15 Jan

When Is The Best Time To Start Your Online Business?

They say “There’s a perfect timing for everything”, but is there the best time to start an online business?

Is there such a thing as the best time of a year to start new business? According to the US Small Business Administration (SBA), there are more than 30.2 million small businesses in the United States alone. While these businesses certainly didn’t start up at the exact same time, you’d wonder if there is a certain time where it’s more ideal to launch an online business.

Some would say, January sounds good, since it’s the beginning of the new year. Some say, start as young as you can because entrepreneurs like Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg did tremendously well in their young days. Perhaps you should wait until you’ve secured financing, or the kids are in school, or you’re vested in your pension at work. Or maybe, in fact, there’s no time like the present?

Successful entrepreneurs describe having an instinctive sense that it’s time to move from thinking about a business to actually launching one. Here are five signs you’re ready to open your online business.

Your Readiness To Become An Entrepreneur

As an entrepreneur, you can expect to put in long hours at all sorts of tasks, and it may be a while before you get rewarded. You’ll need to convince people to become your customers or invest in your idea. You’ll have doubters, naysayers, setbacks, and rejections.

Entrepreneurial Aspirations

You’ll overcome all of this far better if you are truly passionate about your business idea. Being unemployed isn’t a good enough reason to start a business, but feeling driven to provide a solution to a problem is.

Financial Stability

Your financial situation is a key consideration when determining whether to start a business. How much risk can you tolerate? If you are currently in a stable employment situation and have a family do you really want to strike out on your own? Starting a new online business can also take significant amounts of startup capital if you have to purchase equipment, rent/lease business space, and hire employees.

Your financial starting point is a business plan that shows—among other things—how much money you’ll need to start your business, where it will come from, and how long you expect it to take for your business to become profitable. And there are other financial issues to sort out before you take the leap. Ensure how you’ll keep your personal life afloat, whether that means accumulating a year’s worth of savings or relying on income from a job.

Do you have savings or access to funding from family, or the ability to secure debt financing from a lending institution or equity financing from angel investors?

Prepare Yourself

Not everyone has the required personality traits to thrive as a business owner. Aside from extensive knowledge of the particular industry, to be successful as a business owner requires self-motivation and a variety of organizational, management, and marketing skills, as well as the ability to deal with customers and vendors.

Business Plan

Think if you’re ready for starting a business, but are concerned about whether or not you have the “right” traits and attitudes to become an entrepreneur.

Time & Energy To Establish New Business

The best time to start a new online venture is when your life is otherwise relatively calm. If your current situation includes a new baby, a wedding, a divorce, caregiving for a sick family member, a big move, or any other major life stressors, it may be best to wait until things settle down a bit and you can devote your full attention to launching your new enterprise.

Effect On Family

If you are married, be aware that running a business is a family affair. Aside from the family financial considerations stated above, starting a business generally requires much more of your time than regular employment and will likely continue to do so for many years to come. The time commitment and the associated stresses and uncertainties of running a business can place an undue strain on family relationships. Note, however, that involving family members in your business can also be very beneficial. Aside from providing trusted help, employing your spouse and/or children has great tax advantages.

Your family may have to take financial or personal sacrifices to help your business succeed. Start your business after you’ve talked things through with them and resolved any major concerns.

Trust Your Inner Wisdom

Plenty of would-be entrepreneurs hesitate for months or years, waiting for all the stars to align. There’s a fine line between jumping in without adequate thought and overthinking everything to the point where your business never gets off the ground. Listen to your instincts. If you’ve thought through the practicalities and you feel you’re ready, it’s probably time to go for it.

Starting a business of your own – whether full-time or on the side – can be a great move, provided you do so when the timing is right.

Setting The Right Expectations

The key to running any successful business is to set the right expectations and the right level of commitment. Most people quit their businesses within their first year. If you aren’t willing to devote at least 3-5 years to your business, don’t even bother. Why? Because most of the wealth and the profits are to be had well after your first year. Expecting your business to be vastly profitable within a short time frame is a half assed way to think about your business.

Let’s be realistic as we at Softsys Hosting. During the first year of any online business, your website is probably not going to have superior search engine placement. Your business probably won’t have a large customer base. Your business probably won’t have much name recognition. It takes time for word of mouth to spread. It takes time for things to snowball. Be patient and results will come.

