Elevated Technologies - Your IT Ally in the Cloud

How Small Businesses Can Stay Safe From Hackers This Holiday

Do you realize the holidays are one of the most popular times for hackers to target small businesses? Digital media professionals recommend owners step-up cybersecurity measures to safeguard their business from attack while the festive season reigns. Here’s how you can protect the well-being of your enterprise and stay safe.

Key cyber security tips

Boredom is an issue among workers as the holidays approach. They surf the Internet, checking their Twitter and Facebook accounts and looking at personal emails which may contain malware. Doing so allows hackers to gain entry into computer systems. Millions of businesses are at risk and can benefit from the following advice.

  • Use data protection strategies to match the information your business keeps. Data encryption, encryption keys, and multi-factor identification, for instance, can defend sensitive files. Thieves might steal them, but they won’t be able to gain access to records.
  • Educate staff about staying alert to the possibility of hackers using them to break into computer systems. Teach them about the methods hackers’ use, such as sending personalized emails and pretending they are associates.
  • Monitor your small business well using passwords and malware defense. Also, make sure firewalls are in place, and antivirus software and network security certificates are up-to-date.
  • Restrict admission to vital data via employee’s mobile phones. Be wise and invest in a centrally controlled system that allows IT departments to wipe stolen devices remotely.
  • Carefully dispose of sensitive data. You might imagine information disappears from your computer when you erase files, but, until the disk space it took up is reused, it can be found.

Don’t let hackers spoil the holidays. Contact Elevated Technologies today to protect your IT network from today’s cyber threats! Keep your enterprise secure, and you can enjoy peace of mind.


2017 CRN Next-Gen 250 list!

Elevated Technologies Recognized on 2017 CRN Next-Gen 250 List

Annual List Features Trailblazing Solution Providers Transforming Business with Emerging Technologies

Houston, TX, November 8, 2017 – Elevated Technologies, announced today that CRN®, a brand of The Channel Company, has named Elevated Technologies to its 2017 Next-Gen 250 list. The annual list recognizes standout IT solution providers who have successfully transformed their businesses to meet the demands of emerging technologies such as cloud computing, IoT, virtualization, mobility, business analytics and business intelligence. These solution providers, all in business for fewer than 20 years, have adapted to an evolving marketplace with a notable penchant for bringing key technologies to their clients before they become mainstream.

Elevated Technologies has provided Houston businesses with innovative IT support and technology solutions since 2006. Our IT leadership team strives to offer our high-end technology services at a price point that fits seamlessly into your’ business initiatives.  We believe in providing the most powerful IT support systems with delivery that focuses on providing distinct solutions to meet the unique IT needs of each individual client.

“We are honored and humbled to be part of this list,” said Jason Rorie, Founder of Elevated Technologies.  “We strive to say on the cutting edge of technology to best serve our clients.”

“This group of solution providers is leading the way when it comes to emerging technologies, bravely stepping into the uncharted territory of next-generation IT solutions ahead of their peers,” said Robert Faletra, CEO of The Channel Company. “Our 2017 Next-Gen 250 list is comprised of relatively new companies as well as established ones, all sharing the common thread of successful, trailblazing solutions designed to meet an unprecedented set of customer needs. We congratulate each team on its vision and contribution to the overall advancement of the IT channel.”

A sampling of the Next-Gen 250 list will be featured in the December issue of CRN. The complete list will be available online at www.crn.com/nextgen250.

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@TheChannelCo recognizes @elevatedtech in 2017 @CRN #CRNNextGen250 www.crn.com/nextgen250

About the Channel Company

The Channel Company enables breakthrough IT channel performance with our dominant media, engaging events, expert consulting and education, and innovative marketing services and platforms. As the channel catalyst, we connect and empower technology suppliers, solution providers and end users. Backed by more than 30 years of unequaled channel experience, we draw from our deep knowledge to envision innovative new solutions for ever-evolving challenges in the technology marketplace. www.thechannelco.com

Follow The Channel Company: Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook

Melanie Turpin

The Channel Company

(508) 416-1195

mturpin@thechannelco.com


All New!

