Managed Services

The Current State of Cyber Insurance Coverage

The Current State of Cyber Insurance Coverage

The Current State of Cyber Insurance Coverage

DesignDATA
The Current State of Cyber Insurance Coverage

Three-minute read

Over the past decade, cyber insurance has grown from niche to mainstream in terms of insurance coverage for businesses and organizations. The instances of ransomware attacks, data breaches with extortion demands, and electronic financial crimes are increasing in leaps and bounds year over year. So much so that insurance providers have had to modify their coverage for these threats within their policies to reduce the amount they are paying out, raise premiums, or both. Organizations, large and small, are constantly at risk from bad actors trying to take advantage of weak security protocols, loose accounting practices, or unsuspecting employees. But what does cyber insurance cover and does your organization need to worry about it? 

We’ve organized a webinar to answer all your cyber insurance questions, but read on to learn about some of the topics we will cover in more detail on March 22nd.

What Exactly is Cyber Insurance?

Most organizations have general liability insurance, and these policies can include provisions for some types of crime we may think of as cyber threats. But cyber insurance specifically covers costs associated with the most dangerous types of cyber threats that aren’t covered under general liability.  These include ransomware attacks, data breaches with extortion, funds transfer fraud and social engineering attacks. They can also provide access to valuable services (or pay for those services) such as data recovery costs, computer forensic investigations and a public relations crisis management firm. Unfortunately, not all policies are made equal. Forbes shared this insight surrounding the cyber insurance industry: “The growing demand, coupled with an increase in payouts, is driving the cyber insurance industry to rethink how it can mitigate its exposure.” This means that you’ll have to ask some questions of your policy provider to ensure you are fully protected. Insurance is a for-profit business and it is on you as the consumer to make sure you’re buying the coverage and services you’ll need and not overspending on the coverage you don’t.

Does Your Organization Need Cyber Insurance Coverage?

It seems like every week in the news you hear about another major corporation suffering from a data breach or ransomware attack.  While large companies likely have cyber insurance coverage, it’s not only enterprise-level organizations that need to worry. According to Nation Wide, “55% of small businesses have experienced a data breach and 53% have had multiple breaches.” Cyber insurance coverage is used as a way for companies to transfer a large portion of the risk to themselves against these threats and it is a smart precaution for organizations of all sizes.

How to Apply for Cyber Insurance

Some general liability insurance policies include data breaches or some forms of limited cyber coverage. So, the first place to start would be reviewing your existing General Liability Policy. Note which types of threats and losses are covered. You may want to extend your current coverage to include other areas where your organization lacks coverage, such as on a ransomware payment or a social engineering attack. It’s best to shop around and find the best options for your organization. If you’re not sure what the best choices are for your organization, you might need some help.  Ask your insurance broker if they (or someone they work with) is an expert in cyber insurance and can provide you with comprehensive coverage. You should also ask the individuals in charge of your IT security to review the types of coverage included in these policies and ask if all the relevant cybersecurity risks are covered.  You should also cross-reference your cyber policy with any other insurance policies you have that include crime coverage to ensure there are no types of crime that are missing from your policies (and that you don’t overlap too much — overlapping coverage is often less helpful than you think). When applying for cyber insurance coverage, you’ll be asked a lot of questions about your current IT security, your accounting practices and your past claims history.  Make sure you answer these questionnaires truthfully and completely.  While the insurance carrier won’t be auditing you during the policy purchasing phase, they definitely will audit you if you file a claim with them. If they determine you’re not doing something that you promised you were, they can use that as justification to deny your claim.

Types of Cyber Insurance Coverage

Below are some types of coverage that you want to ensure are included in your policy portfolio: 1. Data Breach Coverage Data breaches can come from anywhere, such as a simple phishing email that an employee opens. Suddenly, data exfiltration malware is surfing your network. Or maybe a vendor is compromised and an email comes from them that looks exactly like every other email but it actually has a malicious attachment. Maybe some of your employees aren’t practicing good password hygiene and bad actors guess passwords to your main databases. These breaches usually result in the theft of personal or client information. Cyber insurance policies will include services to help you recover from these breaches, like a Breach Hotline, forensic services to investigate the breach, crisis management and public relations help. These are all great benefits to have in the case of data theft. 2. Personal Client or Business Information Restoration Cyber insurance policies with this coverage will include paying for the labor and any special tools for recovery and/or replacement of lost or stolen data. Note that you need to have good backups for this coverage to work; the insurance company can’t wave a magic wand and put all of your data back on your systems. 3. Data Recovery Not only will a cyber insurance policy cover data recovery after a breach, but it will also bring you peace of mind knowing that all elements of the aftermath will be addressed. Providers will work to recover or recreate lost data; they will ensure any clients with compromised information are informed and, if necessary, compensated. Some policies even help victims of identity fraud restore their credit rating. 4. System Repair After a data breach, your computer systems may be damaged or destroyed. Malware and spyware can wreak havoc on your network settings and organization, not to mention finding all the information that has been compromised. Cyber insurance will cover the costs of system and hardware repairs, as well as repairing your data centers and network architecture.

