Here Are the Mistakes You’re Making That Put Your Data at Risk

How you’re almost asking for your data to be stolen through bad passwords and indifference.

Protecting your data is pretty important. We even wrote a whole blog about why backing it up is mission critical. As crucial as it is to safeguard your data within your organization, it’s just as essential to keep it out of the hands of others. In today’s economy, data is money. And like money, data can be lost or even stolen.

Cyber breaches can cause huge financial and emotional heartache through theft or loss of data which we should all endeavor to prevent.

Those are the words of a spokesperson for the UK’s National Cyber Security Centre, after a 2019 research study revealed troubling trends in online security. Not to make any assumptions, but it seems like “huge financial and emotional heartache” is something you might want to avoid.

If you’re thinking you’re an unlikely target because of the size and scope of your business, think again. Ransomware and extortion can impact anyone with valuable data to lose. “More than half (56%) of ransomware victims paid the ransom to restore access to their data last year, according to a global study of 15,000 consumers conducted by global security company Kaspersky.”

Would your customers even be able to trust you after something catastrophic happens? There are too many fronts that need defending, and there is too much to lose by being indifferent and hoping for the best.

So how do they get my data?

Glad you asked. One prominent study showed that nearly half of all data theft occurred via remote login apps. A full 90% of the time, hackers were able to gain access to an organization’s network without any trouble at all. How? Bad passwords and default passwords. To the company, the hackers looked no different than an employee logging in from a coffee shop.

Can you guess what the most common (and easily hackable) password is? If you said 123456 (#1) or password (#4), well done. But guess what else makes the top 200 common passwords: names, sports teams, cities, fictional characters, and musicians.

Did we just hear an uh oh? An audible gulp? Of course not, because this is a body of text and is in no way sentient. But there’s a high likelihood you read that sentence and blinked a few times blankly at the screen while your heartbeat elevated.

We are sorry to bring the bad news that OKCThunder1! Is not a secure password. Neither is CarrieUnderwood4eva. Simply put, remote access is a vital component to many businesses, yet it is extremely vulnerable to malicious actors if not managed by experienced IT professionals.

People are human and fall victim to social engineering.

Let’s face it, you can’t expect every single person in your organization to behave like an IT security professional. We make honest mistakes. In the rush of a busy day, a phishing email that looks extremely convincing can swipe someone’s credentials. All it takes is one dodgy link to infect a network with malware or ransomware.

It’s not just over the web, either. If someone can get access to a computer, it can potentially be compromised by a thief or even a disgruntled employee. A USB thumb drive is a potential vector for attack, whether intentionally, or by accidentally transferring malware onto the system.

Despite all due diligence, it’s impossible for you to be eternally vigilant. That’s why amshot provides comprehensive enterprise IT security services that safeguard your organization against cyber-attacks and data breaches. Ready to take the first step to avoid that “huge financial and emotional heartache” we talked about?  Contact us to set up a consultation.

data breach

4 Reasons You Need a Data Backup Solution YESTERDAY

4 Reasons You Need a Data Backup Solution YESTERDAY, and what you can do to protect yourself from disaster.

What are you doing to safeguard your business’ critical data? In the age of cloud-based and technology-driven services, every organization needs to have a solution in place for data backup and recovery. Today, data is an essential aspect of running a successful business of any size. And the forward march of technological progress means data will be even more vital tomorrow. 

Since we’re not going back to running a company with paper and filing cabinets anytime soon, you literally can’t afford to wait to secure the lifeblood of your business. Could you imagine working day to day without an internet connection or the tools you use to manage your customers? For most of us, it would be devastating. 

But it doesn’t have to be. 

A reliable backup and recovery policy managed by a trustworthy and steadfast IT company can be all that stands between your business and data-loss disaster. Here’s why:

 

  • Malware and ransomware can hold you hostage.

Not even critical US infrastructure is immune to attack. As we have all seen recently, a cybersecurity attack on a major fuel pipeline involving ransomware caused a several-day outage in the northeast, leading to gasoline shortages and skyrocketing prices. If this can happen in an environment with billions of dollars at stake and world-class personnel on the case, it can happen to anyone.   

