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The Hidden (and Devastating) Costs Of Being Hacked

Most business owners worry at least occasionally about being the victims of a hacker. However, many don’t take even the most basic steps to protect themselves against cyber criminals.

In our experience, this disparity between their anxiety and the amount of effort they put into protecting themselves from the unknown has a couple of causes. The first is that a lot of business people simply don’t know what it takes to keep their data protected. They aren’t even sure where to start. And secondly, they tend to heavily underestimate the costs of being hacked.

The average business owner understands that there are going to be expenses associated with being hacked. Namely, they expect to pay for repairs to computers and websites. Those charges can be quite extensive, but they actually represent the easiest and cheapest part of the problem.

If your small business is successfully targeted by hackers, you also have to look out for a pair of hidden (and often devastating) costs you might not expect. Let’s take a quick look at each one…


The Loss of Productivity for You and Your Team

Once a hacker gets into your computers or website, your business will essentially grind to a halt. You may not be able to sell products, accept payments, or even contact customers or vendors through email.

At the same time, employees will probably be sitting around waiting for an IT team to come and make needed repairs or replacements. They’ll be on the clock and getting paid, but not generating any new revenue. Meanwhile, your customers may seek out alternative products or services from your competitors when you aren’t able to give them what they need.

This loss of productivity and revenue is likely to amount to a lot more than what you’ll pay a technology team to sort out the problem. And yet, it’s still not likely to add up to the other significant costs you will have to bear.


The Damage Done to Your Credibility and Reputation

Once your business has been hacked, you could have a hard time winning back the trust of your customers. If your website and communications have been down they’ll think of you as unreliable. If they received phony messages from your company, or if hackers gained access to information like passwords and financial details then buyers might not ever forgive you.

Having your reputation diminished in this way, and losing the trust of your most important customers, can represent a permanent shift your company. In many cases, it can actually put a small firm out of business altogether.


Protecting Your Business is Easier and Less Expensive Than You Think

It doesn’t have to cost a fortune to protect your small business from hackers and online thieves. Working with a good IT partner, you can take advantage of stronger passwords, security software, firewalls, and automatic data backups to prevent criminals from breaking into your company… and to mitigate the damage if they do happen to get access to your files.

Instead of worrying about the future, why not contact the Kinetik IT team today so we can get to work safeguarding your devices and important data? It only takes a moment to schedule an initial consultation and you could be amazed at what it will do for your peace of mind.

Immediate Steps To Take In The Event Of A Ransomware Attack

Over the last few years we have seen a number of high-profile ransomware attacks that have affected small businesses, large corporations, and even institutions like hospitals and universities. With each successful infection, hackers have gotten bolder and business owners have found more reason to worry.

In recent posts we have outlined steps you can take to prevent yourself from being an easy target for online criminals. But, what happens if your worst fears come to life and you are affected by ransomware? Today, we want to lay out a few simple steps you should follow if you ever find yourself in that unfortunate situation…


Disconnect the Affected Machine from Your Network

The first thing you should do, if you see a ransomware message on your computer, is to disconnect the affected machine from your network. Physically unplug it if needed. Many forms of ransomware can spread across intranets and wireless networks, and the last thing you need is for the malware to get copied onto new devices.

If it isn’t possible to disconnect the device, or if you are already seeing signs that it has spread, turn off your router or server altogether.


Cover Up Any Webcams or Microphones

Some ransomware infections will copy files from the host computer and send them back to hackers. In other cases, criminals may listen in through webcams or microphones on infected computers. These types of attacks are rare, but they aren’t unheard of.

You don’t want them to be able to view or hear you, or to get more sensitive information from your company. So, disconnecting or covering things like webcams is a good idea.


Ignore Any Ransom Demands

Hackers want you to think that the easiest way to deal with a ransomware attack is to simply pay a fee and have access to your files restored. However, that’s not usually a good idea. For one thing, you don’t have any assurances you’ll get full access to your computers back. And for another, it only encourages hackers to develop more ransomware and target you again in the future.

Tempting as it might be to look for a quick fix, don’t make the mistake of giving in to ransomware demands.


