WiFi Extenders for Businesses

Situation 

A large manufacturer in Boise needed WiFi extenders. They needed them because they were adding a new ERP* system to assist with tracking and in-production job costing for their manufacturing line. They planned to use iPads in multiple buildings and throughout the property to update where they were in production.

*“Enterprise resource planning (ERP) refers to a type of software that organizations use to manage day-to-day business activities such as accounting, procurement, project management, risk management, and compliance, and supply chain operations.” –Oracle

The Problem 

Wireless Internet

The company had wireless internet in their business office and in their main building. But they did not have it in their other facilities throughout their property. To run multiple underground cables to different buildings would have been extremely expensive. It would have also disrupted their business’ production processes. In their day to day workflow, materials needed to be continuously shuttled around the property. And a major underground cable install would have considerably slowed this process down. So, their CIO asked our sales engineer if Integrinet IT could help with a solution to solve the issue.

Our Solution: WiFi Extenders

As a wireless solution partner with Ingram Micro, we leveraged their expertise with ours. After providing our clients with a map and their property dimensions, we put together a Point-to-Point solution to beam Internet to the other facilities on their property. We did this by mounting WiFi extenders–strong exterior wireless access points throughout their propert–which gave them WiFi coverage everywhere.

Impact 

The cost savings for the project were considerable. Because they didn’t have to trench to multiple areas of the property and run conduit and cable throughout the entire area, they saved thousands of dollars. The project came in at less than $2,500 and the underground cabling system would have come in at ten times that.

With WiFi extension throughout the property, the company can now easily update inventory and track production line stages. These improvements have significantly increased efficiency in their overall production tracking process.

Conclusion 

To conclude, if your business is experiencing similar problems, schedule a free consultation. Joe (Utah) and Fred (Idaho) specialize in learning about your specific business needs. They are excited to help you find solutions that are right for your business. 

Read another case study: End of Life (EOL) Server – Server Consolidation

Project Management with Microsoft 365

Situation 

A large nonprofit company with multiple locations in Treasure Valley, Idaho was struggling with its project management. They had been using notepads, email, and in-person meetings to create and manage projects. It was difficult for them to track and advance a project. As a result, no one knew where they were in the process. Subsequently, it was a challenge for management to complete projects in an ineffective and efficient manner. So, they called us to discuss some technology options that would increase their productivity.

The Problem

Inability to See the Bird’s Eye Perspective

Because they were not able to get an overall perspective of the components of each project, it took a long time to complete them. Consequently, this workflow was terribly slow and often frustrated everyone involved.

Ineffective Communication

Additionally, frontline workers were not being supported throughout the problem resolution stages. It was difficult to maintain effective communication on projects between offices and departments.

Disorganized File Systems

Moreover, mid-level managers were doing more work than needed. Each time they had to put a project down to work on something else, they would often lose their place. Upon returning to it, they wasted a lot of time finding their notes, documents, and where they had left off.

Inability to Make Decisions Quickly & Confidently

The upper management was not able to make executive decisions as quickly as they wanted. As a result, their resolution and implementation processes moved too slowly for their needs.

Our Solution

As their Managed Services Provider, we researched various solutions. We presented them with 3 to 4 options. After hearing about each one, they chose the following Microsoft 365 products:

  1. OneDrive and SharePoint for file storage
  2. Teams for chat, video conferencing, and project management

Impact on Project Management

Manage your Files with Microsoft OneDrive and SharePoint

They started using Microsoft OneDrive and SharePoint to save project files in one location. And everyone on the project team had access to them. With all the files in one place, each person always had an overview of the project. Team members that had to juggle multiple projects were able to move between projects more easily without wasting a lot of time figuring out where they left off.

Watch this SharePoint Tutorial to learn more: How to Use Microsoft SharePoint

Managing your Communication with Microsoft Teams

Microsoft Teams gave them the ability to quickly communicate with each other about their projects. No need to compose another email for a short question. A secure conversation could be ongoing from a project’s start to end. Because Teams saves all conversations, they had the ability to easily review previous communications to bring them up to speed when returning to a project.

And with video conferencing available at a click of a button in Teams, face to face meetings were a breeze. Even with employees working remotely or at different office locations, they could easily and efficiently collaborate in video meetings.

Conclusion

Organizing communication and project files increased this company’s productivity. Microsoft 365 gave them the tools and we facilitated the install and management. They now are able to work more effectively and efficiently as teams to complete their projects. This solution has been a great relief for them and continues to save them time and frustration.

If your business is experiencing similar problems, schedule a free consultation. Joe (Utah) and Fred (Idaho) sit down with you to learn about your specific business needs. They are excited to help you find solutions that are right for your business. Give us a call (844) 400-0616.

