What is ransomware

You may have heard of ransomware or even experienced its devastating effects, but what exactly is it and how does it work? At its core, ransomware is a type of software that is designed to steal your digitally stored data and hold it hostage until a sum of money is paid to the captor. These sophisticated pieces of software can seriously compromise your cybersecurity and end up costing you thousands to regain or replace stolen data. Here is some more information about ransomware and how to keep your information protected from the cybersecurity professionals at Data Deposit Box:

Ransomware Stats

Some people don’t believe the devastation of ransomware, which is why statistics are helpful to illustrate their real-life effects. Here are some shocking facts and figures about ransomware:

  • 97% of phishing emails deliver ransomware.
  • 70% of companies infected by ransomware end up paying the ransom to their attackers.
  • More than 50% of attackers demand between $10,000 and $40,000.
  • 1 in 4 who paid their attackers never recovered their stolen data.

Types of Ransomware Programs

There are two different forms of ransomware:

  • Encryption Ransomware: This type of ransomware program uses complex encryption algorithms to encrypt stolen files. The digital thieves then demand payment for the decryption code. CryptoLocker, Locky, and CrytpoWall are three such software programs to be aware of.
  • Locker Ransomware: This type of ransomware locks you out of your central operating system, which means the program blocks access to your desktop and any apps or files on your computer. The difference from encryption software is that individual files aren’t encrypted, but the hackers can still demand a ransom to unlock the infected system.

What Makes a Company Vulnerable to a Ransomware Attack?

There are a few mistakes that companies make which make them vulnerable to ransomware attacks and other breaches of cybersecurity, including the following:

  • Not backing up their data
  • Lacking even the most basic cyber protection
  • Not keeping cyber security software up-to-date
  • Not investing in cybersecurity solutions

At Data Deposit Box, we’re committed to providing you with the latest in digital backup and cybersecurity services. We’ve been providing small to mid-sized businesses with affordable and secure cloud backup technology and services since 2002, making us one of the most trusted names in the industry. Protect your company from ransomware and other similar cyber attacks with Data Deposit Box. For more information about our cybersecurity and digital storage products, contact us today.

How to take your IT career to next level

In Part I, we discussed on how to improve one’s IT career by getting certified and creating something new and practical project, which can help you take your career to the next level. Continuing in Part II, we will further consider other career advancing points. Read more

How to Take Your IT Career to the Next Level

IT is definitely one of the hottest industries today. We see the rise of revolutionary technologies such as Big Data, IoT, Artificial Intelligence, etc. with which the demand for IT experts, in both hardware and software has skyrocketed. However, with this increasing popularity, the competition in this domain has also picked up pace. So, how can you stand out among other individuals vying for the same jobs? Let’s find out.
Since IT industry is extremely dynamic and growing at an exponential rate today, one of the most important things that you must do is stay current. You must be aware what’s going on in the industry. What are the trending programming languages? Which software companies are shaking up the industry? These are some of the questions you must have the answers to. However, mere knowledge won’t cut it – you must keep your IT skills up-to-date as well.

Here are some of the ways you can give an impetus to your IT career and reach new heights:

Get Certified

Whether certifications are really useful in taking your career to the next level is debatable. However, it is unlikely that clearing a few good certifications would do any harm. Some organizations place some value on certification, and use them as a way to promote advancement and salary increases; while others do not give any value to certification. It is true that some IT people will study only to pass the test. However, in general, those people who have passed tests tend to keep their IT skills current.
Certifications can make your resume a lot better and give you an edge over others. Besides, when there are almost 2,000 different kinds of IT certifications, you are bound to find something that may work for you and interest you. Although they might cost a lot of money and time, some of the best certification options that you might want to consider include: PMP, CISSP, VCP and MCSE.

