PCS Blog

PCS has been serving the Knoxville area since 1996, providing IT Support such as technical helpdesk support, computer support, and consulting to small and medium-sized businesses.

There’s Value in Outsourcing Your IT, Part II

There’s Value in Outsourcing Your IT, Part II

Old-school business information technology support isn’t necessarily wrong, but it most definitely isn’t cheap nor efficient. IT support strategies are developing in ways that some time ago, would have thought to be unheard of. Your business no longer needs a full on-site staff designated to maintaining network security or updating software. In part two of our five-part series, we discuss how your business can have the support it needs through managed services. 

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There’s Value in Outsourcing Your IT, Part I

There’s Value in Outsourcing Your IT, Part I

Computers sometimes appear to have a mind of their own. For businesses, this is less than ideal. If the support structure is not in place to take control of your business’ infrastructure, your business' profitability may be negatively impacted. In this five-part series, we will discuss how being proactive keeps your technology in check. 

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Focus Your Technology on Producing Efficiency

Focus Your Technology on Producing Efficiency

Technology can go a long way toward helping businesses be more productive with their time, but only if the solutions implemented are right and proper for your organization. We’ll discuss three services that you can provide for your business that can maximize productivity with technology solutions.

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Budgeting for IT Can Benefit Your Business’ Bottom Line

Budgeting for IT Can Benefit Your Business’ Bottom Line

Your business depends on a budget to come out in the black at the end of the fiscal year, and the way you invest that budget will have a considerable impact. As you create this budget, your IT needs to be one of your top considerations - after all, it is what effectively powers the modern business. Here, we’ll discuss how diligently incorporating your IT into your budget can help your business be more successful down the line.

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Reduce Your Costs By Outsourcing Your IT Management

Reduce Your Costs By Outsourcing Your IT Management

Your business deals with all types of troubles, but one trouble that can be extraordinarily costly is when your organization's technology doesn’t work properly. That’s why many businesses hire an IT staff who work to mitigate technology-related problems. One issue you should be cognizant of is cost. Typically, IT professionals have training, certifications, and experience and demand an above average salary. If you have a small or medium-sized business that is working with tight margins as it is, it can be extremely difficult to take on new personnel costs; especially ones that don’t directly result in bringing revenue through the door.

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Don't Be Threatened

Computers and computer systems are threatened every day. There are several attacks that computers may experience like viruses, malware, spyware, and ransomware.

So what do all these mean, what is the difference, and how do you protect yourself?

Virus

A computer virus is a type of program that may copy itself and infect other computers on a network. The virus may harm a computer by changing boot commands or autorun scripts, or even Microsoft Office macros. The virus can be destructive and render a computer inoperable.

Malware

Malware (malicious software) is generally used to describe various threats such viruses, worms, spyware, and so on. It can be used to cause computer problems or steal information.

Spyware

Spyware is a type of infection which steals information from your computer. It can include things like keyloggers which captures keyboard commands to obtain login credentials to your websites, or watch your web search habits. Spyware can get installed onto a computer without the user's knowledge, and cause your computer to run slow by adding unwanted web browser toolbars.

Adware

Adware is generally used to track your web browsing habits, display pop-up advertisements, which may entice a user to purchase software with legitimate looking information. Adware infections can cause your computer to run slow, and may capture personal information using keyloggers.

Scareware/Ransomware

These types of infections are appearing more and more. These infections appear as a legitimate ad that may appear on your computer informing you of a possible threat, and offers a solution to fix the infection by purchasing a software license. If proceeded, the virus searches through your computer and encrypts your data files rendering your documents unusable until you pay a ransom.

Other Threats
Other threats exist such as trojan horses and worms. Trojan horse viruses may allow remote access to your computer or use a denial of service attack to render your computer useless. These do not replicate themselves like a virus, they are generally installed unknowingly by the user. Worm infections use the computer network to copy themselves to other computers because of a security vulnerability, causing network problems and computer problems.

So how do you protect yourself from all these threats?

These threats can be malicious to a computer through internet web browsing, email, and sharing files with other users. Be very vigilant when browsing the internet and managing your email. Do not download any email attachments or click on any links unless you are very certain where the email originated from. Verify with the sender if you are uncertain. Protect your computer with antivirus software, scan often, and keep it up-to-date. Ensure your Operating system firewall is enabled. Do not download any software from the internet unless you are 100% certain it is safe. Investigate your web browser security settings to help mitigate any possible vulnerability. Backup your sensitive documents, photos, or other files you do not want to lose to a device such as an external hard drive. Smart web browsing, vigilant email practices, and antivirus software management will help keep you safe against these various threats.