Elevated Technologies who provide Managed IT and Cloud Services announces today the launch of its newly revamped website and overall look. This newly redesigned website offers quick and easy access to essential information and features that offers a more comprehensive understanding of the company’s core services.

The new website has a clean uncluttered design, improved functionality and enhanced rich content focused on the company’s mission to provide word class IT services to the Houston market. The new website goes live today, November 1, 2017 and is located at the same address: http://www.elevated-tech.com/.

We are excited about our new website launch and new branding.  We feel this website conveys the message we want to stress to our clients and future potential clients.  Elevated Technologies is all about the relationship, correct level of service and understanding budgets.

Elevated Tech’s new website will be updated on a regular basis with news of product launches, business activity, corporate milestones and events. Visitors are encouraged to explore the website and sign up for direct emails from the company HERE


The Benefits of Technology for Business Owners

Some business owners see technology as a necessary evil, but others view it as a trusted friend and partner. No matter which camp you fall into, there are plenty of proven benefits of incorporating the right technology into your daily operations.

These days, just about every business uses technology in one way or another. Online businesses may use technology in different ways, but even the most old-school firm uses computers, servers and other equipment to store customer data, safeguard employment information, and keep the back-office operations running smoothly. Here are some of the biggest benefits your business can enjoy by using the latest technology:

Lower Personnel Costs with Technology

Personnel costs are the biggest expense many small businesses face, but technology can lower those costs significantly. Whether you are running a brand new startup and building a great team, or are the owner of an existing business trying to cut costs, the right technology for your business can reduce expenses and help you do more with less.

If you run a large call center, you could ramp up (and staff up) during periods of high activity. Or, you could harness the power of technology, implementing a voice response system that expertly routes calls to the correct staff members. That simple change could increase the productivity of your existing staff by 25-30%. More importantly, that increase in existing staff productivity could eliminate the need to hire additional workers during periods of peak activity.

Greater Productivity with Modern Technology for Business

It has never been more important for business owners to do more with fewer resources. Increased competition from the internet and elsewhere has created a difficult environment for businesses who are unable to adequately control their costs, as well as those who are unable to get lean and mean when facing an uncertain future.

The right technology for your business can greatly increase productivity, lowering costs and boosting profits in the process. Moving your data from local storage to the cloud gives your workforce the ability to work from anywhere, whether they are in the office, on vacation or at home with their families. This increase in productivity translates directly into higher profits, a big advantage for any growing business.

Lower Hardware Costs

Hardware costs can be a killer for any small business and even some larger firms. While the price of computer equipment—including desktops, laptops and servers—has dropped in recent years, business-class equipment is still quite pricey, especially when you add the cost of specialty software and per-seat licensing.

In response to these rising costs, a growing number of businesses have adopted a bring your own device (BYOD) approach to hardware acquisition. Since every new hire already has a computer in their pocket, the thinking goes, why purchase additional hardware when we do not have to?

The BYOD approach makes a lot of sense for businesses, and advances in technology have made the option more attractive than ever before. The growing capabilities of smartphones and tablets have made them more powerful than ever, reducing or even eliminating the need for a desktop computer in every cubicle.

A Better Work/Life Balance with Technology Enhancements

Maintaining a quality work/life balance is an important part of business in the 21st century. Parents are increasingly willing to trade extra pay for more time off, and older workers are actively seeking alternatives to retirement.

Whether the goal is facilitating phased retirement for your baby boomer employees or helping the new mom stay at home and still keep her job, technology can be a big help. The new mother who wants to stay at home with her newborn will benefit mightily from a self-contained workspace that can she can install on her own. The baby boomer looking for a phased exit from the workforce can take advantage of technology to work part time from home and part time in the office.

