An old-time radio show used to start with the promise “The Shadow knows!” Yet when it comes to shadow IT, the problem is the exact opposite. Shadow IT is the stuff employees download onto a business system that IT doesn’t know about, and it can be a big problem.
Cybersecurity attacks on big-name brands or governments are familiar headlines these days. Millions of access credentials are breached, and millions of dollars are lost to ransomware attack. You may think you’re protected, but a single undetected misconfiguration could mean trouble.
If you’ve been paying attention, you know no one is immune from cyberattack. Your business has been proactive by:
- putting firewalls and antivirus protection in place;
- establishing a bring-your-own-device policy;
- educating employees about password strength, social engineering, and cyber hygiene;
- updating software promptly;
- upgrading end-of-life hardware and software.
The threat landscape is evolving rapidly, the number of devices connected to a business network is exploding, more employees work on their own devices, and a greater number of people are working remotely. Plus, connected devices are all different types. If your wireless is unsecured, you could end up with devices you don’t know at all connected to your network. Yet it’s difficult to manually monitor every single configuration for security.
Push notifications advising us to update software come in fast and furious, but we’re busy. We have other things on our mind, we don’t get around to it right away, or, having clicked “never show again” on that popup, we forget the notification altogether. No action is taken.
At least no action on the business side. Out in cyberspace, bad actors actively seek out unattended or unpatched vulnerabilities.
Computers break at challenging times. Always. And there’s no worse time than the holiday season. Your employees want to spend time with family and friends, relaxing and reminiscing. They do not want to wait around for a fix or to find a replacement. That’s one reason a managed service provider (MSP) is a good choice year-round.
Many businesses have more work at the end of the year. An employee saddled with a laptop that won’t load necessary business applications is not productive. A wider system problem is even more costly. According to Gartner, “the average cost of network downtime is around £5,600 per minute.” Do you want to lose about £300,000 an hour during your busy season?
Even businesses that close the office for the holiday season have employees trying to get work done before the vacation. A broken computer is not going to help them meet their deadlines.
Relying on the break-fix model of computer care isn’t going to serve you well during the holiday season. Even those companies with a dedicated IT person could struggle when something goes wrong if that individual is already away for the holidays.
At many times of year, you’re patient: you can wait for someone to come in and fix that desktop or deal with the printer that’s acting up. But, if you’re calling a company in sporadically, they have no obligation to be available when you need help. If they’re backed up, you’ll need to try the next option for computer repair that came up in your Google search.
Most of us can differentiate between hardware and software. But how many know what firmware refers to? More importantly, is your business securing its firmware against security vulnerabilities?
Your business knows it needs to keep its operating systems (OSs) up to date. Installing patches as they are released helps protect your OS and software applications from attack.
Yet firmware can be easily overlooked when setting up cyber protection. You’re opening up Explorer every day, and your business relies on its Excel spreadsheets, but you don’t think about the basic software that runs the hardware as intended – that’s the firmware.
Without firmware, your computer wouldn’t know how to detect its hard drive, and the gears on the business printer wouldn’t spin to pull the paper through the device. There's firmware in network and sound cards, routers, range extenders, keyboards, and more. Firmware also makes your webcam or surveillance camera work correctly.
The Need to Update Firmware
Cybercriminals aren’t known for their lazy reliance on just one tactic. Instead, they are constantly finding new ways to exploit business devices and systems, and this includes attacking firmware. Without securing your firmware, you run the risk of bad actors:
relies on technology in a way which we have never seen before. It makes up the
core of almost every firm currently in existence. Today going digital impacts
small companies more than large ones; it can make new opportunities possible
and accelerate your path to success.
The advantages of
modern technology to small business is likely to be present already within your
firm, but so too are the disadvantages. Faster transactions, quicker payment,
accurate inventory, and improved customer outreach serve to boost our
capabilities. While complex set-up, systems management, and ever-present
security threats hold us back from our full potential.
Managed Service Providers (MSPs) can eliminate the drawbacks, sharpen up your systems, and allow your business to grow to its full capacity in the modern business landscape.
What An MSP Does For You
There are a staggering number of systems a modern business is expected to keep tabs on today. Accounting, inventory, and timekeeping; on top of customer-facing services such as maintaining a website, managing social media, and processing online orders. It's simply impossible for every small business to keep up.
An MSP is an
expert in the field, managing your IT services to give you the confidence your
business is on the right track. If the core of your business relied on
maintaining a fleet of vehicles, you would hire a mechanic to keep each one in
top condition. Building your firm on modern technology should employ a similar
Your business has the OK to go ahead and get back to work on-site. You want to return to your office, but you don’t want to risk people’s health by doing so. After all, some say it’s too soon to go back. Plus, others predict a second wave of COVID-19 is likely. These suggestions can help you return to work while prioritising safety.
Not everyone will welcome the call back to the corporate environment. Some employees may still be in a population vulnerable to the virus. They may want to take leave instead of returning to the work environment. Others may simply not show up.
Have your HR team send out a written notice informing employees of the timeline for returning to the office. Educate them about precautions you’re taking to provide a safe work environment. Ask for a written response of people’s intentions. Then, IT can start establishing procedures for getting everyone back to work.
You may have had great success with remote working during the quarantine. This could position you to allow workers to stay home if they are at risk or oppose the idea of returning “too soon.”
For those coming back, support social distancing by phasing in people's return. Your business could also use a hybrid IT solution to allow people to come in just three days a week, and they could continue to work two days at home. This allows staggered re-entry and reduces the numbers of people on-site at the same time.