Is Your Company Wasting Marketing Dollars? The 7 Billion Dollar Ad Fraud Problem

Too often, advertisers pay for digital ads that weren’t actually seen by a human. Here is what your small business needs to know before investing in paid digital marketing. 

Digital marketing encompasses the tactics businesses use to raise awareness about their offerings and drive sales online, from social media advertising to search engine marketing to mobile and video ads. While small businesses aren’t spending as much or as often in this realm as their larger counterparts, digital marketing spending has increased across the board. Seventy percent of small to medium-sized businesses said they will increase their digital marketing budgets in 2017, according to research from GetResponse as reported in Entrepreneur.

Digital marketing is so popular because it works. Marketers use cutting-edge technology to target their audiences with increased precision and with increasingly personalized messages. They can monitor their efforts in near real-time and make changes based on data to optimize their results. But it is not just advertisers who are interested in digital marketing. Cyber criminals also recognize an opportunity.

What You Need to Know about Bots

Let’s say you own a local dental practice and decide to invest in digital advertising to connect with residents in your area. At the end of the campaign, you are told your ad was seen 500,000 times, a fraction of which generated clicks. But what if you learned that some of the ads you paid for weren’t seen by real people, and that even some of those clicks were fake?

It is estimated that $7.2 billion ad dollars were wasted globally as a result of fraudulent traffic last year, according to the Association of National Advertisers (ANA), which conducts in-depth studies on ad fraud in partnership with the digital security company WhiteOps. Most ad fraud stems from bots, computer programs that masquerade as real people and can even scroll and click. Bots can be used to spread malware and harvest personal data, and they are disrupting the digital advertising ecosystem.

The tech company Zvelo offers a nice summary of how this works: “Ad fraud happens when a bot attempts to imitate legitimate web traffic (acting like a real person visiting a website) and generate additional (but fraudulent) web page views (and therefore revenue) for the website publisher. The advertisers’ budgets are compromised, as their dollars are being wasted on ads being served to bots rather than humans. This results in the advertisers and the end users paying the price for this fraud, as well as being exposed to the risks associated with malicious and fraudulent bots.”

Most publishers do not knowingly charge their advertisers for fraudulent traffic, but ad fraud can be challenging to police. Just this past December, Russian hackers pulled off what has been dubbed the “biggest ad fraud ever.” They created domains and URLs which appeared to belong to real publishers, including ESPN and Vogue. Then they created a bot farm to generate fake traffic to these pages. Much of digital ad buying is automated. Computer programs determine where to serve ads on behalf of advertisers, based on the advertisers’ target audience. The fraudsters were able to trick these algorithms. Via automated buying, advertisers served their legitimate ads on these nefarious sites to fake visitors—the bots! Digital advertising often uses a pay-per-click pricing model, which means advertisers pay every time a user clicks their ad. Well, these bots did a lot of clicking, so the hackers were getting paid big bucks — $3 million to $5 million a day!

What Small Businesses Can Do to Protect against Ad Fraud

Before you go swearing off digital marketing forever, know that members of the advertising ecosystem have teamed up in the fight against ad fraud. For example, the Trustworthy Accountability Group (TAG) was created by the American Association of Advertising Agencies (4A’s), the Association of National Advertisers (ANA) and the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) to find ways to eliminate fraudulent traffic and combat malware.

For small business marketers, the first step is awareness—you must realize this problem exists. Then you need to find partners you can trust. Reputable companies like Google go to great lengths to protect advertisers. When choosing a digital advertising partner, ask them about the steps they take to identify and prevent ad fraud, as well as about their approach to viewability, which refers to how they determine whether or not an ad was seen and counted as a billable impression. Facebook is another fantastic tool for small business marketing in part because of its easy-to-use, self-serve platform, but also because it is vigilant about sniffing out fraudulent traffic.

If you will be doing extensive advertising, consider investing in a third-party solution that can help track your ads and monitor for ad fraud. White Ops, Integral Ad Science, FraudLogix and Forensiq all offer these types of solutions. Simply visiting their sites will help you learn more about the fight against ad fraud. Additionally, observe your traffic during the length of your campaign, and if something seems suspicious, reach out to your partner. Warning signs include stats that seem too good to be true, i.e., suspiciously high click-thru rates and abnormal patterns, like every impression served to a particular site generating a click.

