Cyber Attacks Pose Real Threats to Small Businesses and Organizations

As we grow evermore reliant on the internet, the dangers of cyber attacks grow exponentially as well.

Read on to learn about the threat cyber attacks pose to small businesses and what can be done to stop them.

In today’s day and age, everything is connected through the internet in some capacity. As the internet of things continues to grow and the world’s reliance on computers and the internet increases, the threat that cyberattacks pose looms larger and larger. While there are billions of people who use the internet every day, only a small percent of internet users have any information technology or computer proficiency, making cyber attacks very lucrative and appealing to criminals of all backgrounds.

Cyber Attacks

It is very difficult to catch the few, yet very successful criminals for two reasons. First, cyber crime is a somewhat recent development, and there are few experts trained in cyber defense and security. Second, cyber crimes are perpetuated by a highly skilled, well connected, group of criminals who are located all over the globe. This makes it very difficult and sometimes impossible to bring to justice many cyber criminals. These cyber criminals work thoroughly, quickly and cover their tracks painfully well. Many people are defrauded out of their money every day, and there simply isn’t enough man power and resources to solve all the cyber crimes being committed daily.

Cyber criminals don’t just target large corporations or the prominently rich, they target small businesses and everyday citizens as well. For example, the St. Louis library was hacked and had all their computers and servers held ransom for a very large sum of money. To get around such ransomware is not easy, and once a business has become the victim of a cyber attack, specifically ransomware, the only two options are often to pay the criminals, or cut their losses and start over. Even local police departments have fallen victim to ransomware, some more than once. According to IBM, there are over 1 million cyber attacks annually.

Small businesses should especially be aware and concerned about criminal cyber activity. Many small businesses and organizations don’t give ransomware a second thought because they mistakenly think they are not big enough or lucrative enough to be a target. Cyber criminals do not discriminate; they will and have defrauded money from anyone that is vulnerable. Many cyber crimes go unreported, either because they go undetected or because people do not know how or who to report them to, meaning the statistics on cybercrime are likely much higher than reported.

Every person, business, and organization, should arm themselves with knowledge, and protect themselves in any way possible from cyber criminals. Although the chances of becoming a victim of a cyber crime are too high for comfort, businesses and people alike can decrease the likelihood of it happening to them by taking preventive action. Defend yourself and your assets today by calling {company}, located in {city}, at {phone} or emailing us at{email}.

LA Creative Serves as The Perfect Managed IT Service Partner for Urban Planning Consultation Firm

When ELP Advisors were looking for an efficient and optimized approach to managed IT services, LA Creative Technologies was the ideal local partner to provide the multi-faceted solutions they needed.

ELP Advisors is an urban planning consulting firm that helps clients build better communities. By crafting a strategic vision that is guided by principle and tempered by pragmatism, ELP Advisors works every day to help enrich California communities. The firm’s team holds expertise in housing, workforce and economic development, sustainability, transportation, and community engagement. Because ELP Advisors is so interdisciplinary, the company engages in a variety of diverse audiences and requires easy access to a range of different information. To operate efficiently and optimize their efforts to build thriving communities, ELP Advisors needed a simple, integrated internal network and data storage system.

IT Services In LA

The Situation: The Need for An Efficient and Strategic Approach to Optimizing Information Technology

IT Company in Los AngelesRichard France, the Principal Associate with ELP Advisors said the firm was indeed looking for a way to simplify and optimize their approach to managing IT. “We had worked with other managed IT providers in the past, but none of them were based locally in Los Angeles,” France says. It became apparent to the ELP Advisors team that partnering with a local provider would help ensure that technology glitches do not interrupt productivity and drown the firm in downtime.

Furthermore, the ELP Advisors team we’re looking for a strategic leader that could help harness technology to support business goals. “Our firm simply doesn’t have in-house technical support. With staff split between our Los Angeles and San Diego offices, we needed assistance from a local team to set up an internal network, develop strategic approaches to managing data, and provide day-to-day support to resolve technical issues.”

The Solution: A Fully-Managed and Strategic Approach to Managed IT From Local Experts  

ELP Advisors knew that LA Creative Technologies had experience providing managed IT support to similar consulting firms based in Los Angeles. Given this background and LA Creative’s local presence, the team at ELP Advisors knew they would be the best fit to support the firm’s needs. After ELP Advisors officially partnered with them, LA Creative was on scene to implement the exact strategic and efficient IT platform that the firm was looking for.

LA Creative Technologies assisted the ELP team in purchasing and setting up new equipment, as well as migrating the office to a new file-sharing system that could better support their day-to-day needs. “Our team is incredibly diverse, and we require the ability to quickly access information, share the latest innovations and best practices with clients and communicate seamlessly with internal and external stakeholders,” France says. “A multifaceted and strategic IT platform is fundamental to ensuring our work is executed properly. The support and innovative implementations we’ve received from LA Creative Technologies allow us to do just that.

