Spam Alert: Your ‘Free Trip to the Caribbean’ is Probably a Phishing Scam

Written by Tiffiny Hladczuk. Posted in ITS Blog

charleston computer repairIf you have an email address — and it’s 2016, so it is safe to say do — then you have definitely received your fair share of spam. By now, you should be able to recognize the more obvious subject lines: “Congratulations! You won a free trip to the Caribbean!” or “Redeem your free iPad Mini!” Some spam is not quite so clear-cut, though, which is why all computer users need strong network security systems.

Spam, also known as junk mail, is unsolicited bulk email advertising sent to a mailing list. Spam wastes our time, fills up our electronic mailbox, and eats up a ton of network bandwidth. The messages may contain links that appear legitimate but actually lead to phishing sites or websites that host malware. If these threats successfully invade your device, you’re going to need to find Charleston computer repair services to help you out.

Spammers collect email addresses from customer lists, newsgroups, chatrooms, and other websites on which we (sometimes unknowingly) divulge personal or contact information. This method, called “address harvesting,” is done without the consent of email address owners, which has led to a debate over the legality of spam.

In the United States, spam is legally permissible in accordance with the CAN-SPAM legislation of 2003, provided that it meets specific criteria, including a “truthful” subject line.

Every day, 60 billion emails are sent and 97% of those are spam. In fact, nine out of every 1,000 computers are infected by spam, and increasing amounts are being sent from computers infected by viruses. Spammers are joining forces with people who create computer viruses to convert innocent computer users’ systems into spam-sending robots or “zombies.” Therefore, it is essential for computer owners to use anti-virus software so that they can protect their systems and avoid becoming a source of spam. Otherwise, even Charleston computer repair services may not be able to help, as the computer may too infected.

While most are harmless, some spam emails are designed to extract sensitive information for unlawful purposes. As many as 87% of small businesses experienced a security breach in 2012 alone. That is why having quality network security systems is so important. In order to effectively protect against junk mail and fraud, strong network security management is essential.

For proper business IT consulting, speak with a network security specialist about how you can improve your defenses against spam. Charleston computer repair companies are there to help.

A Day in the (Frustrating) Life of Search Engine Marketing Pros

Written by Tiffiny Hladczuk. Posted in ITS Blog

marketing firmsWhen you work at one of the only marketing firms in Charleston that also offers comprehensive managed IT services, clients expect you to have some next-level insight into the tech world. And while you can spend years becoming an expert at onsite and offsite search engine optimization, so far no one has been allowed to peek behind the Google curtain, so to speak.

What we mean is that Google updates its search algorithms up to 600 times a year, which doesn’t even include massive updates like Google Penguin. Understandably, Google doesn’t want to make it too easy for black hatters and shady SEM firms to rig their rankings, which means many SEO and SEM marketing firms have been left in the dark to determine with different types of marketing strategies work best. Even the best internet marketing firms Charleston, SC has to offer have trouble predicting Google’s next big move, but over the years we’ve gotten pretty good at it.

So how do you stay ahead of the Google curve, and why does that matter? Over the last few decades, a number of companies have shifted their marketing away from outbound leads (which can have a close rate as low as 1.7%) and towards inbound marketing (which has an average close rate of 14.6%). And since inbound leads are 61% less expensive to generate in the digital age, SEO marketing has become a popular strategy for a variety of companies.

It’s easy to see why. When people are looking for new local businesses, services, or products, they use search engines like Google. And since analytics studies have consistently shown that three out of four users never scroll past the first page of results, lots of businesses are competing to get onto page one.

Over the past six months, perhaps the biggest change in the SEM industry has been news of Google’s latest Penguin update. Penguin updates change the way Google ranks the value of a link, and since building links is most SEM marketing firms main SEO strategy, Penguin updates can have a massive effect on the search world.

In October 2015, Google confidently predicted Penguin would be out by the end of the year. In January 2016, SEM experts were confidently predicting Penguin would be out “within weeks.” Come March, and Gary Illyes of Googleannounced he was so fed up with people asking about Penguin that he wouldn’t make any more updates on the launch date. Now it’s April, and we’re still waiting.

