Four Important Ways to Improve Data Security

Security isn’t convenient by nature—and, if it seems convenient and easy, the truth is that it really may not be secure. Your data is valuable; you need that data to perform your job which makes it valuable to those who can prevent you from accessing it. Knowing it can be held hostage, is a lot of pressure for you as a business owner and keeping on top of a complicated discipline such as security is a full-time job. You have enough on your plate.

So how can you keep one step ahead of hackers without making cyber security your new career? To avoid the cost and limitations of hiring in-house, you might try a managed IT provider—an expert firm with comprehensive skills and experiences to draw on to give you top-of-the-line security without the burden on you and your company.

As a managed IT provider, Prime offers clients the benefit of many years of experience and knowledge from its data security team (not to mention others on our team who are experts in related areas). For this article, we’ve asked them to share some of their best advice over the most important steps you can take to make your organization less vulnerable to an attack.

1. Cyber Security Training

It doesn’t matter how tightly you have your data locked up if someone gives the keys away. Your security relies on every single employee being savvy about potential traps and scams. A managed services provider can train your team to be ready for potentially damaging attacks.

Many of these scams come through email, for example. The sender may pretend to be a trusted company or member of your organization, or they might claim to have compromising information about an employee (whether they truly do or not) and then use it as leverage to get what they want. Training employees to recognize these kinds of emails and when it isn’t appropriate to share information through email (even with someone they think they can trust) is essential.

After training is complete, you can send emails simulating these scams to members of your organization to test them. This will help you know for sure who is adequately prepared and who might need a little more education. Knowing these emails are being sent to catch them off guard helps keep people on their toes, so they won’t fall for a genuine scam.

2. Keep Everything Up to Date

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Security—especially cybersecurity—is an ever-shifting target. Attackers are always finding new loopholes, backdoors, and other ways of getting what they want. Fortunately, security experts are working equally as hard to close those vulnerabilities before they’re used for nefarious purposes. Keeping your software and equipment up to date will make you a much more difficult target for attackers, and a managed services company can keep you on that cutting edge.

The number one step your team can take to provide a secure system is shutting computers down at the end of every day and restarting them in the morning. While it may seem meaningless or time-consuming, completing these updates are doing more than just making things run better. They’re patching critical security vulnerabilities as they are discovered and preventing hackers from finding a way in. Shutting down and allowing updates to run is a fast, fundamental way to close security holes.

A managed services provider has experts on hand who continually track your security, and they can help you avoid pitfalls before you experience them. MSP engineers also can keep your security tools up to date, and they have the knowledge and experience to know what will help the most. Best of all, engineers can remotely schedule regular updates during a convenient time that when work computers aren’t in use.

Some companies work with individual software providers who keep their products safe, but it’s much safer to have neutral, dedicated security experts with your best interests at heart look at your entire system through a routine of repeated security checks.

3. Password Security

Nowhere is the push and pull between security and convenience more visible than password security. The most secure passwords are long and complicated—and, as a result, difficult to remember. It’s also much safer to have different passwords for every piece of hardware and software you use. Using the same password repeatedly is like using the same key for your house, office, car, and everything else. If someone manages to get access to that key, they have access to everything you wanted to keep safe.

A password manager software provides the security of long, complex passwords without anyone having to memorize long strings of characters just to use programs needed every day. This tool allows you to regularly change passwords without having to memorize new ones, which streamlines access for your team. You can add yet another layer of security through multifactor authentication, which requires further proof of a user’s identity and authorization before allowing access. Busy people are often resistant to using password managers, thinking it takes away valuable time. But those extra steps are also extra hurdles for potential hackers, so it’s a critical part of keeping systems safe.

Thankfully, password management doesn’t need to be an ordeal. A managed services provider can close the gap between convenience and highly secure passwords. For example, technicians can reduce the number of prompts needed for multifactor authentication and streamline the process, so your employees quickly get to the tools they need without sacrificing security.

4. Physical Security

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Of course, not all attempts to deprive you of your property are digital. Keeping facilities physically secure is also important for the safety of both real-world assets and data.

A card access system or other means of access control keeps you in command of who is in your building and when. Intercom systems confirm a person’s identity if they show up unexpectedly, and security cameras and intrusion detection tools can help stop a potential bad actor before he or she has a chance to cause harm. Training is also important for physical security. For example, people are inherently helpful and may want to hold a door open for someone behind them, but this is a common way for thieves to enter a building. Physical security training helps your people build good habits to keep everything secure.

