10 Things Every Business Owner Should Know About Cyber Security  

Have you started business planning for 2024? The last few months of the year can get hectic, between trying to close out the end of the quarter strong and mapping out your plan to ramp things up in the new year. One area that small business owners often skip over when creating their new year strategy is cyber security planning. Cyber security is NOT an IT decision, it’s a business decision. Your company hinges on your ability to keep your data – and your clients’ – safe from cybercriminals.

To create a reliable plan for the next year, there are a few cyber security basics that every business owner needs to be aware of to avoid being the next victim of a data breach. Cyber issues are becoming such a regular occurrence that it’s easy to become desensitized to the effects of data breaches, which can leave you vulnerable to an attack.


Here are 10 BIG takeaways about cyber security that you should keep in mind. Your security depends on it!


1. No business is too small.

Hackers love that small business owners think this way because it makes them an easy target. If you have money or data of any size or amount, you are at risk.

Takeaway – Protect your business and consult a cyber security expert on what you need.


2. Your employees are putting you at risk.

They are not likely doing it on purpose, but human error is the #1 issue with cybercrime. Whether it’s a bad link that is clicked or a malicious attachment that is downloaded, these small “accidents” can create huge problems for your business.

Takeaway – Invest some of your budget in cyber security training for your team.


3. Software needs to be updated when you’re notified about it.

This is true for your web browsers too. If you get a notification about an available update, it often means that a bug or a vulnerability needs to be patched. If you don’t patch it, that’s a little hole in your network that hackers can and will find.

Takeaway – Have your IT team run automatic updates and always manually update if prompted.


4. Back up your data.

Disasters happen, whether natural, like a tornado or flood wiping out your office, or a cybercriminal locking down your network and ransoming you to return it. Having a backup will allow you to reduce downtime and further damage to your business.

Takeaway – Have an off-site backup and test it regularly to ensure it works properly.


5. Use a VPN when working outside of the office.

If you’re on vacation, working while traveling or even working at the local coffee shop, connecting to public WiFi can put you at risk. Hackers can break into unsecured WiFi or set up fake ones, hoping you will connect to them.

Takeaway – Use a VPN, or virtual private network, to keep your network safe from hackers while on the go.


6. Data breaches are expensive.

The cost of data breaches puts most small companies that get hacked out of business within six months. These can range from hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars, depending on the damage done.

Takeaway – Invest in cyber security. Don’t play around and risk everything you worked hard to build.


7. Having cyber insurance doesn’t mean you’re covered if you’re hacked.

If you’re hacked, cyber insurance doesn’t automatically cover you. Insurance agents will check to make sure you’ve done everything in your power to prevent the attack. If you haven’t, your claim can be denied.

Takeaway – Read the fine print on cyber insurance policies and make sure you’re following all requirements.


8. Compliance doesn’t mean you’re secure.

Being compliant means you are fulfilling all the requirements that the government has issued. This does not mean you are 100% secure; it means you have implemented the basics.

Takeaway – Consult with a cyber security professional who deals with clients in your industry to make sure that you’re not only compliant but that you have the proper security systems in place to protect your organization.


9. Basic antivirus and firewalls are not enough.

These are helpful, but they aren’t enough to keep you secure. Hackers are routinely finding ways to break through this software, so if you’re not implementing other security measures, you’re at risk.

Takeaway – Consult with a cyber security professional to find out what you need. It’s often not as expensive as people think and will cost you WAY less if you ever become a victim of a data breach.


10. You’ll be the one who people hold accountable if you’re hacked.

When it comes to data breaches, whether you’re at fault or not, you’ll be the one to catch the blame from your customers, employees, attorneys, the media and more, and it will be ugly.

Takeaway – You can prevent this by taking a proactive approach to cyber security.

Take your security seriously in 2024. We offer a FREE, no-obligation Security Assessment. Even if you already have a cyber security company you work with, it can’t hurt to have a second expert opinion to assess if and where you’re vulnerable to an attack.

We have limited spots available and expect to fill up before the holiday break, so if you’re interested, click here to book your assessment with our team now.

The Danger Of Holiday Phishing Scams: How To Recognize And Avoid Them To Stay Safe This Holiday Season

The holiday season is in full swing, which means so are the cybercriminals! While you’re making holiday gift lists, they’re plotting and scheming new ways to take advantage of unsuspecting online shoppers. Holiday phishing scams have become an all-too-common threat, targeting customers to steal personal information, financial data and even identities. 