Digital ad fraud is complicated, but the bottom line is simple. You need to choose your partners wisely and take education into your own hands. Doing so allows you to take advantage of digital marketing’s tremendous potential while mitigating wasted spending.

Cybercrime extends far beyond advertising and can affect every area of your business. Are your employees in the know? Anderson Technologies, a team of cyber security specialists in St. Louis, helps small businesses educate their employees about effective cybersecurity practices. For more information on our cybersecurity training services, email info@andersontech.com or call 314.394.3001 and check out our free eBook, An Employee’s Guide to Preventing Business Cybercrime.

7 Reasons Why Your Business Should Consider Managed IT Services

There are reasons why more and more businesses are opting for managed IT services, as opposed to break-fix—reasons that include proactive management, cost-savings, quality, breadth of service, and peace of mind.

As small business dependence on technology increases, so must the focus on IT-related issues. Most companies cannot function without reliable, secure internet and computer systems. Many are storing increasing volumes of data digitally, which makes IT security even more important for themselves and for the customers they serve.

Managed IT services is commonly likened to automobile maintenance. You take your vehicle to the mechanic routinely in an effort to get ahead of issues that could affect its performance and longevity. Not to mention that failing to do so could cost you a fortune. A growing number of small businesses are approaching IT in a similar way, opting for ongoing, routine maintenance, rather than only calling the experts when something breaks. Let’s compare the break-fix approach with managed IT services and consider how a long-term, strategic approach to IT could benefit your business.

Break-Fix: As the phrase implies, in this reactive approach IT vendors only engage with clients when something is broken and needs attention.

Managed IT Services: With the managed services model, clients pay monthly to retain ongoing, proactive IT support. This typically covers everything needed to make sure business technology runs smoothly.

The benefits of managed IT services include:

  1. Proactive Approach

With the managed services model, your IT partner takes a hands-on approach to preventing technical issues that interrupt productivity and cost your business time and money. Everyone is incentivized to get ahead of problems and to create the most secure and efficient systems possible for your business. Together, you’ll avoid potential IT hiccups, rather than just scrambling to fix them when they occur.

  1. Reliability

The break-fix model locks you into always putting out fires. The atmosphere can be stressful and frantic. There’s no time to discuss long-term goals or ways to help your business run more smoothly. With managed services, the goal is to avoid those fires in the first place. You can trust the outsourced IT services partner is doing everything it can to help your business.

  1. Ongoing Protection Against Cyber Threats

Cybercrime is projected to cost businesses an estimated $2 trillion by 2019. No company can afford to ignore this. Criminals unleash new strains of malware all the time. The number of zero-day threats discovered has been steadily rising, according to research from Symantec. Businesses must monitor and update their layers of protection continually. With managed services, IT specialists do this for you and work to minimize the chances that you will become one of many businesses that lose time, money, and data to cybercriminals.

  1. Aligned Goals

For the most part, when IT firms work on a break-fix model, they are not incentivized to help clients avoid future problems. Of course, a reputable, trustworthy IT partner should still do its best to provide exemplary services, but there is something to be said for the alignment of goals that the managed IT services model creates. Both parties work together to create and maintain the best systems possible—systems that run smoothly and at optimum speed while remaining malware-free.

  1. Breadth of Offering

If you are only calling your outsourced IT services provider when something stops working, you probably aren’t taking time to discuss all of the other ways that it can help your business. Managed IT service providers can do so much more than preventing fires, including handling IT security, backups and disaster recovery, network and computer performance, remote access, the IT needs of new employees, and compliance-related issues.

  1. Cost-Effectiveness

A managed services approach can prove more cost-effective, especially long-term, than break-fix because the client and the outsourced IT services partner work together to stay ahead of what otherwise might develop into more costly problems if left unmanaged. The right outsourced IT services partner can also drive cost-savings by helping you make smart purchasing decisions about things like equipment, software, and storage.

  1. Peace of Mind

With IT, the stakes are high. It is easy for someone who isn’t an expert to make a mistake of consequence. One of the biggest benefits of managed services for busy professionals is peace of mind. They can check “IT” off their to-do list and rest assured their company’s IT needs are being handled professionally.

