in particular, often do not think that they have any information a hacker would be interested in. But this is based on a false assumption. Almost all attacks to small businesses—regardless of the industry—come from automated bots that scan the entire Internet searching for weak security. These bots can either carry out attacks completely on their own, or they can report vulnerabilities back to a hacker, who can then specifically target poorly secured data.
Something else to remember is that while your data may not be important to anyone else, it is invaluable to you and your business. Hackers know this, which is why they use ransomware attacks to lock you out of your network unless you pay an exorbitant fee.
What is Multifactor Authentication?
Multifactor authentication (MFA) or two-factor authentication (2FA) provides an additional level of security that can eliminate most automated threats. The majority of hacks come from automated bots that continually spam attacks anywhere they find a vulnerability.
With MFA, users are asked to verify their login attempt after putting in a username and password. This verification is typically a code you obtain through one of the following ways:
- Text message
- Phone call
- Authenticator app (like Google Authenticator or Duo)
- Authenticator device
Whichever method is used, you must either put in the correct code within a short period of time or verify your attempt to access your account some other way. This prevents malicious hackers from gaining access to your accounts without your knowledge. Bots that detect a network with MFA enabled will almost always avoid it altogether.
Setting Up Multifactor Authentication
Contact Simpleworks today if you would like to know more about cyber security generally, how to set up MFA on your network, or just to find out more about our managed IT services. The sooner you secure your network, the sooner you will eliminate a very real threat to your business.
What Makes a Great IT Company?
For most people, their first car was not great. It overheated in the summer, had tattered upholstery, leaked water from the windows. And even though you put up with it out of necessity, you realized with time that so much of the value of a car comes from its reliability and comfort.
Your current IT provider may be like that first car. It might get you where you need to be most of the time, but you have this nagging suspicion that it will leave you with your thumb up on the side of the highway any day now. And just like a car, it can be difficult for a uniformed person to know exactly what is going on “under the hood” of their business’ IT.
Signs Your IT Provider is a Lemon
Besides the obvious—untrained technicians, rude customer services reps, ultra-low pricing—it can be hard to identify a problematic IT relationship. Here is the smoke that could indicate that you are about to be stranded:
- False promises
- Lack of transparency
- Poor communication
- Overly complicated jargon in responses meant to confuse you
- Not meeting with you regularly
- Unexplained or unexpected downtime and interruptions
- A deal that’s too good to be true
- Not encouraging better security
A great IT company will never make you feel inferior, confused, frustrated, or angry. That’s because there is a lot more that goes into IT support than just knowing how to troubleshoot technical issues.
A Reliable Mode of IT Support
Well-built, dependable IT providers need to be smart about IT. But proficiency is not enough. They also need to be smart about business. The difference between a rusty Pontiac and a well-equipped Toyota is not its ability to get from point A to point B—it is the ability to perform safely and comfortably every single time. The same can only happen when an IT provider is proactive.
So how can you identify a proactive IT provider? Ask yourself these questions:
- Do they deliver on their promises?
- Does my IT provider have a clear process?
- Are their staff coordinated and communicative?
- Do I trust them to self-report their activities in a timely manner?
- Do they meet with us regularly to help my business prepare for the future?
- Is the leadership accountable when issues arise?
- Are they budget conscious?
- Do they encourage us to improve our security protocols?
If your IT provider cannot verify the work they have done for you immediately, if they do not seem to have a repeatable process for handling tickets, if they are always reacting to problems instead of preventing IT problems, then you and your employees may be on the verge of hitch-hiking. Your business is too important to be driven by a smoking engine with wobbly tires!
COVID-19 has permanently altered the business landscape. Companies unwilling to adapt to the new reality have suffered or closed while those who embraced the challenge have grown—or even thrived. From doctor’s offices to barbershops, delis to high-rise offices—the companies left standing a year later likely harnessed the power of modern IT solutions to communicate, develop new sales strategies, and deliver products and services efficiently.
Some of these changes will solidify into permanent features of the modern business landscape in the coming decades.
Get Comfortable in the Cloud
There were some growing pains and funny moments those first few months on Zoom or Microsoft Teams as people learned to navigate these platforms, many for the first time. We’ve all probably experimented with backgrounds, kept the camera off to hide our bedhead during that early morning meeting, or finished an eloquent sales pitch only to realize we were muted.
The fact is, though, as awkward as the transition was at times, videoconferencing, team chats like Slack and Teams, and cloud storage and document sharing solutions like Microsoft Sharepoint are likely here to stay. They allow a greater degree of flexibility and productivity for many businesses. In addition, office space can be reduced as more employees work remotely at least some of the time. The likelihood of lingering health risks and future pandemics will probably also require businesses to remain adaptable.
