Traditional IT Provider vs. Managed Services Provider: Which is Better?

In the digital age, choosing the right technology is the key to running a business successfully. Every company’s tech needs are unique, but there’s always a need for full connectivity that keeps business flowing smoothly without interruptions.


Traditionally, most companies have an information technology (IT) person or department to support their digital efforts and help employees stay connected. This includes handling a staggering array of tasks, from setting up physical workstations to maintaining the company’s communication and data management networks.


The demands of these activities often cause companies to seek outside help with IT tasks. This is where managed services providers (MSPs) come in. While traditional IT support and MSPs handle many of the same tasks, there are also many differences between them.

What is Traditional IT Support?

Traditional IT support comes either from within an organization’s own IT staff or through an outside IT services provider. The daily IT work is usually reactive in nature and focuses on resolving pressing issues that limit the organization’s ability to communicate and conduct business. 


In terms of maintaining functionality, most IT departments use a support channel or ticketing system that prioritizes requests and tracks issues through the process until they’re resolved. When users need help, they’re instructed to notify the help desk, provide details, and wait for a resolution to their issue.

What are Managed Services?

Managed services are provided by an outside company and are a form of proactive, rather than reactive, technology management. An MSP works in constant monitoring mode by checking the status of your operation and anticipating issues before they cause damage or downtime.


In this way, your MSP is always on in the background to protect your organization from downtime that can impact productivity. While the MSP can accept support requests as needed, there are fewer urgent issues due to constant monitoring and protection.


A company that uses managed services shifts responsibility to the MSP for maintaining and anticipating a wide range of functions, including staffing, workflow, maintenance, and even some aspects of IT budgeting. This relieves a burden from the organization, improves its mission focus, and frees up its organizational resources to address other needs that more directly impact day-to-day business.

What are the Main Differences Between IT and MSPs?

When you compare IT and MSPs, several major differences are clear. As mentioned above, IT is primarily reactive while MSPs are primarily proactive. Taking this point one step further, MSPs also tend to be more capable of maintaining complete business continuity.


Business continuity is the ability to keep working without interruptions in the flow of daily business. Even when problems arise, a business with strong continuity can find alternate solutions and keep working efficiently. The average employee/user might not ever notice a moment of downtime when there’s good business continuity.


Most small to midsize businesses in the U.S. face at least a few hours of downtime per month. The cost of downtime is astronomical at Fortune 500 companies, but even at small businesses, it can still be more than $100 per minute. One study found that for 91% of companies, a significant period of downtime puts at least $300,000 at risk.


MSPs are better than traditional IT at preventing downtime and preserving continuity because they have the resources and strategies to head off threats before they become emergencies. By contrast, a company’s in-house IT staff might be so overwhelmed by focusing on specific needs that major issues aren’t obvious until a massive workflow interruption has already occurred.


Another main difference between traditional IT and modern MSPs is that system updates and fixes stay fully on track with an MSP. This is often hard to accomplish with in-house IT, which faces time and manpower limitations an MSP can more easily overcome.


All it takes is one missed update on antivirus software for your company to become vulnerable to breaches and cybercrime. But your MSP can stay ahead of the curve on the latest technology and updates, even if your IT staff can’t. 


Cost is also a factor. Although there’s a stereotype that hiring an outside MSP provider is more expensive than hiring an IT person, this isn’t necessarily the case. An IT professional earns an average of $55,000 to $74,000 annually plus the cost of benefits like a healthcare and retirement plan. Multiply this cost by each IT staffer, and you’ll soon be spending a sizable portion of the staffing budget on IT.


The services of an MSP vary depending on the size and needs of your organization. Your region is also important because MSP services are generally much more expensive in large, tech-intensive areas like San Francisco and New York City. A very small business in a small town might pay as little as $100 per month and a large city enterprise could pay $10,000 per month depending on the MSP. Services like strategic planning and data storage are usually handled as separate fees.


Payment for an MSP’s services is typically handled through monthly fees and/or services that are provided in blocks of hours. This structure allows a company to have a certain level of predictability in its MSP payments, with some variance based on specific needs that arise over time. 

Which Should We Choose?

When your company is evaluating a choice between traditional IT and an MSP, look at the full scope of your business needs including future plans for company expansions. While the best predictor of your company’s current needs is its past needs, there must also be plenty of room for your tech solutions to scale up as your company grows.


Assess your company’s current capacity to handle routine matters like system updates and access to data storage. Calculate how much downtime you’ve had in the past year and examine the sources of the outages. Is an IT staff capable of addressing these issues or would an MSP be better equipped to handle them?


Consider your needs for urgent and after-hours services when problems arise. Your employees need to be able to access company systems whenever business is happening. Can an in-house staff handle round-the-clock service and support, every day of the year? 


Your company’s industry, products, clientele, and specialized needs are also important. Do you have a custom setup that requires extensive managed services planning from an MSP? Is there a new company mission statement or strategic plan that involves refining your approach to communication, structure, or data management?

