Category: Technology

MSP, IoT, VPN, Oh My! Your Complete Guide to IT Acronyms

Do information technology acronyms seem confusing? In our industry, we love to abbreviate technical terms to acronyms. No worries – we are here to help with the alphabet soup! Some of these acronyms may be familiar to you and you may hear them every day. Others are specific to information technology systems and challenges.

Here are the most frequently used IT acronyms you may come across in your day-to-day life or as a business owner:

AI: Artificial Intelligence

Have you ever asked “Alexa, how is the weather today?,” or “Siri, what is the best recipe for baked ziti?” This is an example of artificial intelligence. Artificial intelligence is the development of computer systems that can perform tasks that normally require human intelligence.

Speech recognition, visual perception, and even decision-making are all examples of how artificial intelligence is changing the way we communicate and perform daily tasks.

API: Application Programmer Interface

An application programmer interface, or API, is software that allows for two separate applications to “talk” to each other. You likely use an API nearly every day but never thought about it. When looking for the best deals on a travel site, an API lets the travel site quickly collect flight and hotel availabilities from providers before showing you your options. Without an API in place, the travel site would have to manually reach out to the provider to find pricing and availability.

AWS: Amazon Web Services

AWS, or Amazon Web Services, is a cloud-services platform that offers its users database storage, content delivery, and other services. Individuals, businesses, and even government agencies rely on AWS to obtain large-scale computing services without having to build their own IT infrastructure.

Big brands like Netflix, Twitch, Turner Broadcasting, BBC, LinkedIn, Facebook, ESPN, and Twitter use AWS for storage. If you’re binge-watching your favorite new show online, chances are you are watching content stored with AWS.

FTP: File Transfer Protocol

FTP, or file transfer protocol, is one of many ways of transferring a file over the internet. While this is less common now that companies rely on the cloud to share files, some businesses still use FTP. With FTP, the files are hosted on an on-premises server and employees can upload files to share via a link, like you would do when sharing a link on Google Drive.

HaaS: Hardware as a Service

Hardware as a Service, or HaaS, is a procurement model that is similar to leasing or renting equipment. In the HaaS model, businesses essentially “borrow” their IT hardware from a managed service provider (MSP). The MSP owns the hardware and is responsible for maintenance and upkeep.

IoT: Internet of Things

The IoT, or the Internet of Things, describes all the physical objects that are interconnected over the internet or other communication networks. It’s literally the billions of devices around the world that are connected to the internet.

A good example of IoT in action is a wearable device like an Apple Watch or Fitbit. Wearables give users data about their lifestyle using the internet to collect and share the data. Other real-world examples of IoT include home security systems with cameras that are accessible online, smart appliances (think thermostats you can turn on or off from an app on your phone), and even medical devices that document health data through a wireless connection.

IP: Internet Protocol

Internet Protocol, or IP, is the set of rules by which data is sent from one computer to another over the internet. Every computer has a unique IP address – do you know how to find yours? Go to Google and type in “What’s my IP address?” That is your unique identifier when you are communicating online.

IP addresses are useful to trace a device’s location or an origin of an email and to troubleshoot network errors or identify cyber intruders.

MFA: Multi-Factor Authentication

With the increase in cyber threats over the last decade, MFA, or multi-factor authentication, has become a best practice to access private data or sensitive information. MFA requires a user to submit at least two different identifiers to log in to a website or to access files on a server.

A common example of MFA is when you have to enter a password AND a code sent to your smartphone to authenticate yourself. The banking industry uses MFA frequently, as well as websites and apps such as Facebook, Amazon, Dropbox, and Apple ID.

MSP: Managed Services Provider

Another common IT acronym is MSP. A managed service provider, or MSP, is a term used to describe an organization that provides an outsourced specialized service to a business. While there are MSPs in several industries, the most common are outsourced IT services.

An IT MSP provides specialized IT support through services including technical support, cybersecurity, hardware and software installation and maintenance, help desk, network and server administration, network monitoring, and computer patching and software updates, to name a few.

SaaS: Software as a Service

Software as a Service, or SaaS, allows users to access applications and software over the internet. While the terminology may seem unfamiliar to you, you likely are already using SaaS daily. Cloud-based apps like email, calendars, and even Microsoft Office 365 are all examples of SaaS.

With SaaS, businesses do not need to install and maintain software on their own. Applications are updated and maintained through an internet connection.

VoIP: Voice Over Internet Protocol

Voice over internet protocol, more commonly known as voice over IP or VoIP, allows users to make phone calls over broadband internet. Unlike traditional phone systems, a VoIP system works by converting sound into digital voice communication and transferring it through Internet broadband.

VoIP also allows users to conduct video meetings and conference calls and is often a more cost-effective means of business communications.

VPN: Virtual Private Network

A VPN, or virtual private network, gives you online privacy by creating a private network on a public internet connection. A VPN essentially protects your data from unwanted eyes by creating an encrypted tunnel for your data. A VPN also hides your IP address and allows you to access public Wi-Fi safely.

Traveling abroad and want to access your favorite Netflix show that is only streaming in the U.S.? You can use a VPN to hide your IP address and binge-watch away!

We Focus on your IT, So You Can Focus on Your Business

Everound, Your Managed IT Services Provider

At Everound, we partner with small and medium businesses in Central Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, and the Baltimore/DC metro region and take care of their IT infrastructure and needs. We provide managed information technology services designed to help companies become more efficient, boost productivity, reduce risk, improve operations, and promote digital security.

We support national organizations and local businesses by solving IT challenges with customized information technology solutions. Our team of network engineers and technology specialists has been helping clients for more than 30 years.

When you choose to work with Everound, you are more than a ‘client,’ you are our partner. We are relationship-focused and work hard to understand your unique challenges. From day one, we will integrate seamlessly into your organization and treat your team as our team with respect and transparency; communicate with clarity; and above all, implement solutions to help your business be successful.

