5 Levels of Data Protection SMBs Should Consider

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Small-and medium-sized businesses are under attack.

Hackers are increasingly targeting SMBs for cyberattacks, penetrating systems and stealing or exposing sensitive data. The costs in dollars and reputation can be significant.

That’s why it’s important that SMBs apply 5 levels of data protection to thoroughly secure the information that’s critical to business success.

The State of Cybersecurity for SMBs

The 2018 HISCOX Small Business Cyber Risk Report notes the harsh reality for small businesses:

  • 47 percent of small businesses experienced at least one cyberattack in the previous year.
  • 44 percent experienced 2-4 attacks and 8 percent had 5 or more attacks
  • 66 percent of business owners and executives surveyed listed cyberattacks as one of their top two concerns
  • The average cost for each incident was $34,600

Those sobering insights pinpoint the challenges and risks of data theft. Fortunately, there are low-cost, reliable solutions available that provide a canvass of protections for valuable data as part of small business computer support services.

5 Levels of Data Protection

Here is a closer look at the 5 fundamental layers of data protection for SMBs.

Level 1: Writing Data to Multiple Drives

You need a backup for your backup. That’s the premise behind RAID (Redundant Array of Independent Disks), a three-decades-old concept that remains sound today.

RAID means storing your data on multiple disk drives. In the case of a hardware failure, the data will still be available on other disks. Creating a RAID array of overlapping data also helps improve performance.

Level 2: Protect Against Deterioration

There are still many data points stored on older storage technologies, including portable hard drives, tape and even USB drives. Older storage media are more prone to corruption or deterioration. It’s another reason why redundancy is so important.

SMBs increasingly are migrating their data to cloud solutions, allowing for virtual access and backups from multiple users on any device from anywhere. You should assess the quality of the data stored on older media and choose an alternative solution to ensure continued access and use.

Level 3: Take a Picture

Snapshot backups are a way of capturing the entirety of your data, operating system and/or applications. They can be used to restore a system, server, disk or drive to a previous state. These backups take a picture of the data at a point in time.

With any backup, your SMB needs to calculate two key measures that consider the impact of a natural disaster or cyberattack that disrupts your data.

The first is your Recovery Time Objective, which is a measure of how long your business IT infrastructure and services can go before data is restored and still maintain business continuity. By contrast, Recovery Point Objective is the maximum amount of data lost your organization can tolerate. Calculating this measure allows you to determine the scope and frequency of data backups.

Level 4: Real-Time Software and Hardware Protection

Your applications, devices and users need to be protected with next-generation firewalls that monitor your system’s perimeter to detect, contain and eliminate threats from suspicious or unwanted visitors. In addition, your software and hardware should be protected by automatically updated anti-malware, anti-virus, anti-phishing and anti-spam tools.

Level 5: Offsite Solutions

You do not need to keep data backups on-premises. Offsite or cloud-based data backup and recovery services are monitored and secured with state-of-the-art technologies and processes.

At Primary Support Systems, we offer small business computer support services that include comprehensive data backup and security services. To schedule an initial no-obligation consultation about our data security and recovery solutions, contact us today.

11 Types of Networks Explained: VPN, LAN, and More

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One of the most important things to understand about computing is that not all networks are created equally. In fact, there are 11 major types of networks for you to choose from depending on your needs – all with their own unique architectures and overall purposes.

The Personal Area Network

Also commonly referred to as a PAN for short, a personal area network is the most basic type of network there is. A PAN will typically be centered around a single person in a particular location and the network itself involves a wireless modem, their computer, and peripheral devices like printers or mobile devices like tablets.

The Local Area Network

Also called a LAN, these networks are designed to connect groups of computers together across short distances. If you’ve ever been in an office where all of the computers were on the same network, that network was a LAN.

The Wireless Local Area Network

A WLAN is essentially the same idea as a LAN, only instead of connecting those computers and devices together via Ethernet cables, they’re all brought together using Wi-Fi.

The Campus Area Network

This type of network is far larger than a regular LAN, but smaller than other types of networks designed to cover larger distances. These networks are usually found on college campuses (hence the name), in school districts or are used by small businesses with several locations that are fairly close to one another.

