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The 7 Keys to a Successful Soft Rebranding Campaign

Even the most successful companies, with strong brands, can benefit from giving their logos and imaging a makeover now and then. An updated aesthetic or style guide can help buyers see the business in a new light, or give it a fresher appeal.

However, making changes to a successful brand can be a tricky proposition. When no one knows a company, and there is no substantial brand presence, this isn’t a concern. You can simply start from scratch. When there are already well-known and recognized elements in place, though, a more subtle approach is called for. In those situations it’s important for marketers to maintain pieces of the brand that help sales and communication while still getting the benefits of a rebranding effort.

The result is what we call a soft rebrand – it’s a more gentle shaping or update of a company’s image. Done right, it can help keep the business relevant and maintain a good balance between continuity and innovation. When it’s not handled quite right, it can confuse buyers or take away their previously positive impressions.

Given the unique way in which these concerns have to be juggled, and with our long history of helping companies in Arizona and beyond to build their brands, we wanted to share some insights you can use to make this process easier. Here are our seven keys to a successful soft rebranding effort…


#1 Know Where You’re Going

Sometimes, business owners and executives decide to undertake a rebranding effort simply because “it’s time.” That’s not necessarily a bad thing; recognizing that your branding has become a little bit tired is a first step towards giving your company the fresh approach it needs. At the same time, branding is only effective when you have a new target or vision in mind.

Ask yourself what you’re trying to accomplish with your new branding campaign, beyond simply gain more sales or market share. Ask yourself how you’d like customers to think about your company, and the ways in which that impression differs from what they thought before. Think about how your new brand could align with other plans you have in place for your company.

In other words, don’t simply decide to create a new brand because it seems like the thing to do in the moment. Consider the way it might impact your overall business, and where you hope to end up once you’re finished.

#2 Balance Both Sides of the Branding Equation

A lot of businesspeople think of branding as being about what sort of image they want to project into the world. That’s certainly a big part of it, but there is also another piece the equation: the segment of the market you need to appeal to.

Just as you have a certain style or personality you want customers to associate with your products or services, you also have a certain subset of buyers (identified by their location, budget, preferences, etc.) who are a good fit for what you have to offer.

The combination of imaging and messaging that creates an overlap – the branding that lets you meet your marketing goals while also grabbing the attention of your target market – is what you need to find if you’re going to build the perfect brand.


#3 Keep What Works

The hardest part about a soft rebranding effort is figuring out what you can keep from your current branding and which elements have to go. This doesn’t have to be an “either/or” proposition. For example, you might want to keep your current logo largely intact, but with a more modern look.

Choices also have to be made with regards to colors, fonts, and visuals. There is a lot of merit to keeping the successful parts of your brand in place, or at least holding on to close versions of what you already have. This is key for maintaining continuity with customers, whom may have come to expect a certain look or style for your business.

If you aren’t sure what’s working with your brand now, don’t be afraid to ask customers, or to get a professional opinion. The worst thing you can do at this stage is get rid of branding that’s helping you to separate yourself from the competition.


#4 Don’t Be Afraid of Change

As important as it is to keep parts of your existing brand that are getting the job done, you also have to be open to making changes and improvements. After all, what’s the point of a soft rebranding campaign if no one can tell the difference between your new brand and your old one?

Sometimes, we work with clients who are very open to the results of a new branding campaign, but will fight every idea or inspiration that runs contrary to tradition. In other words, they want to feel like they’re launching a fresh brand, but cling to the marketing and visuals that have always worked for them in the past.

There is always a sense of balance and compromise that have to be at play here. The best answer is to hire a great creative team and then let them bring you lots of ideas. Be open to considering some fresh thoughts, even if they take you a little bit outside your comfort zone.


#5 Go Beyond Simple Visuals

Logos are important to businesses and organizations for a lot of reasons. They create an instant visual identity and can tell a story about a company’s focus, history, or personality better than hundreds of words could.

However, your brand is so much bigger than a logo or visual. As part of your soft rebranding campaign, you should create a stylesheet that covers colors, fonts, and messaging guidelines to be used in the future. That way, every communication you send out – whether it’s a billboard, email newsletter, or blog post – can be consistent with your brand and goals.

Branding stylesheets don’t have to be complicated, but they are important. This is an area where a good creative team can help with the heavy lifting and point you in the right direction.


#6 Bring Your Team On Board

You shouldn’t be building your brand on your own, and you certainly can’t grow one without a little bit of assistance, both internally and externally.