Learn more about Microsoft Teams: Crash Course in Office 365

End of Life (EOL) Server – Server Consolidation

SCENARIO: END OF LIFE (EOL) SERVER

A leading accounting firm in Treasure Valley, Idaho had been relying on six physical servers to run their daily business operations. Because many businesses rely on their services, a high level of productivity is crucial.

But their servers were reaching end-of-life (EOL) status. This meant that slow server performance was decreasing the firm’s productivity. It also meant that upgraded software was no longer compatible with the server hardware. Something needed to change.

THE PROBLEM

When we met with the accounting firm, we discussed the following problems:

  1. Their Servers had in fact reached End of Life (EOL).
  2. The company from which they had originally purchased the servers had not given them a warranty or support.
  3. Running six servers with six applications was very inefficient.
  4. The expense to maintain six servers was not economical.
  5. The servers took up a lot of closet space, consumed a lot of power, and generated a lot of heat.

OUR SOLUTION: SERVER VIRTUALIZATION

After meeting with them, we designed a plan that upgraded them to a more efficient system. Instead of running and maintaining six physical servers, we proposed that they consolidate the six into one. We did that by setting them up with server virtualization — converting five of their physical servers into software servers.

A software server is a virtual machine. Each one acts like a unique physical machine capable of running its own operating system and application.

IMPACT

After implementing this solution, we were able to improve our client’s position by:

Saving our client money.

In simplifying their infrastructure, we freed up resources they could use for other business projects.

Conserving physical space and energy.

Because they now have only one server generating heat, the firm disconnected one of their two air conditioners in their server room. They no longer need it. They are now saving on their energy bill and decreasing their carbon footprint on the earth.

Decreasing server maintenance costs dramatically.

In the end, they only had one physical server to maintain. They no longer had to pay for replacing old server hardware on the other five. And battery backup was greatly simplified, which will save them thousands of dollars when it comes time to replace it.

Increasing the performance of their system.

With upgraded processors and more memory, their new system is superior to the old, which has significantly improved their productivity

Completing the project during off-hours.

Our service engineer worked over a weekend so that he did not disrupt this company’s service and workflow. Because of this, their transition was seamless. When they returned to work Monday morning, they were able to hit the ground running.

Higher Performance & Lower Costs – Can’t Beat That!

Learn more about Cloud Solutions & Data Backup

Learn more about how Server Virtualization works

Comments from the Principal of the Firm

We are happy with the service we receive from you all, and our network upgrade was seamless. We appreciate our working relationship with you.

Business Communication Increases Net Profit

Most businesses want to build a solid organization that provides quality products and services for their customers. They hope to increase net profit over time. One major player in achieving this goal is efficient and consistent business communication. Here’s how that works:

Business Communication affects Healthy Business Relationships, which affect Productivity & Quality, which affect Net Profit - mobile version

Efficient and consistent communication builds healthy business relationships. With healthy business relationships productivity and quality increase. As productivity and quality improve, net profit increases.

Efficient Business Communication

First, in business, we are exchanging information, ideas, news, and feelings with our coworkers, customers, partners, and vendors. Efficiency is communicating as quickly as possible without compromising meaning, quality, or value.

Consistent Business Communication

It is also important to keep communication consistent. Consistent communication is about fulfilling the expected frequency of interactions and exchanges. It is also about maintaining frequency over time. The longer we can hold isometric in this one skill, the healthier our business relationships will be. Even when conflicts arise, we strive to maintain our communication to let others know that things need to change for a time.

What Disrupts Business Communication?

Disasters, illness, changes, growth, and life in general disrupt business communication. Even so, most businesses can establish patterns in their communication processes and stick with them. Well established processes increase our communication speed. When our teams learn a company-wide process, workflow is improved.

But when technology advances, so do the tools we use to communicate. If we don’t update our older communication methods with the rest of the business world, we lose our competitive edge. Other companies who choose to update their methods will increase their communication speed while ours remain the same.

Updating our processes slows workflow down because everyone has to take time to learn a new way of doing things. This is similar to Steven Covey’s seventh habit: Sharpening the Saw. It seems counterproductive at the moment because of the time it takes to develop the higher-level processes. But over time it increases efficiency. Yet it is also true that too much change is counterproductive. Finding the progressive balance is the key to success.

An explosion of Business Communication Tools

In today’s world, technology is changing, updating, and advancing at a faster rate than we have ever known before. With this growth has come an explosion of choices. Trying to maintain that progressive balance is harder than ever.

