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.

 

 

Online Back-up: How not to Back-up and How to get it right

What is online backup?

Online backup means to save data from your computer hard drive to a remote server or computer using a network or online connection. Online backup systems make use of the Internet and cloud technology to provide remote data storage solution with minimal hardware requirement.

Data is the lifeblood of many modern businesses and vast swathes of companies have grown up focusing purely on how to understand and exploit business value from that data.

Is online back-up safe

With that in mind, it is of little surprise that disaster recovery and online backup systems have also been getting increasing attention of late. Companies want to be sure that should their systems fail, or their data become corrupted, they have a safe and reliable mechanism to restore that data as quickly as possible.

What to back up

Deciding precisely what data to back up will depend on your business priorities and regulatory environment. You should work with business managers to understand the data that is essential to the running of the business, or that could hold significant value in the future. For teams that are deep into data analysis, it is important to be able look at variations over time, therefore data points that look to be insignificant in isolation could be incredibly value as part of a longer data stream.

Some industries will have specific regulatory requirements to hold on to transaction data for a set period of time. This could also include KYC data for customers, like identity documentations.

When to back up

Backup frequency will also be largely dependent on how vital it is to the running of your business and the financial implications of being without it. It will also depend on how quickly new data flows into your business.

For business critical data, in a data intensive environment, you may choose to back up every day or even intraday. However, less critical data you might back up only on a weekly or monthly data.

Equally, data that you are simply holding for regulatory purposes you may decide to back up less frequently depending on how stringent the regulation is.

Cloud Back-up systems

Computer backup systems have fallen dramatically in price since the introduction of cloud storage. You can now leverage cloud platforms as a simple and scalable way of backing up your information without ever having to worry about the infrastructure.

You can also move the data to different tiers of storage, with different price points, to suit your needs. For example data that is held for regulatory purposes, but rarely needs to be accessed can be stored very cheaply.

More about online back-up services

 

IT Project Management: Planning for Digital Growth

IT Project Management for Growth

 Technology is now the undeniable cornerstone of every modern business and planning for the future means investments in systems upgrades to support your business growth.

While crafting an IT strategy can be difficult, following through on execution is even more of a challenge. However, effective project management helps you to stay close to the budget and time plan ensuing you get as near to your vision as possible.

                                                                      

Crafting your IT Strategy

Your IT project strategy should be a living document that outlines the role of technology in realising the business goals. This will include building any future capability as required, but also investing in upgrades and maintenance to make sure systems are up and running as and when they are needed.

The strategy should include a long-term vision for how you see technology evolving in your organisation. This can then in broken down in to a series of systems upgrades that help you realise your vision.

Some of the key things you will need to take into account as part of this strategy include:

  • Cloud systems – On premise infrastructure and software is being used less and less, with companies instead using cloud services like AWS. This can be a cultural shift for some organisations, moving from a CAPEX to OPEX model for IT financing.
  • Scalability – Will your existing systems scale to meet the demands of your growing business or customer base? How would you cope with a sudden surge in custom? These are questions that you should look to address, identifying where you are most likely to have problems, and articulating how you would overcome any scalability challenges.
  • Futureproofing – You don’t want to overinvest, or become overly reliant on a particular piece of technology today if you know it will be replaced in the short-term. You should look to build systems that will be able to adapt to future developments in technology, without needing to be fully revised.

IT Project Management

Each IT project helps you move towards the vision as set out in your IT strategy. Tight management of the various stakeholders for each project as well as budget and scope, will ensure you meet your mile-stones.

 

  • Scope – Altering the scope mid-way through a project can have a disastrous effect. A big part if project management is agreeing up front what needs to be delivered, and not letting resources be distracted away from this.
  • Time – Project management creates a sense of urgency which ensures that things are delivered on time. It also seeks to find solutions to potential challenges that would slow the project down.
  • Budget – You can’t afford to overspend on everything technology project that you implement. Project management helps you to look ahead at the milestones for various projects and make sure that any risks that are likely to cause costly slippages are highlighted and resolved.

