Registering Your New Domain Is Easy with Our Tool

how to register your website domain_now it connects

Registering your company’s domain is the crucial first step toward setting up a new website. But choosing a domain provider can be confusing. That’s why Now IT Connects offers domain registration right on our website. Get up and running in just a few easy steps.

1. Come Up with a Great Name

The best name for your domain is one that is easy for both your audience and Google to understand. Choose a name that is simple and easy to remember. Your best option is to simply use your company name.

2. Use Our Domain Registration Tool

Once you’ve settled on a name for your site, visit our domain registration site. There, you can search for and purchase your domain, web hosting, email, and other essential website tools.

3. Purchase Your Domain and Choose a Hosting Platform

To see if your first-choice domain is available, search for it with our tool. If it’s available, great! If not, make sure you have a couple of backup options. If the .com extension is available, we recommend going with that (unless you’re a nonprofit, in which case .org is a good option for you). Notice that the cost of the domain changes depending on the extension. Once you’ve made your decision, add your selection to the cart.

Then, click on “Hosting” in the top navigation bar to select a hosting environment for your domain. This is where your domain will live on the internet. cPanel is a popular choice, as is WordPress. Or, you may choose to host your domain on a dedicated, private server.

4. Add Not-So-Optional Extras

If all you’re interested in is the domain, you could check out at this point. However, we encourage you to consider purchasing some essential security tools first. An SSL certificate lets users who visit your site know you keep their data safe. Google considers SSL certification in its search results. Sites without an SSL certificate are ranked lower than sites with the certificate in place.

Website backup is another service we highly recommend. Don’t put a lot of time, effort, and money into a new site you are not planning to back up and keep safe. Website backup is affordable, automated, and provides a lot of peace of mind.

5. Purchase Email and Online Storage

Don’t forget to add email and online storage to your domain purchase. These services will allow you to send emails from your website domain (john@nowitconnects.com, for example) and add and remove email users with ease. Online storage is a good option for backing up files to the cloud and making it easy for your team to collaborate. Call Now IT Connects to learn more about your Microsoft 365 email and online storage options.

6. Get Online!

You’ve purchased your domain, hosting, SSL, backup, email, and storage. It’s time to get online! The next step is to design a beautiful, optimized website. There are several good DIY options, but we recommend calling in the pros to maximize your investment in your new website. For a recommendation or for help registering your domain, contact our team!


Despite Uncertainty, You Should Still Plan Now for 2021

2020 has been a challenging year, and the one thing we can all rely on is that life is unpredictable. But uncertainty is no reason to forgo 2021 planning. Your business will still need to maintain or update its hardware and software and be protected against cyber threats. Now is the perfect time to start thinking through your IT plan for the year.

Plan for Hardware and Software Updates

Your business’s hardware and software requires regular maintenance and updating. The Now IT Connects team can perform most of this maintenance remotely. But if it has been a few years since you’ve replaced your hardware or reviewed your software to see if it still serves your business, 2021 is the perfect time to assess your IT needs.

If your servers are older or if you still rely on old removal devices to protect your data, consider upgrading your hardware and moving your backup process to the cloud. New systems are faster, more reliable, and can process more data, while cloud backup can save you space in your server room and time switching removal devices, as well as improved peace of mind knowing your data is securely backed up in real time.

You likely also depend on a variety of software or web-based applications to run your business, including project management tools, accounting software, and inventory management applications. Unless you perform regular audits of your IT inventory, you may be missing out on new tools that could improve your team’s productivity and efficiency. In 2021, take a look at all of the systems you have in place at your business. If your list includes several programs that no longer serve you, or if none of your tools are integrated, give Now IT Connects a call.

Protect Your Business against Cyber Threats

This year, we’ve featured several blog posts from our partner Secure Net Pros. If cyber security is not a priority at your business, plan to make it one in 2021. Cyber attacks from bad actors will continue to threaten companies, with small businesses being especially vulnerable to cybercrime. If you do not have a cyber security plan in place for your business, we recommend connecting with the experts at Secure Net Pros.

Find a Trusted IT Partner

Finally, if you are managing the IT at your business all on your own, make 2021 the year you partner with a managed IT provider. Not only will you save hours of time, you’ll be able to rest easy knowing that your systems and data are maintained and protected. Contact the Now IT Connects team today to discover the possibilities.