Call Your Small Business IT Vendor Immediately

In many cases a good IT provider can remove malware from a computer quickly. They can also help protect you against further attacks by installing the right software and offering training to your team. If removal isn’t a possibility, they may be able to restore affected devices or workstations using existing backups, but that’s only an option if you had ongoing support in place to begin with.

No matter how you look at it, the best way to deal with a ransomware attack after it’s happened is to call an IT team you can trust and let them get to work.


The Best Cure for Ransomware is Better Protection

It goes without saying that the best way to deal with ransomware – along with other forms of hacking and cyber crime – is to not be a victim in the first place. If you feel like your networks, email, and data aren’t as safe as they could be, this is the perfect opportunity to get the help you need.

Contact the technical experts at Kinetik IT in Phoenix today to see how easy it is to get the protection and tech support your business needs!

How to Keep Hackers Away: A Step-by-Step Guide

In recent years, many of our clients have become more concerned about hackers and cyber crimes. They aren’t alone. Surveys show that U.S. companies lose billions to digital crime every year, and the number of companies affected – including Fortune 500 corporations, small businesses, and even government agencies – grows by the month.

However, that doesn’t mean you are powerless to prevent criminals from breaking into your website, servers, or computer files. In fact, there are a number of concrete steps you can take starting today to keep hackers away from your business. Let’s take a look at a handful of simple but effective protective measures you can put into place…


Invest in Staff Training

The weakest link in your cyber security plan probably isn’t a specific piece of hardware or software; it’s the bad habits you and your team might have. Firms like ours offer ongoing tech security training that teaches simple best practices you can use to close the door on hackers and make it harder for them to break it.


Take Password Policies Seriously

As we have written the past, strong passwords that are regularly changed can be a very effective first line of defense against computer criminals. It’s easy to rely on simple passwords, or use the same ones again and again, but this is an area where a little bit of planning and precaution can go a long way.


Put Firewalls and Security Software in Place

These are the digital equivalent of having strong locks and windows on your office. They might not prevent every hack, break in, or malware attempt, but you are far less likely to be targeted if you have basic security measures then you would be without them.


Avoid Suspicious Emails and Websites

When you or your employees visit untrustworthy websites, or open attachments from emails you don’t recognize, hackers are practically being invited into your business. This is a boring piece of advice but one that still holds up: don’t visit suspicious websites on work computers, and scrutinize every flash drive, file, or email attachment that comes your way.


Control Access to Your Office and Technology

Hackers don’t always get into your company through digital means. Sometimes they make their way into your office posing as service workers, job applicants, or even interns. Pay attention to the faces you see coming in and out of your company, and make sure that not just anyone (even your employees) can get access to important passwords or software applications.


Run Regular Updates and Backups

Hackers often look for businesses that are running outdated versions of existing software because they will have known security issues. That’s why you should always be updating your applications so you have the latest and strongest protections. Additionally, by running regular backups you can keep extra sets of your files that will be helpful in the event your company is hacked.


Keep an Eye on Your Accounts and Analytics

It’s bad enough to be hacked; it’s even worse if the online break-in goes undetected for days or weeks at a time. By regularly scanning your accounts and computer analytics you can be on the lookout for a regular activity that could be the first sign of a crime.


Rely on Your 24/7 Helpdesk

If all of this seems like a lot of work, remember that a good managed services vendor will set up these protections – and many more – on your behalf. Additionally, they’ll configure and monitor a 24/7 helpdesk and oversight system so you can be sure someone will always be looking out for your data security.


Is it Time for a Smarter IT Strategy?

Whether you’re looking to protect sensitive data, reduce technology expenditures, or just do away with nagging problems that slow your team’s productivity Kinetik IT can help. Our firm is one of the most trusted in Phoenix and beyond because we put our clients first. Contact us today to see how we can help your business develop a smarter tech strategy.

How Managed IT Can Transform Your Company Almost Overnight

For business owners who haven’t yet made the switch, the move from traditional IT to a managed services agreement can seem like little more than a billing change. When you get the right package from the right company, though, it’s nothing less than a way to transform your entire company.

To understand why, the first thing you need is a grasp on what managed IT actually looks like. It’s a system in which you pay for monthly technology care rather than getting an invoice every time you need a service call. That’s not just a difference of rates, it’s an entirely separate philosophy. With managed IT care you're no longer on your own – you have a team of professionals working proactively to ensure you don’t have any tech problems. That’s a lot better than simply calling an outside company to come and repair issues as needed.

