22 Dec

The Biggest Online Trends In 2021

Online Trends in 2021

Would you be surprised to learn that eCommerce represents approx. 23%-25% of all commerce in the U.S.? The current state of quarantine has greatly accelerated the move towards “online first” commerce.

With so many retailers making the move to online shopping, we are bound to see innovative online and eCommerce trends emerging in 2021.

 AI (Artificial Intelligence) and AR (Augmented Reality)

Artificial intelligence is one of the most transformative technologies being used today and one that will strongly influence the future of mankind. With substantial amounts of data being collected today, the machine learning algorithms improve every year. Although the concept of “artificial intelligence” has been around since antiquity, the term was brought to life at the 1956th Dartmouth Artificial Intelligence (AI) Conference, by a small group of scientists.

Today we can see AI being used everywhere from online retail to chatbots, CRM software, market forecasting, customer behavior analysis, and more. The use of artificial intelligence in the retail market is expected to reach $7.3 billion by 2022. Furthermore, Meticulous Research® estimates it will reach $19.9 billion by 2027.

Augmented Reality (AR) enhances user experience by allowing consumers to preview products online before making a purchase. Today we can see AR being used with virtual dressing rooms, interior design apps, even online marketplaces such as Etsy, which allows consumers to visualize wall art with augmented reality.

But the products that dominated the world of AR and are the most well-known to consumers are AR smart glasses. The concept first made the spotlight with Google Glasses back in 2014. Today, ABI Research estimates that over 120,000 stores around the world will be using AR smart glasses by 2022.

By implementing AI and AR online sellers can greatly enhance the eCommerce experience. This in turn could lower the return rates. Just imagine if you could see how that mid-century walnut dining table, that you had your eyes on for weeks now, fits in your living room before making the actual purchase. Pretty exciting right?

Omnichannel Shopping

Omnichannel shopping has the customer at the center. Omnichannel refers to retailers that have both an online presence and a physical one. In addition, it involves making use of various technologies such as, AI and robotics amongst others, to provide a seamless and unified shopping experience.

That means retailers need to optimize for both an online and offline customer experience. A recent study conducted by BigCommerce on nearly 3000 consumers reveals that when it comes to online shopping, website security concerns and a website’s loading speed are at the top of the mind for most users.

Voice Search Commerce

Hands-free shopping sounds pretty tempting. With the rise of AI and the introduction of smart home assistants, we are starting to see an increase in Voice Search.

As the name implies, Voice Search is a technology that allows users to conduct online searches using their voice. Introduced by Google in 2011, Voice Search is rapidly rising to the forefront of online retail and search marketing.

The popularity of Voice Search has dramatically expanded with Amazon’s launch of its smart speaker Echo and virtual assistant Alexa.

Think about it. How many times in the past month have you used voice messages on your phone, or asked Siri or Alexa for assistance?

In a 2018 study conducted by Hubspot and Lucid, on over 3400 participants across the US, UK, and Canada, 52% of the responders have used voice assistants on either their smartphones or smart speakers. Of those that use a voice assistant, 15% use it to shop online.

Voice Assistants
Source: blog.hubspot.com, 2018

Voice assistant use is predicted to continue to grow in 2021, getting to as much as 8.4 billion voice assistants being used by 2024 according to Statista.

The Rise of Total Experience (TX)

Gartner introduced us last year to the concept of multiexperience (MX) when they made their predictions for 2020. This year they go a step further in their top tech trends for 2021 by bringing up the concept of Total Experience (TX).

This new concept will combine multiexperience (MX), customer experience (CX), employee experience (EX), and user experience (UX) to optimize across all processes and create a better overall experience. Gartner says, companies that get behind the concept of Total Experience will gain a “sustainable competitive advantage.”

Directly Shoppable Media

Directly shoppable media such as live streaming, social commerce, virtual consultations, and shoppable ad formats are set to be the future of online advertising in 2021, according to a recent report from the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB). Companies like YouTube, who earlier this year announced a direct response ad format, are already making the shift towards directly shoppable media. Facebook and Instagram have also rolled out online Shops and Live Shopping earlier this year to enable eCommerce across their apps and make it easier for consumers to shop in real-time.

“This is the biggest step that we’ve taken yet to enable commerce across our family of apps,” said Dan Levy, VP of Ads and Business Platform at Facebook.

Increased Focus on Cybersecurity

Over the past months, we have experienced a high increase in cyberattacks. Ransomware attacks are more complex every day with ransom demands that are in the millions. The number of cyberattacks increases weekly and cybercriminals are finding new ways to compromise the security of physical and digital devices.

The average consumer is becoming more aware and more educated on the several types of cyber threats and looking for ways to protect the security of critical data. As a result, 2021 will bring an increase in cybersecurity solutions and a focus on new practices such as “zero-trust.”

Gartner even goes as far as predicting a cybersecurity mesh that enables a more modular, scalable, and flexible security solution. In essence, the cybersecurity mesh will set a security perimeter around any “person or thing” ensuring thus secure access to any digital asset, regardless of one’s location.

At SoftSys Hosting we offer multiple security solutions including Acronis Cyber Protect for both local devices (laptops, PCs, smartphones) and virtual servers. Acronis Cyber Protect is a complete solution that includes integrated anti-malware, backup & recovery, vulnerability assessments, patch management, and more.

5G Technology

With the sudden increase in the remote workforce, brought by the effects of Covid-19, the need for a fast and reliable Internet connection has become more critical than ever. While 5G is already available in the US with large mobile carriers such as AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon, it is expected that the infrastructure will dramatically scale in 2021.

According to PwC, formerly PriceCoopersWaterhouse, by January 2021, almost 75% of the US population will have 5G coverage.

5G is the 5th level of Internet communications, bringing increased download speeds compared to its 4G predecessor. According to OpenSignal, 5G is five to six times faster than 4G. Not only is it faster but with all the additional cell towers and mesh stations, it will cover a lot more ground than 4G.

5G Download Speed
Source: www.opensignal.com, 2020

Final Thoughts

With everyone being stuck at home during the pandemic, we are seeing an increased shift towards eCommerce. But while offering an online shop has its many advantages, businesses need to ensure they stay competitive and offer consumers a great overall experience.

Start by building a fast, scalable, and secure eCommerce store. Then take it a step further by incorporating new advertising approaches such as live shopping or virtual consultations or optimizing for voice commerce.

If you are looking for a platform to host your eCommerce store, please get in touch. We offer fast, reliable, and secure eCommerce hosting using nopCommerce or Enterprise Magento. Both solutions are optimized for superior performance. We would love to learn more about your business and provide a solution that will accelerate your online growth.

Contact us at [email protected] or +1-862-214-2255 (Ext 203).

16 Dec

How To Stay Competitive In a Post-COVID World

We as a human species have evolved and found solutions to complex problems that we have faced throughout history. There are so many instances in history which disrupted the day to day life and eventually we, humans, have evolved, found solutions, and overcame such adversities.