Signs That You Need an MSP

As you decide between a traditional IT setup and selecting an MSP, consider the characteristics of your organization that indicate a need for certain tech services. Below are the top signs that your company is a good candidate for working with an MSP.

Tech Innovation

Innovative and highly tech-focused companies often need the more extensive and proactive approach an MSP can provide. As a company that relies on its tech, you don’t want to suffer an outage or delay that interferes with your ability to do business. The protection of an MSP helps preserve your profitability and reputation.

Connectivity and Remote Work

If your company runs 24/7 with a remote workforce of people located in far-flung areas, it’s important to maintain constant connectivity. An MSP helps support the maximum possible uptime for a highly connected organization with numerous remote workers.


This is more important now than ever. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the reliance on remote work rose sharply and has remained strong. McKinsey research shows that up to 87% of all U.S. workers have been offered the opportunity to work at least partly from a remote location.

Growth Goals

When a company has aggressive goals for growth in the coming year, its IT infrastructure and support must be robust enough to support it. Consider whether your company already has ample support or if an MSP could provide a higher level of support that better suits your growth-focused needs.

Employee Retention

If employee satisfaction and retention are among your company’s goals, pay close attention to the usability of your internal systems and processes. Research shows employees hold high regard for strong internal customer service, which encompasses things like communication channels, functionality, and openness to innovation.

Business-Critical Applications

Are certain applications or platforms mission-critical for your business? If a certain aspect of your infrastructure is so essential that your entire business goes down when it goes down, you must strive for full business continuity. Although no MSP can necessarily guarantee 100% uptime, an MSP can typically maximize uptime and prevent issues that impact business-critical tasks and systems.


  • Inventory management
  • Personnel management
  • HR and training activities
  • Sales team access
  • Graphic design and video production
  • Customer portals and purchasing
  • Regulatory compliance

Overwhelmed Staff

Businesses sometimes make the mistake of not considering the current workload their IT staff is already facing. Before assuming your internal IT department is capable of handling your company’s current and future needs, have a heart-to-heart with the on-the-ground employees who are providing support currently. 


Do they need extra resources, money, or time? Would the support of an MSP make their jobs easier and more effective? An overwhelmed staff is a red flag that you need an MSP.

Slow Resolution Times

When an issue arises, how long does it take to resolve it? Your resolution times are another key indicator of your need for an MSP. Extended resolution times with long waits are unacceptable for most businesses. 


Look at your current resolution times and benchmark against industry standards. Here are a few types of metrics you can use to measure your current level of success with resolving IT connectivity issues.


Performance metrics. These are measurements that show how quickly you can resolve issues individually and staff-wide. For example, you can measure all help desk resolution times from the moment the ticket is submitted until the moment it’s closed. An average resolution time of 48 hours might be acceptable for a very small business, but a larger business with extremely demanding clients could consider this unacceptable.


Productivity metrics. Your productivity metrics show areas where efficiency could be improved for the benefit of your company and its internal/external customers. For example, you can track the total number of unresolved and resolved tickets within a certain timeframe to see how productive you are at taking care of issues that impact the workflow. 


User metrics. This is a way of measuring the impact of your IT infrastructure and its stability on your users, including employees, customers, and partners. You can measure their satisfaction and estimate whether they’d recommend you to someone else, plus you can ask for open-ended feedback that provides insights into what’s going wrong and right.


Why use the metrics listed above? They reveal real-world data about the effectiveness of your current setup and where there’s room for improvement. In other words, they give you a reality check about your organization’s processes and systems.


As an example, productivity measures often show areas where an MSP might offer improvements over the level of productivity your in-house staff can manage. An MSP can likely step in to relieve backlogs, start working more proactively, and make your overall IT management much faster and easier. 

IT vs. MSP: Which Will You Choose?

Choosing between staying with a traditional IT setup and opting for a new relationship with an MSP might not seem like a big deal at first. Until you’ve taken time to consider the widespread effects we’ve described above, it’s hard to see the full impact. When you notice how the choice could affect so many aspects of your business, it’s clear the decision matters.


Here’s one last thing to keep in mind as you make your choice. The user experience is now more important than ever. User patience is now at an all-time low due to a mix of technological, economic, and societal forces. People in the U.S. and around the world have come to expect fast, consistent technological connectivity.


The latest research shows half of all American consumers won’t wait more than 5 seconds for technology to work correctly. And 79% of customers expect companies to respond to them within 24 hours, even on something as simple as a social media post.


Your company can’t afford downtime. Anything you can do to improve the speed and effectiveness of your company’s technological offerings is good for its bottom line and great for its reputation. This might just be the perfect time to move to an MSP.


To learn more about the latest technology trends impacting the world, plus security options that keep your business safe, sign up for Elliman Technologies’ newsletter.

6 Sinister Cybersecurity Horror Stories

6 Sinister Cybersecurity Horror Stories

A cyberattack creates a living nightmare for your business. Suddenly you’re facing the terrors of data loss, compromised devices, and the appalling threat of shutting down your business.


October is Cybersecurity Awareness Month, which reminds everyone about the dangers of cyber threats. Of course, cybersecurity is a year-round issue with risks that can become full-fledged horror stories at any moment.