Let’s look at a few of the ways managed IT can transform your business almost overnight…


You No Longer Suffer from Nagging IT Problems

One big problem with traditional IT is that every technology problem leads to a question: is this important enough to call a technician for help?

That’s not the way a business owner should be thinking about their hardware and software. They should be demanding that everything works well and isn’t causing delays or interruptions. With a managed IT agreement in place, you have someone working proactively to resolve nagging issues so they don’t slow your business down.


You Have 24/7 Monitoring and Support

If you don’t have continuous IT coverage then it’s essentially up to you to detect any technology problems you might be dealing with, even if they revolve around things you might not completely understand like hardware installation or cyber security.

Contrast that with the care you get from a good managed services agreement. Under that kind of system you have the security of round-the-clock remote systems monitoring and access to a 24/7 helpdesk so you can always get the answers and support you need.


You Can Make Better Technology Plans and IT Budgeting Forecasts

An underappreciated aspect of managed IT is that you get regular consulting sessions where tech experts can help you to understand how you can use technology like new apps and mobile devices to reach your business goals. Additionally, you’ll get personalized advice on investments and tech budgeting.

If you've ever had the feeling that you don’t know whether you're spending enough on IT or using the right devices and software, this is something you’ll definitely appreciate.


Technology Becomes a Competitive Strength

Far too many business owners think of tech as something they have to have but don’t really understand and wish they didn’t have to pay for. With a managed IT plan in place, you can use hardware and software more efficiently than your competitors, turning it into a point of strength for your small business.

Entrepreneurs need every edge they can get, particularly in the digital age. Why not give yourself a head start over your colleagues?


Want to Know More about Managed IT Care?

At Kinetik IT in Phoenix we work hard to help our clients succeed. So, if you want a tech strategy that focuses on your bottom line rather than the latest gadgets or buzzwords, contact us today to set up a meeting and see what we can do for you and your team.

4 Immediate Steps To Take If Your Computer Crashes

Few things are as aggravating to a business owner as seeing a computer crash in the middle of a busy workday. It’s the office equivalent of being stranded by the side of the road in your car. You might not know what the problem is, much less what you should do or who you should call.

As trusted experts in the field of business technology, we help our clients to deal with these kinds of situations every week. Today, we want to pass on four good pieces of advice you can use if your laptop, desktop, or workstation suddenly stops working the way it is supposed to…


#1 Don’t Panic or Do Anything Drastic

It’s natural to be filled with a sense of dread when your computer locks up. That’s especially true if you are in the middle of working on something important, irreplaceable, or time-sensitive.

Still, the most important thing is to stay calm. Chances are, your IT partner can get your computer working again, or at the very least retrieve your data. However, by taking drastic steps – like restarting your computer several times or opening up the case – you run the risk of causing permanent damage and making things worse.


#2 Make a Few Notes About the Situation

In most cases, a crashing computer will offer clues about why it isn’t working the way it’s supposed to. By making note of these you can expedite the process of getting back to work later.

Pay attention to any error messages you see. Note which pieces of software were running when the computer crashed, how long the device had been on, and even whether there were other events (like a power surge, for example) that occurred just before the crash. These can help you diagnose the problem and get things working again more quickly.


#3 Avoid Looking for Quick Solutions

Sometimes, business owners will do everything they can to avoid calling an IT vendor to deal with a computer crash. So, they’ll download diagnostic software, install new parts, or take other quick-fix steps to solve the issue alone.

These solutions might pay off once in a while, but it’s more likely that they’ll exasperate the problem while leading to wasted time and money. Your computers are important business assets filled with valuable (and potentially sensitive) data. It’s not worth it to mess with solutions that won’t give you any real help.


#4 Call the Small Business IT Experts

Given how easy it can be to destroy valuable pieces of business equipment, the best thing you can do for a crashing computer is call someone who has the right training and experience to fix it. They can help you get online faster and won't invalidate your warrantees by looking for solutions that are fast but unproven.

Even better, the right IT partner can help you prevent future crashes and freezes by permanently solving the problem and troubleshooting for other issues. Then, you won’t have to worry about dealing with these kinds of situations again in the future.


