What is application security testing?

Application security is an important aspect of network protection that is often overlooked.

Most people have the basic security measures in place (antivirus, strong passwords, etc.), but many neglect to vet the applications that they use on their workstations, personal computers, and mobile devices. Similarly, many applications have a solid functional framework but lack a testing approach to identify problems that could leave a security gap in an otherwise safe network.

When users run a software program or open an application, they have a reasonable expectation that it will perform without causing problems. Simple bugs or glitches are one thing, but actively causing damage is another. If a legitimate and trusted application can be manipulated to execute malicious code or leak data, then it presents a huge risk for the entire network.

Ethical developers have a responsibility to ensure that their applications are reasonably secure. But what goes into application security testing?

Schools of thought

There are two main approaches to application security testing: white box and black box. This refers to whether the tester has access to information on the internal workings of the program or not, respectively. Both are effective for different reasons, and many specific techniques fall under both categories.

White box testing

White box testing typically involves manually reviewing the application’s source code and architecture design, as well as its structure and data flow, to ensure that it is operating correctly, effectively, and securely. This may occur between development phases or proactively during planning and design.

A software engineer will study the code and create test cases to generate a predetermined outcome.

If the output or response to the test case is incorrect or the data is flowing through the application incorrectly, they will have an idea of what is going wrong at what point in the code and then take another pass through it.

This type of testing requires an in-depth, intimate knowledge of the software and its functionality (and its source language), so it can be time-intensive. But white box tests are extremely effective for catching errors or failures at all points in the software development life cycle, provided that it is implemented methodically.

Black box testing

Black box testing is typically utilized later in the development life cycle because it is only effective once the application has achieved or is nearing completion.

Test cases are executed using the application interface and compared to the expected outputs to confirm whether providing results as intended.

This testing process doesn’t require any knowledge of coding or the program itself to be effective, but its scope can be limited as a result. Since you aren’t following the data through the inner workings, you only have the outputs to analyze. Things could be going horribly wrong inside the program, but since it responded with the expected output, things seem fine.

Comprehensive test cases for black box testing can be difficult to design since it is easy to miss patches of code that must meet specific conditions. And if an error occurs, you don’t know where things broke down since you don’t have an understanding of the program’s structure or where the operation is failing. The testing of edge cases also tends to fall short for the same reason – the parameters of the internal code are unknown.

However, this is also an effective way to ensure that the user experience is delivered as intended and verify the functionality of standard use of the program.

Application security practices

Good practices make for good applications.

Check the OWASP Top 10

The Open Web Application Security Project is a non-profit organization dedicated to improving software security. Every few years they will release a report entitled the “OWASP Top 10 – The Ten Most Critical Web Application Security Risks” (the current is Top 10 2017) to help developers, CIOs and tech teams make informed security decisions for their organizations.

This is a comprehensive look at the 10 highest-priority weaknesses that should be addressed in applications to ensure that they are safe to use on your network. Utilize this report to make sure that you have your bases covered when you are testing your applications.

Check the SANS Top 25

The SANS Institute is a for-profit educational organization that specializes in secure software training and certification. They also have a valuable list of resources for addressing the top 25 software errors that have a profound effect on application security, along with ways to prevent them.

Keep researching

New developments happen every day. Keep up with best practices, new techniques, and updates on the various types of cybercriminal attacks to maintain the best possible foundation for your application security.

Get additional input from your managed IT service provider for insight or support on any security issues requiring extra experience or expertise.

Your go-to guide for healthy IT security

We live in a world with increasing cyberattacks and growing numbers of vulnerabilities. Hackers are becoming smarter and bolder all the time. That’s why it’s important for you to prioritize the health of your IT security.

When your IT security is strong, you’ll be able to protect your business from devastating cyberattacks, keep productivity high, and boost the confidence your employees and customers have in your ability to use technology in a dangerous world.

There are specific things you can do to achieve that goal. We’ve compiled this guide to discusses the key areas you need to address to keep your IT security healthy.

This guide includes the following sections:

  1. Planning an IT security strategy
  2. Improving your IT security
  3. Prioritizing security issues
  4. Getting employees involved
  5. Monitoring and auditing your systems
  6. Looking at trends to anticipate your next challenges

1. Planning an IT security strategy

Preparing and maintaining an IT security strategy is more complicated than ever before. The technology is changing rapidly. Experts discover new security vulnerabilities almost every day. Mobile requirements are increasing, adding even more complexity to the issue of security.

Key strategy issues:

1. Ensure that the strategy meets your business goals.

Today’s security strategy is most effective when business unit stakeholders participate in identifying requirements. It’s critical that you develop the IT strategy to meet business goals, not just technology goals. Involve key stakeholders to ensure that you identify the assets they manage and the risks associated with protecting those assets.

Today’s security strategy is most effective when business unit stakeholders participate in identifying requirements. It’s critical that you develop the IT strategy to meet business goals, not just technology goals. Involve key stakeholders to ensure that you identify the assets they manage and the risks associated with protecting those assets.

