For business owners, finding the right IT partner can be overwhelming. With so many companies offering similar services, how do you know which one is right for you? Which managed services provider (MSP) can you trust with your IT infrastructure and needs?

Whether you have an in-house IT team who needs additional support or are looking for an IT MSP to take on all of your information technology needs, it’s important to ask the right questions to determine which partner is the best fit for your company.

Before entering into a contract or agreement with a managed IT services provider, get to know their capabilities and experience through a thorough interview process. What important questions should you ask? Focus on areas like company experience, pricing and contracts, data management, and comanaged services.

Here are questions to ask your managed IT services provider to get you started.

Company Experience

First and foremost, you will want to make sure the company you select to be your IT partner has the experience and background to provide you with the best experience and service. Sample questions to ask include:

  • What are the team qualifications? What skills and abilities does your technical staff carry? If you are outsourcing some or all of your IT needs, it’s critical you work with a team that has the technical expertise of a CTO AND the hands-on skills of a tech support team. What experience do they have in their field? How long have they worked in IT? What industry credentials or certifications do they have?
  • Can I contact your existing clients for references? Does the managed IT services provider readily offer references and testimonials? If not, why? Current client testimonials and references can be very helpful during the decision process. Another way to check references is to look at their Google reviews.
  • Do you have specific experience in our industry? If you are in an industry that has unique IT needs, the answer to this question may be key in whether or not you move forward with the MSP.
  • Is there any reason to NOT hire your company? This question tends to surprise many companies. Ask them reasons why they may not be the best partner. What areas do they need to improve? What potential problems or issues could you encounter if you hire them?

Pricing and Contracts

If you are considering working with a managed IT services provider, you likely have a budget you need to stay within. While an MSP may have a tiered pricing structure that fits into your budget, there are other pricing and contract questions you should ask including:

  • Do you charge a flat fee? Or do you charge by the hour or help desk ticket? The answers to these questions will vary widely between MSPs. Some companies charge a flat fee for ongoing services while others will charge by the hour or even by the number of help desk tickets. If the company works by the hour or by issue, this can be more expensive in the long run than charging a flat fee.
  • Do you have a service level agreement? A service level agreement (SLA) defines the scope of work and the level of service you can expect in the relationship. Essentially, an SLA is a commitment by the provider to you as their client. Professional, reputable companies will offer a service level agreement.
  • Is there an onboarding fee? Some MSPs will hide this extra fee in their contract and clients may not notice it until they get their first invoice. While onboarding fees are not necessarily unheard of, an MSP should be upfront and transparent if this is their business model. If they DO charge a fee, ask what is covered for onboarding – meetings? Discovery time? Be sure you understand what is and isn’t covered.
  • Is there an annual contract? If so, is there an opt-out clause? Many managed IT services companies require a one-year contract. What happens if you aren’t happy with their service after 3 months? Six months? Ask what options there are if you are not satisfied with their service. Do they offer contract flexibility including monthly options?
  • Do you offer a free IT assessment before signing a contract? If you are interviewing potential IT partners, how do you know what you need? Companies that want to work with you will offer an assessment BEFORE a contract so you understand what services may or may not be needed. Don’t be afraid to ask for this service, too.

Data Management

One of the most important aspects of information technology is data management, especially for companies that manage sensitive internal data and external client or customer information. How will the MSP protect that data and how is it managed? Here are a few key questions to ask your potential MSP:

  • How do you protect my data? Cybersecurity is critical in data management. Ask the MSP what policies and procedures they have in place to keep prying eyes off of your company information.
  • How are backups and disaster recovery handled? Let’s face it – sometimes even with the best IT teams in place, systems can crash. How does an MSP handle disaster recovery? Can they remedy service issues remotely? What is the average downtime for their clients after an issue?

Comanaged Services

Companies who already have an internal IT department may want to partner with an MSP for comanaged services. Comanaged service is a framework where some IT tasks are delegated to the MSP while others are handled internally.

  • Do you offer comanaged services? What does that relationship look like? Some MSPs adopt an “all or nothing” approach when working with their clients. In reality, this isn’t always necessary. For companies that have a CTO, they may only need ongoing cybersecurity or help desk services. For other companies that have an internal tech support role on staff, they may need IT consulting and strategic planning services. Discuss your managed service needs with the provider to have a full understanding of how a comanaged relationship works.

Managed IT Services from Everound

At Everound, we work with our clients to customize a partnership that not only meets their specific IT needs but does so in a way that fits into their budget. We provide a service level agreement for our clients that details what we will do to help them realize IT operational efficiency.