This ability to maintain a quality work/life balance is good for workers, but it is also good for businesses and the bottom line. The cost of recruiting and training a new employee can be as much as 10 times the cost of retaining an existing worker, so the benefits are easy to see.

Making adjustments for the needs of individual workers can also enhance the reputation of the business and make future recruiting efforts easier and more successful. Finding qualified workers may not be a problem during periods of economic downturn, but when things pick up, businesses often experience a shortage of good workers. Creating a workplace that values work/life balance could put your firm at the top of the list and help you find the workers you need no matter how low the unemployment rate gets.

More Efficient Use of Space

Paper files for one business could easily fill up several rooms, but a computer can store all of those files and more easily fit on a desktop. With every square foot of space an added expense, it is easy to see how shrinking your space requirements will benefit the bottom line.

More efficient use of space is one of the biggest, yet most often overlooked, benefits of business technology. If you are running a brand new startup, you can get by with a small rented office space instead of a larger and more expensive one. If you are trying to cut costs in an established business, you can use technology to reduce your space requirements, and every square foot you lose is more money in your pocket.

As you can see, technology can benefit your business in many different ways. No matter what kind of firm you own or how long you have been in business, improving your technology can lower your costs, enhance your productivity, boost your profits and allow your employees to work from anywhere.


Wi-Fi Attack Vulnerability


Understanding KRACK: What Does the WPA2 Security Breach Mean For The Average Person?

Researchers from Belgium’s KU Leaven university sent the internet into a panic the morning of October 16 when they announced that they had found a core vulnerability in WPA2. Sensational headlines quickly proclaimed that any device using WiFi was now open to attack, but that isn’t really the case. It’s technically true that any network using the WPA2 protocol can be exploited, but it’s far from the end of the internet as we know it.

What is WPA2?

WPA2 is the security protocol used by just about all modern devices (computers, phones and tablets) when they connect to a network to get onto the internet. WPA2 encrypts all the communications between your device and the network, so that other people on the network can’t snoop into them or manipulate them while in transit.

The exploit that the security researchers discovered, called KRACK, is a core flaw in the protocol. To simplify it as much as possible, it allows someone on the network to capture the encryption keys needed for communication, making it possible for them to see and manipulate the data people are passing. If you were on a network compromised by KRACK, the attacker would be able to see everything you are doing on the internet, and would be able to capture anything you entered or uploaded (like passwords).

So Is All WiFi Insecure Now?

That sounds bad enough to be the death of all WiFi, but there are a few mitigating factors that make this not nearly as bad as it initially appears.

The first thing to know is that not all devices are equally affected by this exploit. While anything using WPA2 can potentially be attacked, it seems to be a very difficult attack to pull off on many devices. Older devices running Android and Linux seem to be disproportionately vulnerable to it, while newer Windows devices are less vulnerable.

The second thing to know is that this vulnerability can be patched, and hardware vendors began scrambling to do so before it was even announced. Fortunately, a team of university researchers discovered this and kept it from the general public, but gave weeks of advance notice to major hardware and software companies before publishing their findings. For example, on the day the vulnerability was announced, Microsoft announced that they had patched Windows to secure against it a week earlier. Once a device is patched, it is no longer vulnerable, and this exploit had never been seen in the wild prior to the publication of the research paper. So a lot of devices will be securely patched before it can even be widely deployed by criminals.

The third thing to know is that the attacker needs to be an authorized user directly connected to the network they are attacking. If you have a home WiFi network that only you and your family have the passwords for, it is extremely unlikely anyone could run this exploit on you. The biggest threat is to public networks that anyone can access, like those at coffee shops, airports and shopping malls. The attacker also has to be physically close enough to the device they are targeting, as they have to be able to get in the middle of its communications with the network.

What Should You Do About This?