2. Include the entire IT landscape in the plan.

Some IT security strategies simply define what will happen when a security breach occurs. In fact, your security strategy needs to take a holistic approach. It needs to provide a roadmap describing how you will keep your data safe. It should be the result of a comprehensive risk evaluation.

3. Strive to reduce IT costs

When your plan provides an overall roadmap, it’s possible to find ways to reduce IT costs. Working with business unit stakeholders, you’ll undoubtedly find ways to take advantage of economies of scale.

Data security graphic with a laptop

2. Improving your IT security

Your strategic plan will identify a variety of ways to improve your IT security. The plan will help you maximize network security. Perhaps even more important, revisiting the plan on a regular basis will help keep your network secure.

Some of the global issues that you need to address include:

  • Hardware and software updates. It’s essential to update your operating system as the need arises. Not only that, but you need to do the same for all infrastructure devices and applications.
  • Life-cycle management. Create a strategy to manage the life cycle of all components such as physical devices, operating systems, and applications. Hardware-as-a-service is one option to take the load off your IT team and ensure your technology stays updated and healthy.
  • Firewalls. Use stringent firewalls and review them regularly to make required updates.
  • Passwords. Develop and enforce rigid password rules.

3. Prioritizing security issues

You know that the number of security issues you must address is increasing. Therefore, it’s important to prioritize your list of issues to make sure some of the more important issues don’t end up at the bottom of the list.

Here are some issues to consider.

Improve application security

Applications are one of the top targets that cybercriminals try to breach. Such attacks include Denial-of-Service Attacks, Account Access Hijacking, and Injection Attacks. You can foil the criminals by improving your application security.

These four steps can improve your application security:

  1. Evaluate all of your applications to chart the data they need to access.
  2. Find ways to make your most critical applications less visible on the internet.
  3. Assign additional resources to the most critical and vulnerable applications.
  4. Use flexible and integrated tools to manage prevention, discovery, and recovery.

Protect Common Endpoints

Endpoint security focuses on closing off access through network-enabled devices. Those devices can include telephones, desktop computers, and tablets. In manufacturing, there are devices connected to the network from the manufacturing floor. In healthcare, there are testing and charting devices connected at remote points within a healthcare facility.

The trend toward Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) that is further complicating the process of protecting endpoints. Depending on your IT landscape, you may need to include machine learning and artificial intelligence in your security plan to examine traffic and locate threats.

Improve cable management

Security strategies often leave out the issue of cable management. But, it’s an important part of the security planning process. Structured cabling is becoming the standard for network infrastructures. Modular cabling solutions and upgrading to optimize the network infrastructure are recent trends.

In many situations, network virtualization will help you to get the most utilization out of your hardware. Rather than addressing issues such as cabling, connections, and configurations, you’ll have more virtual ports without needing to invest in hardware. You should address the issue of virtualization in your IT security strategy plan.

Employees working in a office environment

4. Getting employees involved

You can’t overemphasize the role of human error in the successful data breaches of today. For example, reports from IBM indicate that employees who unwittingly open the door to data breaches accounted for two-thirds of the records compromised last year. These actions include everything from opening an attachment on a phishing email to misconfiguring a database.

In today’s environment, educating your employees on the devastating results of a data breach is critical. They need to understand the potential outcome of one slipshod approach to configuring a server. They need to know how to spot suspicious activity in their email or online systems. They need to know how to browse the internet safely.

Including a robust training program associated with IT security should be included in any IT security strategy.

5. Monitoring and auditing your systems

Vigilance is required to spot potential threats and defend against them. Implementing a system to monitor the data flowing into and out of your systems and networks is critical.

You can also follow best practices for auditing your operations to make sure your IT security measures are effective and that employees are using them conscientiously.

6. Looking at trends to anticipate your next challenges

In terms of IT security, your job is never be done. Staying up with the trends in IT security will help you to plan ahead. You can anticipate where the trends will affect your systems, and get a head start on finding ways to address the problems before they arise. You can also use these trends to update your disaster recovery and business continuity plan.

Final Thoughts

Keeping your IT security healthy can be a huge challenge. If you have questions or would like more information, contact your managed IT services provider for help.

Your Go-to Guide for Total Technology Control

There’s no sugarcoating it.

Technology and IT-related matters are tough to understand and tougher to master. However, since modern businesses rely on technology to reach their goals, it’s pretty important to get a solid handle on how to keep things working on your terms.

Good news –that’s exactly what this guide is for.

Reading this can help you understand the core areas that you need to focus on to attain total IT control. With that control, you’ll see a slew of benefits come your way, including better productivity, increased flexibility, boosted stability, and more.

Let’s begin.

Sections Covered:

Where to Start with Business Continuity

If you’re reading this, there’s a good chance you already run a business (or even multiple businesses). And, if that’s the case, then you’ll already understand the importance of keeping your operations running smoothly at all times.

If you don’t run a business, now is as good a time as any to understand that without your data and your people, your business can’t operate.

So what do you do to make sure it stays running?

For starters, you’ll want to focus on crafting a solid backup and disaster recovery plan (also known as a BDR plan). With a BDR plan in place, every mission-critical person will be on the same page. They’ll know what to do, who to contact, what role to take, and how to generally deal with whatever disaster is happening.