Keeping Your Employee Email Safe

employee email safety_Now IT Connects

Email is one of the most powerful tools you have to stay connected to your team and customers. But because it is so essential to doing business, email is a very popular target for hackers and other bad actors. Here are a few email security tips from the Now IT Connects experts. Which ones will you implement today?

Email Security Tip 1: Encourage Strong Email Passwords

A strong password is an email account’s first line of defense. Encourage employees to set strong passwords and require them to change them every so often. Strong passwords use a combination of lowercase and uppercase letters, numbers, and special characters. They do not include personal information that could be looked up on social media.

To create very strong passwords, ask your employees to think of a memorable phrase (for example, “I Love Now IT Connects”). Then, shorten it to the first letter in each word (ILNIC). Next, add numbers in between each letter (I1L2N3I4C). Put an exclamation point at the end (I1L2N3I4C!), and you have a password that will be very difficult for hackers to guess.

Email Security Tip 2: Require a Secure Internet Connection

A strong password won’t protect an email account that is accessed on public WiFi or other unsecure internet connection. Unsecure networks are easily accessible by bad actors, leaving you and your employees exposed to all sorts of cybercrimes, including identity theft, malware, and ransomware attacks.

Work with your managed IT and network security team to secure your network with a combination of hardware, software, and employee education. Once you have the appropriate hardware and software in place, train your team on why it’s important to only access their email and work applications over a secure network. If they are working remotely at home or at a coffee shop, require them to use a Virtual Private Network, or VPN, that will make it nearly impossible for bad actors to find and gain access to your network.

Email Security Tip 3: Teach Email Smarts

Attacks on email are constantly evolving, which is why it’s important to provide regular employee training on new email threats and how to spot and prevent them. Phishing scams, for example, are becoming increasingly sophisticated. Phishing emails may look completely legitimate to an untrained eye or an employee in a rush. But clicking on a link, opening an attachment, or taking another action from a phishing email can create an IT disaster for your company. Train your employees on the types of cyber threats they may encounter. You can even hire Now IT Connects to test your employees with a fake phishing email.

Protecting your employees’ email keeps your entire network and company safe. Protect your data with robust email security. Contact Now IT Connects for expert email support.


Cloud-Based Spam Filtering with Now IT Connects

cloud-based spam protection_Now IT Connects

Malware and ransomware attacks are big business for bad actors. Dozens of high-profile ransomware attacks have already occurred this year. It’s more important than ever to understand this cyber threat and protect your network with cloud-based spam filtering.

Understanding Email Spam Threats

The most common and troublesome email spam threat in 2020 has been ransomware, a subset of malware. Malware is a program a bad actor puts on a computer, often by tricking an email recipient into downloading an attachment or installing fake antivirus software. Once downloaded, malware can wreak havoc on a computer or entire network.

The most devastating malware attack in recent years has been the ransomware attack. In these types of attacks, malware encrypts all the data on a network, holding it ransom until the network owner pays the hackers. Ransomware attacks are a big deal. Experts predict a business falls victim to a ransomware attack every 11 seconds. Collectively, ransomware attacks are estimated to cost $20 billion by 2021.

Step 1: Encrypt Your Email Data

Protecting your business from ransomware and other cyber attacks starts with a robust, cloud-based spam filtering tool. There are many choices on the market, and Now IT Connects can help you choose the right application for your business. The best cloud-based spam filtering tools encrypt your email data to protect it from the prying eyes of hackers and other bad actors. This makes it harder for cyber criminals to target your network and get their emails through to your employees’ inboxes.

Step 2: Detect and Neutralize Email Attacks

While encrypting your email data can prevent many malware attacks, hackers are constantly evolving their tactics, and some spam will make it through. Your cloud-based spam filter should quickly detect and neutralize these threats so your employees are never tricked into downloading malware onto your network.

Step 3: Continually Update Cloud-Based Spam Filtering

The best cloud-based spam filtering tools are continually learning and updating their protocols to constantly protect your email. This is where cloud-based spam filters outperform anti-malware software you may purchase and download. Since they are based in the cloud, they can be continually updated in real time with no action required on your part. If your spam filter is not cloud-based, you’ll have to remember to update it yourself.

