Posts by: Michael Yantz

Michael Yantz is the Marketing Manager at IT Support Guys, with a passion for data, marketing and technology, you'll find him writing about the latest IT news, security alerts, crafting copy, creating emails or tinkering with integrations. Unless sleeping, he's probably in front of a few screens or at the dog park with his Shiba Inu named Raiden.

Importance of Patch Management to Avoid Business Vulnerabilities

How many of us have received an update notification and clicked the “Remind me later” button? We’re busy at work and think “I’ll do it later” or “it’s probably not important” *click.

It happens to the best of us; however, this seemingly innocent event can have serious consequences for businesses.

What this post will cover:
  1. What is patch management?
  2. What are the different types of patches?
  3. What is the purpose of patching?
  4. How important is proactive patching to businesses?
  5. Patch Management by the numbers – Statistics you need to know
  6. Patch Management for Cybersecurity & Risk Mitigation
  7. Patch Management Lifecycle and Process
  8. Patch Management Best Practices for 2019
  9. Patch Management & Compliance
  10. Value of Working with a Patch Management Partner

Patch Management Definition

Patch Management is the process by which businesses/IT procure, test, and install patches (changes in code or data) intended to upgrade, optimize, or secure existing software, computers, servers and technology systems to maintain operational efficacy or mitigate security vulnerabilities. While simple in nature, most growing businesses struggle to identify critical patch updates, test and install patch releases to fix problems as they occur. In fact, the average time to patch is 102 days according to Ponemon.

It’s no surprise that with over 16,500 security vulnerabilities reported in 2018, it’s virtually impossible for a small or medium-sized business with strained IT resources to keep up and protect your company. Patch management is a time consuming and often misunderstood task, yet the impact can have devastating effects:

57% of cyberattack victims stated that applying a patch would have prevented the attack. 34% say they knew about the vulnerability before the attack.

The window between the disclosure of a vulnerability and exploitation has shortened forcing companies to race and deploy a patch before cybercriminals can compromise systems.

What are the different types of patches?

Software patches fix existing vulnerabilities or bugs as they are found after a piece of software or hardware has been released. There are several types of patches:

  • Hotfix – A hotfix patch is designed to fix a specific issue and unlike typical patches, these hotfixes are developed and released as soon as possible to limit the effects of a software issue. Hotfixes can be applied while the software or system is still running (hot), without the need to restart or close the program. A hotfix may not be publicly disclosed.
  • Point Release – A point release (also known as a dot release) is a small or relatively minor update intended to fix an error or flaw of a piece of software without adding features.
  • Maintenance Release – Incremental update between service packs or software versions to fix multiple outstanding issues
  • Security Patches – A security patchis a change applied to an asset to correct the weakness described by a vulnerability. This corrective action will prevent successful exploitation and remove or mitigate a threat’s capability to exploit a specific vulnerability in an asset. Patch management is a part of vulnerability management – the cyclical practice of identifying, classifying, remediating, and mitigating vulnerabilities (security risks).
  • Service Pack (SP) or Feature Pack (FP) – Major patches that comprise a collection of updates, fixes, or feature enhancements to a software program delivered in the form of a single installable package, these typically fixe many outstanding issues and normally includes all the patches, hotfixes, maintenance and security patches released before the service pack. Most of us are familiar with Windows Service Packs, for example Microsoft began rolling out the Windows 10 Version 1903 Update service pack on May 21, 2019, which became available to all users on June 6th. Microsoft Windows 10 Version 1903 introduced privacy setting updates, more control over how Window updates are applied, a sandbox for Professional users, Passwordless Login, screen mirroring for Android phones, enhanced troubleshooting and security features.
  • Unofficial Patches – These patches are created by a third-party or a user community, most often because of a lack of support from the original software developer (e.g. the software company went out of business) or when a software product has reached its defined end-of-life. Like an ordinary patch, these are designed to correct bugs or software flaws. Nefarious individuals can introduce unofficial patches to create security vulnerabilities; while this is rare and quickly reported, we recommend only installing patches from trusted sources and for businesses to avoid unofficial patches.
  • Monkey Patches – Similar to unofficial patches, a monkey patch (also known as a guerrilla patch) is an update designed to extend or modify the behavior of a plugin or software product locally without altering the source code.

