As a business owner, if you spend any amount of time thinking about your IT and your protection against attacks, chances are you can come up with reasons to lose sleep.
One question you should ask yourself is: do you have a firewall or a router for your business? If you don’t know the answer to that question you probably have a router. If you have a firewall there are more questions: was it setup properly? Does it require a subscription to stay up to date? Is it being monitored for potential threats or intrusions?
To properly protect your PCs and Servers from malicious attacks, you absolutely NEED a Firewall. If you are a medical provider or HIPAA Covered Entity or even a Business Associate of a Covered Entity, you are required by law to have a Firewall as well as other HIPAA privacy and security standards.
Know this - We have years of experience in Business IT with companies of varying sizes - and can help you get the proper protection in place for your business so you can rest easy at night.
Give us a call or check us out online to discuss your options!
If you outsource your IT to a Services Provider, you want to make sure they are providing you with the documentation you deserve. These are your systems and you have a right to know all passwords and pertinent information. Not only that, you need to have this information at your fingertips in case the relationship doesn’t work out.
When you use our IT Managed Services, we handle everything for you and it’s easy for clients to get comfortable and trust us. Even so, we provide our clients with a comprehensive documentation package. If at any time, you hire someone internally and no longer need our services you have the capability to run a live report with all IT information you will need in a professional and aesthetically pleasing report package.
You can never be held hostage by your IT Provider if they readily make this information available. We are confident in our relationships and services we provide and you will always have access to YOUR information.
If you’re interested in our services, please reach out!
There are 3 general models of IT support.
1. Break fix: call your IT services company when there is a problem and pay an hourly rate.
2. Managed Services: your IT services company charges a monthly fee to proactively manage everything.
3. Purchasing hours: you purchase blocks of hours at a discount and use them as needed.
Each model can have its place but not all are for the small business.
The “Break fix” model is the most traditional use of IT Services. You call your IT company when you need help and they schedule a time to come out and fix it. This works great for a larger business that has their own IT staff. Having the ability to escalate issues to a specialist or to bring in extra hands for a project is a great benefit for an in-house IT department. For the small business however, this can be very costly. Many IT companies charge anywhere from $100 - $250 per HOUR for these types of services. As a result, the small business owner tries to handle their IT needs themselves. This takes their focus away from running their business and also means their IT infrastructure may not be safe and secure, efficient, stable, or compliant. Many IT services company will also try to push hardware and solution sales above the needs of the business, just for the sake of generating revenue. Although “Break Fix” has historically been the most traditional model, it is quickly becoming the way of the past.
The purchasing hours model is another approach that works well for some businesses that have their own IT staff. Especially those with a small IT department. Purchasing a block of hours at a discounted rate helps businesses control costs and provide much needed assistance to their IT staff. Some blocks can even be purchased for specific areas such as networking or server administration so you know you will get the experience you need when you call for help. There are some issues with these blocks of hours however. They are still somewhat expensive; they can have expiration dates so if you don’t use them you will lose them; scheduling may not be guaranteed, when you call to use your hours a “best effort” is applied to scheduling meaning it could be weeks or months before you can get on the schedule for the expertise you need.
So why is the Managed Services model good for small business?
Over the last few years there has been a shift in the IT services world to Managed Services. When you sign a Managed Services contract with a reputable IT services company you essentially purchase an insurance policy to cover the IT needs of your business. The goal of Managed Services is to take care of all IT needs for the customer. All labor is included in a predictable monthly fee. Fees are usually based on the number of devices to be managed or the number of employees in the organization. A Managed Services provider will evaluate the needs of your business, gauge how much time they will spend each month proactively working for your business and provide you with an all-inclusive monthly price. Since all labor is included it doesn’t benefit the Managed Services provider to up-sell you on additional hardware or services, therefore they are only recommending the technology you need and have an incentive to ensure the efficiency and stability of your IT infrastructure. Should disaster strike, or a server crash, you no longer need to worry about how much labor will cost to get you back up and running quickly. You will no longer need to worry about spending $150 to repair that printer or to fix that annoying popup that keeps getting in your way. You also get the benefit of having access to all the resources of the IT service provider when it is needed. There is no scaled hourly rate to get access to a networking or server specialist. The IT provider utilizes all its resources to take care of all your needs.
So, what are the negatives of the Managed Services model? Large IT providers have so much overhead that they must charge a hefty implementation fee and implement high monthly minimums. I’ve heard of implementation fees ranging from $10k - $20k and monthly minimums of $2,500 - $4,000 no matter how many employees or devices the customer has.
What we offer...
At Bluegrass Computers & Technology, we understand that these prices are not feasible for the small business market and want to offer a solution. We have no monthly minimums and low implementation fees. We can think outside the box if major upgrades are needed upfront, pricing them separately to get them completed but still maintain an affordable monthly fee for ongoing service. We are flexible and agile, jumping on issues quickly and our focus on trust, communication, and innovation drives customer service excellence.
