Why are SMBs being targeted in cyber-attacks?

Did you know that small to medium-sized businesses are potentially more vulnerable for cyber-attacks than large businesses? With the growing complexity of IT challenges, it’s crucial to stay up to date on the latest cybersecurity threats and how to protect your business.

A Foot in the Door

Cybercriminals target SMBs because they are often a foot in the door to hacking into larger companies. SMBs are often vendors for larger entities and may have access to online portals and the banking information of these companies. Cybercriminals go for SMBs because they are likely to have weaker cybersecurity practices, making their vulnerable information, customer data, intellectual property, and financial data easy to compromise.

What to look out for

Every year, cybercriminals are advancing how they target their victims, which can be tricky to spot. Below are the leading causes for security breaches:

Weak and Stolen Credentials/Passwords

Hackers will take any opportunity to steal weak passwords from organizations. The key is to have a policy that requires strong passwords that include eight characters, at least one upper case letter, one number, and one special character.

Back Doors & Application Vulnerabilities

Sometimes software applications are poorly written, or network systems are poorly designed. These may have holes that cybercriminals can easily exploit and get your data directly without needing a password. The way to prevent this is to make sure software and network systems are up to date and properly patched.

Malware

Malware is software loaded unintentionally that a hacker can open up and exploit a system through. The key to avoiding malware is never downloading anything from questionable websites or opening suspicious emails.

Social Engineering

Have you ever received a fake email saying you’ve won a million dollars? That’s what social engineering is. It’s easy to evade cyber-attacks from this tactic as long as you know that if something looks too good to be true, it is.

Insider Threats

An angry employee or unaware employee can cause harm on your networks if given access to data. The simple solution to prevent this is to ensure that you keep your data backed up and your permissions up to date.

Physical Attacks

Hackers don’t always sit at home to commit cybercrimes. They can break into your building and use your computers to find secure data. Make sure your physical structure is protected to prevent a security breach.

Improper Configuration

Sometimes mistakes can be made when configuring systems, so it is essential to triple-check and have multiple people look at the work to keep errors minimum.

There are plenty of resources out there to help you get started on securing your company’s data. One of them is working with an MSP, like Now Micro. To learn more about our managed services, visit our website or reach out to Sydney Ellison at sydneye@nowmicro.com.

The Future of SMBs

Modernizing technology and increased cybersecurity practices will be top of mind for small to medium business (SMBs) owners moving forward. Despite the pandemic, many SMBs expect growth over the next few years, which means an increase in employee headcount and revenue. This news is great; however, as employee headcount increases, so does IT usage and complexity.

According to ConnectWise, 48% of SMBs plan to upgrade their IT systems in 2022. In addition, over half are looking to make collaboration easier for employees working in the home and the office. While most companies are not shifting to a 100% remote policy, many are adopting a permanently hybrid business model. These policies include implementing new in-office practices to increase productivity and collaboration.

One of the biggest trends among SMBs is cybersecurity and migration to the cloud. Benefits of the cloud include limited downtime, delays, more flexibility, and an additional layer of security. In addition, cybersecurity and migration to the cloud help create a seamless hybrid work environment.

Here are six reasons for SMBs to invest in cyber security:

1. Protecting company data and intellectual property

2. Protecting customer privacy and financials

3. Compliance with rules and regulations

4. Growth of mobile users

5. Protection of physical assets

6. Digitalization of business operations

SMBs face more challenges than ever, growing IT complexity, lack of resources, new working environments, cyber security threats, lack of IT knowledge, and compliance overload. Luckily, SMBs owners don’t have to take on all this pressure alone. Managed Service Providers can efficiently manage IT remotely while educating their clients on best practices. As a result, an MSP can ensure that SMBs get the best return on their technology investments.

If you are interested in learning more about how Now Micro can help your SMB get the most out of their IT, contact me directly at sydneye@nowmicro.com, or check out our website for a free network assessment!

4 Reasons to Conduct a Network Assessment

Q1 is a great time to check IT systems and determine how to revamp them for the year. Performing a network assessment is essential when gauging areas for improvement. A network assessment looks at disk & memory utilization, BDR sizing calculation, warranty summary, device stabilization requirements, software and device inventory, active directory user list, and much more. Read more to find out how a network assessment can help your organization.