What is the purpose of patching?

Patches are designed to repair a vulnerability or flaw identified after an application or software is released. As we’ve learned, there are many types of patches. For this article, we’ll focus on official patches (hotfixes, point releases, security patches, and service packs).

Unpatched software can make the device a vulnerable target of exploits. Software patches are a critical component of IT operations and security.

How important is proactive patching to businesses?

We talk to small and medium businesses owner every day. When we ask a prospective partner “how do you manage your system updates and proactive patching?” 8 out of 10 times, the answer is that the business does not have a formal patch management process, or “I don’t know.”

Let’s look at the world’s largest ransomware attack in history to understand how critical patch management is for the survival and operational effectiveness of your business.

The WannaCrypto (WannaCry) ransomware cyber attack was the perfect storm against individuals and businesses with poor patch management policies. Even though Microsoft released a patch one month before WannaCry ransacked 200,000 computers across 150 countries causing damages estimated from hundreds of millions to billions of dollars in May 2017.

The cryptoware exploited a known vulnerability dubbed “ExternalBlue” allegedly developed by the U.S. National Security Agency. Unpatched computers were again targeted by the 2017 NotPetya cyberattacks for the same vulnerability.

Now two years after the largest ransomware outbreak in history, attack attempts involving ExternalBlue continue to increase, reaching historic peaks according to ESET.

Why? Do we learn from the past?

Unfortunately, not everyone does, or individuals might not understand the critical threat patches prevent. For example, according to research by Shodan there are over 400,000 computers located in the United States that have not patched their systems to prevent hackers from exploiting this vulnerability.

Poor security practices and lack of patching are likely reasons why malicious use of the EternalBlue exploit has grown continuously since the beginning of 2017. This low hanging fruit is too attractive and lucrative for cybercriminals to pass up.

Patch Vulnerabilities by The Numbers (statistics)

Patch Management for Cybersecurity & Risk Mitigation

Prompt patching is vital for cybersecurity. When a new patch is released, attackers use software that looks at the underlying vulnerability in the application being patched. This is something that hackers perform quickly, allowing them to release malware to exploit the vulnerability within hours of a patch release. Security patches prevent hackers and cybercriminals from exploiting vulnerabilities that could halt operations. Imagine if a hacker encrypted all your data, servers and computers for a ransom. Does your team have the resources, expertise, and recent backups needed to keep your business running?

By now, we should have a good grasp on how important an effective patch management procedure is to the cybersecurity of your business, clients and customers. So, what does an effective patch management process look like? We’ll review below the patch management lifecycle below.

Patch Management Lifecycle and Process:

  • Step 1: Discovery
    • Before implementing a patch management process, any IT professional worth their weight will have a comprehensive network inventory or conduct an IT assessment to understand the types of devices, hardware, systems, operating systems, OS versions, and third-party software and applications in use across your business. As businesses grow, IT resources become strained and it’s not uncommon for systems to become neglected or forgotten. Spreadsheets are difficult to keep up with and so internal IT may lose track of the many systems and programs in use.
  • Step 2: Categorization & Prioritize
    • Now that we have a good grasp on our IT environment and infrastructure, we need to segment the systems and/or users according to their risk level and priority. At the user-level, you might prioritize the C-Suite and users that frequently need to share, download, or install programs. Specifically, we can rate users that frequently need to share documents over email or online as ‘high risk’ since they are more vulnerable from outside threats. Looking at hardware, you might prioritize the company’s server and business-critical hardware over a laptop that is infrequently used.
  • Step 3: Patch Management Policy Creation
    • Next, we develop patching requirements by deciding which systems, users, software needs to be patched, under what conditions and the frequency these systems/users need to be updated. For instance, you might wish to make sure some systems or users are patched automatically and with greater regularity (liking patching employee laptops weekly) versus a server or network firewalls which might require more manual and less frequent updates.
  • Step 4: Monitoring for New Patches and Vulnerabilities
    • Modern businesses utilize a range of systems, software, and digital products, each with their own patch release and vulnerability disclosure schedules. While time-consuming, it’s vital that your team takes the time to catalog each technology vendor, their primary page used for vulnerability disclosures and product notifications (e.g. SonicWall Product Notifications). Creating an organized patch release tracking system or notification feed will save your team hours (possibly days) over a year. Another example is “Patch Tuesday” for Microsoft who has a pattern of releasing patches the second (sometimes fourth) Tuesday of each month.
  • Step 5: Patch Testing
    • Before rolling out patches, especially on mission-critical elements like business servers, create a non-production test environment, deploy the patch, and monitor for incompatibility or performance issues. If creating a test environment is not possible, we recommend testing patches on a small segment (two users) to assess if any adverse effects occur.
  • Step 6: Configuration Management
    • After the testing phase, document the intended changes and results. Should your rollout go awry, you’ll be able to quickly identify and troubleshoot unintended changes.
  • Step 7: Patch Roll Out
    • Now that your team has validated the patch(es), you will want to follow the Patch Management Policy established in step three to rollout as needed.
  • Step 8: Patch Auditing
    • Post-patch rollout, take a moment to identify any failed or pending patches. Monitor these for incompatibility issues. We recommend reaching out two a few tech-savvy end users that can help provide feedback if needed.
  • Step 9: Reporting
    • Each business unit has stakeholders, IT is no different. Prepare a monthly patch compliance report to share with the C-Suite and executives when needed. This will ensure everyone understands the importance of patch management and the fruits of your labor.
  • Step 10: Review, Optimize, and Repeat
    • As with most business processes – periodically review, update and repeat steps one through 9. Look for systems that have reached their End-of-Life (EOL), outdated hardware/machines, review policies quarterly, and revise as needed to ensure the effectiveness of your patch management policy.

Patch Management Best Practices for 2019

  1. Take a “Critical Updates First” approach and patch exploitable vulnerabilities as soon as possible. Critical vulnerabilities that have published exploit code should be given the highest risk rating in the Patch Management Policy.
  2. Implement a Data Backup & Recovery (Rollback) Plan. Every business should already have a Backup and Disaster Recovery plan, complete with on-site and off-site (cloud) full-system image backups. If your company does not, you can learn about the 11 key elements of an effective Disaster Recovery Plan in our recent post. With system image backups in place, your team can easily rollback any computer or servers that experience incompatibility or performance issues post-patch. These backups can save you hours, hard-earned money and frustration if anything goes wrong while rolling out major patches across the organization.
  3. Make proactive patch management a core practice of your policy. Taking a proactive approach to your patch management strategy will prevent your business from frequently going into emergency patching mode like many companies experienced with the WannaCry outbreak in 2017. Instead, by focusing on releasing patches as they occur, based on severity level, CVSS score, product name, and the prioritization model you created in step three above. This will allow your team to focus on strategic objectives that grow your business.
  4. Centralize and automate your patching process. While patching can be time-consuming, automated patch management allows you to save time and reduce errors. Most patch management software enables you to automate each stage of the patching process, from scanning applications of devices, downloading missing patches, scheduling and deploying patches based on designated policies to reporting.
  5. Utilize a Principle of Lease Privilege (POLP) approach for end-users. Many organizations often allow employees to have admin privileges with their company devices; this is especially common in the SMB space. What happens? Most employees will dismiss or ignore important updates, patches, and security vulnerability updates. A frequently overlooked patch management best practice that is to not give full admin rights to end-users. While it’s ultimately the responsibility of the IT department to execute a least privilege policy to restrict employees, end users really should only have a minimal amount of access or the privileges necessary to meet the demands of the role within an organization.
  6. Patch and update “golden images” at least once a quarter. “Golden images” are master software/system images used by IT as a template to set up and deploy new devices. When your company orders a new laptop or onboards a new employee, IT will often have a preconfigured system image that contains all the business applications, software, settings, privileges, and operating system necessary for the new user to hit the ground running. When your master images already contain the most up-to-date software and security patches, your team won’t have to do the same legwork again when setting up a new device.