Want Better Care for Your Business Technology?

At Kinetik IT, we have spent more than a decade building a reputation as Arizona’s most trusted small business technology support team. If you want a group of committed professionals who are known for fast service and straightforward answers on your side, contact us today so we can schedule a free consultation and review your IT needs.

Why Choose Kinetik IT For Your Outsourced Technology Needs?

We get the chance to meet with new business owners and executives every week. Often, they have been referred by their friends and colleagues. That gives us a big edge over the competition, of course, but many still ask the question that’s really on their minds: why should they work with Kinetik IT instead of another Arizona technology service provider?

There are a lot of answers we can give based on a client’s needs and situation. However, the most compelling answers can be summed up into four major benefits we bring to the table. Today, we are going to tell you why we think you should choose us for your outsourced IT needs.


We Keep Your Business Running Smoothly

The biggest reason clients go looking for outsourced IT provider is that they are tired of dealing with hardware and software problems, along with unplanned service outages. In other words, they just want their technology to work the way it’s supposed to.

Our team of specialists knows how important it is for you to be able to concentrate on your company, not the latest software update or cybersecurity threat. So, everything we do is designed to make your life easier and stress-free.


We Do More Than Fix Hardware and Software

While there are other IT companies and in and around Phoenix with similar technical skills and qualifications, few can match the consulting services we provide. That’s because they are used to fixing IT problems rather than seeing the big picture in a client’s business or organization.

You want an IT firm that can understand your goals, help you plan for the future, and even establish accurate technology budgets. With that kind of help you can turn IT from an expense to an opportunity and not only get exactly what you need to move your business plans forward, but do it while saving money.


We Offer Plans For Every Group or Need

Some IT companies will try to lock you into a much bigger monthly contract or agreement then you need. Or, they’ll charge big fees if you find your company is growing or shrinking and your technology needs change.

Our business has been around for decades, meaning we’ve gone through those same changes ourselves. Along the way, we’ve learned that everyone is happier when our clients have the flexibility to add or scale back services as needed. And, we make a point of customizing plans and billing options for every situation. That’s the way we would want to be treated, so it’s what we give our clients.


Kinetik IT Has an Unmatched Reputation in Arizona

One of the big challenges business owners have in choosing an outsourced IT company is that so many pack up and go every year. That’s unfortunate, because there is nothing enjoyable about having to bring in a new team of technicians, get them familiar with your hardware and software, and explain the ins and outs of your business or industry.

The Kinetik IT team has been serving clients around Arizona for a long time, and we don’t plan on going anywhere. That stability, along with an unmatched reputation for service has made us the choice for business owners who want real value in a tech support vendor.


Ready to Work With the Best?

If you’re tired of working with technology support companies that charge too much, play games with their pricing, or don’t deliver on their promises then we would love to hear from you. Contact Kinetik IT in Phoenix today to learn more about our work and get a free estimate for the maintenance, advice, and security services you need.

4 Things You Need to Know About Ransomware

Different IT professionals might not agree about everything, but we all hate ransomware. We hope you’re not too familiar with this particular type of malicious software, but you have probably heard about it or seen in on the news. It usually involves computers and workstations being locked behind encryption until a payment is made to an anonymous third-party. Hence the “ransom” part of the name.

While everyone but hackers hates ransomware, it’s clear that the trend isn’t going away anytime soon. Already in 2018 we’ve seen the SamSam attack affect thousands of organizations, including hospitals and governmental agencies.

Should you worry about something similar happening to you? How can you prevent your company from being held hostage for tens of thousands of dollars? Can you even prevent these attacks at all?

To help you get the answers you need, let’s look at four things you need to know about ransomware…


#1 The Best Cure for Ransomware is to Avoid It

This might seem obvious, but it’s important to mention. The best way to deal with a ransomware attack is to not endure one in the first place. Often, businesses are affected through suspicious attachments, unknown downloads, or employee visits to unsafe websites.

With a little bit of training and the right virus protection tools in place you can cut out the most significant risks. This will also help protect you from phishing scams, data breaches, and the other kinds of IT-related headaches that keep you up at night.


