Capital Techies VPN Washington DC

Why An IT Company Turns To VPNs To Keep Work Flowing From Home – Securely

Virtual Private Networks (VPN) have long been a wall of security to protect a person accessing the internet or their company’s network from a remote location. While remote network access has always been something to protect, now more than ever remote security needs to be stressed.

With the global work changes due to COVID-19, the classification of the remote worker as someone who has “called in sick” or is “on vacation” and wants to check stats is a thing of the past. Now, obviously, working remotely is largely mandated by employers and will not be changing anytime soon.

Even after the Coronavirus is dead and (hopefully) gone, the future of on-site, brick-and-mortar office work will never be the same. Home and virtual employment is, for sure, a thing of the present and the future.

Thus, many trusted IT companies now admit that VPNs are more vital and important than ever to keep both work and even private web surfing safe and secure.

What Is a VPN?

A VPN uses a virtualized server connection to create a secure channel between a computer and the internet. It works by facilitating a secure connection between a PC and a remote VPN server that can be anywhere in the world. That server then acts as an intermediary for all data transmitted between your device and external networks.

With a VPN connection, you can be confident that the only ones with access to your network activity are you, your trusted VPN provider, and the websites and services you’re using. Ultimately, a VPN offers an additional layer of security for your network devices by concealing your device’s geographic location and protecting against other devices connected to the same public networks.

In essence, a VPN is a series of data encrypted virtual connections. And if your IPs have encryption already built in to the service, then adding a VPN means adding a second layer of safety.

Many companies, and many of our clients, also require use of a VPN to access corporate resources in the cloud or on-premise servers at their offices which with today’s work from home environment is especially important to keep your staff secure and still operational. Corporate VPN’s such as SonicWALL’s Mobile Connect, Cisco VPN Client, or others allow access to resources users would normally have while working in the office such as file servers, remote desktop servers, enterprise resources planning software, accounting systems, sales systems, and more. Even though more and more resources are moving to the cloud corporate access VPN’s are still an important part of today’s world as well.

Here’s how a VPN works: Data is transmitted from your machine or device to a spot in your VPN network. The VPN then encrypts the data and pushes it forward through the Internet. At a different spot in your VPN network, the data is decrypted and sent to the appropriate internet resource, be it an email or web server or to your company’s internal network. The process is then reversed and the super safe data is sent back to your machine.

How VPNs Solve Security Issues

If your team depends on public networks for accessing critical work files when they’re out of the office, you need specific strategies to keep your organization’s data protected. While the convenience of public Wi-Fi allows your team to work from just about anywhere, public networks open up a new set of cybersecurity threats and challenges.

And these cybersecurity threats aren’t limited to just one city or even continent. The fear is its own global cyber pandemic and whether you live in Hong Kong or Washington DC, your IT support should include a solid VPN to keep your organization’s data protected.

There are, of course, a plethora of VPNs to choose from, but finding the best solution is often a confounding conversation between executives and the IT support department based on the company’s needs and perceived growth over time. Again, not all VPN are created equal.

Some of the different “off-the-shelf” VPNs include:

  • Private Internet Access VPN (PIA) – Our top pick
  • VyprVPN
  • NordVPN
  • IPVanish VPN
  • ExpressVPN
  • ProtonVPN
  • TorGuard VPN

“Choosing the right VPN for your company is based on many factors including the level of security features and scalability for how many people will need access at the same time,” explains Guillermo Corporan, CEO of Capital Techies, a Washington DC Managed Service Provider. “Knowing your specific needs going into setting up the VPN will save a lot of time and potentially money waste down the road.”

VPNs On a Personal Level

For those who access the Internet without a VPN, using a public Wi-Fi network is like using a public restroom and not washing your hands. You are opening yourself to all sorts of germs, or in this case viruses, and ultimately exposing yourself to a plethora of security breaches and cyberattacks.

For example, when you access your local Panera Bread’s Wi-Fi network, how do you know the network really is related to the sandwich shop? Even a moderately skilled hacker could have created a spoof network with the same name to coax unwitting surfers to reveal all sorts of personal info and private data.

Oddly a 2019 poll revealed only 15 percent of people use a VPN with public Wi-Fi.

In addition, did you know that one of President Trump’s first official mandates was signing a bill, passed by Congress, that no longer mandated that an Internet Service Provider (ISP) needs your consent before selling your personal browsing data.

That’s right, any ISP can now, without you even knowing, sell your browsing history for whatever commercial gain it sees fit. So God forbid your kid or wacky uncle one time jumped on your personal computer and Googled “clown shoes”. You could soon be beseeched by everything from dapper clown apparel to discounts for the closest clown school near you.

To make matters worse, in 2018, the government continued its destruction of anything progressively tied to the Obama administration and struck down Obama’s Net Neutrality law which had required ISPs to offer equal access to all web content.

Instead, today, ISPs can charge extra for different types of content like streaming video or for traffic from corps like Netflix, and if you don’t pay more, they can penalize you with slower response speeds.

It’s suddenly like paying extra for better gasoline when one grade should be the standard and the norm. Thankfully, there is a solution, and that solution is using a VPN to access the superhighway.

When and Why You Should Use a VPN

Many businesses focus on the big IT support issues when establishing their network like hosting platforms, network security and structured cabling. While their decisions and integration are important, so are the little things like how to assure remote access safely and with speed.

That’s where a VPN comes into play.

You and your team should be using a VPN anytime they’re connected to a publicly accessible network like public Wi-Fi. That’s because a VPN server provides an extra level of protection by making it more difficult for hackers to use public networks to access your device and data. A VPN creates a private, secure channel between your device and the online services you’re using, so you don’t have to worry about cybercriminals spying on network activities or accessing data.

Additionally, if your team travels to foreign countries on a regular basis, a VPN can allow them to circumvent regionally restricted sites and services as if they were in the United States. When traveling internationally, the ability to connect to a VPN service ensures you have access to the online tools you need, no matter where you are.

