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Network Solutions Unlimited has been serving the Decatur area since 2013, providing IT Support such as technical helpdesk support, computer support, and consulting to small and medium-sized businesses.

Get to Know the 5 Most Common Cyber Threats

Get to Know the 5 Most Common Cyber Threats

As a technology-using business owner, it’s your responsibility to take the security of your organization’s data seriously. This entails knowing the finer details of the many security threats that are out and about on the Internet. Here is a list that includes many of the major threats that you’ll want to keep a lookout for in the business world, and what you can do to stop them.


Viruses
It’s not uncommon for a computer to get infected with a virus after some use. All it takes to get one is clicking on the wrong link or downloading an infected file. Viruses often cause both major and minor problems, with the least of your worries being a major slowdown. In many cases, viruses are the simplest of threats, and could be symptoms of much worse problems. If you suspect that your computer has been infected by a virus, make sure that you check for other problems as well.

Malware
Another major contender for most popular threat is malware, simply because of how incredibly varied the term is. “Malicious software,” is designed to perform a specific task, and as such, there are practically infinite types of malware out there. Some variants try to steal data, while others just want to destroy it. Regardless, you should do everything you can to keep malware out of your system. Antivirus and antimalware programs are great ways to eliminate threats that have made it into your infrastructure.

Trojans
Trojans, like their namesake (the Greek Trojan Horse), install backdoors on your device to allow for remote access. This is mainly so hackers can have a way into your device for a future hacking campaign or otherwise. In fact, trojans are often installed on a device during other, less serious hacking attacks, using a distraction that takes the focus away from the trojan being installed. If you want to ensure that you catch trojans on your network, you want only the most powerful antivirus solutions.

Ransomware
This is perhaps the most dreaded threat that there is in today’s business world. Ransomware is malware designed to encrypt your files using high-end encryption protocol, which then demands that you pay a fee for the decryption key. The only surefire way to get your data out of this situation safely is to restore a backup, but some organizations don’t even have this contingency available to them. Additionally, most ransomware moves around via spam, so it’s important that you make sure you have protection against it. This includes malicious links and attachments, as well as educating your team on what to look for.

Phishing and Spear Phishing
Phishing and advanced spear-phishing are designed to take advantage of the human aspect of your organization. Through technologies like email or phone calls, hackers will try to steal sensitive information or coax passwords or credentials out of unsuspecting users. Spam messages are often personalized to make them appear to be the real deal, even though they’re just messages designed to trick the user. Phishing messages often come in the form of threats from fake law enforcement or government agencies, which take advantage of the fear factor. These messages can be prevented with a spam filter that keeps them out of your inbox in the first place.

If you have concerns about the security of your organization’s infrastructure, reach out to us at 217-428-6449.

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How Scrapping a Few Workstations is Like Gaining a New Employee

How Scrapping a Few Workstations is Like Gaining a New Employee

Do you still rely on desktops in your office? While many organizations still use workstations almost exclusively, it has become clear that mobile devices present a certain advantage over “landlocked” devices like desktops. A recent study highlights the importance of mobile devices and the increased obsolescence of desktops.


Digital Strategy Consulting found that mobile technology--including mobile devices and applications--are capable of boosting worker productivity by 34 percent. If your organization hopes to expand and grow in the future, you should keep this statistic in mind, as it could make all of the difference.

Let’s take a closer look at the numbers behind this 34 percent increase. In terms of the average worker’s productivity, this is a gain of about 240 hours of work per year. Thus, switching only a few employees from their desktops to mobile devices like laptops would be like onboarding a full-time employee. That means more workers, which means more work that’s getting done. Or, you can just keep this extra revenue stashed away in the event of an emergency, like a hardware failure or otherwise. Basically, this gives you a whole new reason to perish the thought that desktops allow for reduced cost savings from not upgrading right away.

In other words: businesses are losing money by not making an immediate switch to mobile devices. Employees who are limited to only doing work on their desktop workstations are essentially performing at less-than-maximum capacity, doing 34 percent less work than they could be. While it might be tempting to buy into the fact that your workstations aren’t costing you any money since they’re already purchased and accounted for, these machines will only serve to be more costly than you’d prefer in the long run.

This presents yet another point--younger workers, many of which are millennials, prefer the use of mobile devices over desktop workstations. Even better, they’re highly skilled at it, as they’ve grown up with the use of these devices. It’s practically second nature for them. It’s estimated that by 2025, millennials will make up about three-quarters of the workforce, which provides an ultimatum for your organization: going mobile now will benefit your organization in the long run.

By now, it should be clear that desktops can be replaced by mobile technologies, but you may not necessarily know how to go about doing it. Since going mobile also presents unique security challenges and other issues, it’s best to rely on Network Solutions Unlimited to handle the details. We’ll help your organization overcome the various challenges of implementing mobile devices in the workplace. To learn more, reach out to us at 217-428-6449.

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Do You Know Who Handles Regulatory Compliance for Your Business? You Should

Do You Know Who Handles Regulatory Compliance for Your Business? You Should

There will always be standards that must be upheld in regard to compliance and regulations, regardless of which industry your organization falls into. Still, considering the results of the 2016 State of Compliance survey, you’ll be shocked to hear that there are countless businesses out there that don’t understand what’s required of them.