In this haunting spirit, Elliman Technologies presents 6 cybersecurity horror stories. As you read through them, imagine one of these terrifying tales unfolding at your business.

When Ransomware Attacks!

It was a chilly and dark autumn morning just a few days before Halloween. Still cozy in her bed, Regan fired up her laptop for her daily ritual of reading emails and checking up on her housecleaning business first thing in the morning.


She tried logging into her company’s client management system. Instead of entering her password and seeing the usual welcome page, she saw blood-red words splattered on the screen in all caps: ACCESS DENIED


“Whoops!” she whispered, thinking she must have typed her password incorrectly. But she tried again and again, and each time the same message screamed across her laptop screen: ACCESS DENIED.


Regan didn’t realize it yet, but failed attempts to access data are among the first warning signs of a ransomware attack in progress. Even as Regan’s mind reeled with worries about what was going wrong, a cybercriminal was already unleashing malware and capturing her data in a vicious trap.


Next, Regan tried logging into her Gmail account to see if anyone at her company knew what was happening. Her Gmail opened, but her heart sank when she saw the following message:


Dear Business Owner:


Your company data access has been disabled. Send an international money order of $10,000 to Pazuzu Corp by October 31 or your access will be permanently restricted. 


Regan didn’t remember doing any business with Pazuzu Corp, but she couldn’t shake a dreadful feeling that the company had somehow compromised her computer access. Since she was in charge of the company’s client database, she felt responsible for finding out what was going on.


Scared and shaken, she did a little online research. She was devastated to learn that ransomware attacks are now the #1 most common type of cyberattack for small businesses. Cybercriminals limit access to your private data, then demand payment of an expensive ransom. 


A demand of $10,000, like Regan saw in her email, is somewhere in the mid-range of small business demands from ransom hackers. Ransom demands can range widely, from just $500 for small companies to upwards of $1 million for big businesses. Research shows that 32% of businesses ultimately pay the ransom, but they usually only get about 65% of their data back.


Victims have few choices when a ransomware attack reaches the point of no return. You can either pay off the criminals to regain access to your data, start over from scratch, or – in the best case scenario – initiate a backup and recovery plan that was already in place.


Alas, Regan’s scary story has a sad ending. Because she’d never set up a backup data storage plan, she had no other option. She had to pay the $10,000 ransom and scramble to set up better data protection for the future. The ransomware attack nearly destroyed her business.

Beware: The Internet of Things

As Damien unlocked his insurance company entrance and creaked the door open, he noticed the alarm system didn’t make its usual reassuring beep. The reception area seemed eerily dead.


No computer monitors were glowing. No indicator lights were shining out from the router or modem. The security system’s digital alarm box was dark, and the room echoed with utter silence. 


Suddenly, a tiny mechanical whirr jolted Damien from his confusion. In the corner of the ceiling, the security camera came to life and slowly twisted toward him. As it halted and focused intently on his face, its pulsing black eye gazed deep into his mind.


Damien had a dark feeling that his possessions were possessed. He was the victim of Internet of Things (IoT) cybercrime.


In an IoT cyberattack, thieves crack into devices scattered around a home or business. Almost anything hooked up to the internet can potentially be controlled, including cameras, smart TVs, thermostats, smartwatches, lights, and computer workstations. Even refrigerators and coffee pots are IoT devices these days.


After cybercriminals gain access, they can do all kinds of nefarious deeds. They might watch to see what you do, the way Damien’s camera creepily monitored his movements. They could also track your fingers typing on computers and mobile devices, capturing company passwords and other sensitive data. As long as they control your devices, the IoT thieves are on the lookout for any bits of information they can gather from your things


In a way, Damien was lucky to notice his IoT issue fairly quickly. Nevertheless, his company’s devices were already out of his control. That’s why his camera acted “possessed” – the hacker was able to control it remotely from a mysterious location.


Regaining full control from an IoT attacker can be exceptionally difficult. It takes an arduous process of identifying the infected devices and tracking down every possible point of entry. Then the entire network and its individual devices must be fully protected with cybersecurity measures.


Damien’s damage was done long before he ever realized it. IBM reports that the average company takes 200 or more days to notice the warning signs of a cyberattack. By then, your company is already the main character in a real-life horror story.

The Devastating Zero-Day Exploit

Carrie couldn’t wait to start work on Monday. It was the very first day of running her brand-new small business, and she was the company founder and president. 


She was her own boss! A lifelong goal!


She’d just hired a dozen new employees, including a freelance IT guy who was already working his magic to set up her digital infrastructure. So she was surprised to see a text from him early Monday morning that said, “Can we talk? There’s an issue.”


Carrie called Michael, who ominously asked, “Do you know what a zero-day exploit is?” 


Michael went on to explain that Carrie’s company was already experiencing a type of cyberattack. Hackers had noticed her lack of cybersecurity. Carrie hadn’t thought it was a big deal yet since her company was just forming, so she hadn’t taken any steps to protect her data.