Patch Management, Compliance, and Risk Management

As security breaches continue to increase, compliance regulations will continue to evolve to protect consumers. Government institutions, healthcare services and financial sectors are among the most heavily regulated, but other industries are rapidly creating their own security compliance rules and guidelines. Implementing patch management is commonly required by security frameworks or standards, such as PCI DSS, CIS Critical Security Controls for Effective Cyber Defense, ISO 27001 Annex A, and NIST. In June 2018, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office for Civil Rights (OCR) clarified in their OCR Cybersecurity Newsletter that promptly patching systems is a crucial element for covered entities and business associates to remain HIPAA compliant, going so far to explain that patch management is a requirement under – – 45 C.F.R. § 164.308(a)(1)(i)(A), 45 C.F.R. § 164.308(a)(1)(i)(B), 45 C.F.R. § 164.308(a)(5)(ii)(B) and 45 C.F.R. § 164.308(a)(8).

Due to the complexity of modern IT environments, the patch management process can be a major undertaking. However, failure to comply could potentially result in significant legal penalties for your business. Patch management ensures your business remains compliant and protects customers, consumers, and stakeholders. Here are a few compliance best practices you can implement to secure your business:

  • Know who your vendors are and what security protocols they have in place
  • Require certain levels of security compliance and protection from all third-party vendors, with a zero-tolerance policy towards vendors that fail to meet your security compliance standards
  • Implement multi-factor authentication to reduce access to your environment via third-party connections
  • Implement strict access control policies for your business applications, equipment, hardware, and software to reduce the risk of potential third-party vulnerabilities or tampering

Value of Working with Managed Patch Management Partner

A solid patch management process is an essential requirement for any size business. Unfortunately, most organizations do not have the expertise, software or mature processes/systems in place to effectively secure their infrastructure.

Manually checking for and applying patches in is almost an impossible task. Do you prioritize servers or employee workstations or third-party applications? Do you focus on security fixes or compatibility updates? And how do you keep track of which patches have been applied? These are difficult questions for any IT team. IT teams are struggling to keep on-premises, data center, and cloud infrastructure up to date with the latest versions of operating systems, databases, and third-party applications.

Without the right investments in people, process, and technology, an organization can quickly fall behind on critical patches that address security and compliance requirements.

Rather than forcing already strained internal IT teams to update critical systems manually, many small and medium-sized businesses look to partner with IT Support Guys. As a Managed Service Provider (MSP), we have the expertise, software, and mature systems in place to effectively secure your infrastructure using time-tested patch management processes that has evolved over 13 years.

We create a comprehensive Patch Management Policy for your business, use patch management tools to automate the mundane and have our engineers on standby to provide human intervention when needed to ensure that your entire network of devices, databases, servers, applications, and systems are protected. Your business will remain up-to-date with latest features, functionality, security, and capabilities offered by application and OS vendors resulting in improved employee productivity, security, and compliance.

Automation provides an auditable change management process and helps plug exploitable holes in your security posture while complying with various regulatory mandates such as PCI DSS, HIPAA, NIST, FFIEC, GLBA, SOX, FERPA, and others.

Call IT Support Guys today to learn how our Patch Management solution reduces the risk of having a security breach and all the related problems that come with it, like data theft, data loss, PII and PHI violations, reputations issues or even legal penalties today at 855-4IT-GUYS (855-448-4897).

Conclusion

  1. Patches are not an option; they are a requirement for secure to prevent security breaches, data theft, data loss, PII and PHI violations, reputation issues, legal penalties and ultimately protect your business.
  2. High-risk and critical security patches need to be deployed as fast as possible (within days) in order to prevent hackers from exploiting vulnerabilities.
  3. Hundreds of thousands systems and thousands of business could have prevented the WannaCry ransomware attack of 2017 had they deployed the security patches in a timely manner, saving hundreds of millions or billions of dollars in lost revenue and damages.
  4. 57% of data breaches are attributed to poor patch management.
  5. Prompt patching is vital for cybersecurity.
  6. End users should have the least amount of privileges necessary to fulfill their role.
  7. Patch management is a requirement of HIPAA and seeks to mitigate compliance or regulatory risks.
  8. Taking end users out of the patch management process will result in more secure environments.
  9. These aren’t OS-specific issues; everyone is vulnerable.
  10. Many small and medium-sized businesses work with Managed IT Services Providers to ensure an effective patch management policy is implemented.

