BEI Blog

BEI has been serving the Ohio area since 1991, providing IT Support such as technical helpdesk support, computer support and consulting to small and medium-sized businesses.

What Are “Best Practices,” Anyways?

What Are “Best Practices,” Anyways?

We talk a lot—a lot—about “best practices” regarding IT and technology. However, it has come to our attention that not a lot of people necessarily know what this means, especially when it comes from an MSP. We wanted to take a few moments and go over what best practices are, and why it is important that they have a presence in your business’ IT.

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Cybersecurity Lessons to be Learned From a Spotify Hack

Cybersecurity Lessons to be Learned From a Spotify Hack

We will often keep an eye on current events to find practical examples to use as evidence in support of our recommended best practices, but a relatively recent Spotify hack has given us a special opportunity. We now have the opportunity to use this one story to reinforce not one, but two such practices. Let’s dive in, shall we?

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What’s Involved with a Professional Penetration Test

What’s Involved with a Professional Penetration Test

One of the most valuable things for a business to know, in terms of its cybersecurity, is how vulnerable it is to breaches and exploits. This kind of information can be gathered via a process called penetration testing, or “pen testing.” Let’s go over how the average pen test is conducted to see how these insights are collected.

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How to Avoid Becoming the Next Data Security Cautionary Tale

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Data security isn’t a matter to be taken lightly, as too many businesses have found out the hard way. Unfortunately, there are far too many simple ways to correct common security issues - enough that it’s foolish not to do so. We’ll review a few ways to fix security issues, after discussing one of, if not the, most egregious security failings in modern history.

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Tip of the Week: Security Best Practices for All Business Sizes

Tip of the Week: Security Best Practices for All Business Sizes

Whether you’re referring to ransomware, phishing, data theft, spoofing, any of the many forms of cybercrime, it is something that all businesses need to prepare themselves for. While different business sizes will have differing scales to contend with, these kinds of preparations will involve the same basic principles. To help you best defend your company against cybercrime, here are a few tips based on those principles.

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Coronavirus: A Threat to Your Staff, Cyberthreat to Your Operations

Coronavirus: A Threat to Your Staff, Cyberthreat to Your Operations

COVID-19, or coronavirus, has been a major global health concern over the past couple of months. At this point, it is clear that this disease could have serious impacts on the workplace. We wanted to provide a brief rundown of good workplace and network health practices, as well as a few pointers on how you can handle health-based employee absences.

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Tip of the Week: 5 Ways to Improve Your Business with Technology

Tip of the Week: 5 Ways to Improve Your Business with Technology

Technology has become an indelible part of business, being used in companies large and small. Small companies need to consider it even more, as the leveling of the playing field technology has wrought has increased their competition considerably. Therefore, every business needs to take advantage of technology to the fullest. Here are a few tips to help you do so.

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Tip of the Week: Getting the Most Out of Your POS System

Tip of the Week: Getting the Most Out of Your POS System

If your business is in retail, you’re going to need technology that makes it easier to function. In many cases a Point-of-Sale (POS) system--or a Point-of-Purchase system--is the right tool. The POS system looks as though it is a common device you would see in most retail or service businesses. POS platforms are available for more than just retail businesses, but it is in retail that the solution really shines. Today, we’ll take a look at the benefits a POS system will bring your company and how to ensure that your solution is right for your business.

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You Have to Think Before You Click

You Have to Think Before You Click

Phishing attacks are more commonplace than you might think. Whether it’s scamming someone into sending payments to fund who knows what or simply spreading malware or viruses, these phishing attacks are a part of doing business; therefore, it’s important that you take measures to avoid some of the most clever tricks in the book. Let’s examine some of them.

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Six Critical Small Business Mistakes to Avoid

Six Critical Small Business Mistakes to Avoid

There are many obstacles that any business owner needs to avoid in order to keep themselves from backsliding like Sisyphus did in Greek myth. Some of these obstacles may not be the first that come to mind, either. Here, we’ll review six mistakes that a business owner can make that can prevent them from reaching their goals. 

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You Need More than a Firewall to Secure Your Business

You Need More than a Firewall to Secure Your Business

Whether or not you’re familiar with computers, there are a few terms that are thrown around commonly enough that chances are good that you know them. One such term is “firewall.” Unfortunately, there are often misconceptions as to what these terms refer to or what they do. Firewalls are a prime example, as many believe that a firewall is the only security they need.

