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The Future of AI

How AI is transforming small businesses

In the ever-evolving landscape of technology, Artificial Intelligence (AI) stands out as a game-changer, reshaping the way businesses operate and service customers. The latest advancements in AI are poised to unlock unprecedented opportunities for growth, efficiency, and competitiveness. Here are just some of the ways we’ve seen AI already making a significant impact on how small companies are doing business.

Chatbots and Virtual Assistants

Customer engagement has reached new heights with the integration of AI-powered chatbots and virtual assistants. These intelligent systems are capable of providing instant support, answering queries, and even facilitating transactions. Small businesses are embracing chatbots to enhance customer service, reduce response times, and ensure a seamless online experience.

Automation and Robotics

AI-driven automation is streamlining workflows and reducing manual tasks for small businesses. From routine administrative processes to complex manufacturing operations, robotic systems powered by AI are enhancing efficiency and productivity. This not only saves time but also allows employees to focus on more strategic, creative, and value-driven tasks.

Personalization and Customer Experience

AI is enabling small businesses to deliver personalized experiences to their customers. Advanced algorithms analyze user preferences, behaviors, and historical data to tailor product recommendations, marketing messages, and service offerings. This personal touch not only enhances customer satisfaction but also strengthens brand loyalty.

Cybersecurity and Fraud Detection

The need for robust cybersecurity measures is more important than ever. AI is playing a crucial role in identifying and mitigating cybersecurity threats. Small businesses can now deploy AI-driven systems that continuously monitor network activities, detect anomalies, and preemptively respond to potential security breaches, safeguarding sensitive data.

Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR)

AI is joining forces with AR and VR to create immersive experiences that go beyond entertainment. Small businesses are exploring applications in training, product visualization, and virtual collaboration. For instance, AI-powered AR applications can offer real-time guidance for technicians, while VR environments facilitate remote collaboration and training sessions.

The future of AI holds immense promise for small businesses, offering a multitude of opportunities to optimize and thrive in an increasingly competitive market. From stronger security to virtual assistants, AI is reshaping the business landscape, empowering small enterprises to do business better. 

ICC can help you navigate this exciting era of technological advancement. Contact us to learn how your business can leverage the transformative power of AI.

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February 14, 2024

artificial intelligence

Working Remotely

Essential Tools for Team Collaboration

In the rapidly evolving landscape of the modern workplace, working remotely has become standard and acceptable among businesses. Whether your team is scattered across different locations or working from the comfort of their homes, the right tools can make all the difference in fostering teamwork and good communication no matter where they are. Here are a few essential tools that businesses can leverage to enhance their remote efforts.

Project Management Software

Keeping track of tasks, deadlines, and project progress is crucial for remote teams. Project management tools like Asana and Trello enable teams to organize work, assign tasks, and monitor progress on projects in real time. These platforms streamline workflows and ensure everyone is on the same page regardless of their physical location.

Virtual Whiteboarding Tools

Replicating the collaborative nature of in-person meetings can be challenging, but virtual whiteboarding tools like Miro and MURAL make it possible. These platforms allow teams to brainstorm, draw diagrams, and collaborate visually just as they would in person.

Cloud Storage Solutions

In a remote work setup, accessing and sharing files seamlessly is vital. Cloud storage solutions like Dropbox, Google Drive, and OneDrive provide secure and easily accessible storage for documents, presentations, and other files. These cloud-based platforms enable team members to work on documents simultaneously, track changes, and ensure that everyone has access to the latest version. This eliminates the need for sending multiple file versions back and forth.

Video Conferencing Platforms

Effective communication is at the heart of successful collaboration. Video conferencing platforms like Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and Google Meet have become indispensable tools for conducting virtual meetings. These platforms provide features such as video calls, screen sharing, and chat functionalities, helping team members connect effectively.

Virtual Private Networks (VPNs)

Security is a top priority for remote collaboration. Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) like SonicWall Netextender VPN ensure that data transmission is secure, protecting sensitive information from potential threats. This is especially crucial when team members are accessing company resources from various locations.

The shift towards remote work is here to stay. ICC can help your business evolve to efficiently work remotely with product recommendations and installation. By embracing video conferencing, project management, cloud storage, and other essential tools, teams can not only enhance productivity but also maintain a sense of unity and connectivity despite physical distances. Contact us to upgrade your remote capabilities.

