A huge 89 percent of Americans have a computer in their home. For the vast majority of businesses, too, they’re indispensable. Yet they are not without their faults. When you run a business, you’re going to come up against certain IT challenges. These range from the minor, such as software incompatibilities, all the way up to business-threatening problems like data breaches. To thrive, you need to be able to overcome these problems with your IT systems and avoid disruption to your business as much as possible.
In this guide, we’re going to take a look at some of the most common IT problems that businesses face and what you need to do to overcome them. Are you ready to start making your business more robust? Then read on!
Staying safe is of paramount importance to businesses. Getting infected with malware can lead to data breaches, business downtime, and inconveniences for you and your customers. Let’s take a closer look at some of the issues that fall under the umbrella of security issues, and what you need to do to solve them.
Nearly 1 million pieces of malware are discovered every single day. Each one has the capacity to cause issues for your business, so you need to know how to combat them.
If you leave virus protection up to individual employees, you’re leaving massive gaps in your collective armor. Not every employee is going to install a security program and the ones that do may not set it up correctly.
You need to present a united front to malware, and to do this, you need endpoint protection. Endpoint protection allows a managed security services provider to install the same antivirus software across all of your business’ devices, which can then be maintained by their experts.
This takes the responsibility for security software out of your hands, and places it into the hands of trusted professionals who can keep your business safe.
Phishing is a serious issue and attacks are getting more and more sophisticated. Today, the consummate hacker doesn’t send out a scam email pretending to be a Nigerian prince. Instead, they’ll pose as someone you know, and even use the same email design as said person.
Your staff need to learn how to recognize suspicious emails and the links in these emails. It’s better to delay a response momentarily and double-check an email than it is to give out sensitive information to a hacker.
When your employees work from home or on public wifi, the data they transmit is vulnerable. These types of networks are usually not secured to the same standard as work networks, which means that a hacker can intercept the data. If this leads to a data breach, you could be on the hook for millions of dollars.
You can’t control networks outside of the workplace but you can give employees the tools they need to make these networks safer. This is where a virtual private network (VPN) comes in handy.
A VPN creates a secure tunnel between your employees’ devices and the work network. Any data they send, if intercepted, would be practically impossible to decipher. Setting up a VPN is essential, especially with many of us set to be working from home for the foreseeable future.
Shockingly, the most common password is “123456,” with the perennial favorite “password” still appearing in the top 10. It’s plain to see that if you let employees come up with their own passwords with no guidelines, you’re going to have some issues on your hands.
The answer is to ensure that your employees have some guidelines to follow that can help them come up with secure passwords. It’s recommended that your passwords have a mix of capital and lower-case letters, numbers, and special characters.
However, we recognize that there’s a core problem at the heart of secure passwords: they can be very hard to remember. To solve this issue, you could consider using a password manager, which can also generate secure passwords for you and your employees.
The Importance of 2FA
Sadly, having a strong password is often not enough to prevent determined hackers. Keyloggers, targeted attacks, and other issues can lead to passwords falling into the wrong hands. To solve this issue, you should implement two-factor authentication or 2FA.
2FA is a system that you may already be familiar with, which has users verify their identities via text or another system, to verify that they are who they say they are. While it’s still possible to hack accounts that use 2FA, it is far more difficult.
This means that making this one change can make a massive difference to the security situation at your business.
Let’s say that the worst happens and your business network completely fails. Perhaps you’ve been the victim of a malware attack, maybe you’ve been hacked, or maybe there’s been a natural disaster that’s knocked out power to your business.
Whatever the cause, your business network has collapsed and you need to recover it. You need a disaster recovery plan.
A disaster recovery plan is a cohesive and coherent document that you can use to get your business back on track after an emergency. It should include the essential steps that you need to take, who needs to be contacted, and anything else that needs to be done.
Without a disaster recovery plan, it’s possible that the operation would prove too complex or difficult and your business stays down for longer than necessary. Creating a disaster recovery plan is all about planning for the worst, and could save you a lot of money.
