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6 Simple Tips to Protect Your Customer Data

As cyber-attacks continue to make headlines, hackers are exposing or selling customer data files in record numbers. But just like with any threat, there are actions you can take to minimize risk and ensure your business retains a positive reputation among customers.

  1. Stop using the same password on repeat. Set a mandate for all staff that passwords must be unique for each user and for your workplace. That means it can’t be remotely like the one on their home PC, tablet or online banking. Passwords are hacked more than ever, so when you’re prompted for a password change, dig deep and really think about what goes into a hacker-proof password. If remembering them is a problem, consider one of the latest password management tools.
  2. Go on a shredding spree. How much sensitive data is being dumped into the recycling bin? Valuable customer data is often taken from the bins of small businesses and quickly sold or published. It’s not just good practice to shred sensitive documents, it’s the law. Take 5 seconds to run documents through the shredder or book in the services of a secure shredding company.
  3. Ditch the accounting spreadsheets. Still using an Excel doc for all your number-crunching? Besides making your accountant’s job harder (and more expensive), you’re opening your business to a massive range of vulnerabilities. Even with password-protection, spreadsheets aren’t designed to safeguard your financials or those of your clients. Upgrade to a proper accounting solution with built-in customer data protections and security guarantees.
  4. Train staff explicitly. You can’t rely on common sense because what you think is a given might be news to someone else. It can be extremely beneficial to hold special data-safety training sessions once or twice a year as a reminder, as well as take the time to induct new staff into the way things are done.
  5. Limit access to data. Just like the bank manager who guards the keys to the vault, you can limit who accesses your data. Revoke employee access as soon as they leave your business for good, and set rules around who can access what – and when. Do they need access to sensitive information while working from home? Should they be able to change the files, or only view them?
  6. Keep your software updated. Possibly the most preventable hack, having outdated software can be an open invitation for cyber-criminals. They look for known weaknesses in business software and waltz right in. While the nagging pop-ups and reminders to update can feel like a selling ploy, they’re actually helping your business to stay in the safe zone. Updated software gives you protection against new viruses and hacking techniques, plus closes off those nasty weaknesses.

If you would like to make sure your business is secure from data breaches, give us a call!

Why your small business should worry about cybersecurity

Why do you need to worry about security in your small business? I hear many excuses: I can’t afford it. No one will hack me. Who would want my data? I never go to bad sites or open a suspicious email.

Small business is a prime target for hackers and criminals because of these excuses. Because you have little protection, you are easier to break into. If you had criminal intentions, would you start by hitting Fort Knox or the corner store? In a new scheme, some hackers are using smaller firms as a launching platform to attack larger firms. So, you may be infected and not even realize that they are stealing your data as well as your partner’s data.

Did you know you can be liable if you lose your customers data? Maybe you knew CPA firms; Law Offices; Healthcare are all liable. But did you know any small office or retail store could be held accountable? This is especially true if you haven’t made a good faith effort to protect your customer’s data. If you house any of the following data, you need to be extra vigilant:

  • Healthcare data (HIPAA and HITECH)
  • Financial data (Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, Red Flags Rules of the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act of 2003, the Bank Secrecy Act)
  • Credit information (Fair Credit Reporting Act)
  • Information obtained from children (the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act)

Do you have Cybersecurity Insurance? You should. Even small businesses need it. But what does it all mean? How much do you really need? You can save some money if you already have security systems and practices in place.

When to Call in an IT Security Consultant (from PCmag article here…)
There are going to be things you can’t do alone as a small business owner,” said ADP’s O’Connell. “For very important contracts, you get outside legal advice. For annual and quarterly financials, you have an accountant. Same goes for security expertise. When you need to test a site to make sure it’s web-safe, or conduct a risk assessment, it’s money well spent it if you don’t have the expertise to do it yourself. You’re not doing the electric or the plumbing in the building yourself; it’s about knowing when you need help.”

Protecting your data and network doesn’t have to be expensive. There are many cost effective solutions. Let us come up with a plan that suits your business and budget.

Herstek and Associates, LLC.



5 Tips for DIY Small Business Tech

First, the disclaimer: I do not advocate DIY small business tech. I highly recommend having a computer consulting company help you design and support your IT system. Of course, I would say that because that is how I make my living. However, I am a business owner too and if there is one thing I have learned, it is that you can’t (or shouldn’t) do everything yourself. An IT firm will save you time and money and can work with your budget. Since some of you are going to try to be a DIY small business tech anyway, here are some tips to help out.

Tip # 1 – Backup!

It is very important to make sure you have multiple backup systems in place. Beyond the obvious chance of data loss due to a system crash or hardware failure, there is the constant threat of malware and ransomware.

If you are mostly cloud based, make sure to export or download your data to somewhere local and then backup that data to a secondary system or device. If you are mostly internal, you should have an online backup and a local backup. If you do not want an online backup for security or cost reasons, you should have an offsite backup. This means you should have at least one backup device that you take away from your primary place of business at least once per week.

It doesn’t hurt to have all three (offline, online and local) backup. Some of the new malware and ransomware is extremely sophisticated. The more backups, the better.

Tip #2 – Security!

Some small business owners think “it will never happen to me” or “how can I afford to protect myself if these big companies can’t” or “Who would want our data?” It is your responsibility to protect you, your employees and your customers. In some cases, you can be held accountable if you have not taken reasonable precautions to protect your system. Criminals are targeting small business just because they are generally easier to break into.

This doesn’t means that you have to spend large amounts of money. A reasonably safe system can be built on a limited budget without any real monthly costs. If you want to build your own security system, look into pfSense, and Ubiquiti Networks. I strongly recommend purchasing antivirus and not using a free version. Kaspersky, Symantec, Sophos or any of the more popular security companies are better than the free versions.