If you are unsure which certifications are best for you, then follow these steps:

  • Do some research. Find out which programs are in demand, and will stay in demand for at least a few years. If possible, attend a few seminars that’s relevant to the trends and advancements in the IT industry.
  • Consider the programs that compliment your existing skillset, instead of starting from a scratch.
  • Make sure you consult with a few knowledgeable people in the IT industry before making the final decision.

Start Something of Your Own

Nothing does wonders for your resume than the mention of a first-hand experience with a software project. It is one thing to master a programming language in theory, and a totally different thing to use it for making a software of your own. By learning a new software language and using it for creating your own product, not only you get to understand it much better, but also get a chance to put your creativity to work. An employer is much more likely to prefer someone with actual experience with a skill they are looking for, rather than someone who has good theoretical knowledge.
One way to get some hands-on experience is by volunteering. So, if you find that someone wants a new website built in node-js, or an iOS app for their business, approach them and convince them to give the project to you. Even if they are paying a modest sum for the service, accept it. The experience is way more valuable than any amount of money.
In Part II, we will further consider some points on how to take your IT career to the next level.

How to Hire and Retain Top IT Professionals and Engineers - Part II

In Part I, we discussed how to hire top IT professionals and engineers. In this Part II series, we will further discuss how to retain the top hires.
Hiring a top talent has its own challenges, but retaining top performing talents would be even more challenging. Here are some points to ponder on employee retention:

Participation

Many companies make the mistake of keeping their staff isolated, for which they often pay dearly. When employees feel left out, it becomes easier for them to entertain the idea of looking for other opportunities. So, whenever possible include them in the decision making processes that could affect the company, specifically their team. In fact, good engineers are usually quite opinionated, and they want to be listened to. So, allowing them to make some calls and express their opinions won’t only make them happy, but also benefit you with valuable insights.

Avoid Micromanagement

Micromanaging your employees could lead to a dysfunctional team. If you have the right people in your team, they understand what should be done to come up with very creative solutions to existing and future problems. As a team leader or a manger, let your team know what the desired result should be (or the problem you want resolved) and allow your engineer to come up with the best solution. Avoid the temptation to tell them how the problem should be resolved. Instead, ask for their input. Such autonomous environment will make employees feel that they are valued, are in charge, and empowered. This way of management will increase your employee satisfaction significantly.

Flexible Work Hours

Job satisfaction and comfort have become the top priorities for employees today, while bonuses and other monetary perks are gradually losing their charm. So, as long as you can ensure that your IT staff gets to work in a comfortable environment and enjoy flexible work hours, you won’t have to worry about retaining them. Engineers working collaboratively with offshore teams might need to work outside of typical 9 to 5 hours. Flexible hours will allow employees to have the perfect work/life balance.

Actively Listening and Giving Praise

Listening to your employees, and showing appreciation for their good work can go a long way. Recent studies have proven that recognition that comes from executive level management can have a powerful impact on their employees.
Other ways of attracting and retaining employees are: investing in training, providing access to new technologies, offering free perks (like weekly lunch, gym, promoting from within the company, and providing competitive compensation package).

How Server Virtualization Benefits ​​Cloud Backup and Disaster Recovery

Traditionally, the majority of businesses used only dedicated server hardware. Data centres used to be filled with a number of server-racks and each one of these servers had a different dedicated application and protection scheme. If there was a need for another application, then a new server was ​added to the system and deployed. However, today server virtualization is ​being adopted rapidly​. This is because of:
Application Isolation: Conventionally, data centres alloted​ one dedicated server per application. However, this cause​d​ an extreme waste​ of resources​,​ as most servers ​were​ underutilized and the workload ​was minimum. ​With server virtualization​,​ you get to make the most out of your existing servers.
Increased Uptime: With server ​virtuali​zation​ chances of data breaches, cloud backup failures, etc. ​,​ are minim​zed​. In the process, IT standards compliance mandates are met.
Run New Applications at Low Costs: Hardware and ​Operating ​Systems​ quickly get outdated​,​ as newer versions are launched. ​It is not easy for most businesses to replace their entire IT infrastructure with new one​s. This is where virtualization can be helpful. It can give you access to the most up-to-date hardware and OS at affordable costs.
Server Virtualization for Backups and Disaster Recovery
For any business,​ maximum uptime is extremely important. Thus, when you are running a backup ​job​​,​ you would rather not pause the running applications. ​Your ​systems​ ​might not be advanced enough or ​your server ​might not have sufficient memory to handle multiple complex processes at the same time. ​ With server virtualization, however, you can run a great number of applications simultaneously while running backup ​jobs​ at the same time.