When You Shouldn’t Use a VPN

While a VPN is ideal for concealing network activity even when using publicly accessible networks, you shouldn’t use a VPN with the expectation of complete anonymity on the internet. If you’re looking for total online anonymity, you’ll have to take additional steps beyond using a VPN service. A VPN is a fundamental first step to defending your organization’s data and network activity no matter where you are, but that doesn’t mean it negates security vulnerabilities altogether.

For example, a VPN doesn’t automatically protect your devices from viruses, malware, ransomware, or phishing attacks. If you click a risky link or run a malicious executable, you’re still vulnerable to cyberattacks.

A VPN simply isn’t designed to protect you from visiting unsafe sites; it’s intended to create a secure, private connection between your device and the websites you visit.

Types of VPN Technologies

Different VPNs can use different encryption standards and technologies.

Consider the differences:

  • Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol
  • IPSec
  • Layer 2 Tunneling Protocol
  • Secure Shell

Here in Southern California, if your business doesn’t understand the difference between these technologies, a good Washington DC IT support service will help your team navigate the often confusing waters of the various goods.

Washington DC IT Support

If your team regularly uses public networks to access work applications and data, they need to be using a VPN service to keep your organization protected. At the same time, teams that frequently travel internationally can significantly benefit from a VPN solution.

If you’re interested in taking advantage of a VPN service, you have a lot of options, and the experts at Capital Techies can help you leverage those options. Get in touch with our team today, and we’ll start clarifying your needs to find the ideal VPN platform for your goals and operations.

Cyber Security Data Protection Business Technology Privacy concept

The 7 Internal Cyber Security Threats And How To Defend Against Them

Cybersecurity threats are the Internet’s version of digital terrorism and whatever the circumstances that the planet is undergoing, they will always be a threat to a peaceful Internet world.

1. Account Misuse or Abuse
2. Compromised Accounts
3. An Infected Host
4. Internal Network Reconnaissance
5. Lateral Movement
6. Insider Fraud
7. Data Exfiltration

In today’s world of technology, we see greater, more elaborate attacks every day.  What’s worse, many times these threats don’t even come from an outside source. It’s like the classic horror film, “When a Stranger Calls,” when the victim is told by authorities that the scary calls she keeps receiving are actually traced to coming from inside her house.

So reassessing your cybersecurity strategies, especially in terms of how you defend against internal network threats, is paramount to keeping you cyber safe which is stressed by executives at Capital Techies, a Washington DC based Managed Service Provider.

Many organizations dedicate the bulk of their network security strategies to mitigating the risk of external cyber threats without realizing that a comprehensive threat intelligence platform also accounts for the threat of internal cyber-attacks. In fact, 60% of companies experienced cyberattacks that were generated from inside the company itself.  That means many businesses are actually at a higher risk of falling prey to an internal threat than to an external one, and even more, aren’t doing enough to stop insider attacks in the first place.

But what exactly is an internal cybersecurity threat, and how can you stay protected in 2020 and beyond?

What Is an Insider Cyber Security Threat?

Most people think of cyber attacks as something that targets a network from the outside, but an insider threat circumvents barriers to entry altogether by attacking a system from within. As a result, insider threats mostly frequently originate from an employee, former employee, or a malicious actor. If your network isn’t structured properly, they may have been granted network access or they may have found a way to gain entry into your network without being detected. If your business is trying to manage these risks on your own, it will pale in comparison to partnering with an MSP to mitigate risk.

Some insider threats are intentional; others are due to negligence, but ultimately they involve using your system against you. Internal cybersecurity threats can be categorized into seven general types based on how they originate.

1. Account Misuse or Abuse

Account misuse occurs when an authorized network user performs unauthorized network functions. This misuse can happen intentionally or unintentionally. If users realize they have access to valuable parts of your network, they may use that as leverage to benefit themselves or threaten your organization. When this occurs, it becomes account abuse. On the other hand, users may have access to sensitive data on your network but not realize it. As a result, they may accidentally delete data, reconfigure network settings, or even leak confidential information.

Account misuse and abuse threats may arise for a multitude of reasons, including:

Nonexistent, loose, or poorly configured user access controls
Storing company documents, files, and folders on a universal server
Not updating user access as roles and responsibilities within the company change

Scaling cloud services without reassessing user access
Because most instances of account misuse or abuse stem from access control, the best strategy for protecting your network is to start by establishing clearly defined user permissions. From there, it’s critical to review access controls periodically to ensure they align with your network security measures.

The best way to delineate user access is by following the “need-to-know” rule. If an employee doesn’t need to have access to specific data or parts of your network to complete their daily tasks, they likely shouldn’t have access to it. After all, it’s easier to grant access when required than it is to take access away after a data breach.

2. Compromised Accounts

A compromised account refers to when an unauthorized individual gains access to an authorized account on your network. They can then use that account just as an authorized user would—but with malicious intent. An unauthorized individual on an authorized account can originate from within your organization or from outside of it. When undetected, a compromised account can wreak havoc on a network. As we’ve already mentioned, granting need-to-know access control can be one of the best defenses against a compromised account.

From inside your organization, compromised accounts can occur when:

  • An employee finds another employee’s password written down
  • An employee guesses another employee’s password (e.g., a pet or child’s name)
  • Organizations use generic, standard passwords for shared accounts

To protect your organization from these risks, outsource your technical support and make it known that employees are never to write down passwords under any circumstances. They should also use complex passwords composed of a series of letters, numbers, and symbols that would be impossible for someone close to them to guess. Similarly, it’s also helpful to enact policies and safeguards that require employees to change their passwords periodically.

From the outside, compromised accounts are most often the result of an employee losing an unsecured device or a successful phishing attack on your network. Even with stringent user access controls, however, a malicious actor can use a compromised account to trick other users on your network into divulging sensitive data or granting unauthorized permissions.

To combat the risk associated with compromised devices, ensure that all devices on your network are appropriately secured and encrypted so they can’t be used against you if they’re lost, misplaced, or stolen. To protect your network from phishing attacks, one of the most effective strategies is implementing an ongoing phishing awareness training program for employees.

