Cyber Security Awareness Training

There is no greater peril to online companies than exposure to cyber attacks. Common as they are—and expensive—sinister cyber threats can often lead entire companies to collapse. 

As a Sydney-based cyber security service provider, it saddens us to see online businesses being dismantled this way, as the truth is, with the right set of tools and strategies, most cyber attacks can be easily prevented. 

The main problem we see is that many online businesses aren’t even aware they have been or are currently being attacked by cyber criminals—and how do you defend yourself if you don’t even know there is a threat? 

From early detection to early prevention, here’s how you can train your business team to be on the lookout for potential cyber attacks—and resolve them all.

Why is Cyber Security Awareness Training Important?

Statistically, the main reason why company breaches happen at all, can often be linked back to human errors. But, this is not necessarily due to negligence or malevolence, but rather, due to lack of capability. 

What sort of capability?

Well, firstly, the capability to recognise advancing threats. Here, we’re referring to company employees. Even the most well-intentioned employees can fall victims to a cyber attack, whilst still lacking notable insight to detect the exposure. 

Phishers, for instance, can masquerade as employees, superiors, or potential business collaborators, in order to get their hands on sensitive data. So, the ideal solution would be to stop them in their tracks and before greater damage is done. 

Should that fail, there’s also the capability of knowing when an intruder has already found their way inside your company data. Even with this knowledge, you also have to know how to report and deal with any surging issues. However, getting to the point of eradicating existing cyber attacks can be a difficult task. 

What Should Cyber Security Awareness Training Focus On?

There are a variety of essential topics concerning cyber security awareness training.

Phishing, spam, malware, ransomware, social engineering—these are but a few of the most common cyber security threats. You would need to thoroughly explain them to your employees and emphasise the variety of ways in which they can manifest.

One way to do this is to organise presentations and play videos or show your employees real-life examples of previous phishing scams. All employees need to be wary of any suspicious online personalities, contracts, and offers. Therefore, you would do well with sharing insider tips with your team so they better recognise obvious red flags.

Speaking of, here are the areas in which cyber attacks can occur the most. 

Password Security

Passwords are the first barrier that a potential intruder would encounter. Since passwords are so prevalent in all areas of our internet-based lives, their importance and strength may be oftentimes overlooked.

Coming up with lacklustre passwords, however, might seem like a non-problem to employees but it may expose the company to greater danger. Therefore, suggest that your employees get creative with their password strength—and frequently change them. Showing your employees just how damaging cyber attacks can be, could also be useful in getting them to take password strength more seriously. 

Email and Social Media Dangers

There are unspoken guidelines on how to recognise email and social media red flags. 

Namely, employees would greatly benefit from clear indications and policies which would inform them which link and email types they ought to avoid responding to. 

Internal Guidelines

In the same vein, there should be clear guidelines regarding the protection of all company data. That means that employees should be regularly reminded what information must never be divulged to outside entities. 

Immediate Reaction

Finally, you should trust your employees that whenever they encounter something problematic, they should immediately report it. This way, even when uncertain, they will always have a superior to rely on and won’t let suspicious activity pass unnoticed. 

How Should Cyber Security Awareness Training be Organised?

While there are various ways to establish cyber security awareness, the following key points should be covered as a priority:

Compulsory Training for Newcomers

Every new employee should be immediately acquainted with the basic practices used to ward off cyber security attacks. That way, not only will all risks of committing rookie mistakes be avoided, but the company will also paint itself in a more professional light.

Keep Up to Date

Follow cyber security trends—both in the attack and defence area—and regularly upgrade the preparatory courses. Both older and newer employees should be informed of any important issues as soon as possible.

Test, Test & Test Again

From time to time, you may decide to test your employees to see if they have missed a red flag or other notable vulnerabilities. If and when you do note a flaw, it is advised you point out the mishaps and offer the employee a solution on how to better manage them next time. The more you test, the more familiar your entire team will become with recognising possible online gravities. 

Get Coached by Professionals

Hiring a potential training provider is the tie that binds your business to utmost safety. You needn’t look too far, at Essential IT, we’ve provided this service to countless businesses in Sydney, Australia and beyond. Our team is one of the best companies which offer cyber security awareness training out there. With cyber security Sydney, both you and your data are in safe hands.

Call us now on 1300 277 477 or e-mail us at info@essentialit.com.au and see how we can help your business.

At Essential IT, we like to make IT easy for you. So why wait? Call or click right now.

Essential IT Group - IT Services Provider Sydney

Top 4 Benefits of Using Managed IT Security Services

Have you ever considered using managed IT security services for your company?

If not, you definitely should!

Considering how the world is becoming increasingly dependent on internet technologies, the number of potential targets for cyber criminals is undeniably rising. Cyber security attacks are, if anything, further improvements – both in terms of subtlety and insidiousness. 

Consequently, a large number of businesses are focusing on strengthening the security of their networks, databases, and systems. Yet, this is neither an easy or a cheap task. 

The viable alternatives include either hiring a professional, internal cyber security team or training the existing IT services team, with a special focus on cyber security.

Again, whilst neat, both options are time-consuming and hefty, budget-wise. 

For this reason, a potential solution would be to partner up with managed IT security services, also known as Managed Security Service Providers (MSSPs).

What follows are the benefits that managed security services for IT can bring along. 

1. Far More Cost-Efficient

The primary reason for resorting to managed IT security services is related to their cost. As it turns out, using managed IT security services is significantly cheaper, in comparison to other cyber security managers. 

Whether the business considers constructing its own Cyber security Operations Center (CSOC) or hiring outside professionals – who usually come as entire teams – the overall costs for such an endeavour to mid-to-large organisations might add up to above $1 million. 

