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Do you have a cyber response plan?

If your business got hacked tomorrow and you were locked out of your company data, what would you do?

There are many probably watching this that have already had their data hacked, but if you are one of the lucky businesses that have not had a data breach yet, then you need to prepare a plan.

The sad fact is that's not a matter of if but when this will happen.

All good IT providers should have some form of response plan or playbook.

This is a document that can be easily followed in the case of a data breach.

It includes your line of business applications, for example, your accounts package - if that gets hacked, what steps are necessary to recover and secure the system?

A cyber response playbook is a go-to document that will help navigate steps by step all of the critical processes of securing and responding to a data breach.

If you would like further information about how we can help you develop a cyber response plan, then get in touch with us today.

3 Ways Your MSP Can Help You Forecast Next Year’s IT Costs 

Regrettably, when clients are assembling their quarterly or yearly budget forecasts, they often forget to invite MSPs to the board room table. The reason for this is because a lot of providers are viewed as “fixers” rather than as the strategic planners that can be used to effectively guide budgeting discussions. Managed service providers can offer a wealth of invaluable insight, benchmarks, supporting data, and reference experience that you can be used to project IT costs. 

Your IT budget says a lot about you, as a business owner. It can indicate whether or not you have developed a plan for the future of your business, whether you are willing to fund that plan, and whether or not business leaders value the benefits of technology and the impact it can have on driving success, or if they still view IT as a minor function.  Your budget should reflect the strategic plans that you have for the upcoming quarter or year by assigning funds to projects that you have given high priority for attaining the goals and objectives that you want to attain. Your IT budget can also be used to drive innovation and truly advance the success of your business.  

Here’s a look at three ways that you can use your MSP to help you forecast your IT costs for the upcoming year.  

Leverage Capex/Opex Accounting Rules 

Back in the dark ages when businesses handled their own data centers and invested large sums of money in the IT hardware that was needed to handle their data centers, it was fairly easy to separate capital expenditure from a company’s standard operating budget. As IT has progressed, it’s objective is no longer focused on using cost-effective, temporary infrastructure to providing more advanced technology that effectively support strategic initiatives in the present cloud computing-centered environment.  

Correct the Past 

A lot of businesses are bogged down by highly complicated landscapes that demand more resources than are actually justified; however, their IT budgets are comprised of insufficient funds in order to correct legacy issues. Instead, they focus on allocating funds to keep the lights on, and then fund the projects that will meet the business’ most urgent needs, which can end up being very problematic. Instead of taking this approach, give the most pressing needs your attention so you can modernize your efforts.  

Plan for the Future 

Your IT budget shouldn’t focus solely on the strategic needs of your company for just the next year, but rather, it should include your objectives for the next several years; between 3 to 5 years, ideally. The top CIOs achieve this by making sure there is access to money that can fund the goals for the future of their company.  

When you know what you want several years into the future to look like, you can then determine what things need to look like in a single year, and thus, you can allocate funds appropriately. While it’s true that you’ll likely need to focus more of your funds on immediate needs, by looking several years into the future, you can start planning for that future when you’re planning your budget for the upcoming year.  

How to Identify a “Smishing” Attempt on Your Smartphone

Have you been receiving texts from political candidates, manufacturers, insurance companies, fundraising campaigns, or any other strange messages? If so, you’re probably scratching your head wondering how they got your phone number because you know for a fact that you have never sent them texts before. There’s a simple explanation for those unexplained texts. It’s called “smishing”, and it has become extremely common. Not only is it annoying, but worse, it can be troubling.

What is smishing? How can you identify smishing attempts? What can you do to protect yourself from them? To find the answers to these questions, keep on reading.

What is Smishing?

To understand what smishing is, you first need to understand what phishing is. Phishing is a type of cybercrime in which an attacker sends emails to their targets. The emails appear as if they’re from credible sources and lure the targeted individual into providing sensitive data (they’re name, credit card info, passwords, etc.), visiting malicious sites, or clicking on links that infect devices with viruses. The attacker then uses the information that they collected to access the victim’s personal accounts. These attacks can have serious repercussions, as they can result in financial losses and identity theft.

Smishing is type of phishing, but rather than email, criminals attack smartphones via SMS (short message service) messages, better known as text messages. The term “smishing” was derived by combining the terms “SMS” and “phishing”.

How Smishing Works

Smishing messages are text messages that are sent with ill intent. Just like phishing emails, smishing messages attempt to trick victims into providing sensitive personal information. In order to encourage their targets to interact with the attacks, hackers have several tricks up their sleeves. They use social engineering, a form of manipulation that aims to make the smishing messages more enticing, thus sparking the victim’s curiosity and increasing the likelihood that they will willingly give up their personal and confidential information, social security numbers, passwords, banking details, etc.

Cybercriminals know that simply sending out text messages that ask their targets to hand over their bank account numbers probably isn’t going to work, which is why they use social engineering tactics. These tactics aim to gain the victim’s trust, increasing the likelihood that they will share their sensitive information.

How to Protect Yourself from Smishing Attacks

You don’t have to fall victim to the tricks that cybercriminals use to try to acquire your personal information. By being aware and knowing what to look for, you can avoid interacting with malicious SMS messages that you may receive. Here’s a look at some examples of smishing messages that you’re definitely going to want to steer clear of:

  • Links or downloadable files that you aren’t expecting
  • Urgent pleas for help from organizations that seem credible
  • Messages that congratulate you for winning contests you’ve never entered
  • Messages from financial institutions or brands you use or you’re familiar with
  • Urgent messages that urge you to verify your personal details via an automated phone number or a link

While it’s true that you could receive SMS messages that contain any of the above signs that aren’t nefarious, it’s always better to be safe than sorry. Also remember that it’s highly unlikely that your bank or a brand you’ve purchased something from is going to send you a text if an urgent situation arises; rather, they’ll call you directly and will provide ample proof to verify the legitimacy of their identity and their purpose for contacting you.

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