Protecting your email and your employees from malware and ransomware attacks is an essential part of your cyber security plan. Now IT Connects can help you find the cloud-based spam filter that’s right for you and your team. Contact us today.


Disaster Planning for Your Business’s Network

network disaster planning

Time management guru Alan Lakein once said, “Planning is bringing the future into the present so that you can do something about it now.”

While the Now IT Connects team hopes that you never experience a network disaster at your business, chances are that you’ll have to respond to something unexpected at some point. Putting together a network disaster recovery plan can help you reduce the damage done to your business and help you get up and running faster.

Network Disaster Causes

While some disasters are results of fires or floods, most network disasters occur due to hardware failure, network attacks, or human error. It’s possible for even the best hardware to fail. When those failures occur in a vital piece of equipment, such as a router or modem, it can cascade that failure throughout your network. Other times, bad actors can gain access to your network through an unaddressed vulnerability and wreak havoc on your network. And human error can always cause a bad day at the office.

Identify Your Disaster Recovery Team

The first step in planning your network disaster recovery should be to identify the team that will be responsible for managing recovery tasks. This team should include staff from all departments so the plan accounts for every piece of technology and potential disruption a disaster would cause. Your disaster recover plan should assign specific tasks to each team member so everyone knows how to leap into action if a network disaster occurs.

Plan How You’ll Recover

In addition to identifying your disaster recovery team, your plan should include concrete steps that will get your business up and running as quickly as possible. Prioritize the steps you’ll take so you minimize disruptions and delays. Identify the essential operations you’ll need to get back up as soon as possible as well as the non-essential tasks that can wait a few hours or a few days to get back to normal.

A thorough disaster recovery plan articulates every detail about what is to be done in the event of a network disaster. Step-by-step plans allows your team to act swiftly without wasting precious time figuring out what to do next. The time spent planning your recovery will save you countless hours and frustration later.

Put a Prevention Plan into Place

As Lakein said, planning lets you take action now on future events. By investing in the time and effort to put together a disaster recovery plan, you should identify gaps in your current network infrastructure that you can fix now to possibly prevent a future disaster.

Your disaster recovery plan should include an inventory of all the hardware, software, and equipment at your business. This gives you an idea of the assets you have, what’s required to maintain and protect them, and any equipment that you should replace or upgrade to ensure you maintain a high level of security.

Another way to prevent loss in the event of a disaster is to implement a backup system. While some businesses still fiddle with backup tapes, most have moved their backup data to the cloud. Implement your backup solution, then make a plan to review this data quarterly.

Once you have your plan put together, it’s time to test it out. Add a disaster day to your company calendar and put your team through a simulated disaster. Give everyone a chance to practice their roles. A little practice now will help an actual recovery scenario go much more smoothly.

The Now IT Connects team helps businesses develop disaster recovery plans and backup their data to ensure it’s safe no matter what happens. For help with your own network disaster recovery plan, contact our team today.


Network Monitoring Keeps Your Business Safe: A Guest Post by Secure Net Pros

network monitoring keeps your business safe

Cyber criminals never take a break, and neither should your network security. Keeping your business’s technology infrastructure safe is a ‘round the clock job. Fortunately, you don’t have to go it alone. Here’s how network monitoring keeps your business and your data safe.

It’s Tough to Monitor Your Network Yourself

Unresolved security threats can cause downtime, appropriation of intellectual property (IP), theft of confidential information, hardware loss, reputation damage, or worse. Keeping a network safe from cyber-attacks requires a sophisticated set of tools and a great deal of know how. Since cybercrime is always evolving, protecting your network also requires you to constantly stay abreast of new threats and cyber security innovations.

Most small businesses do not have a full-time IT professional on-staff, so it’s no wonder that more than 40 percent of cybercrime victims are small businesses. Protecting your network is a full-time job, which is why it makes sense to partner with a trusted network monitoring company to ensure your technology infrastructure and your company and client data are protected.

Conventional Cyber Security Solutions Aren’t Enough

If you think having a firewall and anti-malware software are enough, think again. Conventional security infrastructure is not adequate to protect your network from today’s cybercriminal. Traditional safeguards do well against external threats, but they do little or nothing to prevent 70 percent of all data breaches and threats, which come from inside your network.