Additionally, since such teams can function as an ‘in-house’ service, the hiring business will become responsible both for the individuals offering these services and the teams’ needs concerning constant technological upgrades.

MSSPs, on the other hand, offer their services for an astoundingly cheaper price.

They are hired at need and can simultaneously collaborate with several businesses. Furthermore, the amount they charge is not fixed and tends to depend on both the client and the particular task at hand. 

Related Reading: Cyber security Sydney

2. Experience, Knowledge, Versatility

As we saw, MSSPs do not have one fixed client and are constantly solving different kinds of issues. Because of this, they are typically much more versed in dealing with a variety of cyber security problems

They operate 24/7, constantly monitoring the entire system they are tasked with protecting. They are also able to locate any vulnerabilities across multiple platforms. Thus, they can point out potential weak spots in the business networks, data, or systems. 

In accordance with this – and as a result of their experience – MSSPs can easily recognise an advancing threat. Most cyber security attacks can be uprooted before they are even properly executed. This is partly because managed IT security services are so good at tracking them. 

Precisely due to the regular occurrence of such attacks, MSSPs are equipped with a plethora of new and diverse technologies, which internal cyber security teams may not be acquainted with. They are precisely the types of tools that will enable rapid detection and elimination of cyber threats. 

These tools, along with the professionals’ expertise, can also guarantee that, when a threat slips through and enters a business’ cybersphere, it will be dealt with as soon as possible, before it causes any significant damage. 

3. In-house IT Benefits

It is easy to see how not only a company, but its internal IT service team too, can benefit from the hiring of an MSSP. 

Firstly, the internal IT services team will be relieved of the huge responsibility that is cyber security and will be able to delegate their time to other areas of the business. 

Secondly, the business would not have to spend copious amounts of money training the in-house IT team for it to become a cyber security team as well.

Finally, if the internal IT team does need to learn something related to cyber security (for whatever reason), they will have some of the best experts to assist and mentor them at hand throughout the process. 

4. Positive Side-Effects

Managed IT Security Services can prove to be beneficial in other, more general, ways. 

For example, MSSPs need to be constantly up-to-date with all shifts in cyber security and data regulations, aspects that many companies might not always be aware of. Plus, the MSSP will help the company keep track and abide by such standards. 

Similarly, businesses may often purchase IT security packs that do not end up being used to their full potential. An MSSP would notice this and utilise all means the company has at its disposal.

Time to Reach Out

So, what now? Joining forces with an MSSP is as easy as giving us a call. We provide excellent cyber security services to businesses in Sydney, which is where our offices are based. 

If you’re interested in forming a strategic defence plan to protect your business, don’t hesitate to contact us today

Call us now on 1300 277 477 or e-mail us at info@essentialit.com.au and see how we can help your business.

At Essential IT, we like to make IT easy for you. So why wait? Call or click right now.

Essential IT Group - IT Services Provider Sydney

Why All Remote Businesses Should Use MFA

With each passing day, hackers and cyber criminals are improving their tactics and strategies, rendering single-factor authentication (SFA) no longer the safest method of securing your data and accounts. The most used SFA is a simple username and password form, which can nowadays be cracked very easily. 

To add another layer of security, another method commonly being used in Australia and throughout the world currently is multi-factor authentication (MFA). By simply adding another layer of authentication, we’ve improved our clients’ cyber security tenfold. 

In this article, we’ll dive into how MFA may be appropriate for your business and why you should consider using it. 

Related reading: Cyber Security Sydney

Multi-Factor Authentication Advantages

The major advantage of multi-factor authentication is that it increases the overall security of your business by ensuring your staff prove their identity with more than just a username and a password. As this report suggests, in 2020 businesses in Australia experienced a whopping 40% more phishing attacks than the previous year and have been receiving fraudulent messages 15 times more during the pandemic.

Implementing the usage of multi-factor authentication elements such as a fingerprint or a physically made hardware key increases the likeliness your business has of overcoming attacks from cyber criminals. To paint a picture for you, think of an SFA like a car with a seatbelt but without airbags. MFAs are a car with seatbelts, airbags and a 5-star ancap safety rating. Easy switch and worth the investment right? 

MFAs are particularly important given that cyber criminals can easily use tools to gain your team’s login credentials and therefore gain access to vulnerable data and resources. Simply by adding one more layer of authentication, hackers cracking tools and password sniffers can be rendered useless.

How do MFAs Work?

As you’ve probably got the gist of it by now, multi-factor authentication operates by requesting extra information for authorisation like one-time passwords. They are abbreviated as OTP and are the most prevalent MFA elements that users will be used to. OTPs are four to eight-digit credentials that you may get by email, SMS, or even through a specific mobile application. 

When using OTPs, a new code is produced regularly or whenever a user requests a verification. The pattern of the code is constructed using a seed variable provided to the user when they make registration initially, as well as another element such as an adjunct counter or a time limit.

The majority of the MFA algorithms rely on 1 out of 3 forms of extra data that you need to fill out, such as what you know, what you own, and other personal things. This is sometimes known as personal authentication. 

Finally, biometrics such as fingerprints or facial recognition can be used for extra-strong security as these are, evidently, very hard to counterfeit…before we bore you with the technical nitty-gritty of MFAs, let’s move onto the more pressing question our clients often ask us. 

When Should Our Business Use MFAs?

The answer to this will change depending on the exact needs of your business, but the baseline response to this question generally stays the same—MFAs should be used when digital resources are accessed from outside the physical walls of the office.

Think Emails, VPNs and accessing cloud storage from home. As for how often an employee should fill an MFA, that depends greatly on the sensitivity of the data you are needing to protect and will change on a case by case basis. We recommend some of our clients have their employees use an MFA once per day, and definitely every time a device is restarted. 

