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Your guide to setting up a HIPAA-compliant cloud

When you put your healthcare organization’s patient data on the cloud, you enjoy a range of benefits like having to worry about computer files being erased accidentally. Furthermore, it’s simple to organize all of your data and use analytics to make the most accurate decisions possible.

At the same time, you must make sure that your cloud complies with HIPAA, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, which Congress passed in 1996. It sets forth complex rules for keeping, transmitting and using protected health information (PHI) or electronic protected health information (ePHI).

Here is an overview of things you should be doing in order to ensure HIPAA compliance.

Step 1: Finding the right cloud provider

To start, it’s helpful to obtain a copy of the online HIPAA guidelines that the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Civil Rights (OCR) offers. You can review them with your attorney and your IT team members.

As soon as you’re clear on those rules, you can conduct – perhaps with the help of an IT managed service provider – a thorough risk assessment. During this process, you’ll examine various cloud service providers (CSPs) to find one that guarantees every reasonable safeguard, including encryption, for your PHI. You might inspect a CSP’s headquarters yourself, or you could rely on expert security audits.

Once you’ve found a CSP you can trust, your attorney can draw up a business associate agreement (BAA). This agreement will hold your company and your CSP, which the law terms your “business associate,” to all HIPAA regulations.

You must also create a service level agreement (SLA), one that details the quality of service that your CSP will provide. For instance, how will it attempt to recover lost data? How much downtime, if any, can you expect? (The answer should be virtually none.)

Step 2: Securing your data

Under HIPAA, you’ll have to take every practicable measure to keep track of your patient data and prevent it from falling into the wrong hands.

HIPAA permits healthcare professionals to use mobile devices to access data. However, each mobile device, along with each computer and other endpoints, must be protected by multiple layers of security. Those measures should include:

  • Randomized and unique passwords
  • A powerful firewall
  • Sessions that time out
  • Two-factor authentication
  • Data encryption that meets or exceeds industry standards
  • An intrusion detection program

Likewise, you should provide regular training sessions to ensure employees are using best practices and are able to recognize the warning signs of hacks or phishing scams.

Moreover, everyone should be on a need-to-know basis. It’s illegal to share a patient’s ePHI with anyone outside of your business unless the person who’s requesting it has a HIPAA release form. (That document must include the patient’s signature.) Your cloud should also have a principle of least privilege (PoLP) security model to make sure each user only has the authority to access the information necessary for his or her job.

An automatic alert system is valuable here. You’ll receive a warning if an unauthorized person accesses your cloud data or if an authorized person does something in the cloud they’re not supposed to do.

Step 3: Reporting breaches

What happens if an unauthorized person gains access to someone’s ePHI? This could occur due to employee error or hacking.

You must tell the affected patient about the transgression within 60 days. Plus, on an annual basis, you must let the Department of Health and Human Services know about every PHI breach that happened during the past year.

If more than 500 records are breached at one time, you’re obligated to send out a press release and to tell the HHS at once. The OCR will follow up, seeking more detailed information.

Finally, as you work your way toward full HIPAA compliance, it’s wise to partner with outside IT specialists. These experienced professionals can advise and support all of your data storage efforts.

In addition to conducting the initial risk analysis, those security experts can identify and eliminate potential vulnerabilities in your network. They can also help you craft an IT budget that accounts for all security measures. As cloud technologies evolve and improve, they’ll ensure that you always stay within the law and always protect your patients.

The top 4 things that take you out of compliance

As the leader of an evolving organization, you’re expected to keep employee and customer data as secure as possible. However, aging technology and processes sometimes result in disconnects and even mistakes that interfere with regulatory compliance requirements. For example, the financial industry is rife with examples of tax and recordkeeping violations, and the penalties can range from hundreds to thousands of dollars.

So, what are common mistakes that cause otherwise responsible organizations in various fields to fall out of compliance when they make the move to new solutions? The following are some examples that you should avoid to minimize your risk of missing compliance requirements.

1. Forgetting about GDPR

General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) went into effect in May 2018, and while they primarily affect European companies, they also affect American companies that collect, maintain or process personal data for people living in the European Union. If your business has no dealings whatsoever with folks in the EU, that’s one thing, but in today’s global economy, it’s best to be ready if you decide to expand at some point in the future.