We highly recommend you retain a great creative team to help you with your soft rebranding campaign. You could say that we’re biased, of course, but having a team of professionals on your side is going to stop you from making obvious mistakes, giving yourself headaches over copyright issues, etc. At the same time, you’ll want your internal staff to be aware of the changes to your brand (so they can follow through with your vision), and possibly be involved in the brainstorming effort.

The more people you have on your side who know branding, along with your business and customers, the easier it’s going to be to get the right results.


#7 Get Your New Brand Out Into the World

Once you have finished all the creative and messaging elements of your soft rebranding campaign, it’s time to share your new look and vision with the world.

Some companies will make a big deal of their new branding, while others will take advantage of the fact that they’ve used the soft approach and integrate the updates quietly. Either can work, provided that you know what you’re trying to accomplish and have the right plans and resources in place.

What really matters here is that you roll out your new brand comprehensively. You’ll want to use your fresh visuals and style guide in all communications going forward, and find places where you can replace your old branding immediately. It’s best to have a written strategy in place that will help you to make this transition as seamless as possible. Otherwise, you could find yourself accidentally promoting a couple of brand ideas at once, diluting the effect of both.


Is It Time for Your Soft Rebranding Campaign?

Soft rebranding campaigns work because they let you keep the best parts of your public image while still getting the boost of energy, enthusiasm, and attention that comes with establishing a new brand. Just be sure you follow the tips we’ve laid out in this guide so you can get your new brand and identity off to a flying start with customers and colleagues.

Need help turning your strengths into an enduring brand, or putting together a marketing plan that works in the real world? Contact the Kinetik IT team today and let us put our expertise to work for you!

4 Ways to Get More Value From a Website Redesign

Do you need a new website for your business? Does your existing web presence look dated, or is it no longer helping you to support your bigger business goals?

Often, the decision to have your website redesigned is an easy one. However, choosing a company to work with, and figuring out what your new site should look like, is not always so simple. The last thing you want to do is waste your time and money on a fresh website that won’t bring you any closer to the new sales you are looking for. Unfortunately, it’s easy to feel like you’re spinning your wheels on the Internet when you don’t have the right focus or plan to work from.

To help you get moving in the right direction, today we want to share for easy ways you can get bigger bottom-line value from a redesign of your business website…

#1 Analyze Your Existing Website Thoroughly

Often, business owners come to us because the websites they have just “aren’t working.” However, they can’t always put a finger on what’s wrong, or why it’s happening. That’s why we like to begin every business website redesign project afresh. That means we examine the existing site – in terms of its layout, coding, content and even analytics – to better understand the situation. We advise you not to skip this step. Until you know how your current website is performing, it’s difficult to make the right decisions to move ahead.

#2 Get the Right Website for Your Business

It’s easy to fall into the trap of wanting a website that’s just like a competitor’s, or is very similar to something you’ve seen in another business or industry. However, even though other websites can give you a good starting point for inspiration, it’s important that you have the right web presence for your business. That means putting your unique selling strengths front-and-center, and paying attention to the opportunities or restraints that factor into your long-term business planning. What’s “good” for one company might not be ideal for another. Different businesses need different buildings and retail spaces; web design works in the same way.

#3 Emphasize Appearance and Horsepower

For a website to have real value to a business, it needs to stand out in a couple of important ways. First, it has to be appealing from an artistic standpoint. If your website doesn’t look great, or at least well-organized, then you aren’t going to seem credible and professional to customers. The second aspect has to do with functionality. You can use plug-ins and programming to add all kinds of features to your website. You don’t want to overdo things, but neither should you overlook the importance of your websites horsepower. It doesn’t matter how great the layout is if your pages don’t allow your business to run more smoothly.

#4 Have a Strong Online Marketing Plan in Place

Unless you already have a very strong online following, buyers aren’t going to find your website if you don’t promote it. From the moment your pages go live, you should have a plan in place that incorporates things like search engine optimization, social media marketing, email newsletters,

pay- per-click ads, and more. Putting them all together in a profitable and cohesive way is the key to increasing online sales and walk-in traffic. That’s central to the success of your website and your company as a whole, so make online marketing a focus from the start.

Remember, getting a new website doesn’t always mean getting a better website. There are a lot of companies out there who will be happy to design fresh pages for you, but aren’t all that concerned about whether you see positive ROI from your investment.