That’s right—employees cause most data breaches and cyber threats. Just 12 percent of these insider threats can be attributed to disgruntled workers, however. It’s more than twice as likely that a reliable employee inadvertently misuses data in a way that allows a cyber security breach to occur. When these well-intentioned employees make an error within your network, they leave your network vulnerable to attack or data loss.

How Secure Net Pros Keeps Your Network Safe

Maintaining a secure network requires constant monitoring and agile technologies. The Secure Net Pros team uses a 360˚ managed security solution to constantly monitor your network, detect threats, and use this information to secure your network. It all starts with a consultation to assess your risk and create your remediation plan. To get started, contact Secure Net Pros.


3 IT Books for Your Summer Reading List

IT blogs for summer reading_Now IT Connects_Clearwater Minnesota

Need some summer reading while you’re out on the boat or up at the cabin? The Now IT Connects team is here for you! Crack open one of these tech books this summer.

The Second Machine Age: Work, Progress, and Prosperity in a Time of Brilliant Technologies

The Second Machine Age: Work, Progress, and Prosperity in a Time of Brilliant Technologies by Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee is a fascinating, inspiring book about the future of artificial intelligence and other advanced digital technologies. The book looks at how these innovations will affect industries of all kinds, from logistics to professional services. If you want a sneak peek at how technologies will revolutionize how we work without getting bummed out, we recommend The Second Machine Age. Buy it here.

Mobilized: An Insider’s Guide to the Business and Future of Connected Technology

Mobilized: An Insider’s Guide to the Business and Future of Connected Technology by SC Moatti is a close look at the intersection of mobile technologies and human nature. The book discusses how basic human needs and desires fuel innovations in mobile technology, and then helps entrepreneurs use this knowledge to dream up the next Facebook, Uber, or WhatsApp. Buy it here.

Digitize or Die: Transform Your Organization. Embrace the Digital Evolution. Rise above the Competition

Digitize or Die: Transform Your Organization. Embrace the Digital Evolution. Rise above the Competition by Nicolas Windpassinger examines the Internet of Things, or IoT, that surrounds us and makes the case to businesses on why they need to embrace this game-changing technology. The book covers how the IoT is already disrupting many industries, and how businesses can survive and thrive in the coming IoT revolution. All proceeds from the book benefit the Alzheimer’s Association and Fondation de France! Buy it here.

We hope you enjoy your time off with these tech titles! If you’re inspired to update and upgrade your business’s IT, we’d love to hear from you.


The Now IT Connects Office Gets a Make-Over

This spring, the Now IT Connects office got a fresh, new look! A few upgrades transformed our office and gave the Now It Connects team a place to collaborate while updating the design and improving sustainability.

New Flooring and Paint Provide a Fresh Foundation

It’s amazing what a difference a fresh coat of paint and updated flooring can have on an office space! At the Now IT Connects office, we freshened the walls with a new color in both the public spaces and the back-office work areas.

Then, we ripped out the carpet to replace it with durable, hard-wearing vinyl planking. The new floors offer the warm look of wood without the maintenance or up-front investment. We think they look sharp, especially with the fresh paint!

Our Work Areas Get Upgrades

Once we had our fresh foundation of paint and new flooring, we upgraded and renovated the tech cubicles where our network managers and network engineers work their magic. These new cubicles allow them the space they need to work without being crowded by equipment or each other.

Our Office Lighting Gets an Environmentally Friendly Upgrade

The last upgrade we made in our renovation was to our office lighting. Our lobby, conference room, and back-office work areas all got new fixtures with LED lighting. Not only does this provide our staff with superior light to work under, the LED lightbulbs are energy-efficient and cost effective. We won’t need to replace a bulb for about 15 years!

After several years in our Clearwater, Minnesota, location, it was time to show our office some love. We hope you stop by to check out our new digs! We’d love to see you.


Building with Your IT Needs in Mind

building with IT in mind_Now IT Connects_Minnesota

The COVID-19 pandemic will permanently change the way we all work. The health and safety of your employees is vitally important. But so is the ability to stay connected, especially when a portion of your workforce is working remotely. Here are a few ways you can design your workspace with your IT needs in mind.

