Wales Tech News

Tips for Cutting IT Costs in Your Company

A part of your business streamlining processes that takes time to develop is your cost-cutting strategy. Over the course of months and years in your industry, you’ll become increasingly aware of the inputs that you’re paying to keep your company afloat. What you may not be so aware of is the fact that the costs of your IT systems – perhaps the most important and biggest source of your business expenditure – can be reduced with smart planning