‘Tis the season for resolutions, and if you’re like most people, you’re making plans to join a gym or gain tighter control of your finances. And while we’re all for personal growth, there are probably some other areas in your life that could use a little love—namely, your company’s IT.
From automated backups to cloud storage, there’s a lot you can do to improve your business’ IT fitness. This year, make it your mission to break bad technology habits and strengthen your organization’s security, strategy and efficiency by adopting one or more of these five key resolutions.
1. Create a cybersecurity incident response plan
Today, a business has about a 1 in 4 chance of experiencing a cybersecurity event, yet many enterprises are woefully unprepared to deal with that likelihood. In fact, data shows that it takes the average company more than two months to contain a data breach.
A faster event response can save data and blunt the impact of a cybersecurity event. To start, identify the key responders—both internal team members and external parties like forensics experts and legal representation—and explain their roles during various attacks. Go step by step, identify exactly what you’ll do when a critical event occurs and ask yourself the following questions: How will you identify affected systems? How will you revert to backups? How will you handle any legal ramifications? Then test your process regularly.
2. Install those outstanding software updates
The dirtiest secret in IT management may be that installing software updates is… well, annoying. It eats up time during which you could otherwise be working and may even affect software performance if things go awry.
However, if you wait to install updates, you make it easier for hackers to weasel into your network in the meantime. That’s because application developers often release updates to correct known vulnerabilities—flaws that unintentionally provide unauthorized access to data and networks. This year, resolve to keep hackers at bay and update your software as soon as possible. After all, the annoyance of a pause in your workflow is nothing compared to the headache of a breach!
3. Replace legacy software with cloud alternatives
If you just can’t stand the thought of manually installing updates every week, there is an alternative. If you haven’t already done so, moving to cloud-based tools and cloud storage products can save you the hassle of installing updates—and ensure that you always have the latest version of each application you use. What’s more, thanks to cloud storage, your data will be accessible remotely and updated across users.
So, why not commit to moving over to Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) versions of existing tools such as Microsoft 365 or QuickBooks Online to enjoy better performance and security all year long?
4. Start encrypting your data
Leaving your data unencrypted is a bit like leaving your front door unlocked; simply put, all your assets are up for grabs. Plaintext data is particularly easy to hijack—especially if a hacker makes it into your network via a phishing attack—and you then leave yourself open to ransomware attacks and data theft. And if you’re storing privileged data such as customer credit cards, a failure to encrypt means you may not be compliant with industry-level regulations.
With the above in mind, make it your 2019 goal to get that data under lock and key. Start by encrypting personally identifiable information, along with confidential business and intellectual property (e.g. customer credit cards, client healthcare histories, business financial reports, product release information and other sensitive data). Encrypting your data will boost your cybersecurity health.
5. Evaluate your current vendor’s performance
The new year is a time for reflection—which, for businesses, means analyzing the past year’s performance to identify new opportunities for improvement. Dec. 31 also marks the end of many vendor contracts, so if you’re thinking about engaging a new IT support provider, now is the time to do it.
Hiring the right managed service provider (MSP) can energize flagging IT initiatives and boost efficiency for an all-around better 2019. Your MSP can help you implement new technologies and digital strategies to keep your assets safe, boost innovation and increase profitability.
Of course, it’s pretty hard to analyze IT performance—or decide if it’s time to switch IT support providers—if you don’t know what to look for in the first place. That’s why we recommend downloading our free ebook, IT 101: The Basics of Technology for Small Businesses. Use it to learn more about various IT solutions, as well as to help keep your technology resolutions!