12 Jan

Major Web Hosting Trends Of 2020

There are lot of obstacles that a web hosting company has to overcome to become a reputable and reliable business. Most important among them is security as around 30,000 websites got hacked every single day. Offering 99% uptime level is good, but not enough in today’s world, especially with the big and leading players who are always ahead of competitors.

The ease of doing a business online, especially e-commerce one, is among important factors driving the growth of web hosting industry. E-commerce market needs reliable and always live website operations, maintenance of data on a regular basis, ultimate security, and these are some aspects where web hosting providers focus their product developments.

The growth of web hosting industry is not without issues.  The biggest threat today in web hosting is the changing user attitudes toward hosting. According to the Google Trends, the search term “web hosting” dropped by 60%. Apart from that, the gap between DIY and professional website creation continues to widen as many small business owners look for the ways to start a website without any decent IT skills. With so many advanced DIY applications covering a wide range of operations, it has become easy for small business owners to design and manage their own websites.

That being said, let’s take a closer look on the major web hosting trends of 2020.

Green Web Hosting

The Internet’s annual CO2 output is equal to 31 million cars driving around the world all at once.

How does it generate so much CO2?

Websites are stored on servers that are kept in facilities called data centers. Servers are expected to work 24/7 and like our daily gadgets such as phones and laptops, they get hot. Therefore, the hardware in data centers are stored in a cool and controlled environment. This, however, requires an incredibly energy-intensive cooling systems. End result is a significant increase of CO2 output.

Fortunately, as the concern for Global Warming are increasing every year, web hosting companies are now investing in carbon offsetting schemes. In green web hosting, web hosts actively participate in eco-friendly initiatives to reduce negative impacts on the environment. They do this by gaining renewable energy certificates (REC) or carbon offset certificates (VER).

RECs certify that a hosting company helped in generating renewable energy. Companies which specialize in creating renewable energy generate these RECs and sell them to a hosting provider. The money from this purchase then finances the operational costs for green energy initiatives. VERs, however, certify that a hosting company helped in reducing the amount of greenhouse gases that the certificate states.

Cloud Hosting

Ultimate cloud hosting is the future of web hosting. It has gained immense popularity in recent years with the range of services offered by companies like AWS, Google Cloud, Azure and many smaller companies like Jelastic which are ever evolving with lots of new services added every year.  Cloud hosting is a concept utilized in many areas of technology, and it has now entered the arena of web hosting. The cloud has no physical equivalent, and it doesn’t have a physical server. Instead, it stores data across multiple computers, which then provide access via network connection like the Internet. Unlike a single physical computer, it has endless processing power and storage space.

Cloud Hosting

Cloud hosting is a game-changer for many online businesses. Unlike the typical dedicated server configurations, cloud hosting is more affordable as it eliminates the constraints of physical servers. Much like cloud management software solutions, cloud hosting provides a more efficient platform for your data. In cloud hosting, your site’s resources can be pulled from multiple different virtual servers. It provides a hosting solution that is both scalable and reliable and has multiple payment options such as pay as you go, etc.

HTTPs As The Standard

Since July 2018, Google Chrome started to mark non-HTTPs websites as “not secure.” To understand this better, Chrome which is a cross platform browser from Google, has a 71% worldwide market share. To encourage sites to shift into HTTPs, Google Search even promised a fair rankings boost. This started offering of free HTTPs the norm in the web hosting arena with all major control panels having built in options to install free SSL certificates on the website.

There are many benefits of using HTTPs. It helps a website rank higher on search engines and protects sensitive data at the same time. This ensures that all information gathered on a website is secured and safe from most Internet thieves. For web hosting providers, offering customers HTTPs is not just something that’s nice to have but also a must-have these days. Not doing so can make you lag in the race, especially now that there are many web hosting companies offering free HTTPs.

Fewer Data Centers

A study by Gartner reports that worldwide spending on data centers will see a decline of 2.8 percent in the year 2019. This is the largest spending decline that data centers will experience, according to the Gartner research.

Cloud offering is also eliminating some of the data center roles. It is one of the main factors behind the declining number of data centers. With the number of enterprises now opting for cloud does not need infrastructures set up, which in turn affects the number of people needed to manage servers, storage, and networks.