The Metropolitan Area Network

A MAN is a type of network that will usually cover a large but specific geographic region – usually a town or city. In that case, ownership would be handled by a single entity – be it the local government, a school district or a large company.

The Wide Area Network

Also called WANs, these networks are designed to connect devices across longer distances than other types of networks – sometimes even over the course of many miles. The Internet itself is perhaps the purest example of a wide area network that there is.

The Storage Area Network

Also called a SAN, a storage area network is one that makes high-performance storage resources available to many users via their own network. These can be converged, unified or even virtual in nature depending on the needs.

The System Area Network

This type of network refers to one that is used to offer a high-speed connection to resources in server-to-server or processor-to-processor environments.

The Passive Optical Local Area Network

These networks use optical splitters to separate a single optical signal in multiple directions, which are then used to provide access to different users and devices. This is an alternative to more traditional switch-based networks that use Ethernet cables.

The Enterprise Private Network

As the name suggests, an EPN is designed for businesses that want to be able to A) securely connect various satellite offices and locations together, in a way that B) allows them to share computer resources with one another.

The Virtual Private Network

This is a very specific type of network connection that allows users to send and receive information as if they were connected to their own private network – even though they’re on the Internet at the time. This is essentially a secure “tunnel” through the Internet, used to increase privacy and security.

If you have any additional questions about these major types of networks, or if you’d like to explore our network consulting services to help determine which choice is right for you, please don’t delay  – contact Primary Support Systems today.

What You Need to Know About Cyber Crime in 2019

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It’s becoming increasingly common to wake up in the morning and read about yet another colossal data breach that has struck a major international organization somewhere in the world. Every day it seems like entertainment companies, hotel chains, and other entrepreneurial giants fall prey to hackers and pay dearly for it. But as a small to medium-sized business owner, that’s not necessarily something you have to worry about, do you? After all, you’re not nearly large enough to attract that type of attention, right?

Not necessarily.

When you consider that as of 2018, a massive 43% of all cyber attacks actually target small business owners, you begin to get a better idea of the dangerous climate you now face online. Unfortunately, the statistics don’t get much better from there.

2018 in Cyber Crime: The Story So Far

According to one recent report conducted by the experts at Heimdal Security, phishing attempts remain one of the most popular ways that hackers try to take advantage of businesses like yours. In a phishing attempt, you or one of your employees may get an email that you initially assume to be totally legitimate. It will likely ask you for an account username, password or some other type of identifying information.

If you, unfortunately, take the bait, however, your problems are only just getting started – that hacker now has that associated information and access to all of the accounts related to it.

All told, the average global cost of a single consolidated data breach incident rose to $3.86 million in 2018. Not only does this represent a significant 6.4% increase from just a year earlier, but when you break that number down to individual records stolen during an attack, the cost to organizations like yours is roughly $148 per document.

On the one hand, yes – this does appear to be a situation that is only going to get worse before it gets better. However, the good news is that this is also not something you have to take laying down.

Don’t Let Cyber Crime Stop Your Business

In the end, the most important thing for you to understand about all of this is that unfortunately, you cannot stop yourself from becoming the target of a data breach or other type of cyber attack. At this point, the statistics are very much against you. What you CAN do, however, is prevent yourself from becoming a victim – which is exactly what we work hard to do as your IT support Toronto partners at Primary Support Systems.

Since 1991, we’ve worked hard to guarantee that our expertise and focus are NOT limited to any one specific platform or hardware. Because of that, we’re able to stay as agile as you need us to be at the forefront of the constantly changing technology landscape. Regardless of how sophisticated hackers get or how devastating their tactics become, we’ll make sure you stay one step ahead at all times.

To find out more about the current state of data breaches and cyber crime, or to discuss the specifics of your own situation in a bit more detail, please don’t delay – contact us today.

How to Avoid Data Loss: What You Need to Know

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According to one recent study conducted by Nationwide Insurance, roughly 68% of small to medium-sized businesses don’t actually have a disaster recovery plan of any kind. This is problematic for a wide range of different reasons that are far too numerous to list here, so instead, we’re going to focus on just one: ransomware.