Ever since the COVID-19 pandemic struck and disrupted life around the globe bringing down businesses and economies, we are adapting quickly to the changing paradigm of technology adaptation and implementation.

Let’s look at the top changes that can be adopted to stay competitive in a post-COVID world:

Supply and Deliverables

During COVID-19, the existing supply chain mechanisms across the globe got disrupted. There were industries that were completely disrupted during the pandemic. Outdated methods and poor data management had a primary impact on this.

Going forward, organizations are now adopting big data, artificial intelligence, and cloud computing to make the supply chain more robust. Processes that can be automated are being prioritized with the ability to control remotely such processes thus requiring none or minimum human presence and interaction.

Internet of Things (IoT) is gaining traction in the logistics industry for transport operations, managing assets, and vehicle tracking, among others. Many companies are coming up with ideas that use automated vehicles or drone technologies for delivery.

Remote Work

In a pre-COVID world, remote working was an alien concept to many organizations. Many companies were opposed to this type of working style only to accept it eventually when it was the only option remaining. Some of the concerns organizations had towards working remotely were related not only with a potential decrease in employee performance but also with keeping business data secure, while working remotely.

During the pandemic, however, many organizations have adopted the work-from-home policy for an extended period, even declaring to continue it after the outbreak’s impact mitigates.

For organizations that were already using the technology needed to make work from home successful, although perhaps not to its full potential, the adoption of this working style has been easy with minimum transition time. For others, there have been high cost and time implications as the entire process required restructuring and redesigning in a phased manner.

In a post-COVID-19 era, this trend is likely to continue with organizations investing a substantial amount in automating business critical processes and enabling remote working with more control with minimum interaction.

The use of digital technology has not only been confined to working, but virtual meetings, cloud technology, and work collaboration tools (including remote office tools such as Microsoft Office 365) as well have gained tremendous ground during the pandemic.

Digital Payments

These have been available for a long time but now they are becoming more important than ever. The use of digital payments has significantly increased over the past months. People are using them for everything from buying groceries to even making cross-border payments. Companies are implementing these methods to get client payments.

Digital Payments Worldwide Market Revenue
Source: Statista, 2020

With the fear that cash might carry the virus, the trend of digital payments is a notable feature of the post-COVID world. Even organizations, there were reluctant earlier to adapt to these methods are now finding it very helpful as it has completely eliminated the need for physical delivery of invoices, bank cheques, etc. Billables are delivered through an electronic medium in no time with the ability to make online payments / automatic reminders in case the service/product remains unpaid. This has greatly reduced human interaction.

With the change in consumer behavior and an increase in online shopping, contactless payments will continue to be on the growth trajectory. Internet availability, devices, and secure networks for safe transactions are being addressed for expanding this further.

E-Learning

The most notable effect of this pandemic is certainly in the education sector with children affected by school closures. The education sector has been quick to adopt digital technologies, whether be it online classes or using AR-VR for making learning more exciting. Although it is not a permanent alternative, since physical interaction is also an important part of child development in their early years, e-learning will be incorporated at certain levels to add value to the existing methodologies. Schools were already teaching through computerized modules, for example, 3D audiovisuals to have a better understanding. COVID-19 will only fast track the processes and schools will be the first ones to implement the latest technologies in the education sector in their curriculums.

Size of the Global E-Learning Market in 2019 and 2026, by Segment

Global E-Learning Market
Source: Statista, 2020

Many organizations are providing training modules to their employees online and working towards enhancing the learning experience. According to the stats, people have used e-learning modules extensively during this pandemic.

19 Nov

SoftSys Hosting Black Friday 2020 Deals You Cannot Miss

Black Friday Hosting Deals

This Black Friday we’re going all in! We’re offering a 90% discount on selected VPS servers + 1 Month free on Acronis Backup or Acronis Cyber Protect.

SoftSys Hosting Black Friday – 90% OFF x 1 Month With Self-Managed VPS Servers

Get a high-performance Linux VPS or Windows VPS for less than $1 during your first month of service.

Save 90% on the first month of a monthly based service, when ordering a new VPS server in our US (Denver/Chicago), Singapore, or UK datacenters (Linux).

All our Linux VPS servers include root SSH access.

All Windows VPS servers include full administrative RDP access and a free SolidCP Control Panel.

Get 90% OFF on Your New VPS server. Use coupon code: BF2020

Applicable services:

Terms of Use:

  • New and current customers are eligible for this promotion
  • The promotion code can be applied ONCE per account
  • The promotion code must be entered at the time of placing the order. Discounts will NOT be applied after the purchase
  • The 90% discount will be applied to the FIRST order of a monthly-based service! It is not an ongoing discount. After the promotion ends, the services will renew at the regular price.
  • The discounted price applies only to NEW servers in the listed datacenter locations and cannot be applied retroactively to existing servers or servers in the process of being migrated.
  • Offer expires 12/01/2020 at 11:59PM EST

SoftSys Hosting Black Friday – FREE x 1 Month Enterprise Backup/Data Recovery Service + Cybersecurity Solutions

More often than not you can find yourself in a situation in which you need to restore your data from a backup. Some of the most common situations that we’ve run into over the years are:

  • Human Error (#1 reason) – Human error (accidental deletion of files, overwrites, loss of access, etc.) is the most common situation in which users might require a restore from backup.
  • Corrupt Database – bad updates, file corruption, missing files, etc.
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Any of these situations can result in a permanent loss of data if you don’t have a backup. We have partnered with Acronis to deliver a reliable and easy-to-use backup solution and cybersecurity solution.

Protect Your Critical Data With Acronis Cyber Backup or Acronis Cyber Protect. Activate 1 Month FREE!

Applicable services:

Terms of Use:

  • New and current customers are eligible for this promotion
  • The promotion code can be applied ONCE per account
  • The promotion code must be entered at the time of placing the order. Discounts will NOT be applied after the purchase
  • The promotion applies to the FIRST order of a monthly-based service! It is not an ongoing discount. After the promotion ends, the services will renew at the regular price.
  • The discounted price applies only to newly purchased Acronis services and cannot be applied retroactively to existing services.
  • Offer expires 12/01/2020 at 11:59PM EST

MORE SOFTSYS HOSTING DEALS

50% OFF x 3 Months With Fully Managed Linux and Windows VPS Servers

New customers can save 50% on the first 3 months of service when ordering a new monthly based managed VPS server. Use coupon code: 50OFF_3Mon

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Terms of Use:

  • Only new customers are eligible for this promotion
  • The promotion code can be applied ONCE per account
  • The promotion code must be entered at the time of placing the order. Discounts will NOT be applied after the purchase
  • The 50% discount will be applied to the FIRST 3 MONTHS of monthly-based service! It is not an ongoing discount. After the promotion ends, the services will renew at the regular price.
  • The discounted price applies only to NEW servers in the following datacenter locations: US (5), Canada, UK, Germany, Ireland, France, India, Singapore, Australia, Tokyo & S Korea
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Do you need help finding the best hosting solution for your needs? Contact [email protected] or call +1-862-214-2255 (x3)

17 Nov

How to Keep Business Data Secure While Working Remotely

We can all agree 2020 has not been the year we had hoped for last December. Far from it!

