Our IT Consulting Blog

If you are looking for the latest updates with OAC Technology or in the IT world, check out our IT blog for tips, news, and more!

3 Warning Signs That You Need a Server Upgrade

Getting a new server can be a costly headache, but dealing with a failing one can cause even bigger issues. Old hardware doesn’t just slow down your productivity — it leaves you vulnerable to hackers and malware.

There are usually obvious symptoms that you will begin noticing when it’s time to upgrade your server. We’ve assembled a list of the top three warning signs and why upgrading to a new server sooner rather than later is the best option for your company.

Here Is What to Look For

1. Increasing Maintenance Costs

Most servers have roughly a five-year life cycle with routine maintenance. As this mark starts approaching, maintenance visits will become more frequent and more costly, and it will become necessary to weigh the cost of replacement versus repair.

Think of your server like a car — at a certain point you will have to start bringing it into the shop more often and each repair becomes more expensive than the last. At this stage, it might make the most sense to buy a new car (or server) and save yourself the financial pain of all the potential repairs just around the corner.

If your server requires frequent care from your IT team, chances are you are at risk of a significant issue or complete server failure. Before disaster strikes, it is in your best interest to replace the whole thing instead of waiting until your hand is forced.

Your server holds all your data, and your employees work off of it every day — can you really risk losing that functionality while you wait for a new server to be installed and set up?

2. Your Existing Server Is Exhibiting Odd Behavior

Odd behaviors could be an indication that your server is compromised or simply too outdated to handle the needs of your business. While both these issues exhibit different warnings signs, they lead to the same outcome: loss of data and productivity.

A server exhibiting slow speeds and requiring constant reboots is a clear sign that it is nearing the end of its life cycle. These issues hurt the productivity of your staff and could lead to permanent data loss due to data transfer bottlenecks. By replacing your server, you will not only mitigate server failure concerns, but you will also have happier employees who no longer have to deal with the problems associated with slow speeds (for example, slow program load times).

Additionally, if you come across encrypted files on your server that should not be or they start requiring a different password, it is possible your server was subjected to a ransomware attack or another type of virus. Outdated hardware is often the target for this type of attack because vulnerabilities are not patched. Hackers realize this and specifically target these servers because they are the path of least resistance.

3. It’s Getting Slower

As mentioned above, one of the most obvious signs of an aging server is slow speeds (that are getting slower). As software upgrades and patches are applied, they may bog down your server. A server that is 5-10 years old may not have the resources to handle software, or even updates, written for a modern server.

Hard drives that store your data in servers may slow down due to normal wear and tear. While this could just be occurring due to the age of your server, it could also be a sign of a serious problem.

Why it Matters

When it comes to server upgrades, being proactive rather than reactive will save you time, money and ensure you never leave your clients without support. By planning ahead, you can get your new server installed during downtime so your team isn’t interrupted. Additionally, instead of scrambling to migrate your existing data to the new server, a plan can be put into place so it happens smoothly and nothing gets missed. If your server fails before a replacement is ready, you risk losing everything.

Other benefits include:

  • Better security
  • Longer lasting hardware
  • Faster response time
  • More storage space
  • A new warranty

With these benefits comes increased productivity, smoother interface, and a more reliable experience.

The Time Is Now

We realize that an upgraded server is a sizeable investment, which is why we work directly with our clients to find them a server that meets their needs with zero non-essential extras. Not only will you get the right server, but also an efficient installation that ensures your team is not interrupted and all your data is fully transferred and secured.

Are you ready to take a proactive approach to upgrading your server? Talk to the team at OAC for a FREE server consultation.

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5 Steps to Prevent Ransomware Attacks At Your Company

Ransomware is a classification of viruses that allow hackers to control entry to sensitive data and then hold it hostage by preventing the owner from accessing it until they have paid the “ransom.”  For good reason, this type of virus has dominated the media in recent memory with major attacks WannaCry and Cryptolocker, which targeted hospitals and other havens of critical information.

