Keep your focus!!

Running a business is a 365 day a year job. While you focus on running your business let Midwest IT Solutions focus on keeping you up to date on the latest developments in information technology. In the 4th quarter of 2015 Microsoft launched Exchange Server 2016 and implemented updates to its Office 365 service and software suite. While both feature improved security, there are several key differences, which is crucial to understand when making the appropriate choice for your business.

Office 365 is Microsoft’s cloud based subscription service and therefore is no need to purchase any additional hardware. The low monthly subscription structure makes it a cost effective option for many small to mid-sized businesses in industries who need to comply with all current privacy and regulatory guidelines. Many business owners do not realize that free email services, such as Gmail, yahoo, and AOL are not compliant with certain security and privacy regulations. Any company that is found to be non-compliant in regulated industries may face a government fine, as well as have to pay a service to get them back in industry compliance.

In addition to meeting confidentiality requirements, the email service in Office 365 has an added feature called “Clutter.” Clutter utilizes smart technology to learn patterns in users email. If it sees that emails from a specific sender are consistently never opened or immediately delated it will send those messages to the Clutter folder rather than the inbox.

Unlike Office 365, Exchange Server 2016 is Microsoft’s most up to date and secure email software for on premise options. Some business owners prefer to keep their email server on premises rather than Office 365 due to a higher level of internal control. Depending on your particular business’ needs, it can offer higher performance than Microsoft’s cloud based service. There are some cases where an on premises server is the best, such as businesses that require large capacity file shares (50GB in size or more) or operations that would be bandwidth-prohibitive in a cloud scenario. Offices that have less infrastructure access to the internet would be wise to take this into account during their decision making process.

Exchange 2016 offers all of the same security features as Office 365 and is fully compliant with all privacy guidelines. However, it does not have the Clutter feature that Office 365 users are able to utilize. If you are currently using a now unsupported, or soon to be unsupported version of Exchange, it is past time to upgrade; preparing to move to Exchange 2016 is a must. Any business currently running a version of Exchange Server earlier than 2010 will need to perform an additional step as they upgrade. Files must be moved to Exchange Server 2010 as an interim step as newer versions cannot co-exist with any framework developed prior to 2010. It is important to remember that Microsoft will be terminating all support of any version of Exchange prior to 2010 on April 11, 2017. If your internal IT department has their hands full managing your day to day operations or if you do not have an internal IT department, Midwest can help you ensure a smooth transition as you migrate to the Exchange 2016 environment.

How do you know which option is the right choice for your business? Midwest can help you navigate the confusing world of information technology. You focus on what you do best and let Midwest handle the IT. Contact Us…


Hackers Attack Small Businesses Too

Most small business owners believe cyber attacks are the concern of large corporations, however nothing could be further from the truth.  According to Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report 71% of cyber attacks occur at businesses with less than 100 employees.[1]

Unfortunately, many “SMBs suffer from ‘It can’t happen to us’ syndrome,” notes Robert Siciliano, security expert for McAfee. “They also typically don’t have the resources to secure their networks to the degree a large enterprise would. But the information on their networks – and access to their bank accounts – still makes them a big target.”  Even though it turns out SMB’s have a larger target on their backs than they realize, two thirds of SMBs surveyed by Symantec say they’re not concerned about cyber threats; and more than 80 percent have no formal cyber security plan.

“Smaller companies are easier to hack,” said Clay Calvert, director of security at MetroStar Systems, a Virginia-based firm. “They don’t have the resources to set up protective barriers.” Big companies, which have the financial resources to upgrade their security, have become less vulnerable.  But this needs to change!  The average cyberattack costs a business $188,000!  You can no longer wait for hackers to target you.  The rise of organized cyber hackers is definitely a scary trend but it doesn’t have to be the end of the world.  There are some things that a SMB owner can do to help:

  • The first step you need to take is to think like the hackers. Ask yourself: Who are my adversaries?  Are they after my intellectual property and trade secrets?  Do they want my customers’ credit-card information?  Or do they view my business as the weak link in some larger application?  This exercise can help you see where your vulnerabilities lie and also help you understand which measures you can take to protect your software.
  • Make sure your code is clean. Many commercial applications use open-source code as components.  The National Institute of Standards and Technology’s National Vulnerability Database discloses more than 4,000 vulnerabilities in these components.  Security software companies, can help you identify and fix any problems with your applications’ source code.
  • Outsource your security operation. While most small organizations can’t afford to build sophisticated IT security systems, Midwest IT Solutions has the scale and know-how to protect your operations and sensitive data.