Is Cyber Insurance Worth It?

In our opinion, yes, cyber insurance coverage is essential for any organization that relies on computers to process or store its data, make financial transactions, or manage their human resources. As technology advances and there is a wider attack surface for bad actors to exploit, every organization is at risk, no matter the size. If you’re uncertain about your current security being advanced enough to obtain insurance, we can help your business improve your security landscape. designDATA has decades of experience with IT security for businesses of all sizes. We can protect your mission-critical data, elevate your security network and ensure that you and your team are prepared for a review by a potential cyber insurance provider. This includes reviewing your current cyber insurance policy if you request it. We’ll ensure that your policy is best serving you, that you’re well-protected and that your policy includes all of the coverage you might need. Knowing that your cyber insurance policy is robust and up to par means you can work with less worry and more confidence. If you want to check the status of your cyber insurance and make sure your business is prepared for cyber incidents, request a free cyber insurance review now!

Be sure to register for our cyber insurance webinar on March 22nd from 11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. EST. We want to give our community the best information available about cyber insurance so you can ensure your business is protected.

The Current State of Cyber Insurance Coverage Read More »

Work-From-Home Security: How to Close the Gap

Work-From-Home Security: How to Close the Gap

Work-From-Home Security: How to Close the Gap

DesignDATA
Work-From-Home Security: How to Close the Gap

Working from home has long been a dream for many office workers. Recent developments in cloud technology and video conferencing have enabled companies to offer part-time or permanent remote or hybrid options. Experts predicted this trend would increase, but no one expected a global pandemic to make the dream of working from home a reality for millions. With this shift comes the need to tend to work-from-home security.

The Shift to Remote and Hybrid Work

When COVID-19 hit, companies quickly pivoted to remote operations. No one knew how long the situation would last, and the initial focus was on maintaining worker productivity. The new way of working allowed for this, but it came with some challenges too. Remote work and hybrid work aren’t going away soon, and it is time for companies to get serious about work-from-home security.

These new ways of working have produced new pathways for cybercriminals to attack. Hackers and other malicious cyber actors are attacking remote and hybrid workers with three primary tactics:

Email & Phishing Scams

Hackers have taken advantage of the COVID-19 crisis to launch phishing attacks through email, texts and social media. Fraudulent emails are often disguised as helpful information from company leadership or as requests from the company for personal information.

Unsecured Wi-Fi Network Infiltration

Devices connected to unprotected home networks are an easy target for cybercriminals. They use this vulnerability to steal data and passwords and intercept sensitive messages.

Personal Computer Hacks

A large percentage of workers admit to using their personal or mobile devices for work-related purposes. Employees often transfer company data to personal devices for convenience or other reasons. This makes the data vulnerable to attacks — especially since many people don’t regularly install security updates on their devices, nor do those devices have all of the protective software that a business-owned device would.

What Can Business Leaders Do? 

Excellent cybersecurity starts with savvy leaders who understand the risks and implement smart policies to keep home offices secure. Here are three policies business leaders can introduce to set their companies up for work-from-home security success.

Disallow the Use of Personal Computers
Make sure all employees have company devices. Set the clear expectation that business data will never be transferred to or accessed from personal computers. Suppose bring-your-own-device is already part of your culture. In that case, you can work with your IT team to develop standards that users of personal devices need to adhere to, such as installing the organization’s antivirus or patching tools.

Ensure Data is Stored Securely in Business-Approved Repositories
Many employees have a personal Dropbox or other cloud-based data storage account. They also often store data on their local hard drives. Set up easy-to-use company data repositories and implement policies that prevent workers from using their personal accounts to store and share company data.

Require Relevant Cybersecurity Awareness Training
Train employees on relevant security topics such as “how to recognize phishing attacks,” “proper password management” and “company cybersecurity best practices.” Adequate training resources are available, and leaders should make sure their employees participate regularly.

What Can IT Teams Do?

While leaders set cybersecurity policies, IT teams make recommendations and do the technical work to implement the policies and procedures that secure company networks and data. Here are four technical strategies IT teams can use to help employees keep company data safe while working from home.

Use Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA)
Passwords and physical devices are both relatively easy to steal. IT teams can prevent malicious actors from accessing company data by requiring more than one form of identification to access company devices and systems. MFA is essential for controlling access to publicly-accessible services, such as Microsoft 365.

Require a VPN Connection to Access Company Data & Applications

VPNs boost security by providing remote employees with a secure connection to the company network. Employees should only be able to access internal company data and applications through a VPN. Ensure the VPN is configured with network segmentation and profiles, so each department or external vendor account only has access to the servers or devices needed to do the job. For example, a marketing user’s VPN shouldn’t allow them to ping the accounting server. Also, an external vendor that uses the VPN to help manage a database application shouldn’t be able to access a file server through the VPN.

Use Remote Monitoring & Management Tools
These tools help IT teams monitor all devices used by ensuring employees are up to date on security patches and antivirus updates. This also allows helpdesk employees to assist remote users with requests directly.