Let us take on your IT challenges so you can focus on your business. Reach out today for a free IT infrastructure and cybersecurity assessment.

VoIP for Business

Voice over internet protocol, or more commonly known as voice over IP or VoIP, is a type of technology that allows users to make phone calls over broadband internet. Unlike traditional phone systems, a VoIP system works by converting sound into digital voice communication and transferring it through Internet broadband.

Bottom line? If you have access to the Internet, you can call anyone in the United States or internationally with VoIP. VoIP works on any computer and offers advantages over public switched telephone networks (PSTN), also known as plain old telephone service (POTS) for business communications.

Helping Businesses Stay Connected

Advantages of VoIP for Business

There are many distinct advantages of switching to a VoIP system for business purposes. Let’s take a look at the top 8 advantages of VoIP vs. traditional hard-wired phone systems.

  1. Low Cost: Cost savings is one of the biggest advantages of using a VoIP service. VoIP telephone systems eliminate the need for individual telephone lines which can add costs over time. In addition, long-distance calls are less expensive with VoIP since you are utilizing your existing Internet connection.
  2. Higher Call Quality: When VoIP was introduced in the mid-90s, one of its disadvantages was poor call quality. With the advent of fast and stable Internet connections over the last two decades, the original quality issues have disappeared. VoIP calls are crisp and clear, with no latency issues, lags, or dropped calls.
  3. Portability: With VoIP, you can take your business phone number wherever you go, as long as you have a broadband connection. You no longer have to be tied down to a desk with VoIP – it goes where you go.
  4. Scalability: VoIP is a great choice for growing organizations. Adding an additional phone number takes minutes and does not require expensive hardware or a dedicated line. Does your business have a spike in seasonal employees or are you opening branch offices regularly? VoIP is an effective tool for growing businesses.
  5. Remote Workforce Friendly: Remote work has grown exponentially over the last two years. A VoIP phone system can support a remote workforce to help keep them connected to your business. VoIP enables both remote workers and office-based employees to be on the same system. Office-based employees can easily transfer a call from a customer to a remote worker, rather than instructing them to make another call to a separate phone number, and vice versa.
  6. Improved Customer Service: Have you ever missed an important call from a client? With VoIP, you can choose where your calls ring and how, and avoid missing important calls. For example, you can choose for the first few rings to go to your office. If you don’t answer, the call can be forwarded to a second and even third device, such as your mobile phone or tablet.
  7. Wide Array of Features: VoIP is great for making calls, but there are many other features that make VoIP a smart business decision. VoIP also includes video conferencing and conference calling that help both external and internal communications. Other features include auto-attendant, call forwarding, caller ID, voicemail-to-text, call recording, and extension dialing.
  8. Futureproofing: Older technologies such as ISDN are being phased out and businesses that use VoIP are using the modern standard for communications.
We focus on Your IT. You focus on your business.

Everound for your VoIP for Business Phone Systems

If your business is still utilizing old telecommunications technologies, Everound can help you select the right VoIP system for your business. As a managed IT services provider, we have experience helping both small businesses and large enterprises find the best solution for their needs. Our team can advise you on if switching makes sense and can help implement the changes in the most effective way possible to minimize any interruptions.

Ready to make the switch? Reach out today to discuss VoIP for your organization. We focus on your IT, so you can focus on your business.

How to Choose the Right Firewall

When putting together a robust cybersecurity plan for your business, it’s critical to include adding a firewall to your plan. A firewall is a piece of hardware or software that is placed between your internal network and the external public Internet. A firewall is designed to stop malicious intrusions on your private network.

Which kind of firewall is right for your business? There are several different types of firewalls with different levels of protection. Let’s take a look at how to choose the right firewall by examining the different types, what you should consider when choosing one, and how Everound can help you choose the right firewall for your business.

Stop Malicious Intrusions

Types of Firewalls

There are many different types of firewall architectures and each works in slightly different ways to monitor the data coming in and out of your network. While this list is not inclusive of all types of firewalls, here are several common options to consider:

  • Packet filtering firewall: A packet filtering firewall is a network security technique that controls data flow to and from a network. It is a security mechanism that allows the movement of data “packets” across the network and controls their flow on the basis of a set of rules, protocols, IP addresses, and ports. Essentially, data passes through a network in the form of small pieces called data packets. These packets will only get through the firewall if they match the predefined filtering rules set in place.
  • Circuit level gateway firewall: Unlike a packet filtering firewall, a circuit-level gateway firewall does not inspect individual packets, but rather monitors the transmission control protocol (TCP) handshaking between the packets to determine whether a requested session is legitimate.
  • Application-level gateway (proxy firewall): An application gateway or application-level gateway (ALG) filters incoming node traffic to certain specifications which means only transmitted network application data is filtered.
  • Stateful inspection firewall: A stateful firewall, or stateful inspection firewall, keeps track and monitors the state of active network connections. It also analyzes incoming traffic and looks for potential data risks.
  • Next-gen firewall: A next-generation firewall (NGFW) combines a traditional firewall with other network device filtering functions.

Think of a firewall as the virtual wall that separates your internal data from external threats. Without an effective firewall in place, a network could be susceptible to malicious threats and data breaches. If your business isn’t protected by a firewall and you are unsure which kind is best for you, a managed services provider (MSP) like Everound can help you determine what considerations are important in your selection.

What Is Important to Protect?

