Five Reasons to Outsource IT Support

As I meet new people in many businesses, I often discuss the reasons they should consider outsourcing their IT support. Many have different needs as some have just one “computer guy” where others have strong, fully staffed teams to move IT initiatives forward. The benefits to both types are similar yet the organization with a staff are often burdened with cost and in-particular expertise to handle the management and risk. There are many benefits to outsourcing IT, but let’s look at five important reasons to consider how your business provides technology solutions.

Five Reasons to Outsource IT Support

  1. Cost management –Trying to staff a full-service IT department is expensive. Consider salaries in a competitive market, constant training requirements and the loss of productivity of under-performing management and technical staff.
  2. Less risk – A third-party IT support provider allows your business to share the risk burden of your operations. Without ongoing training of technical staff and the need to constantly monitor threats, your business can suffer as it’s not focusing on its primary mission.
  3. Benefit from freed up resources –While I mentioned “fully-staffed” IT departments, I rarely come across any that are just that. Often resources are limited and are barely keeping up with patch updates, help desk requests and the overall health of the business needs. Outsourcing IT allows these resources to be used to advance initiatives faster, and operate as a partner to fill the technical gaps that exist with an in-house team.
  4. Third Party IT has the expertise –Along with budget and resource constraints, most firms don’t have the expertise to take on larger projects. Often a move, merger or other large IT priority can overwhelm current operations. Working with a third-party IT support provider costs less and can move a project forward on-time without additional training for current staff.
  5. Prioritize staff–There are more than five benefits to outsourcing IT, but one of the most crucial is using resources to re-focus on advancing your own business initiatives. When you’re not worrying about external threats or the constant need to allocate resources to IT, you can concentrate on what’s important: supporting and growing your business.

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Information Security, SMBs Are Vulnerable to Malware Attack

Network Security. Cyber Security. Information Security.  These are terms that are buzzing around small businesses, mid to large business, IT professionals and their teams.  Questions like “how large it the threat?  Is my business really a target?  What reasonable steps should I take? are often difficult to raise and even more difficult to answer.

Optimum Networking partners with Webroot to help ensure our clients’ endpoint protection.  As a trusted Managed Service Provider, our clients rely on our Support Desk, Onsight Engineers, Professional Services Team and Information Technology Business Strategy specialists.

Webroot—the Colorado based and international leader in anti-virus and anti-malware software—has released a white paper titled “SMBs are Vulnerable to Malware Attacks—10 reasons clients need a layered security strategy to stay safe”.

Here is a summary of their report:

  1. It’s not a matter of if you will hacked, but when—This is about awareness. The threats are so pervasive and non-discriminatory, that no company is safe. From solo entrepreneurs to SMB to enterprise companies, the bad guys cast a wide net.  You need to prevent as much as you can, and mitigate the damage when possible.
  2. The landscape evolves constantly—The bad guys present a moving target. If they remained the same, we would have beaten them by now.  No matter how good your internal IT professional or consultant is, they can’t stay up to date on all the latest threats. You need an expert team like Optimum Networking and updated tools from a quality vender like Webroot.
  3. End users may not know security best practices—the number one vulnerability to any system is always the human factor. You can have the best security system installed in your house, but if you leave the front door open or don’t activate the alarm, or worse yet, invite the criminal in and give him access to your valuables, all your security investment will go to waist. You may think you and your employees are savvy enough not to do this, but don’t be too sure.  Talk to Optimum about employee training and testing programs.
  4. Lack of effective security policy—barring all your employees “seeing the light” and adopting low risk, sound cybersecurity practice, you need to have policies in place (if for no other reason than to Cover Your Assets). If you in-house or contracted business attorney does not specialize in this, let us know and we can point you in the right direction.
  5. Exposure to multi-vector attacks—Think of all they ways you and your employees interact with the cyber world: email, attachments, links, web browsing, hosted applications, hosted servers, backups, mobile phones and more. These are all vulnerability points and requi
    re a comprehensive information security plan.
  6. Complex security platforms create administrative challenges—the more complex the threat, the more difficult (and costly) the response can be. By leveraging systems already in place from teams like Optimum Networking and services like Webroot, you can save your organization critical time and money.
  7. Out-of-date systems create vulnerabilities—Update Update Update. In the past you updated to get the latest or greatest features of your software or just for compatibility issues. Now updates are critical to maintaining data security patches.  When your IT professional tells you it is time to update, listen.
  8. Poor data backup practices—Backup Backup Backup. This is written three times for a reason.  Backup, then replicate the backup offsite, then monitor and test your backups on a regular basis. This will not prevent an attack, but it will mitigate the damage tremendously.
  9. No network visibility—tools to monitor your network can be cumbersome and costly. Optimum Networking can provide this visibility so our engineers can keep an eye on your systems, and provide ongoing reports for your peace of mind.
  10. Compliance issues—which can cause more harm to your business: the cyber criminals or the well-meaning bureaucrats that will impose fines, sanctions or worse on your company for non-compliance? Pick your poison, or work with Optimum to discover what boxes you need to check off to avoid trouble and implement just the right amount of information security.  And be careful, your biggest clients will be imposing compliancy requirements soon if they haven’t already.