With the managed IT services model, your business gains a dedicated team that is constantly thinking about your company and its interests. Anderson Technologies, a St. Louis IT consulting company and managed IT services provider, is invested in its clients’ success and takes an active and ongoing approach to ensuring it. To learn more, call 314.394.3001 or email info@andersontech.com today.

A Guide to Employee Cybersecurity Training

When it comes to small business cybersecurity, you could be doing everything right, but it just takes one wrong click from a well-meaning employee to undo all your hard work. Here’s what to cover during business cybersecurity training for your team.

One of the most overlooked steps to small business cybersecurity is employee education. Cyber criminals are stepping up their game and increasingly targeting small businesses. Every employer must find the time to educate its team members about digital safety. The global cost of cybercrime is projected to reach more than $2 trillion by 2019. It’s worth taking the time to provide thorough cybersecurity training to your employees.  While doing so, make sure to include the following topics.

  1. Spear Phishing Emails Are on the Rise

Spear phishing is a more sophisticated form of phishing in which criminals target a particular victim rather than a wide audience. These emails often appear to be sent by legitimate sources, such as a colleague or trusted vendor, and are designed to trick the recipient into providing personal information, like a credit card number or password.

Spear phishing emails targeting employees increased by 55 percent in 2015, according to research from Symantec. Warn your team to:

  • Be skeptical every time they’re asked for personal information.
  • Hover over links and email addresses to ensure target URL credibility.
  • Refrain from downloading attachments unless they’ve verified the sender.
  • Ask you or your outsourced IT services provider for help when in doubt.
  1. The Art of Password Management

Cybercriminals use software that helps them guess people’s passwords. Do not make their job easier. Teach your employees the importance of creating effective passwords. You can also consider implementing a password management tool for employees to use as an added security measure. Your cybersecurity training should include the following tips:

  • Do not use the same password for everything.
  • Do not use real words that can be found in the dictionary or obvious things like the name of your business.
  • Use a combination of numbers, uppercase and lowercase letters, and symbols.
  • Change passwords on a regular schedule.
  1. The Web Can Be a Dangerous Place—Get Out of Autopilot

It’s easy to be lured into a false sense of security as you browse the web. It’s so familiar, and you may have been using it without incident for work and personal purposes for some time.

Business owners must teach their employees that the internet can be a dangerous place. In fact, nearly 75 percent of legitimate websites have security vulnerabilities that could put users at risk. Business owners need to:

  • Create guidelines for appropriate digital behavior. Seedy content breeds seedy behavior, so keep your employees off inappropriate sites at work.
  • Teach employees that legitimate sites can have vulnerabilities.
  • Install and maintain an enterprise-level firewall coupled with safeguards such as a subscription for content filtering and intrusion protection.
  • Use anti-virus and anti-malware programs that include “safe search” features that help flag sites that have been compromised.
  • Consider partnering with a managed IT services provider who can make sure your business implements these steps correctly.

These tips are just the beginning. Cybersecurity training for every employee, even administration and management, proves itself to be invaluable in the event of a potential threat. For more information on what your employees need to know about small business cybersecurity, including what to do when they click a link they shouldn’t have, check out An Employee’s Guide to Preventing Business Cybercrime.

Anderson Technologies is a St. Louis IT consulting company that can help your small business educate its employees about effective cybersecurity practices. For more information on our cybersecurity training services, call 314.394.3001 today.

Build a Small Business Website That Exceeds Expectations

The right web development partner can help bring your vision to life and show you ways to make it better.

A company website is an important representation of your business and a mark of credibility. It’s a resource for potential clients who want to learn more about your offerings and a way to generate new leads and sales, thanks to the power of search engine optimization (SEO).

But creating a small business website is not without challenges. It can be time-consuming, costly, and frustrating. If you do not properly optimize your web design and backend configurations, you could create an exasperating experience for your users and limit your organic traffic.

With the right partner and strong communication, you can build a digital presence that does your small business justice and even have a little fun along the way. Just ask Bruce Honts, division manager at Missouri Valley Environmental of Texas, a full-service industrial water treatment company.

Web Development That Is “Almost Too Much Fun”

When Honts and his team connect with potential clients, they want those prospects to be able to go online to learn more. He knew his business needed help developing a “robust” website that could confirm its legitimacy and create a digital footprint. “Our goals were to show the professional nature of our business and to explain our capabilities,” he said.