Considerations When Choosing a Firewall

With several different options to choose from for a firewall, consider the following questions to find the best firewall to meet your needs:

  • What are your top threats? All firewalls offer a similar function – the monitoring of network traffic. How much network traffic do you have at your business? Are you sending and receiving large amounts of data? Are your employees at risk for accidentally opening a door to your network for malicious threats?
  • Does it have DoS/DDoS protection? DoS (denial of service) and DDoS (distributed denial of service) attacks occur when a network is flooded by a machine or a group of machines with malicious intent. Both kinds of attacks can paralyze an organization and opting for a firewall with DoS/DDoS protection can help prevent downtime and lost data.
  • Does it send attack alerts? Some firewalls send real-time alerts when there is a potential threat or breach. Real-time alerts can inform you of when an attack was prevented and when an attack is occurring. With real-time alerts, you can stay ahead of a cyberattack and minimize impact.
  • Are you planning on scaling your business? Some small businesses don’t feel they need cybersecurity protection like firewalls, especially if they only have a few employees. Small businesses, though, can benefit from a firewall especially when starting to grow. Although media coverage focuses on cyber threats to large businesses, small businesses are also at risk.
  • Do you have remote or telecommuting employees? One of the biggest spikes in cyberattacks occurred when remote work increased during the pandemic. If you have a remote team of employees, a software firewall can help you prevent unwanted access to your network.
  • Do you need ongoing support? Before choosing a firewall, ask if the manufacturer has ongoing support. Will they help with installation and integration or are they only selling you the firewall itself? If you need ongoing support, opt for a firewall manufacturer that offers a go-to support specialist.
Protecting Your Data and Organization

Firewall Services with Everound

If you are considering adding a firewall to your cybersecurity plan and are unsure of which type is right for your business, reach out to Everound for help. Our team of cybersecurity experts has decades of experience working with business owners to select and install a firewall solution.

Everound also offers managed IT services and can support your business on an ongoing basis for your information technology needs. Reach out today to start a conversation about cybersecurity best practices including firewalls for your business. We offer a free cybersecurity risk assessment and can recommend the best firewall to protect your network from malicious traffic. We focus on your IT, so you can focus on your business.

layers of the internetThere are more than one billion web pages on the Internet, and 4.8 billion people around the world use the Internet daily. But did you know that only 10% of websites on the Internet are indexed by Google, Yahoo, Bing, and other search engines and accessible to the general public? These websites are called the “surface web,” and the other 90% of websites are the “deep and dark web.” These are the layers of the Internet.

Think of the internet as the ocean, with the surface web as the top layer and visible for miles and miles. The deep web, then, is the deeper part of the ocean just below the surface. This is also accessible to people but requires a bit of work to access. The dark web is the very bottom of the ocean and is only accessible to a small number of people who know exactly how to get there and has the resources and time to do it.

Let’s take a look at what kinds of web pages are on each layer (surface, deep, and dark), and what that means to the general Internet user.

Easily Accessible Content

What is the Surface Web?

The surface web includes websites that we are all familiar with and likely access on a daily basis. This is the portion of the Internet that is readily available to the general public and searchable with standard web search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo. The surface web is also known as the “Visible Web.”

The surface web includes websites like:

  • Social media sites including Facebook and Instagram
  • Business websites such as Everound.com
  • Wikipedia
  • Online video sharing platforms like YouTube

Essentially, any website that appears after you complete a search on Google or another search engine is on the surface web.

Accessed Through Authentication

What is the Deep Web?

Unlike the surface web, the deep web is part of the Internet where the contents are not indexed by search engines. The deep web is only accessible with some sort of authentication – a password or other means to be able to view the data and information. Using the previous ocean analogy, a person needs to have a resource to go “below the surface.”

Why is information on the deep web harder to access? Without authentication, that information is at risk for public consumption.

The deep web contains sensitive information like:

  • Personal email accounts
  • Content on your social media accounts
  • Online banking and investments
  • Private online databases
  • Medical records and private health information
  • Content contained within scientific and academic databases.

A lot of what exists on the deep web consists of personal information that you wouldn’t want to turn up in a web search — like your social security number or credit card information. This is private and could be misused in a data breach.

Remember, if you must provide a username, password, or some other type of authentication, the information you access is on the deep web.

Intentionally Hidden on the Internet

What is the Dark Web?

The dark web IS a part of the deep web but cannot be accessed through traditional web browsers. The dark web is intentionally hidden on the Internet. Originally designed to share information and communicate by the US Military, the dark web is now accessed by others.

Accessing the dark web is not an easy task for the general Internet user. Regular browsers like Microsoft Edge or Google Chrome are unable to access dark web websites. The dark web uses what’s called The Onion Router (often referred to as Tor) hidden service protocol. “Tor” servers are undetectable from search engines and provide complete anonymity.

Although not all activity on the dark web is harmful, there is a growing population of cybercriminals that use the dark web maliciously and for illicit purposes. Some cybercriminals sell sensitive information on the dark web that can be used to exploit companies and can lead to identity theft. The dark web also is a place where some cyber attacks are planned.

Here are a few examples of what can be found on the dark web:

  • Stolen information: If a company experiences a data breach because of a cybersecurity failure, there’s a chance the stolen data may be up for grabs on the dark web. Other stolen information for sale includes login credentials and hacked Netflix and Amazon accounts.
  • Illicit substances: Believe it or not, you can find and purchase illicit drugs and toxic chemicals on the dark web. Prescription drugs are also available on the dark web.
  • Dangerous and disturbing images and information: Unfortunately, the dark web can be a dangerous and ugly place. Human trafficking, pornography, gore, and counterfeit goods have found a home on the dark web.

The dark web can be a marketplace for illegal behavior. Companies with a cybersecurity plan in place that includes dark web monitoring can stay ahead of cybercrime on the dark web. Employee information can be at risk – logins and passwords are prime data that can be sold and transferred on the dark web.

Website hackers, too, find ways to compromise company networks through the dark web. A dark web monitoring MSP (managed service provider) can help you keep track of any information that may be compromised.

