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As technology and the Internet continue to grow exponentially, unscrupulous individuals continue to create new security threats for organizational privacy, confidentiality, and data integrity. Because almost all network-based services and applications pose some level of security risk, personal and business information must be protected through enhanced security systems and controls. Managed IT service providers often offer the highest levels of security that protects assets, maintains integrity, ensures availability, and ensures confidentiality.

The Urgent Need for Enhanced Security

According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, billions of dollars are spent every day because of various online attacks, threats, and damages. It is imperative that all organizations protect themselves from the multitudes of IT threats and vulnerabilities loose in the world, and with nearly one million new malware threats released every day, as reported by CNN, the risks are always growing. Most of these threats take advantage of tangible and intangible vulnerabilities that arise from poor network design, end-user carelessness, inherent security loopholes, and misconfigured hardware or software. Most organizations simply do not have the manpower and financial resources to prioritize IT security over operational needs, but Managed IT service providers have to stay up to date with the most cutting-edge technology to remain competitive.

How to Identify Potential IT Security Risks

Most managed IT service providers use three standard tools to identify and control potential security risks. First, they conduct a risk analysis to identify specific risks to data, resources, and the network. The purpose of a risk analysis is to identify and evaluate each vulnerable component in order to apply appropriate security solutions. Risk analysis helps to maintain a flexible balance between security and required access. The goal is to establish what needs to be secured and at what cost. Second, asset identification activities create asset inventories that include all network devices and endpoints, such as servers and smartphones. Third, vulnerability assessments help identify weaknesses in everything from training policies to router configurations. Vulnerabilities can be fixed through reconfiguration, countermeasures and software patches. This three-pronged approach is repeated routinely to constantly stay aware of the most vulnerable access points, plug up holes in their security, and remove any malware infections or other infiltrations.

Old Threats, New Consequences

The types of potential threats to IT security are always evolving, and the potential consequences are always changing alongside them. Some of the most common IT security threats include worms, viruses, recon attacks, machine compromise, social engineering, privilege escalation, and distributed denial of service (DDS). The most common consequences include business disruption, information theft, legal liability, damage to reputation, and the loss of privacy and productivity. Organizations that fail to properly prevent and respond to data breaches and security attacks may seriously impact consumer, investor, and shareholder confidence. For example, Yahoo knew that over 500 million users’ accounts were breached in 2014, but executives failed to thoroughly investigate and disclose the incident. A few months later, over one billion Yahoo email accounts were hacked. Even if you had the budget to confront a billion outraged customers, it’s much easier and cheaper to take preventative measures before reaching that point.

Why Businesses Are Transitioning to Managed IT Services

Managed IT service providers offer 24/7 monitoring and maintenance which helps to proactively resolve issues before they cause significant problems and downtime. Budgeting for technology is difficult when IT equipment may suddenly experience problems, but managed IT service providers take care of all maintenance, so organizations can better budget for regular, predictable service costs and prepare for upgrades. Many managed IT service providers incorporate repair and service work into the contracts. Most managed IT service organizations use web and cloud-based technology, so there is plenty of data to be tracked. Comprehensive IT reporting helps management allocate budgets, monitor staff, understand trends, and review problem remediation. Online client dashboards often provide access to helpful tools and customizable reports. Organizations can still maintain dedicated IT personnel, but they will be freed from dealing with daily troubleshooting and maintenance. Working with any outsourced technology company will expand access to broader ranges of knowledge and experience. The best IT managed service providers invest in their staff, resources, and equipment to provide the best customer service and maintain their competitiveness.