The truth is that you might never be able to truly prevent downtime from happening, but you can put forth the effort to largely minimize the effects of it.

Once you master keeping your current operations up and running, you can start to focus on improving and upgrading everything else.

Setting Up an Outsourced Help Desk

A big part of gaining total technology control is making sure the little things don’t bog you down.

But what constitutes the little things?

Generally speaking, anything that can be resolved by a technician without involving a large-scale technical team. Practical examples of these issues include:

  • Slow computers
  • Email sync issues
  • Hardware malfunctions
  • File deletions
  • Software glitches

Trust us – there are many, many more things in that list.

Too many, if you ask your team.

The main idea to take away here is this: these issues are nuisances that are symptoms to bigger issues. To get rid of them once and for all, you can team up with a technology partner to outsource your problems to an IT help desk.

The help desk focuses on keeping these issues off your plate so that you can focus on running your business. They should be there to support you 24/7.

In short, they help you create a more stable technology environment. They help you answer questions like:

  • What specs should I look for in a work computer?
  • I forgot my password. What now?
  • Why is this popup here all the time?
  • How can I fix my slow Wi-Fi?

When Do You Need Managed IT Services?

Help desk services focus on the day-to-day technology issues that your company faces. But to keep your organization’s technology running smoothly, you’ll want to find a managed service provider to partner with.

But let’s back up for a second. What are managed IT services?

In essence, they’re a bundled packages of services that help organizations keep their technology under wraps. You can think of them as an IT service “buffet” – you pay a flat-rate fee to get lots of food (services) that are included in that price.

“72% of SMB decision makers say that technology solutions can help them significantly improve business outcomes and run the business better.”

– SMB Group

Different managed service providers (also known as MSPs) offer slight variations on their managed services packages. Choosing the right one for your organization depends entirely on your specific needs.

So why do you want them?

For starters, you can use them to outsource a vast majority of your mission-critical IT services. They allow you to consolidate your vendors and keep your tech running smoothly, all through one point of contact that you build a lasting relationship with.

Managed services from an experienced MSP help you get a set of expert eyes on your technology situation. They can give you guidance on how to best protect your data, how to choose the right technology for your business, and even how to make your organization more productive.

Help with Strategic IT Budgeting

There’s just no way to talk about total technology control without getting to the nitty-gritty.

We’re talking about the numbers, of course.

The aim of the game is to strategically select an IT budget that gives you the most bang for the buck. You must actively balance a budget that gives you access to the technology you need for both the present and the future.

Spend too little and you’re stuck with bad equipment and annoyingly troublesome services.

Spend too much and you’re stuck with wasting precious resources on stuff you don’t really need.

There’s a careful science here – you can perform an audit of your own business needs to determine the perfect IT budget for your organization. With your budget set, you can determine things such as implementation timelines and technology prioritization schedules.

In other words, budgets help your organization create a technology strategy to help keep the financial focus on your priorities.

IT Consulting for SMBs

Many organizations struggle to align their technology to their business strategy. And yet, it’s basically impossible to scale and grow operations without at least SOME sort of technological assistance.

That’s where IT consultants come in. But what do they do?

IT consultants basically come in and take a good, hard look at what your current environment consists of. After they’ve taken a solid inventory, they can tell you about your overall technology health and if it aligns with your business goals.

More often than not, it’s a mismatch.

When that occurs, it’s the job of the IT consultant to recommend strategic plans of action to put your tech back on track. If you’re tackling a specific project that you’re not sure of, IT consultants also stay with you to ensure everything goes off without a hitch.

An MSP can guide you through all the options and make sure you have the best system for your organization, while having the flexibility to change as your operations change.

– Business 2 Community

The core message is this: IT consultants regularly audit your technology to ensure that it’s focused. In turn, that helps you keep total control over your technology.

Strategically Implementing the Cloud

You can’t possible discuss modern technology advancements without hearing about the cloud.

First up: What is the cloud?

To keep things simple, it’s a system of shared processing resources that isn’t on your computer. That means when you access applications and files (often over the internet) that aren’t actually hosted on your hardware, you’re using the cloud.

There are plenty of misconceptions of what the cloud is and how it works. However, all you really have to know is that it allows your organization to take your mission-critical technology and make it flexible and mobile. Cloud computing allows you to focus less on the hardware that you’re using and more on the accessibility aspects of connecting to your data.

When you master the cloud as a tool for productivity, you can scale your organization to whatever size you want.

Attaining Technology Control

These six topics are the pillars of attaining total technology control within your organization. Want to know about something else? Think we missed a core aspect? Questions about anything we discussed in the article?

Reach out to us and let us know. We’re more than happy to create helpful guides for you.

6 Ways to Improve Web Application Security

Web applications have become standard aspects of business success. Web applications are so useful that many SMBs now have unique apps that help them communicate with clients, track workflows, automate tasks, and fill other needs.

While web apps may seem like great ways to improve your business processes, they can also pose serious security risks.

Follow these 6 ways to improve web application security to keep your business, clients, and network safe.

