It’s Time For A Refresh! 4 Cyber Security Trainings To Do With All Employees

Students are returning to the classroom now that back-to-school season is officially underway. During the first few weeks, teachers will be reteaching their students the topics they learned in the previous school year to help them regain knowledge they may have forgotten during summer break. But students aren’t the only ones in need of a refresher every year. Your employees also need to be refreshed on company policies, values and, most importantly, cyber security practices.

Did you know that human error accounts for 95% of all successful cyber-attacks? When a cybercriminal is planning an attack, they look for weak points within a company’s cyber security plan. The easiest spot for hackers to exploit is a company’s employees. New cyberthreats are created on a consistent basis, and it’s important that your employees know what to do when they encounter a potential threat. If your employees are not routinely participating in cyber security trainings, your business could be at risk, regardless of size.

Every single one of your employees should be familiar with your cyber security practices. When they’re hired on, they should go through an initial training that lays out all of your practices, and they should also participate in refresher trainings throughout the year to ensure that the entire team is on the same page with cyber security. At the very least, you should host at least one security training annually. If you’ve never put together a cyber security training, you may be wondering what topics you need to cover with your team. Below, you will find four of the most important topics to cover.

Responsibility For Company Data

This is your opportunity to explain to your employees why cyber security is so important. They need to understand why cybercriminals are interested in your company’s data and what they could potentially do with it. Everyone on your team has a legal and regulatory obligation to protect the privacy of your company’s information. When discussing this topic with your team, it’s imperative that they know the ramifications of falling victim to a cyber security threat.

Internet Usage

Does your company have restrictions on what websites your employees can use while at work? If not, that’s something you should look into. Every device that’s used by your employees should have safe browsing software downloaded onto it to prevent them from stumbling upon dangerous sites that could put your company’s data at risk. Your employees should know what sites are acceptable to use and that they should not be accessing their personal accounts while connected to your company’s network. They should never click on links that are sent from an anonymous source or are found on an unapproved website.

E-mail

If your employees utilize e-mail while at work, it’s important that they know which e-mails are safe to open. Employees should not respond to e-mails that are from people they aren’t familiar with, as that could be a cybercriminal attempting to gain access to your company’s data. Employees should only accept and open e-mails that they are expecting or that come from a familiar e-mail address.

Protecting Their Computers

If your employees have their own personal computers, they should be doing everything in their power to keep them protected. Whenever they walk away from their computer, they should make sure it’s locked; they should also never leave their computer in an unsecure location. Also, ensure that your employees are backing up their data routinely and have downloaded necessary antivirus software.

It’s of the utmost importance that your team has been fully trained in your cyber security practices. If they haven’t, they could open your business up to all sorts of cyber-attacks that will damage your company’s reputation from a customer perspective. Your business will also no longer be compliant, and insurance companies may not cover your claims if your team is not participating in regular training.

Ensuring that your team is aware of your cyber security practices and actively taking steps to strengthen your cyber security is the best way to stay compliant and prevent cyber-attacks. If your team is not regularly going through cyber security training, you need to start. It will offer more protection to your business, which will make your customers more comfortable doing business with your company.

Cybersecurity Threats You Should Still Worry About in 2022

Cybersecurity for small to medium-sized companies is an evolving issue. Every year there are slight changes to the landscape of online security that means adjustments are required, but many threats—such as bad actors causing massive data breaches– are evergreen. It’s easy to get caught up in one type of threat, especially when risk for it increases in a short span. For example, there is a lot of focus on ransomware protection in the last few years due to its steady increase in volume and sophistication, but many other threats that don’t get as much attention are still very real.

It’s difficult for small business owners to keep up with every new cybersecurity concern. There’s attention focused on something new all the time, but here are a few threats that you can count on you and your managed IT services provider needing to pay attention for the foreseeable future.