Honts was referred to Anderson Technologies, a St. Louis IT consulting company that provides full-service web design and web development, as well as other services. Honts came to the table prepared with a clear idea of what he wanted but also with an openness to expert insight and an eagerness to learn about web development best practices.

Farica Chang, Director at Anderson Technologies, explained that Anderson Technologies is more collaborative and hands-on than many website development companies. “We’ll execute the client’s vision in a way that is well-designed and considers the user experience while keeping business goals in mind,” she said. “We strive to do the best possible job, even if it takes a little longer, so our clients enjoy the collaboration and ultimately take pride in the end result.”

Honts described the web development process as easy and almost too much fun. “It was hard to go back to my regular work when the project was over,” he joked.

Advice for Small Business Owners Outsourcing Web Design

To make sure your small business website development process goes smoothly, Honts recommends providing details on what you want, including screenshots and images to illustrate your intent, but also trusting the expert’s input.

“I was pleasantly surprised and pleased each time I saw how my ideas became reality,” said Honts. “Every step of the way, I went, ‘Whoa—that is better than I imagined.’ [Anderson Technologies] took my ideas and magnified them. The end result was even better than what I was envisioning.”

Strong communication is also critical to an effective partnership. Just as you should strive to clearly articulate goals and preferences, your web development partner should be prepared to share constructive feedback on an ongoing basis. This open dialog will help ensure you produce the best small business website possible.

For the development team, one of the greatest testaments to a job well done is a referral. Missouri Valley Environmental of Texas is a division of AECSI Corporation, and after seeing the new website, AECSI Corporation reached out to Anderson Technologies to discuss a partnership.

Anderson Technologies is a St. Louis IT consulting company that offers a breadth of services, from managed IT to web development, web hosting, and ongoing web support. If you are looking for a professional (and fun!) small business web development partner, call Anderson Technologies at 314.394.3001 today.

The Small Business IT Checklist for New Hires

Make sure your new employees are productive from day one by checking all the boxes on this IT to-do list.

Finding and recruiting the right talent is one of the most challenging and crucial components of running a small business. Once you’ve welcomed new members to your team, it’s important that they can hit the ground running, not only because it’s good for productivity, but also because their onboarding experience is a reflection of your company.

Show new employees you are organized and committed to providing an environment that breeds great work by taking the following actions—and do it before they walk through the office door, not while they wait awkwardly for their workstations to be ready. These tips will also help you preserve your small business network security and ensure your recruits adhere to cybersecurity best practices.

Checkbox   Determine how every new hire’s job function affects IT needs

Hopefully, you have clear ideas of your new hires’ responsibilities before you made offers. Now consider how these duties affect IT requirements. The nature of their roles will help you assess the following:

  • Should they use a PC or a Mac?
  • What size monitor do they need?
  • How much memory do they need?
  • What software programs do they require?
  • How mobile are they? Will they be traveling frequently and/or need the ability to work from home?

The answers to these questions will help you choose the right computer and hardware for the position. If you work with an outsourced IT services company, the experts there can do this for you. They can also make sure you do not overspend or throw money away on a low-quality machine.

Checkbox   Set up the computer

An outsourced IT services partner will set up the new computer with the particulars of the job function in mind. Whether you’re hiring a vendor or doing it yourself, consider how your office is wired, and be sure to get the computer on the network before the employee arrives. If he or she will primarily work from an office desk, use a hardline connection to the server room (rather than relying only on Wi-Fi) to minimize connectivity complications and reduce network security issues.

If your new hire will use an existing computer, make sure your IT partner migrates data from the previous user to the appropriate parties before creating a new user ID.

Checkbox   Connect to the printer

Set up and test the connection to the printer. If new employees will be handling confidential information, such as HR documents or company financial information, consider if they need a dedicated printer, rather than printing to a shared device.

Checkbox   Create an email address

Before creating new email accounts, make sure you or your outsourced IT services partner thinks about whether employees need to access email remotely; if so, be sure their configurations can securely accommodate this. Remember to tell new hires to change their passwords, and share password security best practices.

If appropriate, you or your IT partner can help your employees set up email on their mobile phones and walk them through remote access guidelines once they have started.

Checkbox   Determine permissions level

If you have a file server, determine which directories the employees need access to. Anderson Technologies recommends providing access to folders and files on a need-to-know basis and limiting administrator privileges to curb the ramifications of a potential cyberattack.

