At DK Systems we like to educate our customers so they have a better understanding of technology.  Here are a list of our articles to help your small business.

Ransomware, how to recover

For your business to be successful, you rely on the data to succeed, which lends itself to the fact that your organization needs to have some sort of security measures put into place to guarantee its safety. According to research 2018 is thought to be the year of ransomware, so is your business should prepare to deal with it. One of the best ways to deal with ransomware is to ensure that your company has a plan to restore data affected by ransomware.

Explaining Ransomware
It is one of the most brutal developing threats, ransomware is a type of malware that can encrypt the files found on a device so that they’re inaccessible by the user.  Files impacted can be spreadsheets, Word documents, QuickBook files, and photos, this malware can also infect system files making your system inoperable. The instigator of the attack will then demand payment for the files to be decrypted, paying this in no way guarantees your files will be returned. There have been several recent successful ransomware campaigns like WannaCry, Cryptolocker, and Petya, because of their success, these types of attack continue to rise.

The Future
Ransomware will continue to increase in popularity throughout the rest of 2018 and beyond. One of the key focal points for ransomware-using cybercriminals is efficiency, as well as creating initiatives and campaigns that will work throughout the year. In 2017 we saw the rise of readily available ransomware kits that allowed anyone to implement ransomware without knowing the technical details behind it. For a little more money services such as a  ransomware-for-hire were available for those who wanted to use it without going all-in on the campaign themselves. The end result was to make ransomware more accessible for those who wanted to take advantage of it. It is not beyond the realm of possibility that ransomware will use more advanced technologies in the future, as well. Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning could potentially allow for more effective means of ransomware distribution, which could become a bigger problem down the line.

But Ransomware is not the only Issue
Ransomware is just the tip and there is much more. The most dangerous threats are often the ones found within your own office. Your business’ data will always be at risk due to its users, the ones who rely on it most. Some examples of what can happen: accidentally delete a file, click on an email attachment, or even save a file incorrectly.  These are the unmalicious intended issues that can happen.  If you have never lost data, consider yourself lucky.

Despite the overwhelming odds stacked against you, it is just as likely that your organization could suffer from a hardware failure as a hacking attack, perhaps even more likely. If a natural disaster strikes, for example, there’s little you could do to actually stop a tornado, flooding, lighting strikes, or a power surge.

Solving the Problem
The best way to prevent unexpected troubles like a natural disaster, data breach, or hardware failure is to implement a data backup and disaster recovery solution from DK Systems. We can provide you with a solution that can regularly update backups and make changes to them as often as every fifteen minutes. This minimizes data loss and allows you to restore backups within a moment’s notice.

To learn more, reach out to us at 414-764-4465 option 1.

Tip of the Week: Crucial Pieces of HIPAA Compliance

If your business requires you to store medical data, you should be aware of how important your data security is, as a problem could potentially put your business at risk of closing up shop permanently. Security has to be a priority with so many regulations setting compliance standards that must be followed. How can you balance the effectiveness of your business without undermining its security?

Regulations like the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) cause your business to have to work to remain compliant. However, this work becomes easier if you formulate your storage of sensitive materials–including medical records, to meet these regulations. For this week’s tip, we’ll go over some steps you can take to optimize your basic business security.

Encrypt your Data
Surprisingly, HIPAA doesn’t dictate that your business data be encrypted. However, this doesn’t mean that you should neglect to implement encryption, as it may just save your bacon if you are the target of an attempted data breach. When data is encrypted, it is scrambled so that it can only be properly viewed with an encryption key. A solid, military-grade encryption should be enough to discourage the average hacker.

Protect Your Data with Comprehensive Security Measures
Would you rather stop an attack before it affects you, or wait until your infrastructure has been compromised? If you’re like most people, you’d select the first option, which means that you want to make sure that you have a Unified Threat Management (UTM) solution in place. This solution leverages a firewall, content filter, antivirus and spam protection to protect your company and its assets. While this doesn’t render your company impervious to threats, they greatly reduce the number of them that you have to worry about.

Restrict User Access Based on Roles
It stands to reason that the more people who have access to something, the likelier it is for threats to get in, too. However, limiting a user’s access to the resources they need to complete their work helps to cut down on your potential exposure. This is especially important in an industry that is as data-heavy as healthcare, with records as extensive as medical ones are.

If your business handles sensitive information like medical records, you may not be compliant to industry regulations, and become subject to fines. DK Systems is here to help by ensuring that your data is secure and you meet all compliances that may apply to you. Give us a call at 414-764-4465 option 1 to learn more.

