Day in and day out, we’ve come accustomed to hearing news of the latest cyberattacks.
Cybercriminals have certainly been successful in at least one thing—increasing our anxiety about their next big attacks!
While we’ve all heard about many of the precautions to avoid data breaches and cyber hacks, we’ve overlooked a big component (but if you’ve been on vacation for the last 6 months, here is a little refresher).
The big piece of the puzzle that many businesses have failed to address?
Your IT Support should be doing everything in their power to protect you, plain and simple. Making sure critical security patches are applied, helping your users understand security best practices and filling users in on how criminals are breaking into systems. They also should be making sure your data is backed up. BUT sometime, they overlook one quite obvious part: obsolete hardware.
Out of date and non-compliant software and hardware can make or break your business security strategy. It’s actually this cut and dry!
Old hardware and software often lack security updates because the vendors who had built the software or hardware no longer are producing or supporting old systems. The big problem with this is that old software lacks the appropriate security patching to prevent popular hacks from breaching your network. And old hardware is just, frankly, too old to support secure software, including basic antivirus protection.
Note: if you’re not sure whether your hardware or software are meeting today’s security standards, many businesses are considering 3rd party security audits. Cybercriminals are eager to exploit vulnerabilities in aging systems, it’s best to get a second opinion on whether keeping specific hardware and software on your network is a good strategy for your business’ security.
Your Problem? MOST businesses have old assets on their networks leaving them vulnerable:
In fact, 30 to 50 percent of hardware and software installed on the average business network have reached their end of life (EOL) date. End of life means that the software or hardware is no longer being supported by manufacturers.
When machines have reached EOL, this means that your business risks losing data on crumbling machines.
Bottom line: if you depend on older machines or software to get work done, you are risking your business’ security and productivity.
Today, I want to stress that this last quarter of 2017 is the perfect time to save money on 2017 taxes while keeping your business secure going forward. It’s that time of year again to save big using Section 179—tax incentives meant to help businesses reinvest in hardware and software.
What I’ve learned about Section 179 for 2017?
Section 179 can save your business (and mine) a lot of money. It lets you deduct full purchase price of qualifying equipment—computers and software—that were purchased during the tax year.
New and used equipment deduction limit is 500,000. Must be financed/purchased AND put into service by December 31, 2017—that means you need to make decisions quickly in Q4 to ensure you maximize your 179 benefits!
What to expect in 179 for 2017:
Your Deduction Limit Remains at $500,000—Deduction on new and used equipment (any computer hardware) and software was defined for a second year at $500,000.
Your 2017 Spending Cap on Purchases Remains at $2 MILLION— Congress kept the same purchase limits in 2017 as last year. After $2 million dollars is spent, the dollar for dollar incentive reduces considerably.
Bonus Depreciation for 2017 is 50% has been extended to 2019—After you’ve reached the spending cap of $2 million, you can take a 50% depreciation for 2017 off of new equipment purchased.
But before you can really maximize your Section 179 tax breaks, you need to understand what exactly you need to replace in 2017 to keep your network safe. Note: for Zog Inc. customers, we have you covered.
But if you aren’t getting exceptional Zog Inc. service, you likely need to follow a roadmap to optimizing your Section 179 advantage (continue reading to find out what you should be doing).
So, what is a good strategy to identifying old computers?
Create an inventory of your machines and software products— the first step to understanding the magnitude of your security problem is understanding what computers and software your team is using. Catalog every computer and software license so that you’ll be able to evaluate where your risks may lie.
Identify release dates and details on your products— when you purchase hardware and software, you should record when the software was first produced and understand what time frame you have until needing to replace or update your hardware and software. Here is a typical replacement schedule:
Laptop PC 3 Years
Desktop PC 4 Years
Server 5 Years
Networking gear 5 Years
Monitor 8 Years
Create an inventory of potential vulnerabilities and take immediate action on security risks— after understanding when specific hardware and software may reach their end of life, identify specifically which vulnerabilities create immediate risks for your business. Software and hardware that are passed their life cycles should be identified and replaced ASAP.
What are your risks if you keep old hardware and software around?
Lack of vendor support—typically vendors like Microsoft guarantee ongoing support for a product if it’s still in service. This means you’ll get ongoing updates and bug fixes, trouble shooting and security fixes. When software reaches its end of life, you won’t get any support. You probably don’t want to just ‘hope everything works’.
Cybersecurity risks increase—once a product is not supported, say good bye to software updates. Security updates, alone, should be the major reason why you might want to upgrade your system. Note: firewalls and virus protection are alone insufficient to protecting against unpatched network vulnerabilities (unpatched software is actually a hacker’s preferred method of entering your network).
Non-compliance—if you work in an industry that needs to maintain security compliance—say HIPAA or PCI compliance for example—having dated software or hardware that is too old to support secure versions of software packages leaves your business out of compliance. Period. You may risk bigger fines or other legal fees if your networks are full of vulnerabilities that lead your data to be breached.
Poor performance—slow computers can impact productivity of your staff (so can outdated software). If an old computer fails during the work week, you may be jeopardizing tens of man hours waiting for an old part or computer to be replaced. Most often, hardware and software failures occur at your busiest times.
If you’re in accounting, realize that tax season is creeping up on you. Would you want to lose your tax data right when you need it most?
If you’re in sales, could you tolerate losing a week of not selling? Making sure your computers are reliably functioning is critical to ensure everyone is getting their work done.
Unless you’re okay paying them to not work while their computer or software takes hours to repair!
Are you concerned about your aging network infrastructure but aren’t sure what to do?
Contact Us TODAY for a FREE security assessment to identify what specifically needs to be done to keep your business safe without spending an arm and a leg!