To help reduce the chances that a cybercriminal will ruin your much-deserved holiday fun, we’ve outlined a few of the most common and dangerous scams that you should be on the lookout for, how they work and tips to help you avoid becoming their next victim. 

Understanding Holiday Phishing Scams: 

Phishing is a deceptive technique cybercriminals use to trick individuals into sharing sensitive information such as passwords, credit card details or Social Security numbers. During the holiday season, these scams often take on a festive disguise, tricking victims with holiday-themed e-mails, messages and websites. Whether you’re ordering gifts for clients or friends and family, here are some common tactics used by holiday phishing scammers to be aware of: 

  1. Holiday-Themed E-mails: Scammers send e-mails that appear to be from trusted sources like your favorite retailers or even beloved charities. These e-mails look legit and usually offer fake exclusive holiday deals, order confirmations or requests for donations. Inside the e-mail, there is usually a link that leads to a fake website designed to steal your information or your money, or even install dangerous malware on your computer.
  2. Fake Promotions: Cybercriminals create fake holiday promotions and discounts that seem too good to be true. Unsuspecting victims see a great deal from a spoof e-mail account and are enticed to click on links or download attachments that can contain malware or lead to phishing websites.
    Sometimes cybercriminals aren’t looking to install malware but instead hoping to steal your money. They’ll duplicate popular retailer websites or set up their own, so when you make a purchase, they’ll collect the money, but you’ll never receive your order. These sites are often difficult to track, making it hard to get your money back.
  3. Delivery Notifications: With the increase in online shopping during the holidays, scammers send fake delivery notifications, claiming that a package is on its way or that there’s a problem with an order. These e-mails may prompt recipients to click on links or download attachments containing malicious software.
  4. Social Engineering: Scammers may impersonate friends or family members via e-mail or social media, asking for money or personal information under the guise of a holiday emergency or gift exchange. This is a common scam against seniors – who might not realize that the profile requesting money from them that was made “three days ago” isn’t actually their granddaughter – and young teenagers who don’t know fake profiles are an issue.  


Recognizing and Avoiding Holiday Phishing Scams: 

 Now that we understand how holiday phishing scams operate, it’s essential to know how to recognize and avoid falling victim to them. 

  1. Verify The Sender: Always check the sender’s e-mail address or domain. Be cautious of misspelled or suspicious e-mail addresses. Legitimate companies and organizations use official domains for their communication.
  1. Don’t Click On Suspicious Links: Hover your mouse over links to see the actual URL they lead to. Be wary of shortened links or URLs that don’t match the sender’s domain. If in doubt, visit the website directly by typing the URL into your browser.
  1. Beware Of Urgency And Pressure: Scammers often create a sense of urgency, claiming limited-time offers or imminent problems. Take your time to verify the authenticity of any claims before taking action.
  1. Double-Check Websites: Before entering personal or financial information on a website, ensure it’s secure. Look for “https://” in the URL, a padlock icon in the address bar and a valid SSL certificate.
  1. Use Two-Factor Authentication (2FA): Enable 2FA wherever possible, especially for online shopping and banking accounts. This provides an extra layer of security, even if your password is compromised.
  1. Educate Yourself And Others: Stay informed about current phishing tactics and share this knowledge with friends and family. The more people are aware, the harder it becomes for scammers to succeed.
  1. Protect Personal Information: Avoid sharing sensitive information via e-mail or text messages, even if the request seems legitimate. Use secure channels for such communication.

While the holiday season is a time for celebration and togetherness, it’s crucial to remain vigilant against holiday phishing scams. Cybercriminals prey on the festive spirit and increased online activity during this time. By recognizing the signs of phishing attempts and following best practices for online security, you can protect yourself and ensure a safe and joyous holiday season for you and your loved ones. 

Business owners: If your staff will be ordering gifts online for clients, make sure they know how to spot a phishing attack and that your network is properly secured in case something slips through the cracks. You don’t want your organization to be negatively impacted by extending holiday goodwill. If you aren’t sure if you’re protected, please give us a call or schedule a 10-minute discovery session with our team. We can help give you peace of mind this holiday season. Click here to book now, and happy holidays! 

What Should Small Businesses In Arizona Pay For IT Support And IT Services?

One of the most commons questions we get from new prospective clients calling our office is “What do you guys charge for your IT services?” 