Which brings us onto the next frequently asked question. 

Why do Remote Accessible Businesses Need MFAs?

The most common reason why businesses refuse to adopt an MFA is that they feel it is a little cumbersome and complex. However, if remote and in-house businesses do not use a multi-factor authentication method, they increase the risks of data leaks and security breaches.

One Ponemon Institute study declared that, on average, the price businesses pay due to data breaches is $6 million. Smaller firms, while not suffering as severe attacks, do incur comparable monetary losses. It is also critical to acknowledge that multi-factor authentication is quickly going to be a big requirement to avoid costly repairing expenditures that could have been avoided.

Cyber security intervention programs do not compensate for those expenses. Furthermore, fixing your cyber security vulnerability does not compensate for the original deficit, for instance, if the sensitive data is breached or your technology has gone down for a lengthy period.

Another key reason is that remote workers are inherently more vulnerable to cyber-attacks because they might not actively work inside the network of the organisation anymore. Personnel might also utilise their gadgets to perform their tasks; thus, the company cannot have complete authority around the equipment they’re using. VPN’s are progressively being used by businesses to get remote access to the internet. They’re usually safe however, the end-to-end encryption the VPN employs can be rendered useless if an attacker already knows the credentials. 

The Bottom Line

With cyber criminals getting more advanced year in year out, SFAs simply don’t cut it anymore. When dealing with valuable data and multiple remote teams, it’s imperative to add that extra layer of security to your business—MFAs do just that. If you are looking to make your business less vulnerable to cybercrime, Essential IT will be happy to provide a free IT assessment and implement MFAs into your business’s processes. 

Call us now on 1300 277 477 or e-mail us at info@essentialit.com.au and see how we can help your business.

At Essential IT, we like to make IT easy for you. So why wait? Call or click right now.

Essential IT Group - IT Services Provider Sydney

Why Is Cyber Security so important?

These days, computer crimes and cyber attacks are increasing in severity and are a significant risk to businesses, consumer information, and business infrastructure. These crimes can have devastating effects on not only the cyber criminals’ victims themselves but also the broader community. Recent high-profile cyber security cases have demonstrated the importance of cyber security to both businesses and governments. Some people make the mistake of thinking that cyber security is about having a firewall and antivirus software installed on their computers. While these are both proactive cyber security measures to take, they are not comprehensive enough to ensure that your company’s sensitive information is kept safe. Many companies make the mistake of setting up antivirus and firewalls and forgetting about it—thinking that their cyber security is taken care of.  The following article will look into some common cyber security measures and discuss how and why they are important.

Elements of Cyber Security

Physical Access Control

The first element of cyber security is physical access control—a major weakness that many businesses and governments are still struggling with. Cyber criminals often use their skillset to gain illegal access to networks or computers and to then send spam and perform other harmful attacks on other parts of the system. This physical access can be a major barrier to preventing cyber attacks, and the lack of control can result in both security risks and collateral damage. Physical access control is an important element of cyber security.

Digital Signature

The second element is a digital signature. The digital signature is the algorithm used to encrypt data so that the decryption key cannot be used to reveal it. Without a digital signature, the information cannot be read, and if the network is not protected, then the cyber security attack is delayed. Unfortunately, this element is often overlooked by users and is one of the reasons why we see an incredible amount of phishing attempts and hackers getting through password-protected files in 2020 alone. A digital signature is an important cyber security consideration.

Theft Protection

The third key element is credential theft protection. By obtaining the username and password of a systems administrator, attackers can easily gain complete access to a company’s systems, and thus gain access to everything that needs to be done, including the likes of employee scheduling and even personal documents. Systems must be regularly protected against these attacks, and in fact, this must be a part of a company’s cyber security management process. When a cyber attack occurs, it is possible to identify and isolate the device that initiated the attack. 

Identification

Finally, the fourth element is identification. A cyber security expert can quickly determine which devices are infected with malicious codes. By knowing the type of device, and which applications on the device have been compromised, they can then carry out the various necessary actions to stop the cyber attacks. The attack might not immediately stop, but if your cyber security experts know the exact IP address and username of the infected computer then they can easily stop the operation right away. 

The Importance of Cyber Security

Once you have made sure your business’s computer systems are running as securely as possible, then you need to take other measures to reduce the likelihood of a cyber security breach.  Some people have heard of malware but are unclear as to what it is or how it affects their network. Malware is any software that installs itself onto your system without your permission. For example, if you download a freeware application that you think is legitimate, you might unwittingly download a piece of malware into your system. These programs are designed to track your internet behaviour and steal confidential information from your computer. You should only download software packages from trusted websites, and you should run them through an anti-malware program once you know you’ve downloaded them. If you are unsure of the legitimacy of these programs—don’t risk it—reach out to the team at Essential IT and we can download and test these applications for you. Remember, when you are trying to protect your network, data and business, it’s always better to err on the side of caution.   For developers and small and medium-sized businesses, having an effective cyber security strategy is crucial. One way to ensure you remain at the forefront of cyber security development and implementation is to enrol in a web application development course. Companies in the IT industry and those in the public sector such as hospitals and other major corporations rely on application development to provide the latest tools and techniques to help them secure their information and systems. A Sydney university’s cyber security course can help you develop skills in web application development to help your company stay one step ahead of the game. Alternatively, Essential IT provides cyber security training to our clients in Sydney. You will be able to apply your knowledge to various areas, including computer security, network security, and information security, to name just a few. Further reading: Cyber Security Sydney

Cyber Security Should Never Be Underestimated

Many companies offer virus protection services. In fact, you may be required to regularly update your antivirus software in order to avoid new viruses. In addition, you should also frequently scan all of your hard drives for unauthorised files. You can run this scan with an online tool or through your operating system. Information security groups should discuss their cyber security strategy with each other regularly in an effort to identify threats and develop prevention and protection practices.  Creating an environment of collaboration between IT security teams will make it easier for them to work together to identify threats and develop solutions. All security teams should share the same goals, such as reducing the threat to network operations, protecting intellectual property, preventing hacking attempts, and stopping malware activity. These goals should be put into writing and routinely reviewed. In the digital world, cyber security is an ever-changing field with new advances appearing on a daily basis.