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Tip of the Week: How to Wind Down with Night Mode

Tip of the Week: How to Wind Down with Night Mode

Productivity is a huge priority in today’s business world, and with today’s technology, it can be achieved at just about any time. However, with the way our brains are wired, staring at our screens late at night isn’t great for our capacity to sleep. However, there are a few settings that you can change to reduce these impacts. Here, we’ll give a few tips to help you do so.

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Is it Wrong to Purchase Access to Your Own Data?

Is it Wrong to Purchase Access to Your Own Data?

Ransomware is a contender for the favorite method of attack for hackers. If you think about it, ransomware presents a no-loss situation. Either the victim pays the ransom and the hackers laugh all the way to the bank, or they move on to the next target and give them the same ultimatum.

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You Shouldn’t Defragment Solid State Drives

You Shouldn’t Defragment Solid State Drives

Running a disk defrag has long been used as a quick fix to slow computer issues, but modern computers have afforded better practices that are less harmful to the device. We’ll explain what the issue is and why you want to avoid defragging your disk.

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Tip of the Week: NIST Password Guidelines

Tip of the Week: NIST Password Guidelines

Passwords have always been important to businesses, but they are priorities for organizations in certain industries. Government-based organizations in particular need to be concerned about using secure passwords. Of course, not all businesses are government-based, but there’s a thing or two your own can learn about some of their password practices.

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A Letter Back from Santa’s Elves

A Letter Back from Santa’s Elves

We’ve always been a proponent of preparing for the worst and hoping for the best where a business’ solutions are concerned. That’s why we were happy to receive an email from our friends at the North Pole telling us about a situation they ran into just a few days ago...

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Tip of the Week: How to Maintain a Business Backup

Tip of the Week: How to Maintain a Business Backup

A backup is a critical consideration for any business, in more ways than one. We have a tendency to immediately jump to “business-ending disaster” whenever we mention a backup. However, we’ve realized that this may have the unfortunate side effect of lulling you into a false sense of complacency - after all, what are the chances of being struck by a “business-ending disaster?”

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5 Basic Steps to Building a Better Backup Strategy

5 Basic Steps to Building a Better Backup Strategy

If you subscribe to Murphy’s Law, you understand why it is so crucial for every business to have a backup solution planned, put into place, and prepared for the worst. However, not every business should go about putting their backup strategy together in the same way. After all, their needs will be different, based on their industry, the data they store, and a variety of other factors.


Here, we’ll go over five steps you should follow to be sure you aren’t missing anything important from your backup strategy.

1. Figuring Out What You Need From Your Backup
Your first step is to determine what it is you will need from whatever backup solution you ultimately implement, because without this determination already made, you will not be able to narrow down your options enough to begin the process. Furthermore, it wouldn’t do to underestimate your actual needs and procure a solution that isn’t going to cut the mustard when you need it to.

The industry you operate within will influence the requirements of whatever backup solution you ultimately do select. Your particular vertical may inherently require vast amounts of meticulously organized data, which will mean you need a backup system that can accommodate that data in whatever format it is in. Is some of your data of particular importance? You may want to consider prioritizing that data, and finding a solution that allows you to do that. This includes also taking the potential risks to your data into account, including malicious actors and natural events, as you compose a list of security, usability, and reliability standards that your final choice must meet.

2. Establishing Your Budget
Now that you know your baseline requirements for your backup, you need to ensure that your business is financially prepared to implement it. Different approaches to backup will vary in cost and pricing structure, as well as potentially cost different amounts where employee training is concerned - after all, some options will require an employee to manage it, which will require an investment into properly training them to do so.

While it may be tempting to try and cut costs and minimize your investment as much as possible, this isn’t the place to do it. Your data backup, while it admittedly won’t generate you any profit, helps prevent your business from losing money through lost business and downtime.

3. Picking a Platform
It wasn’t too terribly long ago that keeping a backup just meant that you had an extra copy of your data saved in a spare hard drive. Now, there are more options to leverage.