Employee and User Error

Having updated, well implemented policies and practices regarding cybersecurity for your staff is essential. There is no way to guarantee employees will never make a mistake—they are human being and that’s okay. Having documented policy that employees are consistently trained on though will make a huge difference and greatly reduce the risk of incidents in the future. Employees leaving passwords out, plugging in unvetted hard drives, connecting to the wrong, insecure Wi-Fi network and more will always be a problem for cybersecurity. People will never be infallible, so it’s always best to plan for it.

Internet of Things Risks and Vulnerabilities

The Internet of Things refers to the many small household objects and devices with wireless connections that are popular these days. Light bulbs, refrigerators, microwaves, speakers, and more all have variations with enhanced wi-fi connected features. Unfortunately, many of these devices are weaker with regards to security and hackers can use them as a point of access to get into your systems. If your business has a physical location, keeping items like them to a minimum may be better than allowing them in your workspace. Furthermore, if employees work from home, you should ensure they have security practices they are using if they have these devices in the same place they are working. These devices continue to be a major target for hackers and bad actors, so this is a problem unlikely to go away anytime soon.

Phishing Attacks

The reality that phishing attacks are a low effort and low tech means to hacking, and yet it’s still pretty effective overall as a way for attackers to cause data breaches, means it’s unlikely to ever go away fully as a tactic. Keep up with the latest common phishing scams and attempts to swindle innocent folks. Emails, spammy websites, robocalls even…whatever new tactics they’re using—make sure your entire team is capable of spotting them and avoiding catastrophe.

These are some evergreen cybersecurity concerns you can bank on being relevant for a long time, regardless of what you see in the headlines on news sites.

Time to Find Your Bay Area IT Team

Finding quality IT Support is a lot like your search for a mechanic or dentist. You needed a competent professional with broad experience and a roster of satisfied customers. They have to be trustworthy, current, and open. And even on a weekend or a holiday, they have to be available.

Assess how you found other services for your family. These steps will resonate:

Ask around

Who are your peers in your industry. Not everyone is a competitor. Ask them how they manage their IT challenges, projects, and emergencies?

Ask your IT Support if they will let you talk to any of their customers?

Your future IT support partner is proud of the relationships they have developed with other local businesses. Who are these people? What stories do they tell?

Check the reviews

Even after meeting some of their select customers, look for reviews that might offer other dimensions to their history.

Look for short wait times

As you interview potential IT support companies ask them about their response time. Question them about their team size and coverage at critical times. Don’t just take their word for it – ask their customers.

Understand your service options

What will your IT partner do, and what won’t they do? This is a conversation, not a yes/no Q&A. Be curious and imagine your worst-case scenarios. Ask, discuss, listen. Develop confidence in their depth, experience, and readiness to support your business and help you achieve your business-changing goals.

Find a comfortable waiting room

Wait, what? A comfortable waiting room at the dentist’s office sends a message. They can only be with one patient at a time, but they care about your comfort. With your IT team, there may not be a waiting room, but your Bay Area IT Support should assure you they have considered your issue, prioritized the urgency, and care about your comfort while you wait.

Local or National?

An IT support partner can help you in many ways remotely. But working locally with your Bay Area IT Support is a crucial choice. You don’t just want someone on the phone, you may need them above your ceiling and under your desk.

Pacific Computer Consultants offers the best IT Support & Services for Pleasant Hill, Walnut Creek, and San Francisco. If you are searching for Bay Area IT Support start with us. We’re fast, friendly, and responsive. Call us today at 925-281-5826.

The TLDR on SaaS – Cloud Services Summary

The TLDR on SaaS or Can You Help Me Understand Cloud Services?

Cloud computing is everywhere. It touches every aspect of computing and communication and continues to evolve. For many of us, the concepts can be tough to parse, let alone, explain. To the uninitiated, many associate Spotify, Gmail, or DropBox when they think of the cloud. Each service delivers functionality to a web browser or a local app on your computer or device, and all or most of the data and processing are happing somewhere other than where you are.