Selecting, installing, and operating physical security equipment can be an especially daunting and time-consuming task, but working with a managed services provider alleviates much of that burden. These experts know which equipment has proven to work and which equipment doesn’t work as well. (Hint: The most heavily advertised systems may not be the most secure or easiest to use!) Your managed services technicians should have the knowledge and experience to easily install physical security equipment in your building—and they’ll probably be able to do it much more rapidly than your own team could. Physical security experts also provide critical basic services, such as reviewing security footage in the event of an incident and running regular equipment checks, so you know everything is working properly.

Managed Services Takes a Weight Off Your Shoulders

Of course, most people generally know the value of keeping data and assets secure. You probably know you could be doing more to improve security at your own organization. But the question for many organizations is, “Can we actually take the time to do all this, and do it well?”

The tools and steps listed above can get you started, but many organizations don’t have the time, knowledge, experience, or budget to hire a skilled team and plan a comprehensive strategy with no holes. (It only takes one crack in the door to let a bad actor in…)

A managed services provider solves all of these problems in one fell swoop. Through a managed services contract, your team of technicians lends you the full depth of their knowledge and breadth of their experience to both give you peace of mind and allow you more time to do the things you are an expert in—all at a fraction of the cost of forming your own dedicated security department.

If you’d like to know more about managed services, some of the tools we provide, and more tips to help you gain time and peace of mind, visit Prime Managed or call 402-289-4126.


Prime Communications, Inc. Partners with SilverSky to Boost Cybersecurity Offerings Nationwide

Morrisville, N.C. – October 20, 2021SilverSky, a cybersecurity innovator offering powerful managed detection and response (MDR) services, today announced that it has partnered with Nebraska-based Prime Communications, Inc. (Prime), a national provider of customized technology solutions to protect and connect people and facilities.

Through the partnership, Prime will now offer SilverSky’s MDR services to its customer base throughout the United States – further enhancing its overall offerings and boosting its growing cybersecurity focus.

“Just as we tell our customers that it’s crucial to find the right service provider, it’s just as important for Prime Communications to gain the added expertise from industry leaders such as SilverSky,” said Brian Kenkel, CEO at Prime Communications. “We’re pleased to partner with SilverSky to ensure that our MDR capabilities bring the highest possible value to our customers as they seek to fortify their security posture.”

“We’re pleased to team up with an organization such as Prime that has an existing national presence and is looking to harness proven MDR capabilities to best serve their clients,” said Richard Dobrow, CEO at SilverSky. “This partnership illustrates the trust that organizations place in SilverSky’s ability to combat today’s ever-advancing cyber threats.”

About Prime Communications, Inc.

Prime Communications, Inc. provides enterprise leaders with high-performing infrastructure along with physical security and network solutions. Prime was recently named in the SD&I’s Fast 50 List as a top systems integrator. Prime’s services include IP video, access control, cloud-based video management, workplace violence prevention, network infrastructure, managed offerings, and design and consulting services. Prime’s three critical factors of success: responsiveness, customized solutions and project management allow them to execute the most challenging projects while providing new and innovative technology solutions. For more information on Prime’s complete list of services and solutions, visit www.primecominc.com.

 About SilverSky

Medium-sized enterprises face the same cybersecurity threats, compliance mandates, and business risk as Fortune 500 companies. SilverSky is a leader in enabling these companies to meet regulatory requirements, proactively respond to threats, and rapidly reduce risk. State-of-the-art MDR services are delivered through their SOCs, which were developed based on military-grade security, and are powered by the latest integrated technology. SilverSky has more than 20 years of operational success defending thousands of customers in some of the most demanding industry sectors. Visit www.silversky.com.


Understanding Your Business Data: 4 Questions You Should Ask

The world is swimming in data! Even the smallest companies, after many years of networking and cloud use, can be harboring millions of megabytes of information — records, backups, past projects, website metrics and network use. It’s hard to get our heads around it.  Our use of data has become so sophisticated that universities now offer degrees in data management.

The analysis and use of data to make business-driven decisions is often referred to as “business intelligence.” This discipline includes initiatives such as reporting, analytics, user dashboards, event processing and data mining, as well as business performance management through disciplines such as benchmarking and data set comparison. If you own or manage a small or medium-size business, keeping all that data safe and applying proper business intelligence practices to it can be a serious challenge.

But, if you do figure out how to manage it well, there are gems of information and wisdom in your data that can help ensure your business thrives and stays as competitive as possible and improve efficiencies. 

The question is — how do you get to all that data? How do you keep it safe? And how do you determine how to best use it? A managed services provider (MSP) can help you establish a thorough business intelligence plan and provide management of it for you as an extension of your staff. Many small and medium sized businesses have some difficulty calculating ROI for this service—it seems cheaper to do it yourself. Some already have a provider and believe their data is being managed expertly, but the systems and processes the provider is using are outdated or incomplete. It comes down to this: Understanding the questions you should be asking about your data. This article outlines the top 4 questions you need to ask your Managed IT Provider. 