Protecting Your Data and Organization

Cybersecurity and Dark Web Monitoring with Everound

As a cybersecurity expert, Everound can help monitor the dark web for your small business or corporate enterprise. Through a strategic, customized and intentional approach, our team of cyber experts will create a cybersecurity dark web monitoring protocol that includes:

  • Real-time alerts of dark web threats
  • Routine scan of dark web for your business information
  • Detection of compromised credentials including IP addresses, email addresses, and logins and passwords

Cybersecurity companies like Everound are experts at preventing cyber threats from infiltrating your business. With more than 30 years of experience, our team of cybersecurity professionals can recommend and implement data protection strategies and programs to help keep your information and your network safe from harm. Reach out today for your free cybersecurity risk assessment. We focus on IT so you can focus on your business.

In today’s highly volatile cyber environment, it’s important for business owners to have a clear, strategic approach to a cybersecurity risk management process. Managing cyber risk should be considered a priority for all business owners, regardless of size. While most media coverage focuses on cyber-attacks for large enterprise-level organizations, many small and medium businesses are also facing cyber-attack challenges.

Cyber-attacks are not random. In fact, if you know what to look for, there are usually signs of a planned or imminent cyber threat. Phishing emails and mentions of organizations on the dark web are both red flags that an organization is being targeted.

What should business owners do to stay ahead of potential cybersecurity vulnerabilities? The answer is the creation and implementation of a cybersecurity risk management plan. A cybersecurity risk management plan is the ongoing process of identifying, analyzing, evaluating, and addressing cybersecurity threats. The process is shared among an entire organization, not just members of the information technology team.

Because the cyber landscape is continually changing and new, sophisticated threats emerge daily, a risk management plan doesn’t completely provide a fail-safe for cyber threats. However, by establishing a risk management approach to cybersecurity, an organization can greatly reduce its risk by attending to the flaws, threat trends, and attacks that matter most to its business.

Let’s take a look at how to develop a cybersecurity risk management plan, the common cyber risk management frameworks, and the benefits of cybersecurity risk management.

Prepare Now. Save Later.

Developing a Cybersecurity Risk Management Plan

When developing a cybersecurity risk management plan, many organizations approach the process with a 4-step model. First, organizations should identify risk, then assess the likelihood of the threat or risk actually occurring and what is its potential impact. The third step is to identify appropriate risk mitigation measures, and the final step is an ongoing monitoring program that includes risk response and security controls designed to evolve to address a shifting cyber threat environment.

Let’s explore each step of the process in more detail.

Step One: Identify Cybersecurity Risk

An IT risk is essentially any threat to your business data, IT infrastructure systems, and overall business processes. It is the potential for an unplanned, negative business outcome that comes as a result of a failure or misuse of information technology. When considering what your IT risks are, think of how a threat can impact your business and what would the consequences be?

When identifying risk, start with thinking about the threats, vulnerabilities, and consequences of an IT failure. Document each before moving to the next step.

  • Threats: Threats are circumstances with the potential to affect an organization’s operations or IT assets negatively. This can occur through unauthorized access to IT information systems and can occur through human error, cyber-attacks, IT configuration failures, and even natural disasters such as a hurricane, tropical storm, or black out.
  • Vulnerabilities: What are the weaknesses in the information system, security procedures, internal controls or implementation from a threat? In addition to internal vulnerabilities, list the external weak points such as supply chains and vendor relationships.
  • Consequences: Consequences are any of the adverse results that happen when a threat exploits a vulnerability. What costs – both hard and soft – are at risk and would be a consequence if a cyber threat was successful? Some of the costs include revenue, destroyed or lost information, and customer trust.

Step Two: How to Assess Risk

After cybersecurity risks are identified and documented, the next step is to assess your level of risk to determine what level of cybersecurity measures should be implemented. Which risks are the greatest? Which have low consequences? Assessing risk can help you determine how to build your risk management plan.

For reach risk, conduct an impact analysis that includes:

  • Name all assets
  • Prioritize each asset
  • Identify all possible threats
  • Identify vulnerabilities
  • Determine the likelihood of a threat event
  • Conduct an impact analysis to estimate the cost impact

The results of your risk assessment will be a guide to inform risk management decisions and risk response measures in the future.

Step Three: Identify and Implement Cybersecurity Risk Mitigation Measures

Now that you’ve intentionally identified IT risks, how can you mitigate each risk to minimize the impact of a cyber-attack? Depending on the outcome of the previous steps, there are several options to help manage cybersecurity risk including:

  • Cybersecurity training: Most successful cyber-attacks are the result of human error. Cybersecurity training programs for staff and stakeholders is a great tool to help mitigate risk.
  • Updating software: Updating software is an important part of cybersecurity. Outdated software lacks patches if vulnerabilities are discovered and can fall prey to advanced cyberattacks. This poses several security risks, both due to human malice and the chances of information system failure.
  • Multi-factor authentication (MFA): MFA is a security feature that dramatically improves account security. MFA, also referred to as two-factor authentication, adds an additional layer of security to protect organizational data and assets.
  • Data backup: Data backups are an essential part of a cybersecurity risk management plan as they allow for data protection and recovery in the case of a successful attack. There are different strategies and resources available for data backup, most including cloud services.
  • Endpoint protection:  Every single device that is connected to your network is an entry point to your business. Endpoint protection works by examining files as they enter and leave devices on your network. An endpoint security system is a software program that is centrally managed by an administrator and tracks threats in real-time.
  • Dark web monitoring: Company email addresses, validation credentials, account information, and other important business data can be compromised or sold on the dark web. Adding a dark web monitoring service to your cybersecurity plan helps protect yourself from a data breach.

Step Four: Implement Ongoing Monitoring

After putting cybersecurity risk mitigation measures in place, most business owners have a false sense of security. After all, they’ve identified risks and put security measures in place – shouldn’t that be enough?

Unfortunately, cybercriminals and cybercrime evolves and change rapidly. Ongoing monitoring can help ensure internal controls keep up with changing IT risks.

Best Practices

Common Cyber Risk Management Frameworks

When building a cyber risk management process, there are several frameworks that help businesses adhere to industry and regulatory best practices. A cybersecurity framework provides a common language and set of standards for IT professionals in varying industries. Having a framework in place makes it easier to define the processes and procedures your business must take for cybersecurity.

