Cyber Security in the Office

Cyber Security Tips For Employees

We live in a digital age where computers are crucial for any forward thinking business, but this landscape is one that’s blighted by cyber attacks such as ransomware and malware. Combatting this is important, but instilling a good cyber security culture in the office is even more important. All of your employees, no matter how conscientious they seem, are vulnerable to cyber attacks. After all, it takes just one click of a mouse to activate an email’s malicious payload. To help you minimise the chances of this happening, we’re going to take a look at the principles of cyber security in the office.

Cyber Security Awareness

The absolute bottom line of developing cyber awareness is training. Your employees are often the final (and weakest) line of defence when it comes to cyber security, so they need to be seriously schooled in its best practices.

And this needs to begin when an employee starts working for your business. Therefore, cyber security training needs to make up a significant part of IT inductions for new starters and this should be signed off by an IT professional. Following this, regular refresher courses need to be put on internally to update employees on current threats and the best methods of defence.

Tips To Improve Your Cyber Security

To ensure good cyber security in the office you need to invest in a strong cyber security culture. This approach allows you to build organisation and regularity into your fight against cyber crime and, ultimately, provides a safer and more secure environment to work in. To create a strong cyber security culture, it’s recommended that you implement the following:

Test Your Cyber Defences:

There’s no room for complacency in cyber security as hackers are constantly evolving their techniques, so you need to regularly test your defence systems to guarantee they can deflect any attacks.

  • Protect All Devices:
    With the rise in popularity of the Internet of Things, we’re connecting more external devices than ever to our internal networks such as smartphones and even smart fridges. Including all of these devices in your security approach is paramount for protecting your networks.
  • Backup Your Data: Ransomware has the capability to encrypt all of the data on your network, so backing up your data has never been more important.
  • Analyse Inbound and Outbound Traffic: You need to know exactly what activity is taking place on your networks to stand any chance of detecting cyber attacks. Therefore, monitoring traffic in and out of your network is the best way to keep an eye on any rogue activity before it escalates into something more disruptive.

Cyber Security Awareness in the Office

By following the advice above it’s relatively simple to create a level of cyber security awareness in the office which protects both your employees and your data. You only have to take a quick look at the headlines to understand just how commonplace cyber attacks are, so bolstering your defences is essential for your business to remain productive and avoid any potential data losses.

 

 

Benefits of Private Cloud Technology for Businesses

Private Cloud Technology for Businesses

Cloud computing is one of the top trends to emerge in technology and instantly impact the way we work. When you use cloud technology, you experience a massive amount of upside, with only limited additional risk.

Benefits of cloud technology include:

  • Reduced Costs – The capital expenditure required to maintain cloud technology is minimal, and your costs become variable based on the amount of storage and computing power you require.
  • Improved Flexibility – The ability to quickly scale is one of the top benefits of using cloud technology. This is because you can quickly increase the amount of compute power and storage you use, but without having to shut down your system or make large expenditures.
  • Better Employee Experience – Cloud technology both allows employees to work from anywhere, and to collaborate more easily. The result is they can get more done and do it much more efficiently, which will benefit both you and your employees.
  • Protects from Disaster – Some companies are extremely vulnerable to physical disasters, and the static nature of their servers mean that if they are damaged, the information will be lost. Cloud systems are the best remedy for that, and are known to have great backup and recovery systems.

 Public Cloud vs. Private Cloud

The use of cloud technology is usually considered to mean public cloud computing, which scares away many potential users because of their worries about security. The initial concern with cloud security is that you were sharing hard drive space and servers with other companies, which meant your information was more vulnerable. Any compromises in security can result in a massive reputational and financial hit, which is why cyber security has become so important.

As a result, private cloud solutions have gained a lot of popularity. Having hardware that is specifically dedicated to your company helps reduce the potential harm of any cyber threats. You can gain all the benefits of having your servers located offsite, and therefore not being vulnerable to a disaster at your office, while still knowing all your information is segregated and secure.

Cloud Security

When you use private cloud services, assuming you have the proper anti-virus software and firewalls in place, your information is as secure as it would be if it were on your desktop. Some companies are experimenting with a 2:1 ratio of private to public cloud usage, which is representative of the emphasis companies are putting on having proper security on all their data.

They know that the flexibility of cloud technology is good, but it becomes even more powerful when it is secure, as private cloud computing solutions are.

 

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The Future of Cloud Technology

The Future of Data Transfer

As technology has advanced and the level of automation and data collection necessary in ordinary business has increased, the need for every company to have their own data management solutions has continued to grow.
These days, every competitive firm is a technology company in a sense.

