What Is A Computer Network?

You don’t have to be an IT expert to understand the basics of your business’s computer network. In fact, the more you know about it, the smarter the decisions you will make on how to care for it.

A computer network is a collection of computers and other devices connected together to communicate and share resources. For example, several computers often share the same printer. And shared resources reduce business costs. A small to medium-sized business usually has a variety of devices connected to one another. That may include:

  • one or more servers
  • desktop computers
  • laptops
  • printers
  • tablets
  • phones (landlines and mobile)
  • other specialized industry-related devices

Additionally, there are devices on a network specifically designed to facilitate the connection between devices as well as the connection to the Internet. These devices are called switches, routers, and modems.

What is a Switch?

Technicians use switches to connect computers and other devices within a network. Switches enable communication and data sharing between devices. So, even if your computer workstation is in a different office than another team member’s, you can still communicate with her via computers and send her information. In short, everything in a network links together through switches.

What is a Router?

While switches connect devices within a single network, routers connect multiple switches (and thus multiple networks) together. Technicians connect two or more networks using a router to form a larger network. Metaphorically, each network is a solar system. Multiple solar systems combine to form a galaxy.

What is the difference between a Router and a Modem?

It is easy to confuse a router with a modem. Let’s look at the differences between them. While routers connect multiple switches and their respective networks together, a modem connects your network to the Internet. Modems give you the power to connect with other networks connected to the Internet. The modem connects to your network through your router and switches.

Smaller businesses can use routers that have built-in switches. They play a dual role by connecting your devices to each other and to the modem. And even more convenient, wireless routers enable laptops, tablets, and mobile phones to connect to your computer network as well as the Internet.

However, if your business only has one device that needs to connect to the Internet, you don’t need a router or a switch. You can connect directly with the modem to access the Internet.

Modems connect to the Internet in two different ways:

  • Coaxial Cable (think Comcast and other providers of cable television)
  • DSL (phone lines like CenturyLink)

There are modem/router/switch combination devices.

Business computer networks usually connect to the Internet through a coaxial cable modem and a business router. If your router doesn’t have enough ports (places to plug the connecting cables into), then you can add a switch to give you more.

We’re here to partner with you

We hope that after reading this article you know a little more about your computer network and feel more confident about this part of your business. We’re here to partner with you in caring for it. We know your business is unique and requires a customized setup. We have experienced and friendly service engineers who can work with you to design and care for your computer network.

The following videos offer fantastic visual explanations of switches, routers, and modems:
Modem vs Router – What’s the difference?

Hub, Switch, & Router Explained – What’s the difference?

Learn more about Servers:
What Is A Server?

Is Your Business Network Vulnerable?

Is my business network vulnerable? That’s a question that keeps many business owners awake at night. Penetration tests for business networks often show that a network is most vulnerable from the inside. For example, it is not unusual when people write down their passwords and put them on their desks. I see it all the time.

Awareness of Local Exploitation

It’s important to be aware of the fact that there are vulnerabilities that can be exploited locally by individuals with the intent to steal data or cripple a business. Some might pose as a repairman or janitor. Some might be dumpster diving searching for information like account numbers, contact names, and numbers. And they want to breach your business to access your data.

The Value of Your Data

Your company’s data is the meat on the bones. It’s the most vital part of your business. Everything but the data can be replaced. So, if hackers can access your network and take your data, that can be devastating to your business. Too many businesses don’t realize how crucial it is to have their servers and networking equipment physically secure with a locked door or cabinet.

My Experience with Business Network Vulnerability

In my previous experience, I performed work for a large business that worked with sensitive, protected data. I brought it to the attention of management that the building’s network had a physically exposed element that could have been exploited by a hacker posing as a repairman or janitor.

This is why I continue to encourage the clients I work with to secure their network.

The following article (and video) is a great resource to understand how businesses can increase their network security. In non-techy language, it explains the most common network vulnerabilities. It even includes things like shoulder surfing, tailgating, and dumpster diving.

Read the full article: Common Types Of Network Security Vulnerabilities In 2020

At Least Put a Lock on the Door

The above article says businesses should have biometric authentication (fingerprint or face recognition) and access cards to protect servers. While I agree with this one-hundred percent, it is better than nothing to at least have a lock on the door and managers holding the keys.