Some of the most popular frameworks include:

  • NIST Cybersecurity Framework (CSF): Drafted by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), this framework addresses the lack of standards when it comes to cybersecurity across the private and public sectors. NIST CSF provides a uniform set of rules, guidelines, and standards for organizations to use across industries.
  • DoD Risk Management Framework (RMF): The Department of Defense (DoD) Risk Management Framework (RMF) is the set of standards that DoD agencies use to assess and manage cybersecurity risks. This framework can be applied to other industries and breaks down a cyber risk management strategy into six steps.
  • ISO/IEC 27001 and 27002: Created by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), ISO 27001 and ISO 27002 are considered the international standards for validating a cybersecurity program. Companies can receive ISO certification by following the framework outlined.
  • FAIR: The Factor Analysis of Information Risk (FAIR) is a cyber risk framework developed by The Open Group to help businesses understand, measure, and analyze risk to help business leaders make well-informed decisions about their business risk and their cybersecurity practices.
Stay Ahead of Cybercrime

Benefits of Cybersecurity Risk Management

An intentional and strategic cybersecurity risk management program can reduce the risk of cyber criminals obtaining sensitive company information. There are countless benefits to a thought-out, intentional approach to cybersecurity including:

  • Phishing detection
  • Brand protection
  • Fraud protection
  • Sensitive data leak monitoring
  • Dark web activity
  • Automated threat mitigation
  • Minimizing supply chain risks

Unsure where to start with a cybersecurity risk management plan? A managed services provider (MSP) specializing in cybersecurity can help you create a framework to protect your business from cyberthreats.

Protecting Your Data and Organization

Cybersecurity Risk Assessment with Everound

Cybersecurity companies like Everound are experts at preventing cyber threats from infiltrating your business. With more than 30 years of experience, our team of cybersecurity professionals can recommend and implement data protection strategies and programs to help keep your information and your network safe from harm.

We offer a free cybersecurity risk assessment that can help you start developing your cybersecurity risk management program. We will take a deep dive into your potential security threats and recommend programs that can help you reduce risk. Reach out today for a free consultation. We focus on your IT, so you can focus on your business.

Across almost every industry, computers are essential to keeping a business operating smoothly. Computers improve employee efficiency, accuracy, and can speed up many work processes. As a business owner, knowing when to replace your work computer can be challenging.

If you wait too long, you can incur expensive support and service costs, and if you replace desktops and laptops too soon, you aren’t maximizing your original investment. So, how do you know when to keep or replace your older PCs? Let’s take a look at the average lifespan of computers, our recommended refresh cycle for a business, and key indicators a computer is starting to fail.

How Long Should Your PC Last?

Average Lifespan of Computers

Like all electronics, computers will slow down and become less useful as they age. Environmental conditions, accidents, and normal wear and tear take their toll on both PCs and laptops, causing functional issues. Computers don’t last forever and having a replacement plan in place can help business owners plan for IT budget needs.

The average lifespan of a computer is typically three to five years. Desktop computers should last at least three years, and laptops, between three and five years. There are several factors that contribute to how long a computer will last for an employee including:

  • Environmental factors: Computers require a cool environment to work properly. When they become overheated, the fans will kick on to try to cool down the internal components. The fans can draw dust and other allergens inside the computer which can clog up vents and prevent air from flowing freely. Computers that are used in factory environments tend to have a much shorter lifespan than computers in a cool, clean office space.
  • Usage: One factor that contributes to your computer’s lifespan is the manner in which it is used. If you only use the computer for spreadsheets and word processing, you may be able to extend its life an extra year or so past the average lifespan of a PC. For more sophisticated tasks that require applications, you may find your older computer is slow and struggles to keep up with the increased processing demand.
  • Unsafe cybersecurity practices: Nothing shortens the lifespan of a computer quicker than unsafe cybersecurity practices. Even the newest PC can die quickly if infected with malware or viruses. If you are a business owner, be sure to follow best practices for cybersecurity to ensure your computers – and your investment – are protected. Regularly install updates and patches for your computers’ operating systems and be proactive with cybersecurity training for your team. Many malware attacks are successful because of human behaviors.

At Everound, we recommend business owners adopt a 25% refresh cycle with their computer inventory rather than replacing all computers at the same time. Essentially, instead of purchasing new computers for all workstations at once, business owners can replace 25% of them each year. This cost-effective strategy allows for hardware capital expenses to be budgeted over four years instead of one.

Know the Signs of an Aging Computer

Key Signs You Should Replace Your Computer

There are several key signs to watch for when considering if you need to replace your work computers including:

  • Security is out of date: If your current computers are incompatible with newer versions of their operating systems, it may be time to invest in new computers. When the operating system is incompatible, important security patches and updates will not be installed on your PC. Check your Windows and Mac machines for OS compatibility to make sure your security is up to date.
  • Increasing support costs: Are your team members consistently asking your go-to IT staff member for help troubleshooting issues? Even if this is an internal employee, there is a real support cost affecting your bottom line.
  • Noisy fans: Are the fans on your computer constantly running? This is a key indicator that your computer is running “hot” and its internal components are at risk for damage. If you’re running the latest versions of an application or operating system, these could be maxing out your computer hardware, causing it to run warmer than usual.
  • Applications take a long time to load: Applications may take longer on an older computer. If you’re running the most up-to-date version of an application, older hardware may not be able to keep up. Before installing software, check the compatibility to ensure it will work with your computer.
  • Slowed productivity and lost time: According to a study by Intel, employees are 19% less productive on a PC that is older than 5 years. If your work computers cause an hour of downtime per day for a month, that equates to 20 hours per month. What is the value of that lost time?

If your PCs or laptops are experiencing any of the key indicators they need to be replaced, a managed IT service provider can help you determine the best path to replace hardware in a cost-efficient manner. Everound offers monthly managed IT service plans that help business owners assess and determine how to replace computers to maximize efficiency and productivity.