Issued by Liaison Technologies, the survey analyzed 479 executives of medium-to-large-sized organizations in the United States. Out of those surveyed, 47 percent had no clue what the data compliance standards of their given industry were.

Naturally, this leads to some rather large problems for any organization. It’s crucial that you are both aware and understanding of the data compliance standards expected of your industry. If you were to experience a data breach or mishandle data, you would have some difficulty justifying why this is. You might even be gambling your organization’s future, especially considering the fact that a data breach made public can cause customers to shy away from your business in the future. After all, if clients thought you didn’t care enough to understand how to protect their data, why should they invest their time and capital in your organization?

It helps to think of it from the user’s perspective. If a company lost your data during a data breach or had it stolen by hackers, would you still want to do business with them? Only expect from others what you expect for yourself.

Still, this survey reveals that the aforementioned scenario isn’t just a coincidence, but is also something that happens all the time. For instance, take a look at the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS). This particular protocol was reported as “applicable” for only three percent of client responses, even though there are countless businesses that take advantage of cardholder data storage, processing, or transmission. There is clearly some sort of misunderstanding in regard to what exactly compliance is.

As if this wasn’t enough cause for concern, a quarter of the survey respondents admit to being “unsure” of who within their organization is responsible for security. This means that it’s likely these companies probably aren’t prepared to handle major security problems, and that they’re unprepared for worst-case scenarios. Even worse, 85 percent of respondents still felt secure, regardless of the state of their organization’s compliance standards.

We find this situation completely unacceptable, which is why we offer managed IT services--including data security and compliance--to SMBs. If you can’t tell us who is in charge of your network security and privacy, we can tell you who should be: Network Solutions Unlimited. To get started, give us a call at 217-428-6449.

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Why a Business that Doesn’t Back Up its Data is on Borrowed Time

Why a Business that Doesn’t Back Up its Data is on Borrowed Time

“It won’t happen to me.” This is a common excuse amongst business owners who refuse to equip their network with a comprehensive data backup and recovery solution. They may feel like they’re careful enough to avoid a major data loss-causing disaster. Yet, the inconvenient fact remains that a disaster can happen to any business, no matter how prepared they may be.


Simply put, there are some disasters that are just beyond your control. Take for example these four common disasters that can unexpectedly strike and destroy your data.

Natural Disasters
While it’s true that some geographical locations are safer than others, the fact remains that no place on Earth is immune to a natural disaster that’s capable of disrupting your IT infrastructure and wiping out your data. Severe wind and thunderstorms can happen almost anywhere, and no spot on this planet is 100 percent earthquake proof. Then there are more region-specific natural disasters like hurricanes, floods, tornados, etc. that you need to account for.

While backing up your data won’t prevent a natural disaster from happening (nothing can), it will ensure that your data will survive--even if your IT infrastructure does not. However, simply backing up your data isn’t enough. In order to make sure that operations can resume as quickly as possible, your business continuity plan must include a reliable data recovery option.

Man-Made Disasters
Whether the disaster is natural or man-made, the fact remains that it’s impossible to dodge a major disaster. Man-made disasters like warfare, terrorism, and fires can do some serious damage, while even minor man-made disasters can negatively affect operations, like a power outage. The trick to coming out on top of any disaster is to have a data backup solution in place that creates redundant copies of your data and stores your files offsite, like in the cloud. A BDR solution from Network Solutions Unlimited provides this kind of protection for your business.

Hardware Failure
Every hard drive comes with a chance of failing and crashing. To think otherwise is to kid yourself. Therefore, you need a data backup solution in place that can protect and recover your digital assets, should your hard drive crash on your watch. This is one reason why a BDR solution from Network Solutions Unlimited utilizes redundant copies of your backed up data by storing them on different drives in the cloud, should a hardware failure ever strike the backed up copies. For companies that are serious about protecting their data, it takes this level of redundancy to ensure that your data will be available for when you need it the most.

User Error
People make mistakes and sometimes those mistakes result in the deletion of data. In fact, user error is the number one cause of data loss, so you never want to become overly confident that your well-trained team can never make a mistake. However, with a reliable backup and disaster recovery solution in place, you can be confident that, should a major “whoops” ever happen, you’ll be able to easily revert back to a previous copy of your data and keep operations humming along.

Natural and man-made disasters, hardware failure, and user error, all of these culprits can derail the productivity of a business, or worse, cause a company to go out of business within a year if there’s no data backup solution in place. While you can’t erase the reality of disasters from putting your business at risk, you can do something about it by implementing BDR. Call Network Solutions Unlimited today at 217-428-6449 to learn more.

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4 Benefits of Server Hosting that are Too Good to Ignore

4 Benefits of Server Hosting that are Too Good to Ignore

Virtually every business needs data to function, yet not every SMB has the skills or resources needed to maintain their in-house server units. If you’ve found yourself struggling with server upkeep, then you’ll be happy to learn that this responsibility can easily be outsourced to a third party.


When you look at the benefits of outsourcing your server needs to our cloud, it becomes difficult to go back to “doing IT the hard way.”

