alt tag

Posts Tagged ‘it assistance’


What Nonprofits Should Seek in an IT Provider

Tuesday, May 29th, 2018

While many of the technical needs at nonprofit and for-profit businesses overlap, there are still several key considerations for nonprofits looking for the right IT services provider. Nonprofits’ motivations may be driven less by the concept of “spending money to making money” and more toward avoiding unnecessary costs so that the organization can focus more of its time and money on its message.

For nonprofits, working with an IT managed services provider can offer the following advantages:

IT Providers Help Streamline Technology Growth Alongside Nonprofit Growth

In many cases, growing nonprofit organizations struggle with keeping their infrastructure up to capacity to handle increased staff and workloads. Some nonprofits may find it easy to use in-house staff to set up and prepare new devices for new employees, whereas others may find an IT provider’s assistance invaluable. Other businesses may find it very difficult to keep their network infrastructure providing reliable performance while the number of employee computers and mobile devices continues to grow. Infrastructure can become overwhelmed as your business introduces more devices. IT service providers can help keep a watchful eye on desktop and network management.

Protecting Nonprofits From Technology Threats

Nonprofits and for-profits alike need to make IT security a priority: Overconfidence in your organization’s ability to protect itself and recover from cyber-attacks can be a major security threat in itself.

Though similar to for-profit businesses, nonprofits place a little less emphasis on targeted attacks because nonprofits aren’t as likely to be working with the same level of financial assets or confidential information. However, desktop management, which involves keeping security software running and all applications patched, can easily fall behind if on-site staff doesn’t actively monitor it.

IT services can ensure a nonprofit’s computers are strongly protected from threats.

Additionally, hiring an IT services provider for help with disaster recovery and backup can help your business avoid otherwise catastrophic situations. Proper backup practices require continuous diligent work to minimize loss from events such as hardware failure and ransomware attacks. For nonprofits, it can be invaluable knowing backups are completed correctly without having to worry about it. Losing an hour’s work by restoring data from a backup is a much more desirable prospect than losing entire projects.

Budgeting and Cost-Saving Help for Nonprofits

IT providers can also help nonprofits both stabilize and lower their budgets for IT expenses. Additionally, IT providers can work with nonprofits to only provide needed services and keep as many services in-house as the nonprofit desires. Nonprofits may pay extra attention to keeping overhead costs down, so outsourcing expensive, infrequently used services can bring in huge savings. Additionally, IT providers can offer a flat-fee subscription-based agreement so a nonprofit won’t have to deal with as many possible “surprises” when determining its IT budget for labor and capital expenses. For example, a business might look to IT services to cover IT management, implementation, equipment, software, and maintenance while maintaining control of its own in-house help desk and customer service.

The IT providers at MPA Networks can help your Bay Area nonprofit by fulfilling your IT needs at a lower cost. Contact us today to learn more.

What Changes in Net Neutrality Could Mean for Your SMB

Thursday, April 19th, 2018

The FCC net neutrality 3–2 repeal vote of December 2017 could lead to major concerns for IT staff at small and medium businesses. As of February 2018, the FCC is continuing to move toward the net neutrality repeal, but actual business changes will take a while to go into practice. That delay means IT staff is left with more questions about what’s going to happen rather than solid information on what will happen.

Understanding the Public Protests and FCC Defense

Opponents argue that the repeal allows services providers to create premium paid “fast lanes” that will give the paying customers a leg up on the competition when it comes to how quickly their content travels over the internet.

While big businesses can afford to pony up for fast lane service, SMBs will be less likely to afford the advantage.

Service providers say they just don’t want to be treated like a utility akin to gas, electric and phone service providers. Additionally, service providers argue the “fast lane” concept would be a step-up deal and wouldn’t mean slowing down speeds for non-paying businesses.

A lack of competition means that customers who are dissatisfied with fast lane practices can’t simply take their business elsewhere. According to the FCC’s 2016 Broadband Progress Report, “Only 38 percent of Americans have more than one choice of providers for fixed advanced telecommunications capability.”