1. View a detailed and comprehensive report and analysis of your company’s existing IT infrastructure.

If you’re seeking out a network assessment, you are likely trying to learn everything about your organization’s system and see where you’re succeeding or where you’re falling short. A network assessment will look at network performance, security protection, server/storage performance and determine which issues are network-related or user-related. It’s essential to get a comprehensive report on your network so that you can catch hard-to-find errors and fix them.

2. Create a strategy for your IT systems and people.

You’ll likely be working with a managed service provider to execute a network assessment, which will benefit you. A managed service provider has a team of IT experts to gauge the network assessment results and then offer guidance. MSPs, such as Now Micro, work with a variety of clientele and will be able to customize their offerings based on what your organization needs. Once the strategy is in place, your IT issues will be solved in no time.

3. Discover money-saving opportunities.

By filling in the gaps of your IT strategy, you are saving time and money. For example, most IT management is protection, prevention, and modernization. These new changes will save your organization from an IT disaster and save resources that would have been used in recovery and fixing errors.

4. Get an explanation for C-suite Executives.

Sometimes C-suite executives need raw data to convince them to approve significant upgrades. A network assessment will lay out all the data you need to get them on your side. As stated in Reason #3, the improvements may be a high cost upfront, but over time, the company can save money by keeping their IT up to date and not constantly paying for repairs when disaster hits.

If you would like to have a network assessment of your organization’s IT infrastructure, visit Now Micro’s managed services website and click on the “Free Network Assessment” button to get started or email our Managed Services point of contact, Sydney Ellison, at sydneye@nowmicro.com.

Borderless Data Center

Today, enterprise IT departments seek to accelerate innovation and time to market by driving unprecedented resilience, agility, and workload consolidation. As more workloads transition into a cloud environment, the server-storage-centric data center approach to enterprise computing will also shift. The graphic above illustrates the evolution of today’s data center to a modern, borderless data center. The borderless data center is a hybrid cloud concept that brings the basic tenants of cloud computing to the brick-and-mortar data center for seamless application operation and paves a path to a cloud future. Disaggregating the traditional physical infrastructure through a cloud-enabled Hyperconverged Infrastructure (HCI) facilitates a software-defined, unified system combining all the elements of a conventional data center: storage, compute, networking, and management into a cloud infrastructure on-premises with lower costs, more control, and improved security.

HCI streamlines operations by consolidating the components of a traditional brick-and-mortar data center into a single system design. Through a comprehensive server and cloud assessment, we can determine how current applications can be ported to a borderless data center design and demonstrate the benefits of integrating your cloud experience with your data center experience. Hybrid cloud products like Azure Stack HCI facilitate a cloud tenancy at the data center level. With Azure, AWS, or Google Cloud running in your data center, applications are entirely borderless. You can run your applications locally, in the cloud, or move to an entirely different cloud provider and fail-over to another data center in your organization. True flexibility provides a single standard for programming, backup, application support, and management. 

Now Micro facilitates digital transformation with a considerate approach to datacenter modernization. Armed with tier 1 certifications and industry partnerships, our solution architects are available for network assessments and consultation. Contact us today to learn more.

Chromebooks, Chromebooks everywhere!

Chromebooks stored in Now Micro’s warehouse

The COVID-19 pandemic has been one of the most innovating and challenging times in educational technology. According to a United States Census Bureau survey, 80% of households with school-age children used online resources for distance learning in 2020, so having the right equipment is essential for quality education. However, with fluctuating infection rates in 2022, schools and businesses still have to react quickly to procure, customize, and distribute technology to their users. For many districts and universities, this is an impossible feat without the support from Now Micro. 

Over the last few months, Now Micro has procured HP Chromebooks to offer customized solutions for educational institutions. Flexibility in our warehouse and production processes, combined with highly trained technicians, allows us to produce roughly 1,000 units a day in our Mendota Heights, MN facility.

