How an MSP Partner Is Like a Scout Helping Make Your Hunt a Success

Growing your business is a little like planning a hunting trip. You need so much there to be successful: the right equipment, the right training and the right skills… but what if you could add an extra partner to the equation?

Think of your managed IT service provider as the scout on your hunting trip.

What do scouts do? They go ahead and check out the lay of the land. They clear the path for you and point you in the right direction.

An MSP can be your scout on your hunt in business to help you be a success. We at Cognoscape provide our clients with a custom IT road map so they know what may lie ahead for them, and what direction they should take to be the most successful.

This technology road map is tailored to keep our clients up-to-date on all the latest IT trends in the industry that could make their hunt, their business hunt, a success. Whether it be network security, relocation, regulatory compliance, cloud computing, and much more, we act as the scout on your hunting trip.

When you’re out in the wild looking to expand your business and find new clients, there’s the potential for a lot of errors. You know that making the wrong turn could get you caught in the weeds: an issue or technology hang up that could potentially set you back days or even weeks. That’s the last thing you want to happen in the fast-paced professional landscape of today.

So why risk everything by going it alone? Bring us along as a scout with you on your hunt, and we’ll help make sure that you take the right paths and come out a success.

businessman in jail

The Absolute Worst-Case Scenarios That Can Result From Non-Compliance

As we mentioned in our last blog, regulatory compliance is not a topic to be brushed aside. Non-compliance can result in some serious consequences, including:

Losing All of Your Clients

This may sound a bit extreme, but it’s possible in the absolute worst-case scenario. When you don’t take regulatory compliance seriously, your clients get worried. They are trusting you with their personal information, such as their credit card or health information. Imagine it yourself. How would you feel if your credit card information wasn’t protected up to government standards?

When a business is non-compliant, it can destroy their reputation. And, as all businessmen and women know, your company’s reputation is essential for its survival. The trust and confidence that your clients have can be a direct effect on your enterprise’s bottom line. Non-compliance can absolutely destroy that.

Losing (Almost) All of Your Money

Non-compliance comes at a price. Violation fines can get very expensive. For example, violating SOX compliance can result in a fine of more than $10 million. $10 million. That’s an extraordinary amount of money that could easily have been saved otherwise.

With a trusted partner like Cognoscape, we’ll make sure that you never fall into that danger zone. We know how hard you’ve worked for your success, so it would be completely devastating if it all can crashing down due to something as preventable as non-compliance.

Jail Time

In the worst case scenario, non-compliance can also result in jail time. SOX compliance violations can actually amount to up to 30 years in jail. This is not only the most devastating way to ruin you and your business’ reputation, but it could also put you out of business, permanently.

Avoid Non-Compliance with Cognoscape

Cognoscape will make sure that none of your IT equipment or IT practices are ever in violation of the law. Our experts are always staying up-to-date on the latest changes and requirements, and we promise to always relay that information back to you and make the necessary changes. We’ll help you keep all your clients, your business success, and, most importantly, keep you out of jail. Give us a call.

MSP

The Obstacles You Could Face without an MSP

Take a moment to imagine your favorite football team in the most intense game and play of the season. For us, that might be the Dallas Cowboys. The crowd is going wild as they line up the offense, and the rival Washington Redskins look massive and ready to stop you.

The fans that were cheering at the top of their lungs suddenly gasp in shock because the Cowboys have sent only three players onto the field. As the ball snaps, you can imagine what happens…and it’s not pretty. You face similar obstacles when you go out into the business world without a managed service provider.

In fact, the potential for trouble at critical moments is greater without an MSP, just like playing championship football with a fraction of your starting squad. Think about your biggest opportunity: Your business spent months working on a client’s project and now you’re ready for the final presentation — you know this is going to change not only your business but theirs, so there is a lot on the line. Suddenly, and without warning, your computing systems crash. Not just one but all of them. You are literally 2 yards from scoring the game-winning touchdown, and the ball comes loose and hits the ground.

Without an MSP there to run the play alongside you and cover your route, you don’t get to complete that project — and both your client and your business suffer a loss. Months of hard work and productivity are lost in a single instant.

But an MSP working with you the entire time can restore your network and your work quickly and without flinching, and neither your business nor your client have to suffer the impact of one weak moment. Fumble recovered.

Think about all the other risks of operating without an MSP on your team: hacking intrusions, viruses, memory crashes, network failures…the list of daily threats and vulnerabilities goes on. If you’re out there working alone to tackle these problems, you’ll needlessly lose precious time, productivity and maybe even income and reputation.

There are just too many IT challenges that your company shouldn’t have to address without key players who not only trained and experienced in preventing and removing threats but also qualified to prepare and customize your IT playbook.