Require Strong Passwords

Requiring all of your app’s users to choose strong passwords will make it more difficult for cybercriminals to hack into accounts. Unfortunately, many people still don’t understand what features make passwords strong. You can enforce better security by requiring all users to adopt passwords that:

  • Use a combination of letters, numbers and special symbols.
  • Contain at least eight characters, preferably more.
  • Avoid using the same character twice in a row.

You can also help users choose better passwords by asking them not to replace characters with numbers and special symbols (such as turning “machine” into “m@ch!n3”).

Encrypt Your Login Page

Requiring strong passwords will help keep unauthorized users off your network. It’s a good start, but you’ll need more than strong passwords to prevent people stealing information.

If one of your app’s users connects to the application through public WiFi, then a hacker could intercept the login information. Encrypting your web application’s login page will make man-in-the-middle attacks much more difficult.

Related: 5 Ways to Make Your Applications More Secure

Most developers will get the security they need from 128-bit encryption. If your app connects people to private data or business processes, then you may want to upgrade to 258-bit encryption.

Learn How to Attack Your Own Security

Learning how to attack your web application is one of the most effective ways to discover security issues. If your security has a flaw, someone will eventually find it. By finding it first, you can take the appropriate steps to patch holes and reduce the risk of attack.

Some of the most common attacks to learn about include:

If you don’t have the right skills to attack your web applications, then you can either spend time learning about advanced secure coding practices, or you can hire a third party to do the work for you.

Take Your Container Security Seriously

Many app developers have started using container technology because it helps them scale quickly without many physical challenges. The improved flexibility makes it possible for developers to do their jobs better and create applications that help businesses perform.

Related: Why Secure Application Development Is Critical to Conscious Companies

Unfortunately, few developers and security teams understand the vulnerabilities that come with containers. Without the right level of security, someone could exploit vulnerabilities in the containers to steal information or make changes to internal practices.

Some of the most important security concerns for containers include:

  • Improper access control that lets unauthorized visitors use features reserved for leaders.
  • Container sprawl that could lead to increased vulnerabilities from outdated containers.
  • Old data, such as user identification credentials, that don’t have relevance to users but could be used to commit crimes.

If you use containers, you need to test them regularly to make sure they’re secure.

Sanitize Your Web App’s User Input

When users get to submit any type of data, you run a higher risk of getting targeted by malware and other types of attacks. Sanitizing your web app’s user input will help protect you from XSS and XSRF attacks.

You have two basic options when sanitizing user input. You can create a whitelist or a blacklist.

Building a whitelist will prevent unapproved types of data from getting sent to the application. For instance, if you have a form that asks for a user’s phone number, the whitelist will only accept numbers. If the user includes non-digit characters, then it will remove those unauthorized characters. If someone includes words within a phone number, the words will get taken out, leaving the numbers as the input.

A blacklist takes the opposite approach by defining what types of input it will not accept. Both approaches have similar results, but they work from different angles to make sure incoming information is safe.

Related: Why Secure Application Development Is a Necessity

Make Security Part of the Development Process

Some developers don’t think about security until after they’ve finished the first versions of their web apps. They’re so focused on making features work correctly that they don’t have the time or resources to test security.

That’s a big mistake that can make apps vulnerable. Instead of waiting, make security part of the development process. At each stage of development, you should have an opportunity to think about security. If you don’t tackle problems as they arise, then you could forget about them by the time you’re ready to release the app next month.

Stay focused on the importance of security. After all, keeping data safe is a key feature of your app.

As the popularity of web applications continues to grow, more hackers will start targeting them. Apps with weak security protocols don’t stand a chance against sophisticated attackers.

If you follow these six tips to improve web application security, though, you’ll create several barriers that help keep hackers away from your network and private information.

Why Secure Application Development Is Critical to Conscious Companies

The number of conscious companies increases every year, with the trend even impacting how business takes place. Many people have looked at the results of the popular business philosophy that calls for profit above all else, and have decided the pendulum needs to swing back.

In other words, it’s becoming more important for companies to be extremely conscious of the impact their actions have on business and society.

And, as a result, secure application development is now more important than ever before. With the number of security breaches on the rise, and hackers working harder to access the growing amounts of private information stored online, developers must take security testing seriously on every project.

Is It Ethical to Deliver Applications Without Effective Security Testing?

In today’s hackable environment, secure software application development – or lack thereof – raises an ethical question. The consequences of poor software security bring this issue into sharp focus.

  • In 2017, IBM sponsored the 12th annual Cost of Data Breach Study conducted by Ponemon Institute. Globally, the study found that the cost of a data breach dropped 10 percent over 2016 numbers, yet the cost of a data breach in the U.S. rose 5 percent to $7.35 million. The study figures include costs related to responding to the breach, damage to reputations and lost business.
  • Companies of all sizes are not only vulnerable, but in jeopardy. SMBs sometimes assume that only large corporations need to worry about data breaches.