Deploy a Business Password Management Tool
Employees are notorious for writing passwords on sticky notes or storing them in files on their desktops. Give workers a more secure and convenient option by providing a business-approved password management tool to help them create strong passwords and keep them organized. Talk to your IT service provider for recommendations.

What Can Employees Do?

All the best leaders and tech-savvy IT teams in the world can’t secure a home office if employees don’t cooperate. The following actions will ensure that employees do their part to maintain cybersecurity while working remotely.

Protect Your Home Wireless Network With a Password
This seems simple, but many employees either have open home wireless networks or have never changed the default password. You should set a strong password for your home Wi-Fi network and make sure not to post it where it can be easily seen.

Cooperate With Company Policies
Corporate cybersecurity policies about passwords, personal devices and document storage can seem burdensome or paranoid. However, they pose real risks to company data security, and there are consequences if employees don’t cooperate with the policies. Employees should be diligent in complying with all company cybersecurity policies and best practices.

Be Wary of Suspicious Emails and Attachments
Hackers and other cybercriminals often pose as managers or team members in emails, chats or meeting requests. Remote work and hybrid work make it more complicated and critical for employees to carefully identify the people they interact with. To maintain work-from-home security, employees must be rigorous about identifying everyone they meet or share company information with.

Want to Learn More?

The steps described in this article will help you get started in securing your employees’ home offices, but there’s a lot more to ensure your company has excellent cybersecurity.

Ready to take action?

Let’s connect. Book a call with us and we will introduce you to one of designDATA’s cybersecurity experts to get started.

Ready to take the next step? Let’s connect! Book a Security Assessment with one of our cybersecurity experts to see how we can help you.

Work-From-Home Security: How to Close the Gap Read More »

In-House or Outsourced IT

In-House or Outsourced IT? Discover What’s Best for Your Business

In-House or Outsourced IT? Discover What’s Best for Your Business

DesignDATA
In-House or Outsourced IT

Four-minute read

When it comes to managing IT operations, enterprise leaders will inevitably reach a point where they need to consider hiring an in-house IT team or outsourcing their IT operations to a managed services provider (MSP).

There are pros and cons to both options. From budgetary constraints to fear of relinquishing control or having to implement new policies and alien technology, there is a lot to consider when building your IT strategy and finding the right fit for your organization.

To help you in this process, we look at some benefits of working with an MSP versus hiring an in-house IT team.

A Dedicated Team of Experts

It takes a lot of time and effort to hire and manage a team of individuals who cover all aspects of your IT needs. When you work with an MSP, you gain access to a whole team of experts with diverse skill sets without the burden of directly managing staff. Information technology is their specialty, and they will be in tune with the latest tech developments that align with your business goals to ensure continuity, so you won’t need to worry about this. 

Some IT MSPs even have dedicated teams that work with specific industries or groups of clients. This means you gain a team of experts with industry familiarity, including your line of business apps (LOB apps), staff members and your organization’s unique implementations. A highlight of this relationship is quicker resolution times because a team of people works together to solve problems rather than escalating through multiple tiers of technicians. This MSP-client relationship also means fewer repeat issues because calls are not going to different people every time. 

More importantly, not all providers work like this. For example, some will outsource their frontline support to large call centers all over the world to reduce costs; often, support quality suffers in this scenario. So, it is crucial to ask how support is structured when considering an MSP.

Cost Considerations

While there may be an initial upfront cost (such as implementing new procedures or technology), outsourcing your IT operations can be more cost-effective in the long run. This depends on the pricing model the MSP offers. The primary billing styles are:

Hourly/Break-Fix 

You are billed at an hourly rate whenever you call in to have something fixed. Unfortunately, in this scenario, the provider is paid solely when there are issues and, thus, they may not be motivated to help you proactively avoid problems. 

Per User 

You pay a set price for a certain level of support for each staff member. This can include software (Microsoft 365), management and security tools (patching, anti-virus, etc.) and helpdesk support. Often, project work (replacing laptops, setting up new users, etc.) falls outside of what is included and would be billed on an hourly basis or at a set rate per project.

Per Device

This style is similar to per user, but you are billed per device. Again, project work would likely be billed at an hourly or set rate.

All Inclusive 

This model provides a truly predictable monthly bill that can be per-user, per-device or solution-based. These relationships begin with comprehensive tech assessments and technology roadmaps to ensure a truly all-inclusive contract is created. All future project considerations for the contract term would be identified upfront. Obviously, this is the most comprehensive and predictable option – but it can be a bit more expensive.

Proactive Problem-Solving

Monitoring and evaluating your systems can be a laborious task that an in-house team may not always have time for; this is where an MSP will prove extremely helpful. Ongoing and proactive monitoring of your systems and network is an essential element of what an MSP does. They ensure that issues are resolved before they become a significant concern for your organization, and you will have all the tools in place to eliminate instances of faults in your systems.  

Your MSP should constantly evaluate the best use of your technology and offer suggestions for continuous improvement. Ultimately, they should help you optimize your network, minimize staff and service downtime and prevent technical issues. 

Access to Technology

Information technology solutions are developing quickly, and it is a challenge to keep up to date on top of all your other priorities. With an MSP, you don’t need to worry about these details. You will have access to standardized technology and all the latest hardware and software you need to succeed. You will have a strategic advisor to help ensure your technology scales with your business. 

