Is Your IT Services Company Taking You for a Ride?

Technology can be complicated, which makes assessing your IT services challenging. It can be hard to determine if you are paying too much or investing in unnecessary IT services. St. Louis IT company Anderson Technologies provides tips to ensure your business spends its hard-earned money wisely.

It’s easy to overpay for IT services. St. Louis small businesses don’t always have the technical prowess to confidently assess a proposed IT approach, and understandably so! They are experts in their industry, but that doesn’t mean they are experts in IT. They must trust their partners.

Unfortunately, there are vendors who take advantage of the complexity of IT and hide behind jargon to propose investing in solutions that aren’t necessary.

Small businesses have become increasingly reliant on technology. The right IT approach can help give you a competitive advantage by increasing employee productivity and improving customer experience. Plus, cybercrime against small businesses is on the rise, which makes devising a multi-tiered approach to network security paramount. However, there is a difference between educating businesses about the real and growing threat of cyberattacks and using scare tactics to pressure them into purchasing solutions they don’t really need.

Anderson Technologies provides reliable IT services in St. Louis as well as to clients nationwide. We’ve seen questionable business practices firsthand, and we pride ourselves on our honest and transparent approach to managed IT services. We want our clients to be as informed as we are, which is why we’re committed to education. We have even started offering free cybersecurity training sessions where we teach employees how to stay safe online.

How to Avoid an IT Horror Story

Too often, small businesses learn the importance of due diligence and trusting their judgement the hard way. Recently, we met a business that made a large investment for a server that was more sophisticated than needed per the suggestion of a long-term IT services provider. After the vendor installed it, they informed the small business that their company had been sold to a larger IT firm and would now be charging much higher rates for its services. Needless to say, this did not go over well.

As a provider of IT services in St. Louis, we met another business paying monthly for a second internet connection designed to kick in if the main line encountered a problem. The backup ISP’s connectivity and configuration was never tested. When the business encountered technical problems with its primary service and failed over, the secondary connection didn’t work effectively.

Even reliable IT services companies with good intentions may unwittingly suggest investing in IT solutions that aren’t imperative to your business. To help you assess a proposed IT solution, consider the following best practices:

  • Always ask your vendor, “Do I really need this?” The IT services provider should be able to answer in plain English. Too much tech jargon is a red flag.
  • Ask the vendor if there are any simpler or more cost-effective solutions than the one they have proposed. Be wary of over-engineered approaches in which IT vendors design things that are more complicated than necessary, and thus costlier to administer.
  • Get other opinions. The small business we mentioned that was duped into buying a server it didn’t need shopped around to compare prices. The thing is, it asked other vendors to bid on the same over-complicated solution. Rather than asking vendors how much they would charge you for the same solution, present your tech challenge from scratch and ask how they would solve it.
  • Be wary of scare tactics. Cybercrime is real and protecting against it is a necessary investment, but it shouldn’t be used as a means to sell frivolous services. Also, if your IT services provider is suggesting you have connectivity or server speed problems that you and your staff aren’t seeing firsthand, ask as many questions as you need to feel comfortable.
  • Be sure the IT vendor took the time to understand your business requirements in the first place. Perhaps your company’s IT needs are light—email and some web browsing. You probably don’t need the fastest connection on the market. If they aren’t asking about your minimal business requirements, be skeptical.

IT services are complicated, sure, but they don’t need to be over-complicated. Think of it like your telephone: You don’t need to know the intricacies of how the phone company provides a dial tone when you pick it up, you just care that when you punch in a number, you are connected to the person with whom you want to speak. Your computer network should operate in much the same way.

When you have a reliable IT services partner you can trust, you will be confident you aren’t paying for services you don’t need, or paying too much for the ones you do.

If you think you’re being taken advantage of or would like a second opinion, give Anderson Technologies a call. We are a St. Louis IT services company dedicated to providing honest, simple, and effective IT solutions. Reach out today by sending an email to info@andersontech.com or calling 314.394.3001.