Overburdened Business Owners Should Consider Managed IT

It is no secret that a business owner has more than enough to deal with, regardless of that business’ size.  I know I am the owner of DK Systems and no what you are going through.

Whether the business has 10 employees or 100, the business owner has to deal with the stress of managing the day-to-day operations, along with any other issues that may pop up. I am sure I am not alone dealing with financial concerns it can contribute considerably to that stress.

For instance, an owner needs to keep their finger on their organization’s budgetary pulse so they can be sure that cash is flowing as it should be, not just in, through invoices and bills, but also out, through payroll and operative costs. These matters must all be tracked to ensure that the business’ finances are all in order. It would not be very helpful if a business’ power was shut off, which is precisely what would happen if the electric bill went unpaid.

There is more to managing a business than just the financial aspects of it, a business is made up of employees who will seek out leadership from their employer, the business owner. An owner needs to walk the fine line where they are seen as a resource for employees to turn to, but also as a motivator for these same employees to remain focused on the task at hand. There also needs to be an effort on the part of the owner to keep their employees happy, comfortable, and engaged, as this will help benefit the staff’s collective productivity.

Those employees who seek to excel will need to be provided with the opportunity to grow professionally, while underperforming employees will need to have their behavior analyzed so that the issue can be identified and resolved so that company time and resources are not being wasted. These matters commonly travel up the chain of command to reach the owner, especially if an employee’s poor performance becomes a Human Resources issue.

Of course, a business cannot function without its clients, and so that is another area that an owner must devote their attention to. A business exists to provide goods and/or services to their clientele and customer base, and in order for the business to do so, there should be a culture of respect and professionalism when dealing with clients. It is a business owner’s job to encourage that kind of environment, observing that business processes are followed and promises are fulfilled post haste.

Additionally, a modern business will need technology in order to properly function, which in turn needs to be maintained so it remains in secure operation. To keep these maintained, an owner needs to make sure that their resources are all up to date and accounted for, all patches and security updates applied, and that their backup solution is tested.

Lastly, a business owner has a life outside of the business to attend to as well. Familial responsibilities and private matters come in and create friction that will often seep into the workplace, and vice versa. Totaled up, that is some considerable pressure that the manager has to contend with.

DK Systems can help to relieve some of that pressure by managing your organization’s IT on your behalf. That way, you can go about business, secure in the knowledge that your IT will be ready to enable your success, with the support you will need if things don’t work out. For more information, give us a call at 414-764-4465 option 1.

Slow computer, increase your memory to boost computer speed

Slow computers are a very common issue we see at our business customers and when customers bring a computer into the store.  How often have you had a day where your computer just feels bogged down and when you type it takes a while for the results to appear on the screen.  Sometimes a relatively cheap and simple solution is to upgrade your hardware. Adding more RAM (Random Access Memory, often just referred to as memory) can be a make the biggest impact to help speed up your PC.

Before upgrading the RAM, you should understand the other components in your PC, here is a break down:

CPU/Processor

The CPU is the brain of your computer, it is responsible for running the commands tell your computer to perform, also known as instructions. Today consumer-class CPUs handle billions and even trillions of instructions per second. While older processors can impact the actual speed of a computer, if your PC is newer (1 to 3 years old) it is likely not the bottleneck in your computer’s performance. Today, CPUs are equipped with two (dual), four (quad), or even more cores, this means the CPU can handle more instructions exponentially and consume less electricity.  Upgrading a processor is not a cost effective solution, if you would like a faster processor you may want to look at a new computer.

RAM/Memory

Random Access Memory (RAM) is the short-term memory of your computer. When the computer is turned off anything stored in RAM is gone.  While your computer is loading and running applications, the instructions get stored in the RAM. An instruction can be something as simple as a right click of the mouse.  Think of RAM as a bucket, this bucket is holding instructions the CPU is waiting to run, the more RAM the bigger your bucket. If your bucket gets full, the operating system uses a bucket it created on the hard drive referred to as a page file.  The hard drive bucket is much slower than the physical RAM.  Once your RAM bucket is full, the operating system will start filling the bucket on your hard drive.  Retrieving instructions from the hard drive takes longer, because it must spin platters, and it will appear your computer is running sluggish.  One thing you can do is close programs, but if you need that program to perform a task, you need to start it back up and you are right back to a slow computer.