 

  • Technology can simply fail.

Even with the best preparation, technology breaks down over time. Hard drives have a finite lifespan, power outages and other electrical issues can cause damage, and software bugs can take down systems without warning. Even Microsoft and Google’s servers can go down, resulting in painful outages for customers and the business’ bottom lines. 

 

  • Natural disasters strike without warning.

According to FEMA, 40% of small businesses don’t reopen after a natural disaster. You don’t have to tell anyone living in Oklahoma about the danger mother nature poses. Just wait for your reminder every Saturday at noon that we always have to be on alert. Is your company tornado proof? Fireproof? Impervious to flooding? If not, you need to have a disaster recovery plan.

 

  • People are human.

Shakespeare said “To err is human,” but what he neglected to mention was that erring is super harmful to your bottom line. Stanford University research concluded that 88% of data breaches are caused by employees’ mistakes. We mess up; it’s inevitable. Because it’s inevitable, we should plan for it. 

 

History is clear: failing to plan is planning to fail. With the growth of technology-dependent business, the stakes have never been higher for organizations big and small. Managed IT services can help you create a bespoke Data Backup and Recovery solution that makes sense for your business.

Why Amshot?
We’re a Datto partner and one of the top Bare Metal backup and disaster recovery providers. Basically, that means we’re fast. Super fast. While other backup solutions can take weeks to restore your data after an emergency, we can have you back in business in about an hour. You have enough things to worry about; don’t let data recovery be one of them. Ready to get started? Contact us to set up a consultation.

IT Security

TECH UPDATE: Screenshots Disabled

Happy April Fools Day from all of us at amshot!

Real talk about working from home from our very own

Technology Trends in 2019

Important Technology 2019

The innovations & updates to expect from the world of technology in 2019

While we made predictions about the latest electronics in preparation for CES 2019, our team started discussing the most important technology trends to expect in 2019.

In the last few years, innovation happened often and at a fast pace. In 2019, we anticipate an equally impactful year in the world of tech.

As a custom software and IT company, amshot is always looking to stay up-to-date on the latest and greatest technology. So, we have picked out a few tech trends that we predict will take center stage in the year to come.

ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE (AI) & MACHINE LEARNING

Artificial Intelligence (AI) and computer automation are constantly becoming more deeply ingrained in day-to-day business operations.

Machine learning is saving hours of human time spent programming information as computer systems are taught to interpret data and make decisions based on past successes and failures in a process quite similar to human learning.

In recent years, machine learning has been able to mimic the human brain through artificial neural networks which can be woven together in complex layers. This allows for “deep learning” to occur, meaning that computers can process information and self-improve far more quickly and efficiently.

This year, AI will become more tightly interwoven into our daily lives as the capabilities of AI assistants become increasingly more sophisticated, efficient, and accessible.

MULTI-CLOUD & HYBRID CLOUD 

Cloud services have come a long way since they first debuted about a decade ago. Used by both individuals and a wide range of organizations, cloud technologies are used for storing data, hostings websites and blogs, downloading software, audio and video streaming, and more.

For a crash course on cloud technology, read our blog, but here’s what you can expect from the cloud this year.

Multi-cloud strategy is the use of multiple cloud computing services from any number of vendors. A multi-cloud environment could be all-private, all-public, or a hybrid. A hybrid cloud combines elements of both private and public clouds.

The tech community expects hybrid clouds to become the model of choice for businesses in 2019.

While a public cloud is available to the general public, a private cloud can exist either on the internet or on a private internal network and is only available to select users. Hybrid cloud computing service allows files to transfer between private and public clouds.

Plus, hybrid cloud services also include a feature known as cloud bursting. An application or resource can run within the private cloud and “burst” into the public cloud when there is a spike in demand.

BLOCKCHAIN

In 2019, we expect the use of blockchain to grow in behind-the-scenes development and in publicized applications. IBM has already developed its own blockchain platform that lets developers build decentralized apps.