We now have a number of options to choose how we will communicate and store communication data:

  • Mail
  • Email
  • Social Media, Instant Message
  • Web Page Chat
  • Company Phone System & Voicemail
  • Cell Phone, Text, Chat
  • Video Chat & Conferencing
  • CRM (Customer Relationship Management) – Contacts/Calendars/Appointments/Billing
  • File & Data Storage

When we want to communicate, we have a plethora of choices: Should we email or call? Use basic chat or a video chat? Invest in a CRM or manage our contacts, calendars, appointments, and billing in spreadsheets or individual applications? Should we bill through the mail or go paperless? Where should we store our files — In a file cabinet, on our computer, server, or the cloud?

Business Communication Plan

If we do not slow down long enough to make these choices, the result is slower communication. If we do not consciously make a communication plan of how we will use the technology at our fingertips, we will waste time trying to make those decisions anew over and over again. This scatters our minds, files, and data, which leaves us less productive in our workflow.

If you haven’t yet designed a communication plan for you and your team, take the time to do it. Go through each of the tools and determine how and when you will use them. Of course, there can be flexibility when it comes down to your personal workflow, but for the work that involves other team members, it’s best to stick with a communication plan in order to establish good habits, tried and true procedures, and best practices. When you establish these, communication quality, speed, and agility increase. Business relationships improve. And with that improvement, productivity and quality of products and services increase. More people purchase from you, opt in, follow you, subscribe, and sign up. Subsequently, your net profit increases.

But Which Brand Is Best?

To complicate things even more, we also have to choose from several different brands of hardware and software applications that offer the same tools. Which brand should we use? Which one is best?

Computers

  • Dell
  • Apple – Mac
  • Microsoft
  • IBM
  • Toshiba
  • Lenovo

Email Clients

  • G-Suite
  • Microsoft Outlook
  • Apple Mail
  • Mozilla
  • Thunderbird

Internet & Phone

  • Landlines
  • AT&T
  • CenturyLink
  • Comcast

VoIP

  • Carrier SI
  • Zoom
  • RingCentral
  • Nextiva
  • Vonage

Wireless Carriers

  • AT&T
  • Sprint
  • T-Mobile
  • Verizon

Chat

  • Microsoft Teams
  • iMessage
  • Facebook Messenger
  • WhatsApp

Video Chat & Conferencing

  • Microsoft Teams
  • Slack
  • Zoom
  • Skype
  • RingCentral
  • Google Duo
  • Apple FaceTime

Calendar

  • Microsoft Outlook
  • Calendly
  • Apple Calendar
  • Google Calendar
  • Fantastical
  • Lightning

CRM – Contacts, Appointments, Billing

  • Salesforce
  • Zoho
  • Monday.com
  • Hubspot
  • Microsoft Dynamics CRM
  • QuickBooks
  • FreshBooks
  • Many Industry Specific Options

Cloud Storage

  • OneDrive
  • Google Drive/Cloud
  • DropBox
  • iCloud
  • Creative Cloud
  • Amazon AWS
  • Microsoft Azure

Should we test each of these choices out to assess the best choice? Even if they offer a free trial, every time we make company-wide changes, it costs time and money.

Learning from Other Businesses

Most businesses make these choices by communicating with other businesses similar to their own. They read reviews and go to conferences or online workshops. Many join peer groups and talk to other mentors to find out what has worked for them. They research these sources to identify the best practices for their industry. This step saves time and money. Yet, we still need to decide who to listen to out of all the advice we receive from our trusted sources.

Many of the choices businesses have in regard to technology and communication tools depend on their specific industry and business. Making the right choices is crucial to a company’s success. There are entire fields of study on this topic, i.e., Systems development life cycle (SDLC).

Involving stakeholders in the planning phase is very important, especially if it is a transformational change like adding Microsoft Teams verses changing your Internet Circuit. At minimum, each department head should be interviewed so their point of view and needs are heard, and nothing is missed. When all are involved in making decisions, stakeholder buy-in increases and there is greater motivation to incorporate the strategies into their workflow.

Individual Preference Vs. Best Practices

Additionally, there is plenty of room for individual preference. This means that some choices are similar in quality. The differences between them are negligible. Once the choice has been made and everyone is in agreement, efficient communication is predominantly achieved by sticking with the same brand and communication procedures.

But there are also many choices that are more universal – there are best practices for all businesses. For example, using a notepad, rolodex, ledger, file cabinet, and snail mail is usually not the most efficient way to communicate in today’s business world. Storing files and data on your desktop or laptop that you need to share and collaborate on with other members of your team is less efficient (and usually less safe) than storing them on the cloud and providing your co-workers with a link.

