The Benefits of Managed IT Services in 2021

Hand holding tablet with cloud technology and dark concept

When it comes to your business technology, you shouldn’t settle for anything less than the best. Unfortunately, technology is one facet of running a company where many business owners feel they have the least amount of control, perhaps due to its many moving parts and overwhelming complexity. The question becomes one of how you want to approach managing your business’ technology and finding the right skill sets to do so. Enter the benefits of managed IT services.

You generally have two options for your IT needs: hire an in-house department or outsource the responsibilities to a third party. Which approach best suits your needs?

Hiring an in-house department of IT technicians can be a lengthy and time-consuming process. Just like with any other position at your company, you will have to put together the job description, duties and responsibilities, and preferred requirements. That’s not to mention the time it takes to advertise the position, collect resumes and applications, put together a search committee, and interview successful candidates. Add in the onboarding process and any training that they might need and you have a lengthy process that is not necessarily conducive to the “I need help right now” mode that many organizations find themselves in with their IT.

The alternative is to outsource your entire IT department to a dedicated third party. Believe it or not, this is a remarkably valuable asset for your organization to have. Plus, most IT maintenance and management can be done remotely without an on-site visit, meaning that you are not limited by the traditional barriers to finding top talent. You could work with a reputable company halfway across the country if you want to, and you can afford to be picky with who you hire for the job.

Note the key difference between your in-house IT talent and outsourcing. Hiring an in-house IT department is dependent on other peoples’ qualifications rather than what you want for your IT needs. When it comes to your business, you should do what you think is best for your specific needs, and if that is outsourcing to find the best fit for your company, then you should never be ashamed of that.

We always recommend that you start with an IT audit to ascertain where you currently are in terms of your IT infrastructure versus where you want to be. 4 Corner IT is happy to help with this process. After we gauge your current network infrastructure, we can work with you to identify your company’s major IT challenges and implement solutions that address them.

Or, if you would rather hire in-house technicians, we can supplement their duties and responsibilities by covering the more mundane parts of the job, like supporting your team and performing routine maintenance. This frees up valuable time and resources for your technicians to focus on what you hired them to do: innovate and implement. It does not matter where you currently are in your IT processes–we can jump right in and provide value for your company.

To learn more about our benefits of managed IT services, reach out to 4 Corner IT at (954) 474-2204.

How Prevent Your Network from Being Sold By Hackers

Locked computer ransomware with hands holding money and key flat vector illustration

Believe it or not, your organization’s network can be sold by hackers under the right circumstances. This is the unfortunate reality that we live in, where the commoditization of data and network access has become a real problem. According to a study from KELA, hackers can sell access to compromised networks for a pittance compared to the amount of work you have invested in building your business. If you have your business’s network sold by hackers, it could create a snowball effect of events that can lead to your business’s downfall. Therefore, you must do everything in your power to protect your network and prevent this from happening.

This report from KELA followed Initial Access Brokers, a term used to describe threats that sell access to compromised network infrastructures. These threats are big players in the world of cybercrime, as they can effectively facilitate some of the most devastating threats out there, including ransomware and remote access threats. The report examined one full year of listings by Initial Access Brokers to discover how much value can be assigned to this type of network access.

It is quite shocking to see just how little value is associated with access to your network. Out of the 1,000 listings, KELA found that the average price of network access credentials was about $5,400, with the median price being around $1,000. Other trends examined included the average price of credentials, as well as information on industries affected and countries affected. The top countries affected were the United States, France, the United Kingdom, Australia, and Canada. Top industries affected included manufacturing, education, IT, banking/financial, government, and healthcare.

Just take a moment to imagine how much chaos someone could inject into your business simply by purchasing access to your infrastructure. All it takes is a small investment and access to a VPN for someone to start causing some real trouble for your business. There are quite a few ways that you can minimize the damage done through these methods, including the following:

  • Implement comprehensive security measures

    In terms of sheer security, we recommend unified threat management, or UTM, to handle most of the threats your business could face. This all-in-one solution includes security measures such as a firewall, antivirus, content filter, and spam blocker to minimize exposure to threats.

  • Monitor your network traffic

    If you keep track of who logs onto your network, when, and where they are logging in from, you’ll have a greater chance of identifying suspicious traffic patterns.

  • Implement multi-factor authentication

    Password security is still important, but not nearly as important as having additional measures in place. Multi-factor authentication can help make sure that people logging into your network are who they say they are.

  • Take regular backups of your infrastructure

    You never want to use your data backup, but having it never hurts, and it will give you a nuclear option in the event that someone does manage to gain unauthorized access to your network.

If you have your business’s network sold by hackers, it can damage your business’s entire operations. To learn more about how you can protect your business, reach out to us at (954) 474-2204.

4 Ways Your Business Can Prepare for Hybrid Operations

Woman in hybrid work place sharing her time between an office and working from home remotely, EPS 8 vector illustration

The future can be unpredictable at best, especially in today’s times. You never know when your company will suffer from circumstances beyond your control, whether it’s a disaster that uproots your office or a pandemic that forces your entire workforce to transition to remote operations. Thankfully, even in today’s trying times, technology presents opportunities to overcome these challenges.

Let’s examine some technology solutions that will help you stay successful both now and in the future, even if you have to transition to hybrid or remote business operations.

Hardware Solutions

To prepare yourself for remote or hybrid operations, consider equipping your staff with hardware that allows them to get their work done even when outside of the office. You probably won’t want to give them complete workstations, but you can provide laptops and smartphones to help them stay connected to the workplace even when out of it. If you need a hand with procurement, we would be happy to recommend some of the best deals and solutions out there.

