Sep 24, 2018 in IT for Small Business / By motherg

5 Questions You Must Ask Your IT Provider

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It seems like all outsourced IT support services offer the same thing: the ability to “design, maintain, and support an organization’s information technology infrastructure.” You might as well pick a name out of a hat -- bam, you’ve chosen a vendor.

Not so fast. When it comes to IT vendors the difference is not in what they claim to offer, but in how they actually deliver the service. As the potential client, you must discern who will versus who won't deliver the support you need. That’s why we’ve compiled a list of 5 questions you MUST ask your IT vendor:

How do you keep our network secure?

The upside of network stored data, files, and documents -- a system that saves you time and money. The downside of electronic data -- your company is at a greater risk for cyber attacks. If you’re a small business, your risk is heightened. Small Business Trends reports that 43% of cyber attacks are on small businesses, but only 14% of these businesses say their strategy for mitigating cyber attacks is highly effective.

An attack means leaked customer records -- customer data, credit card info, financial information, and more. What is your IT provider doing to protect you?

How is our system backed up?

Everyone likely has a backup -- but knowing that your backup is complete and tested to ensure it can be restored? Not so much. Security breaches, lost devices, or even forgetting to press the “save” button can result in lost files. Recovering data is expensive -- unrecoverable data can cause significant problems. If your backups are not tested, DO NOT expect your files are recoverable.

Suppose it’s tax season. Per usual, your business is expected to provide detailed records to support personal and business-related tax deductions. What’s the backup plan if records go missing? There is none.

Back up your records then test, test, test. Not having an established system is playing a game of roulette you don’t have to.

How do you keep systems up to date?

We’re all guilty of doing this: a notification pops up on your computer that says “New version available. Update now?” you click, “remind me tomorrow.” This process repeats itself indefinitely.

Some businesses do this on a company-wide scale. If your company is saying “remind me tomorrow,” you’re inviting in a host of issues.

Look -- part of the reason updated software exists is because hackers found holes in the old one. By not updating systems, your business is putting up a “welcome” sign for hackers. What’s more, you’re letting go of an opportunity to become more efficient. New versions are released because they’re better -- so why not update?

By the way, those automated popups are primarily for the Microsoft applications. There are a host of other software that need updates just as regularly but do not have the convenient popup. Your support provider needs to update ALL your software applications to remain safe from threats and protected from bugs.

Don’t let your IT provider get by on maintenance -- implementing the most up to date and effective systems should be the expectation.

What’s your plan for mobile security?

There are 5 billion mobile users, and that number keeps climbing. Consider that many mobile phones also have work email accounts, and access to the corporate network with tools such as One Drive. Now more than ever it’s vital to assess your mobile security efforts with a fine tooth comb.

What happens if an employee loses their work phone? Is there a protocol for malware attacks? What if there’s a security breach because of an unsecured network? It’s a red flag if your provider can’t answer all of security questions.

How much of our customer data do your employees have access to?

It’s logic: when more people have access to your customer data, the likelihood your company will face a security breach increases. In fact, 13% of small businesses who have experienced an attack recount a “malicious insider” as the source. The best way to minimize your risk is to ensure your IT provider only has access to certain records.

In the event your IT provider needs access to sensitive customer information there are steps you should take to minimize risk. Ask your provider exactly what their employee screening process entails. A background check should be a bare minimum.

The Bottom-line:

Navigating the IT landscape can be challenging. You need an expert who can pinpoint your IT needs then turn them into measurable results -- and only the best will do. Trust your company to someone who understands that the best problem solving is done before small issues become emergencies. Contact us today to learn more. 

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