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February 1, 2024

technology

Unleash the Power of Cloud Computing

In the rapidly evolving landscape of technology, businesses are continually seeking innovative solutions to enhance efficiency, scalability, and overall performance. One such force that has revolutionized the way organizations operate is cloud computing. Cloud computing has emerged as a game-changer, offering a variety of benefits that empower businesses to thrive.

Cost Efficiency:

Traditional IT infrastructure often requires substantial upfront hardware, software, and maintenance investments. Cloud computing eliminates the need for such upfront expenses, allowing businesses to pay for only the resources they consume on a pay-as-you-go model based on actual usage.

Global Accessibility:

The cloud enables teams to collaborate seamlessly, regardless of their physical location. With data and applications hosted in the cloud, employees can access files from anywhere, anytime, and on any device with an internet connection. This global accessibility fosters a collaborative and agile work environment, fostering communication and boosting overall productivity.

Enhanced Security Measures:

Contrary to common misconceptions, cloud computing offers robust security measures that often surpass those of traditional on-premises systems. Reputable cloud service providers invest heavily in security protocols, data encryption, and regular audits to protect sensitive information. Businesses can benefit from a higher level of security expertise and advanced threat detection capabilities by entrusting their data to specialized cloud providers.

Automatic Updates and Maintenance:

Maintaining and updating software and infrastructure can be a time-consuming and resource-intensive task. Cloud computing providers handle these responsibilities, ensuring users have access to the latest features, security patches, and improvements without manual intervention. 

Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity:

Cloud computing offers substantial disaster recovery solutions, safeguarding businesses against data loss and downtime. With data stored in the cloud, businesses can quickly recover from unexpected events such as natural disasters, cyberattacks, or hardware failures. This ensures business continuity, minimizing the impact of disruptions on operations.

The benefits of cloud computing are redefining the way businesses operate, providing a competitive edge in an increasingly digital and fast-paced world. Let our ICC experts assess if cloud services make sense for your business. We’ll do a careful analysis of your organization’s needs and make a recommendation. Learn more about our cloud-based services here. To get started, give us a call at 970-419-0602.

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January 17, 2024

cloud

National Clean Up Your Computer Month

Happy New Year! With the New Year comes the nudge to declutter and organize – and that includes our virtual spaces. In fact, January is National Clean Up Your Computer Month. It’s the perfect opportunity to declutter your digital realm, ensuring that your computer operates at its peak performance. A well-maintained computer not only runs more smoothly but also enhances your overall digital experience. Here are some tips to help keep your computer clean and well-managed.

Organize Files:

Start by decluttering your files and categorizing them into folders. Create a systematic structure that makes it easy to find what you need when you need it. Consider creating folders for documents, pictures, videos, and other file types. Regularly review and delete unnecessary files to free up valuable storage space.

Organize Your Desktop:

A cluttered desktop can affect your computer's performance and make it challenging to find essential files. Keep your desktop tidy by organizing icons into folders and removing unnecessary shortcuts. This small but effective step can contribute to a more organized and efficient workspace.

Run Disk Cleanup and Optimize Storage:

Performing a disk cleanup helps to remove temporary files, system files, and other unnecessary items that accumulate over time. This not only frees up disk space but can also improve your computer's speed. Additionally, optimize your storage by moving large files to external drives or cloud storage, keeping your computer running smoothly.

Update Your Operating System and Software:

Ensure your operating system and software are up to date. Regular updates often include important security patches and performance enhancements. Set your system and applications to update automatically to stay protected against potential security threats and ensure optimal performance.

Manage Startup Programs:

Review and manage the programs that launch at startup. Many applications automatically configure themselves to start when your computer boots up, which can slow down the startup process. Disable unnecessary startup programs to streamline your computer's boot time and overall performance.

National Clean Up Your Computer Month serves as a reminder to invest time in maintaining your digital space. ICC can assist in incorporating these, and other methods, into your IT routine to ensure that your whole operating system remains clean, orderly and operates at its best. A well-cared-for computer not only enhances productivity but also provides a more enjoyable and stress-free computing experience. Add ICC to your business resolutions this New Year. Give us a call at 970-419-0602.