The businesses that fully utilize these tools and innovate their business around them will gain an edge over slow-to-adapt competitors.
The Diminishing Returns of Traditional Marketing
During the last year, sales and marketing teams had to adapt. Traditional face-to-face interactions, meet and greets, afternoon tee times with clients, and other forms of outreach became impossible. While Zoom and Teams can get the job done in some cases, marketers of the future need to innovate solutions now that allow them to connect with the right clients on the right platforms with the right solutions.
Where once personal relationships and face-to-face interaction were vital to attracting and retaining customers, the virtual landscape of the coming decades will demand better services, competitive pricing, and verifiable results. Marketers who fail to stay ahead of the trend may very well lose their most valuable client to a competitor offering more than just a familiar face.
A Smaller World
The Internet has been shrinking the world, and specifically marketplaces, for years. But COVID accelerated the speed of that trend. The talent pool has expanded from the local city to the world. Employees who used to be required to live near the office can, in some cases, branch out further or stay connected while traveling. Solutions like VoIP even allow remote workers to answer work calls from their own phones.
In addition, the speed of information coupled with the ease of communication and growth of big data are creating opportunities in every industry in the world. IT solutions unlock the potential for any business—large or small—to expand their reach into the global marketplace. Those that do will be rewarded with creative solutions to traditional problems and new revenue streams that only a year or two ago may have been inaccessible.
Does Your Business Have the “IT Factor”?
Many businesses are still adapting to these new realities. While there is a degree of urgency necessary, you are not alone if you are in that position. Simpleworks IT offers managed IT solutions for small-to-medium businesses making the transition into a digital marketplace. Contact us today to learn more about our services and the benefits of using a managed service provider.
Ekahau — The Solution to Your Wi-Fi Connectivity Issues
Highspeed Wi-Fi access is not a luxury for 21st century facilities—it is a requirement. But access alone is not enough. Every user, whether on a phone, laptop, tablet, or smart device, expects a minimum amount of speed and uptime. In an office, a lack of connectivity can cost money. Connectivity issues in a school can cause curriculum interruptions, loss of productivity, and needless frustration. In a health care facility, lives could even be at risk.
If your facility has Wi-Fi connectivity problems, Simpleworks IT has the solution: Ekahau.
What is Ekahau?
Ekahau is a hardware and software tool that scans a building to determine the optimal wireless access point (WAP) locations and signal strength. This powerful tool generates Wi-Fi heatmaps that help certified Ekahau technicians find dead spots in an existing network. Ekahau is also able to upload a building’s blueprints to assist in the onsite selection of WAPs for a new building or network. The system can even adjust for building materials and other variables.
Put simply, Ekahau improves your facility’s Wi-FI connectivity.
Who Benefits from Ekahau?
Most facilities experiencing Wi-Fi connectivity problems turn to an in-house IT department or managed service provider. The trouble is that many times these professionals are not trained to set up Wi-Fi networks. Without Ekahau and a properly trained and certified technician, network troubles will likely pop up. Often an IT technician will simply boost the signal of a problematic WAP, which actually makes the problem worse. Then, if another WAP is installed, the problem may become even worse still. Proper signal balance, WAP location, and room placement are vital for networks handling more than a few devices.
Put simply, Ekahau can help most businesses experiencing wireless access issues.
The Ekahau Team You Need
Simpleworks IT has a certified team that specializes in Wi-Fi heatmapping, troubleshooting, and installation. If your network is experiencing the issues that so many other facilities are, contact us today! We will send an experienced specialist to your location, create a Wi-Fi heatmap and customized network plan, and make the changes needed to resolve your Wi-Fi connectivity issues. It’s not worth losing another minute of productivity or pulling out another hair.
Put simply, if you want to improve your facility’s Wi-Fi, Simpleworks has the solution.
Ready to turn the page on 2020? No matter what business you are in, you faced unprecedented challenges during the last year. The businesses that survived—and even thrived—had to adapt. Remote collaboration, sales, and customer service are here to stay. But is that enough? What else can you do to grow your business in 2021 amidst the continuing complications of COVID, uncertain economic pressures, and high levels of unemployment?