Here are other ways we are set apart from other managed IT services providers:

  • Many of our current clients came to us after their existing MSP overpromised and underdelivered. We do not walk away from a challenge and if your current IT company is telling you “no,” we can find a way to say “yes.”
  • We do not require an annual contract, just a 30-day heads-up that we weren’t a great fit. And we do not charge a fee if our relationship ends.
  • If we aren’t the right partner for you, we will help you find a managed IT services provider to replace us! Our goal is to provide the service our clients need and deserve and if we fall short we will work hard to find you another company to work with you.

Curious about our approach to managed IT services? Reach out today to start a discussion. Let us focus on your IT so you can focus on your business.

Almost daily we learn about cybersecurity threats and data breaches that are affecting businesses across the country and around the globe. The pace and costs of these incidents aren’t slowing down either. In fact, it’s projected that by 2025 the costs related to cybercrime will reach $10.5 trillion.

Most business owners acknowledge the importance of cybersecurity to protect their business assets. The complexities of cybersecurity best practices, though, can leave a business owner feeling confused or overwhelmed and prone to making a costly mistake.

What are the most common cybersecurity mistakes that make a business vulnerable to attack? Let’s take a look at missteps that can make a business a target for cybercrime.

Mistake #1: Not Having a Plan in Place

By far, the biggest mistake that can hurt a company is not having a plan in place in case of a cyber threat. Companies without a formalized cybersecurity plan in place are the most prone to a cyber attack. While creating a response plan takes time and effort, the trade-off for NOT having one in place is immense. A lack of preparation can have devasting financial consequences on a business, not to mention severe damage to customers’ trust and loyalty.

It’s critical for all organizations to prepare and plan for attacks before they happen beginning with an incident response plan. An incident response plan details the step-by-step process for responding to a cyber event. An incident response plan helps to minimize downtime, maintain public trust, and in many industries such as healthcare and law, remain in compliance with governing organizations.

As the saying goes, prepare for the worst and hope for the best.

Mistake #2: Not Staying Up to Date

You’ve likely done it once or twice – ignored the annoying notification that a software update is available for your computer. It’s natural to delay a notification while you are in the midst of working on a project, but regular software updates are important to help keep your business secure by:

  • Fixing security weaknesses
  • Addressing known threats
  • Installing computer patches
  • Fixing computer bugs

If you are at an organization with an internal IT department, your IT team should be pushing updates regularly to the entire organization’s IT infrastructure. Are you the IT department AND the business owner? Chances are your team isn’t updating their computers regularly unless you are specifically asking them to do so.

Mistake #3: Not Training Employees

Did you know that one of the biggest threats to your business’s cybersecurity isn’t a hacker or cybercriminals? The biggest threat is actually your employees. Human error accounts for a large percentage of data breaches and other cyber incidents.

When you fail to provide regular training to your team, they may fall victim to phishing emails, ransomware attacks, improperly storing sensitive data, or clicking on an unsafe link. Cybersecurity awareness training isn’t failsafe, however, developing a security posture is about building up layers of defense. Training is one of those layers.

 

Mistake #4: Not Using Strong Passwords

Humans are predictable – passwords shouldn’t be. Weak passwords are an easy way for outsiders to gain access to your network and data. Considering 61% of data breaches involve login information, a strong password policy is critical to keep data safe. A strong password policy can include:

  • Required two-factor authentication
  • Long passwords with a mix of lower and uppercase letters
  • Avoiding predictable passwords such as, well, password
  • Not allowing recycled passwords
  • One-time access passwords

Overlooking password security is sometimes an overlooked area but can be easily addressed by incorporating a password manager into your IT best practices.

Mistake #5: Skipping Backups

Not backing up data is a critical mistake when it comes to cybersecurity and protecting data. In the event your company is held hostage with ransomware, or if your data is lost or corrupted, a backup can help you restore it.

There are two ways to backup your data: cloud-based and local. Cloud-based backups are stored on servers and local backups are stored on external hard drives or other devices. Business owners should consider using both methods, especially startups and small businesses.

Mistake #6: Thinking “It Won’t Happen to Us”

Own a business and think cybercrime only happens to other companies? The hard truth is most businesses – even small businesses – will be targeted for a cybercrime at some point. Hackers often target small businesses over large ones as their IT infrastructure is more likely to have holes and gaps for them to exploit. If you own a business, it’s not if, but when, you will be targeted.

Cybersecurity Services from Everound

Everound is a managed IT services company specializing in cybersecurity services, IT consulting, network administration, help desk support, and other IT services. Our team of professionals has worked with large, enterprise organizations as well as small startup businesses to help them plan for and prepare for a cybersecurity threat.