Integrate, Don’t Retrofit

Your company’s IT needs should be integrated into the design of your workspace. Don’t wait until you finalize plans and put up walls to consider what your IT needs are. Include your IT team in the design process so you create a space that will meet your current and future technology needs. Your IT experts can advise you and your architect on what space you need to house your IT infrastructure and how to integrate ethernet and USB ports and WiFi networks into the structure of your space to make it easy to stay connected.

IT Needs for Individual Workspaces

What IT does each individual worker require in your workspace? At a bare minimum, they likely need plentiful electrical outlets, USB and ethernet ports, and a strong WiFi connection. Screen privacy should also be a priority, especially for employees who work with sensitive information. Consider the hardware you will need to support. Will you invest in desktop computers for everyone to encourage desk use, or provide laptops or tablets to empower people to work where they choose?

IT Needs for Conference Rooms

Due to COVID-19, it is likely that a portion of your workforce will be working remotely over the next few months and perhaps permanently. Meetings with clients and vendors may also occur virtually. It will be vitally important to include a space to facilitate collaboration between remote workers and in-office employees.

Conference rooms require IT infrastructure that makes collaboration easy and seamless. To do so requires forethought during the design stage to hide network and AV cables behind a wall to supply a projector or in a floor trench to serve the conference room table. To facilitate video conferencing, you’ll need a webcam as well as a projector, and a mic as well as speakers. If you plan to use an app-based room scheduler, having a tablet outside the door of the room can make it easy for workers to review the calendar and schedule their meetings.

IT Needs for Common Areas

As flexible workspaces become more popular, common areas of your workspace will need to be technology-friendly. Employees should be able to stay connected to email and other essential applications wherever they are.

When designing your common area spaces, carefully place WiFi routers so every square inch is covered. If you have a lobby, consider installing digital signage to direct visitors and share information in real time. Remember to add the IT infrastructure to support any access control system you require.

If you need help determining what IT infrastructure you’ll need to support your business in your new space, Now IT Connects is here to help. We can design, install, and maintain your network, hardware, software, and web applications to keep your team productive. To get started, contact us today.


Recovering after an IT Disaster

recovering after IT disaster_Now IT Connects_Clearwater MN

You spill coffee all over your laptop keyboard, and now it refuses to boot up. You log onto your computer to find your files are corrupted and unusable. Worse, you power up your computer only to get a black screen with a message that your computer has been taken ransom. All of your data is being held hostage until you pay the cyber criminals who’ve taken over your computer. How do you buy bitcoin, anyway?

IT disasters can strike anyone, anytime. That’s why many companies have disaster recovery and data backup plans in place. Recovering from an IT disaster is easier when your team understands their responsibilities and you have the policies and technologies in place to minimize the interruption a data loss causes to your business operations.

Know Who’s in Charge of What

A good disaster plan includes the team members at your business who will be involved in the recovery after an IT disaster. These people should be ready to jump into action in the event of a loss of data or other IT disruption. The rest of your staff should know who is on this team as well so they can approach them with any questions or concerns they have.

The people on your disaster recovery team may include a point person who is managing the entire recovery process, someone who’s in charge of assessing the damage, a team member who is responsible for repairing the damage (or coordinating with a professional IT team who can do so), someone who is in charge of recovering data from backup storage, and a team member who is responsible for communicating all of these actions to your team and any other affected stakeholders.

Tackle the First Few Hours

Spend the first few hours after an IT disaster addressing immediate concerns. Assess the damage that the disaster caused and run through your inventory of hardware and software to understand how extensive the damage is. You may need to source new devices so your team can continue to work as you recover from the incident, even if they are working with limited IT resources. Then, put your disaster recovery plan into action.

Get Everyone Back Up and Running

Once you have an idea of the extent of the damage the disaster caused, prioritize how you’ll roll out your recovery. What data and systems are mission critical to your business operations, and which ones can wait a day or two? Once you have your list of priorities, work with your disaster recovery team to execute them. These items may include:

  • Repairing damaged server hardware and software
  • Replacing failed hardware and software
  • Restoring email access to employees
  • Restoring website content and data after a cyber attack
  • Training employees on new tools and new data policies
  • Communicating a data loss event with stakeholders

Communicate with Your Team

Don’t forget to continue to communicate with your team throughout the disaster recovery process. Inform them that a data loss or technology failure has occurred and let them know that your recovery team is working hard to get them back up and running. Communicating with your team allows you to manage their expectations for when they’ll be back to normal.