Server Hosting Takes One More Thing Off Your Plate
Essentially, having a third party handle the management and maintenance of your data means one less responsibility that you don’t have to worry about. For the busy business owner, freeing up time so you don’t have to sweat the small stuff and instead focus more on running your business is what outsourcing is all about.

Server Hosting Prevents Expensive Downtime
It’s just common sense that having a computer maintained by a professional prevents downtime by making sure that the equipment is running in tiptop shape. When it comes small server problems that go unchecked (perhaps because you may not even know that these issues are problems in the first place), it’s only a matter of time before these unknown-to-you issues develop into serious problems that can hinder your workflow. When your company finds itself in this most unfortunate predicament, you’ll kick yourself when you realize that the downtime you’re experiencing could have been avoided with proactive maintenance.

Server Hosting Saves on Expenses
You may not know much about the technical side of how servers work, but it’s easy to know that a server is quite expensive to purchase. Plus, having to pay for the upkeep of hosting a full rack of servers in your office adds up. Think for a moment of the electricity it takes to run these machines and the maintenance bills from unplanned repairs. By simply outsourcing your server needs to a third party, you’re letting them handle the hosting, along with all of the upkeep and other associated expenses.

Although, outsourcing the care of your servers doesn’t necessarily mean having your data hosted off-site. If you already have an IT infrastructure that you’re happy with, then an outsourced IT company like Network Solutions Unlimited can assist you remotely with the maintenance and upkeep of your in-house equipment, as well as the management of your data. Whether you outsource the care of your in-house servers, or you go so far as hosting your data in the cloud, either way, you’ll save money.

Server Hosting Ensures Compatibility
One of the challenges of managing your own servers is having to be familiar with which applications are compatible with specific operating systems, and which ones aren’t. Otherwise, you run the risk of performing a software upgrade that unintentionally disables a mission-critical app used in your business’ day-to-day operations. A misstep like this can be costly.

The advantage of hosted servers is that they are often virtualized, which means you can run various operating systems to ensure compatibility with the legacy apps your business relies on. With this being such an easy way to mitigate such a serious risk, it’s a move that every business owner should consider.

If your business needs assistance with server management and hosting, reach out to us at 217-428-6449.

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3 Ways a VoIP Phone System Can Improve Flexibility

3 Ways a VoIP Phone System Can Improve Flexibility

Flexibility might be one of the biggest reasons to use a VoIP solution, but why should this matter so much to an SMB? We’ll discuss some of the reasons why flexibility is such a huge factor to consider in any technology solution, particularly VoIP. Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) takes your Internet connection and uses it to send your voice to a recipient, rather than through the use of a traditional telephone line. Here are three ways that your business can leverage a VoIP solution.


VoIP Allows for Business Growth
When your business is growing, your telephone system needs to be able to grow alongside it. This is where VoIP comes in. When you create your VoIP infrastructure, you will likely have a specific number of users and devices in mind. This helps you get an understanding of what kind of bandwidth and network traffic you can expect. Unlike a traditional telephone system, which requires new handsets and wiring in order to expand, VoIP makes it easy to add new users and devices to your communications infrastructure. VoIP uses your Internet connection, so as long as you work with your ISP to get the service you need, you’ll be ready to tackle VoIP’s growing pains.

VoIP is More Dynamic
How does the flexibility of VoIP allow your organization to perform while out of the office? The simple answer is that VoIP can be used on most devices, be it a smartphone, laptop, or desktop. This means that you can take the VoIP phone on the go, unlike that handheld system that sits on your desk all day. Furthermore, since your work phone can be available on your smartphone, there is no advanced call forwarding required. All you have to do is download the application onto your device and you’re all set. You can turn the phone on and off as needed, allowing you to keep your work and home lives largely separate.

VoIP Offers More Features
Your traditional telephone system might offer all of the basics, but does it have instant messaging capabilities? Does it support real-time video chat and conference calling? VoIP takes the advantage here by being such a versatile solution filled to the brim with features that can be leveraged for effective onsite and offsite communication. VoIP comes with most, if not all, of the features that you know and love from your traditional telephone provider. Additionally, you’ll never have to pay for features that you don’t want. Telephone providers bundle services together, so while you may enjoy getting a television package with your phone system, you don’t necessarily have to get it in order to communicate with your team.

To learn more about VoIP and what it can do for your business, reach out to us at 217-428-6449.

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2 Problems that Come From Having Too Much New Technology

2 Problems that Come From Having Too Much New Technology

If your business is using the latest technology solutions, then you know how advantageous they are. Yet, a step in the right direction can often feel like two steps backward. This sometimes happens when businesses implement new technology solutions without considering the ramifications that they may cause for their other technology. Here are two ways that your new technology might be holding your organization back, or even putting your network at risk.


More Endpoints Means More Open Doors
Adding new devices to your business’s computing infrastructure, regardless of what they are (workstations, server units, mobile devices), can provide new outlets that hackers can take advantage of to access your network. Thus, you need to secure any and all devices on your network, regardless of whether or not they may be seen as a security issue. As seen by the attack on Dyn earlier this year, any device (even seemingly benign Internet of Things devices) can be used to initiate attacks, so you must plan accordingly.