11 Key Elements of a Business Disaster Recovery Plan

 

Hurricane season is upon us, while we’ve been lucky in the Tampa Bay Area these past few years, the threat of a major storm could be weeks away. You may not need to start boarding up your windows or raiding Publix for dry food, water and batteries but you do need to start thinking proactively about how you’re preparing your business for a potential disaster. Many of us remember Hurricane Irma which rocked the South East United States in 2017, potentially disrupting 2,108,378 (yes – 2.1 million) businesses in Florida alone. Of these 145,415 businesses were in located Hillsborough county.

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Business Benefits of Virtual Machines and Virtualization

small business are turning to virtual machines and virtualization to reduce IT costs and enhance business growth support

 

Your business’ servers are extraordinarily expensive machines. Maintaining them isn’t cheap, but if they fail, it can be very bad for business. What does the small business that doesn’t have tens of thousands of dollars to throw into a server do when they need to stretch their IT budget?

They virtualize.

What is a Virtual Machine?

Virtual machines (VMs) act as virtual computers or virtual servers, that can be hosted in the cloud taking advantage of scalable on-demand resources at a lower price-point than purchasing a new server or on your existing hardware like high-powered workstations or business servers.

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Leverage Technology for Business Growth

Digital technology is hot. Start-ups are flourishing, the data scientist has been declared as “the coolest job of the 21st century,” and coding has established street credibility (even a common requisite across departments outside of IT or web development). Consumers are enjoying a multitude of connected devices and applications, enabling them to become more astute, social, and empowered. Businesses are leveraging technologies such as CRM platforms, project management tools, and collaborative communication applications improve customer engagement, innovation, operation processes, and decision-making. As a result, technology platforms and capabilities to support digital transformation are continuously evolving.

In this age of fast digital transformation, brand-new innovations have opened new possibilities and created difficulties, essentially transforming customer experiences, operating models and our work. So it’s no surprise that organizations of all sizes, especially small and medium-sized companies, are turning to technology to fuel growth and remain competitive.
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How to Value, Evaluate and Select Managed IT Services

man looking at many options to choose from it services

Earlier this month, we discussed how to determine the return on investment (ROI) of technology and the pivotal role technology plays in a company’s bottom line. Organizations that turn their Technology Powerhouse (IT dept.) from a cost-center to a business asset will generate a greater ROI, experience higher levels of productivity, collaboration, and employee engagement. In short, companies that invest in the right technology for their businesses tend to out-compete their competitors and over-deliver for clients.

Yes Susan, happy employees who love the tools their leaders provide, will produce better quality work in less time… than staff that trudges an up-hill battle against slow laptops, network connectivity issues, or the dreaded office printer each day. People expect technology to work; there’s enough items to stress about in the workplace without worrying about saving documents every two seconds or losing connection while onboarding one your largest clients  (thanks Skype for Business and that conference room furthest from the wireless access point).

It’s not rocket science – but with any craft, creating a cohesive relationship between business technology and people, requires a well-executed methodology, skill and deep expertise.

The Past – Why SMBs Are Turning to Managed IT Support Services?

In the past, some businesses thought they could get away with administering the bare minimum amount of maintenance. This would entail fixing technology if and only if it ever experienced technical issues. The problem with this reactive model is that it treats the symptoms quickly adds up and eventually becomes more costly than fixing the root cause for small businesses. Due to financial limitations and lack of executive buy-in, many companies continue this vicious cycle because it can be difficult to find an affordable full-stack IT administrator who can manage and maintain their in-house infrastructure.

What’s the Value of IT Managed Services?

Technology is booming and increasing each day. As a business owner, you may struggle to keep up with all the new responsibilities that technology adds to your plate and the plate of your IT department. Most of the time, responsibilities outside of their original roles take over, leaving you with a less than efficient team of IT professionals.

Managed Services allow you to augment your existing IT staff and infrastructure by partnering with a dedicated IT firm to take care of your network, servers, computers, and all your technology needs. This is the perfect solution for companies who need to operate at peak efficiency but do not have the resources to manage a large on-site IT staff.

