The Importance of Video Surveillance

All businesses have unique needs, but some concerns are universal. Security is one of those. Security is of the utmost importance whether you have a Fortune 500 company or a local drugstore. Video surveillance can protect your business from a variety of malicious forces. Keeping video records of activity on your property can also aid in preventing bad things from happening again.

Neglecting video surveillance can have major consequences. Physical damage to your property can result in the loss of expensive equipment. In some cases your property could be deemed unsafe. If the personal property of your employees is damaged or stolen, it can negatively impact workplace culture. This may drive off new talent that you could otherwise put to work. The good news is that video surveillance systems are designed to deter crime and provide an objective account of the events on your property for law enforcement, insurance adjusters, and other interested parties.

Take a look at the various archetypes that surveillance solutions fit into. Make note of any that sound like they could work for your business.

Conventional Camera Systems

These are the systems that come to mind when you picture video surveillance systems. They’re usually mounted on ceilings and walls and are covered by a protective dome. These conventional systems are typically wired throughout a facility and provide great coverage, but their cost and technical complexity mean that they’re only the best option for larger companies that move large numbers of material goods, like warehouses and department stores.

Hidden Camera Systems

Hidden camera systems resemble their more obvious counterparts in most ways. However, they blend into their environment without disrupting day-to-day activities in any way. Guests on your premises must know that they may be under surveillance. Essentially, hidden cameras are functionally identical to others, but are able to be placed and activated without the general population taking notice.

Plug and Play Systems

Ideal for smaller businesses that can’t spend more than necessary on a large system. Plug and play systems typically consist of one or two cameras that wirelessly transmit footage to your personal computer or a designated URL address.  In contrast to the other systems, it’s simple to move your cameras around.

Hybrid Systems

These analog plug and play systems allow the addition of new cameras to the system.  This is a popular option among growing mid-sized businesses.  It’s more expensive than plug and play system, but it definitely pays off in the long run when you expand and add more floor space to your operation, since your surveillance system will be similarly scalable.

If any of these kinds of systems sound like they could be of use to your business, don’t hesitate to get in touch today. The team at Preferred Technology Solutions specializes in business security solutions, and our years of expertise and experience with varied clientele will help us find just the solution you’re looking for. Just reach out and say hello; we’d love to hear from you.

5 Things You Should Know About Modern Surveillance Hardware

Thanks to today’s technology, you can take your home and workplace security into your own hands. The number of American citizens paying for third party security service is dropping at a rapid rate. This is because smart cameras and security systems are now just as effective as their expensive predecessors. Handling your own security by purchasing surveillance hardware is an appealing idea since helps to eliminate recurring costs. Even though the popularity of these surveillance systems is on the rise, many purchasers aren’t fully aware of what their new hardware is capable of. The Preferred Technology Solutions team has put together a list of features that your surveillance technology might have.

1. Motion Detection

One of the myths that we have worked tirelessly to debunk for our customers is the belief that they need pricey high-resolution security cameras that run 24/7. That’s not the case; there are motion detection cameras that will turn on only when a sensor attached to the vision system senses movement in the field of view.  This saves you from having to comb through hours and hours of useless footage. Some systems are even able to send you a text or email when something activates them.

2. Live Look-in

Once a luxury, live look-in is now a commonplace feature of surveillance systems.  If you want your security cameras to broadcast to one of your devices, they should be able to do so. This allows you to check out a situation remotely from the comfort of your phone or laptop. Depending on your hardware a software, the specifics of this functionality can vary widely.

3. Night Vision

Night vision is becoming a standard-issue feature in most modern security cameras. Don’t expect hundreds of feet of crystal-clear footage with a commercial camera – it’s not military technology – but the visibility should provide an extra layer of security at night.

4. Footage Management

Commercially available surveillance systems often feature tools that allow you to snip and edit footage, a feature that can prove useful in many situations. Preferred Technology Solutions is well-versed in the current surveillance market and can provide insight on what systems offer the best content management solutions. You don’t have to be a wizard with editing software to piece together footage.