3. An Infected Host

An infected host occurs when one of your internal network resources begins behaving abnormally, most frequently due to unauthorized access, third-party control, or malware. Although the source of an infected host generally originates from an external source, it becomes an internal threat as soon as your network perimeter is breached. That’s because an infected host can operate just like any other device on your network.

A compromised host can potentially:

  • Send junk, spam, or phishing emails to other systems
  • Distribute malicious software on your network
  • Distribute network data to other networks
  • Collect personal user data, including usernames, passwords, and account numbers

One of the best ways to mitigate the risk of an infected host compromising your network in the first place is with a managed cybersecurity service provider. However, because the scope of this post relates to internal network threats, we’ll focus on what to do after an infected host infiltrates your network.

With an infected host, your security incident response team will primarily be conducting damage control. That’s because some level of data has likely already been compromised; after that, it’s about minimizing the extent of the damage. Implementing an around-the-clock automated network monitoring system is a vital first step to detecting an infected host as quickly as possible.

From there, integrating effective quarantine measures into your network can promptly contain a compromised host until your threat detection and response team can take back control of the device.

4. Internal Network Reconnaissance

Internal network reconnaissance occurs when an authorized user or a malicious actor—having gained undetected network access—researches your network environment from the inside. With a deeper understanding of how your network functions, they’re then able to plan and prepare for future objectives, such as stealing sensitive information or channeling network traffic to a third-party server.

A cybercriminal or malicious insider may perform reconnaissance to find out more about your network’s:

  • File sharing systems
  • User access controls
  • Network diagrams
  • Admin accounts
  • Network applications
  • Anti-virus systems

From there, a hostile user can begin to identify critical network information, download tools to collect additional information, elevate their own user access privileges, move laterally throughout your network, and create an ideal environment for funneling your critical data to a third-party network.

The solution for addressing this malicious insider threat is not quite as simple as with some of the other threats. The first step to counteracting insider network reconnaissance is by detecting any abnormal activity. As with an infected host, automated network monitoring systems can work around the clock to identify any unusual network activity and alert administrators.

Depending on the competence of the attacker, however, they may be able to sidestep your monitoring systems. That’s why early detection is vital. Once you’ve detected a potential recon user, you can deploy a honeypot security service that serves as a decoy to lure cybercriminals away from critical network operations.

Some cybersecurity vendors, such as SKOUT Cybersecurity, have even developed platforms for flagging and tracking suspicious users based on significant network events. These systems are called SIEM’s (Security Incident Event Management) and SOC’s (Security Operations Center). If you want to stay a step ahead of the threat of network recon, a dedicated user flagging and tracking platform with honeypot capabilities is currently your best option.

5. Lateral Movement

Once a malicious actor has infiltrated your network, lateral movement techniques involve using low-level web servers, employee devices, email accounts, and other foundational system features to move within your network. That means most lateral movement threats occur after a network endpoint has been breached by a malicious actor or when an authorized user attempts to circumvent user access controls.

As with internal network reconnaissance, the goal of lateral movement is not merely to exploit these low-level targets but to use them to gain access to your network’s most sensitive data and operations. Successful lateral movements allow cybercriminals to steal additional user credentials, pinpoint weak network configurations, and even exploit software vulnerabilities that can open your network up to further exploitation. That’s why internal network reconnaissance and lateral network movement often go hand in hand.

To effectively defend against lateral movers on your network, you can proactively solidify your network’s endpoint security measures and user access controls. But once the lateral movement has already been detected on your system, the best strategy is to track and contain movement by deploying a honeypot. After the threat is identified and contained, you’ll be better poised to eliminate any compromised accounts or devices on your network.

6. Insider Fraud

Insider fraud can be perpetrated by any number of malicious network insiders, including:

  • A current employee
  • A former employee
  • A contractor
  • A business partner

Insider fraud occurs when one of these individuals intentionally misuses network access to bypass security measures for their own personal gain or to do damage to an organization’s confidentiality, integrity, or information. Most frequently, this happens when network insiders manipulate data and documents for their own financial enrichment.

Because the individuals most likely to commit insider fraud are frequently the ones most closely tied to your day-to-day operations, it can be challenging to detect or prevent the threat in the first place.

One of your best options for mitigating the risk of insider fraud is to reduce or eliminate the opportunities for insiders to commit fraud. Again, user access controls play a critical role in minimizing the exploitation of sensitive data, and following a “need-to-know” data access rule can keep your network protected.

In addition, for areas that are prone to natural attacks in the form of fires or earthquakes like Washington DC, employing a cloud-based IT support solution can provide backup in case of an attack where the entire network fails and maybe crashes for good.

You can also implement policies for performing periodic audits of data and processes that present a higher risk of insider fraud while heightening monitoring measures related to information access and use. That can include automatically freezing network access when an employee goes on vacation, travels out of the country, or takes a leave of absence. Because many insiders are driven to commit fraud due to financial struggles, initiating a program to help employees experiencing money problems can actually protect your organization in the long run.

7. Data Exfiltration

For many of the internal cybersecurity threats we’ve discussed above, the ultimate goal of a malicious insider is data exfiltration, also known as data extrusion. Data exfiltration occurs when someone on your network transfers unauthorized data to another device or network.

Exfiltration can happen when someone has access to a physical device on your network and manually transfers unauthorized data, or it can be an automated process by which network data is automatically directed to another system. The threat can be the result of a network insider funneling out data, or it can happen when a malicious actor posing as an authorized user reconfigures network settings to redistribute sensitive data. Data exfiltration is what happens when companies fall prey to a large-scale data breach, as happened to Yahoo, Equifax, Capital One, and Home Depot in the past decade.

With Home Depot’s breach, cybercriminals stole a vendor’s login credentials. From there, they were able to move laterally within Home Depot’s computer network to install custom-built malware that posed as antimalware software. The malware infected Home Depot’s point-of-sale (POS) systems, exfiltrating the data of 56 million customers between April and September of 2014, ultimately costing the company about $172 million.