Embrace Remote Technology
Everyone is now acquainted with Zoom, Skype, Teams, or some other remote streaming platform. But just having access to an app may not be enough—at least not to distinguish you from your competition. For many businesses, the inability to interact face-to-face with clients, prospects, and teammates disrupts normal best practices. Here’s what you can do to embrace the new normal:
- Upgrade audio capabilities so you can communicate clearly
- Consider what background will best represent you and your business
- Turn on your video or webcam for every professional interaction
- Ensure your home or office has adequate Internet connectivity
- Train every employee on the fundamentals of Zoom, Teams, and other popular platforms
Think Outside the Office
Successful businesses in 2021 may find that reducing or eliminating office space is now a cost-efficient option. While changes to your operation will present challenges, the new remote office environment can also offer new opportunities. Here are some of the benefits:
- An expanded talent pool for new hires who may not need to live in your area
- Greater flexibility for employees to complete projects and collaborate from anywhere
- Face-to-face sales and customer service
- Expanded training and outreach opportunities including webinars and online conferences
Protect Your Digital Spaces
COVID wasn’t the only plague infecting our world in 2020. The largest information breach in history took place as well, compromising many government agencies and corporations. Your online data and privacy are too important—especially in the new digital office environment—to leave vulnerable to attack. Every virtual office needs to address the following:
- Password protocols and multifactor authentication
- Firewalls, antivirus, and antimalware
- Using virtual private networks (VPNs) when sharing information online
- Phishing scam avoidance
- Security updates and maintenance
- Data backup and recovery
Simpleworks—Your IT Partner for the New Digital Workspace
Simpleworks IT in Colorado Springs is a leading managed IT services provider. We offer an array of services and packages for small- to medium-sized businesses who want the benefits of an in-house IT team without the overhead. The transition to digital office space has been challenging for many businesses, but you aren’t alone. Get in touch with Simpleworks today and learn more about how we can help your business thrive in 2021.
In a year that brought suffering to every community in the world, perhaps no group has been hit harder by COVID-19 than assisted-living facilities and nursing homes. Not only are residents disproportionately affected by the virus, but they have also found themselves cut off from their families and friends.
However, thanks to Zoom, Skype, and other video conferencing software, elderly residents in assisted living facilities and nursing homes can stay connected to their loved ones. This requires, though, that their facility have the necessary infrastructure and support needed to keep them connected. At Simpleworks, we are deeply concerned about the quality of life of the seniors in our community and want to reach out to administrators of assisted living facilities to offer our help and support.
Connectivity—A Requirement in the Post-COVID World
Nearly every assisted living facility and nursing home has Wi-Fi connectivity. But just having Wi-Fi available is likely not sufficient. Residents are spending much more time streaming video to keep in contact. More streaming requires more bandwidth. If your facility is not keeping up with the demands of its residents, there are several possible issues:
- Insufficient bandwidth from the Internet provider
- Inadequate router
- Poor area coverage
- Outdated technology
Many times, facilities assume that if they have slow Wi-Fi, they must need more bandwidth from their provider. But this is often not the case. The most common issue in a multi-user environment is the router device itself and its deployment.
Simplify Connectivity for Seniors
Simpleworks specializes in setting up Wi-Fi networks that ensure every user has the bandwidth he or she needs to have the best quality of life possible. Our certified technicians can assess the Wi-Fi connectivity issues at your facility, install appropriate devices where needed, and train or assist staff. We also offer managed IT services if your facility would benefit from additional IT support.
To do our part to help a vulnerable population in our community, Simpleworks would like to offer a free network evaluation to all assisted living facilities and nursing homes in the Colorado Springs area. All of us need to stay connected – we can help.
Contact us today about scheduling your free network evaluation.
“My IT person just quit! What should I do now!?”
If you haven’t said these words yet, just wait – it’s a matter of time.
For small businesses and organizations, finding and retaining IT talent is a huge expense and time commitment. The technology industry is a highly competitive career field and talented IT professionals want to be continually challenged and educated. If your business is relying on one or two IT professionals to keep your tech working, you will encounter the loss of a trusted employee.
What’s most important is that you realize this is really an opportunity for your business, not a loss. Yes, it’s true that you’re being forced to reevaluate your IT department. And, most likely, you didn’t put this into the budget. But, in business, unexpectant things happen. As a business owner, now is your chance to survey your company’s current and future IT environment, align it with your business plan and engage the right people to help you plan, deploy and support it.
When your IT person leaves or must be replaced, you lose more than just someone who can fix your workstations. You lose the institutional knowledge that person holds of your network. More important, you lose a trusted resource.
If you are using the loss of your IT member as an opportunity to position yourself for growth, what should you look for in a new IT partnership?
- An IT person or provider who will be able to map out your IT infrastructure and report to you what’s being done correctly and what needs improvement. Essentially, your new IT provider needs to be able to quickly understand your current technology and what needs to be done with it to position your company for growth.
- Someone who can make the transition smooth. Moving from one provider to another can be bumpy. But the right IT provider will make it simple by collaborating with your departing person or provider to seamlessly transfer control and knowledge of your network.
- A provider who will lead you to the right solutions for your company – no more and no less. Rather than going without needed technology or encumbering yourself with technology you don’t need, partnering with a managed service provider with knowledge of your industry will give you the resources you need to get your IT investment just right for your business.