While price certainly needs to be one consideration, it’s extremely important you make an informed decision and choose the right IT services company instead of using price as the main deciding factor. 

This seems obvious, but the reality is that most <<CEOs/CFOs/etc.>> don’t really know what questions to ask or what to look for when choosing one IT company over another and therefore put too much weight on the quote. 

What you want to avoid is getting lured into a lowball quote from an IT company that is in financial trouble, cutting corners to lower their fees to get you as a client, but then unable to afford to hire experienced, knowledgeable techs, dedicated account managers and the security tools they need to ensure YOU are actually getting the security, stability and service you need. 

So, how much is “too much” and what are the signs that someone is underpriced? 

Recently, an industry report from Service Leadership, the leading financial benchmarking organization in the IT services industry, revealed that a whopping 28% of MSPs (managed services providers, or IT services companies) were unprofitable, and nearly half of all MSPs were under 10% net profit. 

While everyone likes a “bargain,” here are the reasons why “cheaper” is not the advantage you think it is when you choose an underpriced IT company: 

  1. They are woefully short-staffed because the biggest expense in any IT company is the technical staff. THAT means if one of their techs quits, they’re quickly overwhelmed and unable to support your account, and response time suffers, not to mention critical security and backup maintenance of your network.
  1. The staff they hire are at the lower end of the pay scale, which means you’re not getting the most competent people working on backing up your data, keeping your network secure and handling the critical operations and data your business needs.
  1. They are very unlikely to have a dedicated account manager and team to work on your account because they can’t afford to hire them.
  1. They are one or two bad months away from going out of business because they have no buffer. That means you could wake up one morning and find yourself without an IT company, scrambling to find a new one.
  1. They are not “operationally mature.” Operational maturity means their business has the people and professional processes aligned to provide the highest level of QUALITY services to the end client (you).  

In general, according to Service Leadership, the average “per user” fee for managed IT services is $205.07 to $249.73. Those IT firms with an operational maturity level of below average is $146.08 to $157.49 per “user” (or employee using a computer or device they are supporting).  

As you can see, if someone quotes you $120 a user for managing your network, it might feel like a good deal, but you have to ask yourself how they are able to charge nearly 50% less than IT firms that are operationally mature. The answer is obvious – they’re cutting corners, hiring cheap labor and leaving out critical security and compliance services. 

If you want to know what types of questions you should be asking your IT firm (managed services provider), then click here to download our executive guide, “19 Questions You Should Ask Any IT Company Before Signing A Contract Or Letting Them Touch Your IT.” 

This report discusses in detail exactly what to look for to get exactly what you need without unnecessary extras, hidden fees and bloated contracts. But most importantly, it will show you how to get the right support you want in order to lower your risk and eliminate the frustration of dealing with a less than competent IT company. 

May A Force Field Be With You

“That won’t happen to me” is something many business owners say when discussing cyber-scams and the need for adequate protections for their business, but these days it’s getting to be a really, really stupid statement that you definitely don’t want your clients, employees and banker to hear.  

Generative AI (artificial intelligence) tools are allowing scammers to produce deep fakes to defraud their targets. Earlier this year, Clive Kabatznik, an investor in Florida, called his local Bank of America representative to discuss a big money transfer he was planning to make.  

Immediately after this legitimate call, a scammer called the bank back using an AI-generated deepfake voice of “Clive” to convince the banker to transfer the money to another account. Fortunately, the banker was suspicious enough that no money was transferred, but not everyone is as lucky. 

According to a report titled The Artificial Imposter by McAfee, a well-established cyber security firm, 77% of AI voice scams were successful in securing money from their target. Even scarier, AI tools can clone a voice from just three seconds of audio.  

A UK-based energy firm’s CEO was the victim of a voice scam when he thought he was talking to his boss, the CEO of the parent company based in Germany. The voice on the other end of the line instructed him to send the equivalent of $233,000 to a Hungarian supplier. The voice was so convincing, down to the slight German accent, that the CEO complied without hesitation. By the time they realized what had happened, the money had already been transferred to Mexico and distributed to other locations that weren’t traceable.   

But big businesses aren’t the only ones targeted.  