Stopping data exfiltration begins with robust endpoint security. But once data exfiltration occurs, that data may be lost forever. As with Home Depot’s breach, malicious actors often use seemingly innocuous software programs to direct data exfiltration. That’s why it’s a smart idea to block end users from installing new applications on network devices without receiving administrative permission first.

In the event that data has already been extruded, the malware operating on your network needs to be able to communicate with an external server and transmit data. If your incident response team can pinpoint where that unauthorized communication is occurring on your network, they can effectively block the exfiltration of data and from there, focus on damage control.

Washington DC MSSP (Managed Services Security Provider) and Cybersecurity Experts

How well is your organization prepared to defend against and respond to the ever-present risk of insider threats? If you’re concerned that there’s more you could be doing, the experts at Capital Techies can help. From detecting compromised hosts on your network to minimizing the risks of compromised network accounts, we specialize in developing a comprehensive network security platform that protects you inside and out.

Contact our team today to take the first step toward a more secure future.

Capital Techies TOP IT CONSULTANTS by Clutch in Washington DC

Capital Techies is Proud to be Awarded as a Top IT Service Provider by Clutch

Here at Capital Techies, we know that the most important part of any business is its customers. We pride ourselves on providing top-notch customer service alongside our amazing deliverables, giving our clients the best IT experience they could ask for. While we’ve been hard at work satisfying our clients’ needs, our business caught the attention of Clutch, a ratings and reviews platform for B2B companies. They’ve named us one of the best Virginia firms under the IT and business services category!

Clutch uses a variety of metrics to determine which companies to recognize. After evaluating an agency’s online portfolio, market presence, and, most importantly, former client reviews, Clutch chose Capital Techies as a top managed IT services provider out of hundreds of leading firms. While we’re incredibly excited to be winning this award, the most rewarding part of this process is knowing that our clients walk away from our business feeling great about their projects. We heard from one such client on Clutch, and we’d like to share it here!

We received a 5-star review from the Director of Operations at Generation You Employ, a D.C.-based nonprofit organization, after we managed an IT project for them. We love watching our clients succeed, and we’re glad that Generation appreciates our partnership as much as we do!

In addition to Clutch, we are also featured on sister site The Manifest, a business resource and reviews platform for companies like us. We can also be found on Visual Objects, where our digital portfolio items are showcased along other B2B companies.

Here’s what our CEO has to say about this award from Clutch:

“To win in the marketplace you must first win in the workplace. We greatly appreciate Clutch for the honorary award and thank our staff for creating the culture to succeed as a company and with our many clients who we consider partners.” – Guillermo Corporan CEO, Capital Techies

Contact us for your next IT project! We’d love to hear from you.

Who Are The Information Technology Professionals That Provide IT Support Capital Techies Washington DC

Who Are The Information Technology Professionals That Provide IT Support?

Since technology is advancing at an accelerated speed and changing the digital ecosystem in the business realm, it is both an exciting and challenging time for global industries. Businesses’ technology needs are growing, but so is their capability of supporting those needs. But the truth is that we have become so dependent on technology that any disruption can lead to catastrophic consequences.

Regardless of size, every business needs a reliable and effective information systems support department that is experienced in computer science because it enables a business or organization to reduce IT costs, stay competitive, and tackle systems issues that arise. Furthermore, enterprises attain higher agility and flexibility thanks to IT support, which allows them to maximize their profits. Let’s take a look at how information technology specialists who can provide guidance and help ensure that the systems the IT department manages run smoothly.

In-House vs. Outsourced IT Support

Outsourcing IT support may be the only viable option for startups and small businesses. Larger companies may need to employ both mobile and desk-based staff, so their decision may be less clear. Small companies often lack trained IT personnel, and as a result, administration of the company devices and server often falls on the back of the most tech-literate employee. However, that’s not the best way to go about growing a business, which is why most small businesses choose to outsource.

With an in-house IT support team, you will have dedicated personnel that can immediately address hardware and software issues as they appear. Because team members’ salaries remain the same each month, you get a certain cost-control measure. The disadvantages include possible hidden costs (e.g., hiring a full-time professional) and providing them with an office, desk, computer, payroll account, and other benefits that may drive the cost even higher.

On the other hand, outsourcing IT support is less expensive because many of the costs are spread over multiple clients due to the managed IT services model. Also, you don’t have to worry about expenses related to training or certifying IT staff. You get 24/7 service and monitoring, while some IT support companies offer around-the-clock access to IT support specialists. As for the cons, some business leaders may not feel that their outsourced tech specialists are part of the team. When computer issues arise or when you need advice on the future of technology within your company, some feel that they need to spend time bringing them up to speed.

IT Support Roles

The changes new technologies bring to the business environment are disruptive, and the way economy functions is changing fast. The traditional business hierarchical systems are dissolving. The lines between CEO, CIO, CTO, and CFO roles are blurring as a consequence. Let’s dive into these IT roles, which are so crucial in today’s digital age.

CIO

A Chief Information Officer is a C-level executive that oversees the IT needs of a company. They don’t deal with operational responsibilities (IT directors do that) since their responsibilities and skills are much different than they were 10-20 years ago (and they continue to evolve and adapt). CIOs are responsible for strategic planning of business growth objectives and creating business value through technology. They oversee the development of customer service platforms, ensure tech procedures and systems lead to desired business outcomes, and manage development and IT team personnel. They also establish IT standards, strategies, and policies while dealing with IRM (information risk management). CIOs are an important part of a company’s digital transformation.

CTO

The position of a Chief Technology Officer is thought to be one of the vaguest roles because it depends on many factors, such as business area, the number of outsourced/in-house workers, business processing style, etc. The CTO is there to solve tech challenges, work with IT personnel, and keep the organization running. Their daily duties vary from company to company, but they are usually focused on external clients who purchase the company’s products. CTOs should be informed on the latest innovations, staying on the cutting edge of technology to allow the organization to offer the best products.

