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Don’t Become an ITHorror Story
H alloween is just around the corner, and your most enthusiastic neighbors are turning their front yards into fog-filled cemeteries while all the kids pick out the most ghoulish masks they can find to earn some candy. But forget monsters; after years in the IT profession, the scariest thing I’ve seen hasn’t been walking corpses or Freddy Krueger — it’s the kind of technological catastrophes that put small businesses six feet under. I’ve been at this awhile. Over all that time, I’ve seen companies struggle beneath the weight of the smallest tech mistakes, bottom lines impacted after criminals penetrated the business’s network, and those crises that some IT amateurs imagine to be the “impossible” come true. I’ve had business owners call me up way too late, after the damage is already done. Many times, we’ve been able to salvage the business and save them thousands upon thousands of dollars, but in a few other cases, there was little we could do. The prospect of facing one of these disasters should keep any savvy business owner up at night, way more than the cartoonish CGI horror of the latest Halloween blockbuster. If there is one piece of advice I would give to every single business in the Treasure Valley and beyond, it’s this: When it comes to technology, there are a couple of things that you absolutely cannot compromise on. Security, for instance, may sound like nothing more than a buzzword that is splashed all over business news sites, but without adequate measures in place, it’s inevitable that you’ll eventually be forced to shell out thousands of dollars after a breach. And the solution won’t be to slap on some cheap Band-Aid antivirus; it will be a multi-layered approach that provides serious protection against even the most dedicated cybercriminals. Backups are another essential component of any company’s IT SOP. First things first: Put them in place. That’s a great starting point,
but you can’t stop there and call it good. You need to consider what constitutes an acceptable recovery time for your business’s data if the worst happens. If a breach means 60 hours of downtime for your company, will that put you out of business? If so, you need to work with professionals to design a strategy to trim those 60 hours down to three — it’s possible, it just takes a bit of due diligence and smart investment of your resources. If you’re set up correctly, even a serious tech problem can be fixed with a simple rollback. Ransomware infecting your network turns from a multithousand-dollar headache to a few hours of recovery and a prompt return to business as usual. Of course, I know that IT isn’t exactly at the top of the priority list for most business owners. Recently, MicroTech has been in the process of switching over some of our employee benefits from one vendor to another. Instead of a one-and-done situation, where I can just hire somebody to handle the entire problem, I’ve been getting frequent emails requesting information on the shift. The other day, after getting the 10th update on the switch-over, I just had to laugh — there I was, getting a taste of my own medicine! I’m constantly harping on business owners, trying to get them to take a proactive hand in their company’s technological future, when I myself couldn’t be bothered to stay involved with a vital vendor switch. There’s a lesson in all of this. You don’t have to become technology- obsessed to stay abreast of all that’s going on in the IT world, but you do need to allocate time and resources to protect and nurture your network. With the right team on your side, you can prevent your business from ever starring in those IT horror stories you hear about on the news, and stay one step ahead of the competition — and the cybercriminals — at every turn.
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