The imaging center at Now Micro

As a Certified Google White Glove service provider, Now Micro manages the enrollment and configuration of Chromebooks on behalf of the schools. This service saves K-12 schools and universities time, money, and organizational headaches and allows them to focus on education.

The Now Micro Certified White Glove Services for Chromebooks include:

  • Enrollment of the device to the customer domain
  • Enterprise enrollment and validation
  • Application of network configuration settings
  • Wireless Configuration (Wi-Fi SSID and Pre-shared key)
  • Management Console Training

Now Micro Imaging services:

  • Populate custom fields in the Google Chromebook Management Console with your required data
  • Assign devices to the correct organization unit
  • Utilize Now Micro’s DICE Portal to allow you to see all of your devices combined with purchasing and hardware data in an easy to use, exportable format
Now Micro staff working on Chromebook customization

To learn how Now Micro can help your organization meet its technology needs, visit https://www.nowmicro.com/ or contact Marty Linden, Vice President of Sales at martyl@nowmicro.com.

New Year, New Managed Service Provider?

The beginning of the year is a great time to ask yourself, “Do my employees or I have any frustrations with our current IT support?” If the answer is “yes,” it may be time to change.   

Luckily, you have plenty of options to consider that improve your IT support and day-to-day business. 

Maybe you have an internal IT employee or team, or you are already outsourcing your IT, but your current provider isn’t cutting it. 

Let’s take a look at your options…. 

First, we want to understand what a Managed Service Provider is. 

An IT MSP is a technology provider that essentially takes on the responsibility and manages all or some aspects of your internal technology. 

Some of the services an MSP can offer: 

  • Network Monitoring 
  • Help Desk 
  • Cyber Security 
  • Backup and Disaster Recovery 
  • Cloud Migration & Management 
  • VCIO 
  • Email Solutions 
  • Etc. 

Inadequate IT support can negatively impact your business in many ways (employee satisfaction, productivity, revenue, etc.) 

Here are some tips for making the switch to a new MSP: 

A Smooth Transition 

Whether you are going from one MSP to another or are adding extra support to your existing internal IT team, it is crucial to focus on good communication. 

You will want to know everything your current team has been operating. Things like how many devices they manage, each service they provide you with, or any tickets created. This will allow your new MSP to understand the support you need and provide you with an accurate quote and plan. 

Another thing to figure out is who owns what hardware. Sometimes, an MSP will lease hardware out to their customers for a monthly fee. Other times, they sell them devices so that the customer owns them. Make sure you are returning devices if necessary. 

Finally, make sure you understand the contractual obligations between your business and your current IT provider. For example, an MSP will often require 30, 60, or 90-day notice. Also, make sure you know the SLA (service level agreement) you signed at the beginning of the partnership, so you aren’t slapped with cancellation fees. 

Choosing The Right MSP 

If you are looking to switch to a new MSP, it is important to understand what isn’t working with your current IT team. Where are they falling short? Bring these concerns to other potential partners to see how they compare or if they can meet your needs. 

Figure out the model that works best for you. An MSP can offer either an all-you-can-eat model or al a carte model. An all-you-can-eat model typically includes every service they offer, whereas the al a carte model is more customizable to the specific needs of your business. 

Questions to ask a potential MSP: 

  • What do their pricing models look like? 
  • Can they meet all of your requirements? 
  • What is the contractual agreement? 
  • What does implementation look like? 

Closing thoughts 

IT support can make or break a company, so it is vital to have a partner that understands your business and needs. Luckily for you, there are many options out there. It is just about finding the one that works best for you and your employees. 

If you are interested in receiving a free network assessment to better understand your network health, or you would like to learn more about how Now Micro can help you manage your IT, visit our Managed Services page. 

Top 4 Windows 11 Interface Updates

Microsoft has launched the all-new Windows 11, bringing users some much-needed improvements and updates. Take a look at the top 4 interface updates on Windows 11:

Overall Interface

The Windows 11 interface will soon rival the design world’s beloved MacOS interface. Features include a cleaner, minimalist design with rounded corners and light, pastel shades.