We know what it’s like to run a business and make our customers’ cybersecurity needs a priority. We offer a free cybersecurity assessment that will help you understand where you may be vulnerable and can help you develop a plan to reduce your risk for a cyber threat. Contact us today for a free consultation and let us focus on your IT so you can focus on your business.

As a business owner, you likely understand the power of making your budget work as hard as possible and spend money wisely on business operations. This time of year, you may be working on next year’s budget and wondering if there are areas of opportunity to show cost savings. One area where you can reduce costs is your information technology expenses.

Outsourcing IT business functions to a managed services provider (MSP) allows you to cut costs, save time, and even produce the same or a better outcome at a lower cost. There are also indirect benefits to outsourcing your IT including consistency in service. For example, when you use an outsourcing company, there are no sick days or PTO days to worry about – in fact, your managed service provider is always on call for you!

How does outsourcing IT save costs over relying on an in-house team? Let’s take a look at the ways outsourcing IT can alleviate budget constraints while also helping your business realize IT operational efficiency.

Reduced Salary Expenses

Let’s face it – payroll and related costs are the biggest expense for a business. On average, a company spends more than $4,000 to hire and train a new employee. In addition, recruitment and retention costs can add even more expenses to a company’s bottom line.

When you rely on an IT outsourcing company for technical support, cloud services, disaster recovery, and other IT services, you not only save money on these expenses, but you also save money on annual salaries and additional overhead costs including:

  • Medical, dental, and other healthcare benefits
  • Retirement costs such as 401k contributions
  • Quarterly or annual bonuses
  • Hard costs such as office space and furniture, computers, cell phones, and miscellaneous resources

When you work with a managed IT services provider, these costs fall on the MSP’s shoulders and not on your business. Curious if outsourcing is for you? We can help you determine if working with an MSP makes sense for your budget.

No Training Costs

Information technology changes rapidly, especially when it comes to IT concerns like cybersecurity and remote monitoring and management. In-house employees need to be on top of the latest technology developments and risks which can only be achieved by ongoing training and education. This can come with a massive price tag for a business owner.

When you work with a managed services provider, training is included, and you have access to highly trained experts without the costs. Most MSPs spend their own time and money on training for their team members meaning you can put those costs back into your business.

Another ancillary training benefit is for your own employees. As part of some support packages, MSPs offer cybersecurity training, software training, and other IT-related educational services. At Everound, we can work with your company to develop training programs that allow your employees to maximize the power of technology at your business.

Easy Scalability

Another way outsourcing your IT can save your company money is the ability to scale up – or down – quickly and easily. If you have a seasonal business and need more IT help in the summer months, for example, your IT services package can scale down in the winter. When you have an in-house IT team, you are responsible for their salaries and expenses year-round, no matter your current IT needs.

Cash flow down? With an MSP, you can scale back services for the short term to help increase your bottom line. Similarly, if you run a small business, you may not need 40 hours per week of technical support. The good news is your MSP can work with you to scale up or down based on your current financial situation.

Why Choose Everound for your Managed IT Services?

At Everound, we work with our customers to develop an ongoing managed IT services relationship that helps their bottom line. We can create a customized package that meets your IT needs AND reduces your overall information technology costs.

We won’t charge you for every help desk ticket, phone call, or meeting. Our customer service is part of the package, and you can consider us an extension of your team. Our MSP service offerings include help desk, network and server administration, network monitoring, equipment installation and configuration, backup and disaster recovery, and even after-hours support. Working on your budget and considering outsourcing your IT functions? Let’s chat.

For business owners of all sizes, cyber threats are a real concern. Data breaches, malware, ransomware, and other cybercrimes are all too common. In fact, according to Internet Crime Report released by the FBI, the number of cybercrime complaints rose by 7% in 2021 with total money lost increasing by a whopping 64%.

Cybercriminals stole nearly $2.4 billion by hacking email accounts at businesses mostly due to the increase in remote work over the last two years. Unfortunately, for many organizations, especially small businesses, coming back after a financial loss can be challenging if not impossible.

In the event of cybercrime, some businesses may benefit from cybersecurity insurance. Cybersecurity insurance generally covers a business’s liability for a data breach or other cyber incident. Essentially, it helps reduce the financial loss incurred when a fraudster infiltrates an organization.

Not all cybersecurity insurance is the same, and it doesn’t cover every financial risk associated with a cybercrime. Let’s take a look at the different types of coverages available, what is excluded, and the types of businesses that may benefit from cybersecurity insurance.

