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Category Medium-sized Business I.T Support

What is a BYOD Policy?

In the new normal, switching between working in the office and remotely from home is common. This makes it important for businesses to make the transition between working from home and the office a seamless experience.

As such, it’s crucial to devise a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policy that allows you to do that safely. By implementing a solution that ensures privacy, security, and regulatory compliance, your organisation is well-placed to reap the benefits of BYOD while mitigating risk.

What is BYOD?

A BYOD policy allows employees to bring their own personal devices to work. This approach enables staff to access enterprise infrastructure with sensitive company or client information on their own devices to complete their work from home or at the office.

This approach eliminates the frustration one might have trying to juggle multiple devices (including one issued by the company) to work on a project. In this scenario, the most pressing concern is the level of security deployed on personal devices. Most often, they fall short when compared to enterprise-issued desktops, laptops, and mobile devices.

However, with a BYOD policy and robust business IT support, employers can maintain privacy and compliance while making it easier for their staff to work in multiple settings.

What Are the Advantages of Adopting a BYOD Policy?

Boost productivity: In a highly digitised world, employees (especially millennials) prefer to work at any time from anywhere. Most often, they’ll have their own devices and not company-issued hardware. This approach helps boost morale and, in turn, productivity.

Builds loyalty: Having the convenience of working from just about anywhere helps build loyalty. Happy staff will think twice before jumping ship because of the additional benefits provided by your business.

Lower costs: When your employees are working on their own computers (that they have paid for), you don’t have to absorb the overheads that go with company-issued machines. As people like to work with the latest technologies, you can bet that your employees will use the latest applications without expecting you to pay for them.

What Are the Disadvantages of Adopting a BYOD Policy?

Higher security risk: When staff are allowed to use their own devices, your risk exposure grows exponentially. While individuals are keen to have the latest apps and hardware, they’re not as diligent when it comes to security protocols.

Employee separation: If an employee leaves the company suddenly, you won’t be able to retrieve all the company and client information stored on their device. This could leave your organisation vulnerable to a data breach or (even) sabotage.

Misplaced devices: People lose things. It’s a fact of life, and it happens to the best of us. But a lost or stolen device with access to your infrastructure can have far-reaching consequences. This makes strong passwords, multi-factor authentication, and more critical to BYOD policies.

Unsecured Wi-Fi: The Wi-Fi networks at homes or at coffee shops aren’t as secure as enterprise networks. As a result, hackers can easily breach enterprise infrastructure through a compromised public network.

So, how do you reap the benefits of BYOD while mitigating risk? The best approach here is to engage a managed services provider who can provide adequate security and reliable IT support.

How Can a Managed Services Provider Help?

An established managed IT services provider can help implement a BYOD policy but securely through virtualization. In this scenario, regardless of the device your staff use, they will only access your network through virtualized desktops.

This approach helps organisations leverage more control over their data and software used on the network. By insisting on connecting through a Virtual Private Network (VPN), you can mitigate the risk of working on a compromised Wi-Fi network.

By moving your IT environment up to the cloud, your managed services provider is better placed from an administrative perspective to manage your BYOD environment. It’s better than trying to partition individual devices to support user privacy and security.

By enabling secure client access to the cloud, issues with hardware glitches and more are resolved quickly through IT support services. Furthermore, your business IT support partner will implement all the patches and updates as they are released to keep your enterprise environment secure.

If you’re looking to implement a BYOD policy, we can help. Schedule a commitment-free consultation with one of our in-house experts.


What Is Multi-Factor Authentication and Why Is It Important?

Everyone is a live target in the current threat landscape, and data breaches make the headlines almost daily. Whether it’s a company or an individual, the risk is higher than ever before. For example, hackers now have access to approximately 15 billion stolen login credentials sourced from over 100,000 data breaches.

That’s just about everyone on the planet!

In this scenario, if one of your accounts was compromised, the potential for an attacker to exploit it is high. If it’s your email account, they might send emails to your contacts, attempt to gain access to enterprise infrastructure or share dodgy phishing links (that compromise their accounts).

Suppose you reused your username or password on another platform. Now that is also vulnerable to a cyberattack. It could potentially lead to identity theft, fraud, and other nightmare situations.