Call us now on 1300 277 477 or e-mail us at info@essentialit.com.au and see how we can help your business.

At Essential IT, we like to make IT easy for you. So why wait? Call or click right now.

Essential IT Group - IT Services Provider Sydney

How To Avoid a Ransomware Attack

Ransomware attacks have been a hot topic for many business owners over this past year—as the number of employees working from home has increased, so too has the occurrence and severity of these attacks. 

Without getting too technical, a ransomware attack typically involves the insertion of malware into a device that is designed to either corrupt, delete or steal data until a ransom for its restoration is paid. 

As a leading firm in Sydney’s cyber security space, we have seen firsthand the increase of ransomware attacks—with some studies indicating Australia alone experiencing a 25% ransomware increase in 2021. What’s worse is that among the most affected are crucial industry sectors like health service providers, finance and legal services.

To avoid becoming a target, your business should take the necessary steps to upgrade overall cyber security. Luckily, we’re here to help. The team at Essential IT has put together some of the most effective things you can do today to mitigate your exposure to ransomware attacks. 

Let’s break it down quickly. 

A Good Defence is Your Best Offence

Ransomware’s biggest strength is its ability to quickly infiltrate, encrypt and corrupt your data. This entails targeting and bypassing traditional security technologies that most businesses utilise—emails, attachments and any communication apps or programs that the company’s employees use regularly. 

Having strong encryption for all files, educating employees on security awareness, constantly updating your software and adding new layers of security are the most important things you can do to prevent most attacks from happening in the first place. But, that’s easier said than done, so let’s look into these things in a bit more detail. 

Out With the Old, In With the New

Step one. Update your hardware. Aside from using incredibly old software or never updating your systems, the team at Essential IT feel that hardware is often the most overlooked culprit in any ransomware attack. One of the most well-known ransomware attacks in history came with the WannaCry virus—a ransomware cryptoworm that targeted the national health service in the UK. 

Part of the reason why it was so successful was that the operating systems were attached to old machines that no longer supported any updates. This made it incredibly easy to not only hack the system but also stay inside. Making sure your machines are up-to-date is therefore equally as important as their actual systems being up-to-date.

Look to DNS Filters

Most employees and business executives are usually unaware of ransomware attacks before it’s too late. One of the ways they can infiltrate your business operations is through a virus disguised as business software or applications. This is where finding the right web filtering solutions is critical and where DNS filters can come in handy. 

In layman’s terms, DNS filters are programs designed to aggressively block any unknown application, add-on, ads, files or software. By utilising advanced AI technology, DNS filters are able to identify websites using suspicious programming such as deepfakes, which can help prevent you from interacting with illegitimate websites. If you’ve ever been emailed links with fake login scripts to programs like Microsoft 365, you may have been exposed to a form of ransomware attack. Often, these fake scripts are expertly crafted and their legitimacy can be very difficult to prove from the naked eye. This is where DNS filters are highly efficient, as they will block these sites from ever loading on your computer in the first place. This is vital when it comes to protecting you from accidentally offloading sensitive information to criminals on the dark web. Our team at Essential IT have years of experience helping our clients identify the right high-quality DNS filters for their businesses.

Backup, Backup, Backup

Another thing businesses often forget to do is backup their data. As IT professionals we cannot stress enough how important this is to do. The best way to protect your organisation is to always have a plan B—which could be as simple as having another location to save your files. This is an excellent way to stop the spread of a ransomware attack. Having multiple locations to store your data instantly reduces the leverage potential hackers may have over you. After all, they can’t ransom you for data that you have access to. 

This is something most companies already do, but it’s nevertheless highly recommended you find and use the best storage areas, additional local disks, and/or multiple cloud services. This way you can prevent worse-case scenarios from happening, ensuring that your backup data is always safe in the event of environmental disasters or advanced cyber attacks. 

Never Underestimate Proper Training

The call is coming from inside the house. This rings true in b-grade horror movies and unfortunately many ransomware attacks. It is an undeniable fact that employees often represent the biggest security risk to your company. Not out of foul play or ill-intent, just because we are all humans that make mistakes. Not only do one out of three everyday users not use passwords on their devices, but almost half of all employees believe that opening an unknown attachment is not cause for concern. Furthermore, this report shows that most employees regularly open attachments disguised as invoices or receipts and that 25% of them use the same cloud services at work and at home. 

Properly training employees can prove a challenge, given the somewhat technical complexity that can be involved with ransomware attacks and the behaviour necessary to stop them. However, it should be any business owners priority to train technologically illiterate employees—as an investment in this corner of their education will pay dividends when ransomware attack occurrences plummet. 

The Bottom Line

Avoiding a ransomware attack requires a lot of time, commitment and resources. No one-and-done solution can instantly upgrade your systems, train your employees, buy you new hardware and improve security mechanisms for any sensitive files. That’s why being aware of the different kinds of threats ransomware attacks can present is how you can begin protecting your business.

Call us now on 1300 277 477 or e-mail us at info@essentialit.com.au and see how we can help your business.