Also, there is a lot of chatter about gaming platforms set to release within the next year that will reward players in cryptocurrency and allow them to use those crypto tokens to purchase new games and merchandise.

The popularity of Bitcoin (blockchain’s most forward-facing application) first brought attention to the technology that was developed as a ledger for the cryptocurrency. The transaction information could be distributed, but not copied.

While blockchain was a super hot topic in 2018, some members of the tech community became skeptical of the technology when Bitcoin prices fell.

However, there is still a huge amount of potential value to discover for a distributed ledger that’s protected by encryption and provides an indelible record of transactional activity.

INTERNET OF THINGS (IoT)

As “smart” products grow in popularity, we find ourselves in an increasingly connected environment with millions of devices. 2019 will likely see a rapid increase in IoT platforms, with vendors narrowing focus onto specific use cases.

Quick recap: the Internet of Things (IoT) is the concept of connecting any and all devices to the internet so that they can communicate with each other.

In our previous blog about the IoT, we looked at how the expansion of these connected devices also presents a new cybersecurity threat.

In 2018, cyber attacks targeted home devices such as burglar alarms, security cameras, and door locks. In 2019, as traffic lights and public transportation systems join the IoT, we expect cybercrime to target smart city implementations.

Plus, there will likely be an increase in the practice of bundling service offerings by businesses as well as the emergence of a market for IoT managed services.

WIRELESS TECHNOLOGY (5G & BEYOND)

2019 will see the launch of 5G, which will be very different from previous generations of wireless technology.

The applications for 5G are broader than prior generations as it includes several wireless technologies such as sub-6GHz, mmWave, and NB-IoT. Cell towers equipped with 5G will have a much greater capacity, allowing more devices to communicate at a given time.

Due to its greater number of connectivity options, higher bandwidth, lower latency, and other improvements, 5G will provide newer and better ways to connect as well as new applications. It will make way for improvements in hybrid cloud technology and allow for greater developments in the IoT.

APPLICATION ARCHITECTURE IS CHANGING

From increased network speed and reliability to the development of cloud technologies that have revolutionized the way we store data, the last few years have seen dramatic innovations in the world of technology.

As our technologies continue to grow and evolve, the architectural designs of our applications must change to meet new demands.

Based on our research, there are four main principles that architectures must meet to stay relevant in modern technology:

1. Direct focus toward increasing the speed at which data is delivered to applications.

To avoid slowing down the system, the architecture must be memory- and network-centric to keep the data closest to where the computing is occurring.

2. There will likely be a rise in computing architectures offering workload isolation.

This allows different types of workloads to run on the same deployment and the same set of servers without competition. Plus, it keeps applications operating at optimal levels and makes it easy for developers to independently scale parts of the system.

3. Data should be available at the point of interaction.

Not all data can be on the device and must be properly protected, but for the most part, data needs to be on the device as much as possible. The next generation of applications requires dynamic flexibility, and the key to that is data on the edge.

4. We need deployment-unaware computing architectures to take full advantage of the flexibility offered by the cloud.

Deployment-unaware means that applications can run in any environment (cloud, multi-cloud, on premise, bare metal, and virtualized containers), removing the limitations traditional databases experienced on the cloud due to vertical scaling.

 

SharePoint for Success

Why your business should be using Microsoft SharePoint

Communication amongst coworkers shouldn’t require a trip down the hall. Teamwork shouldn’t mean mile-long email threads. And project management shouldn’t involve searching through files for the latest version. If these are issues you’re facing at work, you need Microsoft SharePoint.

Here at amshot, we understand that collaboration is a major key to business success. Microsoft SharePoint offers document sharing and project management tools that streamline communication. But, that’s just scratching the surface. Keep reading to learn more about SharePoint and what it can do for your business.

What is Microsoft SharePoint?

If you searched for Microsoft SharePoint on Google, you’d find a few different definitions and a lot of technical jargon. But, we hate sounding like robots.