From the way we live our daily lives, to the way we shop for groceries or do our jobs, everything has been disrupted. As more and more businesses move their employees towards remote work, online security is becoming an ever-growing concern.

What started out of necessity is turning into a new business model. And this has been the trend for years now.

According to an analysis performed by FlexJobs and Global Workplace Analytics (GWA), a research and consulting firm based in San Diego, California, between 2005 and 2017, there has been a 159% growth in remote work.

Remote Work Growth
Source: “Remote Work Statistics: Shifting Norms and Expectations”, February 2020, accessed November 9, 2020 at www.flexjobs.com

This trend has accelerated even more as a result of Covid-19.

According to a recent survey by the Global Workplace Analytics (GWA) and Iometrics, a workplace services firm based in Irvine, California, work from home during Covid-19 has increased from 31% to 88%.

Remote Work Growth
Source: Global Work-from-Home Experience Survey, 2020, Accessed November 9, 2020, at www.globalworkplaceanalytics.com © 2020 Iometrics and Global Workplace Analytics

Here at SoftSys Hosting many of our employees work remotely as well. I myself have been working remotely for 10+ years now. While more and more businesses are making the shift towards remote work, we are also seeing concerning increases in online security threats.

With this in mind, we have compiled a list of seven tips you should follow to keep your data secure while working remotely.

7 TIPS TO IMPROVE THE SECURITY OF YOUR DATA WHILE WORKING REMOTELY

ONLINE SECURITY TIP #1: HAVE A CYBERSECURITY POLICY IN PLACE

If you are a business owner, you need to have a data security policy for your organization. Your cybersecurity policy should provide you and your employees’ guidelines on how to keep your data and your customers’ data secure. It should also provide recommendations on how to manage cybersecurity risks.

A good place to start is the National’s Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Cybersecurity Framework which includes best practices to help businesses manage cybersecurity risks. The framework has been used by 30% of US organizations, according to Gartner, and the usage was projected to increase to 50% by 2020.

Cybersecurity Framework
Source: Cybersecurity Framework, NIST 2015, Accessed November 10, 2020, at www.nist.gov | Image Credit: Natasha Hanacek/NIST

The Cybersecurity Framework consists of five high-level functions that are applicable to risk management in general, including cybersecurity risks. The five core functions depicted are: Identify, Protect, Detect, Respond, and Recover.

Start by assessing your organization’s ability to maintain data security. What data is being collected in your company, how are your data stored by your employees (on local devices, on internal company systems, in the cloud, etc.)?

Ensure that your employees are following workplace security policies. There are some self-evident rules that should be followed in any company (don’t use your work computer to access sites unrelated to your work) but you need to state them in a documented cybersecurity policy.

Once you have documented the policy, share it across your entire organization, and make sure your employees understand and comply with the rules.

ONLINE SECURITY TIP #2: SECURE YOUR WEBSITE WITH AN SSL CERTIFICATE

A Secure Socket Layer certificate (SSL certificate) does exactly that! It will encrypt, or conceal if you will, your data from hackers and bad actors. It’s basically a small data file that will digitally bind an encrypted key to a company’s details.  

In addition to encrypting data between your browser and the end server, the SSL certificate will also authenticate the server. In other words, it makes sure that your information is shared with the correct server hosting the website and not with a hacker who tries to steal your information.

While there are some free SSL certificates, such as Let’s Encrypt, we generally recommend a commercial SSL for any website that collects sensitive information. There are several reasons for that, but one good reason is free SSL certificates such as Let’s Encrypt offers no warranty if something goes wrong. All commercial brands will include a warranty. The vetting performed for a commercial SSL is also much more stringent.

At SoftSys Hosting we offer several trusted SSL certificate brands including Comodo, GeoTrust, Symantec and more.

Bottom line, if you collect sensitive information on your website, make sure to protect your customers’ data by using a trusted SSL certificate. By the same token, pay attention what website you and your employees are accessing. These days most browsers will show a warning if a website is not HTTPS secure.

ONLINE SECURITY TIP #3: USE STRONG PASSWORDS

Most of us dread setting up a password. We have so many of them and often times, out of convenience, we tend to either use a common word for a password (like our pet’s name) or use the same password for multiple systems.

According to a study performed by Digital Guardian on password security habits, 10.8% of the responders reuse the same password across all their accounts.

Source: Uncovering Password Habits: Are Users’ Password Security Habits Improving? (Infographic), 2020, Accessed November 11, 2020 at digitalguardian.com

However, I’ve heard of numerous cases where online systems were hacked due to weak passwords. According to a 2020 research by PreciseSecurity.com, 30% of ransomware infections in 2019 were caused by weak passwords.

I myself have been the victim of this when a hacker got into my Netflix account and changed my password. I guess the need to binge-watch Netflix can drive people to do strange things??  Luckily, I was able to fix that issue within minutes and none of my data was stolen.

I got lucky that time. Lesson learned!

Both NIST and the FBI recommend using passphrases over passwords for enhanced security.

“A passphrase is a memorized secret consisting of a sequence of words or other text that a claimant uses to authenticate their identity. A passphrase is similar to a password in usage but is generally longer for added security.” NIST Special Publication 800-63 Revision 3, Digital Identity Guidelines

As a business you need to ensure your employees use passphrases or long passwords with at least 8 characters in length, when accessing your systems. And if you have a lot of passwords, like I do, you might want to use a password manager. Some examples of password managers are 1Password, KeePass and BitWarden.

ONLINE SECURITY TIP #4: AVOID CONNECTING TO PUBLIC WI-FI

You can work remotely from anywhere if you have a quiet place and a good internet connection. Access to public Wi-Fi has been an enormous aid to remote employees these days. You can find free public Wi-Fi in coffee shops, restaurants, hotels, sometimes even in outdoor public spaces. But the truth is they’re not always secure. Sometimes though you might have to travel for work, and you might not have any other options but to use a public Wi-Fi.

In those cases, try to avoid Wi-Fi networks that don’t require a Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA) or WPA2 password. Between the two WPA2 is more secure. You should also ensure that you have logged out from your systems when you finish working.

If you regularly use public Wi-Fi you can have a secure connection, even when using public Wi-Fi, by using a VPN service. A VPN can be configured in multiple ways. One popular way to configure a secure VPN service is as a Remote Client VPN (also known as Remote Access VPN).