Jennifer DeStefano, a mother of a 15-year-old daughter, recounted during a US Senate hearing her terrifying encounter with an AI scammer who used the voice of her daughter to attempt to convince her that the girl had been kidnapped. Fortunately, her daughter was in her bed sleeping at the time, and Jennifer was able to realize it was a scam. Many others aren’t as lucky as Jennifer and are getting scammed by AI voices of grandchildren, children and other loved ones who “urgently need money.” 

This approach is still so new that there’s no comprehensive accounting of how often it’s happening, but the CEO of Pindrop, a security company that monitors audio traffic for many of the largest US banks, said he had seen a jump in its prevalence this year – and in the sophistication of scammers’ voice-fraud attempts. Another large voice-authentication vendor, Nuance, saw its first successful deepfake attack on a financial services client late last year. 

With the rapid advancement of AI technology and its wider availability as costs come down, coupled with the broad availability of recordings of people’s voices on TikTok, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube, the perfect conditions have been created for voice-related AI scams. 

What do you need to do to protect yourself?  

For starters, share this article to make sure your staff is aware of these types of scams. Next, instruct them to ALWAYS check with you via a text message or other means BEFORE transferring money. If you’re not a business owner, you can do the same with your family, using a code word or other means of verifying the caller’s legitimacy.  

Also, check the caller ID. If it’s something you don’t recognize, or it’s a blocked number, that’s a BIG red flag that it’s a scam. Even if it sounds like them on the other end of the line, hang up and call their phone direct or the place they’re supposed to be (school, office, etc.).  

If the person calling has on-fire urgency and wants money wire-transferred or a Bitcoin payment, that’s another huge red flag. Real emergencies don’t come with highly skeptical payment demands.   

In business, you’ve clawed and climbed your way to the top, dodging all sorts of pitfalls and predators that have tried to make you their meal. Such threats are everywhere, and the higher you climb, the more you’ll find hiding behind every tree, every rock and every step. No matter how small and insignificant you might think you are, you ARE a target for someone, and being casual about cyber security and the threats they pose is an absolute surefire way to be robbed. 

If you don’t want this to happen to you, click here to request a free Cyber Security Risk Assessment to see just how protected your organization is against known predators. If you haven’t had an independent third party conduct this audit in the last 6 months, you’re due.  

It’s completely free and confidential, without obligation. Voice scams are just the latest in a tsunami of threats aimed at small business owners, with the most susceptible being the ones who never “check the locks” to ensure their current IT company is doing what they should. Claim your complimentary Risk Assessment today. 

The Bad Bot Takeover Is Here 

There is one extremely common threat to our security that nearly everyone has witnessed but hardly anyone talks about – bad bots. These silent attackers are often thought of as annoying spam accounts posting computer-generated comments online. They are so common that most of us tend to scroll by them without noticing, but in reality, bad bots are much more dangerous, particularly for business owners.

What Are Bad Bots?

Bad bots are software applications that are programmed to run automated tasks with malicious intent, such as brute force attacks, data mining, ad fraud and more. These stealthy assailants are the tireless, automated “employees” of cybercriminals that help them wreak havoc at scale. And they are everywhere. A study by Imperva revealed that of all Internet traffic in 2022, 47.4% was made up of these automated bots.

The activities of these bad bots can range from annoying to outright malicious. The most common ones we see that can affect any business are:

Reputation Attacks: Bots can be configured to leave comments on your social media or website with malicious codes and links, post provocative or spammy comments, leave scathing reviews and so on, all of which affect consumer trust.

Web Scraping: Bad bots can scrape your website for valuable data, such as pricing information or customer reviews, which they might use for various purposes, including undercutting your prices or selling your data to competitors. They could also use it to duplicate your website and set up phishing scams to trick visitors.

This can be particularly dangerous for industries with sensitive data, like health care. Bots can scrape sensitive health information, such as patient records, medical history and insurance information, which is often later sold on the dark web for profit.

Brute Force Attacks: These bots attempt to gain unauthorized access to your systems by repeatedly guessing passwords, making your accounts vulnerable to breaches. This is a popular tactic against financial services companies. If cybercriminals get access to accounts that contain sensitive financial information, they can open up new credit card accounts.

Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) Attacks: Bad bots can be used to launch DDoS attacks, overwhelming your website or online services with traffic and causing downtime.

Ad Fraud: Some bots engage in click fraud, repeatedly clicking on online ads to deplete your advertising budget without delivering real human engagement. This will skew analytics and often lead to poor decision-making for the marketing department.