Avoid the most common mistakes by keeping these four pieces of advice in mind. Or, for expert web design and online marketing assistance that’s tailored to your company and challenges, contact our creative team today to set up a free consultation and website review.

What the Perfect Blog Posts Looks Like

Most business owners rate blogging as a top priority within the context of their internet marketing plans. That’s because a healthy blog can lead to a strong search engine ranking, a more engaged social following, and increased credibility amongst buyers.

At the same time, most businesspeople don’t really enjoy writing and posting blog articles all that much. This is partly because it reminds them of the schoolwork they were assigned when they were younger, and partly because they aren’t really sure what they’re trying to accomplish. In other words, they don’t know what a blog post should look like, so it’s tough for them to get started on one.

In the first case, we can tell you that writing never really gets to be easy, but most business owners enjoy it more than they used to once they get into the habit. It gives them a chance to express themselves and show off their expertise. As to the second point, there isn’t really such a thing as a perfect blog post, given that it’s all about the business you have and the audience you want to attract. If you write something that is useful to readers, then it can be “perfect” its own way.

When it comes to structure and formatting, though, the best blog posts all share seven common traits…

#1 An Attention-Grabbing Title

Take a cue from magazine editors and give your blog post titles that are timely and exciting. Appeal to a reader’s sense of curiosity. No one is going to view your post unless you can convince them your ideas are worth their time. That all starts with a compelling title that’s perfect for your target audience.

#2 The Right Accompanying Image

There are literally millions of stock images available for use online at any given time, but only a handful of them will perfectly match your topic, mood, and intent. Taking a few extra minutes to find the right match is a good idea. We all tend to notice visuals before text, so use the right picture to “sell” your blog post to readers.

#3 A Meta Description That Invites Readers

If you are blogging regularly, many of your posts are going to be found by readers who are searching for answers on Google. For that reason, it’s imperative you have a strong meta description that convinces them to click through to your page and read more.

#4 A Short-But-Intriguing Intro

Even when you pull someone in with the title of your blog post in a great image and/or meta description, you haven’t necessarily convinced them to read your thoughts. Your opening paragraph is massively important in this regard. Make sure it introduces a topic your audience cares about and promises that some solutions are going to be shared.

#5 Well-Organized Text Blocks

Given all of the hard work it takes to win readers for your blog, you certainly don’t want to lose them unnecessarily. The easiest way to scare off new viewers is with long blocks of unbroken text. Use subheadings, charts, and other tools to make your ideas easy to scan and remember.

#6 A Final Call to Action

All of your blog posts should end with a quick call to action. Invite readers to learn more, download a guide by sharing their email address, or meet with your team. A blog post is only great if it helps your business, so you should look to turn every article into a source of new leads or business.

#7 Author Information and Follow Up Links

While the primary goal of your blog post might be to drive conversions, it should also help to position you as an expert in your field. To that end, you want to end every article with a resource box that includes your author bio, professional photo, and links to your social profiles.

As with everything else in life, practice makes perfect when it comes to your marketing blog. So, keep these seven qualities in mind as you put together your first few posts. In time, including these elements will become second nature and you’ll be able to get a lot more from your blog than your competitors.

Want to learn more about blogging, web design, search engine optimization? Contact a member of our team today to set up a free consultation and see what we can help.

Google is the New Yellow Pages… Did Your Company Adjust?

It used to be that placing an ad in the Yellow Pages was the surest way to attract local buyers. Over the course of the last decade, however, those thick printed directories have been almost completely replaced in most parts of North America.

In 2017, buyers don’t flip through thin sheets of paper to find businesses in their neighborhoods. Instead, they turn to their smartphones and tablets to find what they need because Google offers them more choices, up-to-date contact information, and even unbiased reviews from other buyers.

This change in technology has provided a big boost to lots of savvy marketers. And, it has allowed them to save quite a bit of money – it’s a lot cheaper to find customers using Google than it ever was to place a full-page ad in a print directory. But, if your business hasn’t adjusted, then you might be missing out.

Here are a few steps you can take today to get more customers from your local area…

Make the Most of Local Search Engine Optimization

Ever wonder how Google figures out which businesses match up to customers in a certain area? It mainly determines location by scanning a website for geographic keywords. Having city, state, and province names (as examples) on your website can help search engine spiders to figure out where you’re located. Additionally, things like street names, ZIP Codes, and neighborhood identifiers can be helpful in the same way.