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Is Your IT Holding Up Its End Of The Bargain?

Is Your IT Holding Up Its End Of The Bargain?

As you design your business’ IT infrastructure, it is important that you look months and years into the future, rather than just what you need in the moment. A good managed service provider will understand that--which makes it your job to find a good one. The following questions will help to more quickly narrow down your search to find the best provider for your needs.

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Licensing Windows Server 2016 - Are You Compliant?

People say, “The only constant in IT is change,” and that holds true in the licensing world. It’s hard to keep up with how software is being licensed, and that’s why companies like to depend on their IT providers like PCS to guide their decisions and keep them compliant.

One product that a lot of companies depend on is Windows Server. While you may think it’s as simple as purchasing a perpetual license, like what comes included with a desktop PC, its way more complicated. There are 4 major considerations when licensing Windows Server: your server’s CPU(s) size, the edition, if you have a virtualized environment, and what services your server will be running.

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Advice for Passing Your Next IT Audit With Flying Colors

Advice for Passing Your Next IT Audit With Flying Colors

Most people think of audits and immediately cringe, but the fact of the matter is that businesses wanting to maximize output can really benefit from an audit. Audits can be great ways to ensure that a business’ priorities are being given their due attention, and that best practices are being utilized. An audit of your IT infrastructure and network can go a long way toward helping you determine if there are changes you need to make in order to maximize the profitability of your organization.

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What It Looks like When an IT Provider Goes Above and Beyond

What It Looks like When an IT Provider Goes Above and Beyond

Modern businesses have a lot more to worry about than organizations did over 100 years ago. Chances are that your organization has its hands full with operations, and the last thing that you want to worry about is securing data and hoping that your technology solutions work as intended. Thankfully, you can easily outsource the management of these systems to a managed IT services provider.

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Don’t Worry, Your Samsung Phone “Winking” at You is Just a Cool Feature

Don’t Worry, Your Samsung Phone “Winking” at You is Just a Cool Feature

If you’re a Samsung smartphone user, have you ever seen a little eyeball symbol appear at the top of the screen? You might notice that it will show up for a minute, and then disappear again. Since this kind of activity usually makes users question what’s going on with their device, let’s get down to the bottom of this weird occurrence.

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Four Ways to Secure Your Printer Right Now

If you were in South Korea in the summer of 2016, you may have noticed a startling sight: a drone armed with strange equipment hovering outside office windows. This drone wasn't getting panoramic views of the Seoul cityscape, however—it was hacking office printers.

Fortunately for Seoul's office dwellers, those printers didn't stay hacked. A group of academic researchers were simply using a drone to gauge the average vulnerability of office printers. What they found was alarming—they could fly up the side of a skyscraper and hack machines as they went, as easy as connecting to WiFi.

The lesson is clear—if businesses don't lock down their printers soon, they'll find themselves staring down their own hacking drone (or, more likely, some less-flashy equivalent), and it won't be operated by friendly academics. Here's how you can protect your multi-function printers from cyber-attack.

  1. Hide your printer's IP address.
    In the United States alone, there are
    more than 12,000 printers publically accessible on the internet, protected by no safeguards whatsoever. Is yours one of them? Using your printer's publically available IP address, hackers can log in and steal data from a printer, especially if you haven't changed its default password.
  2. Update your printer's firmware.
    Even if you've taken the basic step of keeping your printer out of sight from hackers, they may still find a way in. According to HP, unpatched vulnerabilities in software accounted for
    44% of all cyber-attacks in 2014. If your printer's firmware is out of date, you could still be leaving a window open into your wider network.
  3. Delete your printer's internal cache.
    Business printers can contain a hard drive with memory in the gigabyte range. Unlike consumer-grade printers, this memory doesn't get wiped when a printer gets turned off. If you dispose of a device that contains sensitive data without destroying or erasing its hard drive, then compliance regimes such as HIPP will consider this a data breach.
  4. Implement strong access controls.
    In the wake of a widespread attack in which a hacker took over printers and used them to
    send offensive messages, many companies have decided that their printers need stronger authentication. Businesses can require users to input passwords, type in a PIN, or swipe an ID card before using a device. Not only will this prevent hackers from hijacking your in-tray, it can also ensure strong compliance—no one who isn't authorized will be able to print sensitive documents.

It's admittedly difficult to try and lock down printer security, especially in light of all the other attack surfaces that administrators need to safeguard. Let PCS design a solution for you that protects itself. PCS is a Silver HP partner with decades of experience setting up secure print solutions that perfectly match your business needs. View our infographic and contact PCS to learn more about how we can make printer security headaches go away.