Detecting bad bots can be challenging since they often mimic human behavior. The hardest ones to identify are evasive bots, which get their name from their ability to sidestep security by cycling through random IPs, rapidly changing their identities, mimicking human behavior and defeating CAPTCHA challenges. However, there are a few methods to help you identify bad bot attacks:

Watch Traffic Patterns: Monitor website traffic patterns for irregularities, such as high traffic from a single IP address or a single region.

Monitor All Comments Sections: Check in regularly on social media sites for spam comments or fake bad reviews and delete them.

Use CAPTCHA Challenges: Implement CAPTCHA challenges or bot detection tools to filter out automated traffic automatically.

Implement Anomaly Detection: Use anomaly detection algorithms to spot unusual behavior, like rapid data scraping or suspicious login attempts.

Track Bot Signatures: Maintain a list of known bot signatures and compare incoming traffic against it.


If you notice repeated issues, there are a few actions you can take, such as:

Educate Your Team: Train your employees to recognize and report suspicious activities, as humans are often the first line of defense. Create a process that includes who to notify and what steps to take when each issue is noticed.

Use Bot Detection Solutions: Invest in bot detection software or services that can help identify and block bad bot traffic.

Maintain Regular Updates: Keep your software and security systems updated to patch vulnerabilities that bots may exploit.

Implement Rate Limiting: Limit the number of requests an IP address can make in a given time frame to thwart scraping attempts.

Hire An IT Professional: Bots are tricky. IT companies deal with them regularly and have advanced solutions that can help eliminate these annoying and dangerous issues for you.


The impact of bad bots on business owners can be significant and lead to financial losses, reputational damage and legal complications. If you’re worried about bad bots causing a problem for your organization, schedule a FREE 10-Minute Discovery Call and we’ll help figure out where your company is vulnerable and how you can protect yourself and your business today. Click here to book now.

10 Tasks You Didn’t Know Your IT Team Could Do For You

When you run your own business, it feels like there are never enough hours in the day. Even when you start early and end late, there’s always something else, another e-mail or task, nagging for your attention. If you want to be productive, and ultimately successful, it’s important to prioritize what tasks you’ll allow to fill your schedule. Not everything needs to be or should be done by you.  

Easier said than done. One of the issues we frequently see business owners struggle with is to delegate the tasks they don’t need to be doing. “It’s faster if I just do it” and “They won’t do it like I do” are two statements we often hear. For some tasks, that’s probably true, and those should stay on your plate, but when it comes to IT and technology, there are always several tasks business owners are doing themselves that they could and should hand off to someone else.  

Some are obvious, like security. Quality cyber security requires 24/7 monitoring, and it’s unrealistic for busy business owners to be able to handle that effectively. They simply have too much to do! Another mistake is when they hand it off to an employee, family member or friend to do for them. These people are typically not qualified to protect you correctly.  

However, there are dozens of other to-dos that you might not realize you can hand off to your IT team Here are 10 tasks you can delegate to your IT team so you can focus on running your business. 

  1. Fix or Optimize Wi-Fi – Whether your Wi-Fi is down, you need to extend coverage area or something else, you don’t have to crawl around unplugging and plugging your router. Your IT team can handle it. 
  2. Install and Set Up Microsoft Teams – If you’re using tools like Zoom, Slack and project management software, moving to Microsoft Teams can enhance productivity. It facilitates direct communication, project management and collaboration and has over 1,900 applications you can use. IT professionals can set all this up for you and train your team how to use it properly.
  3. Manage User Access Permissions and Credentials – Your IT team can handle getting new employees their correct user access, immediately revoking access for fired employees or those who quit and everything in between. 
  4. Procuring and Provisioning Devices – If you need laptops, desktops, tablets, mobile devices, etc., sourced for the best price and configured for use, that’s a tech team task. 
  5. Providing Tech Support To Employees – No more troubleshooting questions for you! Your team can submit tech tickets for a quick, efficient response from support. 
  6. Set Up Dual Monitors – Want to increase productivity and efficiency? IT can set up dual monitors, correctly hooking everything up, so your team can come in and start working instead of trying to DIY it. 
  7. Speed Up Computers To Run Efficiently – If your computer is running slow, don’t go to Google looking for tips. Call your IT team. They can help you improve your computer speed.
  8. Install E-mail/Spam Protection – No more filtering out dangerous or annoying spam e-mails; IT will do it for you. 
  9. Configure Office Equipment – New printer? No problem. IT can help set it up.
  10. Employee Screen Monitoring – Are your employees working when they say they are? We can help you find out by setting up software to track activity.   