Regardless, these regulations are a good standard to strive for. They require that businesses be aware of the types of data they collect, keep on top of security breaches and follow a clear, transparent consent process, among other things. For example, as an article in CSO explains, “Opting for a mailing list does not give the small-business owner the ability to use a customer’s data for something else unless this is outlined. Individuals should also know how to withdraw from your database at any time.”

Regardless, these regulations are a good standard to strive for. They require that businesses be aware of the types of data they collect, stay ahead of security breaches and follow a clear, transparent consent process, among other things. For example, as an article in CSO explains, “Opting in for a mailing list does not give the small-business owner the ability to use a customer’s data for something else unless this is outlined. Individuals should also know how to withdraw from your database at any time.”

It’s a good idea to keep GDPR in mind as you move to the cloud.

2. Not checking out third parties thoroughly

It’s likely that your business is partnering with at least one vendor to implement and improve cloud solutions. Perhaps a managed services provider is handling this for you, or maybe your business uses an offsite data center. In both cases, it’s still your responsibility to ensure that vendors and other subcontractors follow these guidelines to protect data and maintain the same level of security.

3. Allowing BYOD without a tight policy

Bring your own device (BYOD) policies are popular in many businesses, but they can backfire if the policies don’t follow a strict set of security protocols. For example, it’s necessary to have data encryption and strong password requirements to address any security issues with apps or software. Make sure you have an adequate BYOD policy in place when moving to the cloud or allowing employees to use their own cell phones, tablets and computers.

4. Collecting unnecessary information

Many customers don’t think twice about turning over personal data such as Social Security numbers, even for something as simple as a fishing license. However, as a general rule, if certain pieces of customer data aren’t needed, don’t collect them. If you do have a good reason for collecting the data that you do, explain your rationale to customers and share how you’ll use their data.

Aside from not having a disaster recovery plan or not providing adequate training for your employees, you should be able to meet compliance requirements if you avoid the four mistakes discussed here.

If you need help navigating the ever-changing landscape, you can always contact us. After all, shoring up your environment to meet compliance is vital to your success. Being aware of the security benefits that cloud computing offers will inform the steps you take to keep your company’s data as secure as possible.

How the cloud can help make compliance more productive

It’s estimated that approximately 83% of enterprises will be in the cloud by the year 2020. There’s no question that cloud computing, as well as all that’s offered by the technology, is here to stay.

83% of enterprises will be in the cloud by the year 2020

– Forbes.com

However, moving to a cloud environment brings changes that can affect how you deal with compliance.

Before diving into how the cloud has changed to meet compliance requirements, it’s a good idea to better understand the challenges that brought about the need for these changes to begin with.

Challenge: Delineating responsibility in the “shared responsibility model”

Even though there have been significant efforts made by cloud providers to create more awareness of the “shared responsibility model,” providing the needed training and security controls, there are many organizations that still struggle to fully understand, making the same mistakes in delineating the responsibilities.

As a result, organizations wind up with security gaps in cloud assets, all because they assume it is the provider’s responsibility to manage and prevent potential breaches.

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Challenge: Responsibility shift and changing realization of compliance mapping

Compliance objectives and requirements remain constant across all the layers of cloud computing. However, the accountability to create specific requirements on an Infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) versus a Security-as-a-Service (SaaS) platform might be totally different. One may require the customer to implement the same, where the other requires the cloud provider to do so.

For example, there are different implementation sets and responsibility models to meet the compliance objectives of an IaaS service compared to a SaaS platform.

Challenge: Compliance and security checks aren’t done until the end of the software production lifecycle

In most situations, compliance and security policies are written on extremely large and complex paper documents. After software production, the security personnel or officers will validate the software in order to make sure it has met the policies, which may often fall a bit short due to delivery time constraints, the pressure to go to market, and not fully understanding the software. The Development and Security team’s relationship is affected, which can then result in the creation of insecure and non-resilient software.

Now that some of the most prevalent challenges are known, it’s important to find out how the cloud has changed to better meet these compliance concerns.

The creation of knowledge and awareness

Modern cloud providers have invested quite a bit of time and money into knowledge and awareness to help users better understand their responsibilities versus cloud providers responsibilities. When a company decides to adopt the cloud for their business, they also need to create a strategy that includes training the teams about the ongoing responsibility shift taking place with the use of the cloud.