Managed IT Services – Experienced Mentors

Because Managed IT Service companies work with hundreds of small to medium-sized businesses, they know how to get your business set up with the most up to date communication tools. Many trusted IT service companies have worked with businesses in healthcare, logistics, construction, engineering, financial services, hospitality, community organizations, and more. As a result, they have the mentor experience to guide your business to quality tools that are most relevant to your organization. They can help you navigate the profusion of choices you have to make, which saves you money and time. It also gives you peace of mind

To recap, we know you want to build a solid business that provides quality products and services for your customers. We know the way to do that is to:

  1. Increase the efficiency and consistency of your communication
  2. Which helps build healthy business relationships
  3. Which in turn positively influences productivity and quality.

When all of these pieces are aligned, you will achieve real satisfaction in your business, have happy customers, and increased net profit.

Finally, if you need help in navigating the plethora of choices you have to make for your business, give us a call. Schedule a free consultation with either Joe (Utah) or Fred (Idaho) – (844) 400-0616.

Interoffice Communication: Working Remotely a Challenge?

Since COVID-19 hit, interoffice communication has been a challenge for many companies. Because it happened so quickly, most were not prepared to make the change from working in the office to working from home.

But there were some companies that had a business model with the flexibility to work remotely. They had already been working under at least a hybrid version of that model for years. These were more able to weather the shutdowns and restrictions. Others had business models in which they had to work from the office. They had not yet previously explored the remote possibilities.

As an IT Service company, we have technicians moving throughout the southern parts of Idaho and the northern parts of Utah on a regular basis. Our business requires us to be consistently remotely connected. So, we were one of the companies that had already incorporated the remote interoffice communication and collaboration tools.

Cloud SolutionsInteroffice Communication
& The Cloud

The number one tool that all businesses need to start with to maintain communication in a remote working environment is the Cloud. But what exactly is the Cloud? The Cloud is a large group of Internet Servers that store your data and services – software and applications. In the stone ages, everything had to be stored locally on your personal computer’s hard drive or on your company’s server. That made it so you could only access them from a specific location. But now, through Cloud Computing, data and services are stored on a network of computers that give you access from any location, even from your mobile phone.

The recent pandemic has made it very clear why using the Cloud is vital in maintaining business communication. Being a technology company, we have been using cloud tools like Autotask PSA and Microsoft Teams for a while.

Autotask PSA

A PSA is a Professional Services Automation system. It is a technology platform that provides a large array of communication tools like the following:

  • expense management
  • service desk
  • project management
  • CRM
  • Ticketing system
  • time tracking
  • invoicing
  • resource planning
  • business intelligence
  • notes and messaging

This system is crucial for our external communication with clients and our internal communication with service engineers. Other businesses use a similar type of software that is specifically created for their type of business. Medical offices use EHR (electronic health records) and EMR (electronic medical records). Accounting offices use accounting software packages. And fulfillment centers use logistics software.

interoffice communication

Microsoft Teams

Microsoft Teams is an interoffice communication tool that also provides a large array of tools under one roof. There’s no shortage of communication tools on the market, but we have found Teams to be the one bond holding it all together during this pandemic. In our experience, using multiple devices or programs to do our jobs is not as efficient as using one stream-lined tool. With Teams, we can track our processes and workflows, host conversations around certain projects or tasks, and share files. Additionally, you can access Teams on your desktop or mobile device.

The most useful features of Microsoft Teams for us have been:

Microsoft Teams Chat

Chat

Microsoft Teams Video Conferencing

Video Conferencing

Microsoft Teams Channels

Channels

Microsoft Teams File Sharing

File Sharing

Microsoft Teams Chat

Interoffice Communication through Chat

No matter where we are or what time of day, we can receive a chat message. It comes in exactly like a text message on our mobile phones, desktop computers, and laptops. If we’re working from home or in the field, we can still stay connected with the rest of our team members. If we can’t respond to the message immediately, we receive the traditional notification, and the message is saved in a secure location until we can. We can review the history of any conversation in the chat string.

Microsoft Teams Video Conferencing

Video Conferencing Is a Touch Away

We can start a video chat with the touch of one button. Microsoft Teams tracks Co-worker availability – free, busy, or offline. This way we know when someone can take our video call. And one really nice advantage is the video quality is high whether we’re using our desktop or mobile phone.

Video conferencing is also great for company meetings. It has a capacity of 250 people. It’s easy to invite someone from outside of our organization to a video meeting by sending them a link. They can access the meeting via their browser.

Microsoft Teams Channels

Channels Organize Interoffice Communication

A channel is a private group that only invited team members can see. We have set up channels for departments like service engineers, sales, and marketing. Additionally, segregating individual projects has increased our organization and productivity. Channels house all of our discussions and documents. It’s a lot easier to catch up on a project when it is all in one place.