Here are a few ways you can benefit from server virtualization for creating and managing backups:

Faster and Easier Full-Server Backups: ​Some vendors​ use modern VM methods that allow you to create full backups much faster than ​using ​ traditional methods. For instance, by using Block Level Differentials​, ​users​ don’t have to backup the full imagine every single time​, rather only backup the blocks that have changed (whether modified or added data)​.
Hardware Independent Data Replications: Before virtualization was popular,​ data replication was quite expensive and tedious, as it used mirrored SAN hardware or server-by-server reconfiguration. However, with virtualization​ you can perform replication at the hypervisor level, thus making hardware dependence irrelevant.
Better Data Protection: Virtualized servers are in essence physical computers that serve as containers for virtual machines. In other words, they are software modules that appear physical on the surface. ​I​n reality, however,​ they are separated and abstracted from the core hardware layer. So, with ​virtualized servers, you don’t have to deal with complex things​,​ such as boot sectors, system states, etc. and protecting your data ​becomes​ much ​faster and easier.

Conclusion

​Today, most organizations run VMs in their​ computing environment.​​ Running VMs ​is very​ important ​and advantageous, and can optimize your IT environment and customize it on the fly, enjoy robust data recovery and ​cloud ​backup options. It can also​ lower your operational ​(hardware, staffing, infrastructure, power, cooling and licensing) ​expenses significantly. ​
Optimizing your cloud backup and recovery in virtualized environment doesn’t happen overnight, but needs a deep thought and planning, as servers could at times fail when virtualized. Therefore, you will need to assess your hardware status before running VMs, layered with cloud backup and recovery software.
If you are not sure where to start on your VM and cloud backup & recovery needs, contact Data Deposit Box. ​​

How to Hire and Retain Top IT Professionals and Engineers

Hiring good IT engineers is not easy, but it’s even more difficult to retain them by keeping them happy and making them feel valued. Even if you are able to receive several promising resumes at the time of hiring, screening the candidates takes time and strong acumen. The hired engineer should reflect the company’s values and have a personality that helps them going along with the workplace culture of your company.

Here are a few tips on how you can hire the top IT engineers:

Creating a Good Screening Process

When you want the best of the best, you just can’t leave the hiring power with only one person. By making the candidates go through several interviews that focus on different areas of work, personality, and skills, you can filter them out in a highly efficient way. If a candidate passes all these interviews, you can be sure they will become a valuable asset for your company.

Hiring Someone with a Diverse Skill Set

You don’t want someone who is an expert at developing Linux software, or someone who is a master at networking if you already have employees in these areas. Instead, you must look for qualities and talents that can complement your existing staff. You have to look for skills that your organization is currently lacking. Apart from technical skills, you must also look for leadership and creative qualities.
If an IT engineer demonstrates good technical knowledge during the interview, it doesn’t mean that he or she is the best person for the job. They must be able to handle pressure and constructive criticism. Candidates should be interviewed by many stakeholders, including: the manager they report to, human resources, team members, and a couple of other engineers. Remember, not doing a rigorous interview may result in hiring the wrong candidate and may cause a lot of monetary and productivity loss.