A great starting point to learn more about this is the AWS Shared responsibility guide.

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Learn more about the AWS Shared responsibility guide.

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Defining and delineating responsibilities for SaaS, PaaS, and IaaS service models as early as possible is essential for success. When an organization moves to the cloud, it doesn’t mean they no longer have to use methods to secure the data or workloads being moved. Now, cloud providers are spreading this awareness in hopes users will take the proper security measures to safeguard information.

The shifting of compliance and security checks

Thanks to the rise in the adoption of DevOps, there has been a significant impact on how organizations produce software. Due to the change in methodology, compliance and security controls need to be shifted and not implemented closer to the actual production. The conversion of the paper-based security needs and the compliance policies should be used earlier in the process. Beginning early and converting security as code is the solution to help achieve compliance at the cloud scale.

Automation is now required to remain compliant and manage drift

Managing drift within the cloud can be challenging because of the high velocity and ephemeral nature. Using automation, along with the real-time enforcement of various compliance policies is the best way to remain compliant.

With automation, an organization has the ability to enforce various security controls and security policies homogenously in this continually changing cloud ecosystem. The cloud may be further augmented with the real-time enforcement of the set compliance policies. This is something that is absolutely essential if a company wants to remain compliant. The use of in-house automation, along with products, such as Puppet, Chef, etc. can be used together to help manage drift and automate to meet the set compliance objectives.

EaseTech team member

To remain compliant in the cloud, it’s important to stay abreast of these changes as they continue to evolve. If you want to ensure your company or organization remains compliant, then keeping the tips and information here in mind is a must. If you’d like to learn more, additional information about cloud compliance can be found by reaching out to the team at EaseTech.

3 ways a BYOD policy for your business will make your life easier

In an effort to stay current, many companies (even the US government) are moving their solutions and tools to the cloud. Everything is interconnected via the internet, so it doesn’t matter whether the staff is in the building or not.

There are countless benefits to this change, but migrating to the cloud has its own potenial problems. Here is one of the most basic one. How do you handle employees working from their own devices? Do you provide employees with company devices? Or do you just let them use their own if they want to?

While there are benefits to both approaches, a solid BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) policy can make the whole thing a lot easier on you. Especially if you lead a smaller company with limited capital.  You get the assurance of good cybersecurity practices, and your employees get the flexibility they want.

If you BYOD policy is well planned.

Who doesn’t want lower overhead?

You can’t zero-out your IT budget. Not unless you want your staff to ditch all technology. (We don’t recommend that.) But there are ways to bring your tech-based overhead down.

Like utilizing BYOD.

Providing a device for every employee has a steep upfront cost, especially for an SMB or startup just getting on its feet. Even a cheap laptop will run in the hundreds-of-dollars. More specialized equipment, like Apple products for your design team, will cost even more.

We recommend providing equipment that’s essential to your staff to do their jobs. But if you already do that and they want to use their own tablet or laptop, as well, that benefits you—without an additional cost.

Factor in the increase in productivity, and it’s an automatic win for you.

Speedier training

Think about this: if you could get a boost in productivity with no investment of time or money, would you?

That’s what you get with a BYOD policy.

When your staff is empowered to bring in their own device, they’ll be working on equipment they already know and like.

No training. No expense. No lost time. You’ve preemptively checked off one item on their training itinerary.

Better equipment

People tend to update their personal equipment more often than their employers do. (And many businesses tend to hang onto their equipment much longer than they should). Newer equipment means tech tools that operate faster with fewer breakdowns and repairs.

Most people replace their personal devices when it’s convenient or when a newer device comes out, regardless of the performance of their current device. Businesses tend to replace their equipment when the old device breaks down, which could mean that it ends up being years out of date.

Long story short—most of the time a BYOD policy will mean your employees have greater access to newer equipment.

The policy itself

BYOD, in general, brings several benefits to the table. But without a written policy the practice can cause more trouble than it’s worth.

Here are several areas worth covering in the policy.

  • Acceptable use
  • What devices qualify for use
  • Whether the in-house IT department will perform repairs on personal devices or not
  • Whether the company will reimburse/subsidize for the use/repair of personal devices

And most importantly . . .