This is an especially important thing to consider when considering mobile devices for your organization. Since hackers can take advantage of workstations and server units to break into your infrastructure, mobile devices are also a cinch for them. Therefore, you need to consider security a priority for your mobile devices, and apply the necessary patches and security updates. A mobile device management solution makes it easy for your business to control which devices and apps can access sensitive data. You can whitelist and blacklist applications, as well as remotely wipe devices that have been lost or stolen.

More Software Means More Upgrades
You may implement a new software solution with the intention of improving operations, but this addition also comes with some shortcomings. Your new software solution will require patches and security updates, which is both fine and expected. However, what happens to your old solutions? Do they accumulate on your network? Are they still getting the patches and security updates that are needed? Furthermore, every single new software solution you implement needs these patches and security updates, which can quickly create a lot of work that you may or may not have time to handle yourself. It’s simply not acceptable to miss out on these important updates.

One way you can make this responsibility more manageable is by considering a remote monitoring and maintenance solution. Network Solutions Unlimited can remotely monitor and maintain your software, which includes the deployment of patches and security updates, as well as monitoring for critical deficiencies that could cause problems down the road. This proactive approach to IT maintenance will resolve many of the issues corresponding with your technology, and can prevent costly downtime from dragging your organization down.

To learn more, reach out to us at 217-428-6449.

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How Firewalls and Web Filtering Work in Tandem to Protect Your Business

How Firewalls and Web Filtering Work in Tandem to Protect Your Business

One of the ways which businesses benefit most from technology is through using Internet-connected devices. Yet, the Internet is a dangerous place filled to the brim with threats and security concerns. Considering how diverse online threats can be, there’s something to be said about having enterprise-level security protocols put into place.


Due to the immense threat level on the Internet, organizations cannot afford to be online without some sort of preventative security solution. Fortunately, there are solutions designed with the enterprise in mind that can help even small businesses protect themselves from the gratuitous amount of danger on the Internet. Specifically, these solutions are content filtering and firewalls. In a sense, content filtering and firewalls work as opposite sides of the same coin.

A content filtering solution is a program that checks web pages for threats. The solution uses predetermined rules that can block either entire portions of websites, or only specific parts. In comparison, a firewall solution is the part of a network that scans incoming and outgoing traffic from a network for any suspicious entities. It acts as a bouncer, keeping only clean data entering your network, and preventing threats from entering your system. In this case, your organization can promptly eliminate the threat before it causes trouble for others. Depending on the configuration of your system, a firewall or content filtering solution could be an external piece of hardware, a software application, or a combination of the two.

It’s a common best practice for businesses to use both content filtering and firewall solutions. In fact, content filtering helps with other aspects of your organization, such as keeping your staff productive even when they don’t want to be. Distractions like Facebook and YouTube can be blocked on employee devices so that they have no choice but to perform their duties. Firewalls work in a more traditional manner, keeping your workstations and network components free of any inefficiencies that could reduce productivity.

Network Solutions Unlimited offers what’s called a Unified Threat Management (UTM) solution that combines four essential pieces of network security solutions into one convenient package. With a firewall, antivirus, spam blocking, and content filtering solution, you can achieve optimal preventative security status. To learn more, reach out to us at 217-428-6449.

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3 Myths of Data Backup That Need to Be Busted

3 Myths of Data Backup That Need to Be Busted

Data backup is foundational to every business continuity plan. Despite this, many businesses don’t realize that data backup and disaster recovery are two very different solutions. This oversight could leave a company high and dry in the face of a disaster causing data loss.


To help clear things up, let’s dispel three myths that many have about data backup and disaster recovery.

Myth #1: Having Multiple Copies Guarantees Successful Backups
While it’s true that it’s a best practice to store multiple copies of your data throughout your IT infrastructure, this practice doesn’t necessarily guarantee that your backups will work properly when you need them. Typically, organizations will store one backup in-house, while another copy is sent to a secure, off-site location, typically in the cloud. The idea here is to have at least one backup completely separate from your in-house network, should anything disastrous happen to it. However, in addition to taking multiple backups, you need to routinely check to see if these backups actually work, seeing as they could still be susceptible to user error or data corruption. Therefore, make it a habit to test your backups, or have an outsourced provider do it for you.

Myth #2: Data that’s Frequently Backed Up Can Be Restored From its Original
If your data is only partially wiped out, then it usually can’t be restored from the original. Plus, rebuilding data from scratch is too time-consuming and expensive to be considered as a viable option. For example, think about how long it would take to reaccumulate all of the data stored on your company’s IT infrastructure--an impossibility for most organizations. Instead, having complete backups on hand ensures that you’ll overcome any disaster.

Myth #3: Data Backup and Disaster Recovery are One and the Same
At the core of this problem is the fact that many people don’t understand the differences between data backup and disaster recovery. Rather, they’re two equally critical parts of the same concept: business continuity; i.e., you can’t have one without the other. To be clear:

Data backup is the process of taking the backup itself, while disaster recovery is when these backups are recovered.

To further explain these differences: data backup represents a figure called the recovery point objective (RPO), which is how much data needs to be recovered in order to keep operations moving forward. Whereas disaster recovery makes use of RTO, (recovery time objective), which factors in how long this process takes.