Types of Cybersecurity Insurance

When a business is the victim of a malicious cyber event, there are many different assets at risk. Their personal information, privacy, and operations can be affected, and sensitive customer data such as social security numbers, bank routing numbers, and more can fall into the wrong hands. Depending on the type of attack, different types of cybersecurity insurance can minimize the damage.

First Party Coverage

First party coverage protects a company’s data including both customer data and employee data. If a company has first party coverage, the policy will generally cover the cost of legal counsel, recovery and replacement of data including customer information, customer notification and call center services, lost income caused by business interruption, public relations, and more.

Third Party Coverage

Third party coverage, unlike first party coverage, protects an organization from liability if another party brings a claim against the company. Coverage includes payments to consumers affected by the incident, claims, and settlements related to lawsuits, losses related to trademark infringement or defamation, costs for litigation, and accounting costs.

Privacy Liability Coverage

One of the most common repercussions of a cyber attack is the loss of personal customer data. With privacy liability coverage, a business will be financially protected in the event their customer data falls into the hands of a cyber thief. The policy typically covers financial losses associated with attorney and court fees for legal proceedings, settlements, and court judgments, and regulatory fines.

Network Security Coverage

Network security coverage includes claims arising out of a breach of a company’s network and data storage. Some policies cover both online and offline information, denial of service attacks, and the failure to prevent a virus or malware from infecting the network. Coverage may include costs associated with notifying customers of a breach, credit monitoring, data restoration, call center fees, IT forensics, and legal fees.

Technology Errors and Omissions

Errors and omissions coverage (also called E&O coverage) protects an organization for cyber risks that prevent delivering services to clients or fulfilling contractual obligations. E&O coverage is similar to product liability coverage for companies that sell physical or digital products. Like other forms of cybersecurity insurance, E&O coverage will help minimize costs related to court fees, informing customers, and other first party claims. E&O does not extend to third party claims against a company.

Network Business Interruption Coverage

When a cybercrime affects an organization, one of the biggest casualties is the interruption of business. Network business interruption coverage helps businesses who rely on technology to keep operations going. This coverage can be used to deflect the costs of fixed expenses, lost profits, and extra costs when a company is “offline” due to a cyber attack.

Cybersecurity Insurance Exclusions

Cybersecurity insurance policies are fairly new within the last five years, and insurance companies are constantly adjusting what is covered – and what is not covered – with a policy. Nearly all types of cybersecurity policies have exclusions that business owners should be aware of.

Generally, a policy doesn’t cover:

  • Property Damage: Cybersecurity insurance usually only covers financial damages and excludes property damage losses. If a computer network is fried, for example, and needs to be replaced, the cost would not be covered by the insurance policy.
  • Intellectual Property: Intellectual property losses are not included in cybersecurity insurance coverage. In order for intellectual property to be covered, a business would need intellectual property insurance.
  • Self-Inflicted Crimes or Cyber Incidents: This may seem obvious, but absolutely no cybersecurity insurance carrier will issue a policy that protects a company that is involved in a crime related to a cyber attack.
  • Potential Future Profit Loss: Unfortunately, cybersecurity insurance doesn’t cover future profit losses. This is why it’s important to recover quickly from a cyber attack and resume business operations as soon as possible.
  • Cost of Technology Improvements: After a cyber incident, companies may want to invest in updating information technology security systems as part of their risk management process. Cybersecurity insurance does not cover this investment.

Who Needs Cybersecurity Insurance?

If you own a business, you may wonder if cybersecurity insurance is a good investment. The answer is “maybe,” depending on the type of business, what data you store about your team, customers, and operations, and whether or not you are poised to recover quickly after a cyber attack.

While there is no clear line about who should get insurance and who can opt-out, the types of businesses that may benefit from cybersecurity insurance include:

Businesses That Store Important Data

If your company stores sensitive business data such as phone numbers, social security numbers, credit card numbers, and bank account information, you are likely a target for cybercrime. Cyber thieves specifically target organizations who store large amounts of personal data and will go to extremes to get it.

If your business is storing your own financial data and personal customer data, first party coverage may be a good option. A real world example is if your company is the victim of ransomware, where a cybercriminal is holding your data hostage for a financial payout, the policy would likely pay out the ransom so you can recover the data. With all types of insurance, though, each policy is different and may have exclusions.

Businesses with a Large Amount of Customers

Have a business with a large customer base? Cybersecurity insurance may be a good investment. One of the necessary steps after a data breach is to inform your customer base. In fact, notifying customers is often required by law. Costs associated with this process – call centers, direct mail, etc. – can easily skyrocket. First party coverage can help deflect those costs.