These critical services are crucial to be an effective IT provider and should be expected of any managed service provider (MSP) you engage.
Businesses of all sizes need well-planned and -maintained technology solutions. That’s what we provide our clients.
Upon engaging with a new client, we immediately assess the business’ current IT, note areas of success and improvement, and present leadership with a report on their IT’s standing. During this process, we work with your current IT person or provider to make the transition simple. We then work with company leadership to align IT with their business strategy. Using our knowledge of industry standards and best practices, we offer technology solutions customized to the business’ needs – no more and no less – that position the business for growth.
Our mission is to make business technology simple. We simplify your IT. It’s right there in our name. Your technology simply works when you partner with us. We view partnerships as long-term relationships with our clients. We’re invested in their success because it’s our success.
We aim to serve our clients as a trusted partner and resource for all their information technology needs. If you’d like to learn more about how we can become your trusted IT team, contact us online or by phone at 719-476-0444.
We don’t often think of it this way, but our technology providers are rather intimate with our businesses. Indeed, technology touches almost every area of our businesses – from allowing us to check our work email from our phones to securing our most confidential information. Our IT, and, thus, our IT providers, have access to the most important areas of our businesses. That means you need to be able to trust your IT provider and depend on them to be there for you when you need them most. It’s not altogether different from getting married.
However, like most relationships, it can take a while to find the right one before settling down for a future together.
Your IT provider will send signals about the value and future they place in your business relationship. Some will be subtle and some not so subtle:
- Recurrent downtime
- Never seeming to be able to solve the root cause of issues
- Leaving you on hold for support
- Nickel-and-diming you for every service
- Not helping you align your IT with your business goals
- Never calling to check on your IT and your needs
Don’t let your feelings get hurt. They probably treat all their clients the same way. It’s not you; it’s them.
At the same time, you don’t want to become complacent. If you’re not getting the service and proactive IT planning that your business needs to grow, it’s time to move on.
The first thing to realize when searching for a new IT provider is that you get what you pay for. If you aren’t willing to invest in your technology, you’ll keep falling for poorly performing IT providers. Remember: the time you spend struggling with inadequate IT is time you could be spending improving your business and readying it for growth.
Once you’ve committed to investing in your technology to help your business grow, don’t fall for the first managed service provider (MSP) you meet. Do your due diligence first. Here are a few key things to consider as you search for a long-term IT partnership:
- Talk to your peers about their experiences with IT providers. Industry peers are often great resources for insight into how an MSP performs on a daily basis. They can also help you identify MSPs you might want to begin talking to. Don’t take their word for it, though. Trust, but verify.
- Identify your business’ needs and goals. The only way to effectively align your technology with your business plan is to review and plan ahead for the technology you’ll need. For instance, if you’re planning to hire new employees, you’ll need to also plan for more laptops, more storage, more licensesand other technical considerations.
- Communicate your needs to prospective IT providers. Does the provider clearly understand your business goals and explain how their technology solutions will help you achieve them?
- Look for industry-experienced MSPs. IT providers with experience in your industry, especially if you’re in a regulated industry, gives you a leg-up as they already know the requirements you must meet to comply with laws and regulations.
- Can the provider secure your network and most confidential data? Whether it’s intellectual property or personally identifiable information, hackers are interested in the data that companies store. Your potential IT provider should be able to clearly explain how their solutions protect your business from cyberattacks.
- Reliable, tested disaster response and backups. Any MSP you seriously consider should have experience developing disaster response plans and ensuring your backups are tested on a regular basis and working. Your backups are your last resort in the event of a disaster or cyberattack.
- Experienced and expert staff. Does the IT provider have a strong, talented technical team with industry experience, certifications and quality toolsets for managing, tweaking, adjusting and proactively monitoring your IT environment? It should.
- Verify. As we noted above, you should verify the information you gather by contacting the provider’s other clients and references to get a better picture of how they work.
- Reporting and metrics. Make sure the IT provider can provide you with regular reports on their metrics for success in serving your business. An honest self-appraisal indicates an honest provider.
Comparing IT Providers – It’s Not Always Apples to Apples.
By starting your IT provider search with the questions above, the answers will help you narrow the field to those providers that better match your business. At Simpleworks, we’ve simplified managed IT from start to finish.
Our new Simple Technology Solution takes the mystery out of IT contracts:
– No hidden fees.
– What you see is what you get.
– Your IT investment is predictable.
– Our program automatically scales with your business’ needs.
Ready for a Simple Technology Solution?
When you partner with us, we completely handle the transition and employee training. We also coordinate with your former or current IT provider, so you don’t have to do anything.
If you’d like to learn more about simplifying your IT, contact us here or call us at 719-476-0444.
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1040a Elkton Dr.
Colorado Springs, CO 80907