To be clear, your business continuity plan must include both RPO and RTO. The best way to go about this for your business is to implement a backup and disaster recovery (BDR) solution. A BDR from Network Solutions Unlimited can help your organization get the most out of data backup by providing you with an enterprise-level solution designed to optimize uptime and efficiency.

BDR takes backups of your data as often as every fifteen minutes, making it exceptional for keeping your data up-to-date and functional. These backups are taken automatically and are sent to both the cloud and a secure, compliant off-site data center for storage. This gives you the option to restore your data remotely, directly to the BDR device, in the event of a disaster. Plus, the BDR can take the place of your server while you work to resolve the disaster.

If you’d like more information concerning BDR and business continuity, our trusted experts would be happy to consult you. To learn more, reach out to us at 217-428-6449.

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How Unused Applications May Be Draining Your Budget Unnecessarily

How Unused Applications May Be Draining Your Budget Unnecessarily

When an organization implements new software solutions, they are usually trying to either replace deprecated applications or find a solution to a particular problem. These solutions are often implemented without regards to the older software, and they’ll just collect dust on the network until someone decides to remove them. These unnecessary apps could be wasting precious time and resources for your business. In fact, up to 38 percent of enterprise applications aren’t being used on business networks.


In more specific terms, 30 percent of applications went unused, while only eight percent were used infrequently--less than once a month. A recent study by 1E claims that between the United States and United Kingdom, $34 billion is lost every year on unused or rarely used software solutions. Furthermore, the typical large enterprise could lose up to $7.4 million every year on unnecessary software solutions. While it must be mentioned that small companies won’t waste nearly this much, it’s still important to realize wasted resources when you see them. Software licenses aren’t cheap, and if they’re set to automatically renew, you could be wasting plenty of assets on software that you don’t even use.

Granted, it’s easier said than done to discover which applications your business uses, and those which it doesn’t. Unless you have an internal IT department that manages your organization’s technical assets, you could accidentally be renewing software solutions for apps which you barely use at all. Thus, it’s your responsibility to put a stop to it, and soon.

Through a comprehensive network audit, you can find ways to improve your infrastructure, be it identifying bottlenecks or discovering resources allocated toward apps that you don’t use or need. If your network is chock-full of unused and unnecessary applications, you can use a network audit to discover where they are and to jumpstart your network cleanup procedure.

Network Solutions Unlimited can perform a network audit that takes a comprehensive look at your IT infrastructure and identifies weaknesses that can be shored up. For example, it can identify bottlenecks or unnecessary resource allocation that can help you streamline operations. Furthermore, we can introduce you to new and improved solutions that can completely replace or consolidate your current assets into a more budget-friendly option.

It’s also necessary to mention that you should only be paying for software licensing on solutions that you actually use, and to keep tabs on when licenses expire. It’s usually better to pay as you need them, as something could come up and completely replace it somewhere down the line. If you outsource remote monitoring and maintenance through Network Solutions Unlimited, we can keep an eye on your network in real time and automatically issue updates to your software solutions as they are released. Furthermore, we can act as a single point of contact for your software vendors, so you only have to go through us to renew your software licenses. This takes away the pain of contacting multiple software vendors, which can be a time-consuming and downright annoying process.

To learn more about network audits, remote monitoring and maintenance, or vendor management, reach out to us at 217-428-6449.

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Outsource Your IT and Stop Worrying About These 3 Responsibilities

Outsource Your IT and Stop Worrying About These 3 Responsibilities

The last time you reached out to IT support, how long did it take them to respond to your request? Did they have to drive all the way to your office, only to resolve the issue far too late? Being able to take prompt action is key to alleviating IT issues, especially when mission-critical data is on the line. A remote monitoring and maintenance solution may be just the tool you need to keep your systems maintained and operating properly, and all without expensive on-site visits.


Remote monitoring and maintenance lets your business get the technology assistance it needs as swiftly as possible. It’s usually more efficient to outsource this responsibility to a third party that can keep tabs on your business’s systems through an online cloud-connected interface. This allows technicians to resolve most problems without an on-site visit, though this is far from the only benefit that remote monitoring and management solutions provide.

Resource Allocation
Your network components and applications are constantly being accessed throughout the workday, but delegating the proper amount of resources to ensure that the tools are available can be tricky business. If you have an outsourced provider monitoring your network resources, they can adjust the workload to avoid bottlenecks and downtime, ensuring maximum functionality.

Threat Management
Similar to the above point, keeping an eye on the network and its resources can signify when a threat slips through your defenses. If a virus or malware program installs on a device, it may slow down the machine and spread to other parts of your infrastructure. Identifying where a threat is and eliminating it promptly is important to keep infections from spreading, and this same tactic can be used to detect telltale signs of hardware failures so your organization can prepare for the worst.

Patching and Security Updates
One of the best things about remote monitoring and maintenance is that the outsourced provider can remotely apply patches and updates, as well as resolve other problems that might come up. By doing this, you effectively free your business from the responsibility of performing this routine maintenance, which is an invaluable opportunity for an SMB to invest in more profitable endeavors.