Customized IT Solutions for Unique Businesses

Every business requires Customized IT Solutions because everybody’s business is different. The way people run their business and the layout of their buildings is different.

Industry Specific Tools

Everybody has different needs and different IT solutions. When you have this uniqueness between clients you can’t just use cut-and-paste solutions. My goal is to help tailor the IT solutions to the client’s needs.

Every business has industry-specific tools that integrate with their network in unique ways. We have clients who run equipment from imaging machines for x-rays to CNC machines (a computer-controlled cutting device). With each business, I have to consider the best, customized solution.

Customized IT Solutions: updating hardware & software is an investment

Another thing we run into a lot is that many of our clients invested a lot of money several years ago into their IT hardware and software when Windows 7 was still around. This makes it a challenge to come in and clean up their network. When a business has old equipment, there are a lot of things that need to be upgraded for it to run smoothly. I know it’s an expense for a company and it seems like it doesn’t directly profit them. It takes a portion of their budget and it’s hard to see the benefit of the investment.

Updating hardware & software is like maintaining the tires on a pickup

Their investment is kind of like the tires on a pickup. You can spend time with flats, downtime, and low traction. You can spend a lot of time and effort constantly fixing flat tires. Or you can invest in some new tires which don’t slow you down and keep your workflow optimized.

The tires on the truck don’t make the truck money but they are a crucial part of the truck that allows it to function optimally. They are vital for the truck to run, whether it’s coming or going.

Wi-Fi stability & connectivity issues at a school with a large campus

Recently, I assisted with restructuring a large network to improve Wi-Fi stability and connectivity speeds across a school’s large campus up in Idaho City. The students at this school constantly rely on assigned laptops. They have to carry them from class to class. And they reported that they were having nothing but headaches with their connectivity. Their speeds were slow. The signal was constantly dropping off.

Customized IT Solutions: the handoff

Because the structures of businesses’ buildings are always different, the way we have to run cable for Wi-Fi connectivity is also different. But, I’m constantly trying to apply the knowledge that I learn from one client to issues that another client has. When I troubleshoot, I’m always looking for something out of place and something that needs to be improved.

I recently worked on optimizing connectivity for another one of our clients who was having similar issues in their large warehouse. I applied the same solutions to the school district in Idaho City. When I went out to look at their campus, I noticed that a lot of their network was not optimized. So, I took a map of the school and mapped out the location of all the access points. I then restructured the way that their controller was set up in order to make the handoff smoother.

Handoff is when students with laptops walk outside of the bubble that the access point (AP) is capable of listening and talking on.

I corrected the handoff issues they were having by adjusting what’s called the RSSI or Received Signal Strength Indication. When the performance level goes down, the laptop knows that it needs to look for another access point.

Tailored IT Solutions: access points and laptops need to communicate

With the RSSI adjusted, the access points and laptops could communicate with each other. Now, when a student walks to the edge of a bubble and the laptop gets to that threshold of performance, the AP says, “Hey you’re out of my limit. You need to start looking for another access point because I’m going to drop.” The device will then respond, “Okay, is there another access point that I can connect to that I’m getting closer to?” The laptop searches for a closer access point and switches over to it with barely even a hiccup.

Monitoring outages mitigates major issues

I also wiped out and rebuilt their controller on the server, so it was easier for us to manage and monitor outages. After setting up remote alerts for their network, I could see their outages ahead of time. We are able to mitigate major issues because I call the school every time a switch or an access point goes down.

The outcome of our Customized IT Solution

Before, the students would avoid using the wireless because it was just too unreliable. After I implemented these solutions, the students are using the Wi-Fi and are more confident that it will work. Now, it’s actually helping students with their education and learning. They can actually complete assignments. The Wi-Fi is being used for what it was intended for.

Read more about Wi-Fi Connectivity: Wi-Fi Extenders for Business

“Thank you so much for your article about David Rucker.  Although, we have gotten to know him fairly well over the time that he has been our technician, it is always nice to know more.  He is very professional in all that he undertakes and is also a wonderful guy!!”

Debbi Mills-Havey
Cathedral Administrator
St. Michael’s Episcopal Cathedral

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

Customer Story: Clifton Coffee | Connect and Collaborate

Clifton Coffee Roasters was the first specialty coffee roaster to adopt the Teamwork solutions from Microsoft platform. This means they’re breaking new ground in communications methods for their industry. As the company expands, they depend on Teamwork solutions from Microsoft. They use these solutions to manage their growth, drive innovation, and help their employees connect in the most meaningful and productive ways possible.