Go Beyond Geographic Keywords

As important as it is to have geographic keywords in your website, there are other tools you can use to pull local customers into your business. Maps, driving directions, and local landmarks are all useful. In addition to giving Google more data about your geographic location, they can help you turn search visits into new revenue. That’s because photos of your location, along with updated phone numbers and contact details, make it easier for someone who is thinking about visiting your office or store to find you in the real world.

Have a Mobile-Ready Website

It’s no coincidence that print directories began to decline in importance just as smartphones found their way into millions of pockets. Lots of buyers are making spur of the moment decisions from anywhere, relying on Google to show them the closest restaurants, dry cleaners, and other local businesses. To take advantage, it’s important that your website be mobile-friendly. Otherwise, those customers are going to take their time and money to a competitor.

Boost Your Reputation With Buyers

Customers looking for local companies to work with aren’t necessarily going to find your website. That’s because they may explore third-party review sites (like Yelp) to look for recommendations first. For that reason, it’s important that your business have profiles on these types of portals, that your information be up-to-date, and that buyers can see lots of positive reviews about your business. Encourage your best customers to say good things about you online and you’ll have an easier time standing out in your local market.

You probably have hundreds or thousands of local buyers who are ready to work with your business, but only if they can find you on Google. So, if you haven’t already replaced the Yellow Pages with a good online marketing strategy, now is a great time to set up a meeting with our creative team to see how we can help.

4 Things Advanced CRM Systems Can and Can’t do for Your Website

Executing a profitable internet marketing campaign can involve a lot of tedious and exhausting details. It’s no wonder, then, that so many business owners ask us about the value of advanced customer relationship management (CRM) systems like HubSpot and Infusionsoft.

Hardly a week goes by when we aren’t asked whether one of these platforms (or perhaps a lesser-known competitor) is worth the investment of time and money. Unfortunately, there’s hardly ever a clear-cut answer to this question. Although advanced CRM’s work differently, and offer some unique functionality, no solution is perfect for every situation.

To understand whether you need an advanced CRM like HubSpot in your business, you should be aware of what they can and can’t do in a broad sense. So today, we want to focus on for things you should know before you make a decision…

#1 An Advanced CRM Can Help You Organize Your Online Marketing Activities

One major challenge facing small business owners these days is keeping track of all the different activities needed to move an online marketing plan forward. There are different tools and platforms for blogging, SEO, and email, not to mention several different social apps and websites. an advanced CRM can help you manage and organize these different systems so you can stick with a coherent plan.

#2 An Advanced CRM Can Put Information at Your Fingertips

It’s hard enough just to use all the different tools and platforms we've just mentioned. Keeping track of your progress with them is even tougher. With software like HubSpot, you can put all kinds of detailed and interactive reports right at your fingertips. That way, you won’t just be able to stay on top of your marketing channels, but you also get a sense of what sorts of results you’re achieving on a day-to-day basis.

#3 Advanced CRM’s Can Boost SEO, Sales, and Lead Generation

Advanced CRM systems allow you to structure and refine your campaigns easily. Because you have blogs, emails, social posts, and other tools all working in coordination, it’s easier to stay in touch with prospects and turn them into leads or actual customers. By following a coordinated approach, you can not only get a bigger payoff from SEO, social media marketing, and other channels, but you’ll be much more profitable overall.

#4 No Software System Can Do the Hard Work of Marketing for You

There is an important caveat to the three benefits we’ve given you with regards to advanced CRM’s – you have to actually use them before they’ll pay off. That means taking the time to learn the software, and then plugging in new content, posting to your social accounts, and checking out the results. No matter how sophisticated a platform is, it can’t do everything for you. Advanced CRM’s make it easier to organize your marketing, but they can’t replace the time and effort that’s needed from a committed business owner or Internet marketing professional.

The bottom line looks like this: an advanced  CRM like HubSpot can help you if you take the time to learn its features and then put them into use in your campaigns. However, if you’re just looking for a magic solution that will help you get real results from very little effort, it’s just going to be a waste of money.

To learn more about how advanced CRM’s and other online marketing tools might fit into your business plan, contact our team today to schedule a free consultation!

4 Things You Might Not Know About Web Hosting

While business owners love talking about web design and Internet marketing, most aren’t that concerned (or familiar) with the details of their web hosting plans. That’s easy to understand, given that servers and hosting software work behind the scenes and under the surface. They aren’t visible in the way a social media profile or prime search engine spot would be.