The 4 questions you need to ask:

1. Where is our data?

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Most enterprises still aren’t aware of all the individual devices that contain data belonging to the business. It can be difficult to gain a clear grasp on how data moves from your on-site network to personal cell phones and computers, laptops taken out of the building, vendor networks and cloud folders. Prime Communications’ VP of Information Technology, Dave McCollough, explained, “If you don’t know where your data is or whether it is going ‘out in the wild,’ it could leave your sensitive information exposed to bad actors, and if it gets into the wrong hands, it could be costly.”

On the positive side, understanding where your data is and how to use it to your best advantage can give your organization a competitive edge. What data about your customers do you have sitting in the depths of your system that could be used to make your next marketing campaign more successful? How can you access the metrics for your business’ profitability to client loyalty?

Many small and medium-size businesses don’t have the expertise — or the time — to thoroughly catalog all their data and understand links to all devices. “It’s not cost-effective for a CEO to spend days managing data folders, even if they do have the knowledge,” McCollough said. “But the truth is, most CEOs and others who are given authority over data in small and medium-size businesses don’t really have the expertise to manage it well.” He explained that hiring a knowledgeable expert in-house can be too expensive for many smaller businesses—and those that do must then depend only on the skillset and experience of that one person.

Ask your MSP to write a clear data map showing all devices, all potential links, and how data moves through all of it. In addition, they should provide you with a plan for ongoing monitoring and management of all devices and depositories that could potentially be linked to your system.

2. Who can access our data?

It’s one thing to know where your data resides and quite another to understand exactly how hackers can get to it — or, when your team needs the data, how they might find it difficult to get. Successfully managing business intelligence requires both (1) protecting data from bad actors and (2) making it easy for you and your team to get to it and make decisions based on what’s in all your data depositories.

First, from a security standpoint, users are the weakest link in the chain, but technology offers many ways to control access. Multifactor authentication, for example, has become extremely important. Many business owners don’t realize how common it is for passwords that have been set by individuals to end up on the dark web, where they can be used by hackers. Justin Ekstein, Prime Communications’ Solution Engineer, explains: “With multifactor authentication, even if a password is leaked, the perpetrator won’t have your cellphone, which makes it much more difficult to get to your data.” 

Second, when it’s time for your team to access data, do they know how to get there? Creating a logical and easy-to-navigate data hierarchy, perhaps through a well-thought-out user dashboard, makes it easier for everyone in-house to get to the data they need and ensures nothing useful sits unused for years. Your data repositories should be periodically updated and cleaned out.

Ask your managed services provider to review and update your data hierarchy. Once your data is set up where it can be easily and safely accessed by your team, your MSP should be willing and able to provide thorough training, including security simulations.

3. How can we ensure our data is secure?

This is a topic unto itself, and we will address it more fully in an additional article about security and managed services providers. For now, think generally about how your data is secured. At the very least, you probably know you should have an antivirus system in place. However, according to Ekstein, many small and medium businesses are not aware that traditional antivirus programs often are useless now because they are outdated — or the hardware they are used on is outdated.

This is even more important at this time in history because of the proliferation of remote workers. Proper security of business data requires establishing regular best-of-class patching services and regularly updating software. You need to know how remote workers are connecting and how they are using the data. “Not knowing amounts to leaving the security of your system up to chance,” Ekstein said. “At the very least, when remote workers connect to your network, they might be bringing in some kind of sludge along with them inadvertently.”

Many companies still have basic antivirus programs that are based on definitions of viruses they’ve seen before and software packages that might be vulnerable. “In the last couple of years, there are so many new threats, and they are all so different,” Ekstein said. “You have to have a solution that has the ability to look at behaviors instead of whether it’s a good software package.” This type of security software is called Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR).

Part of having a well-appointed IT security system is determining whether you have robust backups to completely recover your system after a hack or even a physical disaster. “Just because you have backups, doesn’t mean they’re working,” Ekstein said. “They need to be regularly tested, and keep in mind that not all cloud services are backed up equally or are not easily restorable.” Don’t be fooled by the idea that your data is not important to anyone else and therefore a hacker wouldn’t be able to use it to make any money. If a hacker uses ransomware to lock down information that’s valuable to your organization, you could find yourself in a position where you must pay tens of thousands of dollars to retrieve your entire company history. The loss of customer information, for example, could damage your organization’s reputation.