IT Director

The responsibilities of an IT director may include managing a team of employees, overseeing the infrastructure of technical operations, increasing user satisfaction, eliminating security risks, maintaining systems and operations, and tracking technology to achieve business goals. An IT director is the person who oversees the people dealing with these tasks, and he or she is responsible for answering questions such as, “Are IT teams achieving their goals?” “Are they having issues?” Are other departments providing the necessary support, infrastructure, and resources to the IT department?”

Vice President of Information Technology (VP of IT)

VP of IT is responsible for planning the IT future for the company, as well as for the implementation of systems and their maintenance. Also, he or she must ensure maximum stability and uptime in the organization’s computer networks and systems. The VP of IT is a technology leader who must be able to plan for the company and rally the troops around the plan, especially when new training is required for system changes and upgrades. In most companies, the VP of IT reports to the CIO.

IT Support Engineer

An IT support engineer is responsible for resolving any IT tasks at hand. They assist the project manager in managing projects, database administration, information security, installing new software, hardware installations, and other tasks to help the department perform their duties. They need to have deep technical knowledge to be able to address problems efficiently and quickly. They are there to provide tech support for any IT-related issue, dealing with tasks such as:

  • Troubleshooting technical issues regarding equipment, such as a desktop computer, laptops, tablets, printers, or any network-related issues
  • Documenting all the issues and actions taken to resolve issues so other IT personnel can read about the problem and see the solution
  • Configuring computer system phones, printers, and resolve related issues
  • Testing the latest technologies

Managed Service Provider

If you’ve ever come across the term Managed Service Provider (MSP) in Washington DC, it is a concept in which organizations and companies outsource specific services to companies specialized in providing them. If you run a small or medium-sized company, you probably don’t need or cannot afford to hire a CIO, CTO, and IT director. What you can do is outsource a company specialized in providing IT support services that hires professionals who can perform those functions.

MSPs regularly perform areas of business activity such as:

  • Managing software inventories
  • Managing IT infrastructure
  • Managing user access accounts on clients’ systems
  • Offering fully-managed hardware outsourcing in Virginia
  • Offering tech support to staff
  • Adding network security layers to IT systems
  • Providing strategic guidance and consulting to help clients fulfill their IT initiatives/goals (CIO role)

They can provide Software-as-a-Service and offer remote storage or servers. Some managed service providers are specialized in providing hard-to-find IT expertise to assist users with usage difficulties or prevent issues on a client’s system.

Conclusion

Large enterprises usually need to segment their IT support department and hire IT specialists (such as a CIO, CTO, IT director, VP of IT, etc.) to drive their tech development, implement the latest tech solutions, and oversee maintenance. As for startups and SMBs, these organizations are focused on growth but don’t have enough resources to create an in-house IT support team. In that case, outsourcing help from MSPs is often the only viable and cost-effective option to get access to IT experts to support their business growth.

Biotech Startups Need Capital Techies as a Managed IT Service Provider

Why Biotech Startups Need Capital Techies as a Managed IT Service Provider

There are almost as many managed IT service providers (MSPs) as there are biotech startups. Whether large or small, specialized or general, these companies help business of all types select, install and maintain their IT infrastructure. They may seem to be all alike, but most MSPs will not have the experience or expertise to provide your biotech start up with exactly the technology mix it needs to meet its goals like Capital Techies.

In order for a young biotech company to make the most of its startup funding, it needs to rely on a better kind of CTO. It is not enough to hire an IT company to hook up computers, set up a wireless system and install software updates. You need an MSP that can prepare you for the challenges of big data, the inevitability of tech problems and the opportunities of hybrid cloud storage. When you are evaluating offers from competing MSPs, look past the price, and consider whether or not they understand the challenges your biotech startup will face in its early stages. These are a few of the things a Capital Techies can help you deal with.

Huge Storage Needs

Depending on the type of experiments you are running, your biotech start up could begin piling up data at remarkable speeds. Do you have the storage capacity to handle thousands of gigabytes of information and the flexibility to increase your capacity quickly? If you don’t, that data, and all the money you have invested in producing it, is at worst at risk and at best unmanageable.

A MSP with a concentration in the biotech space will understand the unique data storage needs of a biotech start up and how to manage them. Advances in hybrid cloud solutions allow you to save almost limitless amounts of data leveraging fast on-site storage and longer term cloud based storage. Your MSP should be able to help you evaluate hybrid cloud storage options and manage the data you need to have stored for the success of your business.

Growing IT Infrastructure

Every business owner hopes, and expects, their business to grow. But when your biotech startup suddenly needs to hire new employees, share data securely with CRO’s or technology partners or bring new hi-tech equipment online, how will you scale up your IT infrastructure to meet the demand?

Without the right IT plan in place, your growth strategy could stumble right when you most need to prove your viability.

With Capital Techies as a partner in place, it is easy to add or subtract elements as you need them. Not only is this more convenient than installing entire new systems, it allows you to anticipate the cost of your new technology in advance. Capital Techies can show you effective ways to  effectively scale your IT infrastructure as your company grows.

Inconvenient Tech Problems

Something will go wrong. When you have a computer that crashes, an application that refuses to respond or an entire laboratory that is disabled because of a tech problem, who will you turn to for help?

Managing your IT, through both the expected and the unexpected, must be a priority for any MSP you work with. It is not at all unreasonable to expect on-site and over the phone support service, constant remote monitoring and emergency 24×7 support. Don’t settle for a company that installs a system and then is too busy to respond timely when it has a problem.

The most successful biotech startups choose the right MSP and IT solution from the start. That way, whenever changes need to be made or problems arise, the company doing the work is intimately familiar with the system they are working on. To learn more please leave your information on our Contact Us page.

How to Protect Yourself from an Employee-Induced Security Breach

Threats to your security can arise where you least suspect them: in your own backyard. A simple act by a trusted employee can quickly lead to a full-blown security breach. As IT professionals, we have seen firsthand how costly and disruptive these attacks can be on organizations. If you’re not concerned about an employee-induced security breach, you should be, and here are Capital Techies’s top 6 tips.

1. Employee Training 

As much as they can become a security problem, your employees can also be part of your security solution. With proper security training, they play a vital role in keeping your company’s valuable information safe.