This can be a catastrophic mistake. Zero-day attackers make the assumption that nobody is paying attention, so they rip through data and gather as much as possible, as quickly as possible before someone notices. They often exploit brand-new and poorly guarded systems that are still in the development stage.


Back at Carrie’s company, the hackers were running rampant through her company’s client database, inventory, and payment system. They were stealing everything from client credit card numbers to her new employees’ personal details. Before her company even opened, it was already being destroyed from the inside out.


Carrie gasped at Michael’s description of the problem, and asked, “Why is it called ‘zero-day’?”


“Because you have zero days to fix it,” Michael answered. “And I quit.”

Curse of the Texas Credit Card Theft






Every time Chuck tried to use his company credit card for legitimate business purposes, it was rejected. He asked his boss what was going on, but she shrugged and said, “Who knows?”


As Chuck pondered what to do next, the company’s chief financial officer (CFO) came running up to his desk, out of breath. He’d just received a call from the Texas Attorney General’s office about a ring of identity thieves. Someone had stolen Chuck’s credit card number and was making thousands of dollars in fraudulent purchases, posing as him.


Chuck was now one of the 15 million people who have their identities stolen every year. Business-related identity theft is on the rise, with B2B fraud accounting for $7 billion in annual damage. Small to mid-size businesses are increasingly the main targets of identity theft because they’re more likely than big corporations to have unsecured data.


Chuck felt like all eyes were on him. Did his bosses blame him? Did they think he was lying? What were the cybercriminals doing with his information? Was he going to go to jail?


The CFO delivered bad news. Chuck’s employer was now facing an open investigation, standing accused of using unsafe credit card processing practices and exposing customer data. 


Chuck’s company had failed to secure anything – their computer network, the company’s credit cards, and the Visa credit card processing system. According to Visa’s rules, they should have been maintaining isolation between the credit card system and the company’s unsecured web browsing system, where the breach may have occurred.


By the time this horror story reached its conclusion, Chuck avoided jail but was out of a job. His company’s owner gave up and decided to close the business rather than continue to live a cybersecurity nightmare.

The Demon in the Database

“Your last day is today.” 


Tiffany heard her boss say the words and felt something dark burst apart in her mind. He was firing her? After all the money she’d made for this company? Outrageous!


Tiffany smiled sweetly and pretended to take the news well, but inside she was burning with rage. She went back to her desk and silently seethed, staring intently at her computer screen’s flashing cursor.


Hmm … What if she made a few quick changes to the client files?


She opened the client management system and clicked around wildly. As a salesperson, she didn’t know much about how the digital database worked, but she figured she could probably do some fast damage. After all, the company’s cybersecurity was nonexistent.


Without even entering a password, Tiffany was able to access the back end of the client database. She started deleting any file with the word “contract” or “budget.” In some areas of the database, she just highlighted long lists of files and clicked the picture of the trash can until she got bored.


Tiffany glanced up and looked around the office. Nope, nobody was paying any attention, so she kept going. She deleted all files associated with some of the company’s biggest clients. Just for fun, she ran a search-and-replace for all instances of her boss’ name and replaced them with a curse word.


Terabytes of company data loss took less than 30 minutes. Afterward, Tiffany tossed her belongings into a box, gave her boss an evil smile, and danced out the door, never to be seen again.


This scary scenario is a reminder to password-protect your systems and create role-based restrictions to prevent access by employees who don’t need it. When you terminate an employee, lock them out of your systems immediately to avoid devastating damage. 

Nancy’s Nightmare of Stalkerware

He’s watching. He’s always watching.


Freddy giggles as Nancy breezes into the dental office. He’s hundreds of miles away, but he still sees her little white dot moving on his phone and pictures her bright white smile in his mind.


Nancy doesn’t know Freddy watches her at work. He watches when she goes shopping. He watches when she’s sleeping in her bed at night. 


Months before, back when they were still dating, Freddy installed stalkerware on Nancy’s work cellphone. After they broke up, he continued to track her movements.


Stalkerware is a type of remote monitoring software that allows a stalker to see what someone is doing with their device. About 8% of all adults in romantic relationships have fallen victim to this type of digital stalking or surveillance.


For business owners, stalkerware is a true nightmare. An unsuspecting employee can bring stalkerware into the work environment and expose all kinds of private data.


Still, Nancy’s employer never took precautions to protect the office’s computer network, business database, landline phones, company cell phones, or anything else. Nancy’s dental office is among the 95% of small business owners who don’t believe cybersecurity is a major business threat until something horrible happens.


This is particularly frightening for a business that faces strict regulatory control, like those in banking and healthcare. Nancy’s dental office is now facing a potential HIPAA violation, which comes with fines up to $250,000 and the threat of jail time for criminal negligence.


Meanwhile, Freddy’s still watching. He’s always watching.

How to Stop a Cybersecurity Horror Story

Here’s the silver lining to these scary stories: The best way to stop them is to prevent them from ever happening in the first place. Protect every aspect of your business with best-in-class managed services and reliable IT support that’s on duty all day and all night, all the time.


Scare away cybercrime with Elliman Technologies. We stay ahead of digital vulnerabilities with superior security tools and cybersecurity techniques that exceed the industry’s highest standards. 