Why should understanding cloud services matter to your small or mid-size business? Using Cloud Services will save your business money and it will offer your employees and customers services that they value. Software as a Service (SaaS) gives your business the possibility to lower IT costs by outsourcing hardware and software upkeep and support to the cloud. You shift IT costs away from hardware/software spending and toward other objectives. In addition, with applications hosted centrally, updates can be released without the need for users to install new software. Read on to learn more.

Cloud Service Models

Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) delivers essential computing, storage, and networking resources on-demand, usually on a pay-as-you-go basis.

Advantage – Scalability, cost-effectiveness, pay-on-demand for utilities, location independence, redundancy, and the security of your data. 

Example – Rackspace, Amazon Web Services (AWS) Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2), Microsoft Azure, Google Compute Engine (GCE), Joyent, and more

Platform as a Service (PaaS) delivers hardware and software tools to users over the internet; usually, for application development. A PaaS provider hosts the hardware and software on its own remote infrastructure.

Advantage – You don’t have to start from scratch. When you want to build apps without taking on the entire technical stack of costs. It’s kind of like hiring a theater to put on a show instead of building the theater yourself.

Examples – AWS Elastic Beanstalk, Heroku, Windows Azure (mainly used as PaaS), Google App Engine, Adobe Magento Commerce Cloud.

Software as a Service (SaaS) delivers applications over the Internet. Instead of installing and maintaining software, you use it over the Internet. This frees you from complicated software and hardware management.

Advantage – You don’t need to install and run applications on your computer. Everything is available over the internet when you log in to your account. You can usually access the software from any device, anytime — as long as there is an internet connection. Most SaaS providers typically use a subscription model so you know your costs upfront.

Example – Spotify, Hubspot, Salesforce, Slack, Dropbox

There are tremendous values in expanding and shifting your business to Cloud Services. Talk with Pacific Computer Consultants today to identify solutions that may be right for you.

No One Works 365 Days A Year

You may have noticed Microsoft has made seismic shifts to simplify its product offering and strategy over the last couple of years. Regarding the Microsoft 365 moniker; I can imagine the arguments in the board meetings about these decisions. Would changes be disruptive or would they help the market understand what product they needed?

Why The Name Transformation?

Microsoft customers had a difficult time deciding which product was right for them. For example, the mid-tier business suite was called: Office 365 Business Premium but the premium tier suite was called: Microsoft 365 Business.

See any problems there? Now add to the confusion: Office 365 Business Essentials: had more cloud services than Office 365 Business.

How did Microsoft solve this? They renamed everything Microsoft 365 Business. That’s it. And depending on the tier of service and extension of offering, they completed the name with: Basic, Standard, or Premium.

Makes a lot more sense doesn’t it? I’m convinced it’s a challenge for existing customers, but it makes more sense for the rest of us.

But There’s Still A Problem With The Name

Microsoft believes their product name changes are a thing of the past but I’m not sure. I know there are 365 days in a year and that’s what the vibe Microsoft is shooting for. There are also plenty of egos that want the world to know they are pulling 80-hour workweeks. But let’s do some math. NOBODY is in the office 365 days a year. Normal people are looking at something closer to 261. Microsoft 261 Business doesn’t quite have the same pop to it. What if we worked extra – 6 days a week, and still take time off for the holidays. Well, that’s 297. Marketing wouldn’t go for it. We could round it up and go with 300. What do you think? You like it?

Office 300 Business – What’s The Ideal Work-Life Balance Anyway?

Where did 40 hours / 5 days a week – come from? There’s a really listenable story about this. Here’s the TLDR:

Workweeks used to be a lot longer than 40 hours, but by the late 19th century, they started to shrink to something closer to 60. Workweeks kept shrinking and then scientists decided to study worker productivity. They noticed that 10 hours on a high-speed assembly line was tiring and workers were getting sketchy. Then, in the 1920s, Henry Ford adopted the eight-hour workday. This was good for productivity and it was a convenient number to run his factories 24 hours a day. Finally, it took the Great Depression to make 40 hours the standard. The Government saw a shorter workweek as a way to fight unemployment by spreading labor out to more people.