Of course, the biggest benefit of remote monitoring is the fact that you’ll cut down on expensive on-site visits from your IT support. Since most problems can be resolved remotely, it’s logical that you avoid on-site visits as much as possible. After all, it’s a mutually beneficial situation; you get the help you need, and we help you save money. Of course, there are always going to be issues that need an on-site visit, but we’ll try to limit these so that you can focus on keeping your business productive.

To learn more about remote monitoring and management, reach out to us at 217-428-6449.

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How to Make Sure That Your Business is HIPAA Compliant

How to Make Sure That Your Business is HIPAA Compliant

While the explosion of technological advancement has been great for business, it’s become more challenging than ever before to keep sensitive information safe--even if all you use is an Internet connection. Even small healthcare offices are feeling the effects of this proliferation of threats and malware as they struggle to keep their organizations secure and compliant with government agencies.


Since their inception, traditional filing storage systems have been at constant threat of user error, document destruction, and theft. In recent years, the filing systems put into place by healthcare organizations have become more streamlined than the traditional file cabinet, and due to their nature of being connected digital systems, the increase in security concerns is problematic. Hackers are aware the type of data that healthcare organizations store, and are even more aware that they can make a ton of cash with it.

In particular, hospitals are major targets of hacking attacks. Ransomware is a huge threat to all organizations, but to a hospital it could be a death knell. Hospitals require data in order to care for their patients, and if that data isn’t available, lives are put at risk. This makes hospitals most likely to pay for the safe return of their files, as they have little choice in the matter when their patients and their data are targeted. The same can be said for large enterprises, which might see paying for the safe return of their data as the more viable solution compared to their other choices.

Here are a few tips to help you keep your business HIPAA compliant.

  • Use data backup and disaster recovery: You need to make sure that your organization has tools that can back up your data and restore it at a later date. This means that you need to have a recovery point objective and a recovery time objective. You should make sure that your data is stored both on-site and off-site, just in case you need a last-minute restore.
  • Implement enterprise-level security solutions: Chances are that regardless of what industry your business falls into, you collect some sensitive information that needs to be protected at all costs. Firewalls, antivirus, spam blocking, and content filtering cannot be afterthoughts--they are practically crucial if you want to optimize your network’s chances against threats. A Unified Threat Management (UTM) solution is a great way to take advantage of these preventative security solutions.
  • Use encryption: There are times when organizations won’t see the need to encrypt their data, simply because they may already have security measures put into place that seem to be perfectly fine. While HIPAA doesn’t necessarily require that your organization use encryption, it’s still highly recommended. Encryption makes it so that any stolen data is practically impossible to decipher.
  • Consult IT professionals: Your organization focuses on a specific craft, one that may not have anything to do with IT security. Therefore, it makes perfect sense to outsource this responsibility to IT professionals whose sole responsibility is the security of your IT infrastructure. Any technician worth your time will be able to tell you a thing or two about HIPAA compliance.

If your business is finding HIPAA compliance difficult, Network Solutions Unlimited would be happy to assist you. We’ll find ways that your organization can optimize your infrastructure for HIPAA compliance. To learn more, reach out to us at 217-428-6449.

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Hackers Scam CEOs for $3 Billion Over the Past 3 Years

Hackers Scam CEOs for $3 Billion Over the Past 3 Years

What would you do if a significant sum of money magically disappeared from your account due to a “miscommunication” between accounting and someone pretending to be you? Wire transfers have made it extraordinarily easy for scam artists to make large transactions, which are augmented by the ability to impersonate authority figures within the office; the c-suite staff, also known as management.

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4 Ways Outsourcing Your IT Will Revolutionize Operations

4 Ways Outsourcing Your IT Will Revolutionize Operations

The traditional break-fix IT model may have worked for businesses years ago, but today it holds them back from fully leveraging their IT to its fullest potential. Managed IT, the superior alternative, aims to take the difficulty out of managing IT so that you can focus on running your business. Here are just a few managed IT services that free up your business in this way.

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Shock: One-Third of Businesses Ignore Insider Threats

Shock: One-Third of Businesses Ignore Insider Threats

Regardless of your security protocol, there will always be threats. One of the most often forgotten outlets for attacks comes from insider threats. Sometimes these threats may be from angry employees wanting to sink your business, but more often than not, those behind insider threats don’t have malicious intentions. Still, it’s best to cover your bases and ensure that your organization isn’t at risk from careless or negligent employees.

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This Solution Lets You Kick that Bulky File Cabinet to the Curb!

This Solution Lets You Kick that Bulky File Cabinet to the Curb!

Since the late 19th century, office environments have used the filing cabinet to keep records stored in an efficient order. However, today’s workplace environment contains more technology than ever before, allowing for more efficient document management solutions. This begs the question, what’s better; the traditional file cabinet, or the digital document management solution?

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3 Features Every Business Needs From Their Data Recovery Solution

3 Features Every Business Needs From Their Data Recovery Solution

As well-prepared as you might believe your business may be against disasters, the reality is that this is not always the case. In truth, you have no idea when you could fall victim to a data loss incident. As a business owner, you need to understand that it’s not a question of if you’ll experience a data breach, but when, and you need to be prepared for anything.