In plain English, Microsoft SharePoint is a collaborative server environment that enables document and data sharing within a company. Typically, SharePoint is set up as a series of intranet sites. Each site corresponds to a different department within the company.

Now, onto the specifics. SharePoint can be broken down into three primary components. Each one contributes unique functions and builds upon the previous element:

1. Windows SharePoint Services (WSS) provides basic functionality. This includes user access to versioning, email alerts, and shared calendars.

2. Microsoft Office SharePoint Server (MOSS) builds upon the WSS foundation to produce SharePoint’s interactive functionality. Allowing users to employ a wide range of applications to use in different business scenarios. This includes (but is not limited to) Collaboration, Documents Management, Records Management, Workflow, and Personalization.

3. Microsoft Search Server is an Enterprise Search engine that offers in-depth indexing and searching capabilities within your intranet site. This can be integrated into a MOSS Web-based interface.

Why your business should be using Microsoft SharePoint

Get Better Business Results

SharePoint provides many advantages when it comes to optimizing your operations. As a provider of customized SharePoint sites, we make it our business to stay up-to-date on the latest trends. Here are some of our favorite features and how they can benefit your business:

 

VERSIONING SAVES YOU TIME & MONEY
Never waste time searching for the latest version when you could be working. SharePoint automatically keeps a version history of all documents and data in the system. Have you ever accidentally deleted part of a project? With SharePoint, you’ll stay stress-free because you can revert projects to an earlier draft at any time.

EASY TO USE
Role-based access keeps your team on task. User permissions allow you to decide who sees what and can be edited at any point. With 7+ compliance standards met out-of-the-box, SharePoint makes it easy to get your intranet started. Plus, designated users can have access to modify the site and further encrypt sensitive data.

UNMATCHED RELIABILITY
Not only is SharePoint user-friendly, but it also boasts a financially-backed 99.9% SLA (Service Level Agreement). This means users are guaranteed reliability and quick uptime from their intranets. Also, Microsoft takes several security measures to ensure user data protection, which includes: data encryption, regular backups, customer-selected regional data location, identity protection, not disclosing data center locations, and signing the Data Protection Agreement.

STAY ALERT!
Keep your teams informed on the latest project developments. SharePoint lets business leaders manage alerts for their employees. And with the right user permissions, end-users can handle their own. Set alerts for calendar events, new uploads, document/data modification, and more.

FLEXIBLE SOFTWARE FOR OPTIMAL WORK
SharePoint intranet sites are totally customizable. From functionality to design, construct everything to fit your needs. The platform is also scalable and easily grows with your company. Plus, Office 365 and SharePoint Online supports access to your intranet from any device.

Customizing with Care

At amshot, our team has extensive experience in creating and deploying SharePoint intranet sites. Even more, our software development team can customize it to suit your needs. We will build it to your specifications, down to fonts, colors, photos, permissions, and the widgets that are included on the site.

Microsoft SharePoint is a great tool to manage your company’s workflow and streamline collaboration. It can increase productivity and eliminate clutter in project management. To figure out if SharePoint is the right solution for your business, Find Your FIT.

Shaking IT Up

the A team

amshot is redefining the expectations for outsourced IT services & software development

When most people think of outsourced IT, they think of long email chains asking for a simple fix, scouring Google just to understand what’s going on, and cheesy on-hold music that you practically memorize.

That can be a reality when working with traditional IT service providers, but not with amshot.

We hold ourselves to a higher standard and strive to be pioneers in a new era of innovative software development and frustration-free IT. Our team loves to have fun, empower our community, think outside the box, communicate effectively, and work honestly every day.

To show that these are not just empty words, we’ve broken down the key elements we use to define amshot’s IT and software development services.

Not IT

Outsourcing your technology needs is supposed to make it easier. More time to focus on what you do best. Less time spent stressing about infrastructure issues. But, often times we hear that it has the opposite effect.

Traditionally, outsourced IT and software development was meant to create efficiencies and promote in-house productivity. More and more, services meant to optimize business are confusing and time-consuming.