Hybrid & Private Cloud vs. Public Cloud

In the cloud computing world, there are two major categories: private and public. Private clouds consist of internal solutions which are often referred to as enterprise cloud solutions. These are hosted on the company’s intranet or in a data centre, and have the benefit of a firewall to protect them. If a company is already managing their own data centre, this is fine, but for a fledgling company, the costs can be prohibitive and outside of their expertise.

Cloud services like AWS ( Amazon Web Services) are examples of public cloud technology that seek to solve this issue. Companies choose a provider to be responsible for the management and maintenance of their data and it is then stored in that provider’s data centre. This has a clear cost and convenience advantage, but comes with more security risks.

Choosing the best of Cloud Services

Debate about the strengths and weaknesses of each of these cloud solutions has led to more companies going the hybrid cloud IT infrastructure route. This is where companies use a mix of cloud services that has both in house and external cloud computing services.

As anyone could tell from looking at the news today, businesses are learning they need to be much more careful about how they transfer and protect data. This caution is a lot of what has enabled hybrid and private cloud solutions to gain so much steam in the marketplace.

As one would expect, hybrid clouds are a mix of private and public clouds. Considering each solution has its own pros and cons, once you take them into account, you can optimise your cloud computing solution to harness the best of both worlds.

Data sensitivity and the benefits of a hybrid approach

With data regulations constantly changing, the goal is to have the sensitive data stay in house, but have other data go into the public cloud. Using hybrid cloud technology allows companies to keep their costs down and save lots of time, while maintaining their reputation and security by keeping the most important data safe.

Data transfer will continue to evolve, and with hybrid solutions there are certain applications and data that will run on both solutions. For example, a company could maintain an application on their private server, but when demand picks up have the overflow go to the public data center.

As time goes on and the need for security picks up, we will see many more innovative cloud technology solutions work their way into the foreground of the IT security world.

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GDPR Compliance

Are you Ready for GDPR?

Preparing For GDPR and Data Protection Reform

Data privacy laws have been consistently intensifying in the last few decades as technology has advanced and the reach of some companies has continued to expand. In the EU, the big news is that GDPR, or General Data Protection Regulation, is going to be enforced as of May 25th, 2018.

Data Privacy Laws

GDPR is planned to bring all the data privacy laws across Europe into harmony so there is less confusion about how to protect the information of consumers. With this, there will be significant complications for businesses in the short-run, as they work to adjust their policies to be accordance with regulations.

Key GDPR Changes

The three key changes to past privacy regulations are around the increased territorial scope, the penalties levied, and the conditions for consent.

  • Scope – The most important thing to realise about GDPR is that it doesn’t just pertain to EU businesses, it pertains to any businesses that provide services to and collect data on EU data subjects. This puts nearly every business under the microscope, since it is difficult to completely avoid customers from the EU.
  • Penalties – The penalties can be harmful with fines up to 4% of annual global turnover. The highest fines are taken when a company does something egregious like failing to gain customer consent to process data. It is important to realize this applies to both data processors and data controllers, so “cloud” companies won’t be able to escape unscathed.
  • Consent – Prior to GDPR, it would be possible to gain the consent of subjects by using hard to decipher terms or advanced legalese to confuse the consumer into acquiescing. Now, consent must be based on clear and plain language, so no confusion can result, and withdrawing consent must be as easy as it is to supply it.

Other major changes involve the mandatory notification of a breach pertaining to a consumers’ data, data portability, and the right to be forgotten. These will all require their own processes to be put in place for when a consumer makes a specific request. Additionally, companies will now require the consent of parents if the consumer in question is under the age of 16.

Preparing for GDPR

To prepare for GDPR, it is important to assess which aspects of these regulations your company is not currently in compliance with, and take measures to remediate them. Key points of interest are regarding children, consent, data breaches, subject access requests, and the international aspect of all these points. Additionally, public institutions and companies meeting other conditions will be required to appoint a Data Protection Officer (DPO), who would be in charge of addressing all these points.

GDPR Going Forward

Individuals have data rights, and the EU regulators are beginning to get very aggressive around their desire to protect these rights. Every organisation that processes personal data must be compliant with new GDPR rules on 25 May 2018 and this includes charities and voluntary organisations. Your senior staff should be aware that the law is changing and take appropriate action. If you don’t know what personal data you hold and where it came from you will need to organise an audit of your different systems and departments to find out.