If you can honestly say you have each of these items covered, sleep well tonight.  If not, please reach out to Optimum Networking so we can do an information security audit and help get you and your company on the right track.

 

Denver Managed IT Services You Can Trust

When it comes to technology in the business world, you need a reliable partner who can capitalize on opportunities and address problems, making your IT experience pain-free. This is why Optimum Networking is the leading provider in Denver for managed IT services. Our experts work tirelessly to ensure that our clients have the technical support they need to run their businesses at peak performance.

Denver managed IT services provider working on computer

When you are considering a support team for your Denver managed IT services, there are a number of things to keep in mind.

Connecting Your Network

Whether you are responsible for printing checks, meeting materials, or contracts, the ability to access and use a printing service that does what you need it to when you need it, is vital to keep all the trains running on time. The thing about printers is that they usually work until they don’t. Diagnosing the problem is often time-consuming and mentally taxing, holding up the progress of anyone who needs a tangible document.

In order to keep all of our Denver managed IT services, including printing, running smoothly, the Optimum Networking Remote Operations Center, affectionately referred to as the ROC, handles client calls and IT support twelve hours a day, five days a week. This local, in-house team of engineers can help you diagnose and resolve technical problems in real time. We also keep a team of highly-trained IT experts on-call in case problems arise outside of regular business hours.

Protecting Business Assets

Cyber-security breaches have continued to increase in recent years, however, many individuals and businesses are unsure of what to do if they experience a breach themselves. Regardless of your business or industry, security plays an important role in your customer relationships. The ability to respond to, or even prevent cyber-security threats, can help to increase your bottom-line. With technical innovation booming in the Mile High City, finding a Denver managed IT services provider is not hard. The challenge is presented when providers fail to meet expectations and your security is compromised.

Optimum Networking provides high-quality anti-virus and anti-SPAM protocols that are designed to offer advanced threat protection. Our clients also have access to our cyber-security awareness training program that keeps your employees informed on what not to click. If a threat were to break through the firewalls designed to protect your information, our experts at the ROC will guide you through the process of taking the affected computer off the network and restoring your systems with our secure backups. As a leading Denver managed IT services provider, we are constantly updating the cyber-security protocols to help keep your business information protected.

Streamlining Business Operations

Many companies who have not found the right Denver managed IT services partner rely on key staff members to help them through technical problems. This leads to a continuous cycle of crisis and rebooting without anything truly getting solved. It also takes those key employees away from their own responsibilities. As the Business Development Manager of Optimum Networking, I encounter the type of band-aid quite often when talking to small businesses.

This is why we pride ourselves on the ability to take IT problems off our clients’ plates. Partnering with Optimum Networking for your Denver managed IT services not only gets your employees back to their designated work but also streamlines your technology to make your business operations more efficient.

Outsourcing Your Denver Managed IT Services

Outsourcing can be a scary term for a lot of business owners. Recently we had a client, who had a number of senior staff members, including the IT manager, resign to start a rival firm. With the former IT manager having access to all of the admin log-ins and passwords, network diagrams, vendor contracts, and other pertinent business information, there was a serious security problem and it just so happened to be caused by the exact person who would normally solve it.

