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Go Hybrid Workforce, Go Hybrid Cloud

Go Hybrid Workforce, Go Hybrid Cloud

As part of a post-pandemic plan, businesses are solidifying and strengthening remote worker infrastructure and allowing employees to bounce between casual and corporate office settings. As a long-term commitment to flexible work environments and work-life balance, companies are increasing remote worker support by deploying private and hybrid cloud infrastructure to secure, protect, and optimize a hybrid workforce.

Hybrid Cloud Hybrid Workforce

Solutions Like Microsoft Teams for Remote Teams

Teams are divided like never before, and this has proven to be a good thing. By allowing a hybrid workforce, you empower workers to choose the best setting for the work at hand. Social distancing requirements necessitated home offices, but in a post-pandemic era, that same flexible cloud-based infrastructure can allow workers to tap into secure software solutions, like Microsoft Teams, and complete their work from home, or from a hotel or other remote setting. Microsoft Teams provides an innovative toolset, giving remote workers everything they need to communicate and organize workflows.

When employees are dispersed, employers have to be creative with the software solutions they choose for basic business communication and operation. A secure network infrastructure needs to be properly managed so that productivity levels stay high. Employees must understand the tools they’re given, and they also need to be trained so that they understand the risks of remote connectivity. A software like Microsoft 365 comes with basic cybersecurity by default, but these cloud-based solutions require trained users, good management, and often need supplemental software and services, like SECaaS (Security as a Service).

Benefits of the Hybrid Cloud for a Hybrid Workforce

The main objective of a hybrid system, whether it be a hybrid cloud or a hybrid workforce, is to create optimal work productivity, low turnover of talented staff, and high ROI (return on investment) of purchased software and services. When you’re combining on-premise technology with remote enablement tools, you’ll need to invest in a cloud management team that understands the risks of hybrid systems.

Digital Transformation Results in More Access, Better Resources

In a hybrid cloud environment, employers can create coast-to-coast and even international teams without increasing the risk of a security breach. With managed IT services in place, companies can use specialized external staff to maintain the cloud platform, using technology to stay relevant and competitive. 

Working with a Managed Service Provider (MSP) helps your business by giving you a complete suite of technology solutions and skills for every IT need that comes with hybrid systems. If your employees need to access your company data from a home office, then you can ensure that the web browser is protected by state-of-the-art cybersecurity solution.

What Cloud Does Your Hybrid Workforce Need?

If you’ve always done business in an on-premises infrastructure, then the shift to remote work might have put your sensitive data at risk early in the pandemic when companies weren’t aware of the risks of public cloud services and public cloud environments. Now that hybrid work is becoming a “benefit,” similar to a company discount program or company car, hybrid cloud solutions are replacing the basic web-browser access of the remote workforce of the past. 

An off-premises data center can create a cost-effect hybrid cloud architecture, giving you a robust backup and disaster recovery solution for all of your software, including those that work by default in a public cloud capacity. 

Can Public Clouds Turn Hybrid Workforces Into Hybrid Monsters?

If you Google “cloud,” you’ll see that a business cloud strategy means something different to everyone. When creating the cloud-based infrastructure for your remote employees, you should carefully design your cloud to give you the uptime, backup, and security you need to manage your business. Be leery of promises of the simplicity of public cloud offerings. Take on-premise technology and private cloud solutions into consideration before letting a third-party vendor limit you to the public cloud.

Please Fill Out the Form Below to Get a Free Hybrid Workforce Assessment

Let’s begin a conversation and see if your business would benefit from a robust hybrid cloud solution.

Who Knows What You’re Doing For Data Privacy Week?

Who Knows What You’re Doing For Data Privacy Week?

The EstesGroup 2022 data privacy initiative focuses on educating businesses on best practices for collecting data and promoting transparency, respect, and security.

Every second, EstesGroup cybersecurity experts work to protect the data of our customers, our employees, our partners, and our friends. In this spirit, we are once again a Data Privacy Week Champion. As one of the leading cloud providers in the nation, we know full well how important it is to recognize and support the principle that all organizations share the responsibility of protecting information.

Data Privacy Week 2022 Champion

Data Privacy Week Raises Awareness Within Organizations

The COVID-19 pandemic has blurred private environments, like bedrooms and living rooms, into corporate offices, given our increased dependence on remote workforces. A universal respect for privacy has never been more important: the pandemic has also increased international attacks on American businesses, and this has left the homes of remote workers vulnerable to cyberthreats most common in traditional office settings.