Not sure what would happen to your data in the event of an IT disaster? The Now IT Connects team is here to help. To start protecting your company’s data, contact us today.


Give Your Business an IT Disaster Recovery Check-Up

IT disaster checkup_Now IT Connects_Clearwater MN

These last few months have been tough, and the last thing anyone needs is another crisis on their hands. It’s impossible to know when an IT disaster may strike, but you can minimize the stress and the damage with a disaster recovery plan and experienced IT pros on your side.

Disaster Recovery Basics

IT disasters may be instigated by an actual physical disaster, such as fire or flooding at your business or other physical damage to your hardware. But more often, disasters occur within your systems themselves. This could be a fatal failure of your hardware or software or a direct attack on your network by cyber criminals. Malware, ransomware, denial-of-service attacks, and phishing scams can all create wreak havoc on your network.

While it’s impossible to prevent all disasters, it is possible to protect yourself from many of them. You can also create a plan for what happens when disaster strikes so your network can get back up and running quickly and your staff can get back to work.

Review Your Current Disaster Recovery Plan

When is the last time you’ve looked at your IT disaster recovery plan? If it’s been awhile, it’s time to get to work. Older disaster recovery plans often include technologies that are obsolete or degraded beyond usability (think those old tape backup systems). Even cloud-based data backup solutions should be tested annually to ensure they are set up properly.

Disaster recovery plans include more than just your procedure for backing up data. Here’s a list of common items found in a disaster recovery plan:

  • Who is responsible for executing and managing the plan
  • Immediate steps following the disaster
  • Inventory of hardware and software that may be affected by a disaster
  • Post-disaster business continuity plan
  • Strategies for communicating with stakeholders
  • Policies for data, email, and social media use

Work with a DRaaS and DR Provider

Managing data is a complicated, high-stakes task. If left vulnerable to attack or disaster, data can be lost forever, crippling a business. As data security becomes a top priority for businesses, IT companies are increasingly offering DRaaS (Disaster-Recovery-as-a-Service) and DR (Disaster Recovery) as services. Companies can outsource their disaster recovery plans and procedures to IT experts who can provide a multi-faceted solution that includes backup recovery, file syncing, and cloud-based data storage to prevent the loss of data.

Not sure what would happen to your data in the event of an IT disaster? The Now IT Connects team is here to help. To start protecting your company’s data, contact us today.


The Four Fundamentals of Network Security: A Guest Post by Secure Net Pros

network monitoring keeps your business safe

Whether your team is onsite or working remotely, the security of your network is an ongoing concern. Here are the four fundamentals of network security that all organizations should implement to protect their networks.

1. Assess Cyber Risk

Stronger network security starts with a comprehensive cyber risk assessment. It is impossible to prioritize and address security vulnerabilities without identifying what those liabilities are. A thorough assessment will evaluate your hardware, software, system configurations, system entry points, and other security risks.

2. Remediate Security Vulnerabilities

The cyber risk assessment uncovers your network’s vulnerabilities so you can take steps to address them. Some solutions are simple and straightforward, such as strengthening your network’s firewall protection and making all outstanding security updates to your hardware and software. Others require long-term management. This may include uncovering and eliminating any unauthorized wireless connections to your network and erasing unneeded user profiles from software and web-based applications.

3. Detect Cyber Threats

A cornerstone of network security is ongoing threat detection. Many cyber threats against your network come from external bad actors trying to gain access to your systems. But many others come from inside your network itself. Your staff may inadvertently or intentional change security settings or access your network on an insecure device, giving criminals back-door access to your network. Continuous threat detection to identify and remediate these risks is an important part of keeping your network safe.

4. Monitor the Network

Set-it-and-forget-it solutions just won’t cut it when it comes to securing your network. Managed security is a round-the-clock job. The 360-degree managed security solution from Secure Net Pros puts actionable intelligence at our fingertips so our team can act fast to protect your network and your data. For expert help in securing your systems, contact the Secure Net Pros team today.