And the list goes on. IT providers can also aid with HIPAA, CMMC and PCI compliance, file sharing for external/remote access users, data loss recovery plans, office relocation, cabling and so much more. Most business owners we consult with are surprised by the number of responsibilities a tech team can take on beyond cyber security. 

The best thing to do is book a FREE Network Assessment. During this assessment, our team will look at your entire system for areas of opportunity and improvement. We’ll conduct a full audit, provide you with a plan of action to optimize your business for productivity, efficiency and security, and answer any questions you have. Click here to book your Assessment now.

Unmasking the Norton LifeLock Email Scam

The Norton LifeLock Email Scam Unveiled

In today’s digital age, our personal information is more vulnerable than ever. Cybercriminals are constantly devising new and sophisticated methods to exploit unsuspecting individuals. One such threat is the Norton LifeLock email scam, a deceptive scheme that targets its victims with the promise of renewing your security while actually compromising information and safety. See sample image below.


The Norton LifeLock email scam operates under the guise of a you as a user renewing your subscription to their service, leveraging the trusted reputation of the Norton brand. Victims receive emails claiming to be from Norton LifeLock, stating that your Norton Internet Security has been successful renewed for a certain amount.

The scam normally preys on the account holders fear that their account had already been charged. Yes, these emails often contain urgent language, playing on fears of a large chunk of money has been charged on their account thus coercing recipients into taking immediate action. If you got really got charged with $353, you would certainly have it disputed with Norton as who they claim to be. Whoever you end up talking on the phone with you, they would try their best to get as much information from you to try to get the money for real.

Lo and behold, the alleged Refund Team is not Norton’s phone number. It is the number of the people scamming you.


Recognizing the signs of a email scam is crucial for protecting yourself and your personal information:

  • Unsolicited Emails: Be wary of emails you didn’t expect or didn’t sign up for, especially those requesting personal information, payments, refunds or immediate action.
  • Spelling and Grammar Errors: Scammers often make mistakes in language that a legitimate company would not. Pay attention to typos, awkward phrasing, or inconsistent formatting.
  • Urgency and Pressure Tactics: Scammers often create a sense of urgency to pressure victims into making hasty decisions. Be cautious of emails that demand immediate action.
  • Suspicious Links or Attachments: Avoid clicking on links or downloading attachments from unfamiliar sources. Hover over links to view the actual URL before clicking. (some scam campaigns variants do not include website links or attachments)
  • Check the Sender’s Email Address: Verify that the email address matches the official domain of Norton LifeLock. Scammers often use slightly altered domain names to deceive recipients.


Always be Cautious with Personal Information: Avoid sharing sensitive information via phone, email or on unsecured websites. Legitimate companies typically request such information through secure channels.

These email scams get recycled and updated to suit the scammers needs, today it is Norton, tomorrow they might pretend to be Bank of America, Chase, FedEx, DHL, PayPal or something else.

How To Get Out Of Overwhelm And Manage Projects Brilliantly (While Saving Money On IT) 

It’s a special kind of relentless attack all business owners and managers face: the persistent, crazy, chaotic assault on your time and attention. No one is immune, and every business deals with it.  

Some leaders handle the constant pressure on their attention brilliantly, keeping the team organized and highly productive. But most people struggle with this and feel crushed and overwhelmed by all the things they have to keep track of and do. This goes double if your business is in growth mode and not “standing still” or casually strolling through its existence.   

Add to this a remote workforce, and it can be intensely difficult to wrap your head around all the projects, to-dos, deadlines and client deliverables you and your leadership team must manage.  

While we as an IT company cannot tell you what projects are most important, we can absolutely help you and your team stay far more organized and allow you to know if the people on your team are properly aligned, prioritizing the right work and focused on the things you want them to focus on. We can also help you organize communication to lessen the chances of a dropped ball or a communication failure, which is by far the #1 reason why problems happen in business. 

One of the tools we recommend to clients wanting to get more operational control and clearer communication is Microsoft Teams. There are a lot of reasons why this is a “super tool” for productivity and organizational alignment, but as a bonus, it typically ends up saving our clients quite a bit of money on technology, because it replaces other applications, like Slack, Zoom and dozens of popular project management software, putting all of it into one lower-cost, more secure and more tightly integrated system. 