For more information on IT project management and how it can help you achieve your long term strategic goals, don’t hesitate to get in touch and speak to one of our experts.

IT Relocations

How to Plan an Office Move

Office IT Relocations can be a complex manoeuvre because of the desire to maintain your regular day-to-day activities while avoiding any major business disruptions. Many people view the hard part of planning an office move or office relocation as finding a new space and then outsourcing to the moving company, but things are much more complex than that when you take all the IT requirements into account.

IT Relocation & Office Moves – The Procedure

As one would expect, the absolute key to a successful office move is planning far in advance. A team needs to be assembled to determine the key dates of the move, as well as distributing the relocation budget.

There are various tasks that must be completed, such as booking the movers, disposing of old equipment, and notifying your customers of the move. A larger team is helpful for thinking of these contingencies, although you may wish to use a relocation consultant who has been through this before.

Your Business Relocation Continuity Plan

IT relocations can be executed much more smoothly if you have a proper business continuity plan that details how your voice and data services are going to be transferred over. You should have a plan for how you can plan IT upgrades at the time of moving at this point.

The Office Relocation plan you put together will detail how your data and important documents are backed up and stored off site (in case of emergency).

The inventory list you will have prepared as part of your checklist above will be helpful both with dealing with the movers and reassembling your office when your equipment reaches the new office.

Facilitating Your IT Relocation

IT relocations & office moves are a difficult to pull off without previous experience. There are invariably going to be unforeseen problems, but you need to be ready to solve them at a moment’s notice so as to avoid missing out on revenue.

The most frequent problem during office relocations is to do with the IT systems, which is why you should assemble a team who is devoted to planning and managing the way new systems will be implemented over the course of your office relocation.

The key to successful office IT relocation is in going through a checklist of all the things that could possibly go wrong, and mitigating the risks early on. Here are several questions to ask yourself:

  • Do we have a relocation business continuity plan?
  • Have we contacted all our Internet Service Providers regarding this move?
  • Have we performed an audit and inventory of all our current systems?
  • Do we need to upgrade any of our systems or equipment in the foreseeable future?

By properly assessing what you have and what you need, it is possible to turn your office move into a net benefit for everyone. Relocating your old telecoms system can be just as difficult (or more difficult) than moving to a new one.

Additionally, if you are planning on recruiting or onboarding new staff as part of your office move, you will have a whole new set of variables to cope with. This is why it is recommended that any upgrades you would be considering over the next 2-3 years be executed during a move.This sort of strong continuity should be your overarching goal throughout the whole move. However there is also a real opportunity to plan for the future and make changes that will set you up for success over the long-term.

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Best Apple Mac For Small Business?

Which is the Best Apple Mac for Business?

In the past, Apple products were seen as too expensive for most businesses, but this has changed a lot in the last decade. Now, there are numerous ways that Macs are superior to PCs in an office environment:

  • They are more secure than regular PCs
  • Macs are more easily managed in a business that is quickly scaling
  • Business-class PCs cost approximately the same as a Mac, but Macs have a lower cost of ownership
  • Macs are capable of fulfilling many of the core needs that PCs provide

For all these reasons and more, it is quickly becoming more practical for companies to use Macs instead of PCs. Smaller companies also benefit from the fact that Mac support is much superior to PC support and can help them save costs on in-house IT personnel.

Mac for business use?

Not all Macs are created the same though. You can choose to go with a desktop solution (iMac) or use a more portable option (MacBook). Initially, most people think that the only difference is the level of portability, but there is also the matter of cost and power to consider.

Apples Macs are highly effective tools, and making the choice between the two top picks (iMac and MacBook) is a difficult one. Some of the strengths and weaknesses of each solution are highlighted below.

Macbooks

Although you might not expect it, some MacBooks can be more powerful than their desktop counterparts. This is where you would consult your IT department to compare the specs on your current devices to your MacBook. The last thing you want is to experience a drop in technological capabilities for the sake of being able to carry your device around.