Outsourcing wasn’t looking so bad, now. Within 24 hours of working with this client, our engineers were able to change all admin usernames and passwords. We then redesigned the network diagrams with the necessary system documentation, allowing our client to stay on top of their production schedule and avoid a crisis.

While this is certainly a unique scenario that we hope not many business owners have to face, outsourcing your Denver managed IT services keeps your business from having a single point of failure. Partnering with a reliable IT support provider allows your business to capitalize on expert knowledge without any potential sacrifice to your operation.

When Optimum Networking is your Denver managed IT services partner, you get expert IT support that you can trust. Contact us today to learn how Optimum Networking can keep your technology connected, protect your assets, and streamline your business operations.

IT support company

What Exactly Is An IT Support Company?

Two simple letters strung together can send most professionals into a panic: IT. In the rapidly evolving industry of technology, keeping track of what is new, what works, and what the best practices are is easily a full-time job. And as a business owner, you already have a full-time job.

The fact of the matter is, though, updated technology is vital to the success of a business.

Enter IT support companies. The right IT support company, or managed services provider (MSP) makes your technology their full-time focus. They make sure that everything runs smoothly, that you have the best tools to support your business model, and that you have a reliable team to call as soon as you start feeling the IT panic set in.

What Does An IT Support Company Do?

Keeping your company online 24/7 and the software functioning at peak performance is just a small part of what we do as an IT support company. At Optimum Networking, our team acts as a partner to your team from the initial IT analysis to on-going maintenance to crisis management.

Here’s how it works:

Analyze

Our IT specialists will consult with you to determine the IT needs that will allow your business to function at 100 percent. We work to understand everything from the everyday needs of your staff to your network and server requirements in order to equip your business with the most compatible technology.

Support

Upon building a customized information technology plan for your business, our IT support company will appoint a specialized team that is dedicated to your immediate needs. As you know, technology is not foolproof, so this team is your go-to resource if you encounter a server failure or other network problem. Our team of IT experts will analyze, diagnose, and resolve the problem in as little downtime as possible, so your team can get back to work with minimal interruption.

Improve

Our specialists always have a thumb on the ever-pulsing IT industry. This means that your business has access to the newest network security methods and updated technological resources. Our goal is to develop an IT strategy that supports your business initiatives now and in the future.

What Services Can An IT Support Company Offer My Business?

An IT support company lets you outsource all of the technological needs of your business, allowing you, as a business owner, to focus on running your business.

IT Services

From implementation to overall support, an IT support company can provide your business with a flexible and reliable solution that supports your business model online and off.

Network Security

Protecting your information is of the utmost priority as a business owner. An IT support company provides and manages a secure network environment that keeps your business safe.

Specialty Projects

Whether you’re updating your business hardware or training new employees on your current software, implementing and executing major technology projects can be a daunting task. When you partner with an IT support company, we can take this off your plate. Our specialists can ensure that you have the best technology for your business and a team that knows how to use it efficiently, helping you get the most from your IT services.

Cloud Computing

The days of floppy disks and external drives are long behind us. An IT support company can help you determine the most compatible cloud computing option for your business model. The right cloud option allows your business to store files, update software, analyze information, and more through the internet, streamlining all of your computing services.

Communication Services

Technology in a business is not just limited to computers. When you partner with an IT support company like Optimum Networking, we can set your business up with phone services that are expertly compatible with the rest of your technology services.

The right IT support company provides your business with the tools it needs to run at maximum efficiency. Contact Optimum Networking today to find your partner in IT.

Technical Support That Smiles Back

Employee offering technical support. Technical support is at the core of what we do at Optimum Networking. We utilize the latest technologies, the best tools and best of breed hardware and hosted platforms.

When it comes right down to it, however, technical support is not about technology at all. It is about people supporting people. As a business owner, you want to be assured that in your company’s darkest IT hour, your IT support team will not only be competent and efficient, but they will also genuinely care about resolving your problem.

A Team Approach

At Optimum Networking, effective technical support is built around our help desk, which we call THE ROC (Remote Operations Center). The talented engineers on our technical support team are broken into pods. We have Team Charlie, Team Echo, and Team Delta, each of which supports a dedicated client list. We also have ROMEO which is the escalation team that is focused on fixing the most complex IT issues. Our engineers are trained to assess issues quickly and ask their team members for support if they are not able to resolve the problem efficiently.