The Result: Responsive, Strategic and Proactive IT Support That Optimizes Business Processes

For ELP Advisors the bottom line is simple. “The team of experts at LA Creative Technologies makes a point to understand the needs of their clients,” France says. “They especially have a unique understanding of the specific technology needs of smaller sized firms like ours.” LA Creative Technologies worked closely with ELP Advisors to develop a solid understanding of their needs and goals and worked quickly to implement the necessary strategies and solutions.

By building such a detailed knowledge, the LA Creative team has developed a robust and lasting working partnership with ELP Advisors. “I would without a doubt recommend LA Creative Technologies,” France says. “They took the time to understand us and ever since they have been incredibly responsive to our needs. They give us exactly what we need.”

If your business is seeking a more all-encompassing brand of IT support or if you’d like to know more about the specific services that LA Creative Technologies can offer your business, don’t hesitate to reach us at {phone} or {email}.

Security Tips: Creating Strong Passwords

A look at how to create a secure password.

Hacks and scams will always remain a problem with online communication/browsing, with weak passwords being a huge factor in security breaches. Since creating a secure password can be a problematic issue for many, we’re going to walk you through the process so one can create the password that only they can decipher.

Secured Password

Creating A Strong Password

Two of the main categories your password should fall into should be:

  • The password is long or contains a “passphrase.”
  • The password or “passphrase” isn’t well-known.

So before we elaborate on how one can achieve these goals and create a secure password for their personal information, we’re going to explain how hackers have no problem retrieving passwords. One of the most popular methods of password retrieval is through “brute force attacks,” which is when a hacker begins with a familiar list of passwords/combinations that a user would use for entry and tries to guess their password. As many hackers have the software to figure out one’s simple password with no difficulty, it puts into context how important it is for one to create a secure password that is easy for the owner to remember… yet hard to guess for the hackers.

Passphrases

Creating a passphrase is much like creating a password, but a little more elaborate. Passphrases are basically sentences or phrases that would make sense to you and only you. However, don’t use common phrases from pop culture that someone could easily guess or something that you find yourself uttering often. For example: “may the force be with you” might be easy to crack if you’re a known Star Wars fan.

Don’t Create Something Hard To Remember

Many people have the misconception that a strong password is something that’s hard to remember or something that can confuse the owner of the password. However, a strong password doesn’t constitute something the password’s owner won’t remember. Although many have the idea that adding numbers or capital letters can boost the security of a password, these passwords do not deter hackers from obtaining your information and only make things more confusing for you. Sticking with passphrases is your best bet to keeping your information secure.

So if you still find yourself trying to figure out the password that hackers cannot guess, and you can remember, have no fear as {company} is on your side and willing to help you find the secure password you deserve. So if you live in {city} and want to strengthen your password, feel free to contact us as {phone} or {email} so we can help you today.

Solutions Spotlight – Mastering Your Environment With Office 365 and the Cloud

Microsoft programs like Word, Excel, and Outlook have long been staples in every office. Microsoft Office’s universal familiarity is part of what makes Office 365 the perfect stepping stone for any business looking to make a move towards the cloud.

Cloud Email Servers

Office 365 combines the Microsoft programs you already know and love the flexibility and convenience of the cloud. Some of the amazing benefits this productivity suite offers include:

  • 24/7 access from anywhere there is an Internet connection
  • Pay-As-You-Go Pricing
  • Improved collaboration and productivity
  • Guaranteed 99.9% uptime
  • Access to extra cloud-based features like SharePoint, Exchange Online, and Office Professional Plus

Blending the old with the new is a great way to get familiar with cloud technology, and open your business up to new possibilities. As incredible as Office 365 is on its own, it’s just a small part of what the cloud can offer your business.

Having instant access to your technology boosts speed and efficiency. And with so much of the modern workforce going mobile, the ability to access data, applications, and resources from any number of locations that are not your desk is increasingly necessary. Having the freedom to work on the road with the same level of productivity as you would have at the office gives your business a huge advantage.

But the benefits of moving to the cloud start right at home base. The cloud offers an affordable and scalable solution to your data storage and data backup needs, eliminating the expense of purchasing and maintaining onsite servers. You’ll gain faster, more reliable access to your data and applications as factors like aging hardware won’t be able to slow you down.

Security is the primary concern that holds businesses back from embracing the cloud. But when your cloud services provider is The Network and Co. of California, you can rest assured that your business is secure. Your critical data is stored in our secure data centers, and strict access controls mean that only you and your staff can access your data.

The cloud gives businesses the ability to make use of a ton of other great solutions, such as:

  • Desktop as a Service (DaaS)
  • Email and Security Services
  • Specialty Applications and Services
  • Cloud-Based Internet Security and Content Filtering
  • File Sharing and Synchronization
  • Hosted VoIP Business Telephone Services

With cloud technology powering your business’ IT environment, the possibilities for growth and success are endless.