Let me share just a few of the cool features you’ll love in Teams. Keep in mind that this list is far from complete. Microsoft Teams has over 1,900 applications you can pick from to integrate into a Teams Channel to organize information, workflow, tasks, deadlines and documents.  

Posts: The “post” feature works a lot like Slack in that it will allow you to post questions, reminders and status updates to everyone on that Team regarding that project. This not only keeps ALL communication for a project in one place, but it creates a history and alerts everyone on the team to what’s going on. This feature saves a lot of money for companies using Slack since it’s native and included in Microsoft Teams. 

Tasks By Planner And To-Do: This section of Teams is one of our favorites because it allows you to create “complex” to-do lists where you can assign each item to one or more people; have a progress status, priority and due date; add documents and files; and create a checklist of all the things that need to be done. Better yet, team members who are responsible for the project can provide status updates and check off items that are completed so you know where you are with any particular project. 

Video Conferencing: While Teams is not as slick as Zoom, it does have some features that make it better for team collaboration and projects. The biggest advantage over Zoom is that you can hold a video conference, and the recording of the meeting – along with all of the notes, files and links – will remain in that Team for easy reference later on. This can be extremely helpful for people who might not have been able to attend a meeting, making it easy for them to find and watch the recording, and it also retains a record of critical conversations. Plus, it eliminates expensive Zoom licenses for all employees because it’s included in Microsoft 365.  

If you want to see a demo of Teams or do a cost analysis to see how implementing this can save your organization money on Slack, Zoom and other project management software by combining it into one application, click here to schedule a brief call. 

Why Cyber Security Compliance Doesn’t Belong In The IT Department’s Hands

What if you discovered that all of the hard work, investments and time you’ve put into growing your business is at risk due to a failure of your outsourced IT company, or possibly even your well-meaning (but overburdened) IT department? If you were exposed to that level of risk, wouldn’t you want someone to tell you about it? 

 This article is that wake-up call. 

 Over the last several years, the risks associated with cyber security attacks have grown in magnitude. They are no longer a low-probability hazard that will result in a minor inconvenience. Businesses of all sizes and types are getting hacked and losing hundreds of thousands of dollars, or even multiple millions, in addition to suffering significant reputational damage and loss of customer goodwill. For some, it’s a business-ending event. For nearly everyone else, it’s a significant financial disaster that can negatively impact profits and revenue for years.  

 Yet too many CEOs and small business owners are still abdicating critical decisions regarding risk tolerance and compliance policies to their IT company or IT department when these decisions no longer belong there. 

 For example, let’s suppose you have an employee who refuses to comply with strict data security and password policies and continually fails cyber security awareness training, putting your company at risk for a cyber-attack and compliance violation. Should your IT manager or IT company fire this employee? Reprimand them? Is it even their IT department’s job to manage employee behavior with company data and devices? If you say yes, the question is, when was the last time you met with them to specifically address this issue and direct them on how to monitor and manage it? Likely never – or once, a very long time ago. 

 Therein lies the problem. Most CEOs would agree that it’s not up to the IT department to make that call, yet many of these same CEOs leave it entirely up to the IT department (or outsourced IT company) to handle the situation and make decisions about what is allowed, what isn’t, how much risk they want to take, etc.  

 Worse yet, many CEOs aren’t even aware that they SHOULD have such policies in place to ensure your company isn’t compromised or at risk – and it’s not necessarily your IT person’s job to determine what should or shouldn’t be allowed. That’s your job as the CEO. 

 As another example, many companies have invested in cyber liability, ransomware or crime insurance policies to provide financial relief in the event of a cyber-attack and cover the exorbitant legal, IT and related costs that result when such an event occurs. Yet our experience shows that most insurance agents and brokers do not understand and cannot convey to the CEOs they are selling a policy to the IT requirements needed to secure a policy. Therefore, they never advise their client to make sure they get with their IT provider or internal IT to ENSURE the right protocols are in place, or risk having coverage denied for failure to comply with the requirements in the policy they just sold them. 

 When a cyber event occurs and the claim gets denied, whose fault is it? The insurance agent for not warning you? Your IT department or company for not putting in place protocols they weren’t even briefed on? Ultimately, it’s on you, which is why you as the CEO must make sure that decisions impacting the risk to your organization are informed ones, not decisions made by default.  