St. Louis IT Company Anderson Technologies Launches Free Onsite Cybersecurity Training for Its Clients

St. Louis IT company Anderson Technologies is committed to educating its clients, as well as St. Louis at large, about cybersecurity and IT best practices. As part of that mission, it is offering free cybersecurity training workshops in which participants learn how to protect their computer systems from cyberattacks.

Small business owners have a lot on their plate. While it’s understandable that cybersecurity and other IT issues could fall through the cracks, there’s simply too much at stake to let that happen. Cybercrime targeting small businesses is on the rise everywhere, and St. Louis is no exception. By adhering to IT best practices, employees can mitigate their risk of being victimized by a cyberattack, including ransomware. In fact, it’s one of the smartest things they can do to help protect their business.

The team at Anderson Technologies strives to deliver clients the best managed IT services possible. It also wants to educate them. That’s why it recently unveiled a free Onsite Cybersecurity Training program to provide educational workshops about IT best practices. The IT company offers the sessions free of charge and holds them at clients’ offices for their convenience.

Mark Anderson, principal of Anderson Technologies, understands audience members have varying degrees of tech proficiency, so he designs his talks to resonate with non-technical staff members as well as those with deeper domain knowledge. Topics covered include:

  • Cybercrime and how it can impact you and your business
  • The importance of a multi-layered security approach
  • Creating reliable data backups and a strong disaster recovery plan
  • Why you need a hardware firewall and business-grade anti-virus/anti-malware software
  • Digital best practices all your employees should follow

Anderson also teaches participants how to recognize phishing emails and how to safely make company purchases online. After his presentation, questions from the audience are encouraged. He says the Q&A is one of the most valuable portions of the session.

The St. Louis cybersecurity and IT company ran its first free cybersecurity training seminar this April at Smile Station Dental, where Anderson fielded questions about password management and what to do if you think your computer has been infected with malware.

Even if a business has taken the proper precautions to protect its data from cyberattacks, an employee can unwittingly infect the network with malware by clicking a nefarious link or downloading a dangerous attachment. These scams have become tougher to spot as criminals get better at spoofing legitimacy. The increasing difficulty is what makes education even more crucial. By teaching its clients best practices and how to recognize red flags, Anderson Technologies believes it can help keep them safer online.

“Education is power,” says Anderson. “We want everyone to be as knowledgeable as possible, which is why we offer these workshops as a value-add for our clients, as well as to others in the St. Louis community. We believe educating users about cybersecurity best practices can save everyone trouble in the future and help limit the number of cyberattacks.”

As part of its mission to educate the St. Louis community about cybersecurity, the IT company has also produced an eBook, An Employee’s Guide to Preventing Business Cybercrime. Educating every employee, at every level of the organization, is an often-overlooked step of cybersecurity. This guide is specifically designed for small businesses and emphasizes that every employee has a role to play when it comes to keeping a business safe from mounting cyber threats. The eBook is available to download for free.

Anderson Technologies is a St. Louis cybersecurity company committed to providing quality IT services to St. Louis and beyond. If you’re interested in setting up a free cybersecurity training session at your office, contact Anderson Technologies by sending an email to info@andersontech.com or calling 314.394.3001.

Quotables: Should Small Businesses Invest in IoT? (Clutch)

In partnership with Clutch, a leading technology research and consumer review company,  we recently published a guest article about IoT for small businesses.

Read our full guest contribution on Clutch’s website:

https://clutch.co/developers/internet-of-things/resources/should-small-businesses-invest-in-IoT

Are you in need of expert IT consulting?  Anderson Technologies is a St. Louis IT consulting firm that specializes in system administration for small businesses.  Let us help you today!  Give us a call at 314.394.3001 or email us at info@andersontech.com.

What are Quotables?  This is a category in our posts to highlight any publications that benefit from our expert IT consulting advice and quote us in articles for their readers. 

Why Is Ransomware on the Rise in St. Louis?