For example, instead of a spare hard drive, there are software-based options available that act as a backup solution, as well as backup options available through cloud service providers. Many companies are now electing, however, to implement a hybrid solution. This combines the convenience of a software-based backup with the resilience of a cloud-based backup solution. Combined, this makes fully leveraging the capabilities of either backup method much easier, with practically ensured access to your stored data as needed.

4. Making a Recovery Plan
What good is a backup if it can’t be put into use, just because nobody knows how? No good at all.

This is why, in addition to your backup, you need to have a detailed plan written out that will allow anyone to enact it as needed. Make sure that this plan includes important details, like variables that could affect the recovery process, which data should be prioritized, and what to do after your data is restored. If there are other members of your organization who will have a role to play in the recovery process, they need to be familiarized with the processes and qualifications outlined within.

5. Testing it All Out
On a related note, what good is a backup if it doesn’t work? Again, it isn’t going to help you much, so it’s going to be pretty useless to you when you need it. In order to avoid heartbreak and devastation when you only discover a failed backup when you’re relying on it to work, you should regularly test your backup solution.

There are a lot of things to consider when testing your backup: that it works, that you can restore your data back from it successfully, that your employees know how to handle it, and that you’re testing it regularly to make sure something doesn’t go wrong.

BEI has quite a bit of experience in assisting small and medium-sized businesses with their data backup and recovery needs. To find out how we can help you, give us a call at (844) BIZ-EDGE.

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How to Avoid Becoming the Next Data Security Cautionary Tale

How to Avoid Becoming the Next Data Security Cautionary Tale

Data security isn’t a matter to be taken lightly, as too many businesses have found out the hard way. Unfortunately, there are far too many simple ways to correct common security issues - enough that it’s foolish not to do so. We’ll review a few ways to fix security issues, after discussing one of, if not the, most egregious security failings in modern history.


The Equifax Problem
Sometime between May and July of 2017, the credit-reporting giant Equifax suffered a massive data breach that, as of this writing, exposed 148.1 million records containing the personally identifiable information of their customers. In other words, this breach exposed the data of almost half of the population of the United States of America.

In the aftermath of the Equifax data breach scandal, former CEO Richard Smith was cross-examined by Congress. Upon hearing Smith’s defense of “human and technology errors,” Chairman of the House energy and commerce committee Greg Walden quipped, “I don’t think that we can pass a law that fixes stupid.”

How to Fix Your Business’ Security
While Walden may be correct that stupid can’t be fixed by legislation, it may be able to be mitigated through the faithful enforcement of certain standards and practices. These standards should be enforced both on an organizational level, and on a case-by-case, personal basis.

First, let’s review what you should enforce in your organization:

  1. Compliance should be the baseline - Unfortunately, compliance with regulations often does not equal true data security. Instead of looking at compliance as being the ultimate goal for your business, consider it the first step to your business security strategy.
  2. Vulnerabilities need to be promptly remediated - It is astounding that so many exploits rely on known vulnerabilities… a full 99 percent of them. Furthermore, other attack vectors often utilize vulnerabilities that are a half a year old at least. Patching these vulnerabilities as soon as possible will help cut down on threats to your business’ data and infrastructure.
  3. Data security needs to be centralized, organized, and assigned - While security should be a shared responsibility throughout the company, there needs to also be someone taking lead and accepting responsibility for ensuring that data is properly distributed in a secure fashion. Part of this responsibility should be to implement access controls, ensuring that the data only can spread to whomever it needs to and no one else.

Encouraging Your Employees’ Security
Of course, your employees are largely in control of how secure your company remains. This could be a bad thing, unless they are also held to certain best practices that keep data, and the accounts that can access it, secure. There are a few basic rules you can enforce among your staff to help encourage them to act securely.