Research the Candidate

Everyone these days has some kind of online presence. Google the candidates name, check their professional profiles (like LinkedIn). See what kind of connections they have on LinkedIn within the industry. Check how many people have endorsed them? How many recommendations they have? What are they passionate about? Is there any non-profit organization they are involved in and care about? Have they posted or shared any kind of controversial topics in social media? Have they authored any industry articles? The answers to these, and other similar questions, will give you a good idea on the suitability of the candidate.
While hiring can be challenging, retaining good employees isn’t a piece of cake either. In Part II, we will discuss how you can retain your top-performing IT engineers.

Today's Backup and Disaster Recovery Business Market and What Can MSPs Do to Improve their Cloud Service Offerings

Data Analytics and Big Data have become the latest buzzwords in the IT industry. As more businesses are realizing the significance of online presence and learning the fundamentals of e-commerce, the need for cloud backup and disaster recovery solutions are also increasing.
Managed Service Providers (MSPs) are leading the SMB market as businesses are looking for strategic and reliable partners, who can provide robust cloud backup and data protection solutions. Since downtimes have proven to cause significant losses, MSPs are expected to lend a helping hand by keeping this problem at bay. For instance, in an event of an outage — whether caused by natural disasters or human errors, MSPs are able to provide rapid database recoveries, allowing the affected companies to get back on track quickly.

Backup and Disaster Recovery Solutions Market and Domain Advancements

According to Markets and Markets research, the Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS) market will grow from USD $1.7 Billion in 2016 to USD $11.2 Billion by 2021*. This growth trend is expected to continue in the years beyond 2021. A similar study by TechNavio predicts that the global backup as a service market to grow at a CAGR of around 27% in the period from 2016 to 2020.**
MSPs have been adding modern cloud backup and protection solutions to their offerings which have proven to be quite promising to businesses in all industries. Yet, at the same time, some MSPs continue to struggle to create a demand for their BDR business. Here are a few ways they can succeed in that endeavor:

    • Justifying the Need and Creating Awareness: Many companies are not still aware of what IT disasters are, and how disasters can impact their businesses. As an MSP, it is your responsibility to educate them on the matter and show them how little things like data breaches, network failures, etc. can make the entire business collapse.
    • Focusing on Downtime: You must show how downtime can directly contribute to a financial loss and damage the reputation of a business. A good example to use here is the Delta Airlines data center downtime incident that caused chaos in US Airports in 2016. The Delta systems were down for a mere 6 hours, but the damage it caused was substantial. There were more than 2,000 delayed flights – about one-third of the airline’s entire schedule, and they needed to cancel hundreds of flights, leaving thousands of passengers stranded for hours.
    • Showing the Value of BDR Solution: Show them how cloud computing solutions can offer speedy backup recovery (Granular Recovery Technology, Sever Mirroring, etc.), protection against ransomware (which has become the number one threat to the organizations globally nowadays), 24/7 network surveillance for immediate intrusion detection, etc.

    Improving Cloud Service Offerings

    If you are an MSP and are interested to increase your cloud offerings, it might be fitting to start from such services as Cloud app migration & management, consultancy, and private cloud services. In addition, you can also offer Identity Management as a separate service.
    Identity management is becoming a natural requirement for organizations that want to improve employee management and get a better control on company resources access. However, companies often lack the expertise. This is where you come in as an MSP. You can incorporate related services, such as device management, user management, password management in your existing cloud services. There is a huge demand for these services, and you can certainly benefit from venturing into these value added services.