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January 3, 2024

computer, software

Say Goodbye to Spam Calls: Effective Ways to Block Unwanted Callers

Spam calls have become an irritating and persistent problem for smartphone users around the world. These unsolicited calls, often promoting scams or telemarketing schemes, can disrupt your day and compromise your privacy. Fortunately, there are several strategies you can employ to block spam callers and regain control of your phone. Here are some effective ways to thwart those nuisance calls.

Enable Built-In Call Blocking Features

Most smartphones come equipped with built-in call-blocking features that allow you to filter and block unwanted calls. You can access these features in your phone's settings menu. 

               Go to Settings > Phone > Call Blocking & Identification

               Add numbers or contacts to your block list

                Open your Phone app

                Tap the three-dot menu, go to Settings, and select Block numbers

               Add the numbers you want to block

Use Third-Party Call Blocking Apps

If your built-in call blocking features don't provide the level of control you desire, you can consider using third-party call blocking apps. Some popular options include Truecaller, Nomorobo, and Hiya. These apps typically offer more advanced features, such as community-based spam call reporting and blocking and personal block lists.

Register for the National Do Not Call Registry

The National Do Not Call Registry allows you to opt out of receiving unsolicited telemarketing calls in the United States. You can register your phone number for free on their website. While this won't eliminate all spam calls, it can significantly reduce the number of unwanted marketing calls you receive.

Set Your Phone to Do Not Disturb

By enabling the "Do Not Disturb" mode on your phone, you can silence all incoming calls and notifications from unknown or blocked numbers. This is a great way to ensure that spam callers don't disturb you, especially during your sleep hours or important meetings. You can customize settings to allow calls from your contacts to come through.

Avoid Answering Unfamiliar Numbers

One of the simplest strategies to avoid unwanted callers is to avoid answering calls from numbers you don't recognize. If it's a legitimate call, the caller usually leaves a voicemail or text. By ignoring unknown numbers, you can minimize the chances of engaging with spammers, and they’ll eventually stop calling.

Report Spam Calls

Help the community combat spam callers by reporting unwanted calls to your mobile carrier or the appropriate government agency. In the United States, you can report spam calls to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) by visiting their website or using their "FTC Complaint Assistant."

Blocking spam callers is essential for maintaining your phone's functionality and your peace of mind. ICC can assist with mobile application installation on devices, educate staff on avoiding spammers, and advise on how to keep your communications systems safe and nuisance-free. Visit our website to look at our telecommunications services. To get started, call us at 970-419-0602.

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December 12, 2023

'Tis the Season for Online Scammers

Tips to Avoid Getting Scammed Over the Holidays

The holiday season is a time of joy, giving, and celebration. However, it's also a prime season for scammers to take advantage of the festive spirit and catch unsuspecting victims off guard. We understand the importance of staying safe online, especially during the holidays. Here are some valuable tips to help you avoid falling victim to scams and protect your personal and financial information.

Be Wary of Phishing Emails

One of the most common tactics scammers use during the holiday season, these emails often disguise themselves as shipping notifications, gift card offers, or charitable donation requests. Be cautious when clicking on links or downloading attachments from unfamiliar sources. Always verify the sender's email address and look for any red flags, such as spelling errors or unusual requests.

Shop from Trusted Websites

Stick to well-known and reputable websites when shopping online for gifts. Look for the "https://" in the URL and a padlock icon in the address bar, which indicates a secure connection. 

Use Strong, Unique Passwords

Consider using a password manager to generate and store complex passwords for each of your accounts. Avoid using the same password across multiple sites to minimize the risk of a data breach affecting multiple accounts.

Be Cautious with Public WiFi

Avoid conducting sensitive transactions or accessing personal information while connected to public WiFi networks. Scammers can easily intercept data on these networks. If you must use public WiFi, consider using a VPN (Virtual Private Network) to encrypt your connection.

Verify Charity Requests

Many scammers pose as charitable organizations seeking donations during the holiday season. Before contributing, research the charity to ensure it's legitimate. Use trusted websites like Charity Navigator or the Better Business Bureau's Wise Giving Alliance to verify the charity's authenticity.