  • Security policies

The biggest downside to BYOD is the potential security risk. Since your IT team doesn’t directly manage these devices, you have limited control over what the user is or isn’t doing with them.

Your security policy should definitely include requirements for anti-virus and firewall use. Perhaps the IT team can give it a once-over as part of the employee’s onboarding process, or check in every so often to make sure the device is functioning properly.

A required best-practices training course could also be a good means of keeping the device safe for use on your network. And you should absolutely train employees to understand the inherent risks of using public Wi-Fi. Sure, it’s free, but it may not always keep your company data safe.

Nothing matters as much as security.

A BYOD policy has a lot of benefits—for your business and your employees. Just make sure you think through all the potential pitfalls.Do your research and draft a policy keeps your company data safe. And if you need some input from some experts in the field, don’t hesitate to give your managed IT services provider a call.

5 End-of-Year Tech Tips 2018

As many business owners, CFOs, and solo practitioners think about their end-of-year business planning, it’s a good time to look at your technology end-of-year needs as well. I have covered these five tips:

Passwords

With so many security compromises occurring, following good password management practices is critical. If it has been a while, now is the best time to change and update your passwords. Using passwords with long series of complex characters that are unique to each site can’t be overstated. A good New Year’s resolution would be to start using a password manager to help you keep up with the tasks, such as LastPass or 1Password.

Backups

Backups are the cornerstone of all disaster recovery plans. Each business has its own backup and recovery requirements, but they should be reviewed regularly. The biggest questions around backups tend to focus on time to recovery and archiving data.  Do you have new accounts that are depending on you to work all the time? Does the information you provide need to be stored and retrieved in a certain way, within certain time frames? Updated backup plans will help your company to recover from a cyberattack, major equipment failure, flood or catastrophic mistake made by a staff member.

Technology Budget Planning

Creating a budget or planning a tentative budget for technological needs is not an easy task. Similarly, to set goals for 2019, a certain type of review is required, looking at the past year. The business requirements need to be incorporated into these plans. Will business expansion require increased bandwidth on your Internet connection? in what ways can you improve the security of your client data? What can you do to add more security for remote users? These are just some of the important questions business managers might ask and need to plan for in the New Year. Start with your business goals and previous year challenges to map out new technology investments or enhancements.

Safeguarding Data

An annual review of all company and client data is important for obvious reasons, but it may have compliance implications as well. Putting safeguards in place can help to prevent fraud and identity theft as well as enhance customer confidence and trust. Safeguard reviews should start with an observance of HIPAA, IRS guidelines or other industry standards that may be necessary for your business. You will want to preserve the confidentiality and privacy of all data by restricting access and disclosure. This may not be a costly effort but one that takes awareness and often attention to simple procedures. The recently updated “Safeguarding Taxpayer Data: A Guide For Your Business (Rev. 6-2018)” from the IRS offers many ideas on how to approach the topic, even if you are not an accounting firm.

Policy Reviews

IT policies establish expectations and regulations for behavior related to company technology and networks. Liaise with managers to review past issues and update policies with the organization. Review your current acceptable use policy and find ways to communicate expectations to your employees about proper technology handling. And of course, incorporate a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policy along with guidelines on passwords, wire transfers and so on, as the Social Media Use Policy should be considered as a part of your policy review.

6 Critical Steps to Bolstering Your School’s Network Security

The ongoing revolution in digital technologies has made the learning process easier and more interesting for students of all ages. As your IT environment becomes more mature, however, you need to give some thought to how you will protect your systems and devices from attackers.

Don’t worry. There’s good news, too.

A little bit of common sense can go a long way when following cyber security best practices. Let’s look at some of the most important actions that you can take to make your school’s network more secure.

  1. Antivirus and Anti-Malware Solutions

Teachers are migrating more of their lessons and resources online, which means that your school’s network security is critical. Your network as a whole is becoming a more tempting target for cybercriminals who are looking to make a little profit—or just want to have a little fun at your expense.

For example, “ransomware” applications like the 2017 WannaCry attack lock up your own files and data and refuse to give you back access until you pay a hefty sum to the attackers. Viruses, worms, Trojan horses, and other nasty software can wreak havoc on your school network, making computers shut down or behave erratically.