    Conclusion

    Disaster recovery infrastructure needs considerable upfront investments. Additional investments are also needed for hardware and networks keep up after the initial investments. Many SMEs shy away from implementing disaster recovery solutions in their systems, on premises, due to these associated high costs, which is one of the primary growth drivers for this market. Therefore, companies instead opt for the annual subscription model of BaaS.
    * https://goo.gl/OEwoxi
    ** https://goo.gl/2QWnIg

The Role of Granular Recovery Technology in a Data-Driven World

According to the North Eastern University study, about 2.5 Exabytes* of data is produced every single day across the globe. That is a huge number, and is equivalent to 250,000 libraries of Congress, or 90 years of HD video. An IDC study** also predicts that universal data “will be doubling in size every two years, and by 2020 the digital universe will reach 44 zettabytes, or 44 trillion gigabytes”. Thus, to say that data is important today is a massive understatement.
Since businesses have become more and more data-driven, and lots of data is being generated on a daily basis, cloud backup and recovery services’ bandwidth have steadily increased. If you are a cloud service provider and want to stand out from other MSPs, then you must stay up-to-date with the emerging data backup and management technologies, one of which is Granular Recovery Technology (GRT).
Let’s say one of your clients lost the contact information of all their customers due to an employee’s mistake or a corrupt database. The files have been simply deleted from the database. How do you imagine they would feel if you tell them that they can recover the same files in a matter of a few minutes? But, how is this possible? Traditional recovery methods have shown that recovering databases is a no mean feat, and can take forever to complete. Well, this is where GRT comes in.

What is GRT?

GRT allows you to restore individual portions of a backed up file, rather than recovering the full database. GRT can help you isolate a particular file from hundreds of thousands of files. So, if a customer has deleted their entire email inbox, but only need the sales-related emails back, then you don’t have to restore the entire inbox. You can just enter the relevant keywords in the GRT program, apply a few filters, and voila! You’ll have the required emails in no time!

Why Should MSPs Care?

When IT Managers have to decide whether they want to partner with an MSP or not, they consider a variety of factors. For an MSP, the better its services are, the better its odds of getting the partnership. For instance, if you can incorporate GRT in your portfolio and explain the same to the managers, you could arouse their interest. GRT is powerful as it is, and if you could show your potential and existing clients with a few examples how it could save a good deal of time and resources, there is no reason why they wouldn’t want to join hands with you.
While full database restoration is always an option, what if a business is facing serious downtime only because of the significant time it takes for database restoration? With GRT, you can restore only the essential files that are required at the moment so that the business can resume operation right away. Meanwhile, you can work on restoring the rest of the database modules that carry a lower significance.

Conclusion

Even though GRT is essentially optional and not a mandatory service, it will come in handy when an accidental data deletion happens or an employee maliciously deletes databases. Rather than restoring the entire database, a portion of the databases can be recovered with ease. In today’s competitive cloud backup and storage markets, MSPs must plan ahead and ensure that they are able to provide the most up-to-date services to their clients.
Data Deposit Box provides the best cloud backup services, including granular recovery technology.
* https://goo.gl/H9JUQH
** https://goo.gl/GbmFKN

The-Importance-of-Business-Continuity-Planning

A few hours of network outage is enough to leave your company shaking. We live in a hyper-connected world after all, where time is everything, and where a large number of the commercial activities are done online. Whether we are talking about sales, customer support, delivery of services, or even keeping your in-house business records up to date, you will need a reliable IT system to keep everything under control. Unfortunately, no matter how good your measures are, IT infrastructure could go down anytime, unpredictably.

IT Systems Downtime Directly Translates to Substantial Losses

According to an IHS study*, outages cost enterprises a whopping $700 billion a year. The participating companies reported at least five downtime events every month, with an average total downtime of 27 hours a month. This is a big number, with big losses. While typical mid-size companies reported an average loss of $1 million a year, the large enterprises seem to take an even harder blow, with losses of $60 million.
Downtime, irrespective of scale or duration, can impact a business negatively for it hits the business at the core, by bringing everything to a halt. The sales come to a stop, productivity of the employees is impacted negatively, and there are also potential risks of data breaches, and online backup failures during recovery.

Common Downtime Causes

Study after study has shown that causes of downtime seem to be similar in all companies. The Ponemon Institute and Emerson Network Power partnered to find the major causes behind IT downtime, and identified the four major causes:

Hardware Failure

Well, you can’t really blame anyone for this, but it holds a 33% occurrence probability. Companies invest in very expensive top-class storage systems, servers, routers etc. so as to make their infrastructure resilient. Although investing in top line equipment helps in making the system robust, it could fail at anytime.