Cloud Computing

With access to hardware out of the way, you will need access to data and software to utilize that data with. The cloud is a perfect solution for this, as the applications and data essentially live in an online environment where they can be accessed as needed. There are many cloud-based solutions to consider, but we recommend a unified communications solution, a data storage solution, and a productivity suite as the absolute bare minimum for any organization hoping to keep operations running while remote. Of course, your needs are different from most other businesses, so it’s best to speak to us about them to give you a better idea of what you might consider for your company.

Unified Communications

Your team will need access to various solutions that allow them to stay in touch with each other while out of the office. Unified communications solutions offer a centralized location for employees to access the plethora of services you might implement, including email, instant messaging, video chat, conference calling, and your voice-over IP solution. Unified communications is an incredibly effective solution for any company that anticipates remote or hybrid operations shortly.

Infrastructure Access Technology

Finally, we come to arguably the most critical aspect of all—security. You want to ensure that only your employees have access to your network infrastructure while out of the office. You can accomplish this by using a virtual private network and remote desktop access applications, both of which allow your employees to access files on the company network or their work desktops remotely through the cloud. Furthermore, you will want to ensure that your company-owned devices are kept secure with unified threat management tools to keep them safe, no matter the type of connection they use for wireless access.

4Corner IT can help you prepare for a future when your organization’s operations may be disrupted due to circumstances beyond your control. To learn more about the technology that makes remote or hybrid operations possible, reach out to us at (954) 474-2204.

Using Windows Hello to Add Security

Signing in Windows 10 on Surface Pro tablet PC using Windows Hello, which is a face recognition feature which allow users to log in by scanning their faces.

Authentication is a tricky thing for businesses. While people want to be secure, they also want to make that security as convenient as possible. Developments involving solutions like Windows Hello, a biometrics authentication system used by Microsoft, have been pushing this trend forward. Let’s take a look at Windows Hello and see what kinds of authentication features it brings to the table.

What is Windows Hello, Anyway?

Simply put, Windows Hello is an authentication technology that Windows users can utilize to authenticate their identities through the use of biometrics rather than a password. The key feature here is that Hello is designed to be more user-friendly than passwords without putting security on the line. Biometric technology uses proof of a physical attribute, i.e. something you are and compares that to a previously stored record. So, you scan your face, fingerprint, or iris, and if it matches the saved record closely enough, then you are granted access to the device.

How It Works

Passwords have long been considered the standard for computer security, but there are many flaws with them that need to be taken into consideration. Of course, we would never say that you ditch passwords entirely; all we are saying is that there are a lot of best practices to think about in regards to passwords. For example, if a user has over 100 passwords, then each of them must be complex and follow established best practices, which is a lot for your average user to consider when it is so easy to just reuse the same old one multiple times. These types of insecure decisions can lead to poor security as a result.

Windows Hello aims to make security easy through the use of biometrics. It even has a built-in anti-spoofing technology that can keep hackers from tricking the system into admitting them.

Does Windows Hello Belong in Businesses?

If you choose to implement Windows Hello in the workplace, we recommend that you supplement it with other security precautions and features. Microsoft has suggested that this feature will carry over to Windows 11, and password access will be reinforced by other built-in protections.

If you need assistance with implementing a comprehensive security strategy for your organization, 4Corner IT can help. We have the tools you need to keep your network safe. To learn more, reach out to us at (954) 474-2204.

How Will Android Apps Work on Windows 11?

close-up View of The New Microsoft Windows 11 Logo on Computer Screen

With the news that Android applications will be available on Windows 11, users can expect to find Android apps available for download with a few terms and conditions to apply.

Let’s look at how this integration will roll out and why it may not be the solution we hoped for.

How will Android apps be available on Windows 11?

Rather than relying on a version of the Google Play Store optimized for Windows, Android applications will be available on Windows through the app store maintained by Amazon. This arrangement brings a few challenges with it, however.

For one, Amazon’s Appstore offers remarkably few apps compared to the other marketplaces. What’s worse, this lack of apps is particularly apparent regarding the productivity-based software you’d expect to find. Naturally, there aren’t any of Google’s applications, and many famous business applications like Trello, Slack, and Asana are missing. LastPass, 1Password, and Bitwarden are also absent as far as password management solutions are concerned. Many Microsoft programs don’t appear either. While Outlook, the all-in-one version of Office, and OneNote are there, others aren’t. Major banking applications aren’t there.

Exacerbating this issue is that many of the apps available aren’t correctly maintained, far outdated compared to the versions present on the Play Store.

Why is this the case?

The root of all of these issues is Google Play Services, a key component to many applications’ operations. Google Play Services enables an application to handle purchases, use location data, push notifications, and various other functions.

Naturally, this makes Google Play Services critical to the functionality of Android applications and a challenge to host on more than one app store and why many titles are missing from Amazon’s. A developer effectively has to reinvent the wheel to put the same application on Amazon’s Appstore. Otherwise, the application breaks.

So, with developers simply not focusing their efforts on optimizing their applications for all platforms, these deficits will be reflected in the applications available on Windows 11.

Will this change?

Perhaps, provided that app developers focus on making their applications available through Amazon’s Appstore. In the meantime, you can count on 4Corner IT to equip your team members with the tools they need to function efficiently.

Give us a call at (954) 474-2204 to learn more.