At Essential IT, we like to make IT easy for you. So why wait? Call or click right now.

Essential IT Group - IT Services Provider Sydney

Top 5 Business Cyber Security Threats

The digital world has expanded exponentially over the last few years, the speed of which was catalysed by the raging COVID-19 pandemic. Most people have become accustomed to working from home—and many businesses have had to tackle the numerous cyber security challenges that this change in work environment has brought with it.  

Too often our Sydney Cyber security team read reports and hear stories of businesses cutting funding to their cyber security budget—convincing themselves that their money will be better spent elsewhere. We can presume that this isn’t just occurring in the landscape of Australian business, but also around the world. It could also be presumed that the ongoing financial impacts of lockdowns and the consequences that come with them are likely influencing these decisions. 

In this article, we will briefly explain 5 cyber security threats businesses in all industries face—and explain why cutting funding to battle this rising threat is a big mistake. 

Endpoint Security

When you’re working from home, lack of endpoint security is the number one cyber security threat that can affect your affairs. It doesn’t matter if you’re a part of a small, medium or large business, or perhaps even a freelancer or trader working from home, strong endpoint security is a must. Simply put, endpoint security assumes taking measures that will prevent any endpoints (laptops, phones, tablets etc) from being penetrated through a network. 

As many home offices are not equipped to handle or deal with security breaches with the same robustness that business places are, many remote workers endpoints have been targeted by cyber criminals. Normal protocols are thrown out the window, with some employees likely to use many devices on the same unsecured networks—greatly increasing the chance of a security breach. Ensuring your employees have the appropriate antivirus software installed on work/home devices and educating them on cyber security, you can greatly reduce your businesses exposure to cyber crime via endpoint breaches. 

This brings us to the next biggest threat. 

Mobile Malware

The exponential use of mobile phones, both in our personal and professional lives, has dramatically increased the odds of employees being targeted by mobile malware. A big error we have seen at Essential IT is businesses allowing employees access to corporate networks via unchecked and unsecured mobile devices. These actions show a clear correlation to an influx of malware attacks occurring through employees’ mobile devices. 

This is especially true when employees aren’t provided with antivirus software and made aware of the consequences various kinds of malware can have on the businesses they are working for. Some of the most common kinds of mobile malware we have seen are bank trojans, click fraud advertising, remote access tools (RATs) and ransomware attacks.

Deepfakes

Deepfakes are no longer a cyber security threat belonging to futuristic sci-fi movies and conspiracy theorists—they are very real and can be very damaging to unsuspecting businesses. In layman’s terms, a deepfake is a type of AI program that analyses a person’s photo/video history to plant that image onto another person or thing—essentially falsifying their actions and speech. If done correctly, the attacker can impersonate an employer for example, which can lead to very damaging consequences. 

Through deepfakes, cyber criminals may be able to give harmful instructions to employees, facilitate phishing attacks or aiding and abetting hackers in attempts to storm and overrun security systems.  

Phishing Attacks

While representing a much newer kind of cyber threat, phishing attacks are the cyber version of identity theft. Phishing is a process wherein a hacker emails a person, employee or boss, with a slightly altered email to gain access to personal or sensitive information. 

Phishing made up one-quarter of all data breaches in 2020 and a staggering 78% of all cyber crimes in the last two years. Businesses should be aware that phishing schemes through cloud applications are one of the most common ways that hackers can access company data and information. 

Cloud Jacking

Much like the name suggests, cloud jacking is the process of infiltrating a business’s cloud computing service. Most cyber security experts will note that, besides phishing, this is one of the most frequent ways hackers gain access to a business’s sensitive information—seeing as many businesses may have cut funding to the security services in place protecting cloud services. 

Hackers can gain information about employees’ sensitive data, company communications or can manipulate operations and logistics, eavesdrop on important meetings or even take over an entire cloud system. More concerningly, they can also plant phishing schemes into various documents that other employees have access to, helping spread malicious files through the workplace. 

Conclusion

It may seem obvious, but protecting your company from cyber attacks should be a priority for all businesses in 2021. Although spending may need to be cut across the board, Essential IT recommends it is not at the expense of your business cyber security—especially during this unprecedented time of remote work. 

Finding the right Sydney IT security service is just the start of your journey towards a better business. If you are considering protecting your business from cyber security threats we have mentioned and many more, get on a call with a member of our team today.

We’d be happy to help!

Call us now on 1300 277 477 or e-mail us at info@essentialit.com.au and see how we can help your business.

At Essential IT, we like to make IT easy for you. So why wait? Call or click right now.

Essential IT Group - IT Services Provider Sydney

4 Myths About Managed IT Services: Busted

When it comes to any form of managed services, especially managed IT services, it’s easy to understand the frustration of people being burned out from poor quality experiences in the industry. 

In a nutshell, managed IT services include a group of professionals who are tasked to provide infrastructure, network, management, security, organisation, customer support and are reporting to a person or organisation. It’s a relatively new practice, so it’s common for some providers to bring lacklustre work—and thus a bad reputation—to the entire industry. 

Because of this, there are a lot of myths out there that perpetuate the idea that managed IT services are a bad investment. And while this is not an episode of Mythbusters, it’s essential to recognise fact from fiction when it comes to hiring the right kind of service. 

Myth #1: Managed IT Services Are Too Expensive

It’s common to hear how hiring a provider will break the bank for you or your company. In reality, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Managed IT services can work within the scope of your business, but they can also work as a third-party service. 

More importantly, they primarily function on a pay-per-month basis, which is significantly less costly than hiring an entire IT department. In fact, standard pricing ranges anywhere between $150 and $200 per month for managing a whole system operation. When you compare this to the average industry cost of hiring an employee at $50 per hour within your company framework, this range for monthly pricing is a bargain—and that’s without factoring in office space, training expenses and any other costs associated with in-house employees!