Microsoft Teams File Sharing

File Sharing through Chat Facilitates Project Management

Because some team members are in Idaho and others are in Utah, we have to remotely collaborate on all projects. Through the chat we share out links, co-authored articles, agendas, pdfs, presentations, videos, images, screen shots, and spreadsheets. The files are stored in Teams by channel. We access them by clicking on the “Files” button in the top menu. During video conference meetings, we share the agenda and other files that we’re working on together. Teams makes communication and collaboration even better than face to face meetings.

Working remotely doesn’t have to be an overwhelming challenge. If your company is still struggling with it, please Contact Us Here or give us a call at (844) 400-0616. We can help you get set up with the Cloud services you need like Microsoft Teams to regain efficient interoffice communication and productivity.

Learn more about Microsoft Teams features and capabilities

A Firewall Is Critical for Business Security

Having a reliable firewall is extremely important in today’s environment. In the first half of 2019, 59% of MSPs reported Ransomware attacks on the companies they managed, according to a recent Datto Survey. The average ransom is $5,700. That is up 37% from the year before. You can see how essential it is to protect your server.

You must keep your guard up to keep nefarious actors out of your network. Your guard is your firewall. It protects your servers and infrastructure. There are many on the market and most are pretty good. Some last for years.

Keep Your Firewall Up to Date 

Keeping up with the latest technology is the best way to know which firewall to choose for your company. When researching, it’s important to know what you are doing because it can get pretty technical. Read the reviews and shop according to your budget. You should consider not only the purchase price but also the yearly services and support costs. Some businesses like the DIY option, but others prefer consulting with an IT Service company.

Fight Viruses & Hacking Exploits Floating Around in the Wild 

Maintaining a service subscription for your firewall will keep it up to date, which keeps your business safe from viruses and hacking exploits floating around in the wild. When you keep your subscription current, it will update your firewall with the latest version of firmware. Firmware is the software that runs the components in the firewall device and the software that runs it.

Prevent Business Operations Disruptions 

Support for your firewall allow you to call the manufacturer and talk to them about setup and repairs. If it has issues and you don’t have anyone who can log in and repair it, your Internet will go down. That disrupts your business operations, whether you’re working in the office or from home. This is happening more often than it should these days.

When Your Firewall Gets Too Old 

Your firewall is a critical piece of equipment. Keeping its support up to date is very important. Firewall companies only offer support for a certain period of time. After that period ends, you need to renew it. When the device gets too old, the manufacturer will no longer sell support for it. Once it fails, you will need to purchase a new one.

Without A Firewall for 30 Minutes – 699 Attacks 

Shipping times for new firewalls vary. You might have to wait for up to 3 days. That is a long time to go unprotected. We once tested what would happen to an Exchange server on the internet. It was password protected but had no firewall guard. Within 30 minutes, it was attacked 699 times by someone who was trying to hack through the passwords.

Understanding the importance of a firewall is paramount for a small business. If managed right, it will keep your confidential data safe from harm. We’re here to help you with that. Please give us a call to assess the state of your firewall. (844) 400-0616

Learn more about the Cybersecurity we offer!

Datto’s Global State of the Channel Ransomware Report 

Disaster Recovery Plan: 8 Points to Consider

With Covid-19 gripping many businesses around the world, we’re receiving a crash course in the importance of a Disaster Recovery Plan. Within a matter of weeks, we went from a free-flowing economy with no real work restrictions to a suffocating lockdown. Over the summer we experienced a glimmer of hope when the economy slowly opened back up. But flu season has descended upon us and cases have started increasing again. We’re now facing the possibility of another lockdown. Some companies are prepared, but others are not. 

Natural Disasters & Other Random Events

The pandemic isn’t the only disaster that can affect business continuity. Have you thought through the wider variety of disasters that could hit your company? The following situations can happen to any business:

  • Servers crash and systems go down
  • Sprinkler systems malfunction and water intrusion ruins computers, printers, or other business devices
  • Severe storm weather knocks out the power, and the power company takes a few days to repair it
  • A thief breaks in and steals your equipment
  • Construction crews accidentally cut the power to your office and you’re down until they can repair it

Those Who Fail to Plan, Plan to Fail 

Do you have a recovery plan if any of these disasters hit your office? The best way to prepare is to create a plan that is customized to your company. Customized plans are better than a one-size-fits-all approach. Every company is unique. Each has critical business operations that need to be accounted for in the event of a disaster. A good IT Service Company can help you explore the questions and answers relevant to your business.