And when you realize that every day in your business is as important as that big play in the big game, why would you send your team out on the field to be clobbered by the competition when an MSP can have your back at every step?

Cognoscape can be those teammates you need to move forward, gain position and win. We want to be there to remove the obstacles that you could encounter without an MSP, and clear your company’s path to the goal.

rules and regulations stamp

A Reminder On Why Regulatory Compliance Is So Important

Regulatory compliance isn’t a matter to brush off lightly. These laws and requirements are put in place to not only protect your business, but also your customers. As a quick reminder, three of the main players in regulatory compliance are:

HIPAA – HIPAA stands for the Health Insurance Portability & Accountability Act. This act, established in 1996, affects organizations that handle health information (PHI) or personal health records (PHR). Such organizations include clinics, hospitals, nursing homes, psychologists, dentists, and pharmacies. These regulations protect the rights of patient authorization and who can view personal health information.

SOX – The Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX) Act is a US federal law that was established in 2002 in response to a number of major corporate and accounting scandals. Some of the organizations involved in these scandals were Enron, Tyco International, and WorldCom. This law addresses how to handle corporate governance, auditing, and financial reporting so that those scandals never happen again.

PCI – The payment card industry (PCI) is established to protect our card information. Credit card companies such as Visa, MasterCard, American Express, and Discover abide by a set of data security standards (PCI DSS) that aim to reduce payment card fraud and theft.

What Happens If You Ignore Regulatory Compliance Regulations

As you can tell, regulatory compliance requirements protect very important and sensitive data. Failing to follow the rules and regulations set out can result in some very severe punishments, such as large fines and even jail time. For example, failure to adhere to SOX Compliance can result in a fine of more than $10 million and 30 years in jail.

Falling out of regulatory compliance will also damage your enterprise’s reputation and cause your clients to lose faith in you. The accounting scandals of 2002 caused the whole nation to lose trust in accounting and reporting practices. Also, let’s look at PCI compliance. If your personal credit card and financial information wasn’t protected and was left at the risk of being stolen, used, and manipulated, would you really continue to trust your information with its current protector?

The answer is no. It’s not easy to entrust your classified data and personal property to someone new. Regulatory compliance standards, however, give users the comfort and confidence to do just that.

Allowing Cognoscape to properly maintain and uphold your compliance will ensure security on all ends. We are always keeping up with the laws and staying up to date on any changes that occur.

Have any questions? Click here to read our eBook on the science behind regulatory compliance.

Managed Services: The Future of IT

As the economy and technology evolves, so do the businesses that drive them.  It should not come as a shock to anyone that the next step in IT is actually not having someone on staff, but rather having managed services take care of it for a company.
It almost goes without saying that it would be extremely difficult for a business to hire their first internal IT tech.  Once you’ve finished coming up with exactly what you think they would need to do to help your company, you would then have to go through the arduous hiring process.  Once they have been hired, you would have to pay that one person a significant amount of money, worry about their health insurance, and somehow track their work progress, which most startups either don’t know how to do, or just don’t have the time to.  With IT becoming so critical to businesses today, it wouldn’t make sense for each startup to go through that process. If every business took on an IT person for themselves, the supply in the market would decrease at such a rate that the cost to hire would skyrocket.
Managed services provide a company with a full team of trained technicians and staff that know exactly what they’re doing… and at a fraction of the cost of what a full time employee would be.  Instead of just getting one mind with a few years experience, you’re getting an skilled group of individuals who have experience with not only businesses like yours, but all of the potential problems that could come along and haunt your business as well.
A lot of times, managed services will start by creating a roadmap for their business client, outlining each of the areas which would need to be covered and used by them to aid in your success.  Think about that, hiring just one expensive staffer is a crapshoot as to whether or not they would know what they’re doing… and it would take an extreme amount of time for most business owners to learn what they need and monitor this new staffer on their own.
From there, managed services work with and maintain all the crucial IT pieces that bring a business the success that they need.   They are just as accessible as calling up the one staffer that you might have hired who sits in your office all day waiting for a potential issue to arise.
With the wealth of knowledge and experience they bring coupled with significant Money, time and stress saved, it seems like a natural progression that managed services would be the future of IT.
And for exactly why we said, as we look to the future of IT, it would make sense that more and more companies would stray away from having their own staff handle IT,  the future truly is managed services.