5. Synergy with Smart Devices

Thanks to the emergence of more smart devices than you ever thought you’d need (looking at you, SmartFridge), it’s possible to weave your surveillance system through your network.  For instance, if you’d like to turn your systems on or off using your Amazon Echo, you can. Want to let your security system know that the Roomba is about to turn on so it doesn’t record your clean floors? Easy.

If you’re curious about how surveillance solutions could help your business, or you’re interested in purchasing surveillance hardware from experienced professionals, the Preferred Technology Solutions team is here for you. We’ll get you set up with a security system and provide ongoing support. Don’t hesitate to drop us a line if you want to talk. One conversation could change your business’s approach to security.

IT Should Be Tailored to Your Business Like a New Suit

There’s nothing quite like the feeling of slipping into a new suit for the first time. The pants are the perfect length. The jacket hangs perfectly on your shoulders. There is only the slightest hint of your shirt sleeves peeking out from the cuffs of your jacket. Stepping into a meeting in a perfectly tailored suit projects confidence and professionalism. Conversely, putting on a suit that hasn’t been properly altered can completely kill your mojo.

You’ve spent countless hours building your business into something you’re proud of. For a growing business, IT can work a bit like a suit. There are plenty of wearable but unextraordinary suits out there, but there’s only one way to truly feel like you’re dressed to the nines and ready to take care of business: by investing in custom tailoring. Managed services are the result of IT’s expert talent, designed to fit your business perfectly and save you the trouble of constantly scrambling to update your hardware and software.

Imagine a managed service provider like Preferred Technology Solutions as a tailor. Here’s how we’d create your new IT infrastructure.

What’s the Occasion?

Different events call for different suits, and different businesses require different managed services. Are you a traveling businessman that needs wrinkle-free fabric? Going to an outdoor summer wedding and need some linen threads? There’s a suit for every occasion, and a managed service combination for every business.

No two business have exactly the same needs. Embracing that fact is the key to designing the perfect managed service solutions. When you take your new network infrastructure for a spin, we want you to feel like you have the perfect setup to handle your unique challenges.

Don’t Be Afraid of Growth

You probably don’t wear the same size that you did when you were in high school. You may have grown taller. If you’re like most of us, you’ve probably become a bit wider. That’s all perfectly natural, but as your body changes, so too must your wardrobe. Having an ongoing relationship with a great tailor can ensure that you have a suit to fit your body type for years to come.

Managed service providers offer the same flexibility and peace of mind. A great MSP will work with you through all your business’s highs and lows. If you experience explosive growth, you can scale up your service effortlessly to handle new employees and new customers. If you move into a new facility, you have a go-to resource for new surveillance and security hardware. Great managed services can make your business greater than the sum of its parts, just like a sharp suit can boost your confidence and charisma to give you the edge that only making the right impact can deliver.

It’s our firm belief that every man should have at least one tailored suit and every business should have a perfect suite of managed services at their disposal. If you think the team of IT professionals at Preferred Technology Solutions might have something to offer your business, we’d love to get in touch. Just drop us a line and we can get to work tailoring an IT service solution for your business.

3 Things Your Managed Service Provider Should Be Doing Every Month

Your business relies on IT to survive and thrive. It’s nearly impossible for a modern business to survive without properly leveraging technology. Unfortunately, many business owners choose to neglect their technology needs. Some justify this course of action by saying state-of-the-industry IT is too expensive, or that hiring a managed service provider is an unnecessary substitute for hard work and elbow grease. This is a dangerous philosophy, especially in an increasingly digital economy.

Great IT is about working smarter, not harder. It’s about cutting down on the legwork your employees have to do so that they can focus on their most important tasks. Great technology helps your talent shine so that your business can compete against larger, more connected competitors. Not too long ago, it was difficult for smaller businesses to access these solutions. Thanks to the emergence of managed service providers that specialize in IT outsourcing, however, great IT is accessible and affordable for businesses of any size.

It’s possible that you’re considering working with a managed service provider for the first time. If that’s the case, you’re probably curious about what kind of service to expect from the partnership. Beyond the initial project, you can expect a number of ongoing services from your managed service provider. Here are three things you should expect from your service each month.