8 points to consider for your disaster recovery plan

Risk Analysis

What are your critical operations? Prioritize them so you know which to address first in the case of an emergency.

Recovery Time

Timewise, how much wiggle room does your company have before all hell breaks loose? Know your maximum downtime.

Compliance

Does your recovery plan meet with PCI, HIPPA, or other compliance rules you have to follow?

Disaster Recovery Team

Does everyone in the office know who will have the authority to make the decisions when in an emergency? Who are the go-to people when disaster strikes? This all should be decided in your disaster recovery plan.

Critical Information

Keep critical information like primary contacts and account numbers available in a safe place. When computers and other electronic devices go down or you can’t work from your office, how will you access this critical information? Think cloud backups.

Communication Plan

How will you communicate if your office computers and phones go down? Do you have a list of employee cell phone numbers available, so communication is not completely cut off?

Working from Home

If you and your employees can’t come to the office for an extended period of time, where can you temporarily set up your workstations? What technical support will you need to make this happen safely and effectively? An important part of a disaster recovery plan is having the process and technology in place for employees to work from home beforehand.

Review Your Plan

Employees come and go. Business roles, contact information, and accounts change. Review your plan regularly. Are employees who are named in the plan still with the company? Are account numbers and contact information current?

Business continuity is about maintaining critical business operations even when faced with long-term interruptions. Most of us were caught off guard when COVID-19 hit. We have faced this disaster for the past 10 months. We’re now wide awake and a little wiser.

We don’t know how long we will have to do business in this locked-down economy. We’re unsure if it will get worse. We can’t be certain when other random disasters will hit. But we can increase confidence and security by creating a solid disaster recovery plan. This is the best solution to reduce risk, data loss, and network downtime.

Integrinet IT can help you develop a customized disaster recovery plan for your business.

Network Protection Best Practices – Maximize Your Value

Many small businesses don’t need an expensive complex data center to run their operations. But even with a small system, it is important to know about network protection best practices to maximize the value of your equipment.

Your network is composed of the interconnected computers, machines, and operations you use in your business processes to provide your clients with products and services. It includes hardware like your: 

  • Workstations 
  • Servers 
  • Switches 
  • Phones 
  • Access points 
  • Printers 
  • Firewall 
  • Routers 

There are some best practices you need to keep in mind to protect your company’s network and stored data. 

1. Create secure and clean spaces for network protection

Keep your server(s), switches, phone system, firewall, router in either a locked room or in a locked cabinet. Keeping them away from accidental bumps, knock-overs, or spills is just as important as protecting them from a breach. I have seen people knock over server racks that were not secure. I have seen people store cleaning products over servers that eventually spilled on them. No one needs these kinds of expenses when they can easily be avoided.  

2. Make sure these network spaces are well ventilated  

Choose spaces for your workstations, servers, and other network devices that are well ventilated. Heat is very hard on electronics, especially IT hardware. If you use enclosures, make sure they are well ventilated. Use containers with security screens, not those with sheer metal or wooden sides.  

3. Protect your network: connect it to an Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) 

Have a good business-type battery backup/Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS). A basic home PC-type battery backup is not what you should be using on your server. Look for a Pure Sine Wave Device. Choose one that levels out the power as well as protects from surges. Dirty power that fluctuates constantly can be as hard on your equipment as power surges.  

4. Use Image-based backups for network protection 

Use an image-based backup, not just a data backup. An image-based backup will not only backup your data but also backup the operating system and its settings. If you have an image of the server, you can restore it much faster than if you only had a data backup. We are talking hours to restore, instead of days or weeks. If you are hit with ransomware which encrypts your data, you can wipe the server and restore the image quickly.  

5. Backup your network locally and offsite to reduce rebuild time 

Store backups locally and then offsite. If you only stream data to an online storage service, you can only retrieve it at the speed of the combined internet connections between their side and yours. I was working with a technician on a project once and he only backed up the data online and no image locally. They had a slow internet connection and only a data backup. It took about 2 days to rebuild the server internally with all the settings but then took over three weeks to stream the data from the storage service.  

6. Properly install firewalls to keep bad actors out without slowing business processes 

Use a firewall. They are not overly expensive to own. They keep bad actors out of your network. Have a professional install it so it doesn’t end up slowing down your business processes. You don’t want your firewall to get in the way of where you need to go. Most have content filters to keep your employees from going where they shouldn’t, which optimizes your productivity. 

These are some basic and best practices you should strive to engage in as a small business owner for network protection. None of them will break the bank. But neglecting them can eventually wreck you financially.  

Think ahead. Protect your network. The business you save will be your own. Schedule a free consultation with Joe if you’re in Utah or Fred if you’re in Idaho.

