Understanding Managed IT Services

Many of the services and products that we offer here at CREG Systems can be described as Managed IT Services. But for many, that term is pretty new and unfamiliar.

So what are Managed IT Services? How did the first Managed IT Services companies develop? Why do we think that your business may benefit from using Managed IT Services?

Read on to find answers to all your questions about Managed IT Services, the history of their development, and their benefits.

What are Managed IT Services?

By definition, “Managed IT Services” means the practice of outsourcing the management of IT functions and operations to a third-party contractor. The managed IT service provider takes on the responsibility for the monitoring, managing and any troubleshooting, as needed, of the IT systems within that business. That often includes maintenance of the core network, telephony and data, and other basic IT maintenance responsibilities like fixing outages and patch management.

As your local Northern New York Managed IT Services provider, CREG Systems wants to help you learn more about outsourcing your IT maintenance.

A quick history lesson: it all started with break-fixes

In the last decade, managed services, especially in the IT industry, have grown exponentially. It all started with companies who helped service small- to medium-sized networks. Smaller businesses, unlike their large counterparts, could not afford and support an internal full-service IT department.

Around the early 90’s, with the ramp up of new technology, even small business networks started becoming more complex. Many of those businesses started out with quite simple systems built by an amateur, and network service companies operated on a break-fix basis. That means that professional help was called only when necessary, like when something was broken and needed a fix.

Over time, network maintenance providers developed some procedures to send technicians on site periodically to perform a system review. That often included an overwhelming checklist to log usage, user information, disk and processor usage, and more.

The goal was to possibly find hints of issues that can be fixed before they occur. However, that was not that effective because the technician could only see the information for only that day and only knew of failures when alerted by the customer.

Also, the backup system was usually tested only during the tech visit, which often meant a week or more of missed backups. The systems would often have human-related errors because the technician would try to accommodate the end-user customer concern quickly during his visit, and have no time to inspect the root cause of the problem.

From reactive fixes to proactive maintenance

At that time, the hardware and software providers were developing new and better ways for the networks to indicate problems as early as possible. For example, the common Simple Network Management Protocol had been developing since the early 90’s and is still used for monitoring and maintenance.

But the very first systems that could monitor the networks and provide some useful data were very complex and expensive. Only large corporations with their huge networks could afford that. Smaller businesses needed a solution that would keep things in good shape and provide a predictable cost that they could count on.

So around the early 2000-s, network service companies started to come up with flat-rate service agreements and remote maintenance software. That allowed smaller companies to take advantage of the same benefits as the IT department at a large company would provide.

The IT industry changed from being reactive to broken devices to being proactive in providing continuous monitoring and maintenance. That started the Managed IT Services movement.

Why the break-fix approach is not good enough for your business

Your small or medium-sized business needs well-maintained technology to compete in today’s saturated market. But in many small businesses, both the budget and the IT resources are quite limited. If you don’t timely manage backups, security and patches, you are more likely to have to deal with an IT failure sooner or later. But if your business operates with a Managed IT Service, you are able to prevent any problems before they disrupt and harm your business, employees and customers.

A break-fix approach fixes problems as they come up. In other words, something needs to go wrong before you get professional service. That results in various delays, problems with performance, network security and frustrated customers, while you wait for the issue to be fixed.

Read our blog post on cybersecurity to learn more about avoiding the biggest security risks for your network.

We believe that a major part of the success of your business depends on a reliable network and well-managed IT system. Today, no organization can afford the risk of a break-fix approach, putting their productivity and network security on the line. Besides, deciding between different providers for each part of your system may delay finding the solution to your problem. You just don’t have time for that!

Here at CREG Systems, we provide comprehensive managed services for your peace of mind. Ask us about how we can help manage your company’s IT system.

Are Managed IT Services more expensive than Break-Fix Services?

No! Monitoring and managing your IT services will cost less than traditional break-fixes. Additionally, with a flat maintenance rate, you will know what to expect each step of the way.

Give us a call today to learn more about our maintenance rates. We can work with you and your specific needs to help you easily budget your IT services.

CREG Systems seeks to educate its customers about the telecom industry and the services we offer. We do so by giving you tools and information to help you learn more to empower and protect your business. Located in Watertown, NY, we serve our Northern New York customers in many areas of IT and telecommunications, including managed IT services. Click the button below to get in touch!

October is Cybersecurity Month

Stay Aware to Protect Your Company’s Data

Happy October! It’s time for warm drinks, pumpkin patches, cold weather comfort food and Halloween candy. But October also means it’s National Cybersecurity Awareness Month! CREG Systems is here with another informative post to help you learn more about how to protect your data. Read on to find out how to successfully manage cybersecurity at your organization.

Click here to read our last post about mitigating the risk of a ransomware attack.

Why is there a National Cybersecurity Awareness Month?

The Department of Homeland Security describes National Cybersecurity Month here as “a collaborative effort between government and industry to raise awareness about the importance of cybersecurity and to ensure that all Americans have the resources they need to be safer and more secure online.”

Reports show that around 70% of the malware cyber attacks last year hit small to medium businesses, due to fewer resources they are able to invest in security compared to large organizations. Those numbers may look intimidating. However, you have CREG Systems as Northern New York’s trusted and experienced resource for your small to medium organization’s cybersecurity needs.

What are today’s biggest cyber threats?

We can see in many professional reports that nearly every organization is at risk of facing a cyber threat at any point in time. But what specific dangers should you watch out for?