This type of VPN configuration will encrypt traffic between your local device and the system/business software that you are accessing. Note that a Remote Client VPN won’t encrypt everything that you access through your computer. Only those specific systems for which the VPN has been configured will be secured.

The VPN will create a secure tunnel all the way, regardless of what Wi-Fi connection you are using.

There are multiple popular VPN solutions like SiteLock VPN, VyOS, Vyatta, OPNSense, and more.

SoftSys Hosting customers can activate a high-speed secure VPN with military-grade encryption. Using our high-speed VPN solution you will be able to:

  • hide your IP for secure anonymous browsing.
  • access blocked websites in 40+ countries.
  • protect your data when using public Wi-Fi.
  • watch streaming services anywhere & more.

Be aware though that some VPN providers might be the target of cyberattacks themselves. That is the case with unpatched Pulse Secure VPN servers who have been the target of malicious attacks.

ONLINE SECURITY TIP #5: KEEP YOUR COMPUTER SECURE

In today’s technological world we use our computers, laptops, smart phones every single day. In fact, what are you doing right now?

Most of us store work-related information on our local devices: client proposals, website descriptions, accounting information, login credentials, you name it! Hackers, scammers and other bad actors are becoming more and more clever these days. It’s almost as if their only purpose in life is to find new ways to steal your data.

From malware and ransomware to spyware, hackers will try anything to get their hands on your credit/debit cards, PayPal accounts, and other sensitive information.

According to a survey by Positive Technologies in the last quarter of 2019 credit/debit card information made up 32% of all information stolen. In other words, one-third of the information stolen by hackers was payment card information!

Source: Cybersecurity threatscape: Q4 2019, Figure 1. Attackers’ motives, Accessed November 11, 2020, at www.ptsecurity.com

What can you do to prevent hackers from gaining access to your sensitive data? Start with an antivirus. Some popular antivirus solutions are Malwarebytes, Avast, and Bitdefender.  You should set up regular automatic full system scans using a reliable antivirus solution.

But an antivirus is not enough! It will not protect your computer against malware and other types of malware attacks. You need a solution that’s specifically designed for that.

At SoftSys Hosting we have partnered with Acronis to bring you Acronis Cyber Protect, a security solution that integrates backups, disaster recovery, a next-generation anti-malware and cybersecurity into one single affordable and easy-to-use solution. The Acronis Cyber Protect solution can be enabled on any local computer, mobile device (Android/iOS), Virtual Machine, cPanel/Plesk Web Hosting Servers and more.

Lastly, when thinking about the security of your local computers you should make sure all your software is up to date. Software vendors often time include critical security patches when releasing a new software version. If you use software that’s no longer supported or End of Life (EOL) as it is often called, you are only increasing the risk of getting hacked.

ONLINE SECURITY TIP #6: BEWARE OF SOCIAL ENGINEERING ATTACKS

A social engineering attack is a type of email that aims to manipulate users into giving up sensitive information like passwords or bank account information. It typically aims to create a sense of urgency, fear, or manipulate emotions, and prompts the user to take some sort of action. This action could be clicking on a link or downloading a file on your computer.  

Two common types of social engineering attacks are:

1. Phishing – where the attacker pretends to be a legitimate business, like your bank or a popular retailer.

The term “phishing” was first used on January 2, 1996, and it’s an analogy to the popular sport of “fishing” because the attackers try to “lure” users into disclosing sensitive information. Since Covid-19 phishing emails have been on the rise as well.

In April 2020 Google disclosed that they’ve blocked over 18 million phishing emails and malware per day!

2. Email spoofing – is similar to phishing, except the attacker will “spoof” the email header. The email could appear to be from your bank, except the email domain will not be the bank’s email domain. In other words, the sender’s email will not match the sender’s name.

The Ohio Graydon-Toole Group has a great comparison between the two.

As a rule of thumb, your bank will never ask you to provide sensitive information via email. Most of these bad actors also have a lot of grammar errors, so pay attention! Most importantly you can configure an anti-phishing solution. If you use a commercial email service such as Microsoft 365 (formerly known as Office 365) there are multiple solutions available including Microsoft Office Advanced Threat Protection (ATP).

ONLINE SECURITY TIP #7: ALWAYS HAVE A BACKUP PLAN

You should always have at least one backup of your critical data! I cannot reiterate enough how important this is.

Most of us live hectic lives. There are so many things on our daily to-do lists, we often time forget (or ignore) the really important ones. Having an automated backup solution is not something that should be taken lightly!

But I never had a backup before and nothing happened! Why should I get one now!?

I’ve read about and seen countless cases of people losing their data and they would give ANYTHING to get it back. There are some fortunate cases, where they might find an old backup amongst their files, but I’ve also seen situations where everything has been lost.

If you get so unlucky to fall victim to a ransomware attack you might lose years’ worth of work if you don’t have a backup.

At SoftSys Hosting we offer Acronis Cyber Backup both as a standalone solution or bundled with our managed service package. Acronis Cyber Backup is a trusted backup and recovery solution that allows you to configure automated backups with an hourly/daily/weekly/monthly retention. And because backups are incremental you can take more backups without running the usage/costs high.

If you are interested in a managed backup solution, contact [email protected].

05 Nov

Introducing Customer Support System as a Service: An Enterprise-Grade Customer Service Solution to Fuel Your Business Growth

Customer Support System As a Service

We are thrilled to announce the availability of an affordable, enterprise-grade customer support system with complete data-privacy for your organization.  

As a 24/7 business with customers all over the world, we understand first-hand the importance of a reliable help-desk solution. 

We’ve been using multiple customer support software for the past 14+ years. We know a thing or two about what benefits should it deliver to your business and your customers. 

There’s an extensive list of features a help desk solution should have. But we have found these seven customer support system features to be an absolute must-have: 

  1. It should provide a shared and unified inbox. 
  2. It should allow you to measure customer satisfaction.
  3. It should have good performance reporting. 
  4. It should allow customers to help themselves (aka support a knowledgebase).
  5. It should be easy to set up or migrate to. 
  6. It should provide privacy for your data and your customers’ data.  

With these in mind, we have bundled a reliable customer support software, powered by SupportPal with our scalable and fully managed cloud environment, to address all your needs and more.

Oh! And by the way, we are using this solution ourselves internally.  

That’s right!  

We would not try to preach you anything we haven’t used ourselves first. If you are a SoftSys Hosting customer, you have already seen the customer-facing side of the help desk software.  

HOW YOU CAN GROW YOUR BUSINESS FASTER WITH SOFTSYS HOSTING 

Our Customer Support System as a Service delivers the following benefits:  

  • Enterprise-grade help desk software  
  • Reliable, scalable & fully managed cloud environment  
  • 24/7 Monitoring of your environment’s availability 
  • Daily backups of your cloud environment with multi-day retention period 
  • Affordable pricing 

WHAT MAKES OUR CUSTOMER SUPPORT SOLUTION BETTER THAN OTHERS? 