24/7 Assistance

While having an in-house IT team means you have access to in-person assistance when you need it, this is often confined to your usual operating hours and doesn’t extend to after hours, when issues often arise. Many MSPs offer around-the-clock technical support and access to a dedicated help desk whenever and wherever you need it. If 24/7 support is something you value, ensure your partner provides this.

Compliance and Security

An MSP will keep your security top of mind, always. You will have complete end-user protection to keep your organization running safely and smoothly, with ongoing monitoring and upgrades to your systems to ensure best cybersecurity practices and compliance. This should include regular training for staff to ensure your teams are well-equipped to recognize and avoid phishing scams, ransomware attacks and other cybersecurity risks. 

A worthwhile MSP will curate quality network security components that will suit your business needs and budget, so you can trust that your IT infrastructure will not let you down when you need it most. For example, designDATA recommends Sophos XGS Firewall for many enterprise-level use cases. 

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we offer 
free productivity and cybersecurity training
to ensure your teams feel tech-savvy, efficient and productive.
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Sign your team up for a
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Staff Management 

Working with an MSP means you won’t need to worry about all the staffing issues that go along with managing people. No more hiring and training new staff, worrying about staff retention and other HR headaches. No more needing to fill the gaps or worry about lack of assistance when critical members of the team are on vacation. You’ll always have access to support when you need it.  

Hybrid work has increased the complexity of business IT. Employees are more frequently working outside the office, so your IT partner needs to address this shift. Remote work can impact productivity and business security in many different ways, and using the right technology the right way can make a big difference to your business outcomes. 

Cloud technology has allowed SMBs to maintain and improve workflows while increasing productivity and business operations as the world of work goes through a seismic shift. Did you know that 48% of corporate data is stored in the cloud, and businesses that make the most out of cloud migration can expect benefits? Outsourcing migration projects can help your business realize those benefits much more quickly and easily.  

There are many pros to outsourcing your IT operations to a trusted partner, and it is worthwhile for enterprise leaders to consider if this is the best option for their technology needs.  

When you work with designDATA, we become an extension of your team. We start all client relationships with a comprehensive technology assessment. Moving forward, we remain faithful to a five-step communication cadence that includes weekly, monthly, quarterly, bi-yearly and annual reviews, which address valuable discussion points for both sides. Our team-based approach to partnerships means we become a friendly and reliable extension of your team.  

Let us ensure you have all the tools and technology to succeed and the end-user protection to keep your organization running securely. You’ll have more time to grow your business and concentrate on your strategic goals.  

In-House or Outsourced IT? Discover What’s Best for Your Business Read More »

Sophos Firewall: The Next Generation of Network Safety

Sophos Firewall: The Next Generation of Network Safety

Sophos Firewall: The Next Generation of Network Safety

DesignDATA
Sophos Firewall: The Next Generation of Network Safety

hree-minute read

designDATA is committed to curating the best-of-breed products from our large array of industry-leading partners, so our clients can have the best network protection on the market today. Sophos Firewall is our go-to for SMBs and enterprise organizations because it is backed by high-performance security technology that centralizes, synchronizes and automates network monitoring in ways that are not offered by other vendors.

Below, we will explain three reasons why our partnership with Sophos gets our clients the network security they need to keep their organization safe.

So, What is a Firewall? 

First, let’s define our terms. You have probably seen movies and TV shows where firewalls are broken down with some quick keyboard mashing and an exclamation of “I’m in!” Luckily, designDATA and Sophos do not offer movie-quality network protection.

Firewalls are a combination of software and firmware that stop threats and unauthorized access to a company’s network. It scans all incoming and outgoing traffic using filtering rules to identify and detect threats. They are essential components of any company’s IT infrastructure.

Sophos Offers a Next Generation Firewall

A Next Generation Firewall (NGFW) is not a single piece of technology but a group of technologies that work collaboratively to meet the network security needs of businesses operating in an era of heightened threats. Sophos XGS Firewall is an industry leading NGFW.

Today, the average business network has so many different entry points and varying kinds of users that a multi-layer approach is necessary.

What distinguishes an NGFW from less sophisticated firewalls is that they are paired with other security components, like intrusion detection and prevention systems, and they are Layer 7 firewalls.

Firewalls are ranked by the depth they filter data in the Open Systems Interconnection (OSI). This model describes the seven layers that computer systems typically use to communicate and share data between networks.

What is special about Layer 7 firewalls is that they scan the contents, not just the IP addresses, of data packets that come into your network for malware and other cyber threats and allow for advanced traffic filtering rules.

Threats that could hamstring your ability to do business can pass through firewalls that are less stringent than NGFWs; that is why designDATA settles for nothing less than the highest standard of network security for our clients by using the Sophos Firewall.

Why Should You Care?

It is easy to get bogged down by technical information, so you can entrust designDATA to make these quality determinations on your behalf and convey its value succinctly. In simple terms, this firewall is the most advanced kind available today and is what SMBs and enterprise organizations need to protect their networks.

