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.
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