While prices vary significantly based on the type of work you want done, they will still end up being substantially lower than having to build an entire department from the ground up—and a drop in the ocean compared to what a security breach or IT failure could cause your company. Ransomware attacks cost businesses an estimated $20 billion in 2020 alone. 

Myth #2: Managed IT Services Mean the End of IT Departments

Apocalyptic scenarios such as ‘X will overtake X’ or ‘this change will remove his/her job’ are pretty common in most workspaces, especially when it comes to IT outsourcing. This is untrue because managed IT services are very rare in comparison to whole departments, but they are also statistically miniscule in comparison. 

A survey by CompTIA highlights this fact. Only 6% of all companies that decide to hire a form of managed IT provider choose to fire their in-house IT departments. While they may be more affordable, most businesses are still sticking to what they know best. Moreover, there’s no reason for both the departments and providers not to coexist under one roof, since they will most likely be doing different tasks. Which brings us to our next myth. 

Myth #3: Managed IT Services Cannot Integrate With the Workplace

Similarly to the previous myth, the fear of some form of internal confusion or conflict arising because a company is hiring third-party providers is unwarranted. As with most new services, it takes time for employees to understand the role that managed IT services carry out within a business—and 9 out of 10 times, it has nothing to do with the work atmosphere and will have no measurable effect on work culture.

Moreover, there’s a learning curve for both the current employees as well as the provider—whether that’s teaching how to use a system, helping manage logistics, giving technical support when needed, or anything else in-between. Hiring a managed IT service will have little effect on the day-to-day operations of other employees—rather it will affect only specific hardware and software infrastructure. 

Myth #4: Managed IT Services Will Take Over Control Of Business Operations

Quite to the contrary. Managed IT services only deal with the amount of control and authority that they are given. Even still, most operations have to do with upkeeping various kinds of hardware, keeping up with software updates, and whatever tasks the company provides. While a good managed IT service can always chip in with any recommendations they would make for business to be quicker and more efficient, the hierarchy of authority remains a top priority.

In a business, there should always be a clear split between responsibilities and roles that each cog fills in the machine—all of them aiming towards the mutual goal of raising revenue or increasing profits. On their own, managed IT services pose little to no risk of ‘taking over’ any significant business operations without prior approval, just like no one employee would have the power to overthrow another. 

In Conclusion

Most businesses will need to learn and adapt to the new reality of mixing business operations with technology—with many already having been forced to play their hand due to the unforeseen circumstances of COVID. With thousands of employees now working from home due to the pandemic, cybercrime is up 600%

Perhaps this statistic will be what helps businesses overcome these common myths about the managed IT services—enabling them to embrace all the strengths this industry can bring to their business. 

Call us now on 1300 277 477 or e-mail us at info@essentialit.com.au and see how we can help your business.

At Essential IT, we like to make IT easy for you. So why wait? Call or click right now.

Essential IT Group - IT Services Provider Sydney

How Much Should You Be Spending on Managed IT Services?

One of the most common questions businesses that are trying to establish an IT service will ask themselves is ‘how much money should we allocate to it.’

While a basic Google search may come up with multiple answers based on median incomes and general city statistics, it’s not a cut-and-dry answer. As with most things, the cost of managed IT services relies heavily on a number of factors. 

Knowing how much to pay for managed IT services means understanding them first. 

Specifically, what will affect the spending. 

What Are Managed IT Services? 

Think of managed IT services like an all-round service for all your tech related problems. It’s usually a company tasked to monitor, maintain and support a system of users. It’s kind of like having an in-house IT department—except it often comes at a much lower cost. 

While managed IT services may vary in what they offer for the price, they almost always include monitoring and maintenance, cybersecurity, account and asset management, proactive support (for users and hardware) as well as frequent reporting. 

They’re important for two reasons. 

One, they not only regularly update your systems to help with seamless workflow integration, but they also keep your data backed up and safe. According to IBM, data breaches are on the rise and are estimated to cost businesses $3.86 million on average, as of 2020. Managed IT services help run your departments’ data as well as keep your network stable while you’re using them. More importantly, a good managed IT service will help fix any ongoing tech-related issues at a moment’s notice. 

Two, they significantly lower the costs in comparison to having to hire full IT staff. In general, a managed service can cost anywhere between $100-$300 per month depending on the arrangement. In comparison, having a full IT department can cost a business upwards of $50 per hour, per person. This is not factoring in training, equipment, or any other office-related expenses. 

How Much Do Managed IT Services Cost?

There’s no fixed rule to this—however, there are different ways to estimate how much managed IT services will end up costing your business. Knowing which one is most applicable to your business is important, as it could help you save on IT costs in the future. 

Fixed Fees

Much like it says on the can, a fixed fee is one where an IT service asks for an exact amount of money to be paid each month. This tends to be the most common type of fee, which can be customised depending on the chosen package or further negotiations. 

Typically, most arrangements can cost anywhere between $100-$200 per month. What you get at this price may vary, but it usually includes the aforementioned list of services. Beyond this general budget estimate, additional fees and costs are dependent on your needs. However, this all-inclusive model is usually fit for most businesses looking to have a stable and efficient tech service. 

Per Hour

If you’re not a fan of using a service for a prolonged period or would prefer to pay only when it’s necessary, then a per hour charge for managed IT services is something you can opt for. 

For example, if you’re experiencing issues with your software, then calling an IT service to help deal with your problem will be a short-term solution that can cost anywhere between $50 and $100 per hour. If the problem in question isn’t a prevalent one, then this is a much more affordable form of service than having to pay every month—however, prices can go through the roof if there are numerous problems or recurring tech issues in your business.  