For companies, the fallout from a security incident can be significant. So, never reuse your login credentials and use multi-factor authentication (MFA) wherever possible.

What Is Multi-Factor Authentication?

MFA is an additional security layer that demands users to present two pieces of credential evidence when logging into an account. These credentials take the form of a second password, an SMS with a PIN, or a code from an app like Google Authenticator.

Why Is Multi-Factor Authentication Important?

Whether it’s your bank, email, mobile app, or even your social media account, adding an additional layer of security makes it difficult for threat actors to steal your sensitive data or impersonate you. For example, if you use your phone for MFA, criminals must steal both your password and your phone to log in.

MFA also remembers your device and uses it as another form of authentication. It’s excellent because threat actors continue to use multi-pronged attacks, and you can never have too much security. This activity is often further supported by geological and behavioural analytics.

MFA Secures Cloud and Enterprise Infrastructure

As remote working quickly becomes the norm, enterprises must enforce MFA to ensure data privacy and security. If the company doesn’t, its cloud and related infrastructure are vulnerable to a credential stuffing attack.

MFA Helps Negate a Data Breach

MFA is a critical step that businesses can take to avoid a potential data breach. According to Microsoft, using a second factor for authentication can block as much as 99.9% of attacks.

MFA Helps Companies Avoid Regulatory Fines

If you’re collecting and storing sensitive customer (or patient) data, your business will likely suffer significantly more in the event of a security incident. For example, you’ll potentially face regulatory fines, lawsuits, and damage to brand value.

MFA Protects Users from Social Engineering Attacks

Social engineering attacks like phishing attacks attempt to fool the user into giving up their passwords and personally identifiable information. However, with MFA, these types of attacks are rendered useless because the MFA code that’s generated each time will be different.

However, no security protocol is infallible, and MFA alone won’t be enough to protect your organisation. Instead, it should be used in concert with other security technologies and strategies to enhance your security posture.

As such, you should use MFA whenever possible, even if it doesn’t concern sensitive data. Businesses with an online customer-facing website benefit from adding MFA to help protect their infrastructure and (of course) their customers. It also goes a long way in ensuring that your customers feel secure.

To learn more about how you can protect your business from cyberattacks, schedule a commitment-free consultation with one of our in-house security experts.


Top 5 Things You Need in Email Security

For most companies, email is still the leading communication channel. While communication tools like Slack and VoIP solutions have made an impact on modern business, email still plays a vital role in enterprise communications.

According to cybersecurity firm Fortinet, online scams increased by more than 400% during the pandemic. Google also blocked more than 18 million malware and phishing emails about COVID-19 every day in March 2020.

This makes it vital to take steps to ensure email security. After all, business email accounts are prime targets for threat actors. Whether it’s social engineering attacks or ransomware attacks, email is often the chosen mode of exploitation.

So how do you prevent malicious actors from breach your enterprise email system?

In this blog post, we’ll explore the top 5 things you need in email security.

1. Leverage Encryption Technologies

Encryption is like an insurance policy. Even if you don’t prevent a data breach, the data stolen by hackers is rendered meaningless with the right decryption keys.

As corporate email often includes highly sensitive information, email encryption is key to keeping all communication confidential. Email encryption also ensures that your communications aren’t altered during transit.

Google’s Gmail and Microsoft Exchange have TLS encryption. However, this isn’t enough to secure your communications. To better secure your emails, use tools like CTemplar, which is open-source and leverages both OpenPGP and TLS to protect emails in transit and at rest.

Such tools also protect users from JS injections used to deliver malicious codes. It’ll also help your company become more resistant to Man-in-the-Middle attacks.

Managed services providers often have a number of encryption solutions for you to choose from. So, make sure to discuss this with your managed services provider before committing.

2. Enforce Password Security

While it isn’t always the best, passwords remain your primary line of defence against unauthorised access. However, passwords are only as good as you make them.

By enforcing an enterprise password policy, you can ensure that employees follow best practices and create strong passwords. This approach ensures that staff don’t inadvertently create unnecessary vulnerabilities in the network that lead to major security incidents.

However, don’t stop there. Add another layer of security in the form of multifactor authentication (MFA).

3. Implement MFA

Having a strong password helps, but it’s not enough. To take email security to the next level, ensure that all employees use MFA. In this scenario, MFA adds another layer between your enterprise data and cybercriminals.