But, that’s not the same as saying hosting doesn’t matter. In fact, the quality of your web hosting package will have an enormous effect on the performance and stability of your business website. To understand why hosting is a bigger deal than you might think, here are four things we’d like you to keep in mind…

#1 Web Hosting Affects Web Performance

Usually, when an Internet connection is moving slowly, we think to blame our computers, tablets, or routers. However, there are two sides to any online interaction. The disc or server your website is stored on can either speed the delivery of your content up or slow it down. Those differences in speed matter, particularly when your customers are coming to you via mobile devices and are impatient to get to your site. Better web hosting means customers spend less time waiting and you end up with more conversions.

#2 Google May Ignore You if You’re on the Wrong Hosting Platform

Google uses multiple elements of web hosting (like page loading speed, for example, along with website availability and SSL connections) as search signals. That means the better your website performs, the more visible you are going to be to potential customers. Having a faster, more reliable website won’t take away the need for lots of great and original content, but it can give you an edge over your competitors. The tighter your search market is, the more important the hosting -related details of SEO can make a difference.

#3 Better Web Hosting is More Secure

Security is a big topic in web design and online marketing, and for good reason. You need to know that your HTML – not to mention customer information – is being kept safe. An easy way to do that is by using a better web hosting package. That’s partly because premium web hosting can give you availability to its SSL connections, system monitoring, and automatic backups. It’s also because the cheapest web hosting packages tend to group lots of budget websites together on the same servers, meaning your site could become “contaminated” by less ethical or careful neighbors.

#4 Premium Web Hosting is Incredibly Affordable

For all that you get from upgrading to premium web hosting, it might surprise you to know that the difference between your average run-of-the-mill shared hosting plan and a premium package could be as little as a couple of dollars per day. And, better hosting means you’ll get more from the money you spent on your website the first place. Financially, that makes it one of the smartest and most cost-effective investments you can make in your business.

Web hosting will probably never be the first thing that comes to mind when you’re considering upgrades or improvements to your business. But, with a little bit of attention to the space where your site is stored – and a few extra dollars a month – you could gain big benefits in performance, security, and even search visibility. Knowing that, doesn’t it make sense to talk with a member of our team today to see whether a fast and inexpensive tweak could make your web presence stronger?

How to Scare Online Competitors Away

As part of our web design and internet marketing process, we often evaluate the competitors our clients will have to face. We perform a competition-analysis to see who they’ll be up against, and whether they have any reason to worry.

The challenging part about this part of the job is coming across a company that is so firmly entrenched online that it can take months or years for our clients to catch up. The best scenario is when the situation has is reversed, and we know none of the other business owners out there are going to be able to duplicate our work without starting massive campaigns on their own.

In some cases, a competitive edge can be so big that a business won’t even try to compete on line. Today, we want to show you exactly what it takes to scare your online competitors away…

Streamline Your Responsive Website

In order to dominate online, you have to have a modern website. That means a responsive layout with mobile compatibility. It also means streamlining your menus and user interface so visitors can find the information they need very quickly. Do that and your website will be more helpful than anyone else’s.

Use Your Blog Regularly

Nearly every business website includes a blog, but most marketers don’t actually use them. But because Google treats every new post as a fresh page of search-friendly content, blogging once a week or more gives you a massive search visibility advantage over the competition.

Target Your Search Terms for Niche Markets 

A classic mistake in search engine optimization is to target big, generic search phrases. That makes it easy for your competitors to get around you by focusing on smaller groups. Decide who your buyers are, in which geographic areas you want to target. That’s a great way to shut out the competition.

Refine Your Google AdWords Campaigns

The best way to beat a competitor in online advertising is to simply be more efficient. You don’t have to spend more on Google AdWords, for instance, if you have high Quality Scores. But, if your campaigns already feature search terms with 9/10 or 10/10 scores, it’s hard for the competition to match you in visibility… much less search advertising profits.

Generate Buzz on Your Social Accounts

It’s not how many social followers you have, it’s how tuned in they are to your marketing messages. Nobody cares if you have 10,000 fake followers, but if every one of your posts gets many likes and shares, you’re going to get a lot of social exposure. Compose messages that get buyers talking and you’ll be doing something most other business owners can’t.