  • The number of municipal, state and federal government attacks is growing. For example, a ransomware attack in March 2018 disrupted several critical services in the city of Atlanta, including the judicial system and police department.
  • The Equifax data breach in 2017 has continued to grow in severity. Some of the latest numbers indicate that the massive breach impacted roughly half the U.S. population, or 147.9 million consumers. There’s little disagreement about whether consumer confidence in Equifax has taken a huge plunge.
  • The European Union is starting enforcement of its General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in May 2018. It will have a long-term impact on data security issues around the world. Companies are scrambling to update their data security and privacy policies and to ensure their systems align with the new Regulation.

Given the problems that continue to occur, no software developer can ignore the repercussions of less-than-stellar security for both themselves and their clients.

Types of Security Testing

Fundamentally, you need to do software security testing from seven different perspectives. Each type of testing is designed to address specific security risks.

Risk Assessments: Risk assessments are designed to identify potential risks that could occur. The assessment is intended to 1) identify the risk, 2) determine how to reduce the impact of the risk, 3) reduce the likelihood of the risk occurring, and 4) monitor risks.

Security Scanning: This process focuses on identifying network and system weaknesses and developing solutions to reduce the risks.

Vulnerability Scanning: This test uses automated software to scan a system to find known vulnerability signatures. It also implements fixes to eliminate the vulnerabilities.

Penetration Scanning: Penetration scanning takes finding vulnerabilities to a higher level. Rather than stopping upon the discovery of vulnerabilities, the penetration tester will exploit the vulnerability to discover how a hacker could take control of the system.

Ethical Hacking: Testers attempt to penetrate the applications and systems in the same manner a criminal hacker might try.

Security Auditing: Regular auditing of applications and systems works to identify security flaws.

Posture Assessment: This term refers to the use of scans, ethical hacking and risk assessments to illustrate an organization’s overall software and system security posture.

The Advantages of Software Testing as a Service

Companies that provide software testing as a service help their clients by providing the type of focus on software security that’s required in today’s environment. Putting specialists to work for your security testing provides a number of benefits.

The Advantage of a Fresh Perspective: It’s difficult for developers to spot security flaws in their own work. Additionally, specialists may be able to identify the critical security features you overlooked in the flurry of development.

Access to the Latest Approaches: Testing specialists focus on staying up-to-date with the latest security testing technologies and techniques. The quality of the software that results from this type of testing is typically higher than when multitasking developers do their own testing.

Unbiased Test Results: Testing specialists look at the software from a completely different perspective. They don’t tarnish their opinion by knowing the history of the development effort. It’s the best way to get unbiased and accurate test results.

Cost Reduction: Hiring and maintaining a talented software testing team represents a significant investment for any company. Software testing as a service gives your team the opportunity to stay focused on your core competencies and still meet tight deadlines.

Where Do You Stand?

Whether to produce secure applications is a choice every organization must make. There are many security risks. However, there are also many things you can do to ensure the quality and security of the applications you develop.

If you’re not putting security issues above functional and performance issues, you may be contributing to security breaches in a world already inundated with serious security problems.

Talk to the pros. We can help you ensure complete security within your applications.


The Cloud: Why It’s More Important than Ever

The cloud is an ever-expanding technology that has revolutionized not only the way we as individuals use the internet but also the way businesses function. With each passing day, the benefits of cloud technology grow stronger, and companies flock toward it, assaulted by the noise of technical vagaries.

This can leave business owners in a sticky situation. How do you know what elements of the cloud to explore? How do you know what cloud solutions will best benefit your business? How can you ensure the best ROI for your investment?

We want to help cut through the noise in the cloud market. In this article, we’ll go over the main elements of the cloud that you need to know for your business, along with the top benefits you should be receiving from your cloud provider. Finally, we’ll give you some tips on how to migrate successfully.

What is the cloud?

The term “the cloud” was first popularized 2006 when Amazon released its Elastic Compute Cloud. This product allowed customers to rent Amazon’s unused computing power. This formally introduced the first commercially available platform as a service (PaaS) offering for what would later become the cloud market.

Suddenly, the idea of pulling computing power and storage off the local machine created untold possibilities for how technology could function and the business world began to take notice.

Cloud computing comes in a few different categories.


Software-as-a-service (SaaS) is a licensing model for cloud-based software. What this means is that, as a consumer, you gain access to real-time use of applications that are actually stored, managed, secured and consistently upgraded in an off-site data center.

Many business apps are considered SaaS because the app is cloud-based and you pay a flat rate for its use, rather than a premium for ownership. Tools such as Office365 and Dropbox fall into this category.


Platform-as-a-service offers more expanded cloud usage than SaaS. With PaaS, businesses can build applications and other tools using enterprise-level computing platforms, while retaining the data locally. If you’re developing software, you can host your platform in the cloud for consumers to use. For example, Airbnb built their app using Amazon Web Services’ PaaS tools.

Some of the most successful PaaS offerings include Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure.


Infrastructure-as-a-service delivers fully virtualized resources, including servers, storage, and network hardware, over the internet. This means that your business can now be securely managed and run from the cloud whether you are in the office, on the road, or working from home.

cloud computing quote

Why use the cloud?

There are some incredible benefits of cloud computing for business.