Cyberjacking – Security Alert

Cyberjacking has become a major problem for networks around the world. It is currently one of the top cybersecurity problems existing today. The term cyberjacking means hackers access your servers or workstations like parasites. They use your processing power to mine cryptocurrency. This exploit can be detrimental to your network and production. Because it uses your processing power, it slows down your network. A slow network decreases your productivity.  

This hack is difficult to detect and even more difficult to eradicate. It rewrites your server software and deeply embeds itself into your network. The best way to combat this type of malware is to wipe your server clean and restore from your image backups. That takes time and money.  

In one instance, I saw this attack come in through an email inside a PDF-looking document. When we investigated, the software was embedded inside a font. When an employee clicked and opened the file, the malware downloaded to the company’s network. Once running inside their system, it used the processor as part of their bitcoin mining operation. Servers keep logs of incoming and outgoing traffic. The cyberjacking malware erased these logs every minute to cover its tracks. It took over 2 ½ days to stop the attack and mitigate the damage. 

Protect your business from cyberjacking

It is important to protect your business from these kinds of parasitic attacks.

  1. Keep your firewall up to date with the latest virus and malware signatures.  
  1. Protect your email with filters either in Microsoft 365 or with another filtering service before it hits your onsite exchange.  
  1. Train your employees not to click on items originating from an unknown source. 
  1. Train them to validate even a trusted source to make sure requests for financial or confidential data transfers are genuine. 

Your due diligence is what keeps you safe. Give us a call for a network security checkup. Our service engineers are well versed on keeping your network secure.

This article on achieving PCI Compliance is also about increasing your cybersecurity in general: So You Want To Achieve PCI Compliance? Shields Up!

Curiosity Killed the Network

One of a technician’s biggest fears is user Curiosity. Curiosity has been the culprit of a number of major successful cyberattacks on unsuspecting companies. It is the reason you might click on a link in an email sent from an unknown source. It’s the reason you might follow a rabbit hole of links to unsafe sites on the internet. Curiosity is also the reason you might click on a random link at the bottom of an unfamiliar website.

In order to keep your company’s network and confidential data secure, you and your employees should be aware that cybercriminals attempt to trick you by applying to your Curiosity. One of their little-known tricks is scattering USB drives in conspicuous places such as the parking lots of targeted companies.

Curiosity May Increase Your Organization’s Security Risk

Researchers performed the following experiment to test how risky yielding to our Curiosity can be.

A few major organizations got together to conduct a study:

  • The University of Illinois
  • Urban-Champaign, Google
  • The University of Michigan

In the study, they tested how the Curiosity factor can affect a company’s cybersecurity. They scattered 297 USB drives around the Urban-Champaign campus. On the drives, they installed software that mimicked malware. When some Curious soul opened one of the files on the drive, it didn’t infect the computer with a virus. But it alerted the researchers that it had been opened and then sent them the location of the computer.

48% of the drives were plugged into computers!

Read the whole story here: Story of the USB Drive Study

The DOD Infiltrated Via Thumb Drive

If you think that’s crazy, listen to this: One of the worst cyber-attacks on the U.S. military in history occurred in 2008-09. It happened at one of the Department of Defense’s (DOD’s) Middle East bases. Someone inserted a thumb drive they found in a parking lot into a computer. It was like a worm that infected the entire network and went without detection.

“Once in place, the malicious code began to ‘beacon’ out to its creator, letting whoever created it know that it was in place and ready for further instructions. That’s the only way analysts from the NSA’s Advanced Networks Operations team noticed it was there.” – Blake Stilwell, We Are the Mighty, The worst cyber attack in DoD history came from a USB drive found in a parking lot

14 Months to Wipe It Out of Their Network

It took them 14 months to wipe it out of their network. When they realized what had infected their systems, one of their first responses was to ban thumb drives. They gathered thumb drives from military personnel and found they were all infected. As of the date of this article, no one has ever found out the identity of the hackers or how much information they stole.

“The effort was so intense and deliberate that it led to the creation of the 11th military unified command – The U.S. Cyber Command.” -ibid

If your Curiosity peeks when your online, reading an email, find a thumb drive, or even receive an email or phone call from a known source, err on the side of caution. Choose to be more Curious about cybersecurity. The network it saves might be your own.

Call us to and talk to Fred (Idaho) or Joe (Utah) to set up a free security assessment (844) 400-0616.

Cybersecurity and Cloud Storage

I was managing a company’s network as their Managed Service Provider when we received a call that a folder with many of their files was missing in their online Microsoft 365 SharePoint. We investigated the issue and found that none of their files had been nefariously deleted. We also determined there hadn’t been anyone trying to hack into the system and steal their data. Yet, it remained a fact that their files were missing.