Sophos Central

This all-in-one dashboard allows the user to manage and observe all firewalls and interact with other Sophos security products on one screen for one price. They can access this unified managed console on any device to deploy, optimize and monitor multiple firewalls, gather security insights and neutralize threats.

Why Do You Need This?

Centralization means increased productivity. It allows your MSP to save you time and money by not jumping between different portals, dashboards and services and using more of their billable hours productively meeting your network security needs.

Why Do You Need This?

Synchronized Security 

This advanced, pioneering approach to reactive containment means firewalls, endpoints and servers synchronize and communicate to share real-time information. This patented Security Heartbeat™ shares network and endpoint data to automatically detect and respond to stop threats.

Sophos offers the only network security solution capable of completely identifying the user and source of a network intrusion to quarantine them and shut off their access to the broader network.

This advanced form of zero-touch incident response reduces your exposure to threats while freeing up time and resources to invest in other aspects of business or IT infrastructure.

If you fear losing the human touch, don’t worry, as the Sophos Managed Threat Response (MTR) team is ready 24 hours a day to hunt, detect and respond to cyber threats. Real breathing security experts backed by machine learning are available as a fully managed service. Around-the-clock expert help backing you up when no one else can is yet another reason Sophos is a vendor that’s hard to beat.

Get Support Against Cyber Threats

The big takeaway here is that the Sophos Firewall offers an exclusive bit of technology that gives your network an extra layer of high-performance protection that is not available from any other vendor. The partnership between designDATA and Sophos allows you to use this technology and get the peace of mind to focus on other parts of your business and not constantly look over your shoulder for the next business-ending cyber threat.

Talk with us today about how designDATA with our friends at Sophos can keep you safe, secure and productive with world-class cybersecurity solutions.

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Do You Have to Manage Your Managed IT Service Provider

Do You Have to Manage Your Managed IT Service Provider?

Do You Have to Manage Your Managed IT Service Provider?

DesignDATA
Do You Have to Manage Your Managed IT Service Provider

Four-minute read

As an increasing number of businesses shift to hybrid work models, receiving efficient information technology (IT) services has never been more crucial. A managed IT service provider (IT MSP) can ensure your employees are working efficiently and securely – no matter where they’re situated.  

Because the relationship between an organization and its IT provider has become so essential, it has never been more important for businesses to feel like they’re in good hands. Unfortunately, not all MSPs offer effective communication to ensure clients understand the value of their services. Moreover, it is not the client’s job to implement and prioritize effective communication between both teams – it is the managed IT service provider’s job.  

We believe it is incumbent upon MSPs to put in place a clear communication cadence with their clients concerning IT priorities. Below we outline our top five keys to effective client communication and how a team-based approach can help ensure everyone feels informed and confident about the partnership. But first, let’s discuss today’s customer satisfaction landscape as it concerns MSPs.  

Customer Satisfaction and MSPs  

Net Promoter Score (NPS) is a significant client satisfaction benchmark in B2B services. On average, IT service providers scored 44% in 2022, but in the six years before the COVID-19 pandemic, the average NPS for a managed service provider went as high as 24% in 2019 and as low as 11% in 2015. The distinct rise in NPS can be explained by the fantastic work IT service providers did to make the transition to remote work possible during the pandemic. Still, service providers must continue to deliver to maintain this goodwill. 

It is important to note that the NPS standard for excellent service is 50%, and according to Datto, the average MSP has a score of 18%, which places them lower than similar industries.  

designDATA does not settle for the status quo. We want our customers to get the maximum value for their time, money, and resources, and we believe a large part of making this a reality for our clients is communication.  

designDATA’s Five Keys to Effective Communication 

We believe that a clear communication cadence benefits the client and the managed IT service provider. It allows us to meet our client’s needs better, and the client can see the demonstrable value of the services we provide. This cadence involves: 

01. Weekly Tactical Meetings  

A Program Manager (think fractional IT manager) prepares an agenda and meets with your team to review ongoing services issues, schedule and communicate any downtime or maintenance, and address any concerns that are top of mind.  

02. Proactive Priority of the Month 

Our clients need us to be proactive rather than reactive, so designDATA prioritizes essential items often left at the bottom of the pile indefinitely by other MSPs.  

03. Quarterly Benchmarking 

We perform quarterly assessments of your IT environment in five key areas: productivitycybersecurity, infrastructure management, cloud service enablement, and business continuity. We compare the effective use of technology to our other clients.  

04. Bi-Annual Business Reviews 

This is where we meet with non-IT stakeholders. We have an executive-level discussion about the accomplishments of the last two quarters and the plans for the next two. These meetings also cover budgetary impacts, the possibility of adding emerging technology to their tech stack, and an analysis of how we can add more value to their business.  

05. Yearly Initiative Rankings 

This is where we discuss more broad-level critical success factors. We use a project ranking matrix that scores initiatives on the most significant impact they have on the business to prioritize what is most important. We rank recommended IT initiatives according to the client’s business criteria.  