UPS Battery Failure

When the power is out, Uninterrupted Power Supply (UPS) is the only backup support in most businesses. However, when even that fails then it can bring the business to its knees. Unfortunately, it was the cited reason for about 55% of the outages.

Weather Conditions

Bad weather — hurricane, floods, earthquakes, and more — can also damage your hardware and is accounted for about 30% of downtime.

Employee Mistakes

Surprisingly, employees themselves account for about 48% of the total outages. In most cases, the mistakes are petty to say the least. For instance, it just takes one malicious program download to infect the entire system. Accidental deletion of databases is also another common reason behind the outages.

How to Develop a Good Business Continuity Plan?

Remember that downtime affects everyone. No one is immune to it. It is just a matter of “when” the downtime takes place, not “if”. The first thing that you must do is to start using a cloud backup service, such as provided by the leading company like, Data Deposit Box. If your data is backed up and protected, you can get your system up and running within minutes after a disaster.
Another important aspect of your business continuity plan should be network monitoring. With a modern network monitoring software, you can detect vulnerabilities in your IT infrastructure before it leads to major problems. It can also help detect data breaches or degrading health of an IT equipment.
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* — https://goo.gl/JunW6V

The Challenges of Selling Managed IT Services

Although Managed Services Providers (MSPs) can add great value to any organization, they are still struggling to penetrate the IT industry today.
Sonian, which is one of the biggest email archiving companies offering cloud based solutions, studied* a large number of MSPs in a survey to better understand their challenges and trends. The participants include experts in sales, marketing, product management, and business development executives.
Based on the results, the following challenges and trends were observed:

Ever-Changing Needs

About 95% of the total participants agreed that their customer requirements are constantly changing. Thus, it can be hard for an average MSP to keep up with their requirements.
The survey revealed a common theme despite the diverse population. It confirmed that MSPs are very much interested in inking deals with partners who can provide great support for mutual success, and the survey also proved that the solutions provided must meet the ever-evolving needs of their customers, reduce the need for additional resources, and improve margins.
MSPs also have to upgrade their software products frequently to keep up with technology and to give their customers access to the most recent tech features, which can be quite an expensive affair if a company was to do all the upgrades on their own.

Becoming a Trustworthy Partner

For a company to partner with an MSP they must be willing to make a variety of changes. Thus, it is not hard to see why so many companies decide to keep the things the way they are, despite being aware of the drawbacks.
Although 95% of the participants agreed (68% agreed and 27% strongly agreed) that their partners are providing them with adequate resources to sell and support their products and services, making the partners comfortable initially is still a challenge.
Many firms turn to MSPs for cloud based online backup and disaster recovery, virtualization, and strong data protection features. This is why MSPs must do everything in their power to come off as a reliable partner for any business.

Creating Demand and Finding Partners

Although the popularity of cloud backup services is increasing every year, MSPs still have a long way to go. Many companies are still shying away from partnering with MSPs. This is clearly indicated by the fact that 77% of the survey participants chose “driving new business” as their main area of focus and concern.
One way to increase demand is to work on the marketing campaigns. The prospects must get a clear idea of what an MSP can bring to the table, and how they can improve ROI, because after all, that alone can nudge them in the right direction.
59% of the participants also said “finding go-to-market partners” is their main concern. A robust business is highly dependent on its partners. However, this problem can be easily tackled by maintaining full transparency with the partners and going an extra mile to let them know that their services are being appreciated.
While an MSP can be of great help to any company, small businesses can reap the benefits more that others as they have modest IT budgets. By teaming up with an MSP, small and medium businesses can use top-tier business products at affordable rates.
* Sonian Survey — https://goo.gl/Y4J2Tr