All Posts By

Matt Russell

Protect Yourself From Malicious Email

By | Blog

It’s estimated that 90% of all email sent worldwide every day is malicious in one form or another. That’s crazy, huh? While we work to protect you and the organization through enterprise security measures and policies, there’s no silver bullet that exists to eliminate this issue.

We’re sharing the information below to help guide and inform you of the common threats that are out there. These are things you can do to help us in this effort, and what to do if you suspect you’ve received a malicious email. Thank you for continuing to be our best first line of defense!

Common Email Security Threats:

  • Spoofing – When someone pretends to be someone else to gain your confidence, access systems, steal information, steal money.
  • Phishing – A malicious attempt to trick you into sharing passwords, credit or bank information, or other sensitive information by posing as someone else or a trusted institution.
  • Viruses – a piece of code embedded in a file attachment that is capable of copying itself and typically has a detrimental effect, such as corrupting the system or destroying data.
  • SPAM – Unwanted and unsolicited digital communication generally sent out in bulk by malicious senders
  • Ransomware – Malware that locks users out of their devices and/or files, and then the perpetrator demands an anonymous online payment in order to restore access.

Things you can do to protect yourself and your business:

  • Be skeptical – this is the absolute best first line of defense for everyone
    • Think first, click second
    • When in doubt, ask
  • Be vigilant – you’re most vulnerable when you let your guard down
  • Stop emailing files – use ShareFile as a secure way to share information both inside, and more importantly outside the organization
  • Don’t hide the mess under the rug – if you suspect something, even if done inadvertently, report it immediately

If you suspect a malicious email message, here’s what you should do

  1. Flag the email. At the bottom of most unknown emails you receive, you will see a message in the footer, similar to the following: “This email has been scanned for spam and viruses. Click to report this email as spam.” Click the link within the message and the email will be reported. This is also a good way to reduce SPAM.
  2. If the email is obviously malicious go ahead and delete the email after reporting it.
  3. If you have questions or doubts about the legitimacy of an email contact your IT support team. If you are a Calyx client, please visit our support page for directions on how to engage IT support.

Why Your IT Budget Must Align with Business Goals

By | Insight

Today’s technology is amazing. And what will come in the future will probably blow our minds. But as much as we love new tech, we are committed to delivering only responsible recommendations for our clients. No question. Technology in any business scenario has to be purposeful. Technology for technology’s sake just isn’t an option.

To us, it is critically important for technology to align with our clients’ business goals or the tech investment is scattered and the business suffers in the end. Today’s CIOs and tech managers have had to transition from a “run costs” way of operating to a strategic mentality. Technology initiatives are a critical component of driving business growth, no longer the backroom “business as usual” department.

“CIOs are under mounting pressure to address digital needs with “grow” and “transform” functions, as well as to renovate the operational environment with “run” functions. They also must still demonstrate how IT is meeting strategic business goals,” says Suzanne Adnams, research vice president at Gartner.

Ultimately, what all this means is that most of your IT budget should be spent on areas that drive revenue. That may be easier to ascertain in some businesses than others but revenue should be top of mind for almost every IT decision.

A Roadmap for Better Alignment

So, is there a roadmap or a good approach to aligning IT budgets with business goals? We’ve developed some processes and planning guides and share them here.

  1. Know when to let go. So many IT departments spend a significant portion of their budgets maintaining the status quo. That includes outdated systems that truly don’t support the business but they have been in place for a long time and it’s just an assumption that they need to be there. Not necessarily. In many situations, there are innovative solutions that could replace old products and actually work toward business growth.
  2. Update your IT roadmap. A roadmap should lay out your current IT situation including tech, functions and staff. This is usually a pretty dynamic document which will allow you to change due to market and business transitions. This is usually the place where the IT department includes their wish list for new tech. That’s fine but be sure that roadmap changes align with what’s happening with the business overall. Your priority should be to either accelerate or decelerate spending based on business activity.
  3. Focus on growth. Typically businesses with plans to grow revenue, market share and influence expand their product and services offering. To support these initiatives, CIOs must determine that their IT capabilities will perform appropriately. Usually, these growth strategies need increased budget for capital projects and technology upgrades. Essential growth functions include business process analysis, project management, solution and application architecture, and procurement.
  4. Change your view. CIOs are no longer just the keeper of smooth functionality; they are also being charged with determining new markets, generating revenue, delivering innovation and creating new services and solutions. Fortunately other C-level executives realize the power of technology and willingly work in partnership with IT departments to support digital transformations within the business.Today’s CIOs now get involved in capital investment management, research and development, business architecture, digital solutions and more.
  5. Account for disruption. This may seem like it’s unrelated to driving growth but it’s important to be realistic. In spite of all your best efforts on driving revenue, thinking ahead and working proactively, disruptions still occur. It can be anything from a power outage to a major weather event. This is just a fact of life for an IT department and your managed services provider can help you determine the allocation for this line item.
  6. Incorporate industry standards and compliance. Regulated businesses must accommodate meeting compliance requirements as part of the IT budget. Just be aware that if you are spending more on compliance than you are on IT business drivers, your IT budget may not be aligned with overall business goals.