High Revenue Businesses

Businesses with high revenue and valuable assets may be good candidates for cybersecurity insurance, particularly if the insurance premiums are lower than the combined value of the business. A cybersecurity insurance policy can greatly reduce the financial risk for this type of business.

For a small business with a low annual revenue, the cost of a policy may not be justified. It all depends on the projected cost to recover from a cyber attack versus the cost of the annual premiums.

Unsure if a cybersecurity insurance policy makes sense for your business? We understand – it’s a fairly new type of business insurance and can seem confusing. Before signing up for a policy, or walking away from one, consult with a cybersecurity team like Everound.

Cybersecurity Services for Central PA Businesses

Everound is a full-service managed IT services provider that helps businesses with their IT operational needs. Our team of experts can help you determine if cybersecurity insurance is a good fit for your business, and even help you procure a policy.

We can provide a free cybersecurity assessment to determine your risk for a cyber attack. Our assessment looks at your email security, network security, and endpoint security and offers cybersecurity improvement measures to reduce your risk.

Interested in learning more with a no-obligation consultation? Contact us today to get the conversation started.

Phishing scams are nothing new and are one of the biggest cyber threats to a business. According to Proofpoint, more than 80% of companies were targeted by phishing cybercriminals in 2021. Do you know how to spot phishing attempts at your organization?

Understanding the different types of phishing strategies is the first step to stopping them from infiltrating your organization. Let’s examine the different types of phishing attacks, ways to spot them, and how to block phishing emails.

Types of Phishing Attacks

What is phishing? Phishing is an email or text message scam that tricks users into providing personal information either by clicking on a link or opening an attachment. The emails or text messages appear to come from someone the recipient trusts, either a supervisor, colleague, or in some cases, a family member.

Not all phishing attempts are the same, and there are several different ways a cyber thief can deploy a phishing attack. The most common types include:

  • Deceptive: Deceptive phishing is the most common type of scam. In this method, attackers impersonate a company the user is familiar with to steal personal information or data. The emails may look real and even include legitimate links to trick the user into falling for the scam.
  • Spear: Spear phishing is a more targeted type of a deceptive phishing attempt. With spear phishing, the criminal will specifically target an individual with personal information they can find on the Internet. A spear phishing email may contain the user’s full name, place of employment, job title, email address, and even specific information about their role at their company.
  • Whaling: Whaling is similar to spear phishing, however, targets senior leadership such as the C-suite. With whaling, scammers impersonate the CEO, CFO, or another high-level team member with the hope the recipient will “follow orders” from a superior. The requests are typically to complete a financial transaction or respond to the email with personal information.
  • Smishing: Smishing is a type of phishing attack that uses text messaging rather than emails, but the goal is still the same – to get a user to click on a malicious link or provide personal information. Many phishing criminals will send text messages disguised as a bank and claiming there was suspicious activity with the user’s bank account or credit card.
  • Vishing: Vishing is much the same as smishing, however, the platform switches to a phone call rather than a text message. Senior citizens are particularly at risk for vishing attacks. The caller will pose as someone in an authoritative position to be able to obtain bank account numbers, credit card information, and more.
  • Pharming: As users have become more aware of email phishing, fraudsters have changed their strategy to include pharming. With pharming, users are redirected to a fake or “spoof” website that essentially appears to be a real website. The fake sites are designed to capture a user’s personal information such as their social security number, website credentials, account numbers, and more. Pharming is implemented when the hacker sends malicious code in an email that redirects traffic to the fake website.
  • Angler: Angler phishing is a fairly new type of phishing attempt that targets social media users, particularly ones who are frustrated with customer service at a financial institution. The cybercriminal will pose as a customer service rep for the company and respond to a complaint using a handle that includes the name of the institution. The fake account will attempt to “resolve” the complaint and ask the user to click on a link to talk to an agent. Once the link is clicked, the fraudster can install malware on the user’s computer or steal business data.

While there are different methods of phishing, they all share the same goal. The email (or text message or phone call) may ask for a password, billing information, credit card numbers, or other sensitive data. Once the information is shared, hackers can infiltrate a company’s network and steal information or deploy malware. Phishing is a real risk for all sizes of organizations, from small businesses to large enterprises. If you are concerned about phishing attempts at your business, a cybersecurity team like Everound can help.