Want to learn more about the Office 365 and Cloud Solutions services we offer? Contact us at {email} or {phone}. We’re the IT professionals businesses in {city} trust.

Josh’s January Musings…

I’m sitting here preparing January’s newsletter while browsing a Facebook feed full of Trump inauguration news. As you may have ascertained from reading these newsletters or knowing me personally, this is not news that sits well for me or any of the business, creative, and personal communities I’m a part of. However – this same discomfort illuminates the increased need for community and collaboration in supporting the needs and goals of those around us… To that effect, I’m more grateful than ever for the strong partnerships L.A. Creative has formed with a growing number of Los Angeles businesses.

I spent some time in the early days of 2017 envisioning plans for the year. Two resources that mainly benefitted me were the Khorus 2017 CEO Planning Guide and Julliene Gordon’s 2017 New Year Guide. Both of these are free (though I don’t regret buying a paper copy of the New Year Guide). I’ve been using the Gordon’s resource to plan out my weeks and days, helping me get more done, or at least know how I spent my time when I DON’T get things done. For all the digital work I do, I’ve been enjoying using a pencil and writing down what I’m doing and what I’ve done 🙂

All that time planning reminded me that the major theme at L.A. Creative for 2017 would be GROWTH. Starting out, this will involve hiring a new team member to assist our help desk with client support, and to help drive the company’s back office operations. This team member will benefit from the documentation we created last year, as in 2016 we took the time to write down how to perform critical processes to facilitate training going forward.

And with a growing team, we’ll continue to focus on growing our client base. For January, this looks like consulting with a fast-growing startup to help them build a new flagship headquarters office and to focus on their overall network and bandwidth strategy for their national warehouse properties. And in general… it means continuing to focus on marketing efforts to get the word out about our services.

I have so much gratitude to our clients and to everyone who has supported us and helped us grow. Employees, Consultants, Contractors, Vendors, and friends, you all form an incredible resource network for me!

I’d love if you took a few minutes to chat with me and let me know what you’ve got planned for 2017, or ask any questions you may have. Just reply to this e-mail, or call me anytime at (323) 902-6820.

Josh

Anthem Attack: Foreign Government Implicated In Data Breach

As the Anthem attack shows, the safety of our society depends on data security. Any unsafe organization or individual puts everyone at risk

Data Breach

The domino effect pervades data security; if one person or institution is unsafe, everyone else is at risk. This is especially evident in the recent Anthem data breach, where one company’s vulnerability has exposed all of American society to foreign espionage:

Data Disaster

Anthem is the country’s second-largest health insurance provider, serving tens of millions of people in all 50 states. Reports that the company had been hacked thus quickly became a national concern. Carried out in February of 2015, the attack began as a phishing scam to access 90 company systems and steal sensitive information. Although Anthem responded quickly, it took 3 days to repell the hackers, by which point they had stolen data on over 78 million people.

In the two years since the data breach, security analysts have worked tirelessly to identify the attackers. On January 6 of this year, they raised new alarms by identifying the attackers as likely agents of a foreign government. Federal officials have kept the government’s identity secret from the public, worrying that revealing this information would disrupt the investigation. Analysts still do not know the government’s motives or how it will use the stolen information.

The Stakes Of Security

Any data breach of this size is concerning, but the fact that the target was a health insurance provider makes it especially dangerous. Insurance companies must collect a myriad of private details about their customers, including their dates of birth, Social Security numbers, and employment histories. Foreign governments could use this information to spy on American citizens, and with 78 million people affected, there’s virtually no limit to the institutions that are vulnerable to espionage.

Whatever comes of this data breach, it is clear that health insurers and other companies with sensitive information cannot take security lightly. Preventing future leaks requires the cooperation of:

  • Governments– Federal, state, and local authorities must inform their citizens of security threats and provide detailed information on how to avoid them. They must also more effectively regulate insurance companies, banks, and other institutions that handle sensitive information, requiring them to adopt and update effective security measures.
  • Businesses– Even if a company does not directly deal in sensitive information, it may have a client that does, and lax security measures could make that client vulnerable. Thus firms of every size and in every industry must maximize cybersecurity. This involves not only installing security software, but also setting clear guidelines for what employees may do with company WiFi and devices.
  • Individuals– If one person’s accounts are compromised, the hackers will have an easier time attacking their friends and co-workers as well. Thus every individual has a civic responsibility to maintain strong passwords, avoid scams, and be wary about the WiFi connections they use.

For professional security services in {city}, contact {company} at {email} or call us at {phone}.

The Man Who Wasn’t There

Protect Your LinkedIn Account Before It Disappears

LinkedIn is making some significant changes to the site in 2017. To protect your profile and carefully built up connections, take these simple steps to safeguard your account.