  1. Lazy credential habits - There are a variety of behaviors to adopt that can better protect the accounts and solutions that your employees have. First of all, the classic password problem: reusing the same password for every account. If one or more of your employees does this, each one is essentially creating a master key that someone could use to access everything in their life, including your data. Neglecting to set a passcode of some sort for a mobile device can cause the same issue. An effective way to remedy this kind of behavior is to utilize a password management system. That way, your employee can reduce the number of passwords they have to remember, without sacrificing security.
  2. Oversharing - While you can’t necessarily control what your employees do in their off-hours, you should reinforce how easily a cybercriminal could piece together their passwords through some examination of their social media, especially if they subscribe to the lazy credential habits we just reviewed. See if they’ll avoid sharing personal anecdotes or information without first restricting the audience that can see that particular post. At the very least, they should have their social media accounts set so that only their approved friends can see their content. Furthermore, do your best to avoid oversharing from the office. Images can easily show confidential information if you aren’t careful, by accidentally capturing an invoice or your customer relationship management solution pulled up on a screen in the picture. Review what you are about to post before taking the image and before you share it online.
  3. Using the wrong Wi-Fi - While public Wi-Fi connections may be convenient, you should remind your employees that this convenience comes at a price: the security of public Wi-Fi is suspect at best. They should be warned against doing anything especially important over a public Wi-Fi signal, like banking or checking their email.

Data security is a critically important consideration, in part because there are so many ways that it can be undermined. We have some solutions to offer that can help keep your business secure (despite what may sometimes seem to be your employees’ best efforts). Reach out to BEI at (844) BIZ-EDGE today!

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Is it Better to Shut Off Your Computer, or Just Put it to Sleep?

Is it Better to Shut Off Your Computer, or Just Put it to Sleep?

It’s the end of the day, and you’re faced with a dilemma - shut down your workstation, or simply put it to sleep for the night? This is a topic that is debated quite often. We’ll compare the positive and negative aspects of both approaches to identify which is the better option.


Understanding Shutdown and Sleep Mode
In order to better grasp the effects that each approach has, it helps to ensure that there is a clear comprehension of what actually happens during each.

When a computer is instructed to shut down, it starts with any software that is in use before moving on to the actual hardware involved. The operating system sends out a notification to any open programs to stop reading and writing files in preparation for the hardware to power down. Once this is accomplished, signals are sent to the physical components to gradually cut power. This keeps the components safe from damage, which is also why you shouldn’t power down your computer by just holding the power button.

When a computer is placed in sleep mode, its RAM stores any files that are open and runs in a low-power state, while other pieces of software and hardware are temporarily disabled, able to be reactivated at any time.

Each of these methods have their benefits, as well as their drawbacks, that need to be considered.

The Benefits of a Full Shutdown
Shutting your computer down completely has a few benefits to take advantage of, the first of which being the fact that a shutdown gives your operating system a chance to flush out minor system issues. These issues would otherwise accumulate and cause greater problems down the line. Furthermore, many updates to Windows require the computer to be restarted before they can take effect.

There are also power concerns that are reduced by shutting down your computer completely. As one might imagine, a PC draws considerably less power when it is off than when it is on - even if it happens to be in sleep mode. There is also the slim (but still present) chance of a power surge damaging a computer that has been left on, a chance that a complete shutdown reduces.

The Benefits of Sleep Mode
First and foremost, the biggest advantage of leaving your computer in sleep mode is clearly the convenience it offers when the time comes to use it again. While the time spent waiting for a computer to turn on may not seem like much on a per-case basis, it adds up quickly and takes away from your overall productivity. As a result, it helps that (rather than waiting for the entire system to turn on) a single keystroke is all it takes to return to full function.

On the more technical side of things, leaving your computer in sleep mode gives it the opportunity to run some basic maintenance, maintenance that your computer needs to remain secure, and maintenance that can’t be completed when the computer’s off.

Why Not Both?
Taking all of this into consideration, it makes the most sense to utilize a combination of the two methods by putting your computer to sleep when you walk away from it throughout the day and powering it down overnight. This way, you get the convenience of quick access during active work hours, with safety precautions in place when it isn’t in use during off hours.

Another consideration would be if you have security updates and patches being performed during non-peak hours. If your strategy is to automate these tasks to avoid downtime altogether, having your staff keep their computers on may be advantageous.

Which do you typically do? Let us know in the comments, and make sure you subscribe to be notified whenever BEI posts a new blog!

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News & Updates

BEI is proud to announce the launch of our new website at www.biz-edge.com. The goal of the new website is to make it easier for our existing clients to submit and manage support requests, and provide more information about our services for prospective clients.

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Learn more about what BEI can do for your business.

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4700 Rockside Road Ste 625
Independence, Ohio 44131