We at CREG Systems seek to educate the public about how to maintain their network health. We do so by providing educational materials, like this article. We also assess your network and provide recommendations and services that will strengthen your security. Contact us today to protect your data. Meanwhile, here are some common threats that CREG Systems recommends you watch out for:

1. Data Breach and Cloud Abuse

If you are backing up your data online, other virtual apps may gain access to your information and cryptographic keys. Storing your important information on Cloud, while convenient, makes you vulnerable to malicious attacks and data theft. Be very picky when choosing a Cloud provider! Also, make sure that you have multiple-factor authentication in place to protect yourself and your business.

2. Single Factor Authentication

It is time to move one from the outdated single-password security systems. It possesses a huge security risk by giving anyone an easy access to data. The best way to avoid a cyber criminal getting through to your information is to implement multi-level security and at least two factor authentication.

3. Hacking

Hacking is a long-time familiar concept to many. However, it has not become any less of a threat. Each day the Internet gets more and more diversified with apps, cloud storage, devices and users. In turn, that creates many more weak points in network systems. Some ways to minimize the risk of hacking is to keep your credentials secure, create different and complex passwords for each system and put in place restrictions regarding sharing your credentials.

4. Malware Attack

We urge all our customers to learn about malware and how to mitigate the risk of being its next victim. Malware attacks can be caused by various things – from a lack of an internet security software, to bundled free software programs, unfit hardware, file sharing, etc. CREG Systems recommends that you keep your security systems up to date to avoid the risk of malware attacks such as ransomware. Read our ransomware guide here.

5. Insider Threats

Even though many organization already have multi-layer security systems and data protection in place, there is still another risk to consider: people. Users, and especially ex-employees, can become a major threat to your cybersecurity. Always remove your ex-employee’s access and data as soon as they leave the organization. It’s also important to restrict access when necessary, teach employees about the importance of security and have regular testing to ensure your data is secure.

6. Internet of Things

In 2019, most devices connect through the Internet of Things (IoT). It’s a recent term that came with the arrival of AI’s, such as Amazon Echo, Apple Siri and Google Home. IoT is a system of interrelated devices, machines, objects, and even people that have the ability to exchange data over a network without requiring human-to-human or human-to-computer interaction. All of the robust internet activity has created lots of weak points and causes for security concerns. That’s why we want you to watch out for all of the threats above to make sure that your network doesn’t become the weak link in the IoT!

Own IT. Secure IT. Protect IT.

We learn from the National Cybersecurity Initiative toolkit that his year, the National Cybersecurity Month focuses on emphasizing personal accountability and the importance of taking proactive steps to enhance cybersecurity at home and at work. The motto this year is Own IT. Secure IT. Protect IT.  That is to say that we are called to all participate in protecting our data, whether you are an IT professional or just an average user.

Cybersecurity is a shared responsibility. That means that we all play a part in keeping our networks safe. We believe that organizations and their leaders, as well as users and also the security solutions providers, like CREG Systems, all work together to manage your cybersecurity.

Get in touch today to receive a security assessment of your business!

NCIASM National Cybersecurity Month 2019 Logo

Ransomware And How to Avoid It

5 Tips to Help Mitigate the Risk of a Ransomware Attack

Avoid a ransomware attack by educating yourself and protecting your business. Knowledge is power, so be in the know and check out these 5 helpful tips from CREG Systems!

What is ransomware? This Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency report defines it as “a type of malicious software, or malware, designed to deny access to a computer system or data until a ransom is paid.” In addition, CISA warns us that ransomware usually spreads through phishing emails or by accidentally visiting an infected website.

Don’t become the next victim of a ransomware attack! Here are our quick tips to help protect your data:

1. Get the right protection software.

Mitigate the risk of being attacked by ransomware by protecting your data with the most up-to-date security software. For example, make sure you are secured through NEXTGEN firewalls, use sandboxing for extra protection, and insure you’ve got protection at gate and edge router level. Ask us about our network security services to learn more.

2. Check your hardware.

Malfunctioning, unpatched or outdated hardware can greatly increase your risk of a ransomware attack. Most importantly, get your hardware regularly assessed and updated. In addition, check for any vulnerabilities that may allow malware to seep through into your network. To do that, we at CREG Systems provide assessments to help you keep your hardware in top shape.

3. Multi-level protection is key.

From desktop level to firewall level, each device in your organization should have segmented and multi-layered protection. That will insure that ransomware can be stopped before it gets to your data. Email us, and we will help you minimize the risk by combining software and hardware protection tools, elements of AI and machine learning

4. Practice good cyber habits.

Backup, backup, backup. Never keep your backups online, keep your systems updated, whitelist good apps to keep the bad ones out, limit access privileges, and use two-factor authentication. In short, prevention is better than cure!

5. Know who to contact in worst case scenario.

In case of a ransomware attack, never pay the ransom and always ask for help! Firstly, Contact CISA and notify your local FBI field office. Secondly, give us a call. CREG Systems is a trusted experienced advisor. We are here for you, should you need assistance in recovery from a cyber attack. Contact us to learn more!

CREG Systems seeks to educate its customers about the telecom industry and the services we offer. We do so by giving you tools and information to help you learn more to empower and protect your business. Located in Watertown, NY, we serve our Northern New York customers in many areas of IT and telecommunications, including cyber security. Click the “Contact Us” button above to get in touch!