Managed Web Hosting Services 

Managed web hosting has gained immense popularity in the hosting arena. It is also the main reason why customers stick with a hosting company for a long time. For growing websites or online businesses, managed hosting trends have become a great solution, especially if you don’t have much technical know-how in the aspects of performance optimization and security. With the increased complexities and regulatory requirements, it has become a norm even with companies that use cloud platforms to outsource their web hosting management needs.

Managed Hosting

Targeting Markets

Web hosting companies, like other businesses, run on continuous hard work and efforts of retaining old clients and attracting new ones. Nonetheless, not all market segments can be covered by a single web hosting provider. While large hosting companies rely on numbers through their marketing, smaller one’s may focus on a specific niche and offer a more personal service level.

05 Sep

Ways To Battle cPanel Price Increase

cPanel has surprised a lot of us (partners and customers) with their announcement of massive price increase lately. There was a lot of speculation that they will be reversing this sudden and exorbitant increase in costs. However, this hasn’t been the case and they have pretty much confirmed that the new pricing is to stay.

We, at Softsys, have been evaluating and speaking with cPanel to minimize the impact of price change on our customers. As of now, you (our customers) have below options:

  • Move to another control panel- DirectAdmin to keep your costs at same level as cPanel (DirectAdmin unlimited domains is $15/m). There is migration path available from cPanel to DirectAdmin and it has been tested to be working fine and smoothly.
  • Move to another control panel- Plesk – however, the only concern is that Plesk is owned by same company as cPanel – Oakley Capital. Hence, it is just matter of time that we’ll see similar price change in Plesk too.
  • Move to new discounted cPanel Pricing from Softsys – We have worked out below special pricing for cPanel based on # of accounts that you host along with a special “Plus Plan” if you are having up to 50 cPanel accounts. Please review the pricing table below – pricing is based on your server (cloud or dedicated) and your service level (self managed or fully managed):

 

  • If you are a Self Managed Softsys Customer, upgrade to Fully Managed Cloud VPS or Dedicated server for deeper pricing benefits. With our fully managed services, we bundle several services so that our customers can keep their hands (and minds) clean from server management tasks. Our bundled managed services include, free daily backups, free setup, ongoing pro-active server management, 24/7 monitoring, regular pro-active security audits, 24/7 priority support, hardening and securing the server, managed OS updates and patches, one-on-one scheduling or management tasks (at your preferred time slot), discounted software bundles (like cPanel price above) and much more.

If you have any queries or if you’d like to upgrade your self-managed services to fully managed or if you’d like to move from cPanel to DirectAdmin or from another provider to Softsys, get in touch and we’ll help you the best we can.

07 Aug

10 Digital Marketing Trends For The 2nd Half Of 2019

As we round the corner toward the home stretch of 2019, it’s important to evaluate where you are in regards to the goals you set out at the beginning of the year. If your marketing initiatives are feeling a little stale, here are the top 10 marketing trends to explore, in accordance with the Softsys Hosting research:

1) Split Testing

With the amount of data currently available, there is no longer any room for guesswork in your marketing strategy. Utilize customer and sales data to determine several options for each aspect of your campaign. Then, test each component one at a time and let your consumers tell you which is most effective. While this is certainly not a new practice in digital marketing, it is now being applied more broadly than ever. What previously was used exclusively in digital advertising is now effective in testing digital assets of all kinds – including websites, emails, landing pages, and apps.

2) Personalization

More than ever, consumers have options. That means that broad-based marketing campaigns no longer catch their eye. Even targeting specific segments of your audience is becoming less and less effective. Brands need to personalize the customer experience to each specific person.

3) Influencer Marketing

Influencer Marketing

Over the last couple of years, influencer marketing has grown from a fledgling industry to a full-blown powerhouse. As consumers gain a more discerning eye for marketing messages, influencers offer a way for brands to humanize themselves and promote their products in a more organic way.

4) Voice Search And Smart Speakers

According to comScore, 50% of all digital searches will be initiated by voice by next year. Let that sink in for a moment. If you are not preparing for this inevitability as a retail brand, you will be missing out on half of your potential sales by 2020.