Retainer

Managed IT services can also come in the form of a retainer. This is the process of hiring a service for an estimated amount of time at a reduced rate that’s been negotiated beforehand. This is an excellent choice for any business that needs an annual check-up, a company needing to fix a specific problem, or a business needing to deal with a repetitive problem without having to unload a whole service for it. 

Retainers are by far some of the more expensive purchases a company can make—but also potentially some of the most affordable ones, depending on how much the business has budgeted beforehand. Often retainers are used by much larger companies, who need high-quality IT services on standby to fix errors before they balloon up into larger problems. 

Final Word

If time is money, then allocating a good amount of both is necessary when planning to onboard managed IT services onto your business. 

While there’s no exact estimate for calculating the exact costs of having a managed IT provider, having one, in general, is what will ensure productivity and profitability for your company. Whether it’s a monthly fee or pay-per-work, ensuring that your company is both protected and functional should be on top of your priority list. 

Don’t think of managed IT services in terms of dollars, but rather in terms of safety and longevity!

To discuss your managed IT support needs, simply contact us today.

Call us now on 1300 277 477 or e-mail us at info@essentialit.com.au and see how we can help your business.

At Essential IT, we like to make IT easy for you. So why wait? Call or click right now.

Essential IT Group - IT Services Provider Sydney

Essential Steps to Finding the Perfect Managed IT Service Provider

A good IT Managed Service Provider (MSP) will quickly establish itself as a vital and cost effective extension of your in-house team. Select them well, and you can rest assured your network infrastructure and mission critical applications will always offer peak performance. 

However, with so many providers to choose from, how do you distinguish the exceptional from the average … or worse, the ineffective? We’ve come up with a few handy tips to help you in your search for the perfect external information technology support partner.

Look for a support partner committed to developing long-term client relationships

Effective managed IT services should not only present solutions that will meet your current needs, but also develop a long-term roadmap outlining the steps that will help your network play its part in growing your business and getting you to where you want to be in, say, five years time.

This roadmap should be a flexible work-in-progress, with those leading it possessing the agility to adapt to changes in your business or the landscape more generally, as well as to incorporate new technological developments.

A commitment to ongoing, straightforward, honest communication between provider and client is key to enabling the ongoing IT infrastructure improvements that will help fulfil your business ambitions over the long term.

This all largely hinges around trust. You should have confidence that your chosen provider is working in your best interests by offering impartial, dependable advice based on best-practice. The power balance is stacked firmly in favour of the provider, due to their expert knowledge. Trust will, for instance, reassure you that you’re not being encouraged to invest in expensive solutions you don’t need, for the financial gain of your provider.

Of course, trust is something that must be earned, and this can take some time. Therefore, the other major advantage of finding an MSP committed to long-standing relationships is the opportunity for them to win your trust over time, through consistent quality of service, a customer-centric approach, and a demonstrated ability to meet and exceed your expectations, every time.

Make sure they’re willing to take the time and get to know your business

Because every business has different needs, a tailored approach to IT services and support is an absolute must. If a potential provider looks to be offering you a cookie-cutter solution, it might be time to continue the search! There is no one-size-fits-all solution that could possibly meet the unique needs of every business.

Once engaged, your chosen partner should commit to developing a thorough understanding of your current network set-up, business needs, challenges and future ambitions. Regardless of budget, resources or the nature of your work, a solution can be developed to resolve issues and boost performance.

Make sure your chosen provider starts by conducting a thorough audit of your current network set-up. It is these insights that will make sure they can make the most appropriate recommendations for your network management going forward. This might include server upgrades, changes to your data backup process, or new approaches to your use of cloud computing, amongst many other things.

Another vital element of the ‘getting to know you’ process involves asking about your future business objectives, vision and goals. That way, plans can be made to not only solve immediate problems, but also set you up for future success.

A proactive approach is essential

Although having access to 24/7 technical support from an expert team committed to resolving urgent IT issues quickly and effectively is important, your external support partner should be doing so much more in support of your business. Improving your network to boost performance and preempt problems before they arise are equally crucial.

One of the best things about MSPs is that they live and breathe everything IT, all day, every day. This means they are continually across all the very latest innovations in what is an incredibly fast-moving space. This is great news considering enterprise technology has come a long way in recent years, and is a more affordable and realistic option for small and medium businesses today than it has been in the past.

Therefore, make sure to choose an external IT support provider with the high-level technical knowledge needed to properly and proactively advise you on the latest industry-leading technologies to consider.

Find a support partner that can support your ‘new normal’ way or working

An increasingly remote workforce is likely to demand new approaches to things like security, device management and collaboration. 

The modern MSP will insist on robust security measures as standard, due to an awareness that network security is more important post-2020 than it ever has been before. This is a result of the new and emerging risks associated with having more people accessing business data from more devices and locations.

Substandard cyber security measures bring real threats that can wreak havoc over your network and cause significant financial losses, as well as reputational damage associated with data loss. Making sure you have the latest strategies and tools in-place for the protection of your critical information and applications, as well as allowing for business continuity and swift disaster recovery in the event of a breach, should therefore be a top priority when looking for your ideal IT support partner. 

On top of that, businesses with remote workers will require effective platforms that enable their people to collaborate as effectively from geographical disparate locations as they did when they were all working from the same location.

Microsoft Office 365 has proven itself to be a popular solution during the past 18-months, supporting mobility and collaboration by offering secure access to business data from any device or location. A good MSP should be able to make smart suggestions for the most appropriate platform for your business, as well as the approach to set-up and implementation that will make sure you get the best out of it.