In order to keep your network protected, install strong antivirus and anti-malware software that can quickly detect and quarantine suspicious applications. These applications should run scans of the entire network on a regular basis.

  1. Software Updates and Patches

The devastating 2017 Equifax breach, which revealed the sensitive information of 143 million people in the U.S., occurred after attackers entered the company’s network through a security vulnerability with a patch already available for months.

As you add more devices to your school network, it becomes more and more imperative to make sure that each machine has installed the latest upgrades. Patch management software can help you keep track of each device’s status. Additionally, it can alert you to any critical vulnerabilities that need immediate attention.

  1. BYOD Security Policies

Smartphones, tablets, and laptops have the potential to greatly enhance the classroom learning experience. However, they also carry great risks when you allow students to bring in their personal devices.

Because the administration has no oversight of how students behave on their own laptops and tablets, you could be opening a security “backdoor” every time that these devices connect to the school’s network.

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Related: They Stole You?

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To guard against the potential dangers of personal devices in the classroom, create and enforce a strong BYOD (“bring your own device”) security policy. For example, students might have to install an app that monitors their Internet activity while connected to the network at school. It’s a small price to pay to bolster your school’s network security.

  1. Third-Party Vetting

Many schools choose to work with third-party IT vendors because they don’t have the in-house knowledge or experience to build a robust IT infrastructure themselves. While this can greatly enhance your capabilities, it can also expose you to additional risk.

Just like students’ personal devices, vendors with inadequate security training may accidentally open a backdoor into your school network. The devastating Home Depot and Target data breaches both occurred due to a third-party vendor with lax security practices.

It’s important to do your research when speaking with potential IT vendors. Once you’re drawing up the contract, make sure that both of you are on the same page by including cyber security best practices in your service level agreement (SLA).

  1. Data Backups and Encryption

Schools represent a highly enticing target for attackers. This is because they possess a great deal of personal and sensitive information about their students and employees. Still, in the event that hackers do break into your network, all is not necessarily lost.

By backing up your data at regular intervals in a separate location, like on a server in the cloud, you can protect it from loss even if your systems are compromised by a ransomware attack. In addition, if you encrypt the data that you store on your on-premises servers, it will be useless gibberish. Even in the hands of the attackers, unless they have the decryption key.

Encrypting your data should be a secondary line of defense if a data breach does occur. Data encryption will help you remain compliant with legislation such as the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) because the breach only exposed the encrypted information and not the actual underlying data.

  1. Training and Education

The best defense is a good offense, especially in cyber security. All too often, schools and companies have issues with breaches and malware. This can all be because one person clicked on the wrong link or opened a malicious application.

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Related: 4 Ways to Avoid Internal Security Threats

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Students, teachers, and administrators should all be trained to recognize the common signs of phishing emails and other scams. For example, phishing emails usually create a false sense of urgency and have frequent spelling errors. In addition, the email address of the sender is likely incorrect. Links in the body of the email may superficially resemble the correct website, but point somewhere else upon closer examination.

Bonus Step 7: Partner with a Scholastic IT Expert

Everything we mentioned above will take ample coordination and research. It’s a delicate game of balancing the necessary network security components to secure your school and staying within your IT budget.

Luckily, that’s where we can help.

We’re experts in optimizing schools to have the best possible security solutions that work for their needs. Let’s have a chat and explore more of what you’re looking for.

How to Meet the New GDPR Compliance Requirements

The new General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) went into effect May 25, 2018. These European regulations ALSO apply to US companies who collect, maintain, or process personal data for individuals living in the European Union.

The monetary fees for non-compliance can reach over €20 million (approximately $23.2 million USD), but the reputation damage incurred can cost you your entire business.

Learn how to comply with GDPR and avoid costly mistakes with these tips.

1. Know Your Data

You likely know what your business process flows are, but map them to review what data you generate. Look at the types of personal data your business collects, stores and shares. Don’t forget to review internal data like personnel information as well as customer data.

2. Determine What Data You Need

Create lists and categorize data. Look at the purpose of personal data you keep to decide what you really need. Remember, the more you have, the more you can be fined for.

3. Decide What to Keep and Delete

Is your company a data controller, data processor or both?