The first thing to do is to see if patches to your devices are available. This will likely involve an update to your operating system, like Windows or Android. A patched device can still safely communicate with an unpatched network. Unsure about patching, contact Elevated Technologies

Some devices will not be able to be patched, such as phones and tablets running old versions of Android that have been abandoned by their hardware manufacturers. If you have a device that can’t be patched, you will need to be more cautious about connecting to wireless networks with it. If you need to use a particular public WiFi network, ask the company hosting it if they have patched their routers to secure against it.

Though there is an outside chance that an attacker could inject malicious code (like malware or ransomware) by intercepting your transmissions with a network, the biggest issue is privacy. If you are using an unpatched device on an unknown network, assume that anyone can see what you are doing. In other words, stick to what was standard common-sense security protocol prior to this, which is to never enter sensitive personal, financial or account login information while on a public network!


9 Ways Managed Cloud Solutions Benefits Your Business

 

If you are part of a small business, you already understand how challenging your job can be. Small business owners and employees wear many hats, from front-line customer service representative and salesperson to human resources and hiring manager.

The good news is you do not have to add IT specialist and network engineer to the list of duties. In fact, trying to serve as your own IT specialist can be counterproductive and dangerous. If you want to keep your data safe, accessible and backed up, managed cloud solutions is the right choice for your Houston business.

Some small business owners believe managed cloud solutions are only for large corporations, and the benefits of storing data in the cloud do not apply to them. In fact, the opposite is often true—small businesses have a great deal to gain from cloud storage solutions.

  1. Greater Security with Managed Cloud Solutions

The security of your data is key to your success, and cloud storage can provide the safety you need to protect your customers, your employees and your proprietary trade information.

  1. Ease of Compliance with a Cloud Solutions Provider

Many fields require specific compliance with privacy laws and industry regulations, and meeting those requirements on your own can be tough. By working with an established cloud solutions provider such as Elevated Technologies, you can make compliance easier and give yourself one less thing to worry about.

  1. Managed Cloud Solutions Expertise

You may be an expert in your industry, but you are most likely not a data storage expert. Working with a cloud solutions provider gives you access to specific expertise, so you can focus on doing what you do best.

  1. Predictable Costs for Your Cloud Solutions Program

The cost of data storage can ramp up quickly when you do it on your own, but cloud storage costs are much easier to predict. The fixed-cost nature of cloud solutions can make budgeting a lot easier.

  1. Ransomware Protection

Ransomware is a growing threat for small businesses, but cloud storage is a great way to stay protected. When you have recent backups of all your files stored in the cloud, the ransom threat loses its immediacy.

  1. Secure Data Backup with Managed Cloud Solutions

Backing up your files is essential to protecting your data, but it is easy to let those backups slide. When your data is stored in the cloud, you can put your backups on automatic, so you will not have to worry.

  1. Simpler Disaster Recovery Solutions

Disasters happen, so it is important to be prepared. Cloud solutions can simplify your disaster recovery process and give you extra peace of mind.

  1. Established Technology

The cloud is no longer a new concept, and Elevated Technologies has a strong track record of success and secure data storage.

  1. Remote Access with the Cloud

When your data lives in the cloud, your employees can access that information from anywhere. Whether they are at the local coffee shop, on the road or in a hotel room, your employees can get the information they need no matter where they go.

With Elevated Technologies by your side moving your data from the desktop and server to the cloud makes a great deal of sense. Falling cloud solutions pricing and expanded capabilities have put cloud storage within reach for even the smallest firm, so there is no reason to put off the move any longer.

Are you ready to take the leap? Request a quote today on our website—we are ready to serve your technology needs.