Here are the most important steps you need to take immediately to ensure your business’ data is protected from malevolent hackers.

1. Run A Security Audit

A security audit will tell you exactly where your network is vulnerable to ransomware and other attacks. Our process starts with a technician coming directly to your business where they will plug in to your network and run security scanning software that ties into a constantly updating database of known exploits. We then provide a final report that details security issues on your network.

The goal of the security audit is to determine the most pressing issues facing your network security and come up with a game plan to prioritize fixing the vulnerabilities with a lasting solution. Once you know how a hacker could break into your company data, you are better equipped to keep them at bay. To learn more about our security audit process, please contact us.

2. Upgrade Your Security Software

Updating your security software isn’t as simple as getting the latest iteration of Norton Antivirus. You must also focus your attention on updating other existing platforms that you and your staff use. Things like email servers, operating systems, and even desktop programs can provide an open door to savvy hackers looking to get inside your network.

As an outcome from every security audit, you will be provided with a detailed list of outdated software and programs that should be updated to prevent ransomware attacks at your company.

3. Be Diligent About Using Your Firewall

A shocking amount of companies think implementing a run-of-the-mill firewall is all they need to do to prevent unauthorized system access. In reality, this equates to a security guard checking IDs at the door of a night club. They can see who is coming and going, but fake IDs can easily slip in and wreak havoc.

The real difference maker is what is called Unified Threat Management (UTM). UTM systems go beyond the basic firewall and introduce an all-inclusive security solution. Network intrusion detection, content filtering, data loss prevention and other additional functions are included with even the most basic UTM system.

Network intrusion detection is one of the biggest benefits of UTM. This feature protects your network against things like password hacking, brute force attacks, buffer overflows, and remote injection — all valuable assets to a hacker’s toolbox.

To sum this up, UTM systems essentially determine what threatening traffic looks like and constantly update their own framework to prevent this evolving traffic from entering your network. This is all done in real time so your network is never left vulnerable to attacks defined by your UTM system.

Want to learn more about the dangers of an outdated firewall? Read on here.

4. Ensure You Have Backups to All of Your Files

In this day and age, it is almost unfathomable that over 50% of small businesses have a backup system that doesn’t actually work. Sadly, it’s the truth. This means that over 50% of small businesses could lose access to all of their data in mere minutes if hit with a ransomware attack.

Issues for these businesses range from backup systems that simply aren’t running to backup systems that are completely misconfigured and not covering the right data. The only true way to ensure all of your data is fully backed up is by using offsite backups that are under strict monitoring.

Unfortunately, even “fully backed up” data is no guarantee that you will be protected from a ransomware attack, but it does ensure that in the event of a hack you will still be able to access your information.

To get an offsite solution, we recommend using monitored, automated cloud storage. This will allow your data to be constantly backed up as it is created so you never have to waste time or risk missing files by manually backing up your information. Learn more about how cloud services can help you protect your data.

5. Employee Education

For as many technology-based solutions for preventing ransomware attacks at your company there are, it is just as important to maintain a vigilant staff that knows how to detect threats. Here are some actionable items that you can teach your team:

  • Always verify the source of unfamiliar emails
  • Never open attachments from suspicious email addresses
  • Never click spammy looking advertisements
  • Never share sensitive information with unverified sources before checking with your supervisor
  • If something sounds fishy, it probably is
  • Don’t believe everything you see — hackers are good at convincing potential victims. Don’t fall for their traps!
  • When in doubt, consult an IT professional

Only You Can Prevent Ransomware Attacks!

Ransomware is a constant threat and can strike at any time. It’s time to make sure your network is protected. Contact us for a security audit to defend your business’ and customers’ data.