1. Updates on Your Network Performance

Every good managed service provider should offer ongoing maintenance and network monitoring for their clients. Network monitoring shouldn’t just be a silent feature that you pay for and never reap the benefits of, however. A responsible managed service provider will have a proactive attitude toward network monitoring and keep you apprised of the strengths and weaknesses of your network.

Knowing how your network is doing enables you to work with your managed service provider to remedy pain points and optimize your processes to take advantage of your network’s strengths. It’s also important to stay informed of threats to your network like emerging phishing and ransomware trends.

2. Knowledge of Tech Trends

It’s a managed service provider’s job to stay informed of the latest trends in technology. In a traditional setting, upgrading software and hardware is a huge hassle and expense for most companies. Part of outsourcing IT is knowing that your technology is as current as possible. That means your managed service provider should take the necessary steps to inform you of emerging technology solutions and how they can help your business. Having expert counsel a phone call away means that your business never has to lag behind again.

3. One-on-One Service

Even if a managed service provider monitors your network proactively, there are some things that are hard to spot remotely. A good managed service provider will make sure to check in with their clients on an individual basis to discuss what is and isn’t working. This kind of one-on-one service strengthens the partnership and leads to superior service in the future.

Your managed service provider has many responsibilities and will help your business in a variety of ways, but these three practices in particular are great signs of professionalism and commitment. If you’re curious about the other traits of great IT service providers, feel free to check out our free eBook on the topic. If you think your business could benefit from managed IT services, don’t hesitate to reach out. We’d love to learn about your business and discuss what the Preferred team can do to change your world.

Are Your Applications Vulnerable to Data Breaches?

With all this talk about how vulnerable small businesses and individuals are to hacking, it can seem like the applications we use every day are an afterthought in the battle against malware. Application security is one of the most important kinds of cybersecurity because  web applications (and mobile applications) work with staggering amounts of sensitive customer data.

How an application developer handles security can be a defining moment for the success of the application. Ignoring application security can carry ethical, legal and financial consequences. Actively addressing security isn’t just the right thing to do; it’s also a fantastic move in terms of public relations and customer experience.

The Frequency of Application Security Failures

The security failures of application developers are well simple, but so routine that they’re difficult to correct. In 2016, an estimated 72% of applications had at least one major encapsulation error. Security issues were most prevalent in mobile applications; 95% of recently tested mobile apps had some kind of security issue, and 80% exhibited critical or high-risk vulnerabilities.

The good news is that 45% of organizations plan on scaling up their application security spending in the next 12 months. It’s likely that stagnant security budgets are a contributing factor to the lack of progress in application security in recent years.

How Developers Are Addressing Security

Many application developers are catching on to the increasing importance of applications security and reacting accordingly. Some are focusing on combating malicious practices that cause downtime. Netflix is one recent example. By rerouting user traffic to servers in other regions, Netflix has been able to devote entire regions’ worth of servers to use as a live-fire testing zone to run security simulations. In one recent test, Netflix DDoS’d (Distributed Denial of Service) itself in order to find areas of vulnerability and engineer more effective solutions.

Developers that are getting on board with increased security spending should begin to see results within the next year. Outsourcing application security responsibilities is more viable than ever. Editors spot mistakes that writers miss due to their familiarity with the content. Similarly, third-party security specialists can find flaws in code and functionality that developers may skim over after months of working on an application.

In the meantime, there are many options for end users to take security into their own hands.

What You Can Do to Improve Security

Not all aspects of application security fall at the developer’s feet. There are many precautions that users can (and should) take to further secure their information.

Using random and complex passwords is one of the best possible ways to prevent your accounts from being compromised. Keeping track of dozens of passwords can be a burden, so consider using a password management program to keep track of and automatically enter passwords on your personal devices. Stay away from passwords that carry personal significance.

In the office, consider implementing dual-authentication, and require employees to lock up their workstation at the end of the day. Keep in mind that with the increased use of mobile and personal devices for work purposes, your network perimeter doesn’t end at the walls of your office; it now extends to every employee’s pocket and home desk. Proper cybersecurity education can help employees spot the warning signs associated with poorly secured apps.