Let us help you navigate the GDPR rules and ensure your company is ready

Network Support for the Digital Workplace

Digital Workplace

The development of the digital workplace over the past decade has been astounding, with more and more companies moving closer to the ideal of a paperless, digital office. The introduction of the computer network has also changed the way we work, leading to a 24/7, always on culture.

This technology allows people to collaborate in the office, having shared space for storing files, and appropriate communications channels such as video conferencing. But it also allows people to access these types of resources from outside the office.

All of this requires a solid foundation of networking infrastructure to underpin these new ways of working. Wi-Fi is now seen as a must have for most offices, along with multiple Wi-Fi access points to ensure a good connection from anywhere in the building. That being said, Ethernet ports are still desired for users who don’t want to rely on a wireless connection.

It is essential that you have the right network support capability to maintain these systems and keep the company moving.

Network Security

As the number of devices on the network proliferates, including employees bringing their own devices and third parties requiring connectivity, network security becomes an increasingly important part of the digital office.

The challenge is to ensure network security without placing too many constraints on the end users.

Key Considerations for Network Security

  • Antivirus and firewalls – The right network security software will go a long way to preventing any harmful activity getting through to your corporate systems. This includes firewalls and up to date antivirus protection. Ransomware attacks are becoming increasingly prevalent, so it is more important than ever that you track the developments in this space.
  • Access restrictions – You may want to place specific restrictions on who can use you network in different instances, so example giving they most locked down experience to guests connecting to the Wi-Fi, and the most unlimited access to employees connected directly via Ethernet.
  • Website filtering – Some website are used by hackers to infect machines and infiltrate corporate systems. By locking down suspicious sites you can help to prevent this happening.

This is just a small subset of the steps that you can take, and a comprehensive solution would require a thorough understanding of your business and an appreciation for any specific threats you might face.

Network Support

Network support is about maintaining the systems that allow organisations to function and communicate. Maintaining the corporate network, either as part of the organisation’s internal IT support team or through an external network support team.

These days, failing to protect your network can have serious negative effects on your digital office experience and your business as a whole. Something causing the network to go down can make it difficult for many employees to do their jobs effectively, and if it is as a result of a virus or hack, can lead to serious reputational damage to your brand.

It is therefore essential that you dedicate sufficient time and resource to protecting this core asset.

If you haven’t already done so, you should consider taking a free network survey to highlight any weak spots in your digital workplace, don’t hesitate to get touch if you have questions about how to adequately protect your network.

Ransomware Protection

Using IT Security to Mitigate the Costs of Ransomware

Ever since we have had widespread use of computers, we have had people trying to exploit users using viruses and other malware. One common type of malicious software is ransomware, which is designed to block the user’s access to a computer system until they are paid a sum of money.

This started off as a relatively small-scale issue, but hackers have now figured out ways to hit financial markets with this ransomware.

When ransomware is used, hackers can gain access to:

  • Emails
  • Addresses
  • Phone numbers
  • SSNs
  • Other customer information

Cyber crime is a major problem, and is expected to get worse as the difference in terms of technological expertise widens. What this is means is you have many hackers with a huge amount of expertise, and governments with not nearly the same ability to play defense to these hackers.

The scale of these attacks has increased because major financial institutions serve as honey pots to these hackers, and they are incentivized to invest more resources in order to gain the information of many people at one time.

Using Cyber Security to Improve Ransomware Security

By implementing proper IT security, it becomes possible to manage the risk associated with ransomware. Every company which holds its customers’ information has a huge potential liability should that information be compromised.

A cyber security strategy can help to protect your company in a number of ways including:

  • Enforcing strict password policies, requiring a mixture of letters, numbers and special characters makes it more difficult for hackers to break in via the front door
  • Control internet access, by blocking access to suspicious sites and maintaining a list of sites that other companies have flagged as inappropriate
  • Prevent external hardware use, like USB drives, this makes it easier to control how files enter and exit your network
  • Firewalls and intrusion detection make it more difficult for hackers to break in via more unscrupulous methods

Invest in IT Ransomeware Security

IT security can help make sure that ransomware doesn’t hurt your company in an irreparable manner. The trust you have built with your customers is important and you want to do everything you can to maintain that.

Cyber crime will always be a reality in the world we live in, but it doesn’t have to be a constant threat to your company. The two best things you can do to prevent the effects of ransomware are:

  • Implement comprehensive IT security to prevent massive ransomware cost
  • Train your employees to make the correct decisions in risky situations

By following through on these two steps, you can increase your cyber security and save your company a ton of money and time as the potential cost of ransomeware damage is incalculable. This may seem like a hassle now, but as you watch more and more players become compromised, you are going to be happy you took the time to invest in yourself.