EstesGroup helps businesses manage data through advanced cloud-based solutions that offer the protection levels trusted by medical record keepers, law offices, manufacturers, distributors, and more. We promise to guard our clients at every level possible:

We protect online data, and we secure offline data with the same robust approach to risk management that makes even the most sensitive information safe in the hands of our IT staff.

We prevent unauthorized access and ensure that compliance regulations are not only met, but exceeded.

We secure employees wherever they are and train them to protect themselves against the perils of digital harm.

We educate our customers so that they handle their data wisely and keep everyone in their networks and supply chains safe from cyberthreats.

Data collection is only increasing, and the risks are following suit.

The Pew Research Center reports that 79% of adults in the United States are worried about the security of their data as it is handled by organizations. Here are a few tips to earn the trust of your employees and customers by deploying secure privacy management strategies:

  • Save now, secure now: There is no room for procrastination in cybersecurity. If you save the data, protect it.
  • Go now, know now: Choose your cyber pathways wisely, and know who in your company is traveling where and ensure that you are documenting digital tracks so that a breach can be traced after disaster strikes.
  • Collect now, share now: If you are collecting information, inform your employees and customers about how you are saving, using, and sharing information through clear and concise policies that abide by privacy laws.
  • Behave now, train now: Know how to behave and train your employees to do likewise.

Understand Data Privacy

  1. Get a free cyber health check from EstesGroup.
  2. Sign up for a full security audit at least once a year.
  3. Enroll in educational programs at least once a year so that you’re fully informed about how the digital landscape is changing.

Manage Data Privacy

  1. Distribute and post current policies to all employees.
  2. Delete unused applications and move vulnerable data offline using secure backup plans.
  3. Use firewalls, encryption, cybersecurity solutions, and disaster recovery planning services.
  4. Move operations into a private or hybrid cloud environment for the most control over your data, ensuring cybersecurity and privacy at every endpoint.
  5. Ensure that your partners and vendors have up-to-date privacy measures in place so that your employees and customers are also protected in your extended network.

For more information regarding adoption of a robust privacy framework to meet industry compliance regulations, please learn more about NIST. If you would like help understanding the details of NIST Privacy Framework, AICPA Privacy Management Framework, ISO/IEC 27701 – International Standard for Privacy Information Management, please contact the EstesCloud team.

As privacy management champions, we have your back — and can manage your backup, too.

5 Signs Your Business Needs Cybersecurity Training

5 Signs Your Business Needs Cybersecurity Training

Cybersecurity Education Begins With Ownership

Small and medium sized business owners beware! 65% of attacks that originate in cyberspace are aimed at companies that think they’re too small to be of interest to cybercriminals. If you think you’re at low risk, read on and see why our IT security consultants recommend cybersecurity training for everyone.

Cybersecurity Training Hacker in Network Security Lock

Are you a small business owner? Or are you a once-small company now grown into the medium range of corporate presence? When it comes to cybersecurity solutions for businesses, you always have to structure your services and behavior to prepare as if you’re bigger than you are. This involves a comprehensive security solution that covers your entire company network, from suppliers to employees. Do you have an enterprise-level cybersecurity strategy that protects every connection and end user from digital harm?

If you own a business, you know how precious your data is to daily operations. Profitability depends on good data management behaviors. Because all companies are vulnerable to hackers, your data should be presumed insecure. Cybersecurity should be a proactive approach to cybercrime, rather than a reactive (disaster recovery) move.

Are you on a cybercrime watchlist?

Breaches happen, even to the most prepared companies. Therefore, your risk management policies should be revisited frequently. Business owners should be part of this process. A board of advisors might be beneficial, and it can be cost-effective to outsource this high-level cybersecurity work to a virtual CIO or to a firm with the technology skills that guarantee security for your data.

What happens when a hacker is watching your business?

It takes about a half of a year for business owners to become aware that a hacker has breached the network. It also takes about two months to react to a cyber attack. 

Here are five signs your business is at risk and in need of cybersecurity training:

1. You are a small or medium size business.

Far less likely to report cybercrime to the authorities, small and midsized companies are viewed by hackers as a low-risk target. Manufacturers and distributors are often looking to scale, and maintaining a good reputation is key to a successful future. As a growing business, you wouldn’t want your reputation to include a history of victimization by way of ransomware.