How Net Neutrality Changes Impact IT

As far as IT staff is concerned, net neutrality changes are related to internet performance. The rules could amplify existing concerns over how different services function and change some points of emphasis:

  • Customer-facing website and online application performance will be more important than ever. Businesses that aren’t paying for “fast lane” access will want to make sure their CDN is performing well and their platforms have efficient data footprints. Not paying for “fast lane” service could be considered a barrier to entry for new competitors.
  • Company website SEO could take a hit because longer load times on their sites mean more people will abandon the page load. Load time doesn’t play a role in search result rankings, but page abandonment does — and longer load times mean higher abandonment rates.
  • Growing SMBs that move a lot of data across the internet could be crushed by larger businesses entering the same space and paying for an ISP speed advantage.
  • IT staff will have to address unfair business complaints against service providers with the FTC rather than the FCC, which the Harvard Business Review argues is less equipped to protect consumers in those disputes.
  • “Fast lane” cloud services may be more appealing for business use, which means IT staff may be tasked with migration to other platforms.
  • Businesses may opt to change high-bandwidth services such as teleconferencing to competitors who are paying for “fast lane” performance, especially those who rely on those services to communicate with clients.
  • Cloud-based backups could run at less optimal speeds compared with the full potential of the internet package speed, which could mean more time between backups.
  • Location-to-location network traffic could run at less-than-optimal speed, which could turn into a problem down the line as the business moves increasing amounts of data.

The IT consulting experts at MPA Networks can help your business adjust to changes in net neutrality rules as they take effect. Contact us today to learn more.

Training Employees in Data Security Practices: Tips and Topics

Tuesday, April 3rd, 2018

While there’s plenty of technology available to keep your business’s data protected, the human element is still the most important piece to consider in safeguarding your company’s data. Properly training employees to understand and implement data security best practices works best when your business makes a cultural shift toward prioritizing IT security. Successfully training your staff is half about knowing how to train them and half about knowing which topics to train them on. Businesses that embrace a proactive approach to training employees on data security will have a much better track record than those that take a reactive approach.

Training Tips

Don’t just make a plan: Implement a program that focuses on training all employees. Have your business take an active role in implementing a data security program. This ensures training is far more effective than simply creating security practices, offering one-time training and hoping it works.

By implementing regular security training meetings on changing topics, your business can train your staff on a wide range of concerns.

In addition, your company can benefit from focused training while constantly reinforcing security as a priority. Hold multiple sessions that get into each topic in depth to help your employees better understand data security.

Training doesn’t end when the session ends — it’s an ongoing process. As an extension of training, your security staff should frequently send out reminders about security concerns to help employees remember what they’ve learned. Make your data security training materials easily accessible in the event staff members see a reminder and realize they should read up on a topic if they’re unclear of what the reminder is about. Additionally, C-level staff, IT and supervisors should lead by example.

Training Topics

The bad news is hackers will always create new threats for your staff to worry about — but the silver lining is that you’ll never run out of fresh topics to cover. Because of the fluidity of data security, your program will need to change which topics are covered in training and continually adjust strategy to address new threats. The following list covers just some of the many topics training sessions can cover:

  • Strong passwords and more secure authentication practices: This includes covering two-step authentication when applicable.
  • Secure Wi-Fi best practices: Explore red flags to look for when using public Wi-Fi and discuss whether public Wi-Fi should be used at all.
  • Physical device security: Cover topics such as encryption and disabling devices remotely to minimize data leaks for stolen/lost devices.
  • Use policy: Reaffirm that non-employees shouldn’t be using employee hardware.
  • Device security: Discuss the importance of keeping software patched and running security software on devices.
  • Popular methods of attack: Cover security best practices for avoiding popular phishing, man-in-the-middle and ransomware attacks.
  • Social engineering threats: Discuss the importance of the user as an essential line of defense when software can’t protect from threats.
  • Three-copy backup strategy: Explain that data is also at risk of being lost rather than stolen, and explore key backups to minimize these losses.

Hackers and thieves are known to exploit human complacency in security practices — and frequent training sessions will help employees stay aware. Is your business looking to improve its security practices? The IT consulting experts at MPA can help; contact us today to learn more.