Want to know how to do more to improve Ransomware Security?

Top IT Mistakes

Four IT Mistakes that Many Companies Make.

There are some constants that hold true for nearly every company, and one of those is that technology plays a key role in their success or failure. It used to be that only companies like Facebook or Apple were considered “tech” companies, but that definition is changing as technology becomes as core a part of businesses as the employees who work there.

Common IT  mistakes and  IT errors to avoid

This doesn’t mean that all companies are performing well when it comes to implementation of technology. There are many mistakes companies make, including four common IT traps people fall into:

:

  1. Not Listening to Users: Your users are perhaps your most important resource for building a better technological infrastructure. Employees use your system every day, and you would be a fool to ignore the feedback you receive from them. If you built an app and released it for sale to the public, you would happily take the feedback and use it to improve your product, so you should do the same with the employee feedback you receive.
  2. Failing to Future Proof IT Systems: Lack of foresight or long-term thinking is a common setback for companies. They only think in terms of the present needs and fail anticipate what is necessary for success in the future. By making sure all the technological systems in place are compatible with future technology, massive amounts of downtime and costs can be saved.
  3. Not Investing Enough in IT: Technology can make your company an efficiency juggernaut, and has the power to propel your business forward if you use it correctly. Sometimes CEO’s start to look at technology as an expense rather than an investment, because there isn’t always a clearly demonstrable and measurable ROI available. This is a short-sighted mistake that can cost the company significantly.
    If you are smart about your IT investments, you can create a firm where efficiency and experience are constantly improving, and the initial investment will be recovered in full through increased profits across the company’s different business lines.
  4. Not Properly Securing Systems: Security is a growing concern, and in line with the point above about treating your IT like an investment, you need to manage the downside risk. By establishing strong protocols that can weather any external attacks, you will protect your resources and reputation in full. There is no such thing as a 100% secure system, but you can take many steps to make it safer and mitigate risks along the way.

On examining these points, it is clear that that are mistakes of omission. Companies fail to commit a certain action and it can cost lots of time and money to put right further down the line. Avoid these common IT mistakes and your company will continue to grow and thrive over the long-term.

Why Private Cloud Computing

Benefits of Private Cloud Computing.

Many people are familiar with cloud computing and understand that it comes with lots of benefits Private Cloud Services - IT Support Londonin terms of flexibility, scalability and time to market. However, there are also problems with public cloud services like Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure, which make them unsuitable for certain tasks and organisations.

Two of the key concerns are related to security and data residency. In particularly, there are legal considerations to be made about where your data is being stored, as some types of data are not allowed to leave the UK or the EU, and with public cloud services it is not always easy to guarantee this.

The compromise is an internal “private cloud” where you own the infrastructure yourself, but run it in the same cloud style model.

Key Benefits of Private cloud

The private cloud approach lets you retain many of the benefits of a public cloud, but without the other concerns. Some of the key benefits of private cloud computing includes:

  • Improved security – When building a private cloud you are no longer depending on the security protocols of a third party cloud provider, and therefore have the ability to set the security of each component to the level you require. This can include everything from the choice of firewalls and anti-virus, to the physical locks on the door of the data centre, depending on how much of the end to end infrastructure you want to own and operate.
  • Better Stability and Disaster recovery – A private cloud of pooled virtual server resources, means that problems with individual nodes on the network effectively become irrelevant, as server resources can be shifted between machines. This allows you to achieve excellent redundancy, keeping your data and systems safe and operational for as long as possible.
  • Higher Efficiency – Using virtual servers on a private cloud allows you to achieve far higher utilisation rates that you could otherwise, meaning that you are getting the most from your hardware investment. You also have far greater control over how and when you scale the environment up or down, for example test environments can be switched off if they are not being used.
  • Greater flexibility and time to market – With a private cloud you can spin up new server environments in a matter of minutes, enabling you to get new products and services to market really quickly. You don’t have to wait on procurement to order new hardware at the start of each project, saving precious time and money. On the flip side, you also have the flexibility to switch off servers easily if they are not being used.

Private Cloud Implementation Expertise

If you are interested in utilising cloud computing but are concerned by certain aspects of the public cloud model, a privately hosted cloud could be the perfect option for you.

But private doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to run it yourself, with many IT services companies offering to build and operate a private cloud environment on your premises. This further enhances the benefits of the model, as you don’t have to fill the skills gap to run such a service, or support it on a daily basis.