Today, break-fix IT is the standard, and that’s only reactive. Plus, many tech companies are using systems and solutions that are more cookie-cutter than customized.

However, everything we’ve described created the foundation for what NOT to do at amshot.

Your Business is Worth IT

At amshot, we are invested in the growth and success of our clients, our community, and our team. Furthermore, we are dedicated to customizing and enhancing each client’s business experience.

Technology is our tool to accomplish these initiatives and achieve the amshot standard of services. We believe IT and software development should do the following:

Simplify your business, don’t complicate it.

Imagine your job if all of the technology worked as it should. We specialize in taking care of all things tech so you can focus on the next goal.

Help your business grow, not slow you down.

Our team uses cutting-edge technology, the client’s industry best-practices, creative problem solving, and effective communication to visibly improve measurable business results with custom solutions.

Proactive tech solutions > reactive tech services

Outdated networks and tech are time-consuming, malfunctioning software and security threats are disruptive, and dealing with these issues keeps you fighting fires instead of getting down to business.

Properly functioning IT and software can prevent fires before they start, and being proactive instead of reactive is our specialty. Simply put, proactive IT anticipates and actively avoids issues—fighting the vicious cycle of break-fix IT.

Make it easier to do the right thing and harder to do the wrong thing.

We firmly believe that outsourcing your technology needs should improve productivity in-house. No more confusing tech talk. No overly complicated systems. Our team strives for user-friendly and reliable services.

Provide business insights with reporting, various metrics, and thorough analytics.

As we mentioned earlier, our team is invested in each client’s success, so providing comprehensive reporting is a key element of our services. The metrics and analytics delivered offer an overview of the current systems as well as any opportunity our team identifies for your business tech to be optimized.

 


That, in a nutshell, is what we think outsourced IT and software development should be. If you would like to hear more about amshot’s office culture and our fresh take on tech services, contact us or Find Your FIT.

 

Can Lawyers Handle the Truth?

Forget the filing cabinets and invest in the benefits and innovations in legal technology

 

Technology is changing the culture of the legal system. Before a reliable alternative was available, lawyers were toting around bags filled with hundreds of sheets of paper— but with the customizable software and accessible technology available today, it is time for the legal industry to upgrade their technology.

As masters of IT and software development, we like to understand all things tech, and our clients in the legal industry have allowed us to gain valuable insight about attorney’s technology needs. We know that protecting your documents, communicating via secure channels, and tracking billables in an easy, manageable way are all important aspects of your profession. Let’s talk about how amshot can streamline your legal workflow.

EVIDENTIARY SUPPORT

Technology has increased productivity in the workplace, and that applies to law firms, courthouses, and cubicles too. In the recent past, legal technology has replaced the filing cabinets filled to the brim with paper and provided a way to simplify the life of a lawyer. Here are just a few more advantages to utilizing technology in the legal industry.

  • Ditch the bulky briefcase. When you utilize digital case management software and data storage services, there is no need to dig through filing cabinets to find that one document you had in your hand the other day…
  • In the business of billables. Keeping track of all the time and energy put into a case can be difficult on a spreadsheet. amshot specializes in custom software to save you time and keep your billables error-free.
  • No eavesdropping. Speaking with your clients in secure channels is a crucial part of the legal industry. Upgrade your whispered asides to secure communication and document sharing 24/7.
  • Discovery made simple. Leading up to a trial, lawyers handle tons of documents and read countless amounts of relevant information. Instead of sifting through stacks of paper, how about a custom-built database where everything is a simple search away?
  • Minimize malpractice. Most legal malpractice claims are due to errors that could be solved by simply using technology. Digital docket management, data back-ups, document security, and software that handles all mathematical calculations are all easier than trying to follow a paper trail to prove due diligence.
  • Free time. This is a concept that most lawyers are unfamiliar with, but the benefits are obvious. Instead of spending time doing tasks that legal tech could do in seconds, new-found time provides the ability to achieve efficiencies and promote professional development around the office.