Everything You Need to Know About PCI Compliance

If your business wants to accept credit cards, then you’ll need to ensure you meet with Payment Card Industry (PCI) standards to ensure the security of your customer’s data.  You don’t need us to tell you how important it is that your organization keeps its customer’s credit card data secure. It’s a huge issue, as failure to do so could cause irreparable damage to your brand. If your organization suffers data breach that results in customer’s information being stolen, it will almost certainly spell the end for your business. Your organization will be in the headlines for all the wrong reasons, and it’ll be nigh on impossible to repair the damage to your reputation among consumers.  Be sure you know your PCI compliance basics in order to keep your customer’s credit card data safe and secure.
What is PCI Compliance?
PCI compliance refers to a set of guidelines for businesses to follow when they process payments via credit card. These guideline cover all of the major credit cards, including Visa, Mastercard, Discover, and American Express and indeed all of these providers mandate their use. If your company process credit card payments from these providers it must comply with PCI standards – failure to do so can lead to heavy punishments, including substantial fines and even jail time for company directors.
What Does Being PCI Compliant Mean?
There are 12 key requirements in the PCI Data Security Standard, and businesses need to comply with each of them in order to be considered “PCI compliant”. Each of the requirements addresses an important area of information security, as listed below:
  1. Install and maintain a firewall configuration to protect cardholder data
  2. Do not use vendor-supplied defaults for system passwords and other security parameters
  3. Protect stored cardholder data
  4. Encrypt transmission of cardholder data across open, public networks
  5. Protect all systems against malware and regularly update anti-virus software or programs
  6. Develop and maintain secure systems and applications
  7. Restrict access to cardholder data by business’s need to know
  8. Identify and authenticate access to system components
  9. Restrict physical access to cardholder data
  10. Track and monitor all access to network resources and cardholder data
  11. Regularly test security systems and processes
  12. Maintain a policy that addresses information security for all personnel
Helping you Meet PCI Compliance
At Cognoscape, one of the key aspects of our services is ensuring that your business is PCI compliant. As a first step, we’ll look at your network to see if it meets basic standards for security. If not, we’ll work to make sure that it does, and we’ll maintain it so it stays that way. We’ll also install software that guarantees customer’s credit card data is secure and encrypted when transferred to and from the network.
Another key step is to make sure your systems cannot be breached. PCI compliance standards require that companies maintain something called a vulnerability management system, which incorporates security measures such as antivirus and firewalls. In addition, PCI compliance means regularly testing security systems and processes. Companies are required to monitor all access to networks and cardholder data to ensure that it remains secure, and all of this ongoing work will be carried out by Cognoscape.
Cognoscape works closely with its clients to ensure their IT systems and practices never violate laws around PCI compliance. We make it our business to stay up to date with all the latest requirements, so we can ensure that you’re ready to make any changes as the government requires them.
If you need help with PCI compliance, give us a call today and let’s make sure you’re providing your customers with the protection they deserve.
Father and son hunting

The Similarities Between Hunting and Cybersecurity

We know what you’re thinking. What similarities exist between hunting and cybersecurity?” As an organization focused on cybersecurity who just happens to know a lot of very avid hunters, we’re here to tell you that the two are incredibly similar in many ways.

The first similarity between hunting and cyber security is that to be good at both, you’re going to need a map. In hunting, you’ll use a map to get you to the perfect place to find deer, ducks, or whatever game you may be looking for. From there, you’ll need a plan as to what exactly to do once you get there.

It’s the same in cybersecurity. When looking at your network and how it functions for your business, you’ll need a specified road map, one that outlines exactly where all the trouble spots may or may not be and exactly what to do with those areas.

The second similarity between hunting and cybersecurity is that both are “hurry up and wait” scenarios. When you go on a hunt, you prepare as much as possible for the moment when you need to fire on your prey. It takes hours of preparation including the finding right tools and location in addition to studying what you may be up against. Finally, after all those hours of preparation, you go into the field and wait… sometimes hours for your prey to finally come along so that you can take your shot. Cybersecurity is the exact same thing.

In cybersecurity, you or your managed service provider study the lay of the land with your systems and networks and prepare all the proper tools, find the right location and build up a lot of knowledge to know what you might be up against. All of this is done so that you can be prepared for when something bad may or may not come alone. Whether it be a hacker, a virus, or any other potential threat, cybersecurity, like hunting, is a get prepared, hurry up and wait game.

The third and final similarity between hunting and cybersecurity is both require a lot of experience and training to become proficient. In hunting, you can prepare and have the right equipment, but still miss your prey. It takes practice and real world experience to be good at hunting. The same is true of cybersecurity.

We at Cognoscape have years upon years of the training and experience necessary to protect your company from any potential cybersecurity threats. We have seen it all throughout our years of working in the community and know how to be perfectly on target when your business comes under attack. Trust us with your cybersecurity needs.