How to Spot Phishing Attempts

how to spot phishing attemptsIt’s more than likely that you have been the target of a phishing attempt either at work or at home. Were you able to spot it as suspicious? There are “red flags” to watch out for when determining if an email is real or a phishing attempt.
Here are ways to spot a phishing attempt:

  • Unfamiliar tone: Does the email from your friendly coworker down the hall come off as cold and monotone? Chances are, the email is a phishing attempt. Hackers don’t understand tone very well and some phishing emails are even written by bots. If the content in an email feels a little “off,” make sure you verify the sender actually sent you an email.
  • Spelling and grammatical errors: Most email platforms have a built-in spell check feature for outbound emails. If an email contains several spelling and grammatical errors, it may be a phishing attempt.
  • Inconsistencies with an email address, links, or domain: Another easy way to spot a phishing attempt is to look for inconsistencies with the domains in email addresses or links. For example, if you hover over a link in an email from your “bank” and the URL doesn’t contain the bank name or trusted domain, that’s a huge red flag.
  • Threats or a sense of urgency: Threats or a sense of urgency are often used in whaling. Your “CEO” may be busy in a meeting and ask you to quickly take care of sending a payment to a vendor. If you receive an email that feels out of character, is threatening, or creates a sense of urgency that is uncommon at your business, this is likely a phishing attempt.
  • Suspicious attachments: Attachments sent via email should always be opened with caution. Attachments can contain harmful viruses and malware that can infiltrate an entire organization quickly causing financial damages. If you receive an email with an extension such as .zip, .exe, .scr, etc., or another unfamiliar extension, be very cautious about opening it. Check with the sender by phone to see if they sent you a safe attachment.
  • Odd request: Did you get an email with a request to do something that is not within the normal scope of your job at work? Or perhaps an off-hours text message from your “boss”? Did your IT team send an email with an attachment and you weren’t expecting it? Odd requests are a sign of a phishing attempt.
  • Short and sweet: Some phishing emails are full of content and detail, and others are short and sweet. If you receive a message with a short note like “Per your request” or “As a follow up…” however didn’t request or need anything from the user, do not click on any links or open the attachment.
  • Request for a password or other sensitive information: This is by far the easiest way to spot a phishing email – when the requestor asks for a password or other sensitive information in an email. Passwords, bank account information, and personal data should never be shared via email. A savvier attempt is to send the user to a fake landing page and ask the user to enter their credentials. Remember – banks, financial institutions, and other reputable companies you do business with will not request your credentials via email or their website.

Learning how to spot phishing emails can reduce your risk of a data breach or other cyber threat. Phishing emails are always a little bit “off” and are suspicious. If you are unsure if you can tell the difference between a real email and a phishing scam, working with a cybersecurity team can help.

How to Block Phishing Emails

The first line of defense against phishing emails is learning how to spot them. Your information technology team is likely also implementing several strategies to block phishing emails all together.

How can you block phishing emails?

  • Security awareness training: Phishing attempts all rely on one thing – human interaction. You can reduce your threat and risk of being a target of phishing emails by implementing regular security awareness training at your organization. There are also phishing simulators that can send suspicious emails that are actually harmless to see if employees would fall for a phishing scam.
  • Anti-spam, anti-malware, and anti-phishing software: There are several cloud service software packages that include anti-spam, anti-malware, and anti-phishing support. This technology can identify and stop phishing emails before they even get to a user’s inbox.
  • DNS authentication services: DNS authentication services that include SPF, DKIM, and DMARC protocols help prevent fake websites (spoofing) and impersonation. With DNS authentication, users are blocked from visiting sites that are flagged malicious by the software.
  • Anti-impersonation technology: One of the cornerstones of phishing attacks is the criminal’s use of impersonation. Anti-impersonation technology scans inbound emails and detects abnormalities in headers, domains, and suspect body content.

Cybersecurity Services from Everound

At Everound, we make it our business to protect our clients from phishing and cyberattacks. As a managed IT services provider, we offer comprehensive cybersecurity solutions to protect organizations from phishing, data breaches, dark web threats, malware, viruses, and more.

Unsure if your business is protected and able to sustain a cyber threat? Reach out today for a free cybersecurity audit. We will take a look at your current IT infrastructure, assess vulnerabilities, and work with you to come up with a robust cybersecurity plan. Let us focus on your IT, so you can focus on your business.

Working remotely may have eliminated nuisances like a daily commute, but it also means you’ve likely been hit with digital overload. Even if you are in the office every day, you may still have a cluttered digital life that is getting in the way of productivity and even adding to your daily stress level.

Cluttered digital lives affect us much in the same way as a cluttered home. It can take longer to find something you’re looking for, create anxiety and stress, and slow down your productivity. From messy desktops (quick – how many files are saved on your desktop right now?) to blurred lines between work and home, a cluttered digital life can start to interfere with your day-to-day.

How do you break the cycle of a cluttered digital life? Let’s take a look at how to declutter your digital life and what benefits you will enjoy after you go through the process.