A Construction Company Gets Hammered by A Keylogger

Every business needs #cybersecurity regardless of how small it is. This case study reported by the National Cybersecurity Alliance increases our awareness of this fact: The owner of a small family-owned construction company was notified that an unknown source initiated a $10K ACH transfer. They contacted the bank and learned that cybercriminals had made six transfers in one week from the company bank accounts, totaling $550K. How? Read the full story here. We are here to make sure you are protected from these kinds of attacks. Give us a call if you are in need of a free security assessment.

Read More…

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.

Productivity: Employees Gaming at Work?

We got a call from a client. He told us that productivity in his warehouse had significantly decreased. Deadlines weren’t being met. He knew something was going on but didn’t know what. Their warehouse was in a separate building from their office. Four or five employees managed it.

Increasing your Productivity: Your MSP is omniscient when it comes to your network

As their managed services provider, we remotely logged in to their computers to search for clues. It wasn’t long before we found that World of Warcraft, a massive multiplayer online role-playing game, was installed on every computer. We scanned our logs and found that they were spending most of the workday playing it. They were basically having a daily LAN party on their company’s time.

Your MSP is omnipotent when it comes to your network

We told the owner what was going on and he was angry. He had us remotely log in and delete the gaming software. We re-configured the firewall with stricter rules. He reprimanded the warehouse employees and warned them that if it ever happened again, they could find another job.

Block the “myths, magic, and endless adventures” on company time

Increase productivity by blocking the “myths, magic, and endless adventures” of role-playing games and other time-wasting websites on company time. If you have problems with your employees wasting company time on video games, social media, gambling websites, or porn websites you have the power to block these sites through your firewall. If productivity is down or not what you hope for, your managed services provider can evaluate your computer logs to see if the problem resides here.

Schedule a free consultation with Joe or Fred if you don’t have a firewall or you need yours uniquely configured.

Read more about this productivity problem: Employee Internet Management: Now an HR Issue

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!

So You Want To Achieve PCI Compliance? Shields Up!

If your company accepts credit card payments, you know about PCI Compliance. Your network and system shields need to be up and secure when you handle your clients’ credit card information. Cybercriminals are always looking for ways to get past your shields.

The COVID-19 pandemic has pushed many businesses into increasing online and over-the-phone payment systems. While the virus is infiltrating our physical shields, criminals are seeking to infiltrate our digital shields. The pandemic has triggered the largest cybersecurity threat that we have ever experienced.*

When Shields Are Compromised

475%

Increase in malicious reports of cyberattacks related to the virus at the onset of the pandemic.*

41%

Of small businesses that have been breached paid more than $50,000 for resolution.*

60%

Of SMBs that suffer a data breach go out of business within six months.*

Just like we’re all putting our shields up by wearing masks and trying to social distance, we need to make sure we are shielding our systems and valuable data from the 4.57 billion people on the Internet (statista.com). (Can you see how this makes doing business with each other so difficult?)

These stats show why it is important to make sure your business is cyber-safe. Here are a few PCI DSS (Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards) tips to strengthen your shields and business continuity.

Achieve PCI Compliance by using strong passwords

Just like we have locks and keys to our homes, we need to have locks and keys on our network and systems. Create longer passwords with a mix of letters, numbers, and other characters (%$*&!@(). And change them often.

Read more about passwords and MFA

Patch your software

Make sure your IT service company keeps your software patched and up to date. Patching is fixing, improving, or updating a program with bugs or other security issues. Just like we strengthen our bodies with eating and exercise to prevent disease, your IT company strengthens your software applications with patches to prevent data breaches.

Encrypt all payment card data

Encryption creates another type of shield between the billions of people on the Internet and our data. Digitally scrambling data creates barriers that cannot be penetrated unless a user has the key. Selective shields, boundaries, locked doors, barriers, and walls are good. Sometimes they are a pain, but they are needed to sustain our physical and digital lives. And they are needed for PCI Compliance.

Remote access to your systems should be secure

Shields up! Our bodies stay healthy by having selective boundaries that keep some things out but allow other things in. Similarly, your business needs boundaries around your network. You want your vendors, employees, and customers to access your system from their businesses, homes, and mobile devices. Viruses and cybercriminals target these access points. Your IT service company should make sure your associates are using strong passwords and multi-factor authentication before your system lets them in.