Here are three “common sense” practices to remind your staff to follow:

  • Do not leave your phone or computer unlocked and unattended;
  • Do not use an unsecured wifi network (such as public wifi at an airport or cafe) for work-related tasks; and
  • Keep your passwords strong and change them regularly. The strongest passwords contain a combination of letters (lower and uppercase), numbers, and symbols.

In 2019, 94% of all malware was delivered via email. Once your team has mastered the security basics, it is crucial to teach them how to spot an email phishing attempt.

The term “phishing” refers to a cybercrime in which targets are contacted, often via email, by malicious actors posing as a legitimate organization. The target is then prompted to enter personal information, download something, or click on a link in the email. Any of these actions can lead to a massive security breach.

There are certain hallmarks of a phishing email that you can teach your employees to identify on their own. First, phishing emails are often riddled with spelling and grammar errors, the kind that would never be sent by a legitimate company.

Also, remind your employees that a legitimate organization, such as their bank or car insurance provider, will never ask them for sensitive information over email. Any email asking you for your passwords, credit card number, or social security information is most likely a scam, and should be immediately treated with suspicion.

Furthermore, look at the email address of the sender; does it have any extra letters or numbers? Is it from a domain that’s different, in any way, from the official domain of the organization or  company it’s purporting to represent? Be wary of any email address that doesn’t seem streamlined and well-written. There is a big difference between “@gmail.com” and “@gmail23.com.” Once again, spelling errors should also be a huge red flag.

Finally, remind your employees that a credible organization will not usually force them to click on a link. Strongly advise your staff against clicking any links provided in emails, whether the sender seems legitimate or not.

2. Use Cybersecurity Tools 

Make sure your valuable information is as safe as possible by implementing cybersecurity tools on a daily basis. At Capital Techies, we use an extensive suite of antivirus softwares to prevent, detect, and remove malware before it can affect a corporate network.

Firewalls are one of the best tools in the fight against cybersecurity breaches. Firewalls monitor and control access to a private network. They monitor traffic going in and out of the network to prevent unauthorized individuals from gaining access. At Capital Techies, we use firewalls in both hardware and software formats to keep our clients’ data protected.

DNS filtering is another great technique to keep your employees from visiting a dangerous site in the first place. Domain Name System (DNS) filtering, is a cybersecurity technique of blocking access to certain websites based on their IP address. DNS filtering checks the websites your employees are accessing against lists of known malware and phishing sites and blocks access to those sites.

An IT Managed Services Provider can take care of deploying and monitoring these cybersecurity tools for you.

3. Control Access 

To maximize security, make sure your system admin keeps a strict access policy. Best practices are to only allow users to access data required for their work. Do not issue blanket access to all of your employees on the network.

Access to privileged files and information should be granted depending on the user’s role. This prevents an unauthorized employee from gaining entry to sensitive files they do not need or could compromise.

There is also a physical aspect to access control. Use keypads or card readers to control access to your offices, data rooms, and IT closet. This way, only trusted individuals can access the devices on which your information is stored.

4. Update Software 

Many employees see software updates as a time-consuming hassle. However, this is far from the truth. Software updates and patches exist for a reason: they fix anything that was wrong with the previous version, including security vulnerabilities. Older versions of software can leave room for malicious actors to gain access.

Software no longer supported by the manufacturer? Get rid of it. As programs reach “end of life” status, patches are no longer available to fix them. This means they are extremely vulnerable to a security threat. Though it may be time consuming, it is crucial to switch over to a newer software. If it seems overwhelming, hire an IT MSP to handle it for you.

5. Backup 

Creating and maintaining a quality backup system is vital for any business. If a cybersecurity incident does happen, a backup reduces recovery time and ensures that you don’t lose your information. It is wise to run an automated daily backup at the end of each work day.

Remember: not just any backup will do the job. If a backup is improperly configured, the backup itself can become vulnerable. To make sure your backup is secure, work with a great managed service provider on the setup and upkeep of your backup.

If a problem does occur, the MSP can also take charge of disaster recovery. At Capital Techies, we set up effective backup solutions and monitor our clients’ backups 24/7 in case any issue arises.

6. New Hire Background Checks 

Our final tip is an essential one: make sure you are hiring trustworthy employees in the first place. Always run a background check on any potential new employees. A pre-hire screening will provide you with financial and criminal history to make sure you do not hire anyone who could threaten your business.

Moving Forward 

Employee-induced security breaches can be extremely damaging to businesses. However, with proper protection and education, they are avoidable. With these tips, you can make sure your employees are your best asset, not your biggest threat. Do you have other security questions? Click here to get a free, instant, no-obligation quote.

Capital Techies Tips for Work from home

Capital Techies’ Top Tips for Working From Home

There’s no doubt that the coronavirus pandemic has changed the way people work. Since the initial outbreak, millions have made the transition to working remotely from their homes. Being away from the office presents a number of unique challenges that can be difficult to navigate.

If you’ve found yourself feeling stressed, anxious, or overwhelmed working from home, you are not alone. At Capital Techies, we’ve been working remotely just like you and would like to share what we’ve learned. Below you’ll find our top tips for successfully working from home.

  1. Set Up a Clear Workspace

Though working from your couch may seem like a good idea, it can be disastrous for your productivity. When working from home, we recommend setting up a clear designated workspace where you can really focus. Use the same space every day to maintain a routine.

Make sure your space is quiet and take the time to declutter your surroundings. A clear desk will help you accomplish your tasks. Ask yourself: do I have everything I need to work productively, such as a reliable internet connection and a usable computer.

The way you decorate your space can affect your productivity as well. Natural light can help you feel more awake and motivated to work. Plants can help reduce stress and give you a breath of fresh air even when you’re stuck inside. If you live with family or others, make sure that you won’t be interrupted. A simple “at work” or “do not disturb” sign can do the trick.