Checkbox   Set up relevant software applications

Install and create accounts for all necessary software programs. Be sure to track all software license keys in a central place so you’re prepared for a potential software audit. An outsourced IT services partner can do this for you and keep track of when software was purchased and when subscriptions need to be renewed.

Checkbox   Prepare for any necessary IT training

Create a user training plan so your employees feel comfortable with your technology, software, and approach to IT security. Provide education from the onset so they know exactly what to expect. If you’re working with an outsourced IT services provider, ask the provider what level of training it can provide to your staff.

Checkbox   Ask the new hire to review and sign your policies on confidentiality, email and web use, and business network security

Make it clear from the beginning that all employees are expected to abide by strict cybersecurity rules and best practices. This especially includes password security. Are social media sites or personal email prohibited during the work day? Now is the time to share any restrictions. Present them in writing, ideally as part of your new employee handbook.

Don’t have an existing employee guide to cybersecurity best practices? Our Anderson Technologies’ eBook, An Employee’s Guide to Preventing Cybercrime, a comprehensive educational resource for small businesses, is coming soon. Check back in January!

Anderson Technologies is a St. Louis IT consulting company that provides outsourced IT services, including employee onboarding, IT security, cloud services, hardware and software acquisition, and more. Call Anderson Technologies at 314.394.3001 today for your IT needs.

St. Louis Cybersecurity: Viking Style

Happy Halloween! Axes and swords aren’t enough to keep your network safe these days. It takes a lot to fight for your network security, so Mark and Amy came prepared in their best Viking garb this Halloween to flaunt their St. Louis IT consulting muscles. Don’t worry! They have more than battle axes in their armory to combat the cybersecurity threats your company faces. And if anything is too hard for them, BB-8 is right there to help them out.

Let us fight for your IT security! Call the St. Louis IT experts at Anderson Technologies today at 314.394.3001.

Mochi-Halloween-BB-8-2016

 

Thinking About Skipping a Software Update? Think Again!

A vital part of any IT support program is managing software updates. It’s all too tempting to choose “Remind me later,” but as every IT support team knows, these updates are meant to fix problems, improve functionality, and make your device more secure. The inconvenience of downloading and installing essential software updates is far less than what could happen if you leave your unpatched devices vulnerable to security threats and software bugs.

Though it takes time, the benefits of keeping up with your devices’ software updates is immeasurable. Updates are usually produced and distributed by developers free-of-charge. You’ve already purchased the program; the developers want to make sure you can continue using it in this ever-changing digital environment. Software testing prior to product release only goes so far. Some software problems, as well as many malicious cybersecurity threats, are often discovered after launching the product. Keeping up with software updates helps minimize downtime.

Before you hit the “Remind me later” button one more time, listen to the wisdom of your IT support team and choose to install that update instead. There is no simpler, cheaper, or more effective way to get the most out of your programs and electronic devices.

Updates Are Not the Same as Upgrades

Software developers routinely produce new versions of their programs and operating systems. Unlike software updates, which help your program or device function more securely, these upgrades often offer a revised layout or design, enhanced user functionality, and new or improved features.

Upgrading your software usually is not free, but there are many advantages to remaining up-to-date. Older programs eventually lose compatibility with new software and may no longer be capable of receiving security updates. This can reduce the effectiveness of your devices and your business. Software companies often offer discounts or other incentives to convince you to upgrade software when it is released rather than waiting to buy it later. However, every business should carefully evaluate and decide what the right time is for them to upgrade software.

The best thing to do is discuss your needs with a professional IT support team, such as Anderson Technologies. Based in St. Louis, Anderson Technologies has over 25 years of experience providing IT support to businesses across the country. They are available to help you assess the current status of your operating system and software and will make recommendations for updates and/or upgrades to provide the best computer, wireless, and IT Security for your business. You can reach an IT support professional at 314.394.3001 or by email at info@andersontech.com.

Buying Pre-Owned Computers with Used Software: Know Before You Buy

Buying a used computer can seem extremely cost effective. However, it’s helpful to know what problems may arise. Used computers often come with preloaded software, a tempting way to save money and time. Some programs have non-transferrable licensing agreements that place you in breach of contract situations when they run secondhand. Before buying a used computer, be sure to ask the following questions to avoid potential software licensing infringements.