With cloud computing, you enjoy enterprise-level security, no matter what your company size is. Because your solution is stored in enterprise data centers, you gain the advantages of top physical security for the facility, as well as military-grade encryption and cybersecurity.


Mobility is a must in modern business. But without the cloud, mobility is incredibly not easily secured. It’s difficult to execute, as well as difficult to monitor. On the other hand, cloud computing lets you work securely anywhere, anytime.


Business continuity should be at the forefront of every business’s long-term planning. In terms of backup and recovery, cloud backup offers you the greatest opportunity for quick recovery times.

If you drop a laptop in a pool, you’re back in business with a simple login from a new device. If local servers and equipment are damaged, the right solution would allow you to spin up virtual servers and desktops in the cloud so you can maintain business operations.

Migrate to the cloud

For many, the idea of utilizing the cloud is not a question of why, but rather how and when. This is part of any strategic IT planning. You want a migration plan that mitigates your risk, limits downtime and interruption for your staff, and gives you the best ROI for your business.

To achieve the best results, you need to harness the expertise of an experienced cloud migration expert. Contact GB Tech to see how cloud services can help you achieve your business goals.

The Countless Benefits of Managed Services

Beyond the Buzzword: What is a Managed Service?

Managed service is a buzzword. There’s a good chance that unless you have worked with a managed service provider (MSP) in the past or have experience in the IT world that you’ve never actually heard that phrase – and that’s okay.

Managed services cover a wide variety of modern IT services, most of which replace or complement more traditional IT solutions. Over the last 15 years or so, software that can be sold as a service has been gradually replacing older hardware. One great example of this is Microsoft Office 365. Microsoft Office has been ubiquitous in the business world for ages and is one of the most widely used pieces of software ever created, but Office 365 allows Microsoft to breathe new life into their old product by selling it as a service. Adoption rates for Office 365 are incredible, hitting 24.9 million American subscribers in early 2017.

This process is not a unique one, and it has many benefits. In the case of software as a service (SaaS) specifically, the vendor has the ability to correct errors, release periodic updates, and the customer receives stability and ongoing customer service that would be difficult to achieve with a traditional software purchase.

Managed services fall under a massive umbrella that covers a wide variety of services – and it’s only a growing market. Some researchers say that worldwide IT services spending will reach $966 billion in 2017. That’s a staggering figure, even for a worldwide industry.

Managed services are rapidly replacing traditional IT solutions, and consumers are seeing savings. As of 2016, 72% of businesses outsourced IT, and 31% planned on scaling up their IT outsourcing. Much like Microsoft’s example of software as a service, many other older technological mainstays are being phased out. Many small businesses are abandoning their old data storage systems for cloud storage. Others are ditching their old server to take advantage of virtualization options, often referred to as infrastructure as a service (IaaS). One of the latest trends is the adoption of Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) as a replacement for (and improvement upon) traditional phone lines.

As managed services replace IT as we know it, it’s important to be aware of what kinds of options your business has. Businesses are seeing a wide variety of benefits, some of which may apply to your company as well.

Managed Services Grow with You

When traditional technology still reigned supreme, businesses often ran into trouble when they needed to scale their capabilities up or down, especially when such scaling needed to happen on a regular basis (as in the case of a seasonal business, for example).

This brings us to another one of those buzzwords: scalability. For our purposes, scalability is the ability of a service to increase or decrease its capacity in accordance with your business’s needs. In slightly more academic terms, there are four specific kinds of scalability that your business should be concerned with:

  1. Administrative scalability: the ability to add new users to the network with minimal effort
  2. Functional scalability: the ability to easily add additional functions to the network
  3. Geographic scalability: the ability to spread the network over a wider physical area without a notable performance penalty
  4. Load scalability: the ability of a network or system to handle larger or smaller than average workloads or inputs

Pretty dry, right? The good news is that at GB Tech, we generally try to avoid that kind of jargon altogether. A good managed service should meet all four of those definitions and grow to meet your requirements alongside your business – or in some cases scale down due to unforeseen circumstances.

Compared to managed services, older technologies are left wanting in terms of scalability. Remember the days when you had to buy a new filing cabinet every few months? With solutions like cloud services that can scale to meet your needs  you’ll never have to worry about such annoyances again – and you won’t pour money into hardware that might soon be obsolete.

How You’ll Benefit from Managed Services

Your business will benefit from managed services in almost countless ways, but there are certainly a few highlights that will be evident at surface level and immediately affect the quality of your daily workflows.

Cutting Costs Icon1. You’ll Save Money on Labor

Assembling an in-house IT staff is expensive, especially if your business is still in the early stages of its lifecycle. To make matters worse, an SMB’s day-to-day IT needs are often modest, meaning that a full-time IT staffer will often be left without work to do, resulting in a waste of money on your part and a waste of talent on your employee’s part. By outsourcing IT, you’ll be spending less than you would on a full employee’s salary, and you can scale your service to your needs.

Eye Icon2. Managed Service Providers Are in the Trenches Every Day

The legendary German officer Helmuth von Moltke is remembered for his most famous quote: “No plan survives first contact with the enemy.”