For Charleston marketing firms like ours that offer different types of marketing strategies online, success depends on anticipating these kinds of updates and responding proactively. For Penguin, that meant actively conducting toxic link audits and updating disavow files to get rid of harmful backlinks.

It’s just another day in the life of online marketing firms.

How To Relocate IT Infrastructure During an Office Move

Written by Tiffiny Hladczuk. Posted in ITS Blog

business it consultingMost Fortune 500 companies started with a single office or even a couple of folding tables in a dusty garage. For many small businesses, upgrading to a larger space or opening a second location is proof that all that hard work is paying off, that the company is taking a significant step forward.

Moving offices has always been stressful. You have to manage all the logistics of the move itself without interrupting business and leaving customers out in the cold. And today, office relocation has taken on a new degree of difficulty now that most companies rely on complex Information Technology infrastructure. In addition to simple things like setting up new phone lines and broadband access, many companies have their own private servers and IT network, which has to be installed ASAP in the new location.

So how can you move your existing IT infrastructure without taking your business offline in the process? How do you deploy new hardware and software at the same time, while also taking care of the hundred other items on your Moving Day To-Do List?

A Short Guide To IT Relocation Services
Even if you already have your own team of in-house tech geniuses, IT relocation requires very specific experience. So how do you gain IT peace of mind during the big move?

Step 1. Site Visits
If you’re moving to a new office, then, of course, you’ve already checked out the new site top to bottom and inside out. However, our business IT consulting experts always review the blueprints to ensure proper placement of all cabling needs, like:

  • Broadband Internet cables
  • Phone systems
  • Electrical wiring and outlets
  • Wireless access points

Until you have a comprehensive overview of all these systems and more, it will be impossible to come up with a detailed IT relocation plan.

Step 2. Do You Need Professional Help?
If you’re already feeling lost, then don’t hesitate to call on business IT consulting experts. Our Charleston, SC IT consulting firm is often asked to provide IT relocation services, even when a company already has a computer support team of their own. Professional IT relocation services will know exactly how to research your new location and recommend the most optimal solutions for your IT and computer support needs. Then, they can help with the integration and installation of all your company’s onsite technology.

When you move to a new office, you can’t simply pack up your servers and computers in boxes and then turn them back on in the new space. You’ll need to design an entirely new network infrastructure based on the physical layout of the new location. Plus, the best business IT consulting firms can help minimize any network downtime, getting your company back online faster.

Step 3. the Design and Build Process
Once steps one and two are complete, our IT relocation experts use a “design and build” system. As described in step two, the design process involves drawing up a detailed blueprint for your new IT infrastructure needs. However, you’ll also need at least one technician on hand throughout the moving process. Moving almost always comes with unexpected surprises and annoyances, and without onsite technicians available for troubleshooting, all your best-laid plans can go awry.

Step 4. Update Network Security Management
Although we tend to imagine hackers as shadowy cybercriminals operating underground, fully 75-80% of cyber breaches come from within an organization. And businesses can be vulnerable during the relocation process.

Here’s a sobering fact: even the federal government has seen a 680% increase in cyber security breaches in the last six years — and those are just the ones we know about! The private sector is at risk too, with an estimated 57% of companies experiencing staff-related cyber breaches.

When you relocate or upgrade your IT infrastructure, take the opportunity to beef up your network security management. The best business IT consulting experts can also act as network security specialists. They can help tighten up security and put new safeguards in place to protect valuable company and customer data.

Ultimately, successful IT relocation depends on preparation.

Attention Charleston: How To Lower Your Marketing Costs in 2 Simple Steps

Written by Tiffiny Hladczuk. Posted in ITS Blog

marketing firmsAre you an entrepreneur, nonprofit, small or new business in the Charleston area? Then we know how important it is for you to keep down your marketing costs. Businesses of all sizes face more pressures and costs than ever in 2016, whether you’re a large company with 1,000 employees or a new startup on the rise.