The synergy between CIOs and other C-level execs is a positive move toward budgeting that’s both responsible and flexible to accommodate business growth. When the helicopter view of a business is in sight, it’s easy to see that IT has a huge impact on the future of any company. Real, sustainable business growth can only occur by looking at major strategic initiatives—instead of individual line items—and budgeting accordingly.

5 Reasons Why Your Business Should Outsource IT

By | Insight

Most businesses have growth strategies that will lead to the need for core competencies that don’t reside within the business, and new tactics are required to maintain or further their growth initiatives. Requiring new expertise does not indicate that a company didn’t plan appropriately. It simply means that it has grown beyond its resident skill sets.

This is especially true in the case of small businesses. Founders build companies based on their passions, and invariably grow to require skills and new tactics that are outside their wheelhouse, oftentimes including IT. Fortunately, IT can be readily outsourced, minimizing the financial and workforce investment necessary to strategically grow the business.

Knowing when to outsource IT operations can be a challenge but we’ve identified 5 of the top reasons why your small business should outsource IT and share them with you here.

1. Minimize the risks. No doubt, your goal is to focus on the parts of the business where you can have the most impact. Areas of sales, marketing, customer experience and more need visionary input. Fortunately, IT solutions providers can provide the tech support necessary to grow the business. They can also provide specialized services for short-term plans.

When you outsource to professional IT solutions providers, you get a trusted partner with the expertise to provide secure services while you manage other aspects of the business. You’ll be able to relax, knowing that cybersecurity issues are being managed with in-depth expertise, minimizing your company’s digital risk exposure.

You’ll also get best-in-class technology solutions to prevent unauthorized access and data vulnerability. Your specialized security team will be able to respond in real-time to minimize data breaches and hacking. With qualified IT partnerships, you don’t have to worry about surprise downtimes, unexpected costs or personnel issues. You do what you do best and your IT solutions provider will do the rest.

2. Enterprise-level IT at lower costs. When you want a fully functioning IT initiative, outsourcing is the way to go. The rest will follow. And even if you’re not quite enterprise-level, act as if you are. A large enterprise typically has a full-time IT staff and can invest in tools and systems to manage all parts of their network. Small businesses usually can’t afford those luxuries but outsourcing offers all the enterprise benefits of expertise and insight as they scale.

3. Immediate value. When small businesses take the IT outsourcing step, they not only get access to the skills and expertise of the IT solutions provider, but also the financial economies that accompany the partnership. IT solutions providers give access to lower software and hardware pricing so companies don’t have to invest on their own. Your human resources can be more effective in building your business instead of working to keep systems running, updated and secure. Cost efficiencies can be channeled into other areas of the business when IT is outsourced properly.

4. Focus on core areas of the business. If IT isn’t your strong suit, don’t try to force the issue. You started your business because you wanted to provide a product or solution. Your passion lies in the development and creating new business strategies so don’t try to become an IT expert. There are things that only you can do such as provide strategic insight and business-building initiatives. Let the IT issues to the IT experts. Don’t ever outsource your core competency but always consider outsourcing the IT elements to a trusted IT solutions provider, you can relax knowing that details are being managed while you take care of what you do best.

5. Experienced IT support. Managing IT costs is huge for small businesses but sometimes cost-saving efforts result in inexperienced IT staffers who can’t work proactively to keep your technology running smoothly. When you outsource to an IT solutions provider, you’ll get pros who know what to do before any problems can occur. Plus, you don’t have time to manage IT issues. Let the pros take over and ease your mind from any technology issues.

Overall, when you partner with an IT solutions provider like Calyx, you’ll see reduced security risks, lower Total Cost of Ownership, business scalability, streamlined processes, better continuity, and more productivity for your small business.