Whenever you have deployed MFA in your email systems, users must verify their password with another piece of information like a code from Google Authenticator.

This code or PIN is sent to another connected device like a smartphone. As a result, this makes it nearly impossible for hackers to breach the email system without having the device in their possession.

4. Integrate Robust Antivirus, Anti-Ransomware, and Anti-Phishing Solutions

Even though antivirus software might seem old school and obsolete, it’s still a good idea to install it on your corporate computers. Security software like these scans all emails before a single bit of data is downloaded.

You should also install a robust anti-phishing solution to complement your antivirus and anti-ransomware software. Whenever in doubt, it’s best to discuss your email security options with your managed services provider.

5. Create a Security Culture within the Organisation

Regardless of all the security tools deployed in your enterprise infrastructure, humans remain the weakest link. The best way to mitigate risk is to train your staff regularly. When you do this frequently, staff are alert to potential threats.

Email security training must cover topics like:

  • Always using strong passwords
  • Avoiding public WIFI
  • Not opening suspicious attachments
  • Not sharing personal details and passwords (even with colleagues)
  • Not using business emails for private communications
  • Social engineering (including phishing attacks)
  • Using MFA

At AU.IT, we’re highly experienced in ensuring email security. To learn more, reach out to one of our in-house security experts.


Basic Authentication Considerations for Office 365

If you’re using Office 365, you would already know about the benefits like Workplace Analytics that come with the package. You should also be aware of Microsoft’s intention to end Basic Authentication support for five Exchange Online protocols this year. The primary objective is to address security concerns effectively—for example, issues like password spray attacks.

As such, Microsoft already blocked the following protocols last October:

  • ActiveSync
  • EWS
  • IMAP
  • POP
  • Remote PowerShell.

So, if you haven’t already, you should immediately shift your Microsoft 365 protocols to “modern authentication.” This approach ensures that you enable the Active Directory Authentication Library (ADAL)-based login for your Office 365 client (including apps and support features).

While the tech giant was set to disable more Basic Authentication protocols in April, there has been a considerable change of plans due to the long-reaching effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

While the goal to disable Basic Authentication in Exchange Online is still (very much) on, the date for a complete shutdown has been postponed (indefinitely). The good news is that this gives us more time to prepare and get tenants ready for the inevitable.

What Should Enterprises Using Office 365 Do to Get Ready?

If you engaged in this activity last year, you would already know that blocking legacy protocols isn’t straightforward. However, you have to do it as the consequences can potentially lead to a disastrous security event.

Microsoft 365 users must be aware that there are several unnecessary legacy protocols that remain switched on in their tenant. However, if you activated security defaults, then these will be blocked in newly created tenants. By blocking these unused protocols (and preventing any potential misuse), you can better secure your enterprise infrastructure.

Each application or service that connects to Office 365 must authenticate itself. When basic authentication is disabled in the near future, all programs that leverage legacy application protocols to connect to Exchange Online will stop working.

To avoid disruption, data loss and ensure business continuity, you have to take some action!

If you’re using Outlook 2010 (or an older version), your email clients won’t be able to connect to Office 365 once basic authentication is disabled. Those using Outlook 2011 for Mac should be aware that it won’t support Modern Authentication.

Companies still using Outlook 2013 have to make some changes to the registry to enable OAuth 2.0 and keep using it. As Remote PowerShell is on its way out, make sure to switch to the modern Exchange Online PowerShell V2 module.

If some tenants have already been qualified for disabling Basic Authentication, IT departments will have to get to work updating or upgrading the software on multiple workstations. In other words, IT administrators across Australia must (if they haven’t already) start preparing for what will eventually come.

As Outlook relies on Exchange Web Services (EWS) to run its core features, tenants still using Basic Authentication must enable modern authentication before it’s disabled.

Basic Authentication vs. Modern Authentication

While this forced switch might feel overwhelming or just plain frustrating, you have to remember that it’s for your own good.  ADAL-based modern authentication and OAuth 2.0 are far more secure than Basic Authentication protocols.

Why?