Build up a Strong Online Reputation

A good online reputation is an enormous advantage in today’s digital marketing world. That’s because buyers are likely to Google your company and products before they make a purchase decision. Rack up more great reviews than the competition and you’ll win customers they can’t.

Grow Your Email Subscriber List

When you have a healthy and growing email subscriber list, you have an instant and almost free way to reach thousands of targeted prospects at a time. Even better, you get a chance to contact them directly without having them hear from your competitors in the first place.

When you have most or all of the items on this list covered, you don’t leave the competition any room to step in and steal your customers or grab attention from your prospects. If that sounds like the kind of position you want to be in, we hope you’ll take a minute to call or email our team today so we can begin a customized plan for your website.


Why Microsoft’s next HoloLens will have Artificial Intelligence

This last Sunday, Microsoft announced radical changes to the next generation augmented reality HoloLens by incorporating an artificial intelligence coprocessor. What is HoloLens? HoloLens is essentially a holographic computer built into a headset that lets you see, hear, and interact with holograms within an environment such as a living room or an office space.

The AI coprocessor will expand the capabilities of the HoloLens allowing it to analyze visual and auditory data locally, without having to send and receive information from a cloud based server, giving the next generation HoloLens faster processing times and increased mobility.

“… and this is the kind of thinking you need if you’re going to develop mixed reality devices that are themselves intelligent. Mixed reality and artificial intelligence represent the future of computing, and we’re excited to be advancing this frontier.” Wrote Marc Pollefeys, Director of Science for the HoloLens at Microsoft, in their latest blog post.  

Previously, the current version of the HoloLens could only perform simple augmented reality tasks such as simple visual interactions and displays. However with the AI coprocessor Microsoft plans to develop, the next generation HoloLens will be able to perform much more complex interactions and tasks. Possible examples of these tasks could be displaying real time statistics on products. Since the AI coprocessor will help with tagging data in the real world the HoloLens can present overlays that are incredibly informative.

Microsoft plans of create the silicon AI coprocessor in house because they believe that is the most productive way to unlock the best uses from augmented and mixed reality environments. Google has also built its own AI processor, and Apple has also been developing its own dedicated AI chip for the iPhone. However, Micorsoft’s approach to developing its own AI coprocessor chip is to unlock the full potential of MXNet, an open-source deep neural-network framework that Microsoft supports.

With Microsoft developing their own AI coprocessor to incorporate into their next generation HoloLens, Microsoft is taking augmented and mixed intelligent reality to the next level. Removing cloud based computing to store information locally, giving the HoloLens increased processing times and enhanced real world interactions. All of these enhancements will make for faster and smarter business decisions, allowing companies and organizations to win and succeed through an intelligent augmented reality. 

Ransomware Protection: How Your Business Can Protect From a Ransomware Attack

What Is Ransomware and Where Does It Come From?

Ransomware attacks are increasingly more common these days,  making ransomware protection such an important topic of discussion. You must understand ransomware, why you need ransomware protection, how to remove ransomware before it strikes.

The entire concept of a ransomware attack is a simple one - someone takes something that is rightfully yours and demands money in exchange for it. Ransomware malware, and particularly encrypting ransomware, takes all of the existing files on your system and overrides them with encrypted copies, making it near impossible for you to recover and access your important documents. With your files encrypted, the attacker will usually demand a ransom to be paid via Bitcoin to unlock  your files and documents, hopefully. 

Once you’re hit with a ransomware attack, you will usually not know until it’s too late, then you will need to figure out how to remove ransomware. The ransomware virus will infect your computer and system, taking over any and all documents, folders, and files, and once it has completed its mission of encrypting your whole system it will then kindfully let you know it has done so, asking for payment in exchange of returning your personal assets. 

These attacks are created by scammers and hackers from all across the globe, with highly trained and skilled knowledge in computers & network programming. The malware can easily enter into a PC’s system through spam email, maybe as a PDF attachment that looks like a legitimate invoice, or through a malicious website that contains the malware code. I If your PC is connected to a network at your home or office, an infection to a single system can rapidly spread to infect the entire network, making it impossible to recover those files held hostage. Not only do you acquire a financial loss in paying the ransom, but a direct hit in loss of productivity and billable hours. That is why ransomware protection is increasingly important in today's volatile cyberspace. 

Why You Need Ransomware Protection 

An encrypted malware attack without any ransomware protection can be a silent and deadly killer. These viruses encrypt all of your important and essential documents and render them completely inaccessible to you. You can pay the ransom and get your files back, right? Hopefully, but paying the ransom cannot guarantee you’ll get your files back. 