Moltke’s words ring true in the face of nearly any crisis, including an unexpected IT disaster. No matter how much you prepare, you’re very likely to come across a problem that you can’t solve just by following procedure. No matter how well-trained and knowledgeable your in-house IT professional might be, they still spend most of the time within the bubble of your company. Conversely, the IT experts at a managed service provider like GB Tech are out in the field every day, and in our company’s 30 years of experience we’ve seen nearly everything there is to see.

3. You Can Supplement Your Current IT Investments

Working with a managed service provider doesn’t have to spell doom for the IT professionals you already have working in your company. Some companies see better results from outsourcing IT when they complement the outside service with internal investments; the savings actually come from other operational areas. Analysis shows that internal IT personnel are actually key to capturing the value of IT outsourcing – and the two forces working in tandem can provide massive value for your business.

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It’s universally accepted that businesses need to invest in IT to survive in an increasingly digital world. As millennials step in for retiring baby boomers in the workforce, technology in the workplace is becoming less of a burden and more of a necessity. Opening up your business to a true technological transformation may not be easy – it actually requires a fearless, forward thinking attitude – but it will be fruitful. Managed services can make your business safer, more efficient, and more appealing to talented new employees.

At GB Tech we offer services in the form of the GB Tech Managed Services Package, a comprehensive set of solutions that we tailor to fit each one of our clients’ needs. We don’t believe in nickel and diming you for things you don’t need, nor do we cut corners to get you the cheapest results. We say that our offerings are mission critical, and we mean it – every project, no matter how large or small, will be held to the same high standards. You want to go to the moon, and we want to get you there.

All it takes to get started is a phone call or a message.

How to Stop Business Interruption and Save Your Business

It is 2020 and you are an astronaut on the prime crew of the Apollo 18 Mission. You have just participated in the rigorous NASA training program, and you are preparing to blast off to the opportunity of a lifetime — a lunar landing!

You have finished all of the pre-flight procedures. You’ve practice your landing speech in your head, and even dashes off an email to your sweetheart. You’re totally ready. All you have to do is get dressed. But, in all of the excitement, you manage to puncture a hole in your spacesuit.

You don’t have an extra spacesuit, so your backup on the mission, Carl, gets to do the Apollo 18 Mission and land on the Moon instead, while you stay at home on Earth and take notes. But that’s okay, you can go next time. This is the first Apollo mission to the Moon in 38 years, but they are bound to get more frequent.

Wow. That would be the disappointment of a lifetime, right? Fortunately, NASA has a backup plan for everything. Even for how many spacesuits go on each Apollo mission.

Historically, each NASA Apollo Mission required 15 suits. Three suits each were made for all three members of the prime crew, and two for each of the three members of the backup crew.

NASA has a privilege of including in its ranks some of the most acclaimed scientists and engineers of our time. You can trust that if they believe in the importance of a backup plan, it’s probably a good idea to follow suit (pun, totally intended).

In fact, in much of life, we are often encouraged to have a backup plan. We keep savings accounts, health savings, life insurance, and maybe a few of us hide money in a fake book in our office library. Planning for a possible life changing event or an unexpected disaster to become part of our lives. Unfortunately, people in business often totally forget to plan ahead for the unforeseen.

If you want the primary mission of your business to go off without a hitch, it’s important to have your own backup solutions and data recovery plans.

Data Backup Prevents Data Loss

First of all, congratulations. If you are considering a data backup plan, you are way ahead of the curve. A recent industry report found that only 51% of business users within organizations backup their data to on-premises computers or external drives, and only 35% backup their data to the cloud.

If you are disturbed by those numbers, the figures showing what happens when you don’t backup your data will really floor you. For instance, Verizon found that a small data breach where only 100 records are lost would most likely cost an organization anywhere from $18,120 to $35,730, but could cost as much as $555,660.

Now that you know what a financial beating businesses take when they suffer a data loss, you are probably thinking, “I definitely don’t wanna lose my data! What causes data loss?”

Source: ITProPortal 

Typically, data loss occurs due to one or more of the following:

Hardware failure

In the USA, approximately 140,000 hard drives fail every week. It’s also reported that 60% of small businesses that suffer significant data loss will close within 12 months.

Hardware failure, unfortunately, is more of an inevitability than a possibility. Hard drives are not designed to last forever, and they have a definite, albeit unpredictable, shelflife.

Human Error

Raise your hand if you’ve ever accidentally destroyed a computer. Okay, now look around. Again, you’re not alone. As much as 70% of all data center incidents can be attributed to bad operations/human error.

Natural Disasters

Your business is subject to the destruction of nature. When natural disaster strikes, not only are you unable to work, which contributes to catastrophic losses due to downtime, but your physical components are often destroyed. Without data backup, your business may be unsalvageable.


A direct cyberattack can cost businesses as much as $40,000 per hour. Most businesses can’t afford, or would at least prefer not to throw away a full-time employees annual salary on a cyberattack.

Creating a solid data backup plan allows your business to continue if you are attacked.