Encrypted Viruses: Game Over

An encryption virus, or ransomware, is a virus that is encrypted so that your antivirus software has a harder time recognizing its harmful nature. Usually, by the time your antivirus recognizes the problem, many of your files have been infected and cannot be restored due to the new encryption. The only way to fix this is to restore the file from a backup.
Often, users will be given the option to pay large sums of money for the encryption key and get their files back. This is always a scam to get your money and your bank information. Never pay the price or give them any of your information.
The main way to combat ransomware is through user awareness and constant file backups.
Encrypted viruses find their way to users typically through emails or harmful links/attachments. Here are some ways that you can avoid clicking on encrypted viruses.
  • Double check, and then triple check. When you get an email that either looks suspicious (incorrect email address, misspellings, etc.) or that asks for sensitive information or a money transfer, the best thing you can always do is triple check (or quadruple check. There’s no such thing as too much checking.) The key aspect to check is the sender’s email address. For example, if you get an email from your bank, just because the sender’s address has the bank’s name in it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s legitimate. Check on their official website by typing it into your browser or call to validate the email.
  • Never click links in an email. Always type the website out yourself in your browser. Set your privacy settings in your email to require you to enable links or photos every time. You can check photo or link sources by rolling your curser over any photos or links—NOT clicking them—to see if the preview address that appears matches the link. If it doesn’t, it’s not authentic
  • If there is anything suspicious about an email, never download the attachments. Call the sender for clarification or send a new email by typing out the correct address yourself. Never respond to the original email.
Ransoms are increasing. There’s currently a disturbing trend of increasing ransomwares. According to a report published by the Cybersecurity Firm Symantec, the average ransomware payment in 2016 was $294. However, researchers believe this number will increase to $1,077 by the end of this year. In other words, victims of ransomware are paying more than $1,000 for a chance to regain access to their files.
Not only are ransoms increasing, ransomware attacks are becoming more frequent. According to a separate report by the insurance company Beazley, ransomware attacks increased by 400 percent in 2016, and they are expected to increase by 200 percent the end of this year.
Elevated Tech works nonstop to keep your files protected and backed up to the most up-to-date versions in case of an emergency. We can work together to fight off all threats to your business and always keep you one step ahead. Call one of our experts at (281)-653-7726 or visit our website to learn more about how we make sure you will never pay the ransom.

Tax Season and Cyber Security

Doing our taxes online: the majority of Americans are doing it, which increases the number of cyber criminals ready to target unsuspecting individuals every year. However, there are ways to protect your information and lower your risk for identity theft, fraudulent tax filings, and more.
Protect yourself. You can create a pin on IRS.gov to prevent the misuse of your social security number. To get a pin, you must pass the IRS identify verification process and then create a user profile. Always password protect your electronic tax files and encrypt any information you share electronically—although you should never submit personal information through email. Avoid using public Wi-Fi and unsecured wireless networks.
Know what to look for in phishing scams. Many people get shaken up by a supposed email from the IRS, but most of these emails are scams that are aimed to make people feel panicked and click on a harmful link. Do not click any embedded links—go to IRS.gov to gather information about what is required of you. The IRS never demands payment without having first sent written notice, and they will never ask for payments over the phone. Make sure to delete any harmful or suspicious emails from your inbox.
One of the best ways to protect your data is by getting informed. Understand that as the taxpayer, you are primarily responsible for your taxes even if you received help from a tax preparer. This is why you must ensure that whichever company you go through is reliable and legitimate. Choose a preparer who has tons of information about them online, asks specific questions, and provides you with your own signed copy of your return. Avoid tax preparers who base their fees on a percentage of the refund or that have no proof online of their services or expertise. Avoid submitting information through websites that don’t have HTTPS in their url, as HTTPS pages use encryption that HTTP sites do not.
Elevated Tech values cyber security and always wants to ensure the safety of all businesses and individuals. To learn more about cyber security, data recovery, and the extra mile Elevated Tech takes to protect your business, contact us todaywe’ve got you covered.

