Are you ready to thrive in 2022?

Considering all that has happened over the past 18+ months we look to the new year with both optimism and growth in mind. We hope that you feel the same. Without knowing what your exact plans are for the upcoming year (unless of course, you have already shared them with us), we can’t stress enough how crucial it is to include tech- and IT-related resolutions in support of your 2022 growth strategy.

Although an up-to-date technology strategy might not be the first thing that comes to mind when you're thinking about growing your business, innovation and digital transformation are the backbones to efficient and effective business operations and will give your business the sustainable competitive advantage it needs to thrive in today's interconnected world. In fact, studies show that businesses that adopt innovative tech strategies often grow their revenue at twice the speed as their competitors.

There are two main points of focus that will help your business thrive in 2022:

  • Hybrid Collaboration, and
  • The Battle Against Ransomware

1. Hybrid Collaboration

Who could have predicted that we’d all be sending our employees home in 2020 and that this working from home would become the new normal? Since then, we may have set dates for a full-time return to the office, but many business owners have found themselves operating in some sort of hybrid work environment in which part of the staff works mostly from home while others have returned to the office 5 days a week.

To carry over the lessons learned from remote work during COVID-19 into your business plan going forward, remote training, virtual meeting tools, and appropriate hardware are essential to helping your employees perform successfully in a remote work environment.

Factors to consider this year are:

  • Connectivity tools that allow employees access to company data and network
  • Technology that promotes effective and efficient home offices (printers, VoIP phone systems, etc.)
  • Communication tools, such as video conferencing software, team chat, and share, and hardware that connect remote and in-office employees and allow them to collaborate successfully. And,
  • Cybersecurity measures that protect shared company files and/or private customer information.

Speaking of which...

2. The Battle Against Ransomware

Between 2019 and 2020, ransomware attacks rose by 62% worldwide and by a mind-blowing 158% in North America (PBS Newshour 2021). Regardless of how your team’s work environment will develop and formalize itself, these numbers make strong security strategies crucial for 2022.

Today we highlight 4 approaches to help you prepare for battle.

Use Multiple Layers of Cyber Security Protection

There is no security approach that covers every hole or flaw that cyber security threats are looking to exploit. The best way to keep your organization protected is by putting multiple layers of security in place to cover as many gaps as possible. By using multiple programs and layers, you will ensure that each individual component of your cyber security program is being backed up by the next.

Your first line of defense should be a firewall. Firewalls help monitor incoming and outgoing traffic and work as a barrier between networks you can trust and those that you can't. They shield you from malicious or unnecessary network traffic.

Multifactor authentication is an important layer as well. 2FA prevents cyber-attacks that might otherwise pass by weak or compromised passwords. By sending a verification code to text or email 2FA verifies that it is indeed the correct person that is trying to access the network. Creating a basic line of defense against malicious intruders.

Employee Security Training

The cyberworld is complicated. According to information from the UK Information Commissioner's Office, 90% of data breaches are the result of human error.

Implementing security software is a must when putting together a strong cyber defense strategy. However, as said in the previous paragraph, none of them are 100% foolproof. Running a cyber security-aware business means training your employees to be(come) threat aware and making sure that they are comfortable and confident in dealing with social engineering scams and schemes that slip through the cracks and end up in their email inboxes.

As we all know, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

Back-Up Your Data

And then there remains the unexpected to be considered. If despite everything that you put in place, a natural disaster strikes or an employee makes a devasting mistake, and your data has not been backed up your business could be in big trouble, sensitive data could be lost forever, often resulting in lost time and money. Customers will be upset if you lose information pertaining to them possibly resulting in loss of brand reputation and customer loyalty.

Make 2022 the year in which you prepare for disaster. Talk to your IT partner (us) about a data backup strategy that makes sense for your business and get together with your team to create a Disaster Recovery Plan. This might not be your idea of a fun time, but we promise it will be time well spent. If you need help getting started, or if you're not sure what should be included in such a plan, we have templates that you can adapt to suit the needs of your business.

Talk to Your Insurance Agent

A data breach at a small business can end up costing thousands of dollars in customer notification expenses, legal fees, and fines or settlements alone. Contrary to popular belief cyber breaches are not covered under your GL insurance policy. Even if you have added a cyber endorsement to your policy your risk coverage is most likely not enough. Talk to your insurance agent and ask him/her about getting a separate cyber liability insurance policy for your business. It is the only way to cover these costs and to give your company a fighting chance against the ripple effects of a data breach.

As you refine your 2022 strategic objectives and finalize plans to make your business even more successful, make sure to add IT and IT security to your growth strategy. We know balancing productivity, security and budget can be hard, but that's what we're here for. So let us be a part of your strategic planning process and help your business thrive. We are only a phone call away.