And in an age when consumers make 100 billion searches online every month, businesses also need to develop marketing strategies in the online world as well. That means that in addition to print, TV, social media and radio advertising, many businesses are now opting for Pay Per Click online ads as well. But since search engines are the number one driver of traffic to content-based sites, and since fully 75% of users never click past the first page of Google search results, most companies require a search engine optimization (SEO) marketing strategy as well.

If all of this sounds like too much for any new business to handle, then you aren’t wrong. So how can businesses cut marketing costs in 2016? Most Charleston marketing firms are looking for ways to get their clients to increase their marketing budget, not the other way around.

Fortunately, the best marketing firms Charleston has to offer understand that for businesses to thrive, they need to find ways to decrease marketing costs, not the other way around.

So how can you cut your new company’s marketing costs without sacrificing the effectiveness of your marketing, branding, and advertising strategies? It’s not as impossible as it sounds…

Step 1: Outsource Marketing To the Best Marketing Firms Charleston SC Has To Offer…
Rather than developing an in-house team of marketing experts, more and more companies are instead outsourcing their marketing to outside specialists. This is a particularly popular approach when it comes to digital marketing.

For services like local SEO and PPC campaigns, outsourcing marketing can be a highly effective way to decrease marketing costs in 2016. Not only will you free up your own time, but you can save the money it would cost to hire your own branding experts.

Step 2: Consolidate Your Vendors…
There’s no shortage of Charleston marketing firms that will be happy to devour your ad budget month after month. However, you can save money by outsourcing to a firm that also provides full service managed IT services.

In 2016, it no longer makes sense to find multiple vendors for web design, managed IT support services, and various types of marketing services like SEO and PPC. Instead, find a local company where you can outsource all of your digital needs under one roof.

Once you do, you can spend the time and money you save making sure your business keeps growing, and growing, and growing.

Is Your IT Department Operating as Highly Paid Digital Babysitters?

Written by Tiffiny Hladczuk. Posted in ITS Blog

managed it servicesFive to 10 years ago, any business with any type of advanced computer services had no choice but to build an in-house IT Department. At first, these IT workers were absolutely vital to the company, setting up the business’ first website, building servers, and helping employees with any computer problems that arose.

But over time, far too many IT Departments evolved into extremely high-paid babysitters. Many computer experts with advanced degrees found themselves stuck in jobs babysitting servers that worked fine 99.9% of the time, waiting around all day until someone needed help setting up a printer. Meanwhile, businesses were wasting money on high-paid IT consulting experts.

Thanks to the rapid development of cloud computing and major advances in business computer services, the vast majority of IT busy work has become automated — business servers, websites, databases, telephony, and even more complex services like network security management. Tasks that once required full-time IT workers to manage can now be automated completely. Despite this, some older companies still pay for IT divisions designed for a bygone era.

So how can you finally start saving money on your IT costs?

Fortunately, there is a simple answer. You don’t need to hire expensive business IT consulting experts for a solution, you simply need to invest in managed IT services.

Rather than paying a fortune for your own in-house IT team, managed IT services handle all of your computer and technology needs. In 2016, there are still far too many companies paying computer experts that do little more than babysit a server while they check Instagram.

Instead, managed IT services can install and manage any type of computer system you need. What kind of computer services can the best-managed services providers offer?

Short answer: if it’s on a computer, IT managed services providers will provide. Seriously, it doesn’t matter if you’re looking for data management, backup and recovery, infrastructure management, network security, access control systems, digital marketing, web design, operations technology, cloud-based applications, Office 365, website maintenance, or firewalls and antivirus protection — the best managed IT services have got you covered.

Even companies with modest computer needs are outsourcing IT in 2016. That’s because so much of our record keeping and communication have gone online, and most businesses lack the experience to protect that valuable data. Even the federal government struggles with security, as cyber security breaches have shot up 680% in the last six years!

Plus, security experts estimate that 75% to 80% of all malicious attacks come from inside an organization, not from external hackers. In fact, there’s a 59% chance an employee will steal some kind of corporate data after being fired or deciding to quit.

So if you need to cut IT costs and protect your business in 2016, then it’s time to finally discover the benefits of managed IT support services.