Managed Services

Network Security is the Biggest Threat to Your Business Relationships!

Network Security Risks: Your Clients, Vendors, and You!

Did you know the average hacker lives on your network for 9-months before being detected?  That is 9 months of cybercriminals digging into your financials, human resources information, and intellectual property!  Further, if your business is storing, accessing, or transmitting client or patient data, you legally responsible for securing those records.  As a result, clients, prospects, and patients will now view you as a security risk for sensitive information.

History of Network Security for Small- and Medium-Sized Businesses (SMB)

In the past, managed security was unaffordable to SMBs.  However, in recent years, the cost has come down significantly.  More importantly, managed security technology has advanced tremendously.  Therefore, small- and medium-sized businesses no longer have to rely on the basic block and tackle security techniques.  Instead, they can now armor their network with the most advanced security measures.

Do Criminals Want SMB Data?

Remarkably, the average SMB CEO claims hackers are not interested in their small company.  Yet, that is exactly what makes them a great target.  According to the Ponemon Institute, 69% of targeted attacks were SMBs.  Even more daunting is the fact that 60% of SMB businesses never recover from a severe cyberattack.  Therefore, network security is a must-have for all businesses that rely on their data, regardless of size.

Are You Responsible for Your Clients’ Data?

Unfortunately, a lack of security does not just put your data at risk.  In today’s world, many businesses are trusted with sensitive information that belongs to another company.  For this reason, supply-chain network security has become a mandatory requirement for vendors who want to do business with enterprise or government entities.  Specifically, these are vendors who have access to, transmit, or store their sensitive data.

Similarly, the HITECH Act requires all covered entities (healthcare providers) to adopt Business Associate Agreements.  This can be found in the HIPAA Risk Assessment Administrative Safeguards.  In short, this rule makes the vendors equally responsible for protecting patient data.

In addition, you should also take precautions if your business captures individuals’ personal information.  Examples include:

  • Credit Card/Debit Card Information
  • Social Security Numbers
  • Phone Numbers
  • Addresses
  • Drivers License Number
  • Passwords
  • Banking Information
  • Your employees’ personal information

It is a good exercise to think through all the companies you share this information with.  Examples include telemarketers, HR companies, data analysts, etc.  Next, take precautions to ensure your vendors are safeguarding your company’s sensitive information.

Georgia State Security Breach Notification and Network Security

Interestingly, all 50 states have implemented Security Breach Notification Laws that require businesses to notify individuals when there has been a breach that involves personally identifiable information. Specifically, Georgia Security Breach Notification Law lists the types of data that make individuals most vulnerable. Additional requirements state a company “shall notify the information broker or data collector of any breach of the security of the system within 24 hours following the discovery.”

Therefore, it is not only in your best interest to perform a Risk Assessment on yourself, but also on every vendor you share sensitive information with. This is because regardless of who is at fault for the breach, your employees and clients will ultimately hold you responsible if you did not do your due diligence.

Root Cause of Most Data Breaches

Interestingly, negligent employees and contractors account for 62% of all data breaches.  Unfortunately, Ponemon Institute 2019 Global State of Network Security report states, “The biggest problem is not having the personnel to mitigate cyber risks, vulnerabilities, and attacks (77 percent of respondents). The next biggest challenges are insufficient budget (55 percent of respondents) and management having no understanding of how to protect against cyberattacks (45 percent of respondents).”  That is where INSI can help.

INSI Has Network Security Programs for SMBs

Fortunately, you do not have to go through this alone.  INSI has comprehensive Managed Security packages to help protect your sensitive data.  Examples include:

  • Security Information & Event Management (SIEM) – 24/7 real-time threat monitoring, event correlation, and incident response.
  • End-Point Managed Detection & Remediation (MDR) – The next level of anti-virus analyzes and monitors events on devices, detect threats, stops the threat, and guides you to remediation.
  • Risk Assessments – Identify strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT) to your network by using policy-based frameworks.
  • INSI Complete Security Package – includes a security audit, network security vulnerability assessment, semi-annual security check, biannual penetration test, phishing email test and training, quarterly security checks, staff training, antivirus monitoring, web content filtering, web protection, and spam protection.

Contact INSI today to find out more about our security offerings at 770-387-2424.

About INSI

Since 1995, INSI has been providing IT support to small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) in both Georgia and Alabama.  We offer Managed Services and our own unique INSI Customized IT™ package.  Additional services include hosting, disaster recovery, managed security and unified communications.