Firewalls Are A Big Part of PCI Compliance

Shields up! Make sure your IT company has a firewall shielding your network from the Internet. This is like a cell wall that monitors all incoming and outgoing substances. Many of these substances have to have special keys to get in. A competent IT company will configure a strong firewall for your business among multiple other layers of shields.

Beware of phishing email

True to viruses in nature, hackers are evolving. Their attacks are more deceptive. They send emails that appear completely legit. If you haven’t expected a request for confidential data or information, don’t hand it over until you call and verify first. Your ability to differentiate is another layer of security.

For Compliance, Your partners should also be secure

We all know how easily the COVID-19 virus has spread. The same thing is true of digital viruses. If they are hacked, you could be too. The hackers can get into your system via the same portal your partners entered it.

Cybercriminals are always looking for ways to get past your shields. If you work with e-commerce, your shields need to be strong and secure to achieve PCI Compliance. But whatever your business, let’s work together to keep our clients, partners, and businesses safe.

Schedule a free security risk assessment with either Joe Nice in Utah or Fred Bauerfeld in Idaho

*Stats from: PCI Security Standards Council & U.S. Security, Exchange Commission, and Panda Security

Managed Services Provider: Choosing Reliable IT Services

As a Managed Services Provider, we know that your business runs on information. We also know that you need top-notch cybersecurity to protect it. While you’re busy growing your business, you need someone to manage your technology. And you’ve got a lot to manage – cloud services, software applications, vendors, network, multiple computing devices, servers, switches, and storage. Without someone keeping a 24/7 watch on these assets, your business is vulnerable to security breaches.

The following image is a screenshot of the SonicWall Security Center. This website monitors real-time cyberattacks. Click on the link to see how many attacks are happening right now. Security breaches are constantly bombarding organizations like yours. Bad actors are always searching for a chink in your armor.

A Reliable Managed Services Provider’s (MSP’s) goal is to keep your business and data secure while maintaining an efficient technology environment. MSPs do this by managing your cloud services and overseeing your daily IT needs. They provide you with the technical support and security you rely on to keep up with the fast-paced, automated business world.

IT Management is a full-time job

You may have a difficult time effectively managing your business IT operations and cloud services on your own. Computer technology is an industry that is constantly iterating to increase speed and safety while minimizing cost. Consequently, many companies hire a variety of third-party services to run their business operations. These services should work together compatibly, but that’s hard to accomplish when they are constantly evolving.

A Managed IT Services Provider manages your interconnected web of services for you. Certified technicians work full-time overseeing your IT ecosystem to ensure it runs optimally. They free you up to focus on what you do best. An optimized technology environment maintains the highest degree of protection against security breaches.

If you are thinking about hiring an MSP, consider how the following benefits increase your cybersecurity:

1. A Managed Services Provider reduces costs & prevents security breaches

For small- to medium-sized businesses, it is less expensive to hire an MSP than staff a full-time IT department. When your IT services are affordable, you can maintain the network optimization required for cybersecurity.

2. A Managed Services Provider offers predictable, recurring monthly costs

An MSP has the flexibility to adapt their services to your business needs. You don’t pay for more or less than you need. Once the right fit is found, you pay a consistent monthly bill. When you know how much to budget for, your IT services are a no brainer. You don’t have to constantly worry about a new and unexpected bill when something happens. With consistent service, your productivity and cybersecurity remain optimal.

3. Choosing an MSP maximizes hardware & software life

MSPs work to keep your technology current. They monitor the age of your computer devices and software applications. Most of us don’t like having to pay for new equipment when what we have is still perfectly functional. But when our computers and software cross into the land of the dinosaurs, they become inefficient. Outdated machines and software are a security risk.

A trustworthy MSP knows when to patch and maintain what you already have, and when it’s time to upgrade. Keeping your technology up to date keeps your defenses strong against cyberattacks.

As a Managed Services Provider, we know that you primarily need us to keep your network securely running at peak efficiency. Lagging computer and internet speeds are your nemesis. Our goal is to maximize your cybersecurity while increasing your productivity. We strive to do that at reasonable costs. Schedule a free consultation with Joe if you’re in Utah or Fred if you’re in Idaho.

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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