Three key aspects:

1. Data Privacy – You have complete control over your data. 

2. Private Server – Your help desk system is hosted on a private server, not shared with any other customers. 

3. Transparent Billing – there are no “per user” charges or any other limitations on the number of support requests. Start for as low as $75per month. 

Let’s look at the features included with the help desk software solution. 

HELP DESK SOFTWARE FEATURES & BENEFITS

Keep All Messages in One Place With a Unified Inbox

Deliver excellent customer service across multiple channels with a unified inbox: 

  •  Get requests through Web forms, API, Email, Facebook, Twitter or Help widgets. 
  •  Automatically convert support requests from multiple support channels into tickets. 

Group Tickets Together With Multiple Filters and Tags

Easily organize your tickets with the use of filters, priorities, tags, and more. Recognize important conversations or prospects right away! 

Customer Support System

Enhance Team Collaboration  

  • Create department groups and operator roles for easier communication across departments. 
  • Manage all customer conversations in one place with a shared inbox for each department 
  • Avoid agent collision by seeing in real-time if another agent is looking or replying to a ticket 
  • Add private ticket notes and internal messages. 

Support Multiple Brands With One Installation

  • Increase efficiency by supporting multiple brands with a single help desk installation.  
  • Customize the look (colors, logo) for each brand according to its needs.  
  • Increase brand recognition with custom domains and email signatures. 

Offer Multilingual Support

Support you customers in their own language! 

Create translations for your own text (knowledgebase and email templates). The software will display the correct version will be displayed to the user automatically, based on their selected language. 

Increase Productivity With Automated Tools and Tasks

  • Create canned responses to common ticket replies  
  • Run multiple actions on tickets with a one-click or automated macro 
  • Create follow-ups with multiple actions 
  • Set escalation rules on overdue tickets  

Manage Customers Efficiently

  • Create ‘organizations’ for customer accounts. 
  • Add users with multiple email domains to an organization. 
  • View ticket history for your customers individually or at the organization level. 

Support Your Customers the Way They Need It

  • Set priorities for customer tickets  
  • Help your customers find answers easily by creating an online library of information (Knowledgebase, FAQ, Policies, etc.

Always Know What Your Customers Are Thinking 

  • Allow customers to comment on, or rate your articles 
  • Gain insightful feedback from customers with feedback forms on tickets 
Customer Service Software

Use Data to Improve Performance and Customer Service

A powerful reporting dashboard allows you to track staff performance and customer activity, gain insights into customer feedback and ratings, and more. Improve the performance of your staff by knowing: 

  • What are the busiest times, days, or months? Do you need more staff on some days?  
  • What types of requests are more frequent? Create canned responses to improve response time. 
  • Which support channels do your customers use? 
  • Learn which user guides or articles are helpful to customers and which need to be improved.  
  • How are your customers rating your support? What kind of feedback they provide?  
  • And more. 

Make It Your Own! 

Customize the help desk system to match your company’s look and feel. Built your own custom plugins or use our available plugins and integration:  

Available Plugins: Blesta, Slack, Time Tracking, WHMCS, WooCommerce.
Existing Integrations: Blesta, LDAP, SAML, TrackingTime, WHMCS, Zapier.

All things aside, our goal is to help your business succeed!  

You know that saying? Happy clients, happy us! 

A reliable and easy to use customer service software will improve the performance of your staff. But more importantly, it will help improve the relationship with your customers.  

We went through a lot of information, I know!

But if you’re only going to remember a few things from this blog post, remember these five takeaways on how to deliver excellent customer service through your help desk software. 

TOP FIVE TAKEAWAYS TO DELIVER EXCELLENT CUSTOMER SERVICE

  1. Manage all your customer conversations from one place with a unified inbox 
  1. Enhance customer service with the use of ticket tags, follow-ups, and priorities 
  1. Help your customers get information or learn about your service on-demand with an external knowledgebase, FAQ, or blog 
  1. Get input from your customers with feedback forms and article comments 
  1. Use built-in reporting tools to improve performance and customer satisfaction  

LET’S TALK MONEY – HOW MUCH DOES IT COST AND WHAT’S INCLUDED 

The service starts for as low as $75 a month. There are no hidden fees, user caps or limitations on the amounts of tickets.  

The $75 fee includes: 

  • Managed cloud environment with complete data privacy 
  • Your SupportPal help desk software license 
  • Installation of your help desk software 
  • Daily managed backups of your cloud environment 
  • 24/7 availability monitoring of your cloud environment 

If you are looking to do a self-migration there’s a migration script included with the help desk software.  

The following migrations are supported with the migration script: 

  • ArcticDesk v1.3.3 
  • Blesta v4 
  • Freshdesk 
  • Kayako v4 
  • Quest K1000 
  • Sirportly v5 
  • WHMCS v7 
  • Zendesk 

Are You Ready for an Affordable, Enterprise-Grade Customer Support Solution with Complete Data-Privacy?

Click to button below to schedule a free consultation and demo today!

ABOUT SOFTSYS HOSTING

SoftSys Hosting was born in 2006 when President Ruchir Shastri, back then a web developer, wanted to help software developers by offering them free of inexpensive hosting.  

Since 2007 we provide a complete suite of web hosting and related business services from our 4 datacenter locations: Denver, Chicago, London & Singapore. 

Our primary goal is to help your business succeed. When you’re doing great, so are we! 

With a team of 24×7 in-house experienced sys admins we can take care of your entire IT requirements so that you can focus on growing your business.  

But don’t just take our word for it! See for yourself what our customers are saying about SoftSys Hosting support and services: 

Customer Testimonial
SoftSys Hosting Review
Customer Feedback

If you are looking for a great customer service software or web hosting services, please get in touch. We’d love to learn more about your business and provide solutions that will empower your team to accelerate growth. 

Contact us at [email protected] or +1-862-214-2255 (Ext 3). 

21 Oct

Increase the Security of Your Linux Servers With BitNinja Server Security

We are pleased to announce that we have partnered with BitNinja to bring you the ultimate server protection against WordPress, Joomla, and Drupal infections. 

The BitNinja server security solution has been around since 2014. It started as an in-house project when its CEO George Egri wanted to protect their own hosting company against malicious threats and cyberattacks. Today the company protects over 20.000 servers worldwide and their WAF has blocked over 40 million HTTP attacks.  

What Is BitNinja and How Can It Take Your Server Security to the Next Level?  

Security breaches can put your business at risk. Stolen databases, password hacks, malware, SQL injections, malicious scripts that can change your user’s passwords and gain access to your user’s accounts, you name it!   

Today’s digital world is full of security threats that can impact your business’ revenue and reputation.   

BitNinja server security helps you maintain a successful business by taking 100% responsibility of keeping your Linux server clean.  