Protect Your System Against the Satan Computer Virus

A malware program called Satan was recently discovered within the internet’s dark web. Its primary purpose is to spread ransomware to as many computer devices as possible. Hackers offer it to each other at no cost and claim that anyone can use it. They only ask for a share of the extortion money one may obtain by using it. Individual hackers can alter the behavior of the program as well.

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Understanding Google Home

In March of last year, reports came out stating that Google was in the process of developing a wireless speaker to counter the Amazon Echo. The product is called Google Home.

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Common Public Wi-Fi Security Issues and How to Prevent Them

Over the past few decades, free public Wi-Fi has grown to become a rather useful tool for those with mobile devices. Such services are now readily available in most airports, hotels, restaurants, and stores. This means that you can access your email, website or online program at any given time from essentially any public location.

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How To Prevent Hackers From Breaking Into Your Company Network

Businesses spend a great deal time and money protecting their networks from compromise. New and more advanced versions of malware and virus protection programs are constantly in development. Protecting your network or server from hackers has become somewhat easier. Unfortunately, hackers are hackers because of their ability to remain undetected. They know how to break through your firewall and perform tasks in your network without leaving any evidence of their activities. That is why it is so important to stay on top of your network security. Below are some helpful tips on how to prevent hackers from breaking into your company network.

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How Do I Know If Our Company Server Is Hacked?

“How do I know if our company server has been hacked?”

–This is a question business owners find themselves constantly fretting over. There is nothing more aggravating than a slow network. Issues with the router, switches, or interconnecting cables are regular culprits of server issues. Hackers may also have gained access to the company server, which impacts its security and running speed.

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Why Do I Need a Complex Password?

Setting up your computer or online password can be a frustrating process. Most of us try to use simple word and number combinations that are easy to remember. However, the ideal password is long and complex. Why? The longer the password, the more difficult it is to break. Many users tend to employ the same generic passwords over and over again. Consequently, hackers can easily crack these passwords and gain access to your private information.

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Email Etiquette Tips for Employees

What is appropriate email etiquette in the workplace? Sending emails is a daily task for many employees of today’s. Managers use it to send memos, schedule meetings, and send documents. Like everything else, however, there is “a time and a place” and emails are no exception. Let’s explore some do’s and do not’s of email etiquette in the workplace.

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How Can I Speed Up My Computer?

We all know the frustration when the multicolor spinning pinwheel pops up in the middle of a software upgrade. Staring at a frozen screen for minutes on end while you wait for relief is enough to make you want to throw your laptop against the wall. In addition, there is a plethora of software viruses, malware, and spyware that is constantly attempting to access your device. If you have been wondering why your computer runs so slowly, you are not alone. Let’s take a look at some things you can do to improve your speed and protect your information.

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Password Protection & Recovery

You use your online passwords so often that doing so becomes second nature. It is no surprise that getting an ‘access denied’ alert flashing on your screen is cause for frustration. Forgetting your password is one thing. A stolen password is another and a much more serious situation. That is why password protection is such an important part of IT/tech support. We at OAC Technology appreciate the importance of network security.

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What is the Best Antivirus Option for Your Business?

There are dozens of anti-virus software programs available. The primary purpose of anti-virus programs is remove viruses and malware from your computer and prevent them from spreading. Over the years, virus technology has grown more sophisticated. Consequently, it has improved significantly.

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The Benefits of Cloud Computing

Cloud computing has evolved from a niche service to a common necessity. Both large and small organizations require a dedicated channel in which they can perform crucial tasks with efficiency and at a minimum risk. It has become a major component of modern business due to a variety of reasons. Can can your business benefit from utilizing cloud computing?

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Cyber Security: Is Your Business at Risk of IT Attack?

You may think that because your business is located in Minnesota, you will be safer from hackers and cyber attacks. Unfortunately, because the internet knows no geographical limits, any business in any part of the country is vulnerable to online security threats

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What is Ransomware?