We continued our detective work, checking if any credentials had been changed, but everything seemed in order. No one from outside had accessed their network.

Accidentally Deleted or Moved

Finally, one of our technicians had a hunch that a current employee might have accidentally deleted or moved the file. After a little more investigation, we indeed found that had occurred. When an employee was moving his mouse across the screen, he had accidentally grabbed a file folder and dropped it into another folder. It had been difficult to solve this case, but with some very good detective work, we were able to restore the file folder to its original location.

Data Security & The Human Component

After this experience, I started thinking more about data security in the cloud. Even though large file service companies like Microsoft 365 have very secure cloud storage, what about the end-user – the human component? What happens when someone deletes the wrong file by mistake? How often does this happen? While most of these cases are accidental, what happens when an unhappy employee, who thinks they have nothing to lose, decides to take out her company’s file repository? Could they recover the data – their forms, spreadsheets, and intellectual property?

Data Retention & Backup

Fortunately, Microsoft 365 has a retention policy that your company can use. It is good for up to 93 days. That’s a really good start, but in some cases, it may not be enough. Your MSP should have a service to back up to your Microsoft 365 OneDrive and SharePoint. This is a great way to ensure you never lose your data, either to a mistake or to a disgruntled employee. The backup service your IT company can set up for you is automatic. It’s one of those “set it and forget it” programs, although it should be tested periodically. If you have Microsoft 365 or a similar service for storing documents in the cloud, consider incorporating this service into your network. It just might save the day for your business down the road.

For help with cybersecurity and data backup, scheduled a free consultation with Integrinet IT

Are You HIPAA IT Compliant?

Did you know that on the Dark Web, medical records sell for more than credit card data?

If you are a health services organization, you know your biggest cybersecurity worry is to keep your ePHI secure. Most breaches happen because the devices you use have not been encrypted, one of your employees clicks on a nefarious link in an email, or someone inadvertently downloads malware into your systems.

Encryption Is the New Standard

HIPAA IT standards are the gold standard of cybersecurity in the health service industry. As your organization strives to be in compliance, start with encrypting as much of your data as possible. At the very least, make sure you have passwords on all your computers and mobile devices. Implement Multifactor Authentication to protect your users’ login credentials.

The encryption process converts your data to an unreadable and unstable state. If unauthorized users broke into your network, your email, or your devices, they would not be able to make any sense of it. The only way the encrypted data can be read is with a security key. With this key, the computer will convert the data back into a readable and stable state.

All emails containing ePHI that are sent outside of your firewall need to be encrypted. Additionally, they should be saved in a secure and encrypted archive for at least six years.

Web Content Filter

It’s important to have your managed services provider install a web content filter, which blocks inappropriate and dangerous content as well as cyber criminals who are waiting to steal passwords to your records and databases.

Automatic Log-off

Your service engineer should also help you set up automatic log-off of your PCs and mobile devices. When your authorized personnel have stopped using their computers for a specific amount of time, the computers automatically log out. It is so easy to forget to log out when stepping away from the workstation. This program is a smart and easy backup to use to increase your cybersecurity.

HIPAA Checklist

Your medical office has to be aware of the IT portion of the HIPAA checklist. You need to make sure you can check every box. Your managed services provider should perform regular assessments that identify the risks in all systems your business uses to “touch” your ePHI. This includes your:

  • Network
  • Servers
  • Switches
  • Computers
  • Mobile Devices
  • Software
  • Phone Systems
  • Cloud Accounts (Email, Storage, etc…)

24/7 Remote Monitoring

To be HIPAA IT compliant, your IT company must be remotely monitoring your systems 24/7. They should be analyzing your logs regularly. They should be able to detect unauthorized access by existing employees.

A good managed services provider should know what it means to be HIPAA IT compliant. It should actively monitor your firewall ports and know which ones are usually attacked. If you have employees working from home, your service engineers should ensure that your VPN tunnel is set up and secure. They should have the ability to sniff out all the security issues your specific practice faces.

Due Diligence

If your healthcare organization is in the middle of striving for due diligence to the HIPAA standards and needs an IT company that knows how to help you reach compliance, schedule a free consultation with Joe Nice (Utah) or Fred Bauerfeld (Idaho) at Integrinet IT.

Call (844)400-0616

Choose “Sales” from the menu to talk to Joe or Fred.

Read more about HIPAA Compliance:

HIPAA Compliance Checklist

Summary of the HIPAA Privacy Rules by the United States Department of Health & Human Services

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