“We were in search of an enterprise-grade security tool to provide all-round protection to our customers’ business servers. BitNinja turned out to be the perfect partner to help us address the ever-growing security vulnerabilities and hacks. We tune and tweak BitNinja based on our customers’ specific requirements and we are happy to say it has provided 100% protection! We are beyond excited to have partnered with BitNinja!” Ruchir Shastri, President & Founder @ SoftSys Hosting 

BitNinja Will Significantly Increase the Security of Your Websites! 

Here’s how BitNinja can help: it’s an all-in-one security solution that provides one of the BEST server security defenses available on the market today!  It’s supported on all popular Linux distributions (CentOS, Debian, Ubuntu, etc.) and requires zero changes to your server.  

Backed by machine learning technology that adapts to the latest threats, BitNinja combines a set of integrated defense modules into a single security suite that provides complete protection at the application layer, prevents your server from becoming part of a botnet, and protects you from incoming and outgoing DoS and DDoS attacks.  

Being a layered security system, BitNinja blocks server attacks at any threat level automatically, allowing you to protect your websites from unforeseen security threats and focusing on growing your business.   

Server Security

Easy to install and use BitNinja offers the following benefits:  

  • Improves your server’s load. 
  • Reduces spam. 
  • Protects your web application. 
  • Scans your web files for malware. 
  • Protects yourself from viruses (including email-based viruses). 
  • Detects and blocks port-scans. 
  • Protects yourself from Distributed Blacklists such as DNSBL. 
  • Proactively monitors malicious scripts & more. 

Protect Your Business and Customers from Security Breaches. Get Started with BitNinja Server Security Solution Today!

Achieve system stability and reduce the server load by activating the BitNinja proactive security defense shield and fixing your IP reputation for good.

The BitNinja security solution is available to SoftSys Hosting customers who own a Linux based VPS (fully managed or unmanaged) or a Linux-based dedicated server.  

The service can be added to a new or existing VPS account for as low as $16 USD per month. To help you get started we offer a 7-day free trial with full functionality. During this period, you can test it and see doing its magic. To get started with your free trial, please contact us at [email protected].

Once the service is activated, our team will install BitNinja on your server and provide you access to a dedicated dashboard where you can configure and manage your server’s security.

Secure Linux Server

If you’re not a SoftSys Hosting customer, and want to protect your business from hacks, data theft, IP blacklisting & more get in touch with us as well.

We’d love to help keep your business secure and profitable!

09 Oct

Why Online Security Should Be One Of Your Primary Business Concerns?

One doesn’t need to be a rocket scientist in order to understand why cyber security is important for your business. We are living in a digital age and we are so much dependent on the tech devices that we carry everywhere we go. The sensitive data on these devices can make your business and ruin it also. So, the data is always vulnerable to some extent.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, cases of cybercrime increased up to 600%, and October is marked as Cyber Security Month hence this is the perfect time for online businesses to take steps forward securing their business data.

In this blog post, we will discuss the types of various cyber-attacks and show you some serious statistics which will surely make you think about the importance of cyber security for your business.

Malware Or Malicious Software

Malware is software that is specifically designed to harm data and devices. There are different types of malware including computer viruses, trojans, spyware, ransomware, adware, worms, etc.

The total malware infections have been on the rise for the last five years:

  • 2014 – 308.96 million
  • 2015 – 452.93 million
  • 2016 – 580.40 million
  • 2017 – 702.06 million
  • 2018 – 812.67 million
  • 92% of malware is delivered by email.
  • Mobile malware on the rise with the number of new malware variants for mobile increased by 54% in 2018.
  • Third-party app stores host 99.9% of discovered mobile malware.
  • More than 250,000 unique users were attacked by Trojan-Banker.AndroidOS.Asacub malware application.
  • 98% of mobile malware targets Android devices.
  • Over the last year, MacOS malware has increased by 165%.
  • Malware development rates for Windows decreased by 11.6% since reaching an all-time high in 2015.

Ransomware

Ransomware is another form of malicious software. Unlike malware, ransomware threatens you with harm and by first encrypting your data to preventing you to access your data.

Ransomware attacks are usually deployed via social engineering tactics. Once a user falls victim to the attack, their data is encrypted and the attacker then demands a ransom from the victim, with the promise to restore access to the data upon payment.

  • Ransomware attacks worldwide rose by 350% in 2018.
  • Ransomware attacks are estimated to cost $6 trillion annually by 2021.
  • 50% of a surveyed 582 information security professionals do not believe their organization is prepared to repel a ransomware attack.
  • 81% of cyber security experts believe there will be more ransomware attacks than ever in 2020.
  • Ransomware costs businesses more than $75 billion per year.
  • The average cost of a ransomware attack on businesses was $133,000.
  • Businesses lost around $8,500 per hour due to ransomware-induced downtime.
  • 25% of business executives would be willing to pay between $20,000 and $50,000 to regain access to encrypted data.

Social Engineering

Social engineering is the act of tricking someone into divulging information or taking action, usually through technology. The idea behind social engineering is to take advantage of a potential victim’s natural tendencies and emotional reactions.

  • 98% of cyber attacks rely on social engineering.
  • Recent data breach statistics found that 63% of successful attacks come from internal sources, either control, errors, or fraud.
  • 43% of the IT professionals said they had been targeted by social engineering schemes in the last year.
  • New employees are the most susceptible to socially engineered attacks, with 60% of IT professionals citing recent hires as being at high risk.

Phishing

One of the most common types of online fraud is known as phishing, a term that arose in the 1990s. Put simply, phishing is a deliberate attempt to obtain sensitive information like login credentials or credit card numbers by masquerading as someone trustworthy. Targeted emails, or spear phishing, are reported by businesses to be used in 91% of successful data breaches and 95% of all enterprise networks.

  • 56% of IT decision-makers say targeted phishing attacks are their top security threat.
  • 83% of global infosec respondents experienced phishing attacks in 2018, an increase from 76% in 2017.
  • Business email compromise (BEC) scams cost organizations $676 million in 2017.
  • CEO fraud is now a $12 billion scam.
  • 30% of phishing messages get opened by targeted users and 12% of those users click on the malicious attachment or link.
  • Only 3% of targeted users report malicious emails to management.   53% of IT and security professionals say they have experienced a targeted phishing attack in 2017.

How To Ensure The Security

Cyber security solutions

Since cyber security is a major threat to all the small and large companies around the globe, the companies are now hiring professional cyber security experts, ethical hackers to fight with it, but small businesses still can’t afford to do it.

So here are some basic points which will help small businesses to tighten the security of their data.

  • Ensure the security of your staff information like passwords and usernames.
  • Arrange a proper training session and educate your staff about the precautions that they should take while using the company’s devices.
  • Keep your computers up-to-date and always use paid anti-virus and encryption software for maximum security.
  • Keep updating the security on employee’s devices.
  • Change your computer passwords and every account that you use every 60 days and ensure that the changed password is stronger than the previous ones.
  • Do not allow everyone to have access to the company’s sensitive documents.
  • If you can’t hire them permanently, at least hire the cyber security professionals on the contract base for 2 to 3 months every year so they can assist your IT security.

