Five ways that managed IT services enhance business security

Issue 6 2021 Editor's Choice

Managing a business today means juggling so many different forms of security, especially in South Africa. You need to invest in security solutions for your business premises, or for your teams’ home offices. You need to have comprehensive insurance coverage. And these just impact the physical security measures that you need to consider. Then there are your IT systems – your network, servers and other infrastructure. How will you keep them secure?

Some businesses hire internal teams to address their IT security needs. But in my experience, most businesses that take this route, particularly start-ups and SMEs, spend months trying to find professionals with the right experience to address their unique IT needs. After a few months of searching, most will settle for hiring two or three employees with adequate, rather than exceptional, expertise and hope that they’ll learn on the job. Even if you do find the ideal candidate, their salary is often more than an SME can really justify.

Michael Claxton.

In both of these cases, what inevitably happens is that your internal IT team quickly finds itself falling into a state of reaction, constantly addressing issues as they crop up rather than proactively taking steps to keep your business secure. It’s inevitable because even an internal IT expert with the best possible training and years of experience under their belt doesn’t have the time to upskill themselves in a constantly evolving digital world, while at the same time trying to keep up with the demands of a 9-5 job.

What results is a security risk that no business can justify. But where does the solution lie?

With over two decades of experience in helping businesses address their IT security needs, I genuinely believe that the answer is in Managed IT Services. And I don’t just say that as the co-founder and CEO of an IT services company. I’ve seen first-hand the impact that turning to experts in the field can have on a business’ security and there are five particular areas that lead me to believe that managed IT services are a solution that any business should be investing in, whether they procure them from Solid Systems or not.

1.) Keeping your systems up to date

If you haven’t fallen victim to a Zero Day attack yet, consider yourself extremely lucky. These threats have accounted for 14% of cyberattacks on small businesses so far this year and they specifically use outdated software to infiltrate systems.

It’s essential for any business to keep their software and firmware up to date, but with updates and patches constantly coming out, it’s almost impossible for an internal team to keep up with the updates in a timely manner. Having an external company managing updates on your behalf takes the pressure off your internal team and ensures that your systems are as secure as possible at all times.

2.) Monitoring your infrastructure and cloud services

When it comes to IT, reactions come too late. It’s too late to react to a failing network or a server going down. The damage has already been done. It’s then a race to get your systems back online and a PR nightmare as you try to reassure your clients that this isn’t the kind of intermittent service that they can expect from your business.

You need to be proactively monitoring your systems and addressing potential problems before they have the opportunity to arise. But when your internal teams are already in a reactive state, there’s no time to become proactive. There will always be something more urgent cropping up that needs your team’s attention. Which is why turning to an IT company to monitor your infrastructure and cloud services can be a boon to your business’ continuity and security, ensuring that issues are addressed before they become catastrophes and breakdowns are prevented altogether.

3.) Putting a recovery plan in place

You can take every precaution in the world and disasters will still strike. They come in the form of cyberattacks and phishing emails that are clicked in error. It could be a prolonged power outage (we’re in South Africa – unlikelier things have happened!) It could even be a lightning strike or a fire. The why and how doesn’t actually matter anymore. It’s about the ‘What Now’.

You need to make sure that you have protocols in place for handling the worst-case scenarios. You need to take a step back to understand and document where your critical data and apps are stored, ensuring that they’re backed up and easily recoverable, what order they need to be brought back online in for your business to continue uninterrupted and who should be responsible for getting it all up and running.

You want to have someone to turn to who has experience in handling disasters and pushing through them. And who could be better to turn to than an IT company who helps hundreds of businesses form disaster recovery and business continuity plans that see their operations continuing uninterrupted, even when the worst-case scenario comes true.

4.) Providing IT support

Most internal IT teams that I’ve encountered are either-or. Either they’re helping your other teams with their IT issues, or they’re focusing on your business’ security. Whenever they try to cover both, no one is left satisfied. Not your IT experts, not your other employees and certainly not management.

The fact is, IT support takes time and plenty of it, particularly if your teams aren’t up-to-date on the latest issues, apps and advancements. And there’s never enough time to stay updated on all of them! Unless you are specifically hired to troubleshoot problems and keep yourself educated and upskilled, like the IT pros who work for companies like Solid Systems. Their entire job revolves around fixing problems as quickly, efficiently and effectively as possible. Can you say the same for your internal team?

By outsourcing your IT support to an external company, your internal teams can focus their attention on your company’s security as a whole, without needing to concern themselves with a colleague’s blue screen of death or intermittent Internet connection.

5.) Training your teams in security practices

Your teams are your first line of defence against cyberattacks. I cannot say this often enough. It’s like my mantra. And why is that? Because whether you’re a one-man-show or a giant corporation, you are going to encounter spam, phishing attacks and countless other measures from attackers trying to access your systems and your data.

It’s almost never personal. These attacks don’t come from one individual scheming behind the scenes to infiltrate your business in particular. The vast majority of them are automated attacks by bots that have been programmed to send out millions of phishing mails a day and guess thousands of passwords every second.

Your teams need to know how to react to phishing mails, how to set strong passwords and keep them secure and how to detect and report a threat. It could be the difference between an attempted attack and a successful one. Who could be better to train your teams than IT pros who are, themselves, constantly training, learning and improving their skills, knowledge and techniques?

Security should be your business’ first priority. Whether you already have an internal team in place, or are looking for a business to keep your IT systems secure, turning to experts in managed IT services is a boost to any business’s safety and security. Even if it’s only about finding an IT company for consultation and guidance, ensure that you have someone you can contact to make sure that your IT security is top-notch and ship-shape.

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