We never outsource our help desk offshore or to a generic call center. Because we do not outsource, we maintain the highest level of quality and the fastest communication to resolve some of the trickiest technical calls. Our full-time technical support engineers provide high-quality, local support for our valued clients.

Our clients are our top priority when it comes to our technical support services. So, in addition to keeping our team local, our technical support engineers are carefully selected. They are handpicked for both their technical expertise and people skills, and we implement ongoing training in both areas to ensure efficient results for any IT problem.

Technical Support Service With A Smile

To ensure that our team is meeting and exceeding our goal of service excellence, we use the Smile Back program. Smile Back is a tool we implemented in March of 2016 for our clients to provide honest feedback regarding their service experience. The results have demonstrated our commitment to excellence through our clients’ eyes.

A recent report showed that our response rate for this program is at 65.5%. As busy as our clients are on a day-to-day basis, they still take the time to give our technical support team the feedback they need to continually improve.

The same report revealed that our positive responses are at 97.7 percent and included a number of favorable comments about our technical support engineers and the services they provided.

Here are just a few:

  • “Nate was prompt and provided exactly what I needed.”
  • “Kevin was terrific! Thank you!”
  • “Chad is really great to work with” and “Chad is a ROC star!”

The men and women on the ROC work hard to resolve our client’s IT issues, so this type of praise from clients is encouraging, to say the least.

Continuous Improvement

The Smile Back program is also the go-to resource for our clients to let us know if things are not going well. In each of our technical support teams, we have an account manager who is responsible for client relations. They frequently check in with Smile Back to follow-up with and resolve any outstanding issues. This open method of communication helps us ensure the best experience with our technical support teams.

With our dedicated approach, best of breed technologies, and our Smile Back program, Optimum Networking stays focused on what is most important—people supporting people.

For all technical support needs, the ROC is open Monday-Friday 6AM-6PM with the on-call engineers filling in evenings, weekends and holidays. If you’re not smiling with your current IT service provider, contact Optimum Networking today.

7 Technology Mistakes Law Firms Make

In the legal world, we live on deadlines. In our rush to accomplish those goals for our clients, we sometimes take shortcuts. Here are a few shortcuts, especially in technology, that can cost you in the long run and ultimately hurt your practice.

  • Poor Software Licensing Practices
  • Software licensing usually comes in two ways – per site and per seat. Per site means that you are permitted to install your software on all machines in your firm. Per seat means that you are only allowed to install your software on the number of users purchased from the software company. A hybrid model allows for a certain number of licenses with each business software package purchased. Unfortunately, some firms have received harsh monetary penalties for violating licensing agreements by installing multiple copies when the licenses provided for a single user. It is important to review your End User Licensing Agreement to make sure you are compliant.

  • Hardware
  • Buying hardware is much like buying a car. It is best to put your dollars in power and speed. By focusing on processor speed, RAM and hard drive space, you will have equipment that runs efficiently and handle updates without slowing down your network. Unsure about how to spec or size your PC, a reputable managed service provider like Optimum Networking can help.

  • Not Embracing Cloud-Based Solutions
  • There are many cloud-based solutions for law firms. For litigation, there are programs for e-discovery and practice management. For corporate and transactional practices, there are programs for document assembly and collaboration. By utilizing cloud-based programs, law firms can reduce or even eliminate the expenses associated with file servers. Before selecting a cloud-based solution, make sure the software company provides SSL and/or AES encryption for your data. They should also provide backup services for your cloud-based data.

  • Faulty Email Security Policies
  • Most law firms put disclaimers on email to protect clients, however, they fail to have basic policies to protect against threats such as email viruses and malware. There are great solutions to secure email and protect against phishing scams and other online threats.

  • Not Implementing Cybersecurity
  • In today’s world, law firms can be targets of hackers and ransomware. To help reduce your risk, use cloud-based technology for data storage that provides encryption. Make sure your IT support company provides managed network security service as well. You can also implement password security policies in your office. Recently, a large law firm was down for over a week because they were victims of ransomware. Believe it or not, most data breaches are caused by human error such as having a password written on a piece of paper or not locking a workstation when away from your desk.