If you have any cyber security related issues, Softsys Hosting can address major part of them. Just take a moment and contact us.

04 Oct

The Best Killer Features You Should Expect From A Hosting Service

There was a time when having a website for your business was optional. Today, many businesses can’t afford even a few minutes of downtime when their customers can’t access their site. That means, choosing a reliable web hosting service has become mission critical for most business owners. But that can be easier said than done, given the hundreds of options out there that range from providers , all of which differ in terms of their price and service offerings. But how do you know whether you need to spend $10 a month or $100 when it comes to a web hosting service? We would like to mention here some of the key tips, from business owners and experts alike, about the types of questions and issues you want to think about before deciding where to host your website:

Support

cloud hosting support

Nobody can guarantee a 100% uptime. Incidents happen and the worst thing for a customer is having their business-critical website down. These are the times when support can truly make a difference. “Support has always been quick with everything and understood what I was asking them meaning they are knowledgeable as well. Never felt like these guys were reading from a script, they are real bonafied human beings and I like that.” says Yves Lacombe a long-time SoftSys customer.    
That means looking for providers that offer 24/7 support with customer service reps who are available for assistance immediately. SoftSys Hosting support has a stellar background, as we are always willing to go one step ahead in providing a fast and speedy resolution to customer issues.

Parking Service

Most companies buy their .com, .net, .org, etc. versions of their brand name, misspellings, service names, and more. It’s most efficient and convenient for brand management to have these in one control panel and know that you’re not going to lose any traffic. Softsys Hosting offers multiple domain aliases even on basic hosting plans thus allows even the smallest customers to park multiple domains on their plans without any additional charges.

Backup

Make sure your web hosting service provides adequate backup. There have been instances when customers mistakenly delete the entire  directory of their website. Some have their websites compromised, while some got their account terminated and removed from the server due to payment glitches and came back later expected their account worked as before after making the payment. A regular backup is always able to save from these losses. Softsys Hosting provides multiple backup options including R1Soft and Acronis that  offer the ability to restore backups with just a click and  bring the website back up within no time. Support also plays a critical role in this time in assisting customer in faster recovery and restoring services with minimal downtime.

Uptime Guarantee

The last thing you want your customers to experience is a blank/error message when they type in your URL, so a hosting service with a strong reputation for uptime and redundancy is the one you should be looking for Opt for an uptime guarantee of 99 percent or more.

Accessibility

Accessibility

You might find that some hosting services make it difficult to make changes to your site. If so, avoid them. Make sure the host you choose gives you access to the server so that you can easily create new email accounts, make changes to server settings, etc. Softsys Hosting uses Plesk, cPanel, etc. which provides customers with the ability to have complete control over their hosting account. Almost all the features are available so customers are able to manage hosting themselves without the need to contact support frequently.

Shared Or VPS

For small websites and on a limited budget, customers prefer a shared hosting service, which basically means that your site is being hosted along with dozens  of other sites which is why you might pay as little as $7 a month for hosting fees. The downside, though, can be that troubles with one of those sites could lead to problems for all the sites hosted on that . Having a fast website response time is crucial so that your visitors don’t grow impatient and click away and that Google uses page load speed as one of its many factors in determining whether your page will be shown high in search results. That’s why some customers prefer to pay more for access to a Virtual Private Server (VPS). VPS is a bit more complicated to set up, but from as low as $8 a month, customers have a much higher quality web server and faster performance.

Scalability

While you might be shopping for a hosting service for your small business, you should consider partnering with a service that can scale with you as you get bigger. That can mean that the service offers different tiers of service based on the number of expected visitors you receive each month where, as your business takes off, you can easily upgrade your plan. You must make sure that your service provider – or at least your service plan – are capable of dealing with spikes.

Exit Strategy

Even if you’re excited about everything your new web hosting service has to offer, make sure you read the fine print about what they will say if you decide to take your business elsewhere. Softsys Hosting offers such services when most of customers are able to cancel their service simply by submitting a cancellation request.

31 Jul

How To Improve Productivity While You Work From Home?

Many of us are spending a lot more time at home right now due to the recent Coronavirus Pandemic, including the workdays. When we’d usually be reporting to our desks, we’re finding ourselves on our sofa or at our kitchen tables, trying to complete to-do lists without the built-in discipline of the office. 

The expectations are the same or rather more, but the environment is not. And this is not an easy challenge. At the very start, many of us were enjoying the sudden change but that change has become boring now after so many months of working at home. We miss meeting people, gatherings, peer-to-peer communication, etc.

As for now, it looks like things will continue to remain the same for at least in 2020, so it is highly important to stay motivated, disciplined and improve productivity while we work from home in this pandemic. The key to work-from-home success is to create an environment that allows you to focus on the tasks at hand. Whether you are working from home for the first time or just need a quick refresher, here are some tips for creating a functional, but productive work environment at home:

1. Define Your Workspace

The foremost step in pepping up your work from home productivity is to set up a designated workstation. This helps you slide into workflow easily and in maintaining work discipline while at home. Coming up with a workstation is something that adds to your professional demeanour and adds to the productivity substantially. Isolating the work space area also helps isolating from family members.

2. Workspace Hygiene

Whether you work in a home office, kitchen or living room, if there’s “stuff” around that reminds you of your household chores, your eyes will go there and you’ll get distracted. Whenever you work from home, maintain a clutter-free zone. This will help you stay focused on your workload and remain more aligned with an in-office experience. Just setting up a designated work from home desk wouldn’t cover the lengths of productivity. You now have to keep it hygienic enough to maintain healthy work habits. Decluttering is the key to attaining this, simply get rid of all the non-work related articles from around your workstation. And having this done, you are now keeping away from the most of distraction that can hamper your productivity.

3. Wear Your Workday Attire

While it is easy to jump on for work in your pyjamas,  you have to set yourself up for success when working from home. Get ready as you would if you were going into the office. Set a morning ritual of getting dressed doing work as you did while going to office to get in the right mindset. You increase your chances of being productive when you set an intention. Remember we are only working from home with the same level of productivity as expected in an office environment.

4. Allocate Strict Working From Home Hours

The biggest of challenges in improving your work from home productivity is allocating work hours. Its easy go past the regular working hours which down the line will lead to reduced productivity. So the next step in maintaining productivity is to set apart work hours with specific breaks in between. For example, In an 8-hour shift, allocate 3 hours, 3 hours and 2 hours with breathers of 10-15 minutes in between, just you would do in an office environment. Allocating work hours would help you make sure that the work at hand is being delivered regularly, productively and always quality centric. Remember, take breathers not vacation.

