A server fails.

A workstation gets infected.

The Internet goes down.

Your company has probably experienced at least one of these problems, and you’re painfully aware of the associated costs. What you may not be aware of, however, is the many, little decisions you make daily—deliberately or unwittingly—that slowly eat away at your budget and may snowball into costly IT nightmares.

In this article, I’ll give you some insight into a sample of these hidden mistakes that take a toll on your company and what steps you may take to help you avoid them.

1) Using Unsupported Software or Hardware Because “It still works.”

Continuing to work with a piece of outdated or unsupported software—particularly one that your business depends on to function—is like cutting with a dull knife. Yes, it can work but it’ll take longer, make a mess, and become a serious problem if it stops working altogether. This cuts down on your company’s efficiency and increases the chances for downtime.

Solution: Be aware of “End of Life” cycles, support contracts, warranties, and licenses for all your hardware and software and plan ahead to either keep your assets up-to-date or replace them before they slow down your business or bring it to a halt.

2) Ignoring Updates for Software and Operating Systems.

Not having the latest security patches and hotfixes means more time spent fixing hacks and malware infections and less time producing or worse, they can mean catastrophic data loss which may take a long time and a lot of money to fix. Even firmware upgrades for your routers, access points, and switches are extremely important, especially today, with the recent discovery of new wireless vulnerabilities.

Solution: Take advantage of automatic software update as much as possible—even for programs that seem inconsequential like a PDF reader—but keep in mind that without a proper update approval or rollback policy in place, you could run into problems if the updates themselves have bugs.

3) Doing Backups Manually.

Whether it’s switching tapes, making a manual backup through your software, or simply making a copy of a file, this is time spent not producing. Worse yet, without the proper policies and technology in place, you may find that all that time was wasted, and your backups may be unusable during a disaster.

Solution: Use automation as much as possible to backup and verify your critical and non-critical data on-site and on the cloud. Deduplication, encryption, and shadow copy technologies can help your company securely and quickly maintain proper, restorable backups of your data and minimize 

4) Not Managing Your Company’s Bandwidth.

Allowing all internet traffic to flow freely may mean that your business’ most important functions are getting the short end of the stick. VoIP phone call quality may be degraded, or calls may be dropped, meaning lost customers. Your cloud services may also have to wait longer in queue, keeping your employees waiting to do their job.

Solution: Setup your router and switches with proper quality-of-service and packet shaping technology to prioritize your most vital operations.

5) Having Unrestricted Internet Access.

Having the most disciplined employees in the world doesn’t save you from this common mistake. Unrestricted access means that your employees could inadvertently access a phishing site or expose private company data. Even misspelling a common website name could spell trouble for your company.

Solution: Make sure to use content filtering solutions on an up-to-date firewall or UTM solution to limit access to known phishing, scam, and hacked websites.

6) Buying Consumer-Grade Hardware and Software.

Thinking you can get away with buying an off-the-shelf router or computer at the same place you buy your hot dogs is a recipe for disaster. The money you’ve saved up front will pale in comparison to that lost by underperformance and limited support.

Solution: Quite simply, don’t cut corners on the equipment that runs your business by partnering with companies that can leverage industry-leading technology to bring you the value for your budget.

7) Not Properly Setting Up Antivirus.

Just because the computer you bought came with antivirus software doesn’t mean that it’s the right solution or that it will work efficiently.  It could be slowing down your computer, killing productivity, and still may not even stop critical threats.

Solution: To make sure that your employees aren’t being slowed down by your antivirus and that it’s doing its job, verify what is being scanned and that it is scheduled to do full computer scans outside of business hours. In addition, scanning portable storage devices such as USB drives is vital, if you want to stop employees from bringing in external threats.

8) Not Having Centralized Management.

“I forgot my password.” “The printer needs to be set up.” “I need access to these documents.” These all translate to: “I can’t do my job,” and it cuts down on your employees’ productivity and your IT budget to resolve them.

Solution: Set up a domain controller with proper policies for shared network drives and printers as well as centralized management which will make adding or removing users or resetting password a snap.

9) Believing Network Security Is Just a Checklist.

Most business owners believe that security is simply a byproduct of having all the right “parts” in place. While the individual components for network security are important, of course, what matters is how well they integrate and work together. In the same way we wouldn’t expect a state-of-the-art motion sensor to be of any use without the proper set of connections, security system, monitoring, and alerting methods in place.

Solution: Make sure that all elements in your network security infrastructure are integrated seamlessly and complement each other while providing you with up-to-date information on the health of your network and alerting you to any possible or ongoing problem immediately.

10) Thinking You’re Too Small.

Quite possibly the biggest mistake businesses make daily is thinking that they’re “too small.”

Too small for smart network security.
Too small for redundant backups.
Too small for a properly managed network.
Too small to receive the benefits that companies with larger budgets receive.

Solution: The reality is that technology coupled with a deep understanding of business processes can allow even the smallest business to achieve enterprise-level effectiveness. This is where Blackland Technologies can help you succeed in avoiding the common pitfalls of smaller and even larger companies.