 Of course, a great IT company will bring these issues to your attention and offer guidance, but most are just keeping the “lights” on and the systems up, NOT consulting their clients on enterprise risk and legal compliance.  

 If you want to make sure your organization is actually prepared for and protected from the aftermath of a cyber-attack, click here to schedule a private consultation with one of our advisors about your concerns. It’s free of charge and may be extremely eye-opening for you. 

College-Age Kids Are A Prime Target For Cybercriminals – Make Sure Your Students Are Safe At School 

College has changed since many of us were students. Years ago, we’d be shuffling from class to class, holding a single notebook and a pencil for scribbling down notes. There wasn’t as big a risk of photos or data being stolen online. 

That’s no longer the case. Students today have at least one – usually two or three – devices readily available. The scary part is, most college-age students think of themselves as tech-savvy “digital natives”; however, a study by Atlas VPN showed that Gen-Zers and millennials are the age groups most likely to fall for phishing scams. 

In fact, according to the National Cybersecurity Alliance, 20% of Gen-Zers have had their identity stolen at least once. 

Here are just a few of the terrifying ways cybercriminals attack this young crowd: 

  • Unpaid tuition notifications – scammers will send fake e-mails to students claiming they owe a certain amount of money or it’ll affect their enrollment.
  • Fake financial aid, grant or scholarship websites that, when clicked, either steal their information or install malware on their computer.
  • Fake Wi-Fi accounts set up by hackers in public places to steal passwords and private data when their device connects.
  • Social media scams used to gather private information to either hack accounts or set up new ones.
  • Hacking phones or social media accounts to steal photos and blackmail students into payment so they don’t release them publicly. 

Sadly, the list goes on and on! 

How can kids raised on technology fall for so many scams? Here are just a few of the big reasons why: 

  • Hackers know most students aren’t properly educated on cyberthreats because they’ve always worked on computers that were secured by the school or their parents
  • They grew up using social media and feel comfortable divulging private information about themselves (that thieves can harvest and later use to initiate an attack).
  • This is a big one – they have no or very little credit, giving cyberscammers a smoother path to opening accounts in their name.
  • They have multiple connected devices like phones, laptops, tablets and watches that give criminals more avenues to attack. 
  • College kids are distracted. They’re focused on school and making friends, and NOT cyber security, making it easy to let a cybercriminal slip by undetected until it’s too late. 


What can you do? 

We have robust cyber security solutions and 24-hour monitoring to protect the businesses that we work with and can even recommend at-home security software, but what about when your kids go off to school, away from your watchful eye? 

You certainly can’t pack up and camp out at college to make sure they’re following cyber security best practices. But you can make sure they know what to look out for and give them the tools and resources to stay as safe as possible. 

Here are 14 actions your child can take to prevent being a victim of cybercrime when they’re off at college: 

  1. Invest in strong, trusted virus and spyware protection and run scans once a week.
  2. Never click “Remind Me Tomorrow” when a phone or computer wants to update. Turn on automatic updates when possible.
  3. Keep all browsers, extensions and operating systems updated.
  4. Back up the computer to the cloud regularly to avoid losing data if there is an attack.
  5. Do not visit or enter credit card information on websites that aren’t secure (HTTPS:// only!).
  6. Don’t connect to public Wi-Fi. Use a personal hotspot or VPN when on the go.
  7. Beware of phishing scams. Do not click links or open attachments in e-mails, especially from unknown senders. Google websites and search instead of clicking links.
  8. Use strong, unique passwords and use a password manager.
  9. Regularly delete cookies. These can create “loopholes” for hackers to get into a network.
  10. Only install software and apps from trusted sources.
  11. Use multifactor authentication.
  12. Lock all devices and don’t share passwords, even with your new best friend.
  13. Cover all webcams – there are stickers for purchase online, but tape and paper will work.
  14. Register devices with the school in the event they are stolen. 

Run through this list with your children! When students leave for college, cyber security is not a priority for them, but unfortunately, if they’re targeted it could negatively impact their lives at a time when they’re just getting started. 

Cyber security takes just a few minutes of conscious effort but is a critical lesson to learn in this age when nearly everything we do involves technology. The risks of cybercrime will only continue to grow. 

If your organization could benefit from cyber security training similar to this but more in-depth for employees, so they know the risks and best practices of cyber security, we can help. Start with a completely FREE Cybersecurity Risk Assessment by clicking here.