There ya go. You can thank scientists, Ford, and the Fed for the 261. I could keep going – have you heard of The 4-Hour Workweek
I’ll stop. Microsoft would never go for Office 26 anyway. Regardless of the number of days you are in the office, remember somebody, somewhere is working, and everybody needs Office 365 Support.

What You Mean When You Say It Sounds Good

For me, the words Quality and Sound evoke an image of a vinyl LP purist extolling the virtues of vacuum tubes. This is someone who has gone out of their way in the pursuit of what the sound-engineering world calls good. Fortunately for most of us, digital technology has blown the doors open to sound quality and has made it way more accessible to the rest of us.

From VoIP Services in the office to Apple AirPods, sound quality is simply something you have come to expect. Most of us would not be able to explain what quality sound is or why it’s good. We just seem to know intuitively. Let’s pick it apart.

When we visualize sound we see zigzagging lines representing frequencies. When we listen to a reproduced sound, we hear the frequency response. That is, how perfectly the speaker reproduces the original recording. Got it? Good! Now let’s carve up frequency response.

Audiophiles define quality as how good a frequency sounds. They may talk about the feeling of that sound. This is called tone quality. It’s the elements of that tone quality, that define what you’re hearing. These tones are often referred to as the lows, highs, and mids.

Low Tones – An average listener might think of bass as a single type of sound tucked away in a corner in a directionless subwoofer. But when you hear quality low tones you know it. A good low has an indescribable dimension, almost an echo, and a brightness like when you hear a rumbling explosion or a thunderclap from an approaching storm.

High Tones – Highs are understood by pointing out what they aren’t. A straight high frequency is what you hear in a bad car stereo or that tinny sound from a portable transistor radio. On the flipside, quality highs are one of the best examples of tonal quality at work.

Mid Tones –  Where 70 to 80% of the audio lives. Often we focus on the low and high-end but the mid-range is really what ties tonal quality together. Mids determine how enjoyable your listening experience is.

There is one more thing to consider. If you put two music lovers in a room and ask them to share the greatest album ever on their personal choice of headphones – you know where this is going, don’t you? You won’t get the same answer, from either of them, even if they’re talking about the same album. Why? Because even when you break down the components of sound into frequency response and tonal quality, as we have here, we just hear things differently.

Do you remember The Dress that broke the internet a few years ago? No one could agree whether it was black and blue, or white and gold. With sound, it’s the same. Fortunately most of the time, those differences don’t vary wildly and sound designers can create experiences appreciated by large groups. Teams can experience crystal clear VoIP Services and crowds can experience the powerful feeling of sound at the movie theater.

Why We Put Off Business Continuity

“Procrastination is the art of keeping up with yesterday”

― Don Marquis

Business Continuity may sound like a vague or ominous term. Considering the details, it may feel like a project you would just as soon put off or kick down the road. After all, you’ve made it through hard times before. Aren’t you already busy enough running a business? And you can get to it next quarter, right? Anyways, it’s somebody else’s problem. Shouldn’t IT be initiating that effort? You’ve never had a problem with cyberattacks so far, what are the chances anyone would be interested in attacking your business?

Do any of these rationales sound familiar? Of all the things to put off, Business Continuity isn’t the one to gamble on. Let’s talk about your excuses.

I’m already busy, I don’t have time

Truth! You ARE busy, no doubt. But your time really isn’t about time, it’s about priorities. You fill your day with the things you prefer doing, the jobs you feel competent tackling, and the tasks you believe you can start and finish. The answer isn’t about finding or making time, it’s about organization and ranking priorities. If Business Continuity feels too big to start and finish, it’s a clue you need to break the project into sub-tasks you CAN finish. You don’t have to conduct a crisis dress rehearsal today. Take a breath. All you have to do is commit to the first step: Begin assessing your risks.