Start Button

Since Windows 95, the Windows Start Button has always been in the lower-left corner. On Window’s 11, it will now be placed at the bottom center of the screen. This is one of the most significant changes in interface and navigation, allowing the start button to be more visible.

Taskbar

When Windows 11 first rolled out, users found the taskbar not as configurable as Windows 10, and some customization needed to be done. Since then, Microsoft has made some changes making the taskbar more manageable. For example, users can decide whether the taskbar shows more of their chosen pins, recommendations from the software, or the default combination of both. Users can also view the full taskbar on 2nd or 3rd monitors and choose the size of the taskbar.

Microsoft Teams Integration

Microsoft Teams is essential for productivity with the continued importance of remote work. Microsoft Teams will be located in the Windows taskbar, allowing the app to be more integrated than before. This is comparable to Apple’s FaceTime app in macOS, where launching video calls is easy to navigate. As always, Microsoft Teams will be available on Mac, iOS, Android devices, and Windows PCs.

Now Micro is ready to deploy devices that are compatible with Windows 11 for your organization. Visit our website or reach out to our Senior Systems Consultant and Windows expert, Jon Anderson at jona@nowmicro.com to learn how you can integrate Windows 11 into your network.

5 Reasons You Should Consider Outsourcing Your IT

There is already so much unpredictability when running a business, but IT issues don’t have to be a part of that. Managed service providers can remotely monitor your network 24/7, 365 days a year to ensure you experience as little downtime as possible.

Here are 5 reasons you should consider outsourcing your IT:

1. Cost

Many small to medium-sized businesses expect that outsourcing their IT is unnecessary and not worth the cost. However, most companies are surprised to learn that they usually save money by outsourcing their IT.

When switching to an MSP, your cost is a flat monthly rate. A good MSP will offer an a-la-carte solution rather than a one-size-fits-all model because each business is different and should be treated as such. This way, you can decide how much or how little support you will need.

When your IT is managed in-house, and something breaks, you likely will be faced with the “sticker shock” attached to the solution. If something breaks, that is worked into the monthly cost with an MSP, meaning no surprises.

2. 24/7/365 support

One of the most significant issues small to medium-sized businesses face is the lack of support when they need it most. If something goes wrong, it can take a lot of time and research to figure out how to troubleshoot the issue and get back up and running.

With a managed service provider, businesses have IT support at all hours of the day, including non-business hours.

3. Productivity & Time Saving

Many small to medium-sized businesses do not have a dedicated IT employee, and when they do, they are often faced with more challenges than they can handle on their own. Sometimes, an employee takes on IT work as a second job function, which takes away productivity.

If you have a single IT employee, and something goes wrong, maybe they can fix it, but what if more than one thing goes wrong at the same time? Or what if it takes hours or days to resolve the issue, and your company can’t perform its main objectives?

Working with an MSP is a sure-fire way to ensure your employees are focused on what is most important, their jobs. They can even prevent issues from occurring. Even when a problem does come up, your IT provider can get you back up and running in record time.

4. The Highest Level of Cybersecurity

There are many ways to improve your cybersecurity in-house. Some of the things you can do are educate your staff, require password changes, implement two-factor authentication, install a firewall, and ensure your anti-virus software is always on the latest update.

However, as cybersecurity practices get better, the threats get more robust by learning to work around these practices. An MSP can constantly monitor your network and systems for threats and vulnerability, sometimes preventing an attack before it even happens. Therefore, it is imperative to work with an MSP to ensure you have the highest level of security possible.

5. Disaster Recovery & Business Continuity 

One of the biggest headaches for business owners is system and hardware failures that lead to data loss and put their data at risk. It can take hours to days to get back up and running, and even worse, data is at risk of being lost forever!

Working with an MSP gives you the best chance at recovering data and reducing downtime.

Closing thoughts: 

Running a business comes with a lot of responsibility and risks. Utilizing an MSP can benefit your organization in many ways by relieving you from the many headaches associated with IT. This way, you can focus on what is most important, operating your business.

If you’re looking for a managed services provider you can trust, look no further than Now Micro. Our goal is to provide services and solutions for every aspect of your technology needs. From end-users to enterprise data centers and up to the cloud, we’ve got you covered. Visit our website to learn more.