2. You think it’s a small problem or that someone else is addressing the issue of cyber safety.

Fear of expense often prevents small and midsize manufacturers and distributors from securing the technology solutions and services they need to protect their data. A good backup solution isn’t enough, even though this is what many company owners depend on for risk management. When planning your IT department budget, price out outsourced help, especially when it comes to cybersecurity. Often, the experts at an IT managed services provider (MSP) will be more friendly to the budget than on-site technology staff.

3. You think you need to cut the IT budget… but IT costs are actually decreasing.

Firewalls and phishing filters are a necessity these days. Due to a mix of popularity and availability, technology cost trends show that business owners can get enterprise-level technology services with affordable pricing. Cloud-based IT services, such as SECaaS (Security as a Service) look at the unique needs of your business and adjust pricing accordingly. Only pay for what you need.

4. Your employees don’t know what they don’t know.

Cybersecurity training might be the most important activity you schedule for the end of 2021 or the beginning of 2022. The time is now. Hackers take advantage of poorly trained employees on a daily basis. 95% of security breaches are successful because of human error. Train, train, and train again. Technology is an ever-evolving field, and this ripples into the dark web as cutting-edge malware. Protecting your talented staff from the dark web is key to employee retention in today’s culture.

Fortunately, cyber education is often free online. Formal training is easy on the budget. If you have a million customers relying on your manufacturing operations to maintain uptime, your cyber security plan needs to defend more than credit card numbers and social security numbers. You need an IT solution that comprehensively protects the countless connections along your supply chain, right down to the home offices of your remote workers. 

Sign up for a ransomware simulation attack today to see if your employees are ready for disaster. Employees are eager to learn security breach mitigation strategies because their personal information is at risk in the event of a data leak. Information security begins with security training.

5. You’re likely to pay the ransom if you are attacked.

More than half of small businesses pay a ransom. Reasons revolve around damage control: you definitely don’t want your data or your reputation harmed by a ransomware attack, so in the moment you are likely to pay the attacker. If you think you’d be likely to pay a ransomer to get your data back, then you stand unprepared. Once you have a solid cybersecurity plan in place with a crew of talented IT staff to support your solutions, you’ll know that you’ll never pay a hacker a dime of your earnings. In the event that you experience a breach, you’ll know that you have an incident response plan that won’t involve a ransom payment.

Today’s cyber landscape is riddled with massive corporations hitting the news for million-dollar ransomware attacks. When was your last security audit? It’s better to act as a big little company in a technology culture in which the hackers are frequently more skilled than even the best IT staff.

  • Empower your workers with the best solutions so that they can use their talents to their full extent.
  • Prevent identity theft of employees by securing personal data and corporate data.
  • Bring in a white hat hacker to test both onsite and remote cybersecurity solutions and services.

Can your staff respond properly to a data breach? Do you have an incident response plan clearly delineated so that all employees understand your disaster recovery process? Have employees been thoroughly trained to recognize cyber threats lurking in their email accounts as phishing attempts?

Cybersecurity training involves both on-premise and cloud-based breach mitigation techniques. EstesGroup offers coast-to-coast onsite and cloud IT services, including everything from project and budget planning to education and monitoring.

Managed Services vs. Break-Fix IT

Managed Services vs. Break-Fix IT

What happens when break-fix IT breaks?

As a business owner, you make daily decisions on how to serve your customers and how to improve your company. As part of this, you choose partners and solutions to create a support system that guarantees the quality of your work. A business process review is a popular step in the direction of improvement. For IT support services, small and medium-sized companies often fall into a costly “break-fix” cycle. Business owners can quickly end this break-fix madness by partnering with a managed services provider for affordable, reliable IT plans that are based on unique needs.

Managed Services IT Backup Cloud on Desktop

What is “break-fix” IT?

If a computer or a phone breaks or a server goes down, do you call around until you find someone who can fix the problem? This is break-fix IT. You go about your business, and when something breaks, you pay someone to fix it.

Large companies often have an in-house break-fix team that can manage everything from mobile phones to on-site servers, but these tasks need to be balanced with more complicated demands. No matter what your company size, break-fix IT is expensive and stressful. Managed IT services provide a way for you to break the break-fix cycle while lowering both risks and costs. You can even move to a more competitive managed cloud environment via new cutting-edge hosting solutions.