I’ll do it tomorrow

Will you really though? This sounds similar to your excuses above. Putting something off till tomorrow is a whole different level of procrastination. It doesn’t even attempt to make an excuse. It’s just throwing your hands in the air and shrugging your shoulders. The truth is, tomorrow never comes. It will always be today and Business Continuity will always be something you plan to take care of tomorrow. Think of it like this: tomorrow is not a day of the week. Wednesday is. Open your calendar right now, and give the continuation of your business, the hour it deserves.

It’s somebody else’s problem

Dwight Eisenhower said, “The search for a scapegoat is the easiest of all hunting expeditions.”

The truth is, continuity belongs to everyone in the business. It’s not just an IT thing, It’s not just a marketing thing. It’s a customer thing. Isn’t it? Imagine turning the “blame argument” around. Your superpower may be clearing your inbox with rapid replies or fast forwards – whatever it takes to clear your day to get back on task. Am I right? How great would it feel to have your team bring solutions to you? Be that leader for Business Continuity. Take a step, roll your sleeves up. And watch how quickly crisis management becomes a priority to the entire business. 

It won’t happen to me

You wear a seatbelt and buy insurance – that’s continuity. Making it this far doesn’t guarantee immunity. Should you gamble with the continuation of your business? Consider the effects of cyberattacks. More than half of all hits are on small-to-midsized businesses like yours, and 60 percent of these companies go out of business within six months. It WILL happen to you but when it does, you will be ready, won’t you? Your time, talent, and business are an investment worth it.

Data Breaches, Cybersecurity, Ransomware….Oh My

If you asked the companies that were hacked in 2021, they’d tell you data breaches, cybersecurity, and ransomware mean a lot more to their business now than before their systems were compromised. It can happen to your business too. PCC is here to support your business and protect data.

The Identity Theft Research Center reported a 17% increase in the number of data breaches from 2020 to 2021. Because of how the numbers are reported, this may even be a larger percentage. The cost of a data breach is an average of over $4 million, according to IBM, with others reporting even higher costs. What this means for your business is that you need a cybersecurity plan in place before your business becomes the next victim of a data breach or ransomware attack.

Cybersecurity for San Francisco Area Businesses

Any business anywhere can be the victim of a cyberattack. It can cost millions of dollars to get the data back from hackers holding it for ransom, not to mention what it costs in reputation management. Look at big brands like Facebook, Volkswagen, and T-Mobile, a few of the companies affected in 2021, and how they had to spend time, money, and resources to make sure data is better protected. Can your small business survive? Most would struggle, making the case for cybersecurity even more of a priority.

Cybersecurity protects systems, networks, and software programs from attacks. Hackers try to access, change, or destroy information. They may extort businesses, hospitals, and governments, and interrupt workflows. They can take down entire systems with a few keystrokes. One employee opening the wrong email can cause a chain reaction.

  • Educate employees about spam emails and phishing scams. Scammers have gotten better about creating emails that look like they are from trusted sources. Check who sent the email address. If it looks odd, don’t open it and ask an IT administrator.
  • Provide firewall security. If it’s too challenging to access your organization’s data, the hackers will move on to the next.
  • Regularly back up data so that in case of a breach, information can be restored once it is safe to do so.
  • Secure Wi-Fi and provide secure access to remote employees
  • Hire an IT Services company like PCC to assess current systems, update workstations, and create and implement a cybersecurity plan to protect company data.

Partner with PCC and give yourself peace of mind that your business is as protected as it can be. Cybersecurity can save your business. It’s worth the investment.

5 Reasons Your Business Needs Managed IT

5 Reasons Your San Francisco Business Needs Managed IT Services

Are you the manager who gets the call when the systems go down? Are you tired of maintaining an in-house server? Are you ready for a change? PCC is here to help your San Francisco business grow and change by implementing technology solutions that matter to you and your team. As your managed IT services provider, we promise that our team will work to protect and maintain systems, security, and data on your behalf. Stop being the IT department and let us support you.