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2. Work Securely

As IT Professionals, our top concern is always security. If you have been given a work-issued computer, use only that device for work-related tasks. Using your personal laptop can jeopardize the security of your work files. If you are connecting remotely to a corporate network, invest in a good VPN. A VPN (Virtual Private Network) creates a secure connection between your device and the internet.  Home wifi networks can become vulnerable to security threats. A VPN ensures no outsiders can gain access to your work documents and communications.

Don’t skip out on other basic cybersecurity measures just because you are working from home. Always close your computer and log out of all important accounts when you are done working. Never leave your laptop or other important devices in your car, even if you’re just stepping away for a moment.

If you are an employer whose staff is working remotely, put clear security policies in place. Make sure your employees know what they should and should not do when working from home. For example, should they always wear headphones when video conferencing? What platforms should they be using to communicate? Setting clear policies reduces confusion and helps keep your employees working safely.

3. Stick to a Routine

When your home becomes your office, sticking to a normal schedule can be difficult. Doing even simple things like waking up early and getting dressed can seem pointless when there’s no office to go to. However, maintaining a normal routine is an important part of working from home.

We strongly advise that you maintain your usual pre-work routine, even if “going to work” just means going to the living room. Though it’s tempting, don’t just roll out of bed five minutes before your first video conference. Give yourself ample time to wake up, make some coffee, or chat with a loved one. Before you know it, you’ll be feeling productive and ready to get some work done.

4. Communicate With Your Coworkers

Don’t let working from home isolate you from your team. You must not stop communicating simply because you are not in the same room. In fact, many remote work experts advise “overcommunication” when separated from your coworkers. This means checking in and asking even more questions than you ordinarily would.

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When you’re not physically in the office, it can also be hard to know exactly what is expected of you. Be sure to speak to your supervisors about what tasks you are expected to complete and how you should submit completed projects. Don’t skip out on meetings and video conferences, even if they are not mandatory. Staying in good touch with your coworkers will help keep you accountable and mitigate any confusion over your responsibilities.

Don’t let “out of sight” become “out of mind.” The most conscientious employees are still actively reaching out to their supervisors and coworkers regularly, whether through email, video calls, or messaging platforms like Slack.

5. Don’t Miss Out on Breaks

When working from home, it can be easy to work straight through your breaks. If your “lunch break” simply involves walking to the kitchen, you may start to feel pressure to shorten your breaks or even work straight through them. Getting a true break, in which you are separated from your work and your desk, is tricky when working remotely. However, this doesn’t mean breaks are any less important to both your productivity and your mental health.

Evidence suggests that taking breaks helps reset motivation and focus and stimulate creativity. In fact, employees who take fewer breaks are less likely to be productive. Find some time in your day for “movement breaks.” Take a walk outside, stretch, do yoga, or any other activity that gets you moving. These active breaks boost productivity and fight fatigue.

6. Get Enough Sleep

Finally, let’s discuss the end of your day. Many remote employees say that they have a difficult time logging off for the night. According to a 2020 Buffer report, 18% of remote employees said their biggest difficulty was unplugging after work.  Another survey found that 39.5% of remote workers get only 6.5 hours of sleep per night, less than is necessary for an adult.

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Missing out on valuable hours of sleep can harm your work performance. Research clearly indicates that getting less sleep is associated with decreased productivity. One study concludes that “sleep should be considered an important element in workplace health.” When working from home, be sure to prioritize sleep. It is vital to maintain a normal routine in both the morning and the evening. Set a clear time when you will be done working and let yourself unplug for the night. Your future self will thank you.

The Takeaway

The COVID-19 pandemic has created a new world for all of us. We are all learning and  navigating new difficulties each day. Here at Capital Techies, we are working to help our clients adapt to the changing times. As working from home becomes “the new normal,” know that we are here to help.

SECURE REMOTE ACCESS – 10 POINT CHECKLIST

Are you looking to enable secure remote access? As businesses continue monitoring the situation surrounding the outbreak of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) and the effect it has on individual organizations moving to a remote workforce, we wanted to share a few security best practices for you to follow to successfully and securely work from home. The following checklist provided by Capital Techies IT Consultants in Washington DC will help reduce exposure to cybercriminals using COVID-19 as an opportunity to exploit businesses looking to implement remote access methods.

There are a variety of methods for remote connectivity, but all options should be well thought out and tested. Please review these best practices for secure remote access below:

  1. Multi-Factor Authentication – All remote access should be secured with MFA (Multi-Factor Authentication) no matter what method of remote access you select.
  2. VPN (Virtual Private Network) Access – While most firewalls are capable of configuring a client VPN to connect a remote machine to the internal network, it should be advised that only corporate-owned machines with the appropriate protection be allowed to use this method. Personal devices should never connect to a corporate network via a VPN. VPN connections should not use a shared account and should be integrated with existing domain infrastructure for authentication.
  3. Remote Desktop Gateway – This solution is installed on a dedicated server that is secured and is published using a valid SSL certificate. All Ports should be limited to the bare essentials, and MFA should be required. Users should only be able to remotely access specific applications or, in some use cases, their individual machines. Security groups should be utilized to limit the scope of users allowed to securely access the system via the Gateway.
  4. 3rd Party Products – Many products enable a user to work remotely (i.e., GoToMyPC), but this should only be used in a limited case. There is often no corporate oversight or controls when using the small business versions of these products and could create long term vulnerabilities into the environment.
  5. Remote Desktop – Should never be open directly to the internet!
  6. Remote Access Policy – You should have a remote access policy to clarify how users can connect and what they are allowed to do.
  7. Public Wi-Fi – Never use public Wi-Fi with a personal or corporate device when accessing corporate resources.
  8. Social Engineering – Have protocols in place for validating requests to send product or money while in a remote operating scenario to eliminate social phishing and engineering attempts.
  9. Communication and Collaboration – Leverage communication platforms like Microsoft Teams to facilitate conversations and meetings (including video).
  10. Logoff/Lock Devices – When your devices are not in use, it is best to log off or lock them even at home, but especially anywhere in public.