The Importance of an IT Plan When Bringing IT In-House

IT Plan and Bringing IT In-House

At this point, we have covered the importance of aligning your IT Strategy with your Business Plan and When the Right Time is to Bring Your IT In-house.  Now it is time to cover the IT Plan.  Subsequently, an IT Plan is a strategic exercise to determine the steps, resources, and technology investments required to meet your business goals.  Similar to the IT Strategy, this too needs to be planned by your steering committee.  But when is an IT Plan appropriate for your organization?

When To Do An IT Plan

An IT Plan is important when your company has a plan for growth and intends to bring IT in-house.  Accordingly, an IT Plan speeds up the time for approval as each phase is rolled out.  However, it is not enough to go out and hire in hopes the IT person will be able to do the job. Rather, you need a plan.

As your company reaches each goal, you will likely reach a point where you will want to build out your own internal IT resources.  For example, you may want to start with a strategic CIO to execute your technology initiatives.  Or instead, you might want dedicated onsite support to be at the beck and call of your end-users.  Whatever you decided to do, you probably don’t want to take on a full IT department at once: primarily because it is extremely expensive to invest in all skill levels and technology tools at once.  For this reason, it is best to ease into it and partner with an MSP who supports your goals.

Doing The IT Plan On Your Own

Fortunately, you can execute an IT Plan on your own! It doesn’t need to be anything fancy; it just needs to be clear and complete. Subsequently, a good IT plan should support the vision and strategy of the business. In fact, it should be simple, specific to your company and culture, and should cover no more than five years.  Most importantly, it should be at a high level.  Clearly this would allow you to adjust the plan for unexpected changes.  Additionally, there are many IT plan templates available, and there is one that is just right for you; you just need to research to find it.

IT Plan Questions

Hiring a Company To Do Your IT Plan

You can also hire a consulting company to do the strategic IT plan if you feel you don’t have enough knowledge or expertise to do it yourself. They will likely map out a very comprehensive plan that includes details similar to those found in Nigel Fenwick’s outline below.

Nigel Fenwick, a Forester Analyst, has extensive experience helping companies drive transformation growth with emerging technologies.  Nigel has an impressive published paper in Forester Research entitled “Business Technology Strategy Template”, which serves as a good IT Plan outline.  It short, it includes:

  • Executive Summary – business vision, mission, and values, business goals and assumptions
  • A Core Structure  – tailored to your business based on the set of common elements of business technology strategies:
    • Major market drivers and economic/market trends with expected business impacts on people and demographic trends with expected business impact
  • Business and Market Trends – with expected business impact, geopolitical trends with expected business impact, emerging technology trends with expected business impact, PEST analysis (political, economic, social, and technological)
  • SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) Analysis – organizational and external environment and competition
  • Business Capabilities (high-level capability map) – Identified strategic capabilities with an assessment of each, business strategy to achieve goals, changes in business capabilities, and assumptions.
  • Investments in People, Process, and Technology – business technology road-map; scenario plans, impact on strategies for different scenarios.

The most important thing is to have an agreement from all the executive management to use this as a guideline for the future. Again, this will speed up the time for approval each step of the way.

Type of Engineer and Cost

After you have done your IT plan, you will know which level(s) of support you want to bring in-house. For example, do you want someone more strategic that can learn the inner workings of your company? Or do you want someone who can map out a strategic direction and provide a vision to meet your goals?  Below is a high-level chart with information on each type of resource:

Engineering Levels

* Note – It is important to hire someone with experience if they will have little technical oversight.

Timing and transition

As you recall, it is expensive to take on a full IT department all at once, hence the need for a transition plan.  This means your internal IT resource will need the support of other engineers and technology tools.  For instance, they must have others to bounce ideas off of, to escalate issues to, to handle the overload, help with projects, and to serve as a backup. Further, they must have the means to track the tickets and monitor the assets.

Clearly, I have known several highly talented engineers over the years.  However, none of them knew everything there is to know about IT (be wary of those that claim they do!)  As an example, some of the most talented network engineers I know struggle with desktop issues because it has been years since they touched it.  In addition, they absolutely hate entry-level work because they feel it is beneath them, yet in reality, it is!  You do not want to pay senior level engineers to do entry-level work; it is not economically feasible.

Therefore, a great resource during transition is an MSP who supports your goals to bring IT in-house.

INSI is Here to Help During Your Transition!

At INSI, we support your goals to bring your IT in-house.  As an example, we have several services specifically designed for Internal IT Departments.  This ranges from engineering access to our robust tools (ticketing system, monitoring tools, asset tracking, etc.), all the way up to engineering resources (helpdesk, escalation, CIO level planning, etc.).  Wherever you are in your IT Plan, we have the tools and resources to help move you toward your goals.  Please contact us today if you are planning to slowly transition to your own internal IT department, or if your current team needs help.  We are here to help.