LinkedIn has recently made a big announcement that could change the way you use the site and the information you have stored on it. The company has said that it will be making updates to users profiles and the type of activities that they can do on the website “very soon.”

Linkedin

Though given LinkedIn’s history demonstrating their proclivity to make updates (with or without warning to users) that exclude certain parts of the site from future use. Previously, the site did away with company page recommendations almost overnight. This new announcement could mean that information that you’ve built up over the years for your profile could simply just disappear.

Given that the company has indicated that some significant changes are coming, it may be valuable to take stock of your profile and connections and make strides to ensure that your data and information stays in a safe place. It may also be a good idea to consider where your data will go in light of Microsoft’s pending acquisition of LinkedIn set to be finalized this year.

Archive

You won’t get until you ask. LinkedIn can provide you with a free archive of your data if you request it. If asked, they will email you a zip file that includes a massive data dump of relevant information. This includes a spreadsheet of your connections’ names, current employers, titles and their LinkedIn email addresses.

All you have to do to get this is to log-in to the site and scroll under Privacy & Settings to Getting an archive of your data where you just need to click the blue Request archive button.

Though be warned that this feature isn’t always trustworthy, especially when the site is working on rolling out updates. If you do get an error message when you try to request an archive, try it again using a different Internet browser or attempt it later on.

Print

Save a PDF of your profile and print it out. The PDF will only be a text file showing words, without the graphics on your actual LinkedIn page, such as your profile photo, logos or other images, but it will preserve the recommendations that you’ve received so that you don’t forget them. You may need to reference them later.

To print your profile, once you are on you own page, hover over the down arrow to View profile as and select the option to Save to PDF.

It is also a good idea to print a copy of your profile page along with your company page using your browser’s print function. This version should include the graphic images of your profile that you won’t have in the PDF.

To do this follow the first step from above to click the View profile as the button but select File and then Print on your browser’s toolbar.

Import

If you have sales Navigator, you can import your notes and tags from LinkedIn to your account. Especially if you have a Premium Sales Navigator account, you can transfer over all the information that you can.

Visiting the LinkedIn Help Center on the site can direct you on how to work with Sales Navigator to do this.

Meet Your Mission-Critical IT Requirements While Increasing Security, Compliance and Agility With Microsoft Office 365 For Government Users

Microsoft Office 365 for Government Users is specially designed to meet your agency’s needs for robust security, compliance, and agility in a cost-effective, user-friendly environment.

Microsoft Office 365

No matter the size of your organization, users can take advantage of the power of the cloud to increase productivity, enhance collaboration and accelerate responsiveness, while working in the secure environment you require.  With Microsoft Office 365 your government agency can meet stringent requirements with:

  • Classified and personal information that’s protected 24/7.
  • Data that stays safe from unauthorized/criminal access, or erroneous leaks by users.
  • Missions that are more easily and quickly accomplished with the latest, most agile IT solutions.

Benefit From Cloud-Based, Cutting-Edge Features

Microsoft Office 365 for Government Users combines the simple, user-friendly Microsoft Office Desktop Suite with cloud-based, cutting-edge features that boost collaboration and communication in a secure environment so your employees can be productive from anywhere at any time via the Internet.  It offers:

Take Advantage of The Latest Upgrades

Microsoft Office 365 incorporates the newest version of Microsoft Office 2016 with frequent updates.  Your users can make use of:

  • Excel’s new Maps chart to incorporate data into annotated maps with trends and insights.
  • Real-time, online collaboration using Microsoft PowerPoint and Word to edit presentations and highlight text as they are read aloud.
  • Enhanced accessibility to edit and read PowerPoint Presentations, Word documents, and Excel workbooks.
  • File management enhancements with new features such as “Shared With Me” and “Recent” tab and records.
  • State-of-the-art graphics without paying for expensive, and learning complex third-party graphic software.

Enjoy Enhanced, Secure Collaboration and Communication Services

Your Microsoft Office 365 for Government Subscription includes 24/7-Support for mission-critical issues with access to Microsoft Office online, email and calendars, collaboration through conferencing, and team intranet sites. You can share and store user files in the cloud with privacy monitoring, and have the peace of mind knowing that an access control system keeps data safe and secure at all times.

Free-Up Time With No Troubleshooting

{company} offers Microsoft Office 365 for your federal, state, or local agency via a per-user, monthly subscription that includes a lifetime of automatic Office 365 Software Updates. This frees your technical staff from tedious troubleshooting so they can devote their time to your more mission-critical responsibilities.

Meet, and Even Surpass Your Mission-Critical IT Requirements 

Contact {company} to learn how reliable, scalable, secure and cost-effective Microsoft Office 365 for Government Users will be for your organization.  Call {phone} or email {email}, and one of our experts will be happy to tell you more.