The holiday season should be a time of joy and celebration, and that can certainly be ruined if someone gets a hold of your financial information. By following these tips and staying vigilant, you can protect yourself and your loved ones from cybercriminals who seek to exploit the festive season for their gain. Visit our other blog posts for more ideas on keeping your financial information safe and secure. Happy holidays!

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November 20, 2023

scamming

A Checklist for Updating Software Office Policies

Important Steps for Software Security

At ICC, we're committed to providing cutting-edge tech solutions while ensuring a secure software environment for your organization. With the ever-evolving tech landscape, updating your software office policies to align with best practices and address potential security risks is essential. In this checklist, we'll guide you through the process of updating your software office policies, leveraging the power of Microsoft's Software Restriction Policies (SRPs), and educating your staff on software security and usage.

Identify Key Personnel:

Begin by assembling a dedicated team responsible for updating and implementing your software office policies. This team may consist of IT experts, managers, and tech-savvy employees who can facilitate policy changes and educate others.

Review Current Policies:

Thoroughly review your existing software office policies. Ensure they are comprehensive, up to date, and address your organization's specific needs. A clear understanding of your current policies is crucial before making revisions.

Update Software Whitelists and Blacklists:

Leverage Microsoft's Software Restriction Policies to update your whitelists (approved applications) and blacklists (restricted applications). This step helps you maintain strict control over what software can run on your systems, reducing the risk of unverified applications compromising your security.

Assess Risk Factors:

Identify potential security risks and vulnerabilities associated with software usage in your organization. Factors to consider include software sources, malware threats, and the protection of sensitive data.

Educate Your Staff:

Properly educate your staff on software security and usage to foster a more secure environment. Key training areas may include:

  • Recognizing and avoiding phishing emails and malicious software.
  • The importance of regularly updating software to address vulnerabilities.
  • Guidelines for downloading and installing new software.
  • Secure password management practices.
  • Risks associated with using personal devices for work-related tasks.

Define Clear Procedures:

Clearly define procedures for reporting security incidents, such as data breaches or suspicious software behavior. Encourage employees to promptly report any issues to your IT department.

Monitor and Update:

Software office policies should remain flexible and adaptable. Regularly monitor your software environment, keeping an eye out for new security threats and necessary software updates. Update your policies accordingly.

Document Everything:

Create a comprehensive policy manual that documents all your software office policies. Ensure that this manual is readily accessible to all employees.

Regular Audits:

Conduct routine audits to confirm policy compliance and to identify any potential gaps in your security measures.

Seek Professional Assistance:

Consider seeking professional assistance when facing complex software issues. An IT consultant or security expert can provide valuable insights and tailor your policies to your organization's specific needs.

Updating your software office policies is vital to maintaining a secure and efficient work environment. By systematically educating your staff and staying informed about emerging security threats, you can ensure that your organization remains resilient against software-related challenges. At ICC, we are dedicated to providing robust tech solutions and assisting you in addressing complex software issues. Feel free to reach out to our experts when you need professional guidance. Your software security is our priority, and we're always ready to answer your call.

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October 18, 2023

software

Celebrating Cybersecurity Awareness Month

Protecting Your Business with ICC

In 1998, ICC embarked on a journey to transform from a "Break-Fix" IT service provider into a full-service IT support and cybersecurity protection company. With over 20 years in the industry, ICC is a trusted partner for over 160 businesses in Northern Colorado. As we celebrate Cybersecurity Month this October, let's delve into how ICC's proactive business model and comprehensive services can help your business navigate the ever-evolving landscape of IT and cybersecurity.

Our Commitment: Peace of Mind through Cybersecurity

At ICC, our mission is clear - to provide peace of mind by safeguarding your business against cybersecurity threats and downtime. We understand that your business's IT needs require professional attention. Our small but dedicated team of hand-picked technicians and support staff is here to serve you.

IT Support and Contract Services

Investing in IT requires careful planning and execution to ensure you get the best value. ICC offers a comprehensive approach that covers consulting, acquisition, implementation, and support. We're not just an IT service provider; we're your trusted business partner, committed to securing your operations.