Staying Secure While Traveling

travel
Credit: Chris Brignola
Traveling for work—some find it a necessary evil, and others jump at the chance to get out of the office into a new city. Whether you love it or hate it, you should know how to stay secure while traveling. Of course, this includes personal safety like not getting mugged or lost in a foreign country, but specifically, we’re talking about technological safety.
Technological safety is always important, but even more so when you’re traveling. We store all of our personal and professional information online and on our devices, and when we travel with that information, we become more susceptible to fraud and identity theft.
So how can you effectively work while traveling or go on your dream vacation without worrying about hackers or viruses? We’ve got you covered.
  • Don’t Use Public Wi-Fi
One of the most common mistakes travelers make is using public Wi-Fi, which opens you up to a cyber-attack or a virus. You can use a portable router with your own Wi-Fi hotspot instead to avoid getting your information hacked. Disable Bluetooth and GPS when it’s not needed, as this will also keep your information secure.
  • Password Protect Devices and Use Tracking Tools
If you don’t already have a password on your phone or computer, change those settings before you go anywhere. You should also activate your tracking settings on all your devices so that if they are stolen or lost, you can find them and remotely handle the them. Many of these capabilities allow for remotely wiping your phone or for an automatic system reset after a certain amount of incorrect password attempts.
  • Keep Your Specific Location on the Down Low
Don’t post on social media about where you are or your travel schedule. If you decide to post pictures, make sure they don’t give away your specific location—you should also disable any auto-share settings on social media which automatically post where your posts take place.
  • Limit What You Keep on Your Devices
When you’re on your phone, computer, or tablet, limit the information you store and share while using them. This includes saved passwords, credit card or bank information, and what you write in emails or messages when it comes to personal or company data. When you get back home, you should carefully delete any auto-saved messages that contain sensitive information and update all your passwords.
  • Install Antivirus and Encrypt
Everyone should always have an antivirus program set up, even if they never travel. Make sure that your antivirus settings are up to date before, during, and after travel, and look into encrypting your data as well for extra security.
  • Back up to the Cloud
One of the best ways you can safely work while traveling or access important information from anywhere is on the cloud. Cloud capabilities allow for you to access all your files 24/7, anywhere in the world. They also allow for anti-virus management and data backup to keep you protected and up-to-date with your data at all times.
Elevated Tech is always your number one source for information on security when it comes to internet and cloud capabilities. Learn more about our cloud services to always stay up-to-date with protecting your data and working efficiently—from anywhere in the world.


Things Every Business Should Check After a Disaster

Disasters happen—storms rage, lightning strikes, and, as all Houstonians now know, hurricanes devastate. But if there’s one thing we also know is that cities recover. So, in the days and weeks following Hurricane Harvey as you return to work, you may find yourself walking back into your office wondering what you’ll come back to, unsure of where to even begin.
Elevated Tech makes it simple for you. Here are the things every business should check after a natural disaster like Hurricane Harvey.
One of the most common dangers of a hurricane is flooding, and it’s the first thing you should check for when you walk into your office. If the carpet is wet, or smells as if it once was, you’ll want to see if any devices that had contact with the ground or were left on the ground are also wet. (Tip: if you know a storm is coming, always put devices and cords up high to avoid water damage).
Once you have checked the floor, wiring, and devices that could have been affected by flooding, you want to move on to checking the second most common problem with any storm: power outages.  You’ll want to check and see if the servers or computers were forced to go down temporarily. Can all of them power on again? Sometimes improper or forced shutdowns can cause computers to fail at rebooting properly, and this can also lead to data loss due to corruption.
Finally, you should test all your systems to ensure that they are working as expected. You should check: wireless connection, printing, server access, etc. Any systems that aren’t working should be fixed immediately to ensure the productivity of your office and business.
So now you have all of this information—what do you do with it? Many businesses turn to MSPs like Elevated Tech after a disaster in order to get assistance at a fast and reasonable price.  You may be unsure of how much information to cover when introducing your problems to new support.
It’s best to answer these three questions: “What is happening, what isn’t happening, and what steps were taken to figure it out?”
If your business needs help after Hurricane Harvey, contact Elevated Tech with this information to ensure a fast and reliable network diagnosis that will get your business on the road to recovery. Harvey may have caused some damage, but it’s nothing that Elevated Technologies cannot handle.

 


Your IT Ally in the Cloud