Ransomware refers to a variety of viruses that will prevent you from accessing files on your own computer. Ransomware is constantly evolving and several new versions of the infections are consistently being reported. Advances in technology have given ransomware a fail-proof locking system. In many cases, the only way to gain access to your computer’s files is to pay the hacker a “ransom”.

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Outsourced IT Services

Your IT and support needs grow with your business. As your organization grows, you will need additional hardware and IT professionals to help handle the workload and make sure things run smoothly. One way to ease the tasks at hand is utilize outsourced IT services.

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Why Your Office Wi-Fi Is Slow

Wi-Fi is one of the most important components of modern day living. We rely on it to manage our financial accounts, conduct research for our jobs or education, close business deals, watch videos, download music and communicate with the world at large. Needless to say, having a bad or unreliable Wi-Fi connection in the office is not only frustrating; it can negatively impact the efficiency and productivity of your business. Fortunately there are a few ways that you can diagnose this Wi-Fi issue and increase its speed.

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Is Your Network Safe From Ex-Employees?

When an employee leaves an organization, whether he/she quit, was fired or laid off, that employee’s access to online company data should be immediately terminated or limited. Ensuring that former employees cannot continue to access your network(s) after their departure is critical for security. How can you, as a business owner or supervisor, safeguard your network from the threat of an ex-employee “sabotage”?

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The Benefits of Cloud Antivirus Software

The Internet has brought with it a new level of ease and convenience that we have never known before. Smartphones and tablets are now being adopted at a staggering rate, directly translating to the proliferation of these and other mobile devices at work. The line between enterprise and personal usage has become somewhat blurred, leading to an increased risk of exposing corporate data. The apps and the programs we are using are also migrating to the cloud. All of these issues mean that cloud-based web security maybe the strongest guarantee for total protection online. Continue reading

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3 Ways to Boost Network Security at No Cost

Ensuring adequate network security has become essential, not only for big businesses, but for small and medium-sized businesses. Although the most effective way to ensure optimal network security is to employ a dedicated professional network security team and use the latest network protection software, there are free but effective ways to boost your network security. How can you enhance your network security for free?

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The Benefits of Employing a Managed Services Provider (MSP)

Keeping up with the rapidly evolving technological requirements of business processes – from customer acquisition and day-to-day management to marketing and sales force management – is often a major challenge for businesses. Here is a brief overview of why outsourcing your IT needs to a managed services provider (MSP) is an excellent option for small and medium-sized Twin Cities businesses.

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The Current Role of Information Technology (IT)

Information Technology (IT) is an essential tool for successful communication and for the improvement of many important fields in our lives: education, business, culture, marketing, etc. Piles of papers on endless rows in offices are long forgotten ways of recording and storing information. Digital communication has enabled us to have abundant information on hand. Therefore, not only does IT influence the development of business management; it has a crucial role in modern society overall.

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Avoiding Network Downtime

The minute you say it, the next two questions inevitably start issuing from every staff member’s mouth: “Whom do we call?” and, once the issue is resolved, “How can we keep these things from happening?” When a network goes down, however, all management is really concerned about is how soon the team can be back up and running.
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Responding to a Network Attack

When you experience a higher number of pop up windows than usual, a slower processing speed or passwords being changed without authorization, you might think that it is just a system error; but these are all tell-tale signs that you have been hacked. It can happen to anyone. Below are steps you can take to respond quickly and recover from a network attack:
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2 Common Cloud Computing Myths

Cloud computing represents a major advancement in data storage. It effectively pools resources and allows clients to access a greater range of facilities and tools that will store and process online data in a more cost-effective manner. With research and by implementing the correct methods, cloud services can be very effective, especially for the smaller businesses where cost savings are of great importance.
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3 Tips to Enhance The Effectiveness of Your Passwords

Many aspects of online security have become very complex with the increase in digital commerce. As cyber protection becomes more sophisticated, simple parts of your security system – like passwords – often become more complicated. Below are some points to keep in mind when you wish to increase the security of passwords in your organization.
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