  • Not Utilizing Website Security
  • Unfortunately, websites are not immune to exploitation. There are a couple of easy ways to keep your website safe – investing in website security or monitoring software and installing website updates. Hackers often exploit a vulnerability that could have been corrected with the latest update. You will want to check with your IT person to verify the correct updates are installed.

  • Not Seeking Professional IT Help
  • When your network goes down, who do you call? By building a relationship with an IT managed services company, you can focus on helping your clients while your IT managed service provider helps you. It will save you time and money and allow you to focus on your client, not technology woes.

Gina Ventola is the Practice Manager for Ventola Law. She has worked in the legal technology field for over twenty years and was previously the Technology Services Manager for an international law firm.

Managed IT Security Services for SMB’s using VPNs with Multi-Factor Authentication

Work patterns for accessing data have changed over the years. In the past, employees would work from the office, and most of the data needed were housed right there. Today, many companies have their data and applications hosted outside of their office in a data center or cloud environment. Also, many people work from home or while traveling. In either case, securely connecting to your data is more of a challenge today than it was in the past. There are technologies for connecting and accessing data securely, and these technologies are constantly advancing. A knowledgeable Denver managed IT security services provider like Optimum Networking can help you sort this out.

Managed IT Security with VPN Technology

Most modern methods of connectivity incorporate a VPN technology. VPN is an acronym for “virtual private network.” A VPN is a technology that allows a user to connect to a system or network and have the data that is transferred and received, encrypted. VPN’s are typically used when accessing your data over the Internet or public networks. VPN’s encrypt data during transmission so that if the data stream were “tapped” into by an unauthorized person, the data would be scrambled to the point that it could not be reassembled. This protects the end user from unauthorized people reading or collecting your data. A VPN can be a part of a managed IT security service, however, encryption should only be considered as part of a secure VPN solution

Managed IT Security with Security Authentication

The second part of this communication is the authentication that is required to log into your remote resource. Many users rely on Active Directory credentials. This is your Microsoft username and password. There are several issues with just using your Microsoft credentials. First, some users don’t have a complex password which makes it easy to guess. Many users don’t change their password frequently which can mean that if the password gets compromised, a hacker can continue to use the username and password for a long period of time.

Managed IT Security with Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA)

If your password is complex and changed often, the chances of being hacked are significantly reduced. However, the only thing stopping a hacker from logging in is still just a username and password. For significantly enhanced login security, multi-factor authentication should be implemented. Multi-factor authentication (MFA) is the notion that a user has multiple items necessary to be authorized to log in. This could be something that you know, and something that you have. Something that you know could be your username and password. Something that you have could be a unique token that is generated each time you log in and is displayed on a fob in your possession or on your smart phone. There are several technologies that issue these tokens or “certs.” Guessing your username, password, and a randomly generated token would be nearly impossible for a hacker.

Of course, multi-factor authentication has an added price, but the price outweighs the concerns and damage that can be done by an unauthorized user. A solid company policy for remote access should have several critical components. Encryption and multi-factor authentication are two components that are at the top of the list for today’s scary cyber-threat environment.

If you have any security questions or would like more information on how Optimum Networking, a Denver Managed IT Security Services Provider (MSP) can implement MFA for you, please contact us.

Security Awareness Training Program & Lunch and Learns

Optimum has a great security awareness training program and regularly scheduled lunch and learns with security as a focus. Contact us for a schedule and to register.

Tracy Huntzinger

Chief Information Security Officer (CISO)

Do You Have The Right Safety Net For Ransomware?

As a Denver IT services company, we consistently get calls asking for more information about the latest ransomware attack. Some of these calls are from business owners who are seeking relief from an attack that has already occurred.

A Ransomware Attack Can Decimate Your Business

A recent ransomware attack was “Wanna Cry” which infected over 230,000 computers worldwide in 24 hours. There are multiple layers of protection that firms can implement to ward off this type of attack (and others). The sad truth is many small businesses aren’t prepared, and they get attacked by these ransomware viruses. When a ransomware attack happens, it can lock all your files and your entire business can be held hostage.

So what can you do if you are hit by ransomware? The truth is, if you are hit by Wanna Cry or another ransomware attack, your options are going to be limited.

Do You Pay The Ransom?

Paying the ransom demanded is often expensive AND there is absolutely NO guarantee that your data will be recoverable. After all, you are making a deal with a criminal. Even if you do recover the data, it may not be usable.