#2 It’s Not a Great Idea to Pay the Ransom

Assuming you are affected by ransomware, it's generally not that wise to pay the requested fee (which hackers will typically want in untraceable crypto currencies). After all, if you give up money now, what’s to stop a criminal for asking for more later? They already know you’ll pay.

Also, paying a ransom for access to your files just papers over the problems instead of putting better longer-term solutions in place.


#3 A Good IT Team Can Sometimes Beat Ransomware Easily

There are a lot of factors that determine how severe a ransomware infection is. These include the specific software being used, the number of devices affected, etc. It’s easy to understand why some targets (including the hospital we already mentioned) choose to spend money rather than wait for a fix.

However, if you have a good IT team working on your side they may be able to brush off a ransomware attack by using standard virus removal techniques or restoring an old backup. These are simple and cost-effective steps that might resolve the problem very quickly.


#4 Ransomware Infections Can Be a Sign of Bigger Problems

As a rule of thumb, having a ransomware infection suggests – at the very least – that a review of training procedures and web security software is in order. As we mentioned, these types of issues normally don’t come out of nowhere. Instead, they usually suggest an organization isn’t paying enough attention.

No matter what the outcome, it’s important to learn from a ransomware attack and come through the process a little bit stronger and wiser. Otherwise, the damage could be even worse the next time around.


Is Your Business or Organization Properly Protected From Ransomware?

If you worry that your company or agency doesn’t have the right kinds of data protection and cybersecurity tools and procedures in place then don’t wait for something bad to happen. Call the experts at Kinetik IT in Phoenix today so we can assess your technology and start taking steps to keep you covered.

How Your Outdated Network is Slowing You Down

We have learned over the years that business owners and executives generally don't think about their networks, or networking equipment, until it becomes a problem. New servers or data packages aren’t items anyone is eager to add to a yearly budget, and few business-minded people want to dig into the technical details of their hardware and software all that often.

Put these factors together and it’s no wonder we often find ourselves dealing with outdated networks that cause big problems behind the scenes.

If you have an older network it could be slowing your company or organization down – both literally and figuratively. To help you understand why, let’s look at a few issues that tend to creep up when you haven’t updated your technology for a while…


Poor Connection Speeds

If you routinely find you get faster connection speeds through your phone or tablet then you do the actual computers in your office, that could be a sign your network is outdated or severely overtaxed. Slow connection speeds aren’t just annoying; they can lead to timeouts, unsubmitted forms, missing emails, and a host of other issues that cost you money.


Insufficient Bandwidth for All Devices

Some older networks have equipment that can only handle so many devices comfortably at once. That can be a big problem, even in a small office. Once you start adding workstations and laptops to phones, printers, and even web-connected smart devices onto an aging router (for example), some employees or tasks are going to suffer. This might even lead to random dropped connections, or just slow connectivity throughout your business.


A Lack of Proper Online Security

Emails that won’t send and printers that go offline are annoying but survivable. Behind-the-scenes, though, a slow and aging network might not be properly configured to help you fight off criminals who want to steal your data or hack your website. That’s partly because they might not have the right encryption or firmware, and partly because they may not be compatible with newer cloud platforms or virus protection systems. Either way, your business and bottom line are at risk.


Incompatibility with Newer Hardware and Software

We all know that the world of technology moves quickly. If you’re still using equipment or operating systems from years gone by, then it will inevitably cause conflicts with newer hardware and software. In other words, if you don’t keep up with the times then the devices and apps you spend money on won’t work the way they are supposed to (and might not work at all). To keep your business lean, efficient, and competitive you can’t afford to waste money on new tech and not get the benefits of upgrading.


Small Aggravations and Productivity Problems

While we have largely focused on the large issues that come up with an outdated network, the reality is that living with old servers and service plans is like dying by a thousand cuts. They’re just so many ways your business is affected, from online research that takes longer than it should to VOIP calls that never come through clearly. The end result is a business that’s slower than it should be, and customers who wonder why you don’t seem to be as sharp as your competitors. That’s a big price to pay for holding onto an outdated network.


Need Someone to Review Your Network Setup?

Want to know if your network is causing you problems, or if there are cost-effective ways to use technology to solve your biggest business challenges? Contact the experts at Kinetik IT in Phoenix today. We can schedule a consultation and show you exactly what is and isn’t working with your current IT plan.