Do You Want To Learn More About IT Plans?

If you would like to know more about this topic and how it affects you, visit Amazon or Barnes & Noble for a copy of the book IT Outsourcing Secrets – A Small Business Guide to Comparing IT Support Companies.


The Importance of an IT Strategy to Your Organization

Adding An IT Strategy to Your Organization

Why do you need an IT strategy for your business?  Times have changed.  In the past, companies succeeded in their hard work, excellent products/service, integrity, and reputation.  However, in today’s digital landscape, it is not enough to just merely have good services or products, you must constantly deliver more value to your stakeholders.  More than anything else, clients want the ease of service.  They migrate toward companies that have a technological advantage.  Therefore, you must know what your competitors are doing, what technology is available, and the new market entries in your competitive landscape.

The purpose of an IT Strategy is to gain a competitive technological advantage in the market place.  In the same way, it must align your IT strategy with your business goals.  Therefore, it is important to build an IT strategy team that understands all areas of your business.  This will not only give you greater insight but also ensure buy-in as you reach new phases of the plan.  Further, it will serve as a strategic road-map when your business reaches new stages of your business plan.

Your IT Strategy Team

Your IT Strategy Team should be led by the CEO.  Also, other members should include leaders in finance, operations, sales, marketing, and technology.  A team that includes all these areas would be able to not only provide valuable insight but also ensure IT investments bring maximum value to the business.

Ideally, your team will consist of the same members who designed the Business Strategy Plan.  After all, the purpose of the IT strategy is to align IT capabilities with business goal requirements.

Your IT Strategy Must Support Your Business Plan

An effective IT Strategy must have measurable links to your business strategy.  This means you must already have a business strategy mapped out.  This will ensure your business plan drives IT, not the other way around.  Unfortunately, many businesses have made the mistake of loosely defining their IT objectives and were reactive on their technology purchases.  As a result, they end up making poor choices.  Other examples include companies that choose their business applications first and then force their workflow to fit within the software’ perimeters.  This results in a lot of work around’s.  Both are equally as bad as the other and both can be avoided with an IT strategy.

In contrast, when you define your IT strategy, you should first already know your 5-year strategy, have researched your competition, performed a SWOT analysis, analyzed the data, identified gaps, and formulated a strategy.

Important Characteristics of an IT Strategy

Now that you have your Business Strategy complete, it is time to put together your IT strategy.  Think of this as an action plan.  Thus, it must help you:

  1. Move toward your future goals
  2. Meet your business objectives
  3. Address your current weaknesses
  4. Tackle your clients’ needs and desires
  5. Drive corporate innovation, growth and competitive advantage
  6. Anticipate a realistic IT budget based on the expected return on investment (ROI)
  7. Align your IT into short- and long-term goals

Fortunately, you do not have to create an IT Strategy from scratch.  There are several free and paid-for templates on the market and each one varies greatly.

INSI can help small- and medium-sized businesses develop their IT Strategy and identify technology that meets their requirements to give them a strategic advantage.  If you would like to know more about our consulting services, please contact our sales center at 770-387-2424 option 2.

What’s Next?

After you develop your IT strategy, the next step is to develop your IT Plan.  An IT Plan determines what, if any, internal IT resources and new technology are required each stage of your IT strategy.  It can also serve as a transition plan as your company grows.  A good IT plan will serve as the guideline for the strategic direction for all your IT initiatives in the future. Last, it will help you receive faster approval during each phase of the plan because you already gained acceptance from the executive team from the beginning.

Contact INSI if you need help with IT Strategy, IT Planning, technology tools, or additional IT engineering resources.  We have technology tools/resources for your internal IT department, Customized IT™, Managed Services, Vigilance Services, and Options to help you at each stage of your transition.

Do You Want to Know More About IT Plans?

Our next article will cover the IT Plan in depth.  However, if you would like to know more about this topic and how it affects you, visit Amazon or Barnes & Noble for a copy of the book IT Outsourcing Secrets – A Small Business Guide to Comparing IT Support Companies.

When Should You Hire Your Own IT Department?

Deciding to Hire Your Own IT Department

Bringing your IT in-house is a very personal decision.  For example, it may be that your company has grown in size and it now makes financial sense to bring IT in-house.  Or another reason might be that the company has reached a point in time when it needs some strategic vision to be competitive in the marketplace.  Of course, it could be something as simple as the new CEO who wants a live body down the hall to be readily available if and when he needs them.  Whatever the reason, it is important to do it right.