5) Social Commerce

With the introduction of shoppable posts on Instagram for key brands, other social channels will not be far behind. Once this rolls out to the broader business community, use this to your advantage to reduce your “Abandoned Cart” percentage. Instead of driving people from social to your website, enable them to complete the purchase within their social accounts and thereby reduce friction and increase conversions.

6) Chatbots

You may have noticed an uptick in chat-enabled functionality on websites recently. This trend will continue over the second half of the year and in 2020. Customers are no longer patient enough to send in a support ticket nor inclined to call a customer service line. Instead, they prefer addressing questions, issues, and concerns through instant messaging and chatbots. In fact, 63% of respondents prefer messaging an online chatbot to communicate with a business or brand.

7) User-Generated Content

Considering the overwhelming amount of content needed to personalize a customer experience, prudent brands will encourage and empower their audience to generate content and share how they are using and interacting with the products or services. In this way, companies can generate a widespread “sales force” comprised of happy customers.

8) Integrating Online And Offline Marketing

Don’t develop your digital strategies in a silo. Smart business owners are branching out and finding ways to connect with consumers online and in-person. A trend that started last year will continue to grow as online stores develop offline popups and brick and mortar stores expand their presence on the web. So, stop thinking on how to maximize clicks or foot traffic and start strengthen both.

9) Video And Social Media Stories

Not a new concept, but one that shows no sign of slowed growth, video is worth the investment in the second half of the year. Integrated into ads, used to tell the brand story, and sourced from users to share across social channels – the more video the better.

 10) Social Messaging Apps

Messaging Apps

The top three social messaging apps – WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger and WeChat – have more combined users than Facebook or YouTube. So, if we’re following the old adage of “be where your customers are”, high chances are that your customers are on one of these apps. So, use it to your advantage and connect with them to deliver information, provide support and assistance, or even boost sales.

04 Aug

Plan To Scale Or Plan To Fail

Businesses must be prepared to scale – up or down – to adapt to changes both internal and external. Scale does not solely mean growth. There could be instances where you need to quickly scale down operations in response to a slow sales season or sudden market shift. Scaling in either direction requires planning and acquiring the right systems, staff, processes, technology and partners.

Scale your business

Here’s how to make sure you’re prepared:

Plan Ahead

Scaling up doesn’t happen overnight. It’s crucial to lay out a roadmap for growth and invest in the resources necessary to make them happen. First, meet with stakeholders to determine the goals for scaling and identify potential areas of opportunity. Then, map out measured steps towards your end goal.

While strategic growth is a common reason to plan for scaling up, it’s equally important to plan for unexpected changes that may affect your business.

Sudden market shifts, unpredictable sales seasons, or technical disruptions can be cause for scaling your business both up and down. Take part in some predictive planning with hypothetical situations so your business is prepared should action need to be taken.

Keep It Simple

Most often, scaling your business can largely be achieved by finding efficiencies within your existing processes. Find the ways to simplify. Complexity slows businesses down. Look for areas of opportunity to streamline and expedite.

As you’re evaluating processes, it’s important to look at both the initial and secondary consequences. Consider how any changes you make will impact other areas of the business as well as your customers.

Focus On Customers

Throughout the scaling process – whether up or down – the key is to remain 100% focused on your customers. An unintended consequence of scale can be disruptive for customer experience. Make sure that your growth or downsizing doesn’t impact your clients as they are the fuel for your business. When you delight your customers, your business will grow.

Monitor – Grow By The Data

Stay in tune with your business. Consistently analyze key data points so you can better anticipate the need for change. This will allow you to pivot and make adjustments on the fly so ensure your scaling initiative goes smoothly.

Consistent data monitoring will also clue you into when it’s appropriate to scale and grow and when a slow down is necessary. Movement in either direction is not linear, so it’s important to be diligent and monitor key data points for guidance.

Ask For Help

Ask for Help

Driving an internal scaling initiative can feel like rolling a boulder up a hill. It’s crucial to have the right team on your side. Internal and external partners should be identified and empowered to take action. Make sure your IT infrastructure is flexible and scalable with a cloud hosting partner like Softsys Hosting.

17 Jul

Using Business Intelligence To Take Your Organization To The Next Level

By now, the importance of data analysis is old news. Providing integrated insight across all business functions can have a massive impact on your bottom line. But with the abundance of data available, how do you collect, sort, and analyze it to make real business decisions?