Earlier this year there was a large scale ransomware attack called Petya, which was very similar to the WannaCry attack that  galvanized the IT community. Petya infected over 230,000 computers and systems worldwide, encrypting their files and demanding a $300 ransom to be paid via Bitcoin.  What the victims didn’t know was that Petya’s hosted email exchange server was shut down, thus preventing them from paying the $300 ransom to unlock their files! 

Even though ransomware attacks are on the rise, there are techniques and ways in which you can protect yourself and your organization from these sort of attacks. So what can you do?

Cloud Storage for Ransomware Protection

The best and number one defense against a ransomware attack is not to be vulnerable to these attacks in the first place. This can be done  with remote offsite backup in the cloud to store your entire system documents, folders and files. So if there is ever a ransomware attack on your personal PC or your company's  network, you won't be forced to pay the ransom to see your critical files and assets ever again. 

Even if you or your company has anti-malware, decryption software, or an on-site IT support staff, all in the event of a possible ransomware attack, the amount of time invested in restoring an entire system with these methods can take hours, days or even weeks. That’s why having a daily backup of your entire system in the cloud can leave your critical assets unaffected during the time of an attack, and restoring your system from the cloud may take only minutes, bringing your organization back to full production as soon as possible. 

The Best Protection Is Prevention 

With ransomware attacks on the rise, having a solid ransomware protection plan in place to save you and your organization from any disruption is crucial. Even when you're hit with a ransomware attack,  there is no guarantee paying the ransom will unlock all of your files. Even if you do get them restored, the amount of time lost can be insurmountable in comparison. By having a ransomware protection plan in place with anti-malware software or by bringing out the big guns and backing up your system remotely in the cloud, you  can keep your computer and your organization running efficiently and smoothly even when the waters are rough. 

Is Your Website Protected Against Break Ins?

Would you ever leave the front door to your home or business wide open? I’m guessing you wouldn’t, not even if it were located in a very safe neighborhood. It doesn’t matter how tired or distracted you are, you take the time to close up shop, lock the doors, and maybe even set a security alarm to keep things as safe as they can be when you’re not around.

Unfortunately, many business owners don’t take the same level of precaution – or any level of precaution – when it comes to their own websites. That’s too bad, because the data being stored on your servers might be more valuable than what’s in your file cabinet or cash register at any given moment.

There are any number of ways you can neglect your web presence that are akin to leaving the front door open for hackers and thieves. You may not notice them because you don’t know what to look for, but cyber criminals certainly do. Today, we want to share a handful of quick tips you can use to make your website just a little bit safer…

Use Lengthy and Complex Passwords

By now, you already know you’re supposed to use complex passwords with lots of numbers, capitalized letters, and special characters. What you might not realize just how big of a difference this can make. A thief using automated software can break a simple password in tenths of a second. Throw in these more complicated strings, though, and that time stretches to months. Being smart with passwords is a simple way to make your website a lot more secure.

Always Update Your CMS and Plugins

Often, when Internet criminals “break-in” to a website, they aren’t using any sophisticated tools or techniques. Instead, they are exploiting known problems with outdated versions of hosting software or commonly-used plug-ins. By keeping yours up-to-date (or working with a web design team who will upgrade your CMS for you) you can fend off these types of attacks automatically.

Upgrade Your Web Hosting Service

Good web hosting makes your site more secure in a lot of different ways. It allows for stronger encrypted SSL connections (if you have that feature installed), for example, and usually includes ongoing monitoring. What’s even more important, though, is that it keeps you away from servers that are hosting online casinos, adult websites, and other questionable web destinations that tend to harbor malicious software. For a few dollars a day, you could make your site a lot safer..

Make Sure You’re Running Regular Backups

Occasionally, even a well-designed and maintained website will suffer from a security intrusion. When that happens, though, a recent backup can put things to right in a matter of minutes. That’s why it’s critical you have someone monitoring your web activity and keeping restorable copies of your files.

While none of these tips is foolproof, they all go a long way towards keeping you protected online. Just as importantly, they stop you from being an obvious target for people who would like to steal your data. Remember, most online criminals do exactly what real-world burglars do: they look for the easiest victim they can find. Close the front door to your website and they just might take their attention elsewhere.

Need help with web design, Internet marketing, or online security? Get in touch with us today for a free consultation to see how we can help!