2 Places You Should Never Cut
Corners With IT

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Today’s technology empowers business owners in ways that would have seemed incredible even 10 years ago. With a humming network connecting your team to the rest of the world, and with just a few simple keystrokes, your organisation can complete tasks in hours that used to take days.

However, the endless possibility that accompanies technological advancement comes with a catch: to be truly effective, IT requires investment – not just of capital, but of time and attention, resources all too dear to the harried entrepreneurs of the modern age. Perhaps this is why, everywhere you look, small to medium size business owners are not only failing to realise the full potential of their technology but are unknowingly leaving massive gaps in their systems and processes for malicious entities to exploit. So, budding companies that would otherwise dominate the market are prematurely stamped out by competitors who realise the importance of IT or are stung by costly data breaches.

Even in the midst of this trend, we understand how easy it is to ignore your company’s glaring technological gaps. You imagine that you don’t have the time or money to address the issue, or that you’ll do it down the road once your business is better established. But no matter how big or small your business may be, there are a couple of foundational technological concerns that you should never cut corners on:

1. SECURITY

Pretty much every successful company today is intimately intertwined with the technology on which it depends. So, it makes sense that your primary worry should be protecting what’s yours from those who want to steal it. Think of it this way: would you hire a really cheap locksmith to secure your office? Of course not. Then why do so many business owners put their livelihood behind a flimsy, cheap firewall – or, even worse, a free antivirus? In 2018, it is more likely that your business will fall victim to a cyber-attack than it is that thieves will arrive at your office in the dead of night, according to a recent report from Kroll.

SEC Commissioner Luis Aguilar wrote, “Cyber security is clearly a concern that the entire business community shares, but it represents an especially pernicious threat to smaller businesses. The reason is simple:

“Small and medium size businesses are not just targets of cybercrime; they are the principal targets.” With this in mind, cyber security should always be one of your top priorities.

2. TECH SUPPORT THAT GOES BEYOND THE “BREAK-FIX” APPROACH

It’s difficult to overestimate the money, time and stress it can cost you when your technology breaks down. Between server downtime, haywire software, connectivity issues and myriad other potential problems, when your IT breaks, it can cause more than a massive headache – it can put you out of business.

Most business owners realise this, but many still opt for the classic “break-fix” strategy. Unfortunately, “If it isn’t broke…” is a dangerous maxim by which to steer a ship. If you wait to address a problem until after it becomes an issue, you’re inviting a crisis into the equation that could easily have been avoided with a keen, proactive eye. When your server fails, or your network experiences hiccups, or some other unforeseen issue rears its ugly head, an unfamiliar break-fix technician will take longer to fix the issue than an expert who’s been working with your specific network from start to finish and already knows it inside out. It’s just not worth it.

In addition, proactively managed service providers will consistently make recommendations to keep your company competitive and plan for the future. Whether it be a small software upgrade here, a patch there or an overhaul of your server system, these moves can be invaluable in the breakneck marketplace. Of course, since they’re keeping tabs on your tech at all times, any potential problems get addressed long before they hit your bottom line.

By leveraging technology, you and your business can do amazing things. Partner with a team of IT professionals who are actively invested in your success and confidently push your company into 2019.

Free Report Download: The Business Owner’s Guide To IT Support Services And Fees

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SHINY NEW GADGET OF THE MONTH: The Casio ProTrek Smart - A Watch Built For Adventure

Casio

Today, a lover of the outdoors needs to demand more from their devices if they’re going to get the most out of their adventures. The best tech boasts robust, easy-to-use features.

Luckily, the Casio ProTrek Smart WSDF20 watch does exactly that, in one attractive, intelligent package. Every capability you’d expect from an outdoors-focused device is overhauled here. From the altimeter to the barometer and even the feature-rich compass. Perhaps the best tool is the full-colour map you can display on its face, which detects and displays changes in the atmosphere and weather up to the minute. If you’re looking for a sturdy, powerful tool to bring along on your next excursion, it’d be tough to do better than this.

Available from Cotswold Outdoor for £399.99. A great Christmas present?! (for yourself 😊)


The Importance Of Pride - The Key To Better Serving Your Customers

By Robert Stevenson

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The famous business guru Peter Drucker wrote more than 10,000 pages on the subject of management. Across 39 books translated into 36 languages, you can bet he learned a bit along the way. There is only one valid definition of business purpose: “To create a customer. The customer is the foundation of a business and keeps it in existence. He [the customer] alone gives employment.”

Recently, I had the opportunity to work with Farm Credit Services, a customer-owned financial cooperative that finances and protects farmers. Everywhere I turned and with every person I interviewed, it was obvious Mr. Drucker would be thrilled with their business philosophy. Their customer is truly their No. 1 priority. All policies, procedures, products and services are in place for the sole purpose of helping their customers.

Maybe we should all consider ourselves “customer-owned cooperatives.” After all, every part of our existence is based upon our customers. They may not directly own our companies, as they do at Farm Credit Services, but, as Mr. Drucker wrote, they alone give us employment.