Effective Business Intelligence (BI) tools not only collect relevant data from internal and external sources, but also present them in a way that stakeholders can understand. This actionable insight is what allows BI to push your organization forward.

Business Intelligence

Set Benchmarks And Clear Goals

A successful Business Intelligence strategy uses historical, current, and predictive data to inform process improvements and achieve business goals. In order to track true change, it’s important to take benchmark data from your current state. Understanding your starting point should then inform the goals you’re looking to achieve through enhanced data analysis.

Most organizations break down their goals and Business Intelligence efforts into two categories – customer focused and process oriented.

Customer-Based Insights

Business Intelligence that is consumer-focused involves everything from purchase habits to marketing and sales efficiency. Imagine the impact that understanding your customer’s spending history and lifetime value would have on your bottom line.

Work with your internal marketing team to identify key indicators of success for each marketing campaign. Then, use analysis of market share, brand awareness, and sales to improve effectiveness. Organizations with several categories of products or inconsistent sales seasons can also benefit from category performance analysis and sales seasonality reports.

Ultimately, understanding conversion rates, cart abandonment, and online engagement will help your marketing and sales teams optimize their performance and drive business growth.

Process-Based Insights:

While Business Intelligence can have a tremendous impact on the revenue-generating functions of your business, it can also impact your bottom line through increased efficiency and process improvements.

For example, what is the benefit of setting targets if you’re unable to effectively monitor the progress towards them? Business Intelligence allows you to analyze department and employee performance and measure the KPI status versus targets.

In specific industrial organizations, BI can offer production forecasts, cost efficiency insights, and manage quality assurance more effectively. For HR teams, the ability to analyze payroll and compensation means you’re able to maximize your resources.

Determine Data Sources

Data Sources

Once you’ve identified the types of data that will most benefit your organization, work with stakeholders across your company to determine how best to collect data. Successful BI solutions analyze data from multiple sources to get a full picture of the company.

The good news is that you may already have several data sources integrated into your business. Website logs (for example, those at Softsys Hosting), Google Analytics, CRM systems, and even social media accounts can inform your Business Intelligence strategy. In addition, warehouse management systems, ecommerce reports, and call center records would be useful to implement. You can even integrate customer survey information and market research into your data sources.  

Implement

Your journey to a comprehensive Business Intelligence system is not a one-time initiative. A phased approach will allow you to take actionable steps and iterate as you go. Choose a few KPIs, develop a few sample dashboards, and determine what works best for your organization. Gather feedback from key stakeholders throughout the process to continually refine and improve.

15 Jul

5 Steps To Ensure A Successful Organization Wide Digital Transformation

While Digital Transformation is increasingly becoming a focus in organizations around the globe, studies conducted by McKinsey show that less than 30% of these initiatives succeed. As the result of limited buy-in from stakeholders, fragmented implementation strategies, and a lack of specific expertise, only 16% of respondents said that their Digital Transformations have improved performance. This is true even within digitally-savvy industries.

So, if Digital Transformation is important but difficult, how do you improve your chances of success?

Digital Transformation

Interview Stakeholders To Define Goals

Successful Digital Transformation requires full buy-in from all major stakeholders in your organization. As a result, it’s important to involve them in the early planning stages. Interview key team members in both leadership and implementation roles to understand their pain points and define their goals.

Working with stakeholders to visualize what success would look like will help you find the “why” behind your organization’s Digital Transformation. Common goals include enhancing the customer experience, improving organizational efficiency, increasing speed of delivery, or developing a competitive advantage.

Once your goals are defined, work to identify measures of success that are aligned to your “why.” This will enable you to streamline your efforts and resources into one strategic mission.

Review Case Studies

Now when the strategic goals are clear, the next step toward successful Digital Transformation is to analyze case studies and further outline your course of action. Many organizations overlook this analysis and immediately begin investing in technology. However, jumping straight to technology change before a clear strategy is developed will result in a piecemeal solution rather than an optimized system.

So, put strategy before technology by compiling case studies from organizations with similar business goals and learn from their experiences. Clearly document the key aspects of their transformation, with particular attention to any pain points to avoid. Beginning with the end in mind will help you complete your transformation on time and on budget.