What type of software license does the preloaded software fall under?

There are many software license types and understanding the agreement associated with each application is important. Is the software licensed as Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM), Individual, Volume, Client Access License (CAL), Node Locked, Subscription, Trial, or Free (to name a few)? Can the preloaded software legally transfer to you as the new owner?

OEM software can be especially tricky if you are buying secondhand. OEM software is sold with the original hardware it was installed on. It is important to ask the seller about the software provided with the computer and if all the hardware, such as the motherboard, is from the original computer. In some cases, such as with Microsoft, replacement of the motherboard in any way other than through the manufacturer counts as non-original hardware, and a new license needs to be purchased.

The experts at the St. Louis IT company Anderson Technologies recommend getting answers to these questions before you buy. Many computers are preloaded with automated End User Licensing Agreements (EULA) requiring acceptance of terms and conditions before using the computer and the software on it. If the EULA is signed by a different person (possibly from a different state or country), you could be flagged for a software audit.

What installation media is provided in case it needs to be reinstalled?

This is a precautionary measure in case the computer crashes. If the hard drive failed on a pre-owned computer, how would you restore it? Depending on the type of backup you have, fixing a crashed computer involves replacing the faulty hardware, re-installing the operating system, downloading all drivers, and re-installing the used software. You might have to go back to the computer manufacturer and prove you are the legitimate owner of the computer in order to reload and activate the operating system. “Even when you are the original owner this can be a time consuming process,” says Mark Anderson. “It can be even more daunting when you are missing crucial original purchase information.” Make sure the computer comes with all software license keys and system documentation and keep it handy.

Are software license keys provided and validated?

Some license keys included with the purchase of the computer may only be valid for the original purchaser. While the legality of this type of transaction is under review, it is still prudent to be aware and make sure the used software and any licensing agreements are transferrable to the new owner.

In this increasingly global environment, it is also important to know the differences in laws between countries. Vernor v. Autodesk, Inc., which involved the resale of pre-owned licenses of AutoCAD software on eBay, potentially set a precedent in the United States that software licenses are not resalable. However, this is not the case in other countries. According to Jennifer Baker at PCWorld, the European Court of Justices ruled that, “The exclusive right of distribution of a copy of a computer program covered by such a licence [sic] is exhausted on its first sale.” Meaning once bought, anyone can sell a license in the same way one would sell a movie or video game they purchased.

Is the installed software updated?

Most software companies provide regular updates to their programs and expect owners to update them on a regular basis. If a used computer has preloaded software that hasn’t been updated in a long time, the software may have reached its end-of-life (EOL) and updates are no longer available. In this case, be prepared to spend more money purchasing new software and be sure to factor this into the overall cost of the used machine.

Knowing the answers to these questions eliminates some of the more common mistakes associated with buying pre-owned computers. Discuss your needs with a professional IT support team.

Based in St. Louis, Anderson Technologies has over 25 years of experience providing IT support to businesses across the country. You can reach an IT support professional at 314-394-3001 or by email at info@andersontech.com.

Anderson Technologies is a St. Louis IT company. The information in this article provides general information about computer licensing agreements and is not to be considered specific legal advice.

Wireless Security — How Vulnerable Is Your Network?

Complementary Wi-Fi is such a commonplace service in our modern-day landscape that most customers expect it as part of every business’s onsite offerings. Customers tap into public wireless access points (WAPs) everywhere they go. Before you open up your business’s network, carefully consider how to implement wireless security and shield your firm’s proprietary and private data from public view.

While traveling, how often have you tried to wirelessly connect your smartphone to the internet only to find several visible networks? You may notice most listings are paired with a lock symbol, indicating blocked public access. Without this protection, anyone with the right tools could gain access to private data. To protect yourself, never connect to a public Wi-Fi network that doesn’t provide a secure encryption.

A wireless network that segregates public and private traffic gives visitors guest network rules and a password that allows them to access only the areas you choose. IT support specialists at Anderson Technologies recommend this kind of network as an essential element to secure sensitive data. They also suggest configuring it for Wi-Fi Protected Access II (WPA2) utilizing strong passwords. WPA2 offers essential encryption and authentication to guard against unauthorized access to your network. This protocol, combined with a hardware firewall, allows employees to securely access the internet and shared files or folders within your company’s digital infrastructure.