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13 Tips for Small Business’s Cybersecurity

13 Tips for Small Business’s Cybersecurity

The strength of your cybersecurity can make or break your business. A cyberattack puts your company at risk of data loss, reputational damage, and financial instability.

With strong cybersecurity, your business stays safe even when your attention is on other things. You can focus on growing your business while cybersecurity measures are always in place, working in the background to keep the company secure.

At Elliman Technologies, we partner with small to midsize businesses to preserve cyber safety. Here are our top 13 tips for maintaining high cybersecurity standards that protect your business.

1. Train Employees on Digital Safety

It’s a tough fact to face, but your employees are the top threat to your cybersecurity. They don’t necessarily intend to harm you, but they might inadvertently do things that put your company’s data safety at risk.

Take a moment to consider email phishing attacks where cybercriminals gain access to confidential information via email links. Almost everyone is familiar with email and feels skeptical about spam, yet successful email phishing still accounts for 41% of all cyberattacks.

Whenever cybersecurity is breached through human interaction, it’s known as a social engineering attack. Social engineering takes advantage of human psychology and behavior to steal information. For example, a cybercriminal might call into your business and act like a nice customer, gently prodding one of your employees for a password or other private data. 

Sometimes, the attack unexpectedly comes from the inside. For example, a Texas agency discovered that an employee was deleting sensitive data due to a mistaken belief that they were helpfully cleaning up the old files. The employee was eventually fired, but a huge amount of valuable information was already lost forever.

In another incident, a Pennsylvania law firm found four former employees were deleting data, copying files, and breaching confidential information long after they’d left the firm. Even these lawyers, who should have known better than to break the law, compromised their former employer’s data for months before anyone realized what was going on.

One of the best ways to protect your business from these kinds of incidents is to train your employees on the basics of modern cybersecurity standards and rules. Alert them to your latest data preservation standards, plus the common scams and techniques cybercriminals use to manipulate people and gain access to private data. 

Here’s a short list of trustworthy sources of cybersecurity information:

Wondering how vulnerable your employees are to cybercrime? Some companies hire social engineering penetration testers to see how their employees respond to “secret shopper” style test attacks. These tests reveal where risks exist and where there’s room for improvement.

2. Keep Machines Clean

When it comes to cybersecurity, having clean machines is vital. We’re not talking about sanitizing your screens or dusting off your keyboards, although that’s always a good idea.

Clean machines run on the latest security systems and have up-to-date antivirus software, web browsers, and operating systems. They’re not bogged down by old, outdated technology and are well-protected with strong passwords, plus knowledgeable IT support staff.

How clean are your machines? How fresh is your entire IT infrastructure? To learn more about maintaining clean cybersecurity standards, keep reading the additional tips below.

3. Protect Your WiFi Network

If your employees and/or customers access your WiFi network, keep it safe with secure encryption and access.

Password-protect all access to your network and router. Instead of allowing all employees and visitors to share the same password, set separate employee and guest user accounts with individual passwords. Guest users typically only need limited access and their use should be restricted to certain digital areas within your network or systems.

Don’t allow access forever. The system should time them out after a certain period and former employee access should be terminated immediately. Set up systems that request strong password changes regularly.

4. Establish Mobile Device Rules

Many small business owners don’t realize that employees’ cell phones present a constant risk to the company. Any use of a personal or company phone presents a potential vulnerability as people use these devices to access company systems.

What if an employee uses the company’s clock-in/clock-out site on their personal smartphone? Even if this is allowed or encouraged, it’s a possible source of access that needs to have security procedures in place.

What about your employees’ daily work with the multiple systems your company uses? How do they access things like your HR system and vacation schedules? Are your employee portals properly password-protected? Does your app log them out after a period of inactivity, preventing unauthorized future access?

Also, consider what happens when a piece of equipment is lost or stolen. Do you have procedures in place for this? If someone loses a company phone, they need to be able to tell you immediately. Or, if they suspect someone used their login info online or saw private information on their laptop, they need a safe way to report it as quickly as possible.

5. Create Cloud-Based Backups

Part of preserving your company’s cybersecurity is ensuring you’re not vulnerable to data loss. Consider what would happen if your building burned down or your local computer network was seized by cyber thieves. 

What’s your backup plan? Many companies now address this issue through cloud-based storage, also known as distributed storage or remote data storage.

This is a type of off-site storage where your information is preserved at another location but is still accessible anytime and anywhere through the “cloud” of the internet. Cloud storage is part of a strong backup and recovery plan.

6. Set Up a Hierarchy of Access

Not every employee needs access to your most private information, like company financials and HR paperwork. This information should be protected behind a hierarchy of access, meaning various people are assigned access at various levels.

This is sometimes called role-based access. For example, your front-line customer service workers will likely have a much more restricted level of access than your company’s owners. 

These role-based standards can be set within your devices, networks, apps, data storage, and so forth. Only a handful of people, like your IT manager and top executives, need the highest level of access. And even then, their access should be controlled through passwords and authentication, which is discussed more below.

