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Top 7 IT Controls for SMB business



Technology is a great tool, which if working in favor can boost productivity and efficiency, but if not implemented properly can negatively impact productivity. Improperly implemented technology causes downtime, slowness, and many other issues. We are seeing new technologies every day and it's getting hard to keep up with new technology trends, especially with cyber security and cloud computing advancements. To achieve these high standards of IT operations and security, there are some basic, foundational controls that need to be in place.


This is not a complete list of basic IT controls but some of the top ones that play a major role in the success of a business.


Technology Partner


First and foremost, every business should have a trusted technology partner. It can be an in-house IT team or an outsourced IT services provider. Outsourcing IT services to a trusted MSP (Managed Service Provider) always offer more benefits especially if your IT budget doesn't allow you to hire an experienced IT professional. A technology partner needs to know what you value the most in your business, they should work with you to achieve your goals and objective. Technology partners should make technology simple enough, that it's not a hurdle in your growth, but instead, a tool that helps you achieve your goals.


Reliable Internet


Reliable Internet is the backbone of every business in this modern age. With the emergence of cloud computing where you access everything from the cloud, not having a reliable internet service can cause tons of downtime. Alongside a reliable primary internet, we always recommend having a backup or secondary internet connection. Backup or secondary internet can be a 4G or 5G wireless or any other medium, one thing to note is to not get backup or secondary internet connection from the same provider as the primary because it defeats the purpose of redundancy.


Secure Network


A secure network is the foundation of a robust and reliable IT infrastructure. Every device, it can be a company-issued device or a personal device connects to this network either directly or remotely. A secure network makes sure only authorized devices are connecting and detects any rogue devices. Normally a secure network consists of a firewall, switches, wireless controllers, wireless access points, computers, printers, IP phones, and many other network devices but it's also depending on the size and requirements of the business. There are a lot of controls we can implement to make a network secure including switch port security for physical connection, mac address filtering for wireless devices, and many more. I'll elaborate on each of these control in upcoming articles.


Data Storage


Data is one of the most important assets of a business. Data can be a secret formula, procedure and policies, financials, and in many other forms, which if stolen or corrupted can have a significant impact on a company’s health. Data need to be managed and secured at every level, at rest or in transit. There are different ways to secure data but the most common one is encryption. With modern technology, data can be encrypted at rest and in transit. Data can be stored on an on-premises server or in a cloud service offered by different vendors. Some examples are Microsoft SharePoint Online and Google drive.


Email System


Email is the primary stream of communication in a business environment. Some others tools are taking precedence over email, like IM (Microsoft Teams and Slack) but email communication is still the primary stream of communication. Same as data, you can have an email server sitting on-premises or in the cloud as a SaaS (Software as a Service). A few examples of SaaS offerings are Microsoft Exchange Online and Google Workspace. Setting up a cloud email system offers a lot more benefits than an on-premises system, for example, minimal to no downtime and you don't have to open ports on your firewalls. Every business I have worked with recently is either already using a cloud system or in the process of moving to the cloud.


Phone System


Like the email system, the phone system is the backbone of any business. There are a lot of vendors out there who offer cloud VOIP solutions. This means you don’t have to install any PBX hardware on-premises, no hard SIP trunks, and no voice router. Everything is in the cloud or in the vendor’s data center, which is called the cloud. You just have to log in to the vendor-provided portal, set up call routing (we recommend hiring a professional to set up call routing), and plug your phone into networks. If everything is set up right, your phone should come up and you can make and receive calls.

Backups


No matter the size of the business, this is a must-have. You must have backups of critical applications and data. I am sure you heard about ransomware which can take over and encrypt your data, having proper backups in place can save you from paying a ton of money to get your data back. Another consideration in backup solutions is to have an onsite backup as well as an offsite backup, which can be a cloud or another remote office. Backup testing should be done frequently to make sure you can recover your applications and data when needed.



Who we are


Thank you for taking the time to read our blog post and here is a quick introduction to who we are.


We are an IT MSP (Managed Service Provider) based in Sacramento, California. We offer IT Support, Consulting, managed IT services, managed IT security & variety of computer services in Sacramento and surrounding cities. Our mission is to make IT simple enough that it's not a roadblock to your business's success.

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