Managed Services: Proactive IT Management

Our monthly managed service agreement is designed to ensure your systems operate seamlessly and your costs remain predictable. This proactive approach allows us to monitor your systems continuously. Our expert team is ready to resolve issues promptly so you can return to business as usual. Our flat-rate managed services program, Catapult, provides a range of services for a fixed monthly fee, helping you maintain IT efficiency and stay ahead of potential problems.

IT Cloud Hosting Services

Choosing the right solutions is crucial as the business world shifts towards cloud services. ICC understands the nuances between cloud services and offers guidance based on your organization's unique requirements. We'll ensure you leverage the cost and convenience of cloud services that align with your needs.

Phone Systems and VoIP

In a world where remote work is increasingly prevalent, reliable communication systems are vital. ICC assists with traditional phone systems and VoIP, carefully considering your specific requirements and installation needs. Whether it's secure video conferencing, chat solutions, or traditional business phone systems, we'll help you make the right choice for your business.

Hardware: Quality and Security

At ICC, we prioritize your business needs and cybersecurity when recommending products. With strong partnerships with leading industry distributors and years of experience, we offer high-quality IT equipment. Our experts can assist with installation, implementation, management, and maintenance, ensuring your hardware operates smoothly and securely.

Software: Tailored Recommendations

Choosing the right software for your business can be a complex task. ICC acts as your technical liaison, working with third-party software vendors and recommending solutions that align with your business objectives. Our highly trained professionals ensure your software and data storage remain robust and reliable, safeguarding your critical data.

Cabling and Infrastructure: Building the Foundation

A robust and worry-free network starts with a solid infrastructure. ICC provides comprehensive support, including data and voice cabling, firewall, and switches. Whether establishing a new office or upgrading your existing systems, our experts offer valuable insights to enhance your cabling and infrastructure projects.

Professional IT Audits: Ensuring Scalability and Security

Is your business growing? Are you confident your IT infrastructure can scale with you? ICC conducts professional IT audits to assess the health and reliability of your infrastructure. We provide insights into your current IT status and identify areas for improvement, ensuring you have peace of mind that your data is safe and that your IT support is in expert hands.

This Cybersecurity Month, ICC stands by its commitment to protect your business from evolving threats. With a proactive approach to IT management, comprehensive services, and a focus on cybersecurity, we're here to provide you with peace of mind, ensuring your business remains secure and operational. If you're ready to take the next step in protecting your business, reach out to us today. Your cybersecurity journey begins here.

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October 2, 2023

Cybersecurity

Why Your Company Should Consider VoIP

Why your company should consider VoIP

A VoIP phone system can be a very effective and cost-efficient tool for small businesses. VoIP, which stands for Voice over Internet Protocol, is a type of phone system that uses a high-speed internet connection to make and receive calls. VoIP converts your voice into data that is transmitted over the internet, and then decoded by the recipient’s phone.  Just as you would with a traditional landline phone, you need to have a phone carrier – known as a VoIP service provider – in addition to your internet service provider.  

Let’s look at the advantages VoIP has over traditional phone service.

Flexible service

Unlike a traditional phone line that is hardwired into a physical location, a VoIP phone is not limited to a specific location. As long as you have a VoIP provider, it will work on your computer – or any mobile app – and you can take it wherever you go. 

More features

VoIP offers many benefits that might not be available (or are expensive) on a landline system, like email voicemail notifications, video conferencing, call forwarding or on-hold music. Such advanced features can keep your staff running more efficiently, while also offering clients better customer service.

Greater Available Security

A VoIP system gives you more options to increase security. Many VoIP system providers offer two-factor authentication for calls, SPAM call blocking and end-to-end encryption to prevent eavesdropping. A properly configured VoIP system can give you a more secure phone system, which is ideal if you are receiving personal information over the phone from clients.

Cost-efficient

VoIP immediately eliminates setup costs such as equipment and installation that landline phones require. Additionally, since you don’t need separate data and voice services, you are consolidating costs. Businesses that make international calls will also see savings from having a virtual phone number.

Overall, a VoIP system can help your team be more productive and enhance your client communication. We would be happy to answer any questions, help you assess the benefits of switching to a VoIP system, and decide if it is right for your company.  If you choose to move forward with VoIP, ICC has the expertise and capabilities to get you on board and make the transition easy. And we’re always here to help! 

Learn more about our VoIP services here. To schedule a consultation, please call us at 970-419-0602.