Do Your Research – Then Purchase 

The best spending is done wisely and carefully. Before you start shopping, ensure you have a solid idea of the needs and wants of your organization’s personnel and its clients and what your systems require to meet or exceed those metrics. Then, purchase consciously to make sure you can meet these needs.  

A thorough assessment will give you an idea of your organization’s priorities, with the most important upgrades for best performance (and timely resolution of present or future vulnerabilities) coming first, followed by the “nice to have” items. 

Enjoying Exceptional Communication with Your MSP  

While the five-step communication cadence we have outlined above is incredibly valuable, an additional way to ensure all parties feel informed and happy with the partnership is by prioritizing a team-based approach.  

To ensure our relationship with our clients is constructive, we provide a team-based approach to help-desk service, meaning your staff will enjoy familiar engineers whenever they need support. Our team-based approach also means that everyone in your organization has a dedicated point of contact, creating comfort and consistency. This is something that we encourage all organizations to implement as it provides clients with the experience of having an in-house IT team, all while leveraging the benefits of working with a comprehensive outsourced MSP. 

No matter the MSP you partner with, you should not feel like you’re managing themWe pair our customers with a dedicated client team that knows you, your environment, and your business criteria so well that we feel like an extension of your team.  

Do You Have to Manage Your Managed IT Service Provider? Read More »

op-IT-Priorities-for-the-Professional-Services-Industry

Top IT Priorities for the Professional Services Industry

Top IT Priorities for the Professional Services Industry

DesignDATA
op-IT-Priorities-for-the-Professional-Services-Industry

our-minute read

 Professional services firms (PSFs) bring their expert knowledge daily to help their clients meet their business goals. To do this, they need excellent IT support to meet the increasingly digital demands of a constantly changing organizational landscape.

IT is an opaque world, so it is hard for outsiders to determine their IT priorities. Below are three important items a professional services executive needs from an IT provider.

CybersecurityCybersecurity

When PSFs offer their expertise to clients, they also promise to protect sensitive information, trade secrets, and third-party data. Part of their core business, regardless of industry, involves exchanging information. A professional’s distinguishing characteristic is that they have agency and a fiduciary duty to act in their client’s best interests.

In the digital age, a lack of cybersecurity can compromise those responsibilities, damage a firm’s reputation, and erode client trust. Cybersecurity should be a top priority, so you can protect yourself and your clients and create the best customer experience possible. 

Companies want investments in their IT priorities and cloud services to have a significant ROI for productivity and revenue. However, overlooking cybersecurity can affect a company’s long-term outlook far worse than a few lackluster quarters. According to Forbes, cybercrime cost U.S. businesses more than $6.9 billion in 2021, and yet only 50% have a cybersecurity plan in place. 

These two factors can work together to create an unhealthy situation for PSFs. For example, a cyberattack could steal financial information from accounting firms and expose their clients and third parties to extortion, fraud, and identity theft. Being a source of data leaks could lead to legal liability and devastating damage to your reputation.

There are ways for professionals to meet their IT goals and protect themselves and their clients from hackers. The most effective approach is to outsource your cybersecurity. An IT Managed Services Provider (MSP) can identify and mitigate security risks, create data loss and disaster recovery plans, and provide security awareness training to make “human firewalls” as human error is an often exploited vulnerability.

A Team-Based Approach to IT

A Team-Based Approach to IT

You need to invest most of your energy and funds into providing the most satisfactory customer service possible to your clients in a highly competitive market. Your investment in tech support and cloud services needs to be as unique as your company. One size does not fit all. 

You do not want to be oversold tools your team does not need of which you cannot afford. An IT provider should work with you to create a custom host of technology services that works with your business strategy, not a prepackaged set of IT solutions that do not suit professional services. 

There are obvious benefits to having an in-house IT team. They are dedicated employees who are enmeshed in your company culture, know your IT priorities intimately, and provide onsite tech support when problems arise. Yet, not every PSF can have an entire team not directly generating revenue. 

That is why it is beneficial to find an IT MSP that will get to know you and your company thoroughly – one dedicated to achieving your business objectives. This is one reason designDATA prioritizes a team-based approach to managed services. We want to ensure our clients are not constantly chatting with new, unfamiliar support staff. Having a team that is closely integrated into the client’s organization also helps us proactively find and solve issues. As well, this approach creates the experience of having an in-house IT team without any of the drawbacks, confirming that your investment is worthwhile.

Emerging Technology and Digital TransformationEmerging Technology and Digital Transformation

Your firm is here to stay, but technology and the world of work are ever-changing, so you owe it to your business, clients, and employees to continuously fold in emerging business technology and new ways of working into your digital repertoire.

Professional service executives are already leaders in their industry because they took exhaustive steps to master their profession, so we recommend seeking an IT provider who is equally as keen to take your technology environment to the next level. 

MSPs are more than just tech support; they can be total game-changers for your productivity levels and business processes while helping you set and meet your IT priorities. For example, without IT leading the charge, the transition to hybrid work would not have been possible. 

Digital transformation does not need to be radical to be effective. For example, using a single sign-on integration (SSO) can save your team time and aggravation by only using one account to access your digital business and tech services. 