Training

Digital Transformation is a misleading term because it implies that technology is the bulk of the focus. However, culture is consistently named the leading challenge to Digital Transformation and innovation according to Altimeter’s State of Digital Transformation Report. Investing in training your team and prioritizing the culture of innovation will help ensure that the upgraded technology is supported by those using and benefiting from it.

“We’re shifting from a ‘digital’-focused approach toward Digital Transformation to one where digital is an enabler for purposeful enterprise-wide transformation and innovation,” Altimeter principal analyst and report author Brian Solis told TechRepublic.

So, to make the most of your Digital Transformation, it’s crucial to prioritize investments in your organization’s culture.

Implementing

Once you have buy-in from stakeholders, have a clear strategy, and have invested in helping your organization’s culture become more adaptive, it’s time to implement. If you’ve followed the first three steps, you should have a unified and strategic approach to work towards your business goals.

In order to implement effectively, analyze your operations and work to find ways to streamline and optimize your human and technical resources. Audit your team’s abilities and invest in their strengths while outsourcing where they may come up short. Drive digital innovation by bringing in subject matter experts to augment your team’s knowledge.

Don’t get so caught up in implementing quickly that you forget to define and document. Plan carefully and provide clear procedures, but keep the line of communication open for your team to communicate when further innovation is beneficial.

Data Analysis And Continuous Monitoring

Analysis

Digital Transformation should be approached as a journey, rather than a project. Transformation itself is in the name, so change is inevitable. Access to data analysis and a continuous monitoring protocol will help your team judge the effectiveness of the strategy and identify areas where further improvement is necessary. We at Softsys Hosting have made (and continue!) this digital transformation during recent years and will be happy to assist you during your company’s changes.

09 Apr

4 Ways To Improve Business Efficiency With Cloud Computing

Cloud computing offers businesses around the world cost savings, flexibility, scale, and security. These are all great advantages, but the industry has matured to the point where they are no longer competitive advantages as they stand alone. In fact, most businesses are utilizing cloud computing to some extent.

So, the question becomes how to truly set yourself apart. The key to deriving a competitive advantage from your cloud services is to utilize each feature to impact your business functions. For example, cost savings alone is great, but cost savings when reinvested in your business can increase growth exponentially.

Our 4 Top Ways To Drive Business Efficiency With Cloud Computing:

 

1) Spend Less Time Solving IT Problems And More Time Solving Business Problems

Whether it’s the CEO, CTO, or your IT managers, when your resources are spending time troubleshooting IT issues, they aren’t focused on moving the business forward. This builds a culture consisting of “putting out fires” and just trying to ensure everything is in working order. Unfortunately, that doesn’t leave much time for development or improvement.

Cloud Environment

Making the move from self-management to outsourcing cloud computing to the experts allows you and your team to focus on pushing your business forward. Experts like Softsys Hosting can manage, monitor, secure, and optimize your preferred cloud environment while leaving you to do what you do best.

2) Reinvest Cost Savings Into Process Improvement

Cloud computing services offer an economical solution to IT management and often result in a fairly substantial decrease of operational costs. The scalable financial model of most cloud services allows businesses to manage their investment by user and bandwidth allowing for more flexibility and predictability.

These cost savings are often on top of the infrastructure change – reducing demand for IT staff, equipment maintenance, and even energy.

So, with more profit staying in-house, find ways to invest money previously spent on managing your infrastructure in efficiency and process improvement to drive higher profits.

3) Connect Your Team Members

Providing access to your data anywhere is a key advantage of cloud computing in today’s fast moving and often remote workforce. Because, let’s face it, gone are the days of in-house meetings and consolidated office spaces. Global companies today must have access to their data around the world and within an instant.

Remote Team Management

This constantly-changing environment highlights the importance of partnering with a cloud solutions provider that is business-focused. Companies like Softsys Hosting are interested not only in your IT requirements, but how you run your business and serve your customers so they can customize their offerings to create a solution that works best for YOUR business case. A true partner wants to become a part of your business services and daily business processes.

4) Enable Digital Business Models

According to the IDG Cloud Computing Study, 76% of enterprises are looking to cloud apps and platforms to accelerate service delivery for their customers. This means companies are not only using cloud computing to save money and hassle, but to actually increase their ability to react to changing market conditions and offer services to their customers that were previously impossible.

