When Dave Letterman went off the air in 2014, the nightly Top 10 List went with him. But years later, it remains one of my all-time favorite late-night segments.
So, in honor of Letterman, here are the Top 10 IT myths, half-truths, and aha moments to keep in mind as you plan for 2019.
#10: Macs Don’t Get Viruses
This is a long-standing myth we should bust as 2019 approaches. The truth is that Windows users experience more infections because the vast majority of machines run Windows software. Because the potential pool of victims is so much deeper, attackers target more threats at Windows software.
But that doesn’t mean Macs are invulnerable. All it takes is a quick Google search to find many documented incidents in which a business was compromised by Mac viruses and malware.
Without antivirus software, you risk hours of lost productivity if a Mac becomes infected. And worse, some viruses can kick start attacks that are just as bad as natural disasters. Your whole network could go down, forcing you to miss out on significant revenue and potentially leading to compliance penalties if you broke HIPAA, PCI DSS, or other regulatory guidelines.
There are plenty of vendors that offer both Windows and Mac antivirus. Don’t get caught without them.
#9: Antivirus Is Enough to Defend Against Computer Infections
Despite what you might think, antivirus alone won’t protect your machines against ransomware and other types of malicious infections. Heading into 2019, you want your security strategy to look more like an onion, instead.
Comprehensive security requires multiple layers. You need a firewall to prevent infections before they hit your network. Up-to-date machines that remain patched for new vulnerabilities. Additional tools like antivirus and anti-malware to identify anomalies in traffic patterns. Content filtering tools to proactively sweep for infections that might occur due to web threats. And you need regular backups to give you a recovery point in the event that an attack makes it past all of these defenses.
Antivirus is important, but it’s just one layer of the cybersecurity onion.
#8: Password-Protected Networks Are Safe from Hackers
It’s a myth that simply having a password protecting your network will keep you safe from hackers. Those passwords also have to meet strict criteria to ensure security.
That means not having your password by “password.” Even in 2018, you can look up lists of the most-hacked passwords and find that people still use basic terms and as cliche protections.
When you have strong passwords in place, you can start paying attention to user behavior to spot anomalies that could indicate malicious activity. If an employee who works Monday through Friday, 8am to 5pm, suddenly logs on at midnight on a Saturday, you know it’s possible that a serious attack is taking.
This proactive pattern analysis is how we keep clients safe. And it starts with strong passwords.
#7: Keeping Laptops Plugged into the Source Ruins the Battery
This one isn’t a myth so much as a half-truth. It’s true that prolonged charging can have a negative impact on your battery. But it’s not because of overcharging.
Charging a laptop battery generates a constant stream of heat. And while that’s not a problem intermittently, a prolonged period of time plugged into the source can overheat the battery and other internal components.
Be mindful of how long you’re leaving machines plugged in. Not for fear of overcharging, but to limit heat that could harm your laptop.
#6: Cloud-Based Services Guarantee Regulatory Compliance
Just because you’ve signed up for a cloud service that says it’s compliant doesn’t mean you’re in line with necessary regulatory guidelines.
When a cloud-based service provider’s website says they are compliant with a certain standard, it only means their employees can’t access your data and that their data centers went through a checklist for compliance.
That’s helpful, but it doesn’t mean your company’s use of the cloud service is compliant. Connectivity, availability, access, and physical protection within your organization all roll into compliance—in addition to the measures a cloud-based service provider takes.
Don’t blindly trust a service provider’s website when it claims compliance. Go through the necessary steps to adhere to regulatory guidelines within your organization.
#5: The Cloud Isn’t Secure
It’s a myth that not being able to physically see and control cloud servers means the cloud isn’t secure.
Generally speaking, cloud computing is much safer than aging servers that exist under an office desk. Cloud service providers have to go to great lengths to guarantee data protection. That means they have enterprise-grade security measures on digital systems in addition to strict physical protections.
Despite the control that on-premises systems provide, attackers often face a steeper climb to compromise data stored with cloud service providers.
However, cloud service providers don’t enable you to take a set-it-and-forget-it approach to security. They may have failover and redundancy protections in place to guarantee availability. But you won’t get malicious attack protection or safeguards against file storage mishaps. Beyond the uptime that cloud providers offer, you can trust additional security measures to IT service providers.
#4: Time and Material Is the Most Cost-Efficient Way to Bill IT Services
So many IT service providers take a reactive approach for clients with a time and materials (T&M) model.
At first glance, it seems like you’ll save money with T&M billing because you’re only paying for service you require. In reality, the reactive model leads to more emergency requests and variability in the billing process.
A proactive, fixed-fee model is more cost-efficient and also more capable of protecting your business. It’s like taking care of your car. You wouldn’t drive 50,000+ miles without getting an oil change—they’re necessary to keep the car running. With a proactive, flat-fee IT service model, you’re getting exactly the attention necessary to keep your employees working.
#3: Browsing in Private Mode Means You’re Truly Anonymous
Whatever version of the incognito mode you use on your browser, it’s a myth that the mode keeps your activity hidden and anonymous.
All private browsing does is keep your machine from tracking the activity in a given internet session. The traffic itself isn’t private to your internet service provider—or your IT department.
Make sure that your private browsing is done on your time.
#2: Only Teenagers Play Video Games
Don’t get caught thinking that teens are the only ones playing video games. Your employees might be playing more games while on the job than you might think.
Some of these facts and figures caught me by surprise. The average age of a gamer in the United States is 35. And just 25% of the gaming population is under 18 years old.
The stereotype might skew your expectations toward men as gamers, but the gamer population is actually 59% male and 41% female.
What this really means is that the digital distractions that exist in our personal lives also exist in your workplace. If it’s a problem, you need the right content filtering strategy in place to maximize productivity.
#1: Parents Just Don’t Understand
Let’s not get entrenched in the thoughts of the philosophy of The Fresh Prince. When we’re kids, it seems like parents just don’t understand. But looking back, they really do.
I know this now as the father of a 14-year-old freshman. When my wife and I get into arguments with him, it reminds me of being a kid and thinking that my parents just didn’t understand. Now, I can see that parents probably understand more than kids think.
It doesn’t matter what generation of employees or what new wave of technology we’re talking about. We all understand a bit more than others might expect.
What to Do Before 2019
None of these myths and half-truths have to derail the security or productivity of your business. All it takes is a willingness to proactively address gaps in your thinking and your security strategies.
However, spotting those gaps and finding the time and resources to fill them can be a significant challenge. That’s where we can help. We believe that every challenge begins with a technology plan to help you think through how you will leverage IT to do more with fewer dollars and resources; to help you save money over time in terms of your IT spend and most importantly, to help you avoid surprises that can bring down operations or keep you from being more competitive and profitable. To help, we have included a 2019 Technology Planning Guide. This simple 3 step process will help you think through your technology needs, spend and resources. You owe it to yourself and your team to equip them for success in the new year.