Web applications are already ubiquitous and will only become more common and more powerful with the passage of time. The potential of application development will only be fully realized once security is prioritized as highly as functionality.

How Safe is Your Data?

Cybercrime will cost $2 trillion by 2019. This incredible figure means that we are less than two years away from cybercrime costing enough money to fuel a G8 economy (Italy, the current eighth-largest economy in the world, has a GDP of $1.8 trillion). The staggering impact of cyber crime is compounded by the fact that it only seems to be getting more common. 2017 has already seen two major waves of destructive ransomware.

Attacks like these are causing many business owners to question the security of their own data. Small businesses are often viewed as soft targets by malicious parties. To complicate matters further, cyber attacks are uniquely deadly to smaller businesses. An estimated 60% of small businesses that suffer a cyber attack go out of business within six months.

Now more than ever, it’s important to evaluate your current technological resources and determine if you’ve taken the necessary steps to protect your data.

Do You Have Backups in Place?

Even if a deadly cyber attack never comes to pass, there are plenty of everyday threats to data that doesn’t have a reliable and recent backup.

In the old days, backing up your data was a simple but time-consuming process. You’d spend time every few days loading all of your data onto an external hard drive just in case something happened to your main storage device. Thanks to the emergence of cloud computing, however, backing up your data isn’t just easy – it can be instantaneous as well. When you work in a digital workspace like Google Drive, all of your work is saved in real time in a massive global infrastructure. That means spilling your coffee on the computer or accidentally closing out of your document won’t cost you hours or days of progress.

Working in the cloud is only one layer of redundancy, however. For comparison, the military uses upwards of 10 redundancies. Working with a professional IT expert can help you put all the necessary processes in place to ensure your data is safe from destruction.

Have You Reduced the Risk of Human Error?

The best-laid cybersecurity plans rarely survive first contact with an untrained employee. Ensuring that your employees are able to identify malicious schemes like phishing or malware can go a long way towards making your business a hacker’s nightmare. Even if you invest time and money in firewalls and other precautions, all it takes is one click on a bad email to compromise your entire network.

Luckily, professional cybersecurity training is widely available. If your business works with technology in any capacity, such training is worth it. Implementing policies like dual authentication and requiring employees to shut down and password lock their workstations at the end of the day can be massively beneficial.

Controlling access to your facilities is important as well. Using surveillance and controlled access technology in your offices and other buildings can ensure employees are working safely and effectively, and it prevents additional unauthorized access to your secure information.

If you reach this point and feel that your business may not be as insulated from cybercrime as it could be, there’s no time to wait. The Preferred Technology Solutions team is standing by to help North Texas businesses gain peace of mind through data security. Just reach out today to kick off a discussion and begin the process of making your business a bastion against malicious cybercrime.

Email icon representing phishing attacks

Google Phishing Attacks Under Investigation

Google Docs Based Phishing Attacks

The phishing attack campaign used Google email addresses to target users by sending an email to share a document for collaboration. Once the targeted users accepted invitations, they were encouraged to login which allowed the phishing program access to their email accounts. Google has taken action to protect users, including removing the fake Google Docs pages and disabling the offending accounts.

Google Confirms the Attack

Initial reports say that Journalists were the main target for the Google Docs vulnerability, however, many different individuals working in many industries report receiving said emails. Google has confirmed it the phishing attacks through their own internal investigation and we are urging our partners to be vigilant for the time being. Here are some things you can do to safe:

  • Even if a sender is known pay close attention to what you might be clicking especially direct links.
  • When opening documents from an email, proceed with caution when opening compressed ZIP files.
  • Immediately report any and all suspicious emails to us.

Here is some information on how to prevent phishing attacks.

4 IT Changes You Can Make to Help Your Business

The modern business can never afford to stop innovating. In the current economy, there is a massive tug of war between small businesses and giant multinational corporations. It’s a battle of huge supply chains and economies of scale versus customer service and local knowledge. The good news is that with the right mindset and technology, it’s a battle your small business can win.