Basic Authentication demands that each app or software pass your credentials such as your login and password with each and every request. Whenever this is the case, the program stores your user credentials within its settings. This increases your exposure to risk as threat actors can potentially exploit this vulnerability and gain access to your IT infrastructure.

This legacy approach also fails to support grading or scoping permissions. This means that any app connecting to Microsoft 365 using Basic Authentication protocols can access all user data. In the current threat landscape, it’s best to only enable access to data and application resources needed to work seamlessly and not one bit more.

Once you make the switch to modern authentication protocols, you’ll add another layer of security. This approach will go a long way to support your established security and privacy policies.

To learn more, go to Microsoft’s blog HERE or contact IT support.


Top 5 Reasons to Use Managed Services in 2021

When it comes to managed services, the primary benefit is significant cost savings. For example, it helps small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) digitally transform their operation and reduce their overall technology investment.

That’s why the global managed services market is forecasted to be worth USD 417.1 billion by 2024. As such, you can expect managed IT services providers to help even the playing field by enabling access to top tech talent and the latest cutting-edge technologies.

In this scenario, this translates into robust IT support and a competitive advantage. But what are the other benefits to using managed IT services?

Here are the top 5 reasons to use managed services in 2021.

1. Boost Productivity

Managed IT and support services help SMBs increase productivity and improve the way they do business. With robust business IT support, enterprises minimise downtime and ensure seamless collaboration, communication, and more in a secure environment.

As managed IT support handles all potential malfunctions and helpdesk services, in-house IT staff can focus more on their core responsibilities. This approach also has the potential to improve your bottom line.

2. Security for Remote Workers

In the “new normal,” most companies still have a significant number of employees working remotely. This transition will continue due to benefits like flexibility and more.

However, cybersecurity remains a significant concern for both enterprises and remote employees. With managed support services, businesses can rest assured that their cloud infrastructure is adequately protected in the current threat landscape.

Managed network support also helps identify and rectify potential vulnerabilities and takes away the responsibility of patching and keeping your software and security up to date.

3. Maintain Compliance

Beyond cybersecurity, managed IT services help ensure compliance. For example, if you’re operating a medical clinic, managed services will secure sensitive patient data and implement strategies that ensure regulatory compliance.

When your patients or customers see that you take security seriously, it’ll also help build brand value and loyalty.

4. Supports Small Business Goals

SMBs have limited resources. So, it doesn’t make much sense to spend considerable time and resources making decisions on complex IT systems.

After all, spending time researching and understanding new technologies takes your focus away from your business goals. With managed IT support, you can focus on scaling your business and achieving your objectives and leave the IT part to your support services provider.

5. Predictable Monthly Costs

When you partner with a managed support services provider, your business pays the same amount every month, regardless of how much support you received over a four-week period. This approach helps you budget and plan exactly how much you’ll spend each month.

Managed IT services are highly adaptable. So, you can scale your business up or down based on your present needs. This approach helps negate any potential unnecessary expenses.

As your business grows, the support structure around will grow with it. This could be especially critical for business just starting out.

Regardless of whether it’s a small or large business, managed IT services positively impact both daily productivity and your bottom line. All the dollars saved by leveraging managed business IT support can also be reinvested back into your business.

With a low initial investment, predictable monthly technology expenses, and access to expert support services, your company is well-placed to compete in a crowded marketplace. The best part is that you don’t have to spend a significant amount of time and resources setting up and maintaining enterprise infrastructure.

At AU.IT, we have significant experience digitally transforming businesses. If you’re ready to take your company to the next level, reach out to one of our in-house experts


5 Compelling Reasons to Outsource IT Support

There’s no doubt that the world has changed. In a post-pandemic world, businesses are required to be more flexible and resilient than ever before. One way to achieve this is to partner with an established managed services provider who offers reliable IT support.

However, this doesn’t mean that you have to get rid of your in-house IT department. Instead, you can augment your IT team with external IT support. This approach ensures that your in-house tech teams focus on more important tasks while your business IT support partner handles the rest.

What are the benefits of outsourcing helpdesk services? Here are the top 5 benefits of outsourcing business IT support.

1. Reduce IT Costs

The primary benefit of outsourcing any business process is the opportunity to cut costs. It’s the same when it comes to outsourcing support services. When you partner with a managed IT services provider, you don’t have to blow your budget to building and maintaining your IT infrastructure.