Data controllers are companies that decide how customer data is to be processed and the purpose of the data. Data processors are companies that process that data for the controllers. Based on how your business fits into the controller and processor roles, start weeding out unnecessary data.

Related: Keeping Your Business Secure Online

4. Choose How Long Data Must Be Kept

Now that you have a clearer picture of the personal data you need for business operation, choose a relevant time period for storage. Your customers will need to know how long you plan on keeping their data and the process for requesting copies of their data usage. You’ll also need a process for how they can request to remove their data from your system.

5. Review Who Has Data Access

If you employ a 3rd-party processor, review its privacy policies to ensure compliance. Don’t be afraid to ask for clarification on GDPR issues. When the data originates with your company, you’re responsible to whoever you grant data access.

Related: How to Manage Your Business Technology

6. Define Who You Share Data With

Your processor may not be the only entity you share data with. Now is a great time to define exactly who data can be shared with as well as why. Be sure to include this in your own privacy policies.

7. Review Security Measures

Security breaches are a major issue in GDPR compliance. Look at past and present security for all of your protected data. Make any necessary changes, address training gaps and make certain that personal data is secure in all your business process flows.

Related: GDPR: How Does This New Regulation Affect U.S. Firms?

8. Implement Safe Storage Protocols

Know where you store your data. How safe is it? If you can’t answer that, it’s time to reevaluate storage protocols. Implement awareness trainings for staff so that protected data isn’t being stored in places it shouldn’t be. Also remember to focus your time on robust security tools and strategies.

9. Update Your Privacy Policies

As previously discussed, under the GDPR, customers have the right to request records and removal of their personal data from your systems. Update all of your privacy policies to include these process requests.

Companies can no longer assume consent to policies in the absence of an action. Make policies clear that the customer must give consent. When policies are updated, customers must also accept the new policies, even if they had previously given consent.

10. Appoint a Data Protection Impact Process and Officer

Implementing a data protection impact process means non-stop management of data. It may be suitable to assign these duties to a single data protection officer or a small team of data managers to ensure that testing and data protection processes run smoothly. This person or team can also address issues quickly without the distractions of other duties.

 

Still not sure if your company falls within GDPR compliance? Let’s have a chat and explore your unique situation. With proper preparation, you can gain and maintain GDPR compliance and avoid hefty fines.

4 Ways to Avoid Internal Security Threats

From malware and viruses to data breaches and denial of service attacks, it’s all too easy for companies to focus on external cybersecurity threats. Although they’re frequently overlooked, however, insider security threats are even more dangerous.

Nearly 75 percent of security breach incidents are due to insider threats, whether due to mistakes or malicious intent. What’s more, a majority of organizations agree that remediating the effects of an internal security breach could cost them $500,000 or more.

Because employees’ activities are so easy to slip under the radar, insider threats can go undetected for months or years. However, you’re by no means defenseless. In this article, we’ll go over the top 4 ways for you to prevent internal security threats at your organization.

1. Have a Strong Security Policy

Many internal security breaches occur due to employees’ misunderstanding of how they should be using enterprise IT resources. To prevent this from happening at your company, establish a clear, binding security policy and make sure that everyone knows and adheres to it.

Go over your existing security policy (if you have one) and add content that specifically addresses insider threats. Make sure that sensitive and personal data is only disseminated to people with a genuine business need for it and that this access is revoked when no longer necessary. Train your staff on the best practices for preventing attacks, and keep them up-to-date on the latest cybersecurity developments.

Related Content: 4 Business Benefits to Outsourcing Your IT Support

2. Do Background Checks

While they’re not an uncommon business practice, background checks should be absolutely essential for new hires who will have access to sensitive information. If you don’t have the funds to do a full investigation, even a cursory Google search can verify important details about employees’ education and employment history.

Because background checks can turn up new information and find new records all the time, it’s important that you screen employees at regular intervals. Your hiring contracts should include an “evergreen” clause that authorizes you to perform screening now and in the future.

3. Scan for Anomalies

Modern organizations generate reams of data about the activities of users within their IT environment: Unix and Windows logs, firewall data, intrusion detection system (IDS) logs, security reports, and more. With so much valuable information at your fingertips, it would be foolish to treat this data as little more than background noise.