To keep your business competitive, it’s important to be fearless when it comes to adopting new technologies and solutions. Working with a managed IT service provider to outsource your business IT can have a positive effect on your bottom line and your processes – and it doesn’t have to be a painful transition. If you haven’t fully embraced modern IT, here are five things you can do right now to improve your business.

1. Commit to the Cloud

The future of business is in the cloud. Hybrid cloud adoption rates tripled last year, surging from 19% to 57%. Even if your business is already using cloud computing to some degree, you can benefit from going further. Many businesses are moving the entirety of their workflow to a cloud-based workspace like Google Drive. Cloud storage offers access to your information outside of the walls of your office, allowing employees to work remotely, and working in the cloud offers an extra layer of redundancy that can protect your business from data loss.

2. Prepare for Disaster

Putting together a strong business continuity plan is great for peace of mind – for you and your customers. It also shows a commitment to the future of your business, even in the face of potential disaster. Discussing disasters may seem a bit dramatic; after all, it’s unlikely that your office is going to burn down or be carried away to Oz in a tornado. But we aren’t just talking about natural catastrophes. Everyday disasters are some of the biggest threats to your business. Without proper preparation, a spilled cup of coffee or power outage can jeopardize the future of your business. Data loss can carry financial and legal consequences, and very few businesses can weather significant downtime. Disaster preparedness is a key part of a healthy IT philosophy.

3. Update Your Security Protocols

Cybercrime has been on the rise for years and shows no signs of slowing down. Small and medium-sized businesses are popular targets for cyberattacks since they tend to spend less money on security than larger companies. 60% of small businesses that suffer a cyberattack are out of business within six months. You can take several easy steps to shore up your cybersecurity today. Consider adopting two-factor authentication for access to company systems, as well as requiring employees to periodically change their passwords. We’ve all rolled our eyes at elaborate password requirements, but having strong passwords across the board can help make your business a hacker’s worst nightmare. Proper security training can also cut down on human error, reducing your company’s exposure to phishing and malware.

4. Consult a Managed Service Provider

If you have the time and tech savvy, you can make modest improvements to your business technology on your own. To really overcome your challenges, however, it may be necessary to work with a professional. A reputable IT service provider can offer consulting services to get to the bottom of your business’s challenges and design custom-tailored solutions to fulfill your needs. Outsourcing your IT is one of the best ways to innovate quickly without breaking the bank.

If your business technology is lagging behind the competition or you’re looking for an edge that can help you punch above your weight, improving your IT should be one of the first steps you take. If you’re ready to commit to changing your world through great IT, we’d love to have a conversation with you. The team at Preferred Technology Solutions is standing by to learn about your business and help you keep moving forward – all you need to do is say hello.

What a Help Desk Means for Your Business

As a business owner, stability is always something to strive for. It provides a platform for growth and gives you and your employees peace of mind. Unfortunately, there are plenty of factors in play that can be highly disruptive to your business. Disruptions threaten stability in both an immediate and long-term sense.

When these disruptions affect your technology, it can be disheartening to realize you don’t have the knowledge or experience to solve a frustrating or crippling problem on your own. This is why having access to a capable IT help desk is so crucial. The demand for outsourced help desk services is expected to grow by 5.7% annually through 2019. This is reflective of the general trend of business outsourcing various IT function, and emphasizes the importance of investing time, skill, and experience in providing top-notch help desk support on the part of managed service providers.

So just what are the perks of a help desk, and what benefits can it yield for your business?

24/7 Availability

Technical difficulties don’t keep normal hours like a business does. You don’t get to pick and choose the times when your server crashes, but you do have control over what resources you use to react. One of the key features of the help desk is its incredible availability. A good help desk has a technician available, no matter the time of day or day of the week.

That means if it’s crunch time and you need to troubleshoot an important part of your infrastructure at 3 a.m. on a Saturday, you’ll have a professional lifeline to help you out of a sticky situation.