There are plenty of situations that won’t be under your control:

  • You aren't going to be able to shield your business’s technology from a flood that sweeps through your location and takes half of your infrastructure with it.
  • You aren’t going to stop your old technology from unexpectedly failing when you need it most.
  • An earthquake could knock the ground out from under your business’s footing, and with it, your data systems out of commission.
  • User error, despite your best efforts to ingrain proper data security practices into your staff, will persist, and could eventually lead to lost data or compromised security.

What can you do to preserve your organization’s data?

Data backup and disaster recovery are essential, but the concept is much more refined than it was in the past. Traditional backup solutions used unreliable practices in order to ensure that data was stored and accessible in the event of a disaster. Tape was, and still is, commonly used as a backup measure, in which data is stored on magnetic tape reels that could be deployed when needed. Now, however, there are much more efficient and less time-consuming ways to take advantage of data backup and disaster recovery, and it’s all thanks to the cloud.

Where tape backups are resource-heavy, user-intensive, and time consuming, cloud-based BDR is the opposite. Unlike tape backup that must be performed after-hours, and set by an employee who may or may not forget to do it, BDR is automatic and can be performed throughout the day, all to get past the possibility of an unexpected disaster destroying your data. If you want to guarantee maximum uptime and data retention, you should look for the following features for your disaster recovery solution:

Frequent Backups
Tape backups can usually only be performed once a day, and it’s often the case that they have to be done after closing time. Your business needs a solution that can back up your data multiple times a day. Modern BDR solutions can take backups as often as every 15 minutes, so you’ll always experience minimal data loss and fewer technical hiccups throughout the workday.

Off-Site Backup Storage
Storing your data backups in-house is usually a bad idea, for the specific reason that it could fall victim to the same disaster that strikes the rest of your infrastructure. If your office is destroyed, or your entire system is infected with ransomware, you won’t be able to access your data backups. It makes sense to store your data off-site and in the cloud, so that you can immediately restore your data as it’s needed.

Fast Recovery Time
You don’t want to be left waiting while your data is being restored, as this is time that your organization is wasting. You need a solution that can rapidly deploy your data as quickly as possible. With BDR, you can be back almost instantly, as the BDR can act as a temporary server in the event that yours no longer works properly.

Does your business want to leverage a truly modern data backup tool? You should ask Network Solutions Unlimited about our BDR solution. We can offer a reliable and efficient data backup and disaster recovery solution that’s capable of minimizing data loss and maximizing uptime, even in the worst of scenarios.

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How Employees Troubleshooting Their IT Issues Can Land You in a Dark Place

How Employees Troubleshooting Their IT Issues Can Land You in a Dark Place

When it comes to network security, we often see organizations having one of two approaches: 1) They make security a priority by implementing airtight solutions, or 2) They have no clue what network security means. Of course, if a company doesn’t have security put into place, employees might take matters into their own hands and implement unauthorized solutions. This is called shadow IT, and it has unfortunate results, even if the user has good intentions.


Shadow IT, also known as the implementation of unauthorized technology solutions of any kind--be it a free antivirus or a substitute for a productivity suite--is known to be a troubling development for security-minded businesses. Basically, an employee might notice a deficit, and take action to resolve it themselves rather than jump through the hoops of dealing with IT.

Or, alternatively, a software license might expire that holds them back from finishing a time-sensitive project. If a user no longer has the tools to accomplish their duties, they’ll find a way to do so in order to keep themselves on schedule. Instead of asking IT to handle the problem (especially if IT is flooded with work), the employee will make the decision to use shadow IT, which is a quick fix to their woes, but can lead to other security problems down the road.

Most organizations determine the danger of shadow IT by the source of the downloaded solution. For example, where did your employee find that open-source word processor? Did it come from a reputable website, or did they find it lurking on some message board somewhere deep within the recesses of the Internet? Freeware and open-source software can be helpful when used properly, but more often than not, you’ll find that it has installed toolbars on your browser, installed adware, or other threats that could expose your data to external threats.

The problem is that hackers understand that your typical end-user would rather download something free, than pay money for a software license from a reputable vendor like Microsoft. Therefore, you need to address this problem with your employees before it’s too late. You should always encourage your employees to approach IT with any concerns about their technology, and educate them on best practices in order to preserve the integrity of your systems. For example, be sure to educate them on how to best use the solutions given to them, as using unfamiliar software is also a major reason why employees might implement shadow IT.

A responsive IT department can go a long way toward keeping your technology infrastructure hiccup-free. When your employees don’t have technology difficulties, they can perform their duties more effectively without compromising data security. Outsourced IT can help your business fully leverage its assets in a way which keeps your team productive and on-task.

To learn more about our IT solutions, reach out to us at 217-428-6449.

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Alert: Smartphones Getting Bombarded By Ransomware

Alert: Smartphones Getting Bombarded By Ransomware

Ransomware is as unpleasant a malware as they come, and can ruin your day by encrypting your files until a ransom is paid. Unfortunately, the threat is getting worse, seeing as it’s now capable of infecting smartphones, too.


Mobile-based ransomware has been on the rise this year, so much that its presence has nearly quadrupled. Software security group Kaspersky Lab claims that their customers in Germany were victimized by mobile ransomware at the highest rate worldwide. Canada, the United Kingdom, and the United States followed closely. Kaspersky cited that it protected 35,412 mobile users from ransomware between April 2014 and March of 2015. The next year, this total blew up to 136,532 users. These figures include those who were targeted and protected from ransomware hacks, not those that were actually infected with ransomware. That total is likely much, much higher.