Keeping Your Team Supported

Everound for Your Hardware Needs

At Everound, we work with small businesses to large corporations on their IT needs including computer procurement, installation, hardware and software maintenance, and computer refresh plans. Our team of experienced IT professionals can help you determine the best course of action to keep your computers operating at peak performance. Reach out today for a free hardware assessment for your business. We focus on your IT, so you can focus on your business.

While the shift to a remote workforce had been gradually evolving over the last decade, 2020 accelerated the move to remote work. Many businesses are now embracing either an entirely work-from-home culture or a hybrid model where employees split their time between an office and a remote location.

A recent survey from PwC reinforced what leaders and business owners have been hearing from their own teams – more than half of employees who were sent home to work during the pandemic prefer to continue to work from home at least 2 days a week. Nineteen percent of all employees surveyed prefer to work remotely entirely. The old paradigm of a 40-hour workweek, bookended with a morning and evening commute, is quickly changing.

The key to a successful remote workforce is a solid technology infrastructure and IT support. Technology plays a critical role in access to resources, collaboration, and most importantly, security. What current technologies can help a remote team? Let’s look at how technology supports a remote workforce.

Keeping Your Team Protected

Critical Cybersecurity for Remote Workers

A successful, efficient remote work platform requires several key technology resources that provide a seamless, secure work experience. With the staggering increase in cybercrime in 2020, the highest technology priority for any business, especially those with a remote team, is cybersecurity.

Last year more than 90% of companies worldwide experienced some form of a cyberattack whose aim was to steal passwords. For businesses with remote employees, a solid, strategically developed infrastructure can help prevent cyber threats while also providing ways for employees to work efficiently and stay connected.

Several technologies that are critical for a secure IT infrastructure include:

  • VPN: VPN, or a virtual private network, is a service that both encrypts data and hides IP addresses by bouncing network activity through a secure chain to another server miles away.
  • Network Security: Network security is the use of technologies to defend a network and network-accessible software and hardware from cyberattacks and misuse of company data. Depending on the type of business, network security can include firewalls, anti-malware, and data loss prevention (DLP).
  • Access Controls: For a remote team, access controls can help business owners allocate different levels of access to sensitive documents on a server. Access control is a security process that regulates who can view and use resources on a network. Access control minimizes risk to the business or organization and reduces the risk of a cyberthreat.
  • Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA): Multi-factor authentication is when a user must provide two or more pieces of evidence to gain access to a digital platform or resource. This extra layer of security is used to protect against hackers by ensuring that digital users are who they say they are.
Keeping Your Team Connected

Communication Technologies for a Remote Workforce

One of the challenges of the abrupt move to a remote workforce in 2020 was the immediate disruption to face-to-face communication and routine day-to-day conversations. Because nonverbal communication makes up 60-80% of communication, it’s important for businesses to integrate a visual platform for communication in addition to digital communication products (think chat programs like Slack).

Successful remote teams have several information technology resources available to them to encourage communication including:

  • Google Workspace: Google Workspace is a platform that provides several collaboration and workspace tools to make remote work easier for employees. Files can be shared on a secure platform, projects can be collaboratively edited from a central location, and communication tools that allow chatting and video and voice communication are available.
  • Microsoft Teams: Microsoft Teams is a platform that allows for instant communication, file sharing, and collaboration. Users can chat with the colleagues in real time, or even place a video phone call with one click. Files can be shared through chat, eliminating the need to send files as attachments via email. Other resources on Microsoft Teams include VOIP, screen sharing, webinars, and online meetings.
  • Video conferencing: Years ago, a video conference felt foreign to many employees. Video conferencing exploded in 2020, with several platforms breaking through as leaders. In addition to Google and Microsoft, Zoom has risen to the top with their easy-to-use platform for video conferencing. Many products can host hundreds of attendees with ease.
  • VOIP: The traditional landline phone system is becoming obsolete, especially without employees working from a shared office of location. VOIP, also known as voice over internet protocol, is a solution that connects users to each other immediately. VOIP is built in to several platforms including Zoom and Microsoft Teams.
Keeping Your Team Supported

Support Services for Remote Workers

A robust remote work program not only includes the apps and services employees need to perform their job but also supports technologies challenges and backup and disaster recovery.

Several approaches to IT support services include:

  • Remote Help Desk: When employees are working in the same building as their information technology colleagues and have an IT challenge, they often walk to their office for a quick fix to resolve issues. With remote teams, minor technology challenges can become a huge frustration without the proper process and support in place. Having a remote help desk in place with an automated help desk ticketing system provides remote employees access to technology help.
  • Backup and Disaster Recovery: While disaster recovery for on-premises infrastructure and data centers has become standard for most companies, moving applications to third-party cloud solutions to support remote work creates a unique challenge. When companies move to cloud-based applications such as file-sharing and storage, they need to do due diligence to ensure those vendors are following the best practices for disaster recovery to ensure their data is safe. Properly secured cloud-based solutions are a great way to backup and restore data in case of hard drive malfunctions, cyberattacks, and natural disasters.
We Focus On Your IT, So You Can Focus On Your Business.

Managed IT Services for a Remote Workforce

At Everound, we understand the unique information technology challenges of businesses with a remote workforce. We can help identify areas of improvement and customize solutions to help meet the needs of a fully remote or hybrid business model.
Interested in learning more? Reach out today for a free assessment to see if your current IT infrastructure is fully supporting your remote team. Let us focus on your IT, so you can focus on your business.

How fast does hardware become outdated? Let’s look at a piece of hardware almost everyone is familiar with – the iPhone. In the last five years, there have been 7 different versions released. With the average cost of an iPhone sitting at around $750, many people often skip a few generations of iPhones until they can afford the next “new” one. No big deal, right? Even the oldest model of an iPhone still makes calls and sends text messages.