Top tech talent is in high demand. With outsourcing, you also get access to the best minds in the business without the overheads, recruitment costs, employee benefits, and high wages that come with in-house hires.

Over time, you can reinvest these saving back into the business. You also have the option of exploring new opportunities or scale your current operation.

2. Increased Productivity

Enhanced productivity is an indirect benefit of outsourcing business IT support that doesn’t get much attention. Before managed services, small and medium-sized enterprises didn’t have the resources to access value-added services on their own.

Today, small businesses can get the latest cutting-edge technology and additional services to boost the company’s overall productivity cost-effectively. For example, enterprises were able to ensure business continuity with significant productivity during the pandemic because of the option of remote working (made possible by cloud computing).

When your staff are not engaging in mundane tasks like updating and patching your desktops and laptops, they can focus on your core business.

3. Improved Security

Cybersecurity is now a business priority. If you can’t properly secure your enterprise infrastructure, you’re probably not going to be around for long. However, this isn’t always easy without the necessary resources and domain expertise.

IT support services help businesses improve their security posture with the latest technologies and best practices. Furthermore, in the event of a cyberattack, your IT outsourcing partner can also ensure business continuity through their backup and retention protocols and disaster recovery planning.

This approach also helps mitigate risk as your managed IT services provider will update and patch your software as its released.

4. Improved Agility

We learned from the pandemic that businesses that are most agile survive. Companies today have to be able to adapt quickly and respond to market changes and global events. The key here is to ensure that your operations never come to a standstill.

Through periods of uncertainty and economic recession, your managed services provider can help you ensure business continuity cost-effectively. It’s also the best way for struggling businesses to get back on their feet.

5. IT Support On-Demand

While in-house IT teams only work business hours, your support services partner is available around the clock. This means that employees logging in from home at odd hours or over the weekend can count on reliable network support and helpdesk services whenever it’s needed.

It’s vital because an emergency can occur at any moment, not just during business hours. Your ability to respond immediately will be key to minimising potential downtime.

At AU.IT, our customers benefit from local Australian IT support. You can count on our technical expertise, reliability, and familiar accents at any time, day or night.

To learn more, schedule a commitment-free consultation with one of hour in-house experts.


How Do You Protect Your Business from Ransomware?

One of the most significant threats to your business today is ransomware. Several high-profile companies, government agencies, and even hospitals have fallen victims to these malicious attacks.

While the damages add up to billions of dollars every year, ransomware attacks are expected to increase in frequency this year. In this scenario, research suggests that businesses will be attacked every 11 seconds.

What Is Ransomware?

A ransomware is the name used to describe a type of malware that encrypts or blocks access to your data. The only way to regain access is to pay the ransom (often in cryptocurrency) demanded by threat actors.

These types of cyberattacks are aimed at businesses of all sizes. So, even if you feel like you’re too small to be targeted, you should take steps to secure your infrastructure from a ransomware attack.

Conduct a Risk Analysis

You have your standard security protocols deployed. But are you sure that you have resolved every potential vulnerability? What if you’re wrong?

In this scenario, it’s best to engage a third-party partner to conduct a security audit. It’s the best approach to identify and rectify potential risks missed by in-house security teams. For example, they will engage in penetration testing to ascertain your current security posture.

Patch Potential Vulnerabilities

If your IT infrastructure isn’t supported by a managed services provider, it’s critical to establish strict protocols to ensure that all software is patched immediately after release. This approach helps mitigate risk, but most companies fail to keep up as it’s a time-consuming process.

In this scenario, it’s best to hire an IT professional to manage maintenance and patches or move your enterprise infrastructure up to the cloud.

Backup Your Data

It’s vital to back up your data regularly to ensure business continuity. For example, if you had the unfortunate experience of falling victim to a cyberattack, a recent updated backup ensures little to no downtime.

As such, it’s crucial to back up sensitive data regularly and store it somewhere that’s not connected to the network. Furthermore, your restoration protocols should be checked frequently to ensure rapid restoration.

Devise a Comprehensive Disaster Recovery Plan

What if an employee clicked on a suspicious link and now all your data is encrypted? What will you do? Pay the ransom?