7. Maintain Password and Authentication Standards

Make it a company rule that employees should always keep their passwords secret and change them regularly. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) recommends changing business-related passwords every three months

Use multi-factor authentication, which requires more information than just a password to gain full access to sensitive data. This is especially important if your employees will be accessing company information on their personal laptops, smartphones, and other devices.

8. Run Secure Payments

Any company that accepts or uses credit cards is at risk of processing-based vulnerabilities. Work with your bank and card processors to ensure you’re using the most up-to-date fraud protection tools.

This isn’t just a good idea; it’s often a compliance issue for your processing partners. Many banks and processors require businesses to follow certain standards to stay compliant with their business practices and to stay within the law.

For example, you might need to isolate your secure payment system from less secure web browsing because your processor demands it. Also, you might be required to submit proof of system security at regular intervals. Inquire about which rules you should be following and, if necessary, work with a cybersecurity firm to ensure nothing is falling through the cracks.

9. Avoid Ransomware and Malware Risks

According to the latest data from IBM’s security threat report, ransomware attacks are now the #1 most common type of cyberattack. In a ransomware attack, cybercriminals limit access to your private data until a ransom is paid for its return.

Ransomware attacks are a subset of a larger group of attacks known as malware attacks. The word “malware” is a shortened form of “malicious software,” which refers to the wide range of spyware, adware, worms, and viruses hackers use to crack into private and protected data.

The best way to avoid these attacks is to install the latest versions of anti-spyware and antivirus software. Work with a reputable IT and managed services company that follows the best practices in modern cybersecurity.

10. Review Physical Access Rules

As everything goes digital, it’s easy to forget that physical access is still a big risk to your business. If someone breaks into your building or steals something from your front counter, your data could be exposed in the process.

Set employee rules for physical access and device movement. If there are company phones, laptops, and other devices, label them all with tracking numbers and require employees to maintain data security. Devices should be fully enabled to allow security updates.

Ensure strangers can’t enter your building’s most vulnerable areas, like your server room. Store extra laptops and devices in a locked cabinet with limited access. If possible, install building security with passcards and video feeds for added protection.

11. Have an After-Hours Plan

What would happen if you suffered a cyberattack after hours? Do your employees have a way to report suspicious behavior, even in the middle of the night?

A US cybersecurity report recently found that 76% of ransomware attacks occur outside primary business hours, with 49% happening overnight when businesses are closed. These attacks often catch small business owners off-guard because the business might be shorthanded and out of communication with anyone who can help.

This is why you need an after-hours plan for cybersecurity troubleshooting and support. Most smaller businesses don’t have the staff to handle these demands, but a managed services company can offer additional support that keeps you protected 24/7.

12. Check New Laws and Trends

The world of cybercrime moves fast, so it’s challenging to stay ahead of new trends and the laws that address them. In June 2022, U.S. President Joe Biden signed two new cybersecurity bills into law.

  • The State and Local Government Cybersecurity Act creates stronger collaboration among state, local, and tribal agencies in the name of preserving governmental data security. Certain companies that work with government partners may be required to provide more reporting and security control.
  • The Federal Rotational Cyber Workforce Program Act creates the framework for a nationwide cybersecurity workforce that will expand career opportunities for people in the field. The goal is to create a new generation of cyber-literate workers. 

Another major global tech trend over the past few years involves data privacy and protection, including new EU standards known as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). If you do any business internationally, these standards may impact how you run your website and collect data online.

Cybercriminals also update their methods over time, creating a constant need for vigilance. This is why the cybersecurity standards you had just a few years ago are probably already outdated. Or, if cybersecurity hasn’t ever been a priority at your company, online thieves could already have you in their sights.

Cyberattacks can be extremely complex and difficult to spot. For example, in an SQL injection attack, someone injects structured query language (SQL) into an application/database, which creates chaos or reads sensitive data. The average small business owner wouldn’t notice this type of attack until long after it’s already doing serious damage.

Some small businesses are dealing with the frustrating issue of stalkerware being installed on employees’ personal or company devices. Stalkerware is remote monitoring software that allows a stalker – who could be anyone, like a spouse, a former colleague, or a business adversary – to keep track of what someone is doing with their device.

Internet of things (IoT) cybercrime is also on the rise. Thieves crack into all kinds of individual devices like smart TVs, smartwatches, cameras, and environmental monitoring devices. Anything hooked up to the internet can become an access point for a determined cybercriminal.

Have you heard of a zero-day exploit? This is a type of cyberattack where hackers take advantage of a site or network flaw that’s still in the development or testing phase before the developers ever have a chance to address it. You have zero days to resolve the issue before the hackers are already interfering with your business and gaining control of your digital access.

13. Review and Update Your Standards Regularly

Finally, keep in mind that cybersecurity isn’t a set-it-and-forget-it plan. As you can see from the information above, it takes constant attention to stay ahead of cyber threats and maintain tight cybersecurity.

Set a reminder to review your entire cybersecurity plan regularly, at least once per year. Whether you’ve previously suffered a cyberattack or not, keep upgrading to the latest tools and standards. Your business always stays as secure as possible when cybersecurity is a year-round priority.