If you would like to know how Private Cloud can benefit you click here or call : 0844 770 0199

Antivirus Review

Review your Anti-Virus Software to Protect your Systems

It is widely agreed that the threat of cybercrime has increased dramatically over recent years, with businesses and individuals falling victim to online attacks more and more.

Despite this, many people have still not taken the simple step of installing antivirus software to help protect their personal data and systems.

Getting started with Antivirus software

The core purpose of antivirus programs is to detect malicious software on your machine and to safely incubate it, before permanently deleting it. But depending on the specific application they can also protect you in other ways such as detecting and blocking suspicious URLs when you are browsing the internet.

The software works by constantly running in the background, scanning files and applications. Before you open a program your antivirus application will check it against a list of known viruses to see if it is safe to open.

If the application looks in anyway suspicious you will usually get a pop up warning you of the potential virus and asking you to confirm if you would still like to open it.

Most applications will cover the full range of harmful code such as malware, ransomware and other types of computer virus.

Popular Antivirus solutions

There are many different antivirus solutions available today, including a wide range of free tools that you can easily download.

Some of the most popular antivirus tools include:

  • Windows Defender – Previously known as Microsoft Security Essentials, this software is built into Windows 10 and is therefore the default choice for many. It is free to install, with free updates.
  • Norton – Norton offers a range of paid antivirus packages, starting from single machines and scaling up to many different devices. Many of the packages also give you access to an expert from Norton to help protect your devices.
  • McAfee – McAfee is generally regarded as the world’s largest security technology company, offering solutions to both individuals and businesses. They offer a wide range of packages on an annual subscription basis, which also include a money back guarantee if they fail to remove viruses from your machine.

This software is simple to install and set up for individual users, but business users would benefit from speaking to IT professionals for guidance on the most comprehensive and cost effective way to protect their systems as part of a company wide security strategy.

Ensure that your antivirus software is up to date

Simply installing antivirus software in the first place is not enough, in order to get the best results and ensure you are fully protected it is essential that you update your software regularly. Cyber criminals are constantly looking of new ways to exploit systems, and likewise software providers are always looking for ways to make their solutions more secure.

Most antivirus packages will automatically look for updates each time you connect to the internet, but you will sometimes be prompted to restart your machine in order for the changes to take effect.

Cyber Security Threats

Are You Taking The Cyber Security Threat Seriously?

The threat of cyber-attacks has been talked about with increasing frequency in the media over the past few years, and recent incidents have brought to light how real this threat is. In May 2017, the WannaCry ransomware attack disrupted computer systems around the globe, and a similar style attack was announced at the end of June, impacting sites such as the Chernobyl nuclear power plant.

Despite the fact that these attacks were over a month apart, many companies still seem to have been caught off guard, suggesting that they failed to take necessary precautions.

This is indicative of a problem within cyber security circles. Even when the threat is well known, people often don’t think that it will happen to them, and put off making the strategic decisions about how best to protect their systems.

Is Cyber Security just a “nice to have”?

Although companies are increasingly aware of the risks they are exposed to, when it comes to justifying investment in security, it can be very difficult to get the business case through. Investment prioritisation exercises tend to favour revenue generating initiatives, without fully appreciating that a cyber threat could cripple the business entirely.

One method to help raise the profile and importance of cyber security is to look at the types of attacks that could occur and consider the impact each will have on your business.

For example:

  • You are hit by a ransomware attack that downs your systems and prevents you trading. What is the cost to your business if you can’t trade for even one day? How many days could you survive without trading while you tried to fix the problem?
  • Your customer data is stolen by hackers. Could your brand survive the reputation damage and legal fines for not properly securing customer data? How long would it take you to regain customers trust?

The Likelihood of a Cyber Attack

Calculating the likelihood of a cyber security threat occurring is difficult, but understanding the devastating effect they can have on your business helps to justify the comparatively small investment you would need to make in cyber security to help prevent them occurring.
Going a step further and looking at the exposure of each of your individual systems will enable you to decide which risks you want to mitigate, and which you are happy to live with.

If you don’t have the expertise in house to carry out this analysis, it is worth getting a security audit from an external provider. An independent review of your systems could also help to support your business case for investment in cyber security initiatives.

Create a response plan in advance

Whatever level of cyber security you decide to opt for, it is worth crafting a response plan should the worst occur.

Many companies have been praised for how swiftly they shut off corporate email in the wake of the WannaCry attack to stop the virus spreading. If you know what steps to take in advance and act quickly, it can make a huge difference to the outcome of the attack.