In the current threat landscape, it’s critical to ask yourself these questions and create a realistic disaster and recovery plan. When you have a comprehensive disaster response and recovery plan, you’ll be well-placed to protect your data, reputation, and revenue.

However, just having a plan isn’t enough. You should also test and tweak your disaster recovery plan regularly. If you’re working with a managed services provider, it’s critical to explore their disaster recovery plan before committing.

Engage in Regular Cybersecurity Staff Training

Educating your employees is crucial to cybersecurity hygiene. They must know how to identify suspicious emails or messages that could lead to a ransomware attack. So, make sure they know what NOT to do.

It also helps to establish a response plan and let everyone know what they should do if a device gets infected with malware. This includes immediately notifying the network administrator, isolating infected devices, disconnecting from the network, and changing passwords.

To keep staff alert, it’s important to engage in this activity regularly. After all, complacency is the enemy of cybersecurity. By taking a proactive approach to cybersecurity, you’ll be better placed to avert a ransomware attack or minimise the damage caused by one.

There isn’t a single solution or service that protect against ransomware attacks. Instead, you have to leverage the tools and expertise available within the organisation to respond effectively to the evolving threat.

Whenever you can’t manage it in-house, the best option is to partner with an established managed services provider.

At AU.IT, we go the extra mile to keep Australian businesses secure. To learn more about how you can protect your business from a ransomware attack, schedule a commitment-free consultation with one of in-house security experts.


Why Businesses Hire Managed Services Providers

Small and medium-sized business (SMB) owners know that technology is at the heart of many business processes. Suppose there is a minor problem with the hardware, software, or internal databases. In that case, there’s always the potential for significant downtime (which costs a lot of money in lost opportunities and more).

While some companies can afford to hire and accommodate their own IT support staff in-house, this can quickly get expensive in a highly competitive labour market. In this scenario, SMBs are often better served to adopt IT managed services.

Another reason why organisations choose business IT support is to efficiently and securely manage remote working. It’s also the best way to free up your staff and focus on what’s important—your business goals.

Managed IT services is a comprehensive approach to outsource the daily management of enterprise technology needs. They can either augment your in-house IT team or even become your IT department, depending on your resources and specific business objectives.

What Are Managed IT Services?

Managed services or managed support services are like an in-house IT department. They perform tasks like hardware and software installation, helpdesk services, systems administration, network support, and troubleshooting technical issues.

For SMBs, these tasks are often performed by the owner or employees juggling multiple roles. With business IT support, they will not only take over this process (that often feels overwhelming) but also offer so much more.

Immediate Access to Expert Support

If you have been calling your colleague several times a day to resolve a technical issue and they still haven’t shown up, it’s time to get some professional support. Managed business IT support includes helpdesk services. This means that you can get expert help, and it’s just an email or call away.

As they work remotely, they are also accessible from anywhere at any time of the day. This translates into (24/7) round-the-clock management and IT support.

Access to Cutting-Edge Technology and Robust Infrastructure

Most managed services providers have strong relationships with software and hardware vendors. As a customer, you’ll benefit from significant discounts and access to the latest technologies for an affordable monthly fee.

Building and maintaining enterprise infrastructure also demands a significant investment of resources. However, by sharing this responsibility with an IT support provider, you can offload some of the expenses and all of the responsibility.

This approach also helps SMBs become more agile and diversified. Whenever businesses can adapt quickly to a rapidly changing environment, they are also better placed to innovate and improve their bottom line.

Managed IT services also include automatic updates and upgrades. So, you don’t have to worry about security as your managed services partner will deploy patches as they are released.

Disaster and Recovery

If you’re hosting IT infrastructure on-premise, a backup retention and disaster recovery plan are critical to ensure business continuity. For example, a server failure can quickly bring all operations to a standstill. There’s also the risk of losing all enterprise data if the right processes aren’t in place before the incident.

However, if you’re working with a managed services provider, it’s all in their hands. They will use the latest backup retention and recovery tools, ensure minimal to zero downtime, and secure your data. This approach helps ensure business value and build customer loyalty.

Other benefits of partnering with a managed IT support services provider include:

  • Lower costs, higher reliability
  • Real-time monitoring
  • Simplification of complex IT processes

Are managed services suitable for your business? Reach out for a commitment-free consultation.