SETTING A PRECEDENT

While the law might not change on a daily basis, technology does. At amshot, we are always up-to-date on the latest and greatest in legal technology to make sure our clients only operate with the best tech available. Some things come and go, but here are a few trends we will be watching this year.

  • Artificial Intelligence (AI): AI will have the ability to assist with things such as contextual analysis, predicting legal outcomes, proactive analysis of data that will lead to litigation prevention, and contract/legal document analysis. Although AI could significantly help your law firm, it has been reported that around 66% of law firms do not use it. It is normal to have your guard up when it comes to new technological advances, but AI is looking very promising.
  • Legal Project Management Software: With the rise of formal legal operations within corporations, legal processes need to be considered business processes. Legal project management software provides one place for all cases and teams. This software will give you the ability to talk to teammates, mark tasks and deadlines, and keep organized—losing the paper and pen method and saving a lot of time.
  • Unified Platforms: In the past, the best-of-breed e-discovery approach was the popular system. However, this trend will start to vanish in the future. Unified platforms are more efficient, more productive, less costly, and less risky.

It’s time to hop on the technology train, lawyers. The benefits of a technology upgrade would impact your day-to-day routine as well as your bottom line. If your firm is interested to see what legal technology could do for your office, see what amshot can do to help by scheduling a free consultation.

Virtually Official

What is a vCIO and why does your business need one?

As a company that started as a small business, we know how much work goes into running a successful start-up. Cultivating leads, handling business technology, hiring the right employees, executing client work, managing policies and benefits—it’s exhausting just thinking about it. With all the tasks a growing business is responsible for, you shouldn’t have to worry about how your daily technology needs will be handled.

amshot can do that for you.

A Virtual Chief Information Officer (vCIO) is an outsourced IT service that provides your company with the skills and capabilities of a Chief Information Officer (CIO) without the cost of staffing the position full-time. Keep reading to find out the perks of having a vCIO.

  • TIME IS MONEY
    Efficiency and productivity go hand-in-hand at the office. By utilizing a vCIO, you free up time and resources, previously dedicated to managing the company’s IT needs, which can be reallocated to promote various aspects of business development. Additionally, without having to micro-manage IT internally, your sanity gets a bit of a break as well.
  • SECURITY GUARD
    We have said it before and we’ll say it again: cybersecurity is not to be taken lightly. Every day, hackers are becoming bolder and smarter, so you should not leave your company’s security up to chance. Securing business data and information against cyber attacks is one of the vCIO’s most important roles in an organization. A vCIO works to keep all of your tech up-to-date along with creating security policies and implementing security patches.
  • CUSTOM > BASIC
    When it comes to reporting and recommendations, it is far more helpful if business analyses are tailored to your business instead of made with a widely-distributed template. With the various functionalities of business technology, it can be difficult to keep track of what is working and what isn’t while also trying to make sense of the mountains of data produced. A vCIO can provide customized reports of your current IT setup that showcase metrics and trends. Based on the reports and findings, the vCIO can also make recommendations for new software or technology to utilize at your business. The vCIO is an invaluable resource when considering new technology to invest in for your company.
  • SHOW ME THE MONEY
    While hiring a full-time CIO does free up time dedicated to your company’s IT needs, it would also come with a hefty price tag. The average salary for a CIO in the U.S. is more than $140,000 plus paid time off, insurance, and other benefits—not something a growing business can easily afford. Since a vCIO is an outsourced IT service, you will not have to pay an annual salary nor provide a benefits package. The increase in productivity is comparable when considering a CIO versus a vCIO, but the financial savings of utilizing a vCIO are huge.

The Bottom Line

Utilizing a vCIO can have a big impact on your company’s bottom line. Not only does this service allow you to focus on what you do best while we handle your IT needs, but it also implements a technology strategy that is proactive, not reactive. Too often we hear about huge IT issues and data breaches that stall productivity in an office. Luckily, we specialize in stress-free IT. amshot conducts regular maintenance to prevent issues and keep your business running smoothly instead of scrambling to fix problems as they arise.

If you want to find out if a vCIO is right for your company, set up a free consultation with amshot.