Professional Staff with Powerful Resources

Qualified help desk technicians are patient, knowledgeable and experienced. In the best situations, they will also be able to draw upon the resources of the service provider they work for in order to provide helpful solutions. There may be times when your help desk technician isn’t intimately familiar with the challenge that you’re facing; that’s okay, as long as they know how to properly leverage the resources available to them to reach a solution.

A managed service provider like Preferred Technology Solutions has a vast wealth of experience and resources available to its help desk technicians. Our experienced team has handled nearly every challenge the industry can throw at a technician at some point or another.

Minimizing DowntimeProfessional help desk services carry a number of potential benefits for your business. First, help desks can reduce unplanned downtime. Downtime can carry massive financial costs for your business. By reducing downtime, you also improve your business’ stability. This is an attractive quality to both employees and customers. It gives you a steady baseline while you decide how to take your operation to the next level.

Help Desk Service for Your Business

Help desk services are even more effective when the technician on the other end of the phone already has a degree of familiarity with your business. Working with a managed service provider like Preferred Technology Solutions helps ensure that when you speak to a help desk technician, they won’t just be giving you insight that will help you get hardware back up and running; their words will have important context and knowledge of your needs as well.

If you think your business could benefit from the stability that comes with having a top-tier help desk on standby, don’t hesitate to reach out. Building a relationship with Preferred Technology Solutions is one of the smartest moves you can make for the future of your company.

3 Powerful Cloud Computing Solutions You Can Use Right Now

Curious about what the cloud can do for your business? Good! Cloud computing is one of the most powerful IT solutions on the market today. If you’re on the fence about whether cloud services are right for your business, you’re in the right place. The following are five exciting features of the cloud, and some of the benefits they could hold for your business.

1. Data Backup with the Cloud

Migrating your data to the cloud is one of the first steps towards true data security. When you store data in the cloud, it doesn’t just disappear into thin air, waiting for your summons to return to your computer; it’s stored in a very real server off-site, where professionals take all the necessary precautions to protect it from potential disasters. The largest cloud providers, like Amazon, Apple and Google, maintain massive worldwide infrastructures that support their cloud services.

This level of decentralization means that there are many levels of redundancy and a horde of cybersecurity experts standing between your data and any kind of disaster. Backing up your data off-site is advisable, since a spilled cup of coffee could otherwise be your business’ greatest enemy.

2. Collaborative Workspaces

Before the cloud, collaboration in a digital environment could be a real hassle. Transferring files had to be done via email (or worse, packaged in a thumb drive or external hard drive and passed between users). Multiple copies of the same document gobbled up space on your devices.

Cloud computing has changed all that. Many cloud platforms now offer collaborative workspaces where people can simultaneously work on a single file. Google Drive is the most popular of these platforms right now, but functionality is rapidly expanding.

3. Powerful Software as a Service

The idea of software as a service (Saas) has been around for a while now, but gained new meaning with the sudden rise of cloud computing. Now more than ever, companies are abandoning their traditional sales models in favor of cloud-based subscription services. Microsoft’s transition from the Office suite to the cloud-based Office 365 has been swift and effective. Netflix’s bold decision to move away from their mail-order model to become a streaming service hasn’t just put the competition out of business; it’s made a profound dent in Western culture.

Software as a service means you don’t have to worry about reinstalling your favorite software every year, since rolling updates and live support keep software from aging.

One of the reasons the cloud is so exciting is because the technology is still in its infancy. Software that was rare five years ago is ubiquitous today. In another five years, the cloud could play a role nearly every aspect of our lives.

Embrace Cloud Computing Today

Adopting the cloud and embracing it in your daily processes is one of the best decisions your business can make to speed growth. You’ll notice an immediate impact on the efficiency of your business as employees become fluent in their new tools and start streamlining their workflows. In the long-term, your business will emerge as a leader in your market, ready for the future. Having a tech-savvy culture in your office is one of the best ways to attract new young talent that can help your business navigate and thrive in an increasingly digital world.

 

If you think cloud services are right for your business, there’s no time like the present to start. Preferred Technology Solutions is proud to work with businesses around North Texas to achieve transformation through technology. The first step is to make contact – no obligations on your part. Reach out today to get the process started.