5. Set Ground Rules For Family Members

It is not possible to follow this all the time and under all circumstances, but whenever possible setting ground rules with people around is the next step in the ladder. Making sure that you are not constantly distracted by the family members can fetch you a good amount of work from home productivity. Simply ask them to maintain the same temperament towards your work as of when you are at a workplace. This will help your transition into a productive working from home option on a longer run.

6. Actionable Remote Working Plan

Coming up with the list of things to be done and ensuring all of which is done is imperative to improve your work from home productivity. Also, make sure that you complete every of the task allocated for a day. Leaving out one of 10 things you had planned for the day is only going to pile up unattended work by the end of the month.

7. Leave Household Chores To Post-Work Hours

It is easy to fall into the trap of taking short breaks in between and complete house hold chores. Over the time, it may result in reduced productivity as you will be tempted go to out more often, sometimes in the name of breaks. Household chores are important, but not when you’re at work. Leaving them for post-work hours is what needs to be done.

8. Stay Fit And Exercise Regularly

When on a consecutively longer work from home regime, taking out time for yourself is strongly recommended . This will help reduce your stress levels and stay focused while working from home. This will also give break from the routine being followed at home.  So listen to the music and burn out calories and stay fit. 

And if you need to empower your geographically distributed business with some crucial IT tools, consider Microsoft Office 365 and Acronis backup services add-ons by Softsys Hosting.

16 Jun

Making Remote Work Secure: Five “Must Do” Steps

Since COVID-19 became a global pandemic and steps were put in place to contain its spread, more and more people have been forced to work from home. This transition requires many changes in how individuals and organizations operate and communicate, especially in terms of using computers, personal devices, and specific software that enables remote work.

At the same time, cybercriminals recognize that attacking home users is much easier as they are typically less secured outside their office, where security policies and measures are enforced (at least at some level). Yet to do their jobs, these remote workers need to connect to various servers and access and create confidential, sensitive documents and data from their less-secure home office environment.

The risk of losing important data or being compromised becomes much greater at home. That is why every remote worker should be prepared to secure his remote workspace. Here are five recommendations for securing a home office.

1. Use a VPN

Whether you are connecting remotely to company resources and services, or you are just browsing web resources and using telecommunication tools, use a Virtual Private Network (VPN). VPNs encrypt all of your online traffic to prevent hackers from capturing your data in transit.

If your company has a VPN practice, you most likely will get instructions from your admin or MSP technician. If you have to secure your working place yourself, use a well-known, recommended VPN app and service – they are widely available in different software marketplaces or directly from vendors. If you are in need of secure VPN, get in touch with us and we will help you with it.

2. Be wary of phishing attempts

As a topic, COVID-19 is already being widely used in all types of phishing attempts – and the number of such malicious activities will only grow. Every remote worker needs to prepare for the increase in phishing attempts by understanding and recognizing the threat.

Themed phishing and malicious websites appear in large numbers every single day. These typically can be filtered out on a browser level, but if you have a cyber protection solution installed on your work laptop or your company’s MSP delivers that protection with a solution like Acronis Cyber Protect Cloud, you are also secured by dedicated URL filtering. The same functionality is also available in endpoint protection solutions, although in Acronis Cyber Protect we have a special category related to public health which is updated with higher priority. 

Of course, those malicious links have to come from somewhere, and they are typically delivered in instant messages, emails, forum posts, etc. Do not click any links you don’t need to click on, and always avoid those that you did not expect to receive.

These attacks also use malicious attachments to emails, so always check where an email really comes from and ask yourself are you expecting it or not. Before you open any attachment, be sure to scan it with your anti-malware solution, such as Acronis Cyber Protect Cloud.

To be sure that all phishing and malicious websites are blocked by security solution with embedded Web/URL filtering functionality like Acronis Cyber Protect Cloud

It also helps to remember that the information you really want regarding COVID-19 or similar pandemics can be found from official sources like the World Health Organization (WHO), your national ministry of health, and state/local government agencies. Refer to those official agencies rather than opening links or emails from unknown sources.

3. Be sure to have good anti-malware up and running properly

Having a good anti-malware solution installed is a must nowadays. With Windows, where the majority of threats are targeted, the built-in Windows Defender makes it easier. It does a good job of stopping threats, although it still cannot match the top anti-malware products from security vendors.

Acronis Cyber Protect Cloud delivers many well-balanced and finely tuned security technologies, including several detection engines, so we would recommend it to use instead of an embedded Windows solution.
Simply having an anti-malware defense in place is not enough, however. It should be configured properly, which means:

  • A full scan should be performed at least once a day
  • A product need to get updates daily or hourly, depends how often they are available
  • A product should be connected to its cloud detection mechanisms, in the case of Acronis Cyber Protect to Acronis Cloud Brain. It is active by default but you need to be sure that the internet is available and not accidentally blocked by anti-malware software.
  • On-demand and on-access (real-time) scans should be enabled and adjusted for every new software installed or executed.It is also important that you do not ignore messages coming from your anti-malware solution. Read these carefully and, if you use a paid version from a security vendor, be sure that license is active.

4. Patch your OS and apps

Keeping your operating system (OS) up to date is crucial, as a lot of attacks succeed due to unpatched vulnerabilities. With Acronis Cyber Protect, you’re covered with embedded vulnerability assessment and patch management functionality. We track all identified vulnerabilities and released patches, which allows an admin or technician to easily patch all their endpoints with a flexible configuration and detailed reporting.

Acronis Cyber Protect not only supports all embedded Windows apps, but also more than 40 third-party key popular apps including all telecommunications tools like Zoom or Slack, and a lot of popular VPN clients that are used to work remotely. Be sure to patch high-risk vulnerabilities first and use success reports to confirm that patches were applied properly.

If you don’t have Acronis Cyber Protect and do not use any patch management software, it is much harder. At a minimum, you need to be sure that Windows gets all the updates it needs and they are quickly installed – users tend to ignore system messages, especially when Windows asks for a restart. Ignoring these requests is a big mistake.

Also, be sure that auto-updates to popular software vendors like Adobe are enabled and such apps like PDF Reader are also updated promptly.

Acronis Cyber Protect Patch Management supports all the popular collaboration, conferencing and messaging tools

5. Keep your passwords and workspace to yourself

While this step has been mentioned many times as the top piece of security advice, during the response to COVID-19 it is doubly important to ensure your passwords are strong and known only to you. Never share passwords with anyone, and use different and long passwords for every service you use. Password management software makes this easier. Otherwise, an effective approach is to create a set of long phrases you can remember. And when we say long, we mean long, since the old eight-character passwords are easily opened by brute-force attacks now.

Also, even working from home, do not forget to lock your laptop or desktop and limit access to it. There are many cases when people can access sensitive information on a non-locked PC from a distance. Don’t assume you are protected simply because you are not inviting anyone you don’t know or trust into your home office.