At Midwest we have the knowledge base and the commitment to service to ensure that your IT security is up to date.  We offer best in class cybersecurity protection.  Unlike other managed service providers who rely on point of service solutions; we employ Unified Threat Management, an all in one security solution.  UTM is a fully integrated, multifaceted approach to protect against network threats. Your IT infrastructure is too important to settle for a less than optimal cybersecurity plan.  Contact us today to get started on your cyber security audit.  Don’t take a chance and go it alone, get Midwest on your side.

[1] Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report 2012. 2012 Accessed April 20, 2016. URL:www.

Custom Cloud Solutions

When you are making your choice in cloud providers, you can trust Midwest IT to help you make an unbiased decision based on YOUR needs.

FBI Warns Businesses of Email Scams

The FBI has issued alerts to all businesses about the spread of BEC scams.  One of the fastest growing hazards facing businesses today is the growth of business email compromise, or BEC scams.  According to the FBI these scams have grown by more than 270% since the beginning of last year.  At their last reporting more than 7,000 businesses have lost more than $1.2 billion in the last 2 years.  At Midwest IT Solutions we help you to manage your IT risk.  We are at the forefront of IT risk management; monitoring, assessing, and evaluating threats to your network no matter where they may come from.  You can be confident knowing that Midwest IT Solutions is in your corner.  While these scams may at first seem less impressive than thefts perpetrated by sophisticated malware targeting banks and other large institutions; a BEC attack is in reality more­­­­ vicious.  They are more versatile and can avoid the basic security steps taken by businesses and individuals.  Instead of simply targeting your machines, a BEC scam targets your people!  Criminals are convincing their victims to hand company money right over to them, and they have been very successful in doing so.  According to the FBI, “The scam has been reported in all 50 states and in 79 countries.  Fraudulent transfers have been reported going to 72 countries; however, the majority of the transfers are going to Asian banks located within China and Hong Kong.

BEC scams are being perpetrated in multiple stages.  In the first stage a traditional email phishing scam is carried out.  Once the criminal has access to an employee’s email account, they will monitor the account for an extended period of time, sometimes up to several months.  During this time the fraudster is learning the financial processes of the target business.  They are learning if wire transfers are used, who initiates them as well as who typical requests them.  Emails are searched for key terms such as, but not limited to: invoice, deposit, president, and wire transfer.  Fraudsters are taking the time to familiarize themselves with the target business’ activities, organizational relationships, interests, as well as travel, or purchasing plans.

Once the reconnaissance phase of the fraud is completed the second phase of the con is initiated.  This portion comes in two different forms.  The first is known as a CEO Phishing Scam.  Crooks create a domain name that is nearly identical to the company’s and send a spoof email that appears to be from the CEO or other high ranking executive.  This email will look totally real and only a very careful reading of the email will give the targeted employee a chance of detecting any sort of problem.  The fraudster impersonating the high level executive requests a wire transfer be made.  The target employee believes that their superior has directed them to transfer funds and, being a good employee, the instructions are carried out.  Because they have spent so much time and effort getting ready to perpetrate this fraud, the criminals are able to create an utterly convincing fund request.  Before anyone has realized what has happened company money has disappeared.