Network Security

How Much Is Your Network Security Actually at Risk?

Over the past year, we have heard more about hacking and hackers than ever before. Thanks to the 2016 Presidential election, we realized that anyone and everyone can be hacked. From the discussion of security with Hillary Clinton’s personal email servers, to the Democratic National Committee being hacked by Russians (or a 400 lb hacker) network security has been at the forefront of our national discussion… but what exactly does that mean for your business?

virtual reality

Where is Virtual Reality in Terms of Gaming?

Gaming technology is always developing, improving, and expanding – it’s amazing to see the progress it has reached. What’s more amazing is the latest technology sweeping the tech world: virtual reality.

What is Virtual Reality?

Virtual reality (VR) is what it sounds like, a virtual reality. A computer generates an environment that lets you virtually immerse yourself into different realities. That’s the beauty of it – you can transport yourself to any three-dimensional interface. This combination of hardware, software, and sensory synchronicity helps create the detailed realism that users enjoy.

How do you use it? VR consists of a screen inside a headset which is then fit around your head and eyes. This visually separates anything else you could be viewing so that you focus solely on this new, virtual world. The image you’re looking at is in stereoscopic 3D, and the detail is amazing. This technology is currently implemented in various fields, such as architecture, the arts, sports, in medicine where it allow students to view hospital ER scenes before they have to do the real thing, in tourism where you can travel to the world’s various wonders, and, most popularly, in entertainment and gaming.

Virtual Reality in Gaming

At first, VR equipment used to be exclusive and expensive, but now, gadgets such as the Samsung Gear VR are becoming more common and revolutionizing gaming. This Samsung device allows you to attach a compatible Galaxy smartphone to its portable and wireless headset. From there, your adventure begins. You can dive into the 360 degrees action-packed world of whichever game you choose, including Minecraft, EVE: Gunjack, or any other game you wish to buy – it’s all available!

Has gaming technology ever been this entertaining?

What This Means For the Future

When it comes to IT support, this marks the beginning of virtual reality hardware and software coming together. The development of this technology will only continue to grow as programmers try to find ways to also incorporate and amplify audio, smell, and touch. Even though it might take a while until VR provides a full-body experience, it’s definitely making advances to get there. Virtual reality has changed, and will continue to change, the way that the world interacts with digital technology, and IT support providers need to stay in the loop to see where this goes. That’s what Cognoscape is doing. We’ll love to talk about it.

network services illustration

Should You Choose Custom Network Services?

There’s only one company like yours out there. A lot of time, effort, and individual, distinguished details have gone into your company to make it one-of-a-kind. Doesn’t it make sense then that you should have a network that reflects that uniqueness? If you use the same network services as every business out there, are you really that different?

There are a lot of choices to make when it comes to your network. One of those choices is whether you should adopt custom network services, or your standard one size fits all. There are strong reasons for both sides, but ultimately, the win goes to having custom network services for many reasons.  

Custom Network Services Service You Much More Efficiently

With custom network services, you have the control. Your whole system will be designed around your specific goals and operation methods. This makes it a lot easier to scale up and add additional devices or systems when you need to. Why? Well, your system knows your business goals and exactly how you want to work. Because of this, your whole infrastructure will service in that manner. Maybe you need automation to perform a specific function, or maybe you need your VoIP to act a certain way. Whatever it is, with custom, professional network services, the final decision is yours.

The experts that design these professional services know how to completely custom these services to you, but we won’t stop there. We will keep a constant eye on your technology after the design and implementation. We won’t just install and then leave you. With this additional support, you won’t have to worry so much anymore about out-of-date equipment, security holes, incompatible software, and compliance issues.

Cognoscape Can Design a Custom Infrastructure For You

Cognoscape knows the importance of a custom infrastructure. We’re ready to reduce the risk of IT complications with custom network services designed to protect you. One of the unique things we do here at Cognoscape is provide customers with a custom IT roadmap. Tailored to help businesses succeed, these technology roadmap keeps our clients up-to-date on all the latest IT trends in various sectors of the industry – like network security, relocation, regulatory compliance, and cloud computing.

Having a custom network also reduces the costs of random network failures. Cognoscape has some of the best IT experts out there, and the maintenance we’ll be able to provide will end up saving you money by reducing the chance of those expensive network disasters. We know your business from the inside out, so we know how to fully protect it.

With a custom network services, you will see results in no time. Constant recommendations of up-to-date security solutions and applications, reduced IT costs, and a flexible and scalable environment are only a few of the benefits you’ll be enjoying. Your system should work for you, not the other way around. Let us take care of your IT so you can focus on what matters – your business. Contact us today to get started!