Never miss another cybersecurity tip. Elliman Technologies is your partner in protecting your business from dangerous cybercriminals and cyber attacks. Sign up for our cybersecurity emails today with more helpful tips for keeping your business safe.

Cyber Security Awareness

Is Cybersecurity Important for Your Business?

Not long ago, the idea of a hacker brought to mind a seedy character dressed in black and armed with a thumb drive. Hiding in the shadows, they would sneak into the secure server room and unleash a devastating virus that would wipe out the entire system. Today, cyber threats look much different. A cybercriminal can steal critical information and delete thousands of files from thousands of miles away. With 43% of cyberattacks targeting small businesses and only 14% of small businesses being prepared to combat an attack, cybersecurity is more important than ever for your small business.


What Is Cybersecurity?

Cybersecurity is the practice of protecting systems, networks, and programs from digital attacks. In simple terms, cybersecurity involves strategies and processes that protect the critical systems and sensitive information of your business from cybercriminal attacks. As cybercriminals become more sophisticated, they have an easier time breaking through typical security measures. Using social engineering and artificial intelligence (AI), cybercriminals are finding more and more ways around your data safeguards. The evolution of the cybercriminal warrants changes in cybersecurity as well.


What Are the Benefits of Cybersecurity?

Cybersecurity threats aren’t just dangerous for your business’s data. A cyberattack can endanger your employees as well as your clients. Implementing a cybersecurity strategy has many benefits outside of keeping your critical information safe. Cybersecurity can help your business in the following ways:

  • Workplace Safety
      • Without adequate cybersecurity solutions in place, your entire system is at risk. A cyberattack can bring production to a halt as often the attack isn’t just to mine sensitive data, but to shut down your operations. Servers and data storage are commonly penetrated, but cybercriminals can gain access to every employee’s personal devices as well. Malware not only brings your workforce’s productivity to a standstill but also increases your expenses as these devices may need replacing if the damage is severe.
  • Protection for Personal Information
      • The personal information your business stores is valuable to your business and to a cybercriminal. Your employees and clients put their trust in you to keep their information safe. Once a hacker gains access to this sensitive information, it can then be sold to others. Often these cases lead to demands of ransom from the attacker in exchange for not releasing the stolen information. 
  • Overall Protection of Your Business
      • Cyber protection not only protects the information and clients that you currently have, but it allows you to grow your business. More transactions and interactions are available to you when you operate on a secure platform. Sensitive information can be shared safely. The lack of this digital protection is the downfall of many small businesses. Neither investors nor clients feel safe partnering with an unprotected business. 
  • Improves Productivity
      • On average, a ransomware attack can halt your business for 16.2 days. Just over two weeks without access to the critical data and devices needed to run your business could be devastating. In two weeks, your valued employees could potentially find jobs somewhere else, costing you even more money to start the hiring process over again. 
  • Keeps Your Website Running Smoothly
    • What used to be a novelty for a business is now one of the most important features keeping it running: your website. When your website is down you are not only losing potential customers while it’s not operational, but also future customers. A study showed that 9% of visitors to a website will not return if they find the site down. Protection from cyber threats keeps your website up and running, keeping your current clients happy and encouraging future business.


What Types of Cybersecurity Threats Are Out There?

Another reason your small business may be more vulnerable to attack is that larger-scale organizations employ entire teams devoted exclusively to cybersecurity. Small businesses do not have the workforce to support those same efforts. Cybersecurity may be left in the hands of someone with many other responsibilities, like a manager or IT professional. That makes small businesses the perfect target for hackers. 

Understanding the current threats plaguing businesses is the first step in protecting yourself from them.

  • Phishing: In our next blog we will cover important steps your business can take to protect your critical data. One of those steps discusses the importance of training your employees to be smart when opening suspicious emails. Phishing schemes target employees by acting as a trusted website or business. An employee is then lured into providing information or clicking on a link that can download dangerous malware to your system.


  • Ransomware: Ransomware halts operations by shutting down computers and locking up data. Your data and computer access are then held hostage. To regain access to your data, you must pay a ransom to the hacker who may or may not release the data back to you.


  • Malvertising: Malware advertising consists of inserting malware into an apparently legitimate ad. This form of cyberattack is particularly dangerous because the malware is hidden on an actual site disguised as an advertisement. 


  • Clickjacking: This practice is similar to malvertising and involves hiding hyperlinks to dummy webpages inside links to a reputable site. Thinking they are on a trusted site, visitors are then convinced to enter sensitive information.


  • Drive-by downloads: These attacks are hidden within the foundations of a website. No action is required for the malware to be downloaded to your device. The website itself is compromised and merely visiting the site compromises your computer.


What Should a Cybersecurity Strategy Include?

The above forms of cyberattack are not the only ones you may be susceptible to. Just as quickly as technology advances, so do the attacks against it. Your cybersecurity plan should incorporate multiple layers of protection against any attacks on your sensitive data. Your plan should also protect your employees from possible theft or extortion and interruption of daily business. 