No matter which of the main categories of a disaster you encounter, you will want to establish a solid data backup plan to keep your business running.

Source: Data Center Knowledge

A Disaster Recovery Plan Keeps You in Business

When we use the word “disaster” what we mean is any significant event that might negatively impacted your business. Data loss, by way of any of the four major categories we’ve discussed today, qualifies as one of the primary disasters your business might encounter.

We’ve emphasized the importance of a data backup solution, because it is the first step in maintaining business continuity. For your business to grow, it needs to stay open. Backing up your data ensures that losing physical components will not mean the end of your business.

Data loss will not be the only impact of a disaster. You may have to purchase new equipment, ensure power supply, and keep your network running.

A disaster recovery plan involves data backup as well as other steps to maintain the longevity of your business. In one study, 75% of business owners reported that they didn’t have any type of disaster recovery plan.

While data backup ensures that you have the information to run your business, a full-scale disaster recovery plan will ensure that you still have the infrastructure to run a business.

Things to consider might be: alternate operation locations, backup servers, generators, and more.

Source: Nationwide

GB Tech Can Help

It’s more important than ever to have redundancies in place to protect your business. At GB Tech, we have a history of creating data backup solutions and disaster recovery plans that keep businesses running no matter what unfortunate situations may arise.

If you’d like to learn more about backup and disaster recovery, please give us a call or shoot us an email. We look forward to hearing from you.

Expert Assistance with a Help Desk

The world is entering a period where businesses are more dependent on technology than ever before. Consequently, technical difficulties and downtime can be damaging and ultimately fatal for small and medium-sized businesses. That’s when a fine-tuned help desk becomes priceless.

Due to the dangers of downtime resulting from hardware and software failure, customer service on the part of technology vendors and IT providers is more important than ever. Unfortunately, customer service is often subpar, resulting in dissatisfaction that sometimes leads customers to take their business elsewhere. In fact, roughly 60% of customers that don’t feel their voices have been heard will seek another solution. This figure emphasizes the importance of top-notch customer service, especially since the demand for outsourced help desk services is expected to grow by a brisk  5.7% annually through 2019.

At GB Tech, we’ve spent time analyzing the flaws that plague some help desks and other customer service outlets. Years of experience have helped us perfect our own help desk services; we take pride in our ability to provide 24/7 support for all of our clients.

IT disasters don’t keep normal hours, and neither does our help desk. There are several reasons why we believe the help desk is a crucial aspect of our managed services package.

Source: Technavio.com

Around-the-Clock Availability

Perhaps the most important quality to look for in a help desk is availability. It’s impossible to tell when you might be in need of crucial assistance, and the thought of being alone in the face of a total system crash is about as appealing as the thought of rowing into a hurricane on a raft.

GB Tech’s help desk and call center support are available around the clock. It doesn’t matter if it’s lunchtime or after midnight; we’re committed to bringing you the service you need.

We also guarantee that you’ll receive the same GB Tech quality on the other end of the line regardless of what time it is. All of our IT technicians are experienced professionals who will do everything in their power to resolve your issue.

Service Tailored to You

We don’t believe in one-size-fits-all solutions at GB Tech. That’s the case for all of our managed services, and it holds true for our customer support as well. Every business and every network is different, and we’ll give you the individualized support required to keep you up and running.

Expecting one set of procedures to apply to the challenges faced by our wide variety of clients would be irresponsible, like plugging a hole in the space shuttle with duct tape. At GB Tech, we take the time to learn about our clients’ businesses, so our help desk technicians are fully acquainted with your network. This allows them to provide quick and effective resolutions to your problems.

In the case of problems that don’t require an immediate solution but do need professional assistance, we won’t require you to stay on the line for hours. Once you submit your ticket, we’ll call you in a timely manner to resolve your issue so you can focus on the things you need to get done. When an issue can’t be resolved remotely, we’ll send out one of our technicians to sort things out.

Experienced Help Desk Staff

A good help desk technician should be experienced and cool under pressure. Luckily, both of those traits are key parts of the GB Tech identity. We’ve been around for more than 30 years, honing our craft since the early days of the IT industry. Our team has worked with NASA, the Department of Defense, and countless other clients that operate in high stress environments with low-risk tolerance.

Of course, not all of our employees have been around that long, but we take care to ensure that our team is made up of seasoned IT professionals that can handle whatever our clients throw at them.

The Help Desk and You

In a perfect world, the help desk would be a service you never have to use. Unfortunately, since technology isn’t perfect (no matter how meticulously maintained it might be) you’ll probably find yourself in need of assistance at some point.

The value of using a third party help desk service like GB Tech’s lies in our experience, availability, and knowledge of how business technology should function. Help desk services are also at their best when combined with a variety of other managed services. When your business has great IT support, you’ll need to call upon the help desk less often, and the goal of our managed services package is to implement and maintain IT solutions that minimize the need for 24/7 help desk support.

If your business has run into trouble that a help desk could have helped fix, you understand how important great IT support can be. We’d love to discuss our managed service offerings, including help desk services, with you and your business. Let’s get in touch and get a conversation started-it could completely change the future of your company.