Give us a call or send us an email to see how we can work together to help you focus on growing your business instead of worrying about IT.
As a small business owner, I certainly understand the struggles of the startup and the maintenance that goes with running your own business. I understand why many small businesses do not have professional IT services or there is someone in the office that “knows enough to be dangerous” and gets designated to handle IT. The problems we find in these situations are normally around compliance, stability, and protection. If you are bound by HIPAA and you do not have professional IT services, you are most likely out of compliance. Do you have a disaster plan if you are affected by fire, lightning, flood, or theft? Do you have proper backups that are being tested? Is your Firewall and Anti-Virus updated and working properly? Are your files backed up offsite? What would happen to your business if you lost all your files? Are you protected against ransomware? Ransomware is real and everyone is a target, not just the major corporations. 65% of businesses fail within one year after a disaster, according to FEMA. The US Small Business Association indicates that over 90% fail within 2 years after a disaster. These are issues that affect every business but many are not addressing them due to the exorbitant costs and poor service offered by many of the IT service providers out there. There aren’t a lot of options that don’t include large upfront costs and high monthly minimums.
We are here to change that!
Our focus is to help the Small and Medium Business (SMB) market with IT solutions. We lead our business with honesty, integrity, and open lines of communication with our clients. Our Managed Services are low cost and customized to meet the needs of each customer. With minimal implementation fees and no monthly minimums, we can create a custom package that will fit any budget. Our all-inclusive model means we aren’t trying to sell you technology just to sell you technology. We don’t make money selling endless upgrades and new solutions. We want to provide you with only the technology you need with a support system you can rely on. There are of course upgrades that are necessary to maintain your business for stability or compliance. When this happens, we can work around your budget and provide a phased approach to these upgrades. Give us a try and let us prove that we are a fresh, new solution in the local IT Market with a down-to-earth and practical approach.
Ransomware: Are you at risk?
The Ransomware attack called "WannaCry" has spanned the globe over the last couple of months and has been dubbed an epidemic. Major corporations such as Britain’s National Health Service, reported infections in at least 36 hospitals across the country according to the New York Times. Others affected include Nissan Motors, FedEx, the Russian Interior Ministry, and Hitachi just to list a few. Over 400,000 computers in more than 20 countries have reported the infection. It has mostly slowed down now but is expected to re-launch in the coming months. The impact of how simple it is to infect hundreds and thousands of computers world wide is startling.
Here are some common questions we have been asked:
"What is Ransomware?" - Ransomware is a virus that encrypts every file on your computer and quickly spreads to any other computers it can see on your network. The encrypted files are held "ransom" and to get they key to unlock them you have to pay $300-$600 in bitcoin per infected computer. And on top of that the price goes up the longer you wait. Some small businesses just throw out the encrypted devices and start over, some pay the ransom, and some spend days or weeks rebuilding computers and restoring files from offsite backups if they have them. In any circumstance, the damage to the business is substantial and could be catastrophic.
"Since I'm a small business, I'm not a target right?" - That is incorrect. Every computer using the internet or accessing email has the same risk as any other computer. Whether it be personal or business, these attacks are real for everyone.
There are 2 ways Ransomware is spread.
1. Through Compromised Websites. Unsecured web servers are compromised and by using internet browser exploits an installer is embedded into the website. Simply browsing to the website can infect your computer and quickly spread throughout your network.
2. Through email phishing. Sending email to addresses purchased or scraped from websites is the #1 way Ransomware is spread. The emails are made to look legitimate and are extremely well designed. Looking like an invoice, tracking for a shipment, or Apple account on hold notifications, they can trick even the most cautious user.
All businesses, especially those without trained and experienced IT staff are at risk.
"How do I protect my business?" - Hiring an IT company with experienced and trained technicians is a must. Your IT provider should be monitoring your Windows Updates to make sure you have the latest security patches on all computers and servers. You should have some level of SPAM filtering on your email and you should have a monitored and managed business grade Anti-virus on all computers and servers. Offsite backups should be performed so that they cannot be encrypted if you are infected and your firewalls should be up to date with the latest firmware and proper intrusion detection and packet inspection being performed on inbound and outbound traffic.
The single most import thing you can do to protect your business is TRAINING. Make sure your staff know the risks, explain how important it is to not use their work email addresses when signing up for anything online. Never open an attachment on an email unless you are absolutely certain that it is legitimate. When in doubt contact your IT provider for review before opening.
Even with these safeguards in place it is still possible to get infected by clicking on an email attachment. If you fear you are infected, unplug your computer immediately and contact your IT provider. Do not turn it back on without their assistance.
If you would like a free risk assessment of your IT environment or have any questions about your security, please contact us at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 859-363-6999 and we will schedule a site visit and discuss how we can help protect your business. You can visit our website for more information about our company and services: www.bluegrasscomputers.com
Eric Crabtree is the owner of Bluegrass Computers & Technology, an IT Services company serving the Small and Medium business market in Central Kentucky and the surrounding areas.