Your cybersecurity plan should include protections for: 


Why Is Cybersecurity Important Today? 

Businesses rely heavily upon computer systems and cloud storage options like Google Drive and Office 365. Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, many businesses have incorporated work-from-home (WFH) options. Virtual workspaces only add to an already vast reliance on cloud services. In addition, smartphones, AI, and the Internet of Things (IoT) have all brought new vulnerabilities in security that weren’t threats in the past. 

The Evolution of Cybercrime

Cyberattacks are becoming more frequent. They are less random than in years past and specific businesses are being targeted. Along with this, these attacks are more sophisticated and harder to detect and prevent. In fact, the average cost of cybercrime for an organization has increased to $13.0 million in 2021, an increase of $1.42 million. The average number of data breaches rose by 11%.

Information theft is growing quickly and is the most expensive division of cybercrime. More and more information is being stored digitally, so there is a greater amount of data available to steal. Criminals are not always seeking to steal this information. Some criminals are choosing to alter or even destroy information hoping to bring down particular government agencies or organizations by showing that they cannot be trusted with your sensitive information. 

People are the weakest link in the chain of cybersecurity. As such, social engineering tends to be the most successful form of cyberattack. It’s also the simplest as it requires much less technological savvy. There has also been a rise in third-party risk. Criminals are discovering vulnerabilities outside of organizations with strong cybersecurity measures in place. These vendors, such as IT providers, are compromised to gain access to the businesses they partner with. All of this and more show the absolute need for cybersecurity within your organization and any outside parties you trust. 

The Impact of Cybercrime 

Any organization, regardless of size, can feel the substantial impact of a successful cyberattack. Their reputation is damaged, their productivity is less, finances are impacted, and they may have legal liability and loss of clientele.

By 2025, it is estimated that cybercrime will cost companies worldwide an estimated $10.5 trillion annually. This is a jump from $3 trillion in 2015. The COVID-19 pandemic alone has brought a 600% increase in cybercrime. These trends show that cyberattacks will only increase from here. A cybersecurity strategy is no longer merely an option. It’s a necessity that should be prioritized, and quickly. 


Is Cyber Crime a Threat to Small Businesses, too?

As a small business owner, you may think that your information is safe. After all, cybercriminals are targeting huge corporations. Why would a cybercriminal target the lesser data of a small business when they could infiltrate a multi-million dollar business and come away with a bigger payday? That is what these criminals are after, isn’t it? 

Not necessarily.

While the headlines are full of the biggest hacks involving huge companies, cybercriminals aren’t ones to discriminate by size. Some of the largest breaches we’ve seen started at small businesses. While you may only hear the details of the large corporation that was infiltrated, chances are the attack started somewhere much smaller. In 2014, 100 million Target account holders were informed that their data had been compromised due to a cyberattack. How did these cybercriminals infiltrate such a large organization? Through the AC. And no, they weren’t crawling through the vents Mission Impossible-style; the hackers gained access through an HVAC contractor that Target had employed.

Two-thirds of companies with less than 1,000 employees have experienced a cyberattack, and 58% have experienced a breach. In these and so many other instances, you are not only protecting your data, but also the data of any organization you partner with. All businesses need a robust cybersecurity strategy. From ransomware, phishing, DDoS (distributed denial of service), or any other threat, small businesses are a huge target for cyberattacks. 


Why Are Small Businesses Targeted?

Attacks on small and medium-sized businesses aren’t nearly as lucrative as attacks on large corporations. The funds and data resources just aren’t the same. So why are hackers targeting the little guys? 

  • Your data is valuable: The Dark Web pays handsomely for the exact type of information that small businesses store—credit and debit card numbers, bank account info, medical records, Social Security numbers, bank account credentials, and vital business information. Every day cybercriminals are looking for new ways to steal this data from you. Small-time criminals may access bank accounts and go on a shopping spree, or they may sell the information to other criminals for an immediate payout.


  • Your computers: Hackers are sometimes looking for a power boost. They will hijack your company’s computers and use them to infiltrate another company or a group of companies. These attacks, called disruptive denial-of-service, or DDoS attacks, work by generating excessive amounts of web traffic. Your hijacked computers are what generate the web traffic, bringing the other company’s operations to a halt.


  • Your connections: Just like in the Target HVAC contractor story above, your connections as a small business are valuable. Every company needs connections, big or small. If you have large-scale clients in your database, cybercriminals want to get their hands on their information. And they will use you to get it.


  • Your money: Hackers are primarily committing cyberattacks as a means to a profit. While some do have other agendas, political or otherwise, at the end of the day, money talks. This is why ransomware is so popular. It can be very successful and very lucrative and doesn’t require much from the hacker. And if an attack has proven to be successful before, a cybercriminal will use it again.

Companies big or small are vulnerable to cyberattacks. You never know when you may fall victim and find yourself in a desperate situation. This is why your cybersecurity strategy is of utmost importance. Elliman Technologies is here to help you maintain your company’s cybersecurity. We invite you to sign up for our cybersecurity emails for a wealth of information for protecting your employees and your business.