In addition to protocols that enable wireless security, IT support experts at Anderson Technologies recommend regularly updating passwords on all company computers and devices (see our blog on Password Security). This includes changing access passwords on all wireless networks. It’s also important to continually update software. New versions contain patches that ensure existing vulnerabilities are taken care of.

“Once you’ve established wireless security in the office environment, don’t forget to set up guidelines for employees traveling with laptops, including common sense computer-use protocols,” said Mark Anderson, a principal partner of Anderson Technologies. “For instance, always be aware of your surroundings when entering passwords. Never attach to an unsecured/unencrypted network, and know what steps to take if a company device is misplaced.” Employees should always use caution and verify networks are legitimate before connecting to Wi-Fi in public spaces like airports and hotels.

Follow these wireless security guidelines to help keep your company data secure and guard against hacker attacks.

Providing companies in St. Louis wireless security as a part of a larger IT support program involves many areas of attention. For more information about establishing a segregated wireless network at your business, contact the St. Louis IT experts of Anderson Technologies at 314.394.3001.

Top Considerations When Selecting a Cloud Backup Provider

In the past two years, 63 percent of small and medium businesses (SMBs) began using an online or cloud-based backup service.

Clutch, a B2B research firm, recently surveyed 304 SMBs who use cloud-based, online backup solutions to determine how businesses use the technology and what they think about it. Mark Anderson, Principal and IT Strategist for Anderson Technologies, was one of several industry experts to review and provide feedback for Clutch’s publication on the survey’s findings. Specifically, he pointed to three factors that SMBs should consider when selecting a backup solution.

  1. Level of Service Offered

A big name does not automatically equate to big results for your business. SMBs surveyed listed Apple iCloud as the most popular backup solution used at work, followed by Google Drive and Dropbox.

Top 3 Backup Services Used at Work

However, despite these services’ popularity, they do not have full-service offerings. They may not meet a business’s more complex backup and recovery needs.

The prevalence of these three services point to companies focused on performing more file-level backups versus “bare-metal” backups. Companies wouldn’t be able to quickly and efficiently recover an entire server this way, and depending on their tolerance for downtime, they should investigate augmenting these offerings with other, more robust options.

  1. Capability to Perform Dual-Destination Backups

Do you want to store data both on-premise and online? If so, make sure your online backup solution can perform dual-destination backups. This setup provides peace of mind in the case of total data loss.

An overwhelming majority of SMBs — nearly 90 percent — already use both online and onsite backup.

Does your company use both online and on-premise backup?

In the event of a physical disaster, backing up data to the cloud allows SMBs to get back on their feet quickly.

The ability to perform a dual-destination backup gives clients the option of quick on-premise file restores as well as cloud recovery in the case of complete office loss due to fire, flood, or other natural disasters.

Meanwhile, having the option of on-site backup can assuage fears of the cloud’s potential failures since many businesses remain wary of the technology’s ability to keep data secure.

For years, on-premise was the only option available to businesses. This history is ingrained in IT departments the world over, and the fact that you can physically control the process is very compelling. However, it’s important to consider the cloud option in parallel.

  1. Cost Breakdown

Cost is one of the top three challenges SMBs face when deciding to use a cloud-based, online backup solution as well as one of the top fears that can prevent SMBs from adopting cloud services.

The majority of SMBs spend between $250-$5,000 yearly on their online backup. The top percentage (23%) spend $501-$1,000.

Yearly Spending on Online Backup Solutions

There are three primary factors influencing the price tag for online backup providers:

  1. The number of systems that need to be protected
  2. The amount of data being stored indefinitely
  3. Provision of dual-destination backup

However, the cost of using online backups should be contrasted with an SMB’s ability to provide the same level of service in-house. The security and reliability of top-tier cloud vendors’ state-of-the-art data center infrastructure and the systems they put in place will be far more robust and stringent than what a small to medium-sized business can afford.

While online backup solutions’ accessibility, cost efficiency, and security make them a smart choice for small businesses, it is necessary to consider the array of product choices carefully before selecting a service.

If you’d like to look into cloud backup services for your business with one of Anderson Technologies’ specialists, please give us a call at 314.394.3001 or send an email to info@andersontech.com.