Instead, you can use management and monitoring tools to keep a closer eye on what’s going on within your network. Insider threats typically lack the technical sophistication of external attacks, so they’re usually easier to detect. Common patterns to look out for include visiting suspicious websites and moving large amounts of data onto an external device.

Related Content: 8 Things to Include in the Perfect Disaster Recovery Plan

4. Identify “Problem” Users

While it’s true that any one of your employees could be an insider threat, there are certain types of users that pose a bigger risk. You should pay special attention to:

  • Employees who have recently been fired or received disciplinary action. They may feel that they need to retaliate by leaking your data or trade secrets to the world.
  • Privileged users who have access to more information than the average employee.
  • Third-party contractors and vendors who need to be granted access to your system. Make sure that these entities follow the same security policies as your internal users. For example, the devastating Home Depot data breach occurred after hackers gained entry to their systems using the credentials of a third-party vendor.

Internal security threats are just the beginning. If you want to keep learning, check out how to better keep your business secure online.

The IT security experts at EaseTech stand ready to share their experience and guidance to help you shore up your internal security measures.

How Businesses Can Save Time with IT

Every business can benefit from effectively utilizing their IT in the office. While not every technological advancement is necessarily practical or affordable, the right devices and programming can help you save time and money.

Small businesses need big ideas, and technology can bring increased productivity. Big businesses need scalability, and technology delivers that for them, too.

The barrier between plain ol’ technology and these benefits is understanding how to actually apply them to your needs.

Don’t worry, you’re not alone – hiring a managed IT service provider can help you get the most from these technological improvements automatically.

However, if you’re keen on saving time for yourself, follow these suggestions.

Software as a Service

SaaS applications allow your small business to easily acquire cloud-leased tools for a monthly subscription fee. Instead of purchasing and installing onsite software, your SaaS provider gives you access to the vast majority of the programs you need.

Plus, paying by monthly installments helps you better budget your expenses. You have constant access to the latest, most effective applications AND experts who can recommend the best programs for your business.

Related: 5 Common IT Support Questions, Answered

These applications can streamline your workflows and lower the time it takes to perform tasks.

Look at that – you’re already saving time with SaaS.

Artificial Intelligence

AI applications are not just for huge corporations. Businesses of all sizes can use them and their usage will only increase in the future. Your staff can benefit from AI assistants who can organize tasks (and even perform some of their own, such as calendar setting).

Currently, the medical industry benefits from apps that help doctors diagnose various conditions automatically. AI software can also perform human resource duties and monitor your office energy usage.

Related: 5 Reasons to Outsource Your IT

A majority of small businesses report plans to incorporate more AI in the near future to make their companies more efficient. After all, automating tasks gives you plenty of time for other more important tasks.

Mobile Computing

Small businesses especially benefit from mobile devices and collaborative software that allows for staff members to coordinate with clients, vendors, and other employees from anywhere in the world.

With the proper software, you can safely access business accounts no matter where you are. Additionally, you can efficiently complete tasks any time of the day or night. Laptops, tablets and even mobile phones can allow you to quickly deal with any business matter while you relax by the pool or spend time with your family.

In short, they allow you to work from anywhere – saving you the time and trouble of having to wait to get to the office to do work.

Cybersecurity

One of the biggest challenges to small businesses is cybersecurity. You are vulnerable to hackers who can steal sensitive information, including customer credit card information or critical company data.

Malware attacks can shut your entire system down, costing you time and eliminating productivity. The average small business loses over $8,000 for each hour of downtime.

You need advanced protection against hackers as well as training for your staff to remain competitive.

Related: 3 Simple Ways to Promote Cloud Security

Managed IT Services

Needless to say, time is everything in business. With it, you can get things done and complete more work. Without it, you’re stuck in disarray.

There’s a simpler way to save a lot of time automatically.

A managed IT service provider can provide tech services and manage them for you, freeing you from many time-consuming tasks. They can offer you cloud solutions to keep you connected, as well as security services to keep you protected.

They provide help in employee training and also create implement backup and recovery plans to ensure your business keeps running in case of a natural or man-made disaster.

In short, a managed IT team ensures that any difficulties are addressed immediately. You won’t suffer the delays you have when you hire contractors to fix specific issues. With the help of managed IT services, all of the tools you need to save time will work together to give you the power to grow your company.