Mobile ransomware works in much the same way as it does on desktops and laptops. It infects the victim’s phone; however, rather than encrypt files that are stored locally on it (most users have these files backed up anyway), the ransomware will target apps, blocking access to them until the ransom has been paid.

These mobile ransomwares tend to play rough. One example is a ransomware originating in Ukraine that locks the keys and replaces the home screen with a warning from the FBI. The fraudulent warning claims that the user has broken the law by visiting illegal adult-themed websites, and it includes screenshots that incriminate the user. The ransomware demands a $500 fine, paid for with a MoneyPak voucher.

These attacks don’t seem to care who they target, either. All you need to do to download it is click the wrong link. In 2014, a 12-year-old girl accidentally installed malware on her device that locked the phone, downloaded repulsive videos, and threatened legal action if she didn’t pay the $500 fine.

How can you defend yourself against such a dangerous threat?

Update Your Phone’s Software
Malware might constantly be upgrading itself, but so are software updates. This neverending race seems to be in an attempt to thwart the other, and without the most recent versions of each software on your phone, it won’t be able to stand up to the most advanced malware on the market. If updated regularly, your device may be able to prevent potential threats from infecting it altogether.

Use Cloud-Based Backup
This is a best practice that should be implemented regardless of whether or not you’ve been struck with ransomware. In the worst-case scenario, and you have to wipe your device in order to get rid of the ransomware, your files will be safely stored in the cloud, ready to be restored.

Avoid Questionable Downloads
If you can’t identify the source of a download, or you simply don’t trust it, don’t download it. Period. It’s as easy as that. Otherwise, you’re exposing your device to a potentially malicious entity that could have easily been avoided.

Contact the Authorities
It might seem like a bad thing to do if you suddenly find illegal content on your device, but you need to contact the authorities if you suspect you’ve been the target of a ransomware plant. In the aforementioned incident with the 12-year-old girl, the authorities were contacted, and they could tell that it was a plant. Even if there is illegal material on your phone, law enforcement members will be able to tell that it’s a plant from ransomware.

For more information about how to beat ransomware on any device, reach out to us today.

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Don’t Have an IT Plan for Your Business? Here are Your Options

Don’t Have an IT Plan for Your Business? Here are Your Options

Fact: if the technologies an organization depend on become unreliable, then widespread problems and losses in productivity persist. Therefore, it’s crucial for every modern business to have some kind of IT support plan in place. What’s your IT plan look like?


There are multiple approaches to IT support available for the modern business. While each approach is inherently different, they all achieve the same thing: providing professional IT assistance. Choosing the right IT support plan is dependant upon your company’s IT needs and budget. To help you make the right choice, consider these three options.

Having an In-House IT Department
Having an in-house IT staff is a most-efficient way for businesses to cover their IT needs. However, hiring and retaining IT staff can be a costly endeavor that may be out of reach for smaller companies. Meanwhile, for companies that can afford their own IT department, they can run the risk of overloading the schedules of their IT staff with time-consuming maintenance tasks.

All-too-common situations like this will often force technicians to forgo implementing new, money-saving IT initiatives for the sake of keeping the current systems running. Therefore, IT departments that are feeling this productivity pinch will want to consider supplementing the workload with co-managed IT services. This is a solution Network Solutions Unlimited provides where we come alongside your IT staff and assist them with routine IT maintenance in order to free them up so they can work on bigger IT projects.

Break-Fix IT and Help Desks
Another common approach for SMBs is to rely on an outside IT support system for when something goes wrong with their technology, like a break-fix IT company or a charge-by-the-hour IT Help Desk service. Granted, these are reliable ways to solve IT problems, but they can lead to high IT costs that are impossible to budget around. Plus, the break-fix approach fails to get at the heart of a lot of IT problems, which can often times be easily prevented with a proactive approach to IT maintenance.

Although, when it comes to IT maintenance, it’s inevitable for equipment to break down and for assistance via phone calls to be required. At Network Solutions Unlimited, we provide this kind of hands-on support for your broken technology. However, unlike the typical break-fix company which charges for support by the hour, we provide this service at a flat-rate as part of the managed service agreement, meaning that an employee experiencing a technology issue doesn't have to hesitate to contact Network Solutions Unlimited for a fix due to the fear of breaking the company budget.

Taking the Proactive Approach With Managed IT
For SMBs looking to gain access to professional IT support that won’t break the budget, managed IT service from Network Solutions Unlimited is the way to go. Managed IT is a unique offering that’s designed to minimize IT issues and downtime by taking a proactive approach to IT maintenance. Plus, thanks to managed IT being offered as a service, it’s an expense that you can budget around. This is a great way to make professional IT service affordable, costing you way less than having to onboard new IT staff or pay for a break-fix technician to come and resolve an issue.

When every modern business needs IT support, managed IT puts professional IT support within the reach of every company, no matter the company’s size or budget. Have a conversation with Network Solutions Unlimited today to learn how managed IT can meet and exceed your company’s IT needs!

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