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September 12, 2023

IT Services, IT News

The Significance of Two-Factor Authentication for Your Business

In today's digital age, businesses rely heavily on networked systems and online platforms to operate efficiently. However, this increased connectivity also exposes businesses to various cybersecurity threats. To safeguard sensitive data and protect the integrity of your business's network, implementing two-factor authentication (2FA) is crucial.

 

Understanding Two-Factor Authentication: Two-factor authentication, also known as multi-factor authentication (MFA), is a security mechanism that requires users to provide two distinct authentication factors to gain access to a network or system. These factors typically fall into three categories: something you know, something you have, and something you are.

 

Something you know: This factor encompasses information known only to the user, such as a password, passphrase, or PIN.

 

Something you have: This factor involves a physical item possessed by the user, such as a hardware token, smart card, or smartphone, that generates a unique authentication code.

 

Something you are: This factor relies on a biometric characteristic of the user, such as a fingerprint, facial recognition, or voice recognition.

 

Importance of Two-Factor Authentication for Network Security:

 

Stronger Access Control: Implementing 2FA strengthens access control measures by requiring users to provide additional authentication factors. This makes it significantly more challenging for unauthorized individuals to access your business's network, even if they manage to acquire or guess passwords.

 

Mitigating Password-Related Risks: Password-related vulnerabilities, such as weak passwords or password reuse, are common targets for cybercriminals. Two-factor authentication acts as an additional layer of protection, reducing the risk of unauthorized access even if passwords are compromised.

 

Defense Against Phishing and Social Engineering Attacks: Phishing attacks, where attackers trick individuals into revealing their login credentials, remain a prevalent threat. With 2FA in place, even if an employee unknowingly provides their password in response to a phishing attempt, the attacker would still require the second authentication factor, thwarting their unauthorized access attempts.

 

Safeguarding Remote Access: Securing remote access to your business's network is crucial as remote work becomes increasingly common. Two-factor authentication adds an extra level of security, ensuring that only authorized users can connect to the network remotely.

 

Compliance with Regulatory Requirements: Many industry regulations and data protection laws require businesses to implement strong security measures, including multi-factor authentication, to safeguard sensitive data. Adhering to these requirements protects your business, ensures compliance, and mitigates potential legal and financial consequences.

 

Incident Response and Forensic Investigations: In the event of a security incident or breach, having 2FA in place can aid in forensic investigations by providing an additional layer of accountability. It helps track and trace authentication attempts, contributing to incident response efforts and identifying potential vulnerabilities.

 

Educating Employees on 2FA: Educating employees about the importance of 2FA and how to use it correctly is essential for successful implementation. Conduct regular training sessions that cover the following:

 

Explanation of 2FA: Educate employees about the concept and benefits of 2FA, emphasizing its role in protecting both their accounts and the company's data.

 

How to Set Up 2FA: Provide step-by-step guidance on enabling 2FA on various platforms and applications used within the organization.

 

Best Practices: Promote good security practices, such as not sharing authentication factors, choosing strong passwords, and promptly reporting suspicious activity.

 

Conducting Regular Testing: Testing the effectiveness of 2FA within your business is crucial to identify potential vulnerabilities. Regularly assess your security measures by:

 

Simulating Phishing Attacks: Conduct simulated phishing campaigns to test how well employees identify and respond to phishing attempts. This will highlight areas that require additional training.

 

Performing Security Audits: Regularly audit your systems and network to identify potential weaknesses or unauthorized access attempts.

 

Securing your business's network is of utmost importance in the face of evolving cybersecurity threats. Implementing two-factor authentication as part of your network security strategy significantly strengthens access control, mitigates password-related risks, and defends against phishing and social engineering attacks. By leveraging 2FA, you enhance your network security posture, comply with regulations, and protect your business's sensitive data and assets from unauthorized access. ICC can help you execute different ways to protect your employees from getting hacked. Our defense strategy includes network security, email security, security patches and updates, backups, education and testing, and quarterly cybersecurity reviews to boost your defenses against cybercriminals and lost data.

 

If you are missing one piece of the pie, you may be putting your business at risk and could be faced with significant business disruption and financial loss. To get started, call us at 970-419-0602.

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August 15, 2023

Network Security

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