 
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Three Reasons Why Print Security Is an Achilles Heel for SMBs

Just because your small business isn't handling credit card and social security data for millions of customers, you shouldn't brush information security aside. For SMBs, the effect of hacking is personal: fines, disclosure requirements, and the cost of replacing both data and equipment can be crippling. Within six months after being hacked, 60% of small businesses will be forced to shut down.

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What Does Your Software Have in Common with the Food in Your Fridge?

What Does Your Software Have in Common with the Food in Your Fridge?

It’s a well-known fact that nothing in this world lasts forever (other than Twinkies), and this pertains to your technology more than perhaps anything else. The same solutions that you’ve been working with for years will also need regular updates and improvements in order to stay relevant to your organization.


When you think about it, making sure that your software solutions are always up to date is sort of like keeping your kitchen cabinet full of foodstuffs that haven't spoiled. Both the software developer and the food producer offer resources that are absolutely crucial in the modern world, and both create products that frequently need to be replaced in order to function as intended. Both offer sustenance to something or another; yet, how similar are they really?

A food producer will tend to focus on offering delectable foods that taste great and offer nutritional value, while a software developer will work toward creating user-friendly solutions and patching up vulnerabilities. Any improvements made tend to be focused on security, but often times the developer will add new features or improve the user interface to offer a better experience as a whole. Primarily, the patches issued resolve problems that hackers can take advantage of to infiltrate your organization and cause trouble.

These improvements are one of the reasons why you might receive notifications about updates available every so often. In fact, they are so frequent that if you don’t implement them as they are released, you could quickly fall behind on network maintenance.

Returning to the food analogy, let’s take a look at a convenience that most businesses have: a break room fridge. If each of your employees keeps a single cup of yogurt in this fridge, and it goes uneaten, it will naturally spoil. However, if you keep this spoiled yogurt in the fridge, despite it being practically inedible, someone will eventually try it out. This could result in employees getting sick.

Whether it’s poor productivity from being ill all day or software that’s missing critical software updates, the result is the same: the potential for a really bad time. If you have someone whose responsibility is to “restock the fridge,” you can keep your organization from being exposed by the sudden, gut-wrenching sickness of a hacking attack.

PCS can be the ones to keep an eye out for anything that needs updates or patches on your network, and better yet, we can do all of it ourselves without interrupting operations. This keeps you from taking valuable time out of the day to do it yourself, and you can know for certain that your software solutions are being handled with the care they deserve. To make sure that your business’s network security doesn’t reach its expiration date, reach out to us at (865) 273-1960.

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Your Business Should Be in the Headlines for the Right Reasons, Not for a Cyber Attack

Your Business Should Be in the Headlines for the Right Reasons, Not for a Cyber Attack

Today’s headlines are peppered with stories of major companies and institutions falling victim to a cyberattack. As a business owner, what’s your response to these gut-wrenching stories? If you write them off as fear mongering and believe that these attacks can never happen to your business, well, you’re wrong. They can, and it’s up to you to prevent such a disaster.


One reason why it’s so important to shore up your company’s network security is because the ramifications of a breach extend well beyond the sensationalism surrounding a news story. Take for example one of the biggest stories of hacking in recent memory; the revelation made public last December that Yahoo had more than one billion of its accounts compromised, dating all the way back to 2013. While the headlines focused on the plight of Yahoo and the negative effect this would have on the tech company’s value, what didn’t get reported is how millions of Yahoo users were negatively affected by having their sensitive information exposed to hackers.

In the same way, seeing to your company’s network security goes beyond protecting your corporate image from a negative headline. It’s also about protecting all of those who have entrusted you with their sensitive data. This includes customers and vendors that have provided your business with their financial information, as well as employees that each have a wealth of their personal information connected to your HR department.

We’ve established that there’s a lot riding on your network security and that it’s your job to make sure this is taken care of. If you don’t currently have a security plan in place protecting your company from a data breach, then where do you even begin? Fortunately, you don’t need to be an IT security expert or have a computer science degree to implement adequate security measures. As is the case with many vital responsibilities connected to your business, you can outsource the protection of your network to the professionals.

That said, IT security is such an important and comprehensive matter that it’s not something that you should outsource and then disregard. In fact, IT security works best when everybody in the company understands that they have an active role in its upkeep. Yes, everybody. We’re talking from the C-level executives down to the cleaning lady who connects her smartphone to Wi-Fi. If everyone in your company understands how to avoid the snares laid by hackers, then the cake that is your network security measures will be topped with the icing of best practices.

Remember, securing your network from cyberattacks isn’t something that you have to do on your own. PCS is here to help, and we can do so by implementing proven and comprehensive network security solutions like our Unified Threat Management tool, as well as remote monitoring and maintenance in order to detect and take care of any threats that may breach your defenses. We’re also available to equip your staff with the means and know-how to better understand cybersecurity.