Cybersecurity, a team-based approach, and innovative and proactive technology practices are essential factors for professional services firms considering an IT partner. If you are just beginning your search, check out our resource library filled with valuable eBooks, infographics, and videos to help you make an informed decision. 

Looking for a quality managed IT provider? 

designDATA is an MSP that has helped companies stay secure and efficient while achieving IT excellence for over 30 years. We are eager to help professional services organizations reach new heights by keeping their business technology running smoothly. Use your billable hours to help your clients, not troubleshoot technical problems.

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Why MDM is Essential for Managing Apple Devices in the Workplace

Why MDM is Essential for Managing Apple Devices in the Workplace

Why MDM is Essential for Managing Apple Devices in the Workplace

DesignDATA
Why MDM is Essential for Managing Apple Devices in the Workplace

Four-minute read

Scooch over, Microsoft – Apple has entered the cubicle.

A few years ago, Macs were a rarity in offices; most professional software was designed to work on Windows machines, giving them a considerable advantage in the business market. Now, everything has changed; iPhones, iPads, and Macbooks are ubiquitous, and for good reason!

People love the Mac operating system and are familiar with how Apple devices work. Apps and business tools are increasingly Mac friendly, and Apple has worked hard to develop and highlight features that boost productivity and simplify IT management.

While implementing Apple products for businesses has been fantastic for boosting creativity, flexibility, and productivity, it’s presented a new challenge for IT teams. These teams must stay on top of managing a plethora of devices while keeping data secure and employees connected.

Mobile Device Management (MDM) is a must-have tool for an IT team to succeed; whether you’re a small or large business, you must implement the right MDM solution when using Apple products.

Let’s take a look at why an MDM is critical for your business’s management and success.

1. Security

MDM ensures that your mobile device is secure. In today’s world, mobile devices not only enable employees to work from anywhere but also open up new avenues for potential cyber attacks. MDM serves as your team’s first line of defense, maintaining company data security across all mobile devices.

Apple devices are equipped with a host of built-in security features such as FileVault encryption, Gatekeeper software verification, and TouchID. However, these features can be easily disabled, leaving your devices vulnerable. A robust MDM solution ensures these security features are not only enabled but also functioning correctly across all devices. It allows you to block specific software, disable camera access, distribute security patches, and mandate the regular creation of complex passcodes by employees.

Moreover, MDM provides a safety net for those inevitable instances when mobile devices are lost by employees or stolen. In such scenarios, your MDM solution steps in to locate the lost device, locking it until it’s recovered or remotely locking it and wiping all data, ensuring your essential data remains protected.

2. Productivity

Employee productivity is for business owners what security is for IT teams: top priority.  With cloud-based applications and mobile devices, people can work from anywhere.  This results in increased flexibility and higher productivity, but only if employees can access the data and applications they need.

MDM solutions allow your employees to securely access your company network, data, and applications from anywhere, including custom apps that may not be available in Apple’s App Store. MDM identifies critical applications and deploys them to your users.

Plus, you can even create lists of applications specific to certain job roles, departments, or users and allow access to those who need them. In this way, employees have access to the applications they need without being overwhelmed by the ones they don’t.

If an employee needs a new application, MDM makes it quick and easy to grant access and push the application to the correct device. This is quickly done through custom settings in the App Store. As well, MDM makes it simple to share important information between mobile device users. Thus, implementing a robust MDM solution is one of the best ways to foster productivity in your company’s remote work environment.

3. MDM simplifies device management

Whether your company provides Apple devices to employees or lets them use their own through a BYOD program, managing every device can be challenging.

MDM simplifies this process and offers workflows that let your team quickly set up new devices, enroll new users, reset old devices, install updates, and troubleshoot IT issues.  You can monitor devices to make sure that policies are being followed and employees are avoiding risky cyber-behaviour. You can also control access to company networks so that only approved devices can connect.

A good MDM solution allows you to monitor your devices remotely. You can quickly push settings, updates, and IT fixes to devices using over-the-air (OTA) distribution, and your team can detect issues as they arrive, having solutions already prepared.

Top-notch MDM solutions also allow you to implement time-saving practices like “zero-touch” deployment and custom scripting that enable you to customize your devices and modify account permissions as needed.

Truly – the time and cost savings realized from simplified device management are priceless.

Choosing Your MDM Solution

It’s clear that MDM is critical for managing Apple products; now to choose which solution is right for you. There are many MDM solutions on the market, and it’s integral to choose one that works with your priorities. Consider things like value, device compatibility, security features, application management, and support features.

If you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed, don’t worry. We are here to help.

Visit our resource page for additional information like comprehensive guide on Apple IT support for macOS and iOS.

For tailored support and IT solutions optimized for Apple products, connect with our experts. We’ll guide you to the ideal MDM solution to secure and enhance productivity while managing devices with ease.

Ready to elevate your Apple ecosystem?