How to prevent laptop battery swelling and explosion

Now Micro’s Technical Services team has seen an uptick in hardware repairs involving rechargeable laptop batteries swelling. Swollen batteries are caused by an overflow of current inside the battery’s cell, generating heat and gas to build up and potentially burst into flames. You may have heard of cases like that involving cellphones on airplanes where the DOT banned specific models. Battery swelling is becoming a common issue because laptops and cellphones are getting slimmer, and therefore, batteries are getting smaller and have less room for current flow.

Here are ways you can prevent your laptop battery from swelling and exploding.

Don’t leave your device connected to a charger all day.

Leaving devices plugged in for extended periods cause the battery to overcharge. Most rechargeable batteries are supposed to discharge and recharge in a cycle, so constantly connected batteries can’t reach their capacity. If you’re working remotely, remember to unplug your laptop at the end of the day.

Replace your device battery if it’s broken or not performing efficiently.

If a battery becomes damaged, for example, by dropping your device or spilling liquid, the battery may have difficulty working correctly. If the battery is old, it may also start underperforming. You may try to find a solution by just charging the battery more, but as we said before, the battery can overheat when it’s overcharged. All batteries get old over time, so it’s a great idea to replace them.

Use the correct charger.

Finding a cheaper version of your laptop’s charger may seem like a savvy money saver but having the wrong charger can cost you in the long run. Make sure you find the right charger with the same power output for your device to run smoothly.

Upgrade your laptop when it’s out of warranty

Laptop manufacturers are constantly upgrading the battery functions of their devices. In 2021, we’re seeing a trend of “smart charging” features in new devices. These devices will maintain battery or stop charging once the battery is at or around 95% when plugged in. Now Micro can help you find the right laptop for your organization that fits all your charging needs.

Store the device in a cool, dry environment

Keeping your laptop safe and secure will help it last longer and prevent accidental damage. While working remotely, it can be tempting to laying on the couch or in bed with your laptop, but this can cause the laptop to overheat. Try using a lap desk with a built-in fan instead to prevent your computer from overheating.

Be sure to treat your device with care. Now Micro is always here to help with hardware repairs for your organization’s devices. Learn more about Now Micro’s Technical Services here.

How to Prevent Cyber Attacks in 2021

It makes sense that Cybersecurity Awareness Month falls in October. One of the scariest things a business owner faces is the fear of falling victim to a cybercrime.  So, what are the business implications of a cyber-attack? Loss of data/intellectual property, damage to reputation, loss of productivity, increased expenses, lawsuits, and more. 

Here are some facts:

In just the last year, cybercrime has increased by 40%.

60 % of cyber-attacks are targeted at small – to medium-sized businesses.

But… only 30% of small- medium-sized business owners consider themselves “very concerned” about ransomware.


Hackers who once went after the Targets and Amazons of the world are now going after smaller businesses who likely don’t have the necessary tools or support needed to prevent & recover from cyber-attacks.

Unfortunately, it is no longer a question of if your company will fall victim to a cyber-attack, but when, so it is imperative that your business invests in quality cyber support.

Some of the things you can do internally:

  • Require regular password changes
  • Implement two-factor authentication
  • Make sure anti-virus software is up to date
  • Install firewalls
  • Educate your employees on best practices

These are all great ways to add an extra barrier of protection to your network, but the best way to prevent a cyber-attack from occurring is to outsource your cybersecurity support to a managed services provider. Today, we have security threats coming at us from every direction. A good MSP can monitor your network 24/7, 365 days a year to prevent attacks before they happen. If a cyber-attack does still occur, they will have a team of experts in place to make sure you recover as quickly and painlessly as possible.

As Cybersecurity Awareness Month comes to an end, it is important to make sure cybersecurity remains a priority all year round. If you are curious about where your network stands in terms of security threats and/or other IT-related issues, reach out to me at sydneye@nowmicro.com to schedule a free network assessment. Visit https://www.nowmicro.com/managedservices to learn how Now Micro can become your managed service provider.

#BeCyberSmart