In a ransomware attack, a hacker or other cybercriminal infects a computer with malware and actually encrypts the data on a hard drive and holds it for ransom (hence the name). Not only is this incredibly common – the results can be devastating. According to a study reported on by the experts at CNN Money, small companies lose on average about $100,000 during a ransomware incident due to the data loss and associated downtime they experience.

If you had a backup solution or strategy before that ransomware attack took place, however, that massive cost could have been avoided. But if you really want to get to the point where data loss is no longer something you have to worry about, there are a few key things to keep in mind.

The Art of Avoiding Data Loss Through Robust Backups: Breaking Things Down

Generally speaking, there are a few best practices that you should follow if you truly want to avoid data loss for the foreseeable future (and make no mistake, you absolutely do). These include:

      • Go through all of your hard drives, your system, and even network and make an inventory of the data you absolutely CANNOT afford to lose. That includes databases, income tax returns, client data and more.
      • Choose at least TWO different backup options to use to archive and protect that data. Here, your options include but are not limited to things like: 
        • External hard drives
        • USB flash drives
        • RAID drives
        • Online storage solutions like our cloudbackup store, or encrypted filehub system

For the best results, make one of your backup options physical (meaning a hard drive or flash drive) and the other online storage. That way you can quickly recall data from the physical device if you need to, but you’ll also be protected from problems like device failure via the third party online storage. If your entire business burns to the ground, you can still recover every last kilobyte via a service like PSS’s filehub system – which is a very beneficial position to be in when it comes to getting back up and running again as quickly as possible.

There are even rotation methods in which to backup data in order to recover to any point within a year that covers not only catastrophic loss, but also loss related to overwriting a file at some point and noticing several months later that the file is missing.  

Primary Support Systems: Your Partner in Robust Backup Solutions

At Primary Support Systems, we understand that even modest data loss can be catastrophic for your organization – which is why we’ve been working hard since 1991 to help make sure this is one issue you don’t have to worry about any longer. As your tech support Toronto provider, we work hard to not only understand your requirements but to provide real-time solutions to meet them. Because our expertise and focus are not limited to any one platform, we’re able to stay at the forefront of the ever-changing technology landscape – meaning that if you’re truly looking for a foolproof solution or strategy to avoid data loss, you’ve just found it.

If you’d like to find out more information about how to mitigate the risk of data loss for your organization, or if you have any additional questions you’d like to discuss with someone in a bit more detail, please don’t delay – contact us today.

Passwords

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Lately, I’ve noticed websites displaying multiple options for posting articles on their sites. Some allow you to enter your Twitter/google or other account information to post. Doing so may not be a good idea. Most users are totally unaware their social media username and password are visible to the site they are on. Consider this; Would you give someone your bank information so they can get your current account balance? I hope certainly hope not.

To be fair, some of these sites are legitimate and are using your information as advertised. Others however may have a different agenda in mind. So keep that in mind next time you’re asked for your social network information. Think twice before handing it out.

Safe surfing!

New Types Of Ransomware

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Blackmail Ransomware

By now, many of us have heard about Ransomware viruses that quite literally hold your data for ransom.  This form of malware encrypts the files on an infected system and effectively holds them hostage until the owner of the files pays a ransom in an untraceable currency (usually Bit Coin) to the malware scammers.

There are many forms of Malware and most recently we’ve found, that people have been paying scammers for things as simple as the threat of holding private or personal information (Blackmail). Depending on the user, the embarrassment of a potential leak of such information would cause them much distress, so they pay regardless. This is often not a very good idea as all it does is promote further attacks and does nothing in the way of protecting the user. We recommend storing the email that you may have received in a folder and giving it no further thought.  It is very unlikely that the hacker has anything on you and more importantly, paying them for anything gives you no guarantees what-so-ever.

How Do I Protect Myself?

From this particular threat there is no real way to protect yourself outside of subscribing to an anti-threat mail filtration system which would attempt to block the message prior to getting thru to your email.  Our email hosted domains are filtered for such content and we’re always investing in new methods to address such concerns.  If you are interested in more information, please feel free to contact our sales or customerservice department.

Welcome

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We’ve updated our website to include a blog in order to help our customers with some quick facts and support information.  If you have any suggestions, we’d love to hear from you!!

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