The main difference between managed IT and other models of service stems from the issue of downtime. When a business is not running at its best, it starts to lose money. Technology that was initially implemented to save money in the short-term winds up costing you more in the long-term, despite addressing the issue and resolving it. The issue is that it happened after the fact, and thus, downtime took hold and created unnecessary expenditures.

As you focus on your company’s growth, your IT services partner will manage the scalability of your infrastructure from mundane troubleshooting and help desk troubleshooting to largescale company-wide network upgrades and everything in between. Sometimes, businesses grow so suddenly that it takes ample time to ramp up IT services, where your internal team must focus more on updates and troubleshooting to keep the business going than mission-critical elements or strategies that would otherwise help propel your company to the next level. An MSP focuses on making it easier for you to scale fast while remaining secure, compliant, and without downtime.

high-value managed services partner doesn’t simply serve as a vehicle for outsourcing basic technology troubleshooting and monitoring activities. Instead, this partnership between your internal IT staff and the MSP is one that augments your internal members’ capabilities with a unique blend of technical expertise.

When you need IT support, what’s your best option for support? Most businesses have two distinct choices; either hire an in-house IT support employee (the DIY fix), or partner with a managed service provider (the master mechanic).

Though both options have their pros and cons, one comes out on top for growing organizations that want to stay ahead of the curve.

In-House IT vs. Managed Services – Which Is Right For Your Business?

Small organizations with less than ten employees may prefer to hire one person to managed day-to-day IT operations. Still, even growing with more than 20 employees usually cannot afford to hire an entire team. Instead, these companies will settle for a jack-of-all-trades IT administrator who can handle a bit of everything. This individual may be an expert in Mac or PC helpdesk support and have basic network expertise – but they are often far from a master in each aspect of required to manage your infrastructure. For small organizations with less robust infrastructure needs and few employees, an in-house IT administrator may be the best route.

Benefits of In-House IT:

  • Immediate on-site support when you need it
  • In-house administrators can gain deep internal knowledge of the company’s infrastructure and specific needs

Disadvantages of In-House IT:

  • Increased personnel costs (salaries, raises, benefits, office supplies, training, and taxes)
  • Isolated knowledge residing in a single point of failure can spell disaster for small companies when an admin departs from your company without detailed SOPs
  • Limited experience and knowledge of best practices and technology advances
  • Possible overtime charges for after-hours emergencies

Outsourced IT

Many companies prefer to get their IT support from a third-party source. They typically deliver their services at a lower cost while providing a greater quality of work. In other words, partnering with a managed service provider yields can often provide more benefits than having in-house IT support.

Benefits of Managed IT Services:

  • Access to teams of industry experts and specialists at no extra cost
  • Flat, stable, monthly rate of service that’s easier to budget around
  • 24/7 availability with remote support at your fingertips within minutes and access to a local on-site visit from a technician when needed
  • Legally binding SLA to guarantee uptime and quality of service
  • Shared access to modern technologies, software, and hardware to stay competitive
  • Centralized real-time alerts, monitoring and management systems provide more efficient monitoring, reporting and resolution
  • Dedicated technicians and administrators that will learn about your companies’ specific gaps, unique needs or technology use-cases with deep industry-specific expertise.
Disadvantages of Managed IT Services:
  • Finding the right MSP to work with takes time and effort
  • Diversity of service delivery options can seem complex and confusing
  • Limited on-site availability

Still not convinced? Check out our in-depth article on the benefits of in-house vs outsourced IT.

6 Tips To Select A Business Technology Partner

Here are a few criteria to consider when selecting a managed service provider:

  • Mapping Internal and External Synergies: It’s critical that your organization’s business and IT requirements match the vendor’s product offerings and business process model. Consequently, an organization must catalog and map its internal systems and thoroughly understand workflows, business processes, objectives, and gaps. A thorough understand of your organization’s requirements makes it possible to find an IT services firm that can simplify and streamline existing processes while strategically planning for greater innovation.
  • Offloading Routine Tasks: Part of the appeal of an IT services firm or MSP is offloading routine tasks and time-consuming processes. This helps an organization step away from tactical tasks — a.k.a. “keeping the lights on” — to more strategic endeavors. As a result, it’s important to ask vendors how they can help your business become more strategic — and understand how they plan to make this happen.
  • Know the history of the MSP: Was the IT firm a break-fix solution provider or did they recently transition from a residential repair shop to a full-service business IT solution provider? If so this could be a red flag that the organization has recently transformed into an MSP to take advantage of a growing trend without undergoing the process of maturity that brings scalable efficiencies and standardized processes nor are they likely to have established long-term relationships with hardware or software vendors which could save your organization thousands. Pedigree is not to be taken likely as you are trusting your business with this partner, look for a partner that has been in business for over a decade. You’ll want a partner with the history to support legacy systems, mature business processes, and one that is current with today’s digital transformation technology.
  • 24/7 Support and 365 Day Availability: Our employees may not be able to work 24 hours a day, but our networks, servers, infrastructure, and computers do. The technology partner you choose should be able to meet the demands of the always-on enterprise and modern business, with 24-7-365 availability. When choosing any managed services offering, you will rest easier knowing that the IT partner can deliver the professional services you need day or night.
  • Thought Leadership: IT firms typically offer thought leadership as well as helpful ‘how-to’ articles, and self-service Wikis for their customers which allow business owners, department heads, and you all employees to gain access to expertise and resources that might otherwise be unavailable. If your organization is looking to harness the full power of digital technology, it’s vital to understand how a services firm can guide you along the journey.
  • Metrics:  An IT provider will have clear Service-Level Agreements (SLAs), metrics, and standards that are crucial to your success. Complete your due diligence by asking the potential vendor what their SLAs are, response times and cross-reference recent reviews on their Google profile, Yelp or other social sites to gauge whether the partner delivers on these standards. It’s also important to spell out specific procedures and compensation if the vendor doesn’t meet the service level agreement standards. Understand all criteria and compensation before signing on the dotted line.

Today’s Managed IT takes a proactive approach to prevent downtime through remote monitoring, centralized infrastructure management, and maintenance. After all, it’s in the best interest of both parties for the MSP to reduce the number of service tickets required to maintain everyday operations. By preventing problems from happening in the first place, you can save money by correcting these issues before they become massive pitfalls that hurt your bottom line and steal budget from growth-focused initiatives. Since managed IT can be leveraged on a per-month basis at an affordable price; you have no excuse to not properly maintain your technology solutions. Ask yourself this question: if you could save money in the long term with a small monthly payment, why wouldn’t you?

Find Your Right Solution

In the end, your company will seek a solution that maximizes profitability, efficiencies, and provides the best quality of services that fits within your budget. When speaking to vendors, comparing service offerings and respective pricing, is an important first step.  Your company has many ways to get the technology and expertise you need without overspending or sacrificing capability.

IT Support Guys’ managed IT business model is perfect for small and medium-sized businesses since we offer ‘all you can eat’ 24/7 support meaning. Not all technology or technology company is created equal. Investing in the right technology and managed IT solutions partner ensures your employees are productive for continued growth, best of all – our cost-effective unlimited service plans and excellent customer support means you are protected while saving funds that can be allocated to building your company. Your dedicated account manager and technician will learn the unique intricacies of your business, industry, and current IT implementation to offer personalized recommendations that help your company increase production. Plus your CFO and finance team will appreciate the predictability our unparalleled offering presents.

We continue to provide Managed IT Solutions for small to mid-sized businesses in Tampa and Los Angeles. Call us today at 855-4IT-GUYS (855-448-4897) and discover how our unlimited support plans help support smart, hyper-growth focused organizations.

Why You Shouldn’t Ask Just Anyone for Tech Advice

frustrated employee in need of local managed IT servicesWho would you trust more to care for your sick child – a friend Googling symptoms or a licensed healthcare professional?

Unless the friend happens to be a doctor – it’s safe to presume you would rather have a medical professional look after your loved one.

Why then when it comes to dealing with things around the office, most people have almost no problem calling in a subject-matter expert to handle the issue. Air conditioning stopped running? Bring in an HVAC certified professional. Simple, right? Yet, it seems that there’s one notable exception: technology issues.

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