 

For business IT hardware, though, (think firewalls, servers, and networking equipment), having an old, outdated version can create a risk for business owners, and hinder efficiency. If you are a small or mid-sized business owner operating on a tight budget, how do you keep your hardware up to date without a huge capital expenditure?

The answer is Hardware as a Service (HaaS).

What Is Hardware as a Service?

Hardware as a Service, or HaaS, is a procurement model that is similar to leasing or renting equipment. In the HaaS model, businesses essentially “borrow” their IT hardware from a managed service provider (MSP). The MSP owns the hardware and is responsible for maintenance and upkeep.

The service model can be set up in different ways. For some businesses, it makes sense to pay a monthly fee for the hardware, and in other cases, HaaS is incorporated into a broader managed service agreement that includes other services like help desk support and IT consulting.

 

Benefits of HaaS Solutions

In our fast-paced technology world, owning hardware can be expensive, cumbersome, and challenging for business owners. HaaS offers an alternative approach to hardware and IT infrastructure needs that can help business owners reduce the stress of keeping up with how quickly technology changes.

There are several ways HaaS can benefit businesses including:  

  • Low, Upfront Costs: One of the biggest advantages of HaaS is there are no large capital expenditures for a business owner. Businesses do not have to spend a lot of money to provide the most up-to-date IT infrastructure for their business. This is especially beneficial for startups and small businesses that do not have a hefty budget for hardware. HaaS essentially turns a large capital expense into a more manageable operating expense. 
  • Staying Current: One major benefit of HaaS is that the MSP keeps hardware equipment current with the latest technology. When a new version of a particular technology arrives, the MSP oversees updating it for the business owner. HaaS clients do not have to stress over investing in tech that might become obsolete quickly after purchase. The MSP is incentivized to make sure their client has the best and latest equipment. 
  • Worry-Free Maintenance: When businesses opt for HaaS with an MSP, the responsibility for the maintenance and upkeep shifts to the MSP, not the business owner. Since the MSP owns the equipment, they will provide not only the hardware itself but also provide routine service and maintenance as part of the HaaS agreement. Business owners can forget about expired warranties and potential equipment failures – the MSP takes care of making sure everything is working and operating at peak performance. 
  • Tighter Security: When it comes to cybersecurity, new is often better. Cybercriminals are a savvy group and are constantly working on new ways to access businesses’ sensitive data. Not only are they targeting software, but they are also targeting vulnerable, outdated hardware. With HaaS, it is easy to upgrade to the latest hardware technology designed to create optimal endpoint security. 
  • Scalability: HaaS often makes the most sense for small and medium businesses that are on a growth plan. As businesses grow, their technology needs also grow with them. When growing businesses add new employees, expand their service offerings for their clients, or add additional office locations, they need to invest in their technology infrastructure to meet their business goals. HaaS helps businesses scale efficiently as they grow.

Everound: Your Hardware as a Service Partner

At Everound, we understand the challenges businesses face with keeping their hardware operating at a level that meets and exceeds their business goals. We offer both HaaS as an independent service and as part of a monthly managed IT services plan. Our HaaS packages can be customized to meet the specific needs of a business and often includes:

  • Firewalls: Firewalls are a line of defense against security threats, and one of the last pieces of equipment business owners think of when purchasing or upgrading IT hardware. With HaaS, Everound provides the latest firewall solutions to help prevent cyber threats.
  • Servers: A server is a central piece of hardware in a computer network that stores, sends, and receives data. It provides functionality for the entire IT infrastructure of a business. Through HaaS, Everound offers servers either on-site or in the cloud, depending on need.
  • Wi-Fi or networking equipment: Wi-Fi and networking equipment includes devices such as network switches and access points. Everound can help your business stay connected and online with Wi-Fi and networking equipment.  
  • Battery backups: Battery backup and smart surge protection devices, such as Wattboxes, can help protect your business from downtime. Power and electricity outages, surges, and brownouts can be prevented with minimal investment. These can cause data loss and physical damage to your computer components.

Curious if Hardware as a Service is right for your business? Reach out today to learn more about how we can help. Let us focus on your IT needs so you can focus on your business.

Big companies almost always have an information technology department. The IT team not only helps the organization with troubleshooting errors and issues but also provides long-term planning and overall business support and strategic planning.

If you’re a small business owner, though, chances are you do not have an IT department. So how do you manage your information technology to keep your business running smoothly? Do you need an IT department for your small business? And when do you hire someone to take on the IT functions? Before you hire an IT manager, it’s important to understand the role of an IT department, the financial investment in hiring, and when to scale up the IT team as your business grows.

Role of the IT Department

The IT department is typically known as the team that “fixes things.” When a computer crashes, the printer has an error, or someone forgets their password, they call the IT guys. In reality, though, an IT department does much more than troubleshooting (although they do that, too).

The IT department is a critical component in overall business success. The team has three areas of concern – governance of a company’s technological systems, maintenance of IT infrastructure, and monitoring and improving the functionality of all systems.

 

Governance of Technological Systems

IT governance is the ‘big picture’ of how IT integrates into the overall business. It examines all the ways IT can provide a return-on-investment for a business owner and its stakeholders. For example, if a business goal is to increase customer service response times, the choice of software to meet that goal would fall under IT governance. IT governance ensures businesses have appropriate decision-making processes and controls in place so that the interests of all stakeholders are balanced.

IT governance is essentially a set of policies and procedures designed to align IT functions with overall business strategy and success. Having a formal set of standards in place helps to maximize value, set IT strategy, reduce risk, and measure performance.