The First Step in Bringing IT In: Your In-House Plan

If you are going to bring your own IT department in-house, your first step will be to establish an IT plan. It is not enough to go out and hire in hopes the person will be able to do the job. A good IT plan will serve as a guideline for the strategic direction of your IT initiatives in the future. It will also help you receive faster approval during each phase of the plan.  This is because you already gained acceptance from the executive team from the beginning.

Fortunately, you can do this on your own! It doesn’t need to be anything fancy; it just needs to be clear and complete. A good IT plan should support the vision of the business and the IT Strategy. Moreover, it will provide direction on when to hire at each phase, what level to hire at, external resources, and internal technology tools.  Last, it should be simple, specific to your company and culture, cover no more than five years, and be a high level.

The Second Step in Bringing IT In-House: Hiring Your IT People

Now that you have determined your IT plan, you know what type of engineering resources you need.  You should also know the phases in which to hire them, and the tools they need to be successful.  Only then, is it time to consider who to hire.  Unfortunately, it is difficult for a non-technical person to truly know who would be a good match.  That is why I recommend doing a background check, drug screening, personality test, and verifying their technical aptitude.

Background Checks & Drug Screening

The next thing you need to do before you bring your IT in-house is to set up a background and drug screening program.  You may not realize this, but as long as your internal IT people have administrative rights, they also have the keys to the kingdom.  Subsequently, they can view your emails, listen in on your calls, and see your financials, HR, and intellectual property.  This is the same with anyone who had administrative access, whether they are an employee or managed service provider.  Either way, you must be very diligent in your screening process.

This is especially true if you are held to regulatory compliance standards.  In these cases, the law expects you to vet anyone who has administrative access.  The reason behind this is that you are holding the information that is sensitive to others such as medical information, social security, credit card information, and other identifying factors.  As a result, criminals sell this information in large quantities to the highest bidder on the black market.  As a regulated industry, you are ultimately held responsible if this information is breached.

Regardless of whether you are mandated to do a background check or drug screening, it is still a wise thing to do.  After all, there are many stories of IT employees who have left a back door open to the server when they left a company. Or a disgruntled employee who sabotaged the business.  It’s unfortunate, but it does happen.

Personality Test

Speaking of disgruntled employees, desperate people do desperate things.  Therefore, it is not uncommon for any employee to become territorial when their job is threatened, some more than others.  That is why it is very important to do a personality test before hiring your next IT person.

The ideal IT person is a great communicator, is great at following processes, and has great problem-solving skills.  A good personality test will be able to screen for the first two.  Also, it will help you identify their work ethic.

How to Verify Their Technical Aptitude

Once you have identified the level you need to hire in your IT Plan, you will now need to test their technical strengths.  Fortunately, several companies offer online tests.  These tests assess their trouble-shooting abilities and their technical aptitude for the position they are applying for.  The great news is, at the time of this writing, there are several highly qualified unemployed IT professionals due to the pandemic.  Before this, the good IT people were taken and there was only a 0.7% unemployment rate.

On another note, you could also use an IT recruiter.  However, I would still suggest you check their background, do a drug screening, perform a personality test, and test their aptitude.

The Third Step in Bringing IT In-House: Filling in the Gaps

When it is time to bring your IT in-house, please make sure you set them up for success.  For example, a successful IT department will have the right tools and resources to serve your staff well.  This includes:

  1. Technical IT Resources – Provide your IT a team to bounce ideas off of, escalate issues, and serve as a backup.
  2. Ticketing Software –  This not only helps them track tickets through to completion, but it also helps you monitor their progress and end-user satisfaction.
  3. Robust Monitoring Tools – You need both network monitoring tools and desktop monitoring tools if you are to get a solid return on your technology investment.
  4. Remote Assist Software Tools – This tool will allow them to remote into any desktop computer and fix the issue for the end-user.

To emphasize, it is important to not go with inexpensive technology tools.  Like any other software, it needs to integrate with your processes.  This requires a huge investment of time and resources to program them correctly.  So much time that it will be difficult to switch.  On the other hand, you can partner with a Managed Service Provider, like INSI, who has invested in the most robust tools to monitor, maintain, and access multiple environments.


You set up your entire company for success when you equip your IT support staff with the resources and tools they need.  Unfortunately, many companies still view IT as a necessary evil rather than a competitive advantage.  In many of those cases, they are highly understaffed and highly responsive.  Obviously, both the end-users and the health of the network should be proactive.