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5 Reasons Why Jamf Software is the Best Apple RMM Solution

5 Reasons Why Jamf Software is the Best Apple RMM Solution

5 Reasons Why Jamf Software is the Best Apple RMM Solution

DesignDATA
5 Reasons Why Jamf Software is the Best Apple RMM Solution
Four-minute read You’re not alone in feeling like your IT team is scrambling to keep up with the rapid pace of digital transformation. Operations across the world have shifted dramatically recently due to technological developments and world events. Data has moved to the cloud, and employees are, quite literally, all over the place. While these changes may be overwhelming, there are many benefits. For example, employees can access company networks with their mobile devices through cloud-based applications, enabling them to work from anywhere. Productivity has never been higher! However, IT teams face a tough challenge: they need to stay on top of managing a plethora of devices while keeping data secure and employees connected. Remote Monitoring and Management (RMM) is a must-have tool for an IT team to succeed. There’s no shortage of RMM solutions to choose from, but it’s crucial to carefully evaluate what’s out there so that you end up with a solution that suits your business. This is especially important if you have a Mac environment because not all RMM solutions have features compatible with Apple device operating systems. Good news – we’ve curated all of the essential information you need as a Mac user to choose the right RMM. Our Apple experts have researched the top RMM solutions and, based on this analysis, one solution stands out as the clear winner for managing Mac environments: Jamf software.

Need more support with your business’ Apple infrastructure? We can help! Explore our Enterprise IT Solutions for Apple and get back to working securely and confidently.

Here are our top five reasons why Jamf software is the best RMM solution for your Mac environment:

1. Apple-Specific Focus Enables Seamless Integration

Jamf software focuses exclusively on managing Apple devices. Therefore, they can offer better support and features to IT teams operating in Mac environments. As well, because of Jamf’s Apple exclusivity, its integration with Apple products is seamless.

Plus, Jamf offers zero-day support for macOS and iOS updates and security releases. This means that your business starts benefiting from new features and upgraded security on the day of its release.

Jamf also integrates easily with Apple Business Manager, allowing you to set and enforce roles, privileges and security policies using a single, easy-to-use interface. Your IT team can purchase and distribute apps and content in bulk, ensuring your employees have what they need. You can even automate real-time updates to all your apps.

2. Enterprise App Store Guarantees Access to Mission-Critical Applications

The Enterprise App Store is an outstanding feature of Jamf’s RMM solution for Macs. It enables you to create a custom app store so employees can download, install and update all mission-critical apps.

Jamf also allows you to create custom profiles for the app store so that teams or employees see only the apps they need. For example, engineers need not scroll through marketing apps and HR team members won’t have to sort through apps for technical calculations. Each sector will see the apps that pertain to them.

This app store can also display both third-party apps and programs developed in-house; a tool called Jamf Pro Composer helps your team create and deploy custom apps, software and settings.

Lastly, the Enterprise App Store includes a self-service feature that lets end-users troubleshoot and manage their own devices without submitting a help desk ticket.

3. Zero-Touch Features Simplify Device Management and Support

Zero-touch deployment is another one of the benefits of Jamf’s integration with Apple.  By integrating your device management and procurement processes, Jamf allows you to remotely set up devices when you order them so that they arrive ready for immediate use. If your company has embraced “bring your own device” (BYOD), Jamf offers a self-enrollment feature that lets users enroll and configure their devices.

Jamf’s zero-touch focus doesn’t stop with deployment. The easy-to-use interface and remote management capabilities allow IT teams to monitor devices, troubleshoot issues and reconfigure settings without ever touching the actual device. It’s time to say “so long” to dropping off your device at some shop for updates or repairs!

4. Customization That Meets Your Distinct Needs

Every company has different RMM needs, and Jamf is dedicated to providing the features and support to make RMM work for you. They recognize that small businesses may not have the same requirements as large enterprises, so they offer three Mac management solutions: Jamf Pro, Jamf Now and Jamf School.

Once you’ve chosen the Jamf software RMM solution that’s right for you, you have many options for customization. For example, you can use scripting to develop custom configuration profiles, and your IT team can set up custom smart groups based on criteria like device type, department and job role. These smart groups can be used for custom monitoring, configurations and reporting.

We’ve already mentioned that Jamf Composer allows you to create and deploy custom apps. All these features combined provide more flexibility than any other RMM for Mac.

5. Reporting Enables Data-Driven Decision Making

Finally, Jamf stands out from competitors because of its robust reporting capabilities.

Your team needs to see what’s going on with your devices to succeed at RMM. Thankfully, Jamf offers a capable and flexible dashboard feature that you can customize to showcase specific information like smart groups, policies, configuration profiles, software licenses and device types.

These dashboards allow you to stay informed about your devices and analyze data to identify problems. You’ll have all the information you need to make data-driven decisions about changes and policies for your Macs.

Sure, other RMM solutions can help you manage your Mac environment; however, none of them can match the capabilities of Jamf. With Jamf, your users have a better experience. At the same time, your IT team gets all the tools they need to manage your remote devices, maintain security and support productivity, which is why we recommend Jamf to all our Apple-using clients.

Want to Learn More?

We’ve only scratched the surface of what Jamf can do as your Mac RMM solution. If you want to learn more about how Jamf can meet your RMM needs, contact our Apple support experts. We would love to chat with you about Jamf and other solutions to help you manage your business.

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