Using a MAC Book in a business environment allows for a much simpler workflow while travelling, and executives often benefit the most from the ability to work effectively while on the road. They are sometimes viewed as the consumer option, but for day-to-day work, there often isn’t a necessity to be able to move your device from location to location.

Apple iMacs

The desktop offering of Apple is a strong competitor in the market, and even though the iMac isn’t as portable as a MacBook, this isn’t always a big deal. With the widespread adoption of cloud technology, many of your files may be accessible from a different computer whenever you may need it.

One of the clear cases where an iMac may be the superior choice is when a user needs high visual capabilities, such as a designer or video editor. The screen on an iMac is much larger than that of a MacBook, and since it isn’t normally being transported around, it doesn’t need to be as durable as that of a MacBook. This results in superior visuals, which can definitely be a plus for certain roles.

Apple Mac – Final Thoughts

There is no clear cut answer here, but one thing is for sure: Apple’s products are becoming more and more accessible for corporate level usage. Even though you might not want to switch the entire office over to them, many businesses may benefit from having their executives use them.

From there, it is easy to start scaling out the solution. The lower cost of operation and higher functionality and networking capabilities often pay for themselves in a short period of time. This is definitely an investment your employees will thank you for down the line.

If you’d like help deciding which Apple Mac is right for your business, don’t hesitate to get in touch and we’d be happy to share our expert advice. We specialise in designing and supporting mixed networks with Macs and PCs allowing you to get the best out of both. Read about our Apple Mac Support Services.

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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Voip Advantages and Disadvantages

How New Telecom Technology is Helping Business

 

As a business, a lot of work goes into setting up your office environment to be efficient and effective. Traditionally this is very capital intensive, and anything you can do to lower your time and money investment is extremely helpful.

Thankfully, this is where VoIP (voice over internet protocol) systems become useful. Using business telecoms systems such as these have a myriad of benefits.

What Are The Benefits Of VoIP ?

 

  1. Enhanced Sound Quality: Many potential users become worried about the quality of sound over IP telephony, but there is nothing to worry about. In fact, now that the industry has integrated high-definition codecs, the sound quality is usually better than landline networks.
  2. Reduced Costs: companies are able to save on both the fixed costs and variable costs when they switch their telecoms services to VoIP. Limited upfront hardware is required, which eliminates the capital requirements to establish an office. Additionally, all you need is a broadband internet connection, which takes a whole line item off of your monthly operating statement. No more company-wide phone bill, and you are able to call internationally much more easily as well.
  3. Faster Setup Time: Normally, when a company is getting their office set up, there is a lot of work that must be done to bring their systems online. Special wiring and equipment needs to be installed, and this takes up valuable time.
    With VoIP, you don’t even have to deal with phone jacks. You have no cumbersome wires getting in the way, and it is easy to scale the network up by adding more nodes. Often we see companies make the assumption that the operation of a VoIP system requires a lot of technical know-how, but this is not the case at all. It is simple to set up and use for everyone.
  4. Enhanced Convenience: The above benefits of VoIP are all mostly relevant to the company, but there are also important benefits for end users. The ability to use a VoIP telephone means that employees can work from home or on the go, and this added convenience makes their jobs much more enjoyable. If your company already operates out of multiple locations, then this will make it much easier to facilitate inter-office communications. It used to be just the big corporations that had special office communications systems, but now anyone can use them.

VoIP Integrates With Other Business Applications

Between the enhanced sound quality and reduced costs, having your business telecoms centred around VoIP telephone services will provide a huge net benefit to your company. Not only do VoIP systems add cost and user befits, they can also integrate seamlessly with other application, making the transition to new telecoms technology rewarding and time saving. Small and medium-sized companies arguably benefit the most, since they were the ones who used to struggle with the capital aspect of setting up their first office. But ultimately every company can improve their operations by using IP telephony, and maximising the value of their telecoms investments.

Want To Know How the benefits of Voip Technology Could Help Your Business, Just Give Us A Call: 0844 770 0199

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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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?