What Are Managed IT Services & Why Do I Need Them? Part I
This is Part I of our III-part series on Managed IT Services.
What are “Managed IT Services”? Managed IT Security (Part I)
Rather than the ‘break/fix” model of waiting for things to go wrong – and losing valuable time and business while waiting for diagnostics and repairs – many small businesses are able to improve their operations and save money through Managed IT Services. With Managed IT Services, your service provider is responsible for continually monitoring and maintaining your IT systems, anticipating needs and preventing data breaches, information loss, or other issues before they occur.
Managed IT Services are available for a wide variety of IT systems and needs relevant to small businesses. This series will cover the 3 most important types of services when it comes to your business’s bottom line: IT Security, Data Protection, and Remote Monitoring/Asset Management.
Up first: everything you need to know about IT Security.
IT Security – Managed Anti-Virus and Managed Firewall
When it comes to IT Security, there are two main types of Managed Services every business needs – (1) reducing malware risks on individual computers and (2) stopping hackers. In a business setting, these two risks are mitigated using Managed Anti-Virus software and Managed Firewalls.
Note: Used here, the term “Managed” means “Centrally Managed,” or the ability to control your software and firewalls from the Cloud via a web application. The web portal shows all of the computers that are managed for your entire company, eliminating the need to install, update, or manage these separately on each individual machine.
1 – Reducing Malware Risks with Anti-Virus Software
Anti-Virus is a must-have on any Windows computer that your company owns. However, not all Anti-Virus software is created equal. Often we see companies using a free trial of anti-virus software, or a traditional anti-virus solution that makes their systems perform very slowly. Here’s why Managed Anti-Virus is the key to protecting your business from being compromised by ransomware, viruses, malware, and spyware.
Traditional Anti-Virus software generally slows down computer performance, and is constantly popping up with notifications regarding how it has “blocked” XYZ from getting into your computer. In the end, most users don’t care about the specifics, they just want the anti-virus to do it’s job. Along with annoying and irrelevant pop-ups, we frequently see customers experience issues with updating the software themselves on every machine, or correctly using the software to actually get rid of the malicious files. This causes a pain-point and is also pretty annoying to the consumer.
In contrast, Managed Anti-Virus is very lightweight (in other words, it doesn’t slow down your computer), and most users don’t even realize how hard it is working, because it is doing so behind the scenes. Managed Anti-Virus eliminates the need for a fancy program installed on every computer that each user must go into to fix an issue. Instead, everything is managed via a web portal, making updates simple, fast, and hands-off for your employees. The Anti-Virus program pushes out updates to each computer on its network on a daily basis, so the “Virus Definitions” (the codes viruses use to hack into computers) are constantly updated, keeping your threat risk at almost 0%.
Key Takeaway: Overall, we find that switching to Managed Anti-Virus not only creates a more positive and safe user experience, but saves company money through its powerful protection. If you haven’t made the switch already, it is the most necessary item on this list for your company.
2 – Stopping Hackers with a Firewall
We find that most small businesses do have a Firewall, but oftentimes it is not updated regularly, and it may have expired licensing and other issues that need to be taken care of right away. Once again, we strongly encourage the use of a managed firewall for maximum protection.
Traditional Firewalls are what we see most often on our walkthroughs with potential customers. In fact, often customers don’t even know they own a firewall until we point it out to them. Traditional firewalls can be difficult to manage, because in most cases a tech has to come onsite to change the firewall rules or do any firewall maintenance. This means they usually don’t get the proper attention they need when it comes to updates, which creates a HUGE security and financial risk.
Managed Firewalls aren’t just the way of the future for the SMB market. That future has arrived, with a lot of small businesses already taking advantage of the ease-of-use it provides. Centrally-Managed Firewalls are set to automatically keep up-to-date on software and can be managed remotely via an online portal from anywhere in the world. This means that your business will pay technicians way less than before for firewall management – no more physical trips into your server closet to do firewall maintenance.
Key Takeaway: Our clients are moving to Managed Firewalls because not only only are they are the new standard in security, they are way cheaper to maintain than their traditional cousins – a win-win for companies and their customers.
Centrally-managed IT security software is essential for small businesses, as it significantly reduces exposure to threats from the internet. These threats can penetrate from emails, outdated software, and simply lack of understanding. The responsibility of protecting your data should not fall on your employees – let them focus on the jobs they’re paid to do instead of worrying about updating their anti-virus software correctly.
The bottom line is, any time a company is hacked there is a very real chance of them closing their doors for good. Managed IT Security can reduce that risk substantially.