Benefits of Managed IT Services

We understand Managed IT Services is not a one size fits all solution. When you partner with PCC, we will assess current systems, speak to managers, and determine a solution that not only fits your technology needs, but also fits your budget. The benefits of managed IT services include:

  1. Outsourcing. If you’re tired of being the IT department on top of your other responsibilities, it’s time to consider PCC for your managed IT services needs. From setting up email for a new employee to ensuring compliance standards are met, while securing and maintaining data, and everything in between, we are your partner. 
  2. Cost Efficient. Our flat fee, full service predictable monthly billing means that you can literally bank on what our service costs. From month to month, from quarter to quarter, we grow and change with your business. Need more data storage for tax season? We can scale up. Need less storage for the summer slowdown? We can scale back. We’re here to find solutions that fit your San Francisco business. 
  3. Experts. While it’s great to have in-house IT staff, they can’t possibly know everything about everything. Our team is expansive and experienced which means we work together to solve problems and identify solutions that your IT person may not even realize are possible. We can be your managed IT services department or we can work alongside your team to be the experts they may not even realize they need. Together, we will make your business secure and efficient. 
  4. Easily implement new technology. Ready to move the server room to the cloud? Onboarding a new employee? Need to update software or hardware? As your managed IT services partner, we can take your business wherever you want it to go. Whether you’re onboarding a new employee, moving to the cloud, need updates, and more, our team is ready to assess and implement a plan that’s right for your business.
  5. Predictable. We’re here for you 24/7/365 at a predictable monthly rate. Stop worrying about whether systems are working when you’re away from the office. Partnering with PCC means you have our team working when you’re away. Our call center is available whenever you or your team need us. You can count on it. 

Partnering with PCC for your San Francisco business Managed IT Services makes sense. Whether you’re growing, moving, or simply need a change, we’re here for you 24.7.365. 

Contact us today to learn more. 

3 Advantages of a Local IT Services Provider

It’s well documented that a third-party managed IT services provider is something many small and mid-level businesses benefit from while growing their business. The services provided can save the companies significant time and money. However, the decision over what MSP to partner with can be a difficult one. Something that can be a major difference maker that many organizations overlook when searching for a provider is the location of the managed IT services provider they hire. Local providers have several important benefits over companies that are serving you from halfway across the country—or even the globe in some cases. Here are some distinct advantages to having an IT partner in the same local market as your business.

Easier Access to IT Service Technicians

When a managed IT services provider is local to you, it’s easier for them to send technicians in person to assist you with any IT support issues that require specific attention. Obviously, if you’re located in the Bay Area, an Oakland IT services provider will have an easier time sending a full time employee to help your organization than a company that has to hire a freelance technician in your area to visit you. You will typically get faster, better service for technical issues requiring in-person help when your provider is physically nearby.

Easier to Align Schedules

When you’re in the same time zone as the company you partner with for IT services, it makes scheduling meetings, consultations, and other events much easier. It seems like a small thing, but it can make you and your staff’s life much easier when there’s no difficulty scheduling time with your IT consultants any time there is a concern.

Awareness of Any IT Concerns Exacerbated by Your Local Area

Some local areas have small realities about their Internet services that others don’t have to contend with. The availability of fiber or other high speed Internet options, issues with local ISPs, and other logistical problems can all contribute to unique IT difficulties in your local area. Having an IT company that understands the specific context IT issues you may face due to your physical location can save time and make for a much easier working relationship. If they know your potential problems before you do, your company can also save time when certain issues arise.

Whether you need Oakland IT services or IT support anywhere else in the country, it will probably benefit you to look at the quality of your local IT service providers before searching elsewhere. If your local to the East Bay area, give Pacific Computer Consultants a call for help with your IT consulting and service.