Partnering with a cloud computing company that is solution-focused rather than simply offering infrastructure will enable you to explore additional ways to serve your customers. You’re not investing in JUST a web server, helpdesk solution, CRM, etc. You’re investing in what those tools can mean for your business. So, find a partner that understands that and can provide you with your preferred / customized solution on the platform of your choice.

31 Mar

Data Security Best Practices For Business

As per Gartner’s prediction, the number of cloud users will increase at a very rapid pace every year, and is not about to slow down. Today, more people and businesses utilize the cloud services in one or other form without even realizing they are doing so.

Unfortunately, being unaware of using the cloud also means that people aren’t always as protected as they should be. Just because you are using a cloud, be it AWS, Azure or Google, this is no way means that your data and servers are protected from hackers.

Business Data Security

These cloud computing services bring tons of changes to the business workflow, and as a result, companies require a new set of rules and a different way of thinking about its security. In this post, we’ll discuss some of the best approaches to secure your information on the cloud.

Install Robust Anti-Malware, Anti-Exploit & Anti-Ransomware

You might have heard of terms like, Spyware, Malware, Ransomware, Keyloggers, Rootkits, Adware, Backdoor shells, Hijackers and what not. The list of threats to server security is long, varied, and pretty scary. Even if you’re the most careful cloud user, malware can find a way to download itself onto your server.

For instance, an innocent looking email from your friend could in fact be a stealth method of exploiting security features, or it could be a widely spread ransomware encrypting entire file system. There are literally hundreds of ways in which your data can be compromised and entire operating system can be hijacked.

While most of the generic anti-virus software will do a good job of removing known threats from your

servers, intruders can still find loopholes to steal data, install backdoors to gain access, spy on your activity, hijack server resources to run malicious applications or encrypt sensitive information.

Difference Between Antivirus & Anti-Malware

Antivirus and anti-malware are two different cybersecurity concepts, and not to be used interchangeably. Of course, they both refer to cybersecurity software, malware is a more generic term while virus is more specific. The conventional antivirus software offers protection against classic computer viruses, but it cannot detect and address all types of infection like anti-malware software does.

To avoid your cloud instances from getting infected, it is necessary that you have an enterprise-class anti-malware, anti-exploit and anti-ransomware engine installed on your server which will provide real-time protection from viruses / malware entering your server.

In addition, you should also setup a full system scan by these engines at once every week so as to ensure that your system is completely secure and safe. We have a number of customers using “MalwareBytes” successfully with complete protection around-the-clock and our technical support staff is well versed to configure it appropriately for our customers. MalwareBytes adds an extra layer of protection to your cloud instances. It not only protects you from known threats, but keeps itself continually evolving for future threats.

Email Security

While you protect your cloud environment against advanced threats, a sophisticated enterprise-grade email protection is also an essential measure to secure emails against a wide array of threats. It’s proven fact that, 91% of hacking attempts are launched through email-based attacks. Taking stats into account, an email security must be the first priority for any organization.

Email Security

On top of your conventional email service, these email security provides protection against routine threats like spam, viruses and malware while also delivering the secure cloud email services. With this solution, your emails route through email gateway which enables you to improve security and system performance by thwarting known and advanced email threats before they reach your network.

It can protect your employee’s emails against advanced threats like spear-phishing, zero-day attacks, malware and spam. It uses keywords, pattern matching, file hashes and dictionaries to actively scan all email communications and attachments to stop data leakage and support compliance.

IDS / IPS – Network Level Security

When your cloud systems are online, this also opens up the possibility of hackers trying to get into them through known exploits or by using brute-force attempts. With growing security vulnerabilities across the web, it’s extremely important to have an external network security system in place which helps to protect your cloud servers. This network security system comprises of the below key components:

External Firewall

With external firewall in place, you can restrict access with fine-tuned rules to allow traffic from known sources or to allowed destination ports only. This also helps in ensuring that your server and website is PCI-DSS compliant to process secure transactions and store sensitive customer’s data including their credit card numbers.

Intrusion Detection System (IDS)

Intrusion Detection is a security management system for servers and networks which analyses each packet passing within a network to identify possible security breaches or intrusions. It can detect patterns typical of attacks or abnormal activity patterns and reports such activities to Intrusion Prevention System to protect it instantly.