For assistance in all of these areas of security and more, give us a call today at (865) 273-1960.

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Tip of the Week: Ways to Be Active and Proactive With Your Network Security

Tip of the Week: Ways to Be Active and Proactive With Your Network Security

Security troubles have many causes, but the only way to protect your business from any of them is to implement a comprehensive enterprise-level security solution. There are two other ways that you can work to protect your business, implementing software patches, and avoiding social engineering attempts.


Applying Software Patches
It should be clear that software patches are designed to fix security problems and improve the functionality of the software, but some organizations simply don’t have time to implement them manually, or they simply don’t understand the purpose for them. Part of the problem is that sometimes the developers aren’t necessarily clear that patches are available, while other times those within your organization may not even know how to administer them. Regardless of the reason, there are usually problems on a network that will go unattended for extended periods of time.

Most hackers only want to take advantage of the issues they can detect. Thus, there could be countless threats out there designed to target countless unpatched vulnerabilities on your network that not even the hackers can know about. It makes sense for a hacker to use just one exploit to target a handful of vulnerabilities. Therefore, it’s important to make sure that all software that you use is updated and patched.

Additionally, your systems shouldn’t be running unused programs. The more software you have, the more ways hackers can take advantage of your organization’s network vulnerabilities. Moreover, you might even be wasting revenue on renewing software licenses that you don’t even need, so it’s best perform a network audit from time to time to get the worthless software off your infrastructure.

Dodging Social Engineering Attempts
Social engineering is broadly categorized as any method that takes advantage of unprepared users or those who are ignorant of solid network security practices. Examples include a phone call or email message claiming that the network has been breached by a foreign entity and that “tech support” needs to remote into the computer and resolve the issue. There are other, more subtle methods as well, such as targeted spear phishing attacks that go after specific users with personal information that convince them that the hacker is someone in authority.

These types of attacks vary in sophistication, but they can range anywhere from an employee receiving a message claiming that they’ve won a prize, to the intruder physically following your employees into the office and stealing sensitive data manually. In instances like these, a little bit of employee training can go a long way. Teach them to look for anything suspicious, and inform them that vigilance is incredibly important in the workplace.

These two security improvements barely scratch the surface of what your organization should be focusing on for network security. If you want to fully protect your business to the best of your ability, give us a call at (865) 273-1960.

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Is Your Business Backing up Its Data?

Is Your Business Backing up Its Data?

In today’s business world, having a reliable way to access your data is key to your company’s success. Everything you do depends on the data you have at your disposal--so what would you do if that data was no longer available to you?


This is a far too common circumstance that creates problems for many businesses. It doesn't help matters that so many factors can lead to data loss. Malicious programs, hardware failure, even a “whoops” moment from a user, can put your data in peril.

Even worse, events like these have a way of causing businesses to fail, as they no longer have the tools they need for success. However, there are methods to protecting your business from these issues.

One such method is to maintain a comprehensive backup to ensure that, regardless of what may happen, your critical data will be safe. With a solution that takes a snapshot of your data every 15 minutes, you can keep your losses to a minimum should something go down.

At PCS, we dedicate a lot of time and effort to implementing and managing comprehensive data backup and disaster recovery solutions for Knoxville area businesses. To that end, we have the solution your business needs to protect and preserve your information, and we can equip you with a backup plan that specializes in your company’s unique data needs.

PCS has the experience you’ll want in a provider of such an important consideration. Give us a call at (865) 273-1960 to hear what we can offer you in defense of your data.

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Has Your IT Service Provider Taken the Time to Learn Your Business?

Has Your IT Service Provider Taken the Time to Learn Your Business?

With so many companies in the business of providing some manner of IT services, the market can be overwhelming and generate a lot of questions:

  • What does “flat-rate IT services” mean?
  • What is my monthly bill going to be?
  • What do I get for the money I pay my service provider?
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Study Finds that 45% of Virtual Machines Would Run More Efficiently in the Cloud

Study Finds that 45% of Virtual Machines Would Run More Efficiently in the Cloud

By now you’ve surely heard about the benefits of cloud computing, but a new survey by TSO Logic might be just the proof you need to make the leap to the cloud. The survey analyzed 10,000 physical servers and 25,000 virtual machines, and the results are quite revealing!

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Is Break-Fix IT Breaking Your Budget?

Is Break-Fix IT Breaking Your Budget?

Most modern businesses rely on specific technology solutions to ensure operations can work as intended. This includes servers for data storage, networks for data distribution, and workstations for employee productivity. But what happens when this technology fails?

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