At INSI, our Customized IT™ program is perfect for IT departments as they transition to full IT staff.  Click here if you would like to know more about these services.

Do You Want To Learn More About Bringing Your IT In-House?

If you would like to know more about this topic and how it affects you, visit Amazon or Barnes & Noble for a copy of the book IT Outsourcing Secrets – A Small Business Guide to Comparing IT Support Companies.

Customized IT Hybrid IT Support

What is Hybrid IT Support?

Hybrid IT Support is when a company uses a combination of its own internal IT department and a managed service provider.  Companies often do this because they need a certain skillset or technology.  Another reason is they are overwhelmed with calls or projects.

Clearly, Managed Service Providers (MSPs) core business is IT.  As such, they have invested heavily in people, technology, and tools that far exceed what an SMB can afford.  Therefore, this can be a very good arrangement, as long as there is a clear separation of responsibilities.

Why Would a Company Want Hybrid IT Support?

Unfortunately, it is very expensive to run your own IT department.  Not only do you have to pay competitive salaries, but you must also have the right IT tools to deliver support successfully.  This can get expensive quickly.  In addition, a full IT department consists of a helpdesk, a mid-level engineer, and a senior engineer.  Therefore, a full IT department is often too expensive for an SMB.

5 Types of Hybrid IT Support Services

  1. Network Monitoring – Managed Service Providers (MSPs) have access to robust Remote Monitoring & Management (RMM) software because they service multiple clients.  Subsequently, the RMM software benefits the client by minimizing downtime, enhancing security, lowering the total cost of ownership, streamlining maintenance, and improving productivity.
  2. Helpdesk – Helpdesk is ideal for a company that has senior-level internal resources for strategic direction and server work.  The best thing about the helpdesk is they can handle 80% of the calls.  Consequently, this frees up the internal IT department’s time for higher-level issues.
  3. Tier 3 Support – Tier 3 support is ideal for a company that has its own desktop engineers and needs help with strategic direction and server-level work.
  4. Projects – Internal IT Departments often turn to outsourced IT for project-related work.  This allows them to maintain end-user service levels.
  5. Overflow – Often internal IT departments find themselves overwhelmed.  This could be during peak times, peak seasons, or they are slightly understaffed.  In these cases, it doesn’t make sense to hire full-time personnel, so they use an IT outsourced company.

INSIs Hybrid Solution

INSI has several programs for Internal IT Departments.  Because we separate each tier and service into its own offering, the client can pick and choose the exact services they want.  Subsequently, this minimizes overlapping responsibilities.  It also creates stronger relationships and mutual trust.

In addition to our INSI Customized IT™, Monitored, and Managed Services programs, INSI has multiple options available.  They include:

  • Cloud Computing – You can choose between INSI’s Cloud or third-party cloud such as Azure or AWS.  We will install and maintain it for you.
  • Backup & Disaster Recovery – Always the client’s choice: onsite or remote.
  • Managed Security – INSI can handle everything from basic security to Security Information and Event Monitoring (SIEM).
  • Cabling and Fiber – Cabling and wireless services from single business lines all the way up to installations for Internet Service Providers.
  • Helpdesk – Get helpdesk at entry-level rates.
  • Tier 3 Support – Choose to work only with Tier 3 engineers and get the help you need on your projects and server infrastructure.
  • CIO Services – Get strategic direction from a senior architect.  This expert will get to know your business goals and align an IT strategy that is specific to your needs.
  • Pass-Through Tickets – Have the INSI helpdesk take the initial calls and put them in the queue for your engineers.  We can also arrange to take the overflow if your engineers are backlogged and can’t respond to the issues within a certain amount of time.
  • Warehousing – With warehousing, we keep spares of your end-user equipment and swap them out as needed.
  • Technology Tools – Technology tools can be expensive to license, program, and maintain.  With this program, you can get full access to your account on our ticketing and asset tracking system.  Now you can have all the functionality without the extraordinary cost.

Do You Want To Learn More About INSI Hybrid Solution?

If you would like to learn more about INSI’s Hybrid Solutions, please call 770-387-2424 to speak to one of our seasoned IT Support Consultants.

Are You Ready to Hire Your Own Internal IT Department?

If you are on the cusp of bringing your IT in-house, visit Amazon or Barnes & Noble for a copy of the book IT Outsourcing Secrets – A Small Business Guide to Comparing IT Support Companies.  Chapter 4 covers the information you need to recruit and set up a successful internal IT program.