In the second version of this scam, the email of someone within the targeted company responsible for billing and invoicing is taken over and used to send out legitimate appearing invoices instructing that payment be made by wire to a newly designated bank account.  Again, it would take intense scrutiny to notice anything wrong with this phony invoice.  One of the most nefarious aspect of these scams is that they are unlikely to be caught in any spam traps as these are targeted attacks and not mass emails.  These scams continue to grow and evolve as time goes by so it is important to be vigilant.  To protect themselves the FBI has urged businesses to adopt the following processes:

  • Create intrusion detection system rules that flag e-mails with extensions that are similar to company e-mail. For example, legitimate e-mail of com would flag fraudulent e-mail of
  • Register all company domains that are slightly different than the actual company domain.
  • Verify changes in vendor payment location by adding additional two-factor authentication such as having a secondary sign- off by company personnel.
  • Confirm requests for transfers of funds. When using phone verification as part of the two-factor authentication, use previously known numbers, not the numbers provided in the e-mail request.
  • Know the habits of your customers, including the details of, reasons behind, and amount of payments.
  • Carefully scrutinize all e-mail requests for transfer of funds to determine if the requests are out of the ordinary.

At Midwest IT Solutions it is our job to monitor threats to your business.  We are IT experts ready to help defend you against any attack cybercriminals can dish out.  Don’t go it alone, contact the Midwest IT Solutions today!

Protect your business!

Light Saber

Light Sabers could be real!!!

Take heart Star Wars fans, scientists have proven that lightsaber weapons are theoretically possible.  The weapons have been used to devastating effect by the likes of Yoda, Luke Skywalker, and Darth Vader.  Perhaps one day they can also be wielded by your friendly IT service professional, to help defend against Trade Federation loving Cryptolocker viruses or Sith Serving Identity Hackers!  Scientists at Harvard and MIT have identified a way to bind photons together in a manner that would cause them to behave like the elegant weapons developed for a more civilized age from George Lucas’ Star Wars movies.


These next few sentences are going to be a heavy lift, but stick with us, it will be worth it.  Writing in the journal Nature scientists explained that while their experiment results regarding the achievable nonlinear phase of the photons are limited by the linewidth of the laser used; these technical limitations can be overcome by using stronger control lasers with improved frequency stability.   At Midwest IT we help turn nerd speak into regular language; so what that means is lightsabers are possible!!!  Nerds rule!


Ok get ready we are about to get all physics geek again; speaking in the Guardian, Harvard University physics Professor Mikhail Lukin stated, “Most of the properties of light we know about originate from the fact that photons are massless and do not interact.  What we have done is create a special type of medium in which photons interact with each other so strongly that they act as though they have mass, and bind together to form molecules.  It’s not an in-apt analogy to compare this to lightsabers.  When these photons interact with each other, they’re pushing against and deflect each other.  The physics of what’s happening in these molecules is similar to what we see in the movies.”


We always knew that our practice fighting with lightsabers was going to pay off one day, it looks like that day is drawing closer.  At Midwest IT we are committed to remaining on the cutting edge of technology.  We do not know how utilizing light saber technology will help you grow your business, but rest assured we will be ready to deploy it when the time comes.


This development cannot come soon enough for the fans of the Star Wars universe.  With the holidays right around the corner and the newest edition of the movies set to hit theaters on the 18th kids of all ages are ready with our Jedi and Sith sounds effects.  Come on physicists we are ready THHHHWWWWWWWAAAAAAA!!!!


What is Cirrus Cloud Services?

As businesses rely more and more on technology, security needs to go past the protection of your physical location and extend to your data.   Since data is such a critical portion of how we do business in today’s world, do you know how secure and reliable your backups are?  What benefits does your current cloud provider offer?

Midwest IT can give you an offsite data center that is dependable and secure.  As a Cirrus Provider, Midwest has the ability to provide you with the best possible solutions that Cirrus has to offer.  Using Cirrus Cloud Services means you have the benefit of using a scalable and secure option that has a smaller footprint both physically and financially.  

If you feel unsure if Cirrus will work for your company’s needs, take a moment to ask yourself some of these questions:

  • Can your employees recall everything they produced during their workday?  
  • How frequently is your data being backed up?

In today’s paperless environment we heavily rely on our PCs to prepare and distribute all our documentation.   With Cirrus there’s no need to try and remember what you’ve done.  Cirrus can seamlessly replicate your workday with backups that are taken every 1-2 hour(s) verses a backup that can only restore from a 12-36 hour timeframe.  Seamless restoration keeps you productive and on

  • Are my backups kept offsite and how secure are they?