Ask your MSP to identify specific programs being used to keep your network safe and then explain to you exactly how it all fits together.  To keep your network safe going forward, require your MSP to draft a plan for continual monitoring and disaster recovery. In addition to establishing a chain of command to make decisions about security, you should define actions you trust your MSP to take on your behalf immediately. “A disaster recovery plan needs to be a living document,” McCollough pointed out. “Don’t just write it and let it sit — test it on a regular basis.”

4. What's in it for you?

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Small and medium businesses are known for their impressive resourcefulness and the ability of employees to wear many hats, learn new things and take on challenging roles. In fact, many small and medium business have seemingly achieved the impossible through sheer will! But these days a company’s data is too important to learn on the fly.

It’s easy to believe meticulous monitoring of your network is not that important. After all, you may tell yourself, you’ve been okay up to now, haven’t you? You may not have experienced a negative event yet, but the general consensus is that it is just a matter of time for any organization. You may already have a process in place for making data and business intelligence decisions, but if data is not your specialty you likely have gaps in your system that could cause devastating problems. Also, you have other things to do — how can you keep up with everything you need to know in the fast-moving world of data management and security?

Perhaps you already have an MSP that monitors your system. That’s a great first step, but don’t let it be a “set it and forget it process.” Learn enough about it to ask intelligent questions. Does your provider include training, data mapping and regular proactive reporting as part of its regular services? Is your MSP equipped to help you create a data access plan and easy-to-use hierarchy, so you can use your data to its best advantage? Don’t think of your MSP service as only “security services”—there is much more value to be tapped.

Ask your MSP to document exactly what you are getting from them. They should not only provide software, hardware and monitoring. They should help you strategize, then set everything up and administer it on a continual basis, helping you look at your data clearly and make good decisions. Backups should be checked daily. Security breaches should be continually ferreted out and fixed using the latest hardware and software, including training and testing your team. No useful data should linger unnecessarily in the depths of your network!

Benefits of Working with a Data-Intelligence-Equipped MSP

When was your data last backed up and reorganized? Is your antivirus updated? Many companies don’t address these issues until a disaster turns their attention forcefully to the inner workings of their business intelligence systems. But the exposure of data can cause irreparable harm in a company’s financial stability – and even its reputation if sensitive data such as customer information is lost.

“The best time to examine your data, business intelligence tools and potential exposures is before something bad happens,” McCollough said. “Every company should create a roadmap of its technology for the next three to five years.” If it can’t be done thoroughly in-house, using knowledge of the latest technology both for hacking and fighting against hacking, then you may want to reach out to an agile, professional MSP such as Prime Communications.

Both Ekstein and McCollough are members of a comprehensive new Prime MSP division. They bring decades of experience with them in a wide variety of managed services issues and solutions. Prime customers look to them as Chief Information Officers or Chief Security Officers on call. Working with an outside MSP team can be even better than hiring someone in-house; you get the benefit of a highly experienced team at a reasonable cost, as well as access to the best hardware and software—and the combined metrics of years-worth of multiple customers’ experiences with data and business intelligence.

“All of the services discussed in this article, and more are in our toolbox for Prime Managed clients,” Ekstein said. “We look at your specific situation and tailor a plan to your needs—we don’t just offer what is easiest for us to do.” Other Prime divisions support the MSP division with complementary targeted services in structured cabling and DAS-installations, physical security solutions, and network solutions. When you hire Prime, you get the benefit of a full team of professionals with specialties in many different network, security, and communications disciplines.

For more information about Prime Managed and a free initial meeting to discuss your data and business intelligence needs, call 402-289-4126 or email managed@primecominc.com.


PRIME COMMUNICATIONS, INC. PARTNERS WITH TECHNOLOGY ASSET MANAGEMENT COMPANY 

 ELKHORN, Neb.—Prime Communications, Inc. (Prime) has recently partnered with Technology Asset Management Company (TAMCO). The Florida-based company has redesigned technology procurement by providing end users with the ability to acquire new technologies utilizing an as-a-service subscription model. 

 Founded in 1994, TAMCO recognized the significant pitfalls within traditional procurement methods. They realized that most technology solutions are non-revenue-generating assets and counter-intuitive to an after-tax cash sale, not to mention that technology was advancing at a pace faster than companies could manage. Through the creation of their as-a-service subscription offering, TAMCO Shield, customers now have the ability to pay with more control as they enter in and out of technology lifecycles.  

 Prime’s Vice President of National Sales, Brian Freeman explains that when integrators such as Prime, partner with a financial service provider like TAMCO, clients receive tremendous flexibility when procuring the hardware, software and maintenance components for a physical security solution, which then allows them to invest their capex dollars into business operations. 