Do not forget to use strong passwords and if possible multi-factor authentication.

Keep your devices, systems and software up to date.

Limit employee access to data and information and limit authority to install software

Tip #3 – Spend time researching your software

I have a client that was very disappointed after they moved to a cloud version of their favorite accounting package. They had decided to do this without consulting us. Don’t get me wrong; there are some great SaaS (software as a service) cloud systems out there, but there are differences from your favorite desktop version. In this particular case, the online version only allowed one company per account, and they wanted control of your data. One client wanted to switch back to the desktop version, and they had to re-enter one month worth of data because the online version would not give them their data back even though it was the same brand.

The point is, take your time and research thoroughly before committing to a new product. If possible, take advantage of the trial software and setup a test system. Read the fine print. There also may be free open source software they could just be what you are looking to help run your company.

Tip #4 – Do not neglect your network

Please do not tell me you are running your high-speed cable system and brand new desktop PC through a circa 1999 Linksys firewall/router and eight port hub. Network equipment must be kept up to date. That Linksys router and hub are making your internet system very slow and unsafe. If your equipment is really that old, you may need new wiring as well. This may sound expensive, but you are losing productivity due to your slow network. Even if you equipment is only five years old, there can still be speed and safety concerns.

Also, wireless technology is becoming more and more crucial to small business, and if your wireless system is more than a few years old, you should consider upgrading that as well. There are faster and more reliable systems at affordable prices. You need solid wireless coverage and should offer a guest version to your employees and possibly your clients unless you want to take on the security risk and burden of monitoring their devices in your network as well.

You should avoid consumer class networking equipment. The price is right, but they lack the security features and performance you need.

Tip #5 – Don’t buy cheap computers

I know you want to save money, but cheap computers or devices from your favorite big box store will cost you more in the long run. They usually do not last as long. They are slower and less productive from the start. They generally come loaded with software you do not need. They also usually do not come with the pro version of windows. The Pro version has extra security features the other versions do not. For example, Window 10 Pro has encryption options built in. Business class PCs have longer warranties and better parts so they will last a long time.

5 Tips for DIY Small Business Tech - NEPA

Contact us for you computer repair, network support and IT consulting needs.

Business Computer Services

Business Computer Services

Are you opening a new business, trying to plan your next technology move in your current business, or just tired of your present IT provider? Great! We specialize in business IT consulting and service!

It doesn’t matter if your company is one person or three hundred employees, we can provide a number of IT services to help you keep your business running smoothly. We aren't at your office to talk around the water cooler. We are there to get the job done and keep your business productive and secure at a reasonable price.

Business Class Hardware

  • Sales and Support
  • Desktops and Laptops - Mac and PC
  • Tablets and Mobile Devices - Droid and Apple
  • Servers - Microsoft, Linux, and Virtual
  • NAS (Network Attached Storage)

Email Setup and Support

  • Spam Control and Encryption
  • Exchange Server
  • Office 365
  • G Suite
  • Hosted Solutions

Backup and Disaster Recovery

  • Onsite Solutions and Storage
  • Offsite and Cloud Backup
  • "Instant Up" Disaster Recovery Solutions

Managed Services

  • Remote Monitoring and Maintenance
  • Patch Management for OS and Software
  • Managed Antivirus/Antimalware

Computer Networking

  • Internet Connectivity 
  • Phone Systems
  • Network Hardware 
  • Structured Cabling 
  • Network Security 

Wireless Systems

  • Hardware Sales and Support
  • Heatmapping and Analysis
  • Security Configuration
  • Guest Networks and Captive Portals

Virus, Malware, and Ransomware

  • Endpoint Protection Solutions
  • Malware Removal and Cleanup 
  • Data Recovery 

Custom Programing and Interfaces

  • Interfaces - Accounting, HL7, DICOM
  • Legacy - Foxpro, dBase, Cobol
  • Website and App

Cloud Solutions

  • Public 
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  • Hybrid

Interested in our services? Download our price guide!


Passport Business Solutions

Passport Business Solutions is an integrated software solution designed to help small to medium-sized business owners save time, increase efficiency, and gain greater control over their operations and profitability.

  • Fast data entry and access – Tabbed screens and a variety of drill-downs, look-ups, and “views” speed up work and reduce errors.
  • Improve transparency – versatile reporting and data access options assemble and display company data for planning and analysis.
  • Protect your data – built-in safeguards and strong transaction audit trails help preserve data integrity.

Passport Business Solutions’ modular format allows us to configure a personalized system that best fits your organization.

We are Passport Partners and have many years experience working with RealWorld accounting systems.  Some of your NEPA businesses may still be using the old RealWorld  system but now is the time to think about upgrading. The SQL version allows for easier custom reporting and program integration. Let us help you find a solution to your financial, manufacturing or distribution needs.

Check out Passport’s website or contact us for more information.

Outgrowing Your Accounting Software?

Is your Accounting Software Lacking Security, Slow to React, has Limited Detail Information, or is More Frustrating then Helpful?

You may be outgrowing your Accounting Software!

Whether a start-up or a small business, an organization or a mid-large size corporation, accounting software is an essential and crucial mainframe to a fully functional system.  As such, evaluating your business’s growing needs both presently and futuristic, is both advantageous and a time saving strategy.  Time is Money as they say, and by providing a solid start, one will save both in the long term , but choosing the ‘Right One‘ can be a daunting task.

At Herstek & Associates, we offer a full range of Accounting Software Packages and Services, including but not limited to Custom Accounting Software, Sage, Real World, Passport, and Quickbooks, as a Certified ProAdvisor. If you would like to find out more about how to save your business, Time, Productivity, Storage, Vendor Relation, and Security Woes,  Contact Us and we will help you find a custom solution.