Hard Drive

The hard drive is the storage device of a computer, where files are kept permanently.  On most computers, the hard drive is the bottleneck.  A standard hard drive is mechanical and has moving parts, there are limitations to how fast science can make them perform.  When compared to RAM, are very slow to write and access instructions, remember you also need to retrieve files/information.  If your computer needs to rely on your hard drive more than RAM, the computer will appear to slow down. While it’s great that your PC can rely on your hard drive in this way for those times it needs some extra memory, it can cause a major slowdown.

A newer technology being introduced is solid-state drives (SSD), The solid-state drive is electronic and provides amazing speeds, the speed comes at a cost, with the increased speed the price of actual storage goes up.  Today a 1 TB mechanical hard drive you can get about 240 GB of SSD capacity.

Other factors for slow performance

Have you ever thought my computer does not seem as fast as use to be?  If this is the case you may have malware and/or spyware can bog down your system, this can slow things down.  Before upgrading hardware, you should have a technician run a quick evaluation on your PC – it’s possible a little cleanup can make all the difference in the world. If the computer checks out without hardware errors and malware has been removed, you should consider upgrading the RAM.  Because RAM is fairly inexpensive and the easiest thing to upgrade, you may see a significant improvement in performance memory. Often the cost of the new RAM itself can be between $40 and $100, there are some factors such as the age of the computer, older memory is often more expensive.  This simple upgrade can help the most, if you are buying a new computer go with a minimum of 4 GB for someone surfing the internet and the occasional office document open, if you will have a lot of applications open at once look at a minimum of 8 GB of RAM.

Questions to ask:
– Is my computer running slow?
– Does it get bogged down by the time you have all my day-to-day applications open?
– Are you seeing pop-ups or going to strange sites?

Options:
– We can test memory and hard drive (may have bad memory or a failing hard drive)
– Upgrade your RAM
– Clone your existing hard drive to an SSD

Contact us at (414) 764-4465 x1 for a quick evaluation to see which option is the best option for you.

Backup your lifeline

This write up is about backups.  Over the years we have seen a lot of issues come up and many of them ended up needing a restore from a backup.  Many people just assume they are backing their computer/data up.  Hopefully after reading this page, you will think about a few things and make sure your backups are working.

You may need to recover from any variety of things such as: ransomware, disaster, human error, hardware failure, or malware/viruses.

One of the hot topics everyone is talking about is getting hit with a Ransomware virus.  This virus will come to your home or business in many different ways and this is a whole other topic at a later date.  When it does it encrypts all important files and demands money in the form of bit coins to unlock your files.  If you are already asking what is a bit coin you definitely do not want this to impact you or your business.

Disasters anything that can destroy something, often of no fault of your own.  Examples: weather, fire, floods, earthquakes, you get the idea.  The reason I decided to write this article on July 30, 2017 a big fire broke out in Brookfield, Wisconsin that completely destroyed a business building, along with all businesses inside.  Imagine if that was your building and all your records were on your server or in paper files.  Now imagine how would you recover this information, what if you cannot recover this information?  I am sure you have some type of backup, but is it attached to the server?

Backups can save the day, there are many different factors you need to consider when thinking about a backup plan:

  • Amount of data being backed up
  • Do you have any industry regulations you must adhere to: PCI, HIPAA, SOX, etc
  • Speed of recovery
  • How many devices do you want to backup
  • What if there is a disaster in my business or my home
  • Are you being alerted on your backup status

 

Depending on your answers, will depend on the best course of action(s) to take.  The price for recovery goes up by the speed you need to recover, how much data you need to recover, and do you want backups off-site.  Having your files off-site allows you to restore files from anywhere to any device.

Some questions to ask about your existing backup:

  • Am I or my IT company receiving update statuses on my backups?
  • If going to cloud, how reliable is the company?
  • If you have regulations am I in compliance?
  • Should a disaster happen and my building is accessible, can I get at any backups?
  • Am I backing up anything other than the server(s), should I?

 

No one solution is the best and every IT company will tell you their solution is the best, but you want to make sure you ask questions and know your data is safe.

If you have any questions or would like to talk to DK Systems about backups let contact us.  We would love to discuss your various options.

If you want to try a trial of Carbonite, click here, business customers with more than one machine, and for home users.

Call 414-764-4465 x1






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IT and your small business

Over the years we have seen a lot of different issues come up.  I have written a short paper to help you and your IT.  This is not going to teach you how to do things, but it will give you some tips on what information you should have and services you might need.  In this IT support and your small business, we give you a checklist of things you should know, for example do you know your administrator username and password?  There is no obligation, hopefully it helps a few (or many) businesses.  If you need any additional help, we are here to help.






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