Intrusion Prevention System (IPS)

After a possible security threat is detected by the IDS system, it is necessary to have a solution in place which blocks this access immediately to prevent systems from being exploited. Intrusion Prevention System (IPS) immediately creates rules to block this malicious access and keeps your system safe & secure. Both of these systems (IDS & IPS) work closely with each other to ensure complete security for your server & website. This also ensures that any / all traffic entering your system is scanned and free from any known vulnerabilities.

Web Application Firewall

A Web Application Firewall (WAF) is a firewall for HTTP applications that protects web applications by filtering and monitoring HTTP traffic between a web application and the Internet. It applies a set of rules to protect web applications from common attacks such as cross-site scripting (XSS), file inclusion and SQL injection. It may come in the form of an appliance, server plugin, or filter, and may be customized to an application.

Web Application Firewall

By deploying a WAF in front of a web application, a virtual shield is placed between the web application and the Internet. While a proxy server protects the client machine’s identity by using an intermediary, a WAF is a type of reverse-proxy, protecting the server from exposure by having clients pass through the WAF before reaching the server. A WAF runs upon the set of rules often called policies. These policies help to protect against vulnerabilities in the application by filtering out malicious traffic.

Remote Desktop Guard (RDPGUARD)

RDP (Remote Desktop) allows users to connect to a remote server from anywhere. Indeed RDP is a very useful feature, however it also has several security issues. When a malicious user launches the network/port scanners or RDP brute-force attacks on Windows servers, thousands of failed login attempts are generated and pages of events are being logged. Such attacks abuse your dedicated server resources (CPU, RAM, Disk Space and Network Bandwidth) and degrade the overall functionality of the server.

To prevent them, host-based intrusion prevention system (HIPS) like RdpGuard is implemented.  This protects servers from brute-force attacks on various protocols and services (RDP, FTP, SMTP, MySQL, MS-SQL, IIS Web Login, etc). It monitors the audit logs and detects failed login attempts. If the number of failed login attempts from a single IP address exceeds the normal limit, the IP address will be blocked immediately.

18 Mar

3 Keys To Successful Data Backups

IDC estimates that by 2020 business transactions on the Internet business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-consumer (B2C) will reach 450 billion per day. Is your company among the millions worldwide handling consumer or corporate data collected online? If so, protecting that data should be your top priority.

Look at your data as an investment – you’ve dedicated time, resources, and money to collecting, storing, and analyzing data to grow your business. But, if the worst happens, how will you recover that investment?

That’s why, if your data is important and key for your business, you must have robust data backup plan. Outsourcing this to cloud backup providers like Softsys Hosting ensures that your data is safe from disaster and accessible whenever you need it.

Datacenter Backup

We help make sure that your data backups are…

Comprehensive

Most industry professionals recommend that you store your data in at least three places, on two storage types, with one copy stored off-site. Don’t trust something as precious as your data to anyone other than true professionals. Our cloud backup services provide a second copy of your data to ensure that nothing gets lost in translation and our professional teams monitor each backup to avoid any mistakes.

Our cloud offerings also give you a secondary type of storage – and one that is separate from your physical location and therefore lower risk for natural disasters such as fire, water, etc.

Consistent

Data backups tend to be a topic of conversation only once something has gone wrong. Don’t make the mistake of neglecting your backup routine until you need it. Daily backups help make sure that all of your data is secure in the event of a disaster. This is especially true for businesses where colleagues are constantly adding or updating data. Ask yourself, what period of time are you comfortable losing as a result of a loss event? Most businesses can’t afford to lose more than a day’s worth of data.

If daily backups sound daunting, let us handle them automatically so that you have peace of mind knowing that your data is protected.

Recoverable

What benefit does a data backup offer if the data isn’t usable? Our professionals monitor and manage backups so that your data is in a good recoverable state when you need it. This management lessons the recovery time – or time needed to return to normal operations after a disaster event.

Backup and Restore

At Softsys Hosting, we know that when your systems are down, your company is losing money. Therefore, we work to make sure that you are up and running as soon as possible – typically within a few hours.

Forty percent of companies that do not have proper backup or disaster recovery plans in place do not survive a disaster. In short, your company depends on your data. Work with us to determine and implement a data backup solution that fits your company’s needs and let us do the heavy lifting to monitor and execute the backups – leaving you to do what you do best.