Your data should be removed offsite to a secure location every day. With Cirrus this occurs every few hours, and it’s stored offsite with Midwest IT. This happens automatically, with no intervention needed by your staff. You have the peace of mind knowing that it’s also encrypted and stored in a physically secure environment.

  • What happens to my data in the event of a disaster?

If your primary physical location becomes unusable, Midwest IT has dedicated servers that allow us to recover and host your servers at our datacenter temporarily. Your employees will have the ability to access their data remotely.  

  • How quickly can my environment be replicated?

Cirrus can restore a server in as little as half an hour. Depending on the type of server that crashes, other solutions can take 8-24 hours to restore data.  In the event of a disaster this gives you an unparalleled ability to get your business back up and running.

  • What redundancies do I have in place in the event of an outage?

Cirrus allows Midwest IT to boot a failed server within minutes on our devices using virtual standby technology. In today’s business environment and high customer standards, employees cannot be left without their email, Internet, or agency management systems for any length of time.  

If you are interested in finding out more about what additional benefits Cirrus Cloud Services has for your business, contact us today for a consultation.

Midwest MSP is a leading IT Managed Services Provider based in the Wisconsin area. Midwest MSP has specialized in providing the best IT support, helpdesk support, and computer support within the Madison, Milwaukee, Chicago and Midwest area for years. Inquire more about our services at or give us a call for a complimentary Enhanced Network Review on your current IT services at 877-620-4454

WannaCry Ransomware Attack


The Wannacry ransomware attack started sweeping through Europe and parts so Asia last Friday.  Attacks have also hit here in the US but in far fewer numbers compared to overseas.  WannaCry’s hackers that are behind this ransomware are using an exploit in Windows called EtenalBlue that was leaked from the National Security Agency (NSA).  Microsoft has known about the vulnerability for about a month.  However, not enough people downloaded the patch making thousands of machines vulnerable to this attack.   So far, the WannaCry attack has affected 150 countries and thousands of PCs.  Once infected the computer displays a lock screen demanding a $300 BitCoin payment in exchange for decrypting the PC’s information.  Officials are urging those affected to not pay the ransom demands.

Malware Tech has a real time map of the areas hit by this ransomware.  Marcus Hutchins of Malware Tech was able to briefly slow the spread of the attack by identifying a kill switch in the code. His details on his experience can be found on his blog. Now it’s only a matter of time until the coders behind WannaCry remove the kill switches in the code completely rendering newer versions even harder to stop.  Cyber security analysts are calling WannaCry a “WMD” of ransomware.  It brings to light how dangerous it can be when the NSA’s information is leaked and made public.  The dangers of the malware went from data security to possibly effect actual lives when the ransomware locked down systems in hospitals located in the UK.  This forced hospital staff to administer care without access to radiology and blood test results.  It also required them to cancel critical MRI and CT scans for patients.  The ransomware also impacted utilities and government agencies.  It’s the worst case of ransomware we have seen to date and brings to light the dangers of leaked classified information and how it can be used maliciously.  The dangers and implications of cyber security threats like these spread as quickly as a real life pandemic virus and we should all be made aware of our own cyber security.

WannaCry is also being called WannaCrypt, Wana Decryptor or WCry.  The unfortunate success of this ransomware attack is already inspiring copycats.  WannaCry makes it easy for these copycats by having a generator that allows you to customize the appearance and script of the lock screen that displays the ransom.  So far the known copycats are DarkoderCrypt0r, Aran wanaCrypt0r 2.0 Generator v1.0, WannaCrypt 4.0 and Wana Decrypt0r 2.0.

Home users should ensure their antivirus and Windows OS are up to date in addition to regular backups and adhering to safe internet browsing practices. If you suspect your device has been infected disconnect from your WiFi immediately to prevent the spread to other connected home devices.  There is currently no fix available for WannaCry.  Antivirus and cyber security companies are hard at work seeking ways to decrypt the files of those infected, but there are no verified working third party decryptions available now.

If you have any concerns about WannaCry’s impact on your business network, please reach out to us to discuss it in further detail.  We can assure that Midwest MSP is up to date on all the latest security patches and values your network’s privacy and security.