Ransomware is on the rise everywhere, not just in St. Louis. Ransomware can cost a small business tens of thousands of dollars—or even more! Let’s take a look at the proliferation of ransomware, and how your business can protect itself.

A small business’s data is one of its most valuable assets. When criminals launch a ransomware attack, they use malicious software to hold your data hostage. They claim they will give you access to your data in return for a “ransom” payment (although criminals aren’t exactly known for being true to their word).

One of the most common ways in which cyber criminals launch ransomware attacks is by sending phishing or spear-phishing emails. Employees download attachments or click links that look innocuous enough, but they end up inadvertently installing ransomware on their computers as a result. The ransomware then searches for user data to encrypt on the computer or on the network or cloud-based storage system. Once data is encrypted, you won’t be able to use it, and the bad guys send a message with instructions on how to render your files usable again—by paying a “ransom,” often in the form of bitcoins. Often sending money to the criminals provides no guarantee they will release your data.

According to the United States Department of Justice, more than 4,000 reported ransomware attacks occurred daily since January 2016. That is a 300 percent increase in just one year.1  At Anderson Technologies, we frequently hear about St. Louis ransomware attacks—both from local small businesses and reports in the media. Earlier this year, ransomware impacted all 17 branches of the public library in St. Louis. Ransomware rendered their computers unusable. Library management refused to pay the $35,000 ransom and worked with its IT staff to remove the virus and restore service.

Ransomware Makes the Bad Guys Big Money

The reason ransomware is on the rise comes down to economics. In 2015, the FBI reported  approximately 327,000 robberies in the U.S., which accounted for an estimated $390 million in losses.

That same year, there were approximately 127,000 cyberattacks reported in the U.S., accounting for over $1 billion in losses. It’s no wonder criminals are turning to cybercrime. That’s a whole lot fewer attacks for a whole lot more money. Plus, currency like bitcoin makes it easier for criminals to carry out crimes since they can anonymously collect the ransom.

If you factor in downtime and the cost of recovering files, cybercrime actually costs companies approximately $75 billion each year.

Is Your Business Protected from Ransomware?

Ransomware is also on the rise because the bad guys are getting better at designing believable phishing and spear-phishing emails. Gone are the days of scams that are easily identifiable, ridden with typos and strange verbiage. Today, cybercriminals have gotten better at mimicking the language and graphical design of reputable companies, which improves their chances of someone clicking a harmful link or attachment.

For small businesses in St. Louis, cybersecurity protection is an intricate process. You need a multi-tiered approach that includes a firewall, intrusion protection system, internet content filtering, anti-virus and anti-malware software that runs in real-time and is updated regularly, and a thorough and tested approach to backing up your system files. You also need to educate your employees. Even if you are working together with a managed IT services provider to do “everything right,” it takes just one click from an unsuspecting employee to introduce an issue your prevention efforts will have to deal with.

Although your managed IT services partner can reduce the likelihood of an email containing ransomware hitting your employees’ inbox in the first place, malicious messages can still get through. Email providers like Google and Microsoft scan your messages and try to filter out ones that look suspicious, but criminals are working just as hard to update their tactics. The final layer of protection between a St. Louis business (or any business for that matter) and ransomware is employee education.

Just last month, a St. Louis small business called Anderson Technologies in distress. It had just fallen victim to a ransomware attack. Its previous IT services provider wasn’t able to restore its files, but Anderson Technologies experts managed to eradicate the malware and recover the compromised data!

Ransomware stories don’t always have such a happy ending. Indisputably, your best bet is to reduce your chances of coming into contact with ransomware in the first place. Anderson Technologies has a team of St. Louis cybersecurity and ransomware experts who can help protect your business. For more information on our St. Louis cybersecurity services, email info@andersontech.com or call 314.394.3001.


1 “How to Protect Your Networks from Ransomware” U.S. Justice Department. Retrieved on April 20, 2017 from https://www.justice.gov/criminal-ccips/file/872771/download