Hopefully, this list will prove to be helpful when enabling your work from home access. While these guidelines help minimize exposure to attacks, there other pathways cybercriminals can take to encrypt your data. A variety of Phishing email campaigns, posing as the CDC or local authorities providing health advisories, are also on the rise. Examples of these types of communication can be found on the KnowBe4 website here.

If you need further assistance in establishing secure remote access or telecommuting, please do not hesitate to reach out.

CYBER MONDAY SECURITY TIPS

The first Monday after Thanksgiving is known as the biggest online shopping day of the year, Cyber Monday. More than 90% of retailers contribute to online deals and participate in online pricing wars. With so many shoppers turning to online spending, hackers have begun strengthening their cyber-attacks. Avoid the malicious threats and security breaches this holiday season by practicing the following cybersecurity tips from the leaders in cyber security in Washington DC.

CONFIRM YOUR BROWSER IS UP TO DATE

Keeping your software updated will help prevent various types of infections from entering your computer and accessing your sensitive information. Whether you use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Microsoft Edge, be sure to check for new versions and regular updates. Fortunately, most modern web browsers will automatically update themselves, however, be sure your device is no longer running an older browser.

SHOP WITH SECURE NETWORKS

When browsing online be sure to use secure wireless networks. At home, work or running errands, never use an open or public Wi-Fi hotspot to make purchases. Ensure that you are connected to a trusted access point to avoid piggybacking, wireless sniffing and/or other malicious cyber threats. Piggybacking allows a hacker in range to connect to your access point and conduct illegal activities like stealing personal information. Wireless sniffing is the practice of using sniffing tools to obtain personal information such as credit card numbers and passwords.

DON’T CLICK UNKNOWN LINKS

Be careful of duplicate websites and unsolicited attachments within an email or links on a retail page. Confirm a website will encrypt your information and display valid certificates; to avoid attackers who create malicious sites to gather your sensitive information. Some indicators that show a website has a valid certificate and your information will be encrypted is locating the padlock icon feature and noting that the URL (Uniform Resource Locator) begins with “Https” instead of “Http”.

CHANGE YOUR PASSWORDS FREQUENTLY

A common security tip is creating strong passwords and changing them frequently. The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) developed specific guidelines to implement when you are creating passwords. A couple of guidelines include using different passwords on different systems and accounts, never use personal information, use the longest and most complex passphrases permissible and do not use words found in any dictionary of any language. An example of recreating a password to these guidelines would be taking the word “cooking” and using “iLtCf” for “[I] [l]ike [t]o [c]ook [f]ood”. Using variations of uppercase and lowercase letters also adds a layer of security. Security professionals recommend changing passwords every 30,60, or 90 days.

MONITORING BILLING & BANK ALERTS

A great way to monitor your shopping, both online and in-stores, is downloading your bank’s mobile app or registering for text alerts. You will be notified of any changes to your account immediately. If there is a discrepancy, report it as soon as possible. Keep a record of your purchases and copies of confirmation pages to compare them to bank statements. Another great way to minimize potential damage is by using a single credit card to make online purchases and when using gateways such as PayPal, Google Wallet or Apple Pay.

This holiday season trust your instincts while shopping, always using encrypted web sites and protecting your computer and all information on it by following our cybersecurity tips. Before submitting any personal information to retailers, be sure that the privacy of that information will be protected. To learn more about cyber safety, visit our cybersecurity page or read our blog on What is Cybersecurity?

WHAT IS AN MSP?

A managed service provider (MSP) is an organization that remotely manages and maintains a client’s network infrastructure and end user systems. Managed service providers in Fairfax Virginia proactively diagnose and resolve IT issues for small to medium businesses. An MSP protects an organization’s IT infrastructure from risks, issues, and uncertainties; allowing the organization to concentrate on their core business. Businesses rely on their operational efficiency, which makes having a trusted IT service provider essential.

THE EVOLUTION OF MSPS

The start of the MSP movement began with Simple Network Management protocols. In the 1990’s, application service providers offered local area network off prem. Support providers were hired to ‘fix when broken’ instead of a proactive approach taken today. As business computing began to expand, so did the necessity for preventive measures from IT leaders and service providers. By 2005, smaller companies were able to take advantage of the same benefits as larger corporations by detecting problems as soon as possible; hence the start of the managed services movement.

COMMON CLIENTS OF MSPS

Managed Service Providers are usually partner with small to medium size organizations due to their limited capabilities. Businesses with an employee count as small as 10 can afford an MSP and have relief knowing their IT infrastructure is maintained and secure. SMBs such as law and medical offices, automotive dealerships, and/or school campuses hire MSPs for their IT expertise. The prevention of IT problems from occurring and disturbing business operations is crucial for any business. Risks are minimized for organizations because an MSP builds in system upgrades and essential support services into their contract.

BENEFITS OF AN MSP

A managed service provider has many levels of expertise regarding IT infrastructures, such as IT security, network administrator, IT consultant and disaster recovery expert. Clients look to an MSP to not only help them use technology more effectively, but to be more strategic. MSPs are best known for their abilities to support your line of business applications, 24/7 help-desk support, network security, backup and disaster recovery, and monitoring and alerting features. Managed service providers in Washington DC help their clients with business growth by taking control over the IT management, leaving clients to focus only on business objectives.

AVERAGE COST OF AN MSP

MSP price points vary due to the level of tools or services included within their contract. In order to offer a proactive approach, MSPs implement a fixed-fee model. With a fixed-fee model, Managed Service Providers can give a flat monthly cost versus the costly bill you’d have on a break-fix arrangement. The older break-fix model meant that a company’s bill could sky rocket if they experienced a handful of issues within that specific month. Whereas with an MSP, there is no limit to the amount of issues, the price will stay the same. Typically, prices are determined by per-device, per-user, or some other variation of all-inclusive pricing.

MSPs are familiar with small to large IT issues, which means quick responses and solutions for organizations. An MSP diagnoses and corrects any issues a business may have with their IT infrastructure. Managed service providers  in Vienna Virginia who work with a comprehensive support strategy provides an organization with promised guidance and success. To learn more about how a managed service provider can benefit your business, contact us here.