 “Partnering with TAMCO puts Prime in a position to be able to provide our clients with the ability to acquire the technology they need in a fiscally responsible way,” said Freeman. 

 TAMCO’s Managing Partner, Paul Metzheiser, further adds, “It’s a breath of fresh air when you have an organization like Prime Communications that has a mature service offering and the right leadership to make this transition. The makeup of their technology solutions are perfect for a technology-as-a-service offering, and we are thrilled to have them as a partner.” 

About Prime Communications, Inc. 

Prime Communications, Inc. provides enterprise leaders with high-performing infrastructure along with physical security and network solutions. Prime was recently named in the SD&I’s Fast 50 List as a top systems integrator. Prime’s services include IP video, access control, cloud-based video management, workplace violence prevention, network infrastructure, managed offerings, and design and consulting services. Prime’s three critical factors of success: responsiveness, customized solutions and project management allow them to execute the most challenging projects while providing new and innovative technology solutions. For more information on Prime’s complete list of services and solutions, please visit: www.primecominc.com 

About TAMCO 

Technology Asset Management Company (TAMCO) was founded in 1994 and has stood strong for an organization within the ever evolving technology industry. TAMCO got its start financing phone solutions and has expanded into a multifaceted service sales model consulting partner. Providing sales, marketing, and financial resources for nearly every type of technology integrator in a variety of technology niches. TAMCO’s driven to help provide organizations with a better way to pay for their technology solutions. Specifically, TAMCO’s Technology-as-a-Service subscription solution is unlike any other on the market, catering to an organization’s financial and technical needs where no one else can. For additional information on TAMCO and their offerings visit: www.tamcocorp.com 

 


PRIME COMMUNICATIONS, INC. PARTNERS WITH QUANERGY SYSTEMS, INC.

 ELKHORN, Neb.—Prime Communications, Inc. (Prime) is proud to announce its newest vendor partner: Quanergy Systems, Inc. Based in Sunnyvale, California, Quanergy is a leader in providing OPA-based solid state LiDAR sensors and smart 3D solutions for security, automotive and IoT.

LiDAR stands for Light Detection and Ranging. Utilizing low-power, eye-safe lasers, Quanergy’s time-of-flight sensing technology measures the time it takes for a laser to complete a round trip between a sensor and a target. The resulting aggregate data are then used to generate a 3D point cloud image, providing both spatial location and depth information to identify, classify and track moving objects.

Prime’s Eastern Region Vice President, Nate Green, explains that given the advanced nature of Quanergy’s technology, clients can now see traffic patterns, customer experience paths and how many people occupy a building in real time. Green adds that LiDAR sensors can identify the difference between a person and an object in motion, reducing false alarms at night and providing end-users with significant cost savings.

“Our partnership with Quanergy will provide Prime’s customers with relevant data on their facilities and clientele behavior,” said Green. “This includes, but is not limited to, queue wait times, occupancy levels, identifying areas of high traffic and operational safety, allowing Prime to be not only a security partner, but a trusted business partner.”

“We are excited to bring our LiDAR based IoT solution to Prime’s customers,” said Gerald Becker, Quanergy’s VP of Market Development & Alliances. “LiDAR is extremely accurate, reliable, and versatile, offering many advantages for retail applications as well as security. For example, businesses can use sensor data to visualize customers’ shopping journey in real time, monitor the flow of goods throughout the store, optimize store layouts, increase building security, and more—all with the power of LiDAR.”

About Prime Communications, Inc.

Prime Communications, Inc. provides enterprise leaders with high-performing infrastructure along with physical security and network solutions. Prime was recently named in the SD&I’s Fast 50 List as a top systems integrator. Prime’s services include IP video, access control, cloud-based video management, workplace violence prevention, network infrastructure, managed offerings, and design and consulting services. Prime’s three critical factors of success: responsiveness, customized solutions and project management allow them to execute the most challenging projects while providing new and innovative technology solutions. For more information on Prime’s complete list of services and solutions, please visit: www.primecominc.com

 About Quanergy Systems, Inc.

Quanergy Systems’ mission is to create powerful, affordable smart LiDAR solutions for automotive and IoT applications to enhance people’s experiences and safety. Quanergy has developed the only true, 100% solid state CMOS LiDAR sensor built on optical phased array (OPA) technology to enable the mass production of low-cost, highly reliable 3D LiDAR solutions. Through Quanergy’s smart LiDAR solutions, businesses can now leverage real-time, advanced #D insights to transform their operations in a variety of industries including industrial automation, physical security, smart cities, smart spaces, and much more. Quanergy solutions are deployed by over 350 customers across the globe. For more information, please visit us at: www.quanergy.com