Ways to Reduce Digital Clutter

If you suffer from a messy digital life, have tech fatigue, or merely want to improve your productivity at work, here are ways to declutter your digital life at work (and home, too!):

Create a Digital Separation: One of the biggest hurdles that has popped up over the last decade, and even more in the last two years, is a very blurry line between work and personal life for many workers. How many times have you been working on a project one minute, then the other minute you are emailing teachers about your child’s homework?

While multitasking is certainly admirable, jumping back and forth can create inefficiencies. Set aside time either that is most convenient during your day to focus on non-work-related digital tasks. While you may not be able to stick to this 100% of the time, it can help you reduce some of the digital “noise” in your life. 

Turn Off Notifications: The average smartphone user gets as many as 63.5 notifications per day. Add on top the countless desktop computer notifications from emails and websites you quickly understand how being connected through our digital lives creates unnecessary clutter.

If you constantly pickup up your smartphone to reply to a text message or check social media notifications or stop a task to respond to an email, consider turning off notifications during your workday. Most smartphones can “snooze” notifications or go into “do not disturb” mode.

Clean Your Desktop: You know that feeling when the entrance to your home is cluttered with shoes, sporting equipment, toys, and yard tools? It feels chaotic and unmanageable.

Your desktop is very similar to your foyer or entryway – it’s the first thing you see when you sit down at your desk. Cluttered desktops can create a sense of disorder. Instead of saving a file to your desktop out of convenience, save it in its proper place from the start.

Create a Folder System: A good folder structure can save you time and help improve productivity at work. Not sure where to start or how to organize your folders? It’s best to come up with a system that mimics how you work.

Do you work on one project at a time? Set up folders by project name. Work on a time-based system? Set folders up by month or quarter.

Pro tip – create a template that contains your desired folder structure and copy and paste it for each new project or task.

Delete Contents of Downloads Folder: Your downloads folder is a key factor in your computer’s operating system. Many people overlook their downloads folder when trying to free up space on their computer, however, this is a very easy task to do to help keep your computer running in tip-top shape.

Deleting digital files you don’t need is generally good maintenance and doesn’t harm your computer. Not sure where to find your downloads? Check out this step-by-step guide on where to find your files.

Clear Out Your Email Inbox: Ugh – the dreaded email inbox! Chances are you have hundreds of emails sitting in your inbox. This creates an unmanageable “to-do” list and not only can it be stressful it can also make things hard to find easily and quickly.

Just like your folder system for saved files, create a folder system within your email inbox to help you organize and sort emails. There are many ways to approach this task, either by sorting by sender, topic, or follow-up. Many email platforms have built-in tools to keep you organized, too. Outlook, for example, offers a “follow-up feature” that will let you tag certain emails and assign a deadline for follow-up.

While you may never get down to just a few emails, taking time to sort and organize what you have can help you get on the path to productivity!

Click the Unsubscribe Button: Speaking of cluttered inboxes, how many emails do you receive and immediately delete without reading? Even though this takes mere seconds, unsubscribing can save you time – and stress – in the long run. Imagine opening up your email on Monday morning and not having to sort through what needs attention and what can be deleted? Get that inbox under control and keep it that way.

Benefits of a Digital Declutter

A digital declutter not only helps create control and organization in your work and personal life, but it can also have other tangible benefits. Specific benefits of a digital declutter include:

  • Fewer Distractions and Improved Productivity: When you separate your work and personal digital life, turn off notifications and digitally declutter, you will be surprised how many fewer distractions you have in your 9-to-5 day. With fewer distractions, you will have more time to focus on the task in front of you.
  • Improved Computer Performance: Anytime you delete files from your computer, it frees up memory space and more memory space = improved performance. Delete old files, emails, and even unused programs and applications to help improve your computer’s performance.
  • Reduce Stress: The biggest advantage of any kind of decluttering, whether physically or digitally, is reducing the amount of stress in your life. We could all use that, right?

Managed IT Services for Businesses 

Are you ready to start a digital declutter at work but aren’t sure where to start? At Everound, we can help you devise a strategy to create digital efficiencies for you and your team members using customized cloud services storage solutions, systematic folder structures, and creating best-practices and systems for your entire organization.

As a managed IT services company, Everound focuses on your IT so you can focus on your business. We offer IT consulting, cyber security services, disaster recovery, hardware and software installation and maintenance, cloud storage solutions, and more. Reach out today to find out how we can help you improve the information technology at your business.

Ready to Update to Windows 11? What You Need to Know

Microsoft is rolling out its latest update to its operating system, Windows 10. Sooner or later you will be asked whether or not you want to upgrade to the latest version, Windows 11. Do you know if your PC is ready for Windows 11, or should you stay with Windows 10?