Maintenance of IT Infrastructure

Most businesses understand this function of an IT department – maintaining the IT infrastructure. This includes many of the ‘behind-the-scenes’ tasks such as:

  • Software and hardware maintenance for physical and virtual environments
  • Network administration
  • Data and storage upkeep including cloud systems
  • Management of virtual and remote assets
  • Implementation and maintenance of wireless and wired access
  • Email management
  • Cybersecurity programming

Monitoring and Improving System Functionality

IT departments just don’t “set it and forget it” when it comes to IT infrastructure. The IT department continually monitors and improves functionality to minimize loss and maximize return. Using tools, employee feedback, and documentation, the IT department refines and improves the current systems.

 

Financial Investment to Start an IT Department

 

Small businesses can hire an in-house IT professional if they have the financial stability and resources to grow their staff. The financial investment varies widely depending on the type of IT professional needed to support the business. According to Indeed.com, the average salaries of the most common IT professionals are:

  • Computer Support Technician: $33,000
  • Computer Support Specialist: $34,000
  • IT Support Specialist: $41,500
  • IT Technician: $74,400
  • Computer Systems Analyst: $76,000
  • Systems Administrator: $79,000
  • IT Manager: $85,000
  • Director of Information Technology: $120,000

The cost of hiring an IT professional extends beyond the salary. According to the Society of Human Resources Management, the average cost of hiring a new employee can exceed $4,000.

Scaling IT as Your Business Grows

For any business, having the right people in place can make all the difference in the success of the organization. How do you know when it’s the right time to add an IT team? What works for some businesses may not work for others, so it’s important to first assess your situation to determine when – and if – you should hire. If you own a small business, ask yourself:

  • Does someone at my organization take on IT tasks in addition to their regular workload?
  • Do I need to support a remote work environment?
  • Am I at risk for a cyber threat? Do I have sensitive information that could be hacked?
  • Do I have applications or computer programs that require support? Is this managed by a vendor?
  • Does my business model rely primarily on e-commerce?

If you answered yes to these questions, you should consider adding IT support to your small business. But what if you cannot afford to add a full-time team member to your staff? The good news is you can get the IT support you need through Managed IT Services.

Managed IT Services for Small Businesses

Many small business owners are operating on tight budgets and cannot financially support an in-house IT team. Managed IT Services is a way to get the IT support you need that works with your budget and goals.

Managed IT Services allows business owners to delegate their ongoing information technology processes to a third-party company like Everound that specializes in the IT industry. For a fraction of the cost of hiring an IT professional, Managed IT Services improves overall organizational efficiency and productivity while also reducing operating expenses.

As a Managed IT Services provider, Everound offers IT support including:

  • Help Desk
  • Network and Server Administration
  • Network Monitoring
  • Hardware and Software Installation and Configuration
  • Computer Patching and Software Updates
  • Backup and Disaster Recovery
  • Software Customization
  • After Hours Support

If you own a small business and are ready to add IT support in a cost-efficient way, reach out today to discuss how we can help. We can work with your budget to support you and your IT needs. Let us focus on your IT so you can focus on your business.

 

 

Technology helps improve productivity, collaboration and is arguably the driver of success for business goals and priorities. Sometimes, though, information technology creates a headache for its users. Issues with printer connections, login credentials, and even software and hardware configurations can cost companies money in downtime and can distract leadership from focusing on the business itself.

As a managed service provider (MSP), Everound provides IT help desk support for businesses to alleviate the stress and frustration caused by both day-to-day and long-term IT challenges. But what is help desk support? And what services are included in help desk support?

Help Desk Defined

At its core, an IT help desk team supports internal staff at an organization and solves problems ranging from minor issues such as a lost password to larger, more potentially risky issues such as a company-wide network outage. Essentially, a help desk is internal customer support led by a trained information technology support team that can handle technical problems.
A help desk team provides information and support on an ongoing basis to its customers (ie: the company’s employees). This is achieved by not only responding to specific issues and problems but also by proactively seeking and addressing potential IT pain points.

 

What Products and Services Are Provided by a Help Desk Team?

The main functions of a help desk address immediate day-to-day IT issues as well as prevent future IT headaches. At Everound, our monthly help desk services include:

  • Real-time IT assistance: through a help desk ticketing system, employees have immediate access to IT help for issues related to email, hardware and software.
  • Networking: proactively manage and maintain your operating systems, servers, and applications to ensure everything is running smoothly and there are no potential issues. Review and make recommendations for network infrastructure that is out of warranty or at end of life.
  • Microsoft or other software administration: installation, implementation, and administration of Microsoft solutions or other industry-specific software.
  • Ongoing technology recommendations: review current technology investments and identify areas of opportunity and improvement.
  • ISP support: continually monitor and support internet service provider (ISP) functions to address real-time issues including dropped Wi-Fi and other internet-related challenges.
  • Liaison between 3rd party software and or hardware vendors: manage the relationship between the business and its software and hardware vendors to ensure products meet the needs of the business.
  • Antivirus and malware assistance: routine scan and reporting of potential cybersecurity risks including viruses and malware.
  • Disaster recovery: regularly back up data in case of hard drive malfunction, cyberattacks, and natural disasters.
  • IT documentation: thorough IT documentation to provide a historical analysis of solutions as well as create a knowledge base for employees.
  • Monthly maintenance: provide monthly IT maintenance during a predetermined maintenance window that does not interfere with or interrupt employee workflow.

 

Why You Should Integrate a Help Desk at Your Business

 

Some organizations have an existing help desk team in place, while others rely on someone outside of the IT department to address technology issues. While the latter approach may appear to be a cost-savings measure, it will, in fact, cost a business money in the long term.

For example, if everyone in a company runs to the recently hired college grad for help with their computers, that college grad will be focusing on IT support, not the job function they were hired to do. Adding a help desk team to your company is an affordable and strategic business decision to help your business become more efficient and profitable.

At Everound, we support small and medium businesses with their IT help desk needs. Our full-time staff is dedicated to our client’s successes and works with each of our businesses to create a custom approach to let them focus on their business while we focus on their IT.

Interested in learning more? Reach out today for a free IT assessment of your current IT needs. We will help you understand if a help desk is right for your business.