Ransomware and System Damage

Data recovery is just the tip of the iceberg. These kinds of malicious attacks can create system damage as well. There are literally thousands of processes that must operate perfectly for your applications to run properly. Most Denver IT Services companies will advise you to completely wipe all your systems, including your servers. This means deleting everything, even the operating system, down to the “bare metal.” Ouch.

The Real Safety Net Against Ransomware Is Data & System Backups

If your data is backed up and is accessible, you are only partially safe. The data can be reloaded onto your network, but, if you haven’t backed up your applications and your operating system image(s), someone must rebuild your servers from the ground up. The cost to do that will vary widely depending upon your environment, but rebuilding servers can easily cost thousands of dollars. And that doesn’t include the cost of your business being down during the process.

Are Your Data and Systems Protected?

If wiping down to the bare metal scares you, then you probably haven’t protected both data and systems. In the event of a ransomware attack, your backup systems and processes can save your business. Or not. If they aren’t in place or they are running incorrectly, it can cause your business to fail miserably. (Don’t wait till you are held hostage to learn if your backups are being handled properly. Call a Denver IT Services company sooner rather than later.)

The Advantages of Image-Based Backup

Image-based or “bare metal” backup replicates everything– files, operating systems, applications, and configurations. With this solution, your entire computing environment can be restored in hours versus days. The cost of restoring from an image-based backup is a fraction of the cost of rebuilding servers from the ground up and re-imaging your workstations

The Right Backup Solution

With the right Denver IT Services company, backups can be automated, managed, and affordable for SMB’s. With the correct solution in place, which includes data and system backup, you can be assured that your critical information and applications are safe.

Are you unsure of your business’ ability to survive a ransomware attack? Optimum Networking can assess your environment and make recommendations aligned with your specific business operations. Contact us to discuss your data security.

How Secure is Your Windows 10 Install?

It’s easy to poke fun at “12345” passwords and phish-y emails, but PC security is tough for the average user to manage. And if you’re a network admin, it’s even tougher to deal with security slipups that infect the whole network.

That’s where the new Windows Defender Security Center will come in handy. Debuting spring 2017 as part of the Creators Update, it’s an efficient suite of security features that’ll help users avoid hacking, malware, and other threats. You can view and control your security protections—the applications running in the background that most users don’t often think about—all in one place.

It’s simple, really: The Defender Security Center is a dashboard where users can get a full security overview of their system. And if a problem is discovered, the security center makes it easy to solve it. The Center is also a place to customize security across what Microsoft has deemed “the five pillars of protection”:

Virus and threat protection allows you to view your anti-malware app, whether you’ve chosen to use the Windows Defender Antivirus app that comes with Windows 10 or a third-party app. If you’ve chosen the Windows Defender Antivirus app for your network, you can scan results directly on the screen. (A third party app will just appear on your screen and you can launch it from there.)

Device performance and health displays your latest Windows updates, battery life, storage capacity, and drivers. This is also where you can access the “Refresh Windows” feature, which helps you do a clean install while saving your files and settings.

Firewall and network protection gives you information on network connections and firewall settings, helping you find network issues and troubleshoot them.

App and browser control lets you adjust your SmartScreen settings and tips you off to possible malicious sites and downloads, as well as unrecognized internet apps and files.

Family options is a consumer feature. According to Microsoft, you can also view the health and safety of your personal devices from this centralized location,1 which helps make all your PCs running Windows 10 more secure and manageable.

How can Defender Security Center help your business?

It’s a security tool that can be especially handy for remote workers who have to troubleshoot their devices without hands-on support. And by making it easier for the average user to secure their devices on a day-to-day basis, you’re saving your IT staff time and money—not to mention catching small problems before they become big ones.

Excited about checking out the Defender Security Center (and the entire Creators Update)? This spring you can give it a try on the HP EliteBook x360, the world’s thinnest and most secure business convertible2, and the HP Elite x3, the world’s first built for business 3-in-1 device.3 The HP Elite series—enhanced with HP Sure Start Gen34 and HP WorkWise5 protection—also supports other Windows 10 security features, such as Windows Hello and the monthly Windows Update, that work together to make sure your device security is up-to-date.