For now, you won’t be forced to update, and installation is not automatic. Before agreeing and installing the update, you should be aware of the differences between Windows 10 and 11, and what challenges you could face if you update on an older PC.

What Is Different?

Differences between Windows 10 and 11

With each new update, Microsoft adds in new features and improves performance issues. The biggest change you will see is related to how the operating systems differ visually, and how those changes impact productivity.

Highlights on the latest update include:

  • Start Menu and Task Bar: The biggest notable difference with Windows 11 is the Start Menu and Task Bar. In Windows 11, the Start Menu and Task Bar are centered in the middle, much like you’d see on a MacOS. If this new layout isn’t appealing, you do have the option to move it to the left.
    The Start Menu in Windows 11 does look different than Windows 10. It’s a bit simpler and shows a static list of apps and your frequently accessed documents. You can expand and scroll through the app list and pin your favorites. This is like Windows 10, however, if you are accustomed to using the Live Tiles, you will be disappointed. The Live Tiles feature goes away with Windows 11. 
  • Snap Layouts for Multitasking: If you are a multitasker, you will like a new feature of Windows 11 – snap layouts that group your windows and save them to the taskbar. Snap layouts replace the drag-and-drop snap assist feature of Windows 10 and allow you to arrange your apps neatly on your desktop.
  • Performance: With Windows 11, Microsoft has made some notable performance improvements that could speed up your PC. The new operating system does a lot of work in memory management, giving the apps that are opened and running more CPU power than closed, dormant apps.
    An additional performance change is the way Windows 11 resumes from sleep mode and handles standby time. Compared to Windows 10, with Windows 11, your RAM will stay energized in sleep mode and will help your PC unsnooze up top 25% faster.
Review Before Updating

Potential Challenges When Updating to Windows 11

With any new software update, there are potential challenges and bugs. The release of Windows 11 is no exception. Many experts believe the release was a bit rushed, even with the clear improvements on some features related to productivity and performance.

If you are considering updating your Windows 10 PC to Windows 11, here are some potential challenges you could face:

 

  • Hardware May Not Support Update: If you have a new PC, chances are this will not be an issue. For older PCs and laptops, this is the biggest challenge of the new operating system. To run Windows 11, you’ll need an Intel Core 8th-gen processor or newer, or an AMD Ryzen 2000 processor or newer.
    This hardware requirement will be frustrating for users with PCs older than 4 years old. Still working on that laptop from 2016 or 2017? There’s a good chance you cannot update to Windows 11 without a workaround. Although you CAN install Windows 11 on unsupported hardware, Microsoft has hinted those unsupported users will not receive critical security updates.
  • You May Lose Some of Your Favorite Features: Die-hard Windows 10 fans may be disappointed to learn some of their favorite features went to the wayside in Windows 11. The S Mode feature, which restricts administrators and users from installing apps from outside the Microsoft Store, is now only available in the home edition. The voice helper Cortana is also being retired, and RIP to Internet Explorer.
  • Critical Hardware and Software May Not Be Compatible: Most devices and apps will continue to work – but “most” is not “all.” Before updating to Windows 11, it’s best to test compatibility on a separate device. Not sure how to make that happen? Drop us a note – we can help. Trying to troubleshoot a post-upgrade compatibility issue can be time-consuming and frustrating.
  • Windows 11 Bugs: An expected annoyance with any new update is some level of instability and bugs. Even with beta-testing, Windows 11 still may experience some bugs that could interfere with productivity. If you are concerned with any of the known issues with Windows 11, but are otherwise eager to move to the new operating system, you may want to wait until it is more mature.
We Focus on your IT, So You Can Focus on Your Business

Ask Everound About Windows 11

Unsure if you can – or should – update your PCs and laptops to Windows 11? Don’t fret – Everound can help! We offer a free IT infrastructure assessment and can develop a plan for you to keep your IT assets working at peak performance. We have decades of experience working with Microsoft products including operating systems, Microsoft Edge, Microsoft Teams, and the entire Microsoft suite. Let us take a look to see if your computers have the minimum system requirements to move to Microsoft 11.

As a managed IT services provider, our team supports business owners with their information technology needs. We can serve as your IT department without the overhead of hiring staff in-house or can work with your existing IT teams as an additional support or resource. We specialize in cybersecurity, IT planning and strategy, network administration and monitoring, help desk support, hardware and software configuration and installation, and backup and disaster recovery. Reach out today for your free IT assessment. We focus on your IT, so you can focus on your business.

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.