Signs you’re in a break-fix IT model:

  • Unpredictability across departments: Your technology fails, and all departments spin into chaos.
  • Downtime: Unexpected software and hardware failures reduce productivity and increase costs.
  • Lost revenue: Downtime is only one part of the problem, especially when a security breach is the cause of shutdown.
  • Outages: If the network is down, how can your employees support your customers?
  • Stress: The inherent stress of a break-fix IT strategy can result in high turnover and toxic work culture.

Managed IT Services that End Break-Fix IT Unpredictability

Managed Services Provide Unbreakable IT Solutions

While the break-fix model may work for a time, it ends up costing more than you plan for. This might lead you to consider hiring new in-house IT staff. However, a managed service provider can give you the same talent at lowers costs, and the services are 24/7/365 — and you don’t have to pay for benefits, vacation days, sick days, training, and everything else that supports an in-house IT department.

EstesGroup wants you to find the best IT services for your business. Learn more about our flexible IT solutions today.

Ready for a managed cloud solution that lets you completely focus on your business while EstesGroup IT & ERP specialists manage your infrastructure? Get a free demo of ECHO, our EstesCloud hosting solution. Learn more about SYSPRO hosting, Sage hosting, Epicor hosting, and Prophet 21 hosting today.

3 Signs It’s Time For a Server Upgrade

3 Signs It’s Time For a Server Upgrade

Is Your Server Seeing Stars?

Sometimes called a “super computer” or simply a “computer bigger than yours,” a server is a technological infrastructure that hosts a shared resource pool. Servers become more complicated as small businesses grow and require multiple pieces of hardware to support company software. A multi-site company might have multiple servers at each location to support various types of users, devices, and software interactions. Many of us never physically see the servers that support our personal devices, yet our data is available across phones, laptops, tablets, and desktops. Unfortunately, old servers put our data at risk. Is it time to take a good look at a server upgrade?

Server Upgrade IT Strategy Team

Sign #1: The Word “Outdated” Comes to Mind When You Think About Your Server

A timely server upgrade can increase profitability by giving you a competitive edge since a server upgrade is most often a “profit now, profit later” occasion. For example, Section 179 allows business owners to upgrade technology and write off purchases. Business growth is challenging, and investments can be risky, and there are programs in place that acknowledge and assist with this reality. Like you might replace an old furnace or broken window when the timing is right for tax deductions, you might replace old technology when your CFO or accountant sees an opportunity to take advantage of a tax break.

Sign #2: You Find Yourself Questioning the Security of Your Data

A handful of “S” words haunt the security issue, with servers as the first serve. When looking for signs of server insecurity, also inspect system assessment history, speed issues, storage requirements, and sensitivity of information handling.

Is your current server architecture safe from hackers? Ransomware is becoming an amateur hacker’s play now that Cybercrime as a Service is becoming a popular business exchange on the Dark Web. SaaS (Software as a Service) and BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) cultures increase the risk as they both allow more complex interactions with your network.

How much of your data is sensitive, and can your servers keep up with compliance regulations? If your office handles medical information, you’ll need technology solutions that comply with HIPAA. The acronyms of compliance are often industry-specific notations that change yearly to adapt to new threats.

Backup management and documentation strategies need to be supported by a network that can process information swiftly and without risk of data loss. Storage needs increase as devices become more interactive, and physical servers don’t offer the same flexibility as virtualized servers, so this is also something to take into consideration as you question data security. No room in the server means no data saved for your future. Inadequate or improper data storage can become a costly mistake that can lead to significant strain on your budget.

Sign #3: You Worry About Stability & Know a Server Upgrade Could Help

If you have a physical server to maintain, you know the burdens of cooling costs, fire alarms, and on-site security systems. Your server room is vulnerable to both physical and virtual attacks. Business owners rarely have time to analyze every file created, and every company click needs to be protected from malware and other threats. Ask yourself a few questions to see how much you know about the stability and accessibility of your backups:

  • How do you archive company information?
  • What are the greatest risks to your servers?
  • If you need to upgrade your technology every 5 – 10 years, when will your servers need to be replaced so that you can stay competitive amid advancements?
  • How long would it take to migrate your data to another physical server? Would it be more efficient to migrate data to the cloud? Is your data already somewhere in the cloud?

Now Is the Time To Take a Closer Look at Your Server

Unfortunately, on-premise servers fail, and routine assessments are necessary. EstesGroup can help. Our IT specialists are here 24/7 to provide recommendations for IT infrastructure, maintenance, testing, & more.

Wish to know more about server management?

How to Create a Strategic BDR Plan

How to Create a Strategic BDR Plan

The Right Data For Backup & Disaster Recovery

For backup and disaster recovery (BDR) planning, you need more than a trusted solution. You need a data center that can’t fail. You need an IT team that won’t keep you up at night. Server room aside, you might want to back up everything, or you might want to delete outdated information. You might fear that your BDR plan will be too expensive if it becomes all-inclusive, or you might wonder if you’re cutting costs while risking a slow restore in the event of a disaster. Fortunately, many IT service plans for disaster recovery often rely on managed cloud services that allow you to scale up or down, adjusting your costs on a monthly, or even daily, basis (depending on your managed IT solution). However, BDR options abound, so let’s look at how to build the right BDR plan for your business needs.

BDR Solutions Across Devices

Choosing BDR

Things to consider when choosing a BDR plan revolve around your own personal preferences regarding on-premise backup vs. cloud backup. Where do you want your data stored? The varieties of BDR options are seemingly endless as we move toward a society that depends on cloud-based technology to enable nearly every aspect of business culture. Your BDR decisions are vital and unique to your company size, geography, climate, and more. Small business technology can help businesses struggling to grow stay competitive, even when business is slow. Larger businesses, especially manufacturers with complex ERP systems, choose cloud-based BDR for peace of mind against ever-evolving threats of cyberattacks and downtime. Across all industries and organizations, good BDR planning promotes the universally desired benefits of reduced risks and lower costs. So, information management similarities and differences in mind, where do you want to save, store and share your company data?

BDR Plan Quick Q&A

  • How much critical data do you need to fully protect?
  • How many users and devices will be affected by your backup and disaster recovery plan?
  • What are your greatest vulnerabilities (natural disasters, ransomware, malwaresocial engineering attacks)?
  • Do you know your RTO & RPO? Do you need DRaaS?
  • What is your BDR training and testing strategy?
  • Have you ever experienced data loss or data corruption? How did you respond? Did you achieve restoration?

Save Your Files & Save Them Again

Where is your data currently stored? In a web-based software? On a server in an office closet? In the basement storage area? In multiple places, including on personal devices (in light of BYOD trends)? You’re not alone if you’re struggling with data management. Likewise, you’re not alone if you’re struggling to choose a BDR solution that will be a perfect fit for your company’s future.

3 Basic BDR Roadmaps

If you want to back up everything, or if you want to back up one file, you have three basic options for saving your information.

  • Cloud services for BDR with true cloud environments and 100% virtual office infrastructure
  • Software solutions deployed on company-owned hardware that stores backups for disaster recovery
  • Hybrid cloud infrastructure that leverages cloud-based software solutions, off-site data centers and external technology specialists

Back up, Data Backup

A common concern is that a cloud-based BDR solution will cause excessive external data center usage, resulting in unforeseen ingress and egress expenses, among other unpredictable costs. The fear of creating luxury backups is real, and business owners have struggled in the past with surprise bills that read like fine-print privacy disclosures. This is why the planning stages of your business continuity strategy are critical in terms of IT budgeting. If you’re concerned about decisions regarding incremental backups, recovery point objectives, recovery time objectives, compliance, and all other backup and disaster recovery choices and expenses, then you’ll do well to first assess your core operations. If migrating to managed hosting, you might choose to waterfall excess data storage (such as old servers or unused servers) away from your cloud solutions. An IT specialist can assess your systems and make detailed server management recommendations.

Your BDR Plan Data Core

In a perfect business world, you can back up all of your data and also securely delete it at whim. Unfortunately, the burden of managing data often requires a highly skilled IT team to monitor and safeguard your BDR hardware and software. If you’re not at the point at which you can easily back up everything daily, then you’ll want to ensure you’re protecting critical information.

  • Financial data, including accounting software, invoices, payroll, transactions
  • Customer information and client data, including saved CRM information like prospect notes and lists
  • Critical data from project management activities
  • Employee information, including all HR files that enable operations
  • Paper-based communications, including image saves and scans
MSPAlliance Cyber Verify A Rating Badge Awarded to EstesGroup

A Perfect Plan For Your Business

If you need proactive or reactive backup and disaster recovery services, EstesCloud technology consultants are highly skilled at on-premise, hybrid and private cloud solutions. An IT expert can help you create a penny-wise BDR solution that keeps your data safe.