When I interviewed some of their members did I uncover any complaints, concerns or frustrations? Yes, I did. Every company has them. But more importantly, I discovered how proud they were to be serving their customers. Their heartfelt dedication to doing everything they could to ensure their customers succeed in a competitive and volatile market was a pleasure to witness. If someone were to ask me how I would sum up Farm Credit Services, I would choose one word: proud.

You can’t mandate proud. You can’t force people to be proud. Pride is a culture, a foundation deeply rooted in the fabric of an organisation. You can feel it whenever you’re around a proud organisation, see it in the actions of their entire team and hear it in their words. If you want to succeed, both personally and as a business, then you need to:

  • Think proud – embody pride in your attitude.
  • Feel proud and show it in everything you do.
  • Be proud and be willing to stamp your name on the job you do for the people you serve.

4 Ways Your Employees Will Invite Hackers In to Your Network

Cyber security is a complicated issue, no matter how you slice it, but one of the surest ways to reduce your risk and strengthen your defences against hackers is to educate your team. Forewarned is forearmed, so make sure they fully understand the risks associated with the most common social engineering strategies. Phishing, the most prevalent, uses e-mails, chats or web ads impersonating trusted entities to trick employees into clicking malicious links. Baiting is similar, but purports to offer something enticing, such as a music or movie download, to deliver malware onto your system. Quid pro quo hackers offer a “service” in exchange for access to private data, such as an employee’s login credentials. Tailgating is when an unauthorized person physically follows one of your employees into a restricted area or asks to “borrow” their device for a bit and steals all the info they need directly.

Educate your team to help make sure they are on the lookout for these malicious techniques. Vermont offer in-house staff training, attend one of our educational seminars and sign up for our weekly security tips.

Use these strategies to break your tech bad habits

If you’re trying to kick an addiction to your smartphone and other addictive tech, and you are tempted to turn to them when you feel uncomfortable or anxious, don’t give up. Instead of seeking a distraction whenever

you feel bored – for example, checking your e-mail for the 10th time or logging in to Facebook – learn to embrace silence, and yes, even boredom. If you find yourself checking your phone too much at work, set physical

boundaries to restrict yourself. Lock it in your drawer or another place that adds an extra step to accessing it. The next time you have downtime, instead of whipping out your device right away, mull over a specific problem or idea on your own – you might be surprised what you discover. Inc.com, 20/07/2018

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Quiz

Which of the following types of attacks do hackers use to gain information from you without the use of specialised computer programs?

A) ARP Poisoning
B) Cross Site Scripting
C) SQL Injection
D) Social Engineering


Your Partner for Success

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AT VERMONT SYSTEMS, WE ARE ALWAYS LOOKING FOR NEW PARTNERS TO WORK WITH – DO YOU HAVE ANY INTERESTING INFORMATION OR OFFERS THAT WOULD BENEFIT OUR CUSTOMERS AND ASSOCIATES THAT YOU WOULD LIKE TO SHARE?

As you may already be aware, we hold quarterly, educational events. Would you like your company to be represented at one of our events? Would you like to hold a joint event with Vermont? Do you have engaging material that would be of benefit to local business leaders? We are always looking for new partners to work with. We are very happy for guest articles to be supplied for our blogs and other publications. Please contact us to discuss any joint venture opportunities.

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Are You Looking For Engaging, Interesting And Educational Content For Your Website, Trade Journal Or Blogs? Or A Guest Speaker For An Event?

As an expert in his field and award-winning speaker, Chris Ward, Technical Director of Vermont Systems is frequently asked to present at events, participate in media interviews and provide articles for publication. His presentations are both educational and entertaining – a perfect mix to keep your audience engaged.

Sample Articles:

Would your audience benefit from learning more? If you have any requirements for speaking engagements or article submissions, please contact: kirsty.cartwright@vermont.co.uk or call 023 8098 3405 to discuss how we can help. At Vermont we are passionate about helping to educate local business leaders.


Top 3 mistakes that leave businesses wide open to cybercrime

I meet business owners every day who ask: 'How do I know if my business is secure?

Chris-Ward

Chris Ward. Technical Director. Vermont Systems Ltd

We see the same three common mistakes, so it is fairly quick to figure it out. These are CRITICAL road-blocks to making businesses safe. Find out for yourself if you are wide open to attack:

1. You think: I'm OK, my antivirus software will protect me!

Relying on traditional antivirus is like turning up to work with the SAS in a suit of armour. It was invented for a world that doesn't exist anymore. Modern antivirus is only effective as part of a "Defence in Depth- strategy.

2. Are your staff woefully unprepared to defend themselves?

Do they realise that they are being targeted by overseas, organised crime? Do they know the tell-tale signs that give away a fraudster? Do they understand that using the same password everywhere will end up with their online identity hijacked -and possibly your business's too?

3. Relying on your IT guy to guard the gate

Cybercrime is an IT problem right? So you let your IT support people deal with it. But here's the problem: IT support has got nothing to do with cybercrime prevention. Support is aligned to fixing problems. When you have a cybercrime problem. its too late.

So what do you do? As the Information Commission recently stated. 'Cybercrime is a board level problem'.

For further information. see our business leaders' guide to tackling cybercrime here: www.vermont.co.uk/cybercrime

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