The Importance of Backups
Backups are an essential part of disaster recovery plans. For instance, if you have been infected with ransomware, you will need to wipe your business’ hard drives to remove the virus. If you don’t have backups, you’ve just lost all your customer data, all your business data, and all your projects.
This is not a scenario that you need, want, or will be able to deal with.
Therefore, you need to ensure that you have all your critical data backed up off-site. This way, if disaster befalls your business, your backups will be safe and you can recover your business data fast.
You should create backups regularly, at least once a month, but preferably more often.
Your IT budget is going to be limited. This means that it’s easy to put off upgrades or replacements until something breaks but this is a bad idea for your business. When something breaks, it’s going to take something with it: this could be an employee’s whole working day or your website, depending on what breaks.
Long-term IT planning is all about recognizing that your devices have a limited lifespan and working around this. You’re going to need to replace your desktops eventually, so why not do it gradually, outside of business hours, so that there’s minimal disruption?
A lack of IT planning leads to upgrades being suddenly demanded, rather than planned. If a PC breaks and can’t be fixed, you need to replace it, yet you could have replaced it a while ago and saved yourself all these issues.
Your users’ accounts should be tailored to their needs and their job. What do we mean by this? Well, there’s no reason that a customer service assistant should have access to network configuration tools.
Often in small businesses, computer accounts are left on admin privileges, which can lead to serious issues. Admin privileges give the user access to a huge range of powers that can cause serious issues for your business if they’re misused.
Insider threats, where a disaffected employee or former employee accesses their account and wreaks havoc, are a serious problem for IT security. Limiting what their accounts can do will prevent an insider attack.
However, it’s not only insider threats that can exploit elevated user privileges. Malware like ransomware can only affect files that the user has access to. This means that if their account is locked down, the malware won’t be able to do much, but if they have access to almost everything, they can pose a serious threat to data security.
You should regularly analyze your users’ accounts to check that they have access to what they need to do their job and no more. Everything else that you give their account is a hole in your security.
Not Updating Software
It’s very easy to ignore a notification. Yet ignoring updates poses a severe risk to your business security. Many updates to your operating system and software are there to patch up security holes.
When you leave these security holes unpatched, more malware will be able to find its way into your system. New security holes are being found all the time, so you still need to be on your guard, however, updating regularly will close up known gaps and keep your system safe from harm.
It should not be the employee’s responsibility to keep their computers updated. Instead, have your admin schedule updates so that they happen outside business hours and cause the minimal disruption possible.
Poor Internet Coverage
If you have large business premises, your internet coverage is likely not consistent across them. One router cannot cover your entire office if it’s more than a single room. This means that some employees are going to have slower internet than their colleagues, which means worse productivity.
If this sounds familiar, you need to take a look at your network infrastructure. Do you have enough routers? If you do, do you have enough repeaters?
It may come down to your internet connection being too slow, so maybe you’ll need more than one.
A network services company can install better network infrastructure at your premises that will help you stay more productive.
Mobile Device Security
Your employees may well bring their own mobile devices to work and connect them to your wifi network. While this is fine, you need to ensure that the devices are secure.
When employees bring their own devices to work, you should have an IT specialist take a look at them and vet them to make sure that they are safe to connect to the network. They should also be password protected to keep any sensitive data stored on them safe.
If you’d prefer to avoid this step, your only other option is to stop your employees from connecting to the wifi network on their own personal devices. Which is the better choice for your company will depend on your specific needs.
A Lack of IT Professionals
If you are a small business, you may not have an IT department, especially if you employ a small number of people. This is understandable but it does put you in a very vulnerable position. If you don’t have access to IT expertise, your business is at risk of security issues and it will also take longer to solve routine IT problems.
If your budget is limited and you can’t afford an IT department, what should you do? The answer is to use managed service providers, who can offer you expert advice and help without needing to be on the payroll. When you hire a provider, you’ll know the costs up-front, so you can work them into your annual budget.
We Can Help You Overcome These IT Challenges
These IT challenges pose problems for small businesses, yet with expert guidance, they can be overcome. We can help you overcome all of these issues, and more.
If you’d like to learn more about our services, take a look around our website. If you have any questions or if you’d like a quote, please don’t hesitate to contact us.