Essential IT and our team of experts can proudly claim to offer all of the above and a wide range of additional support services! We’re always happy to chat, so give us a call today and ask us about how our strategic thinking, long-term outlook, and proactive approach can be of benefit to your business.

Call us now on 1300 277 477 or e-mail us at info@essentialit.com.au and see how we can help your business.

At Essential IT, we like to make IT easy for you. So why wait? Call or click right now.

Essential IT Group - IT Services Provider Sydney

Top 4 Business Problems a Quality Managed Service Provider Can Solve

There’s a wide range of reasons a business might choose to engage the services of an IT Managed Service Provider (MSP). Not least is the unfettered access to an entire team of experts, passionate about information technology.

Whether it’s everyday services and support around technical glitches that you’re looking for, or the implementation of an entire system redesign, an MSP has the potential to eliminate network headaches and set your business up for future success. The list of problems they can solve is endless. Below we have listed just four …

Supporting the changing IT needs of a growing business

Start-ups and smaller businesses often entrust their networking needs to a member of the team whose core area of expertise is not IT. However, as a business grows, its IT requirements have a tendency to become more complex. Without expert input, that team member may find themselves ill-equipped to effectively meet the changing demands, meaning a greater risk of technical glitches, costly downtime and security breaches.

This is why an MSP can prove to be such an invaluable investment. They can work with you to provide 24/7 technical support that will see any issue resolved quickly and effectively. All it should take is one quick phone call, and an expert will take ownership of your problem, resolving it with the support of an entire team of experienced IT professionals.

Once resolved, your MSP will take further steps to identify the root cause of the issue, implementing a solution that will prevent the issue from recurring in the future.

Your MSP will also take a more proactive approach, conducting ongoing network monitoring, and suggest improvements that will ensure your infrastructure remains primed for peak performance.

Often as a business grows, it tends to end up with a network comprising various outdated, legacy systems, which don’t necessarily complement each other in the best way. With new innovations constantly becoming available, an expert IT support provider can help you consider the best alternatives for you by cutting through the technical jargon.

And it doesn’t stop there! Tell your MSP where you want your business to be in five years time, and they will work with you to develop a plan that will support this goal.

Consolidating and streamlining your ‘new normal’ approach to working

In 2020, businesses were forced to ‘think on their feet’ and implement new approaches to enable collaboration and data access, due to the sudden requirement for the majority of employees to work from home. 

In what continues to be such an uncertain time, business owners have often scrambled to find solutions to see them through periods of lockdown, using a combination of tools and platforms such as Gmail, Zoom, Dropbox, Google Hangouts, Asana, Wrike, and the list goes on.

However, with COVID-19 set to be with us indefinitely, it’s time to ask yourself whether the measures you put in place initially will remain fit-for-purpose in supporting your remote workforce over the long term.

One solution clients have found particularly beneficial during this time is Microsoft Office 365, which essentially incorporates elements of all of the above tools as part of one single platform. In particular, its Teams function offers secure access to business data and applications from any device or location, with a multitude of additional features such as virtual meetings, live document editing and instant messaging.

If Microsoft Office 365 isn’t something you’ve considered already, it’s certainly worth giving some thought to now. Not only does it offer a comprehensive suite of collaboration, storage and access tools, but is also likely to offer a more cost-effective approach by negating the need to pay license fees for multiple different platforms in order to get the same result.

Your MSP can work with you to identify the right platform for your needs – whether that be Microsoft Office 365 or otherwise – before supporting migration, implementation, set-up and user education.

How the situation with COVID-19 evolves from here is anyone’s guess. For that reason, agility will be key. Currently we are in a stop-start period, with lockdowns and their associated restrictions changing on a daily basis. Ask your MSP to help you consider a two-tiered approach – one process for periods when more workers are onsite, and another for implementation in the event of a snap lockdown, with workers once again required to stay home. 

That way, your network set-up will allow for business continuity, whatever the current pandemic situation.

New normal = New security risks. Are you prepared?

In addition to enabling a longer-term approach to your ‘new normal’ way of working, an MSP can also help you rethink your security measures to avoid cyber attacks and data loss. It’s the perfect (and arguably most important) time to do this, given the new and emerging risks associated with the increased demand for remote network access from an increasingly disparate workforce.

Consider requesting a security-specific network audit. This will shed light on any current gaps in protection, and inform recommendations for improvements. Alongside any additional security measures that are put in place as a result of this audit, your MSP can also conduct ongoing network monitoring, detecting and resolving potential threats before they have the opportunity to cause serious havoc.

Alongside all of this, an MSP can make sure you have an effective disaster recovery plan in place, to enable a speedy recovery in the event of a cyber security breach.

Helping you get the most out of the cloud

The cloud has established itself as the go-to for many businesses when it comes to secure, scalable and affordable data storage solutions. But with so many possibilities – public, private, and all manner of hybrid solutions – it can be overwhelming for the uninitiated to figure out the most appropriate use of the cloud for their business.

Instead of placing the idea of utilising the cloud into the ‘too hard’ basket, why not ask your MSP for their advice on cloud migration? They’ll help you navigate any compliance issues that may dictate how and where certain information can legally be stored, and create a cloud solution with the right mix of elements to fulfil your distinct business objectives.

Fundamentally, entrusting the management of your network and mission critical applications to an external expert means less stress, and more time for your people to focus on their areas of passion and expertise. This will help ensure the delivery of quality products and services, and allow you to concentrate on further evolving your business.

Call us now on 1300 277 477 or e-mail us at info@essentialit.com.au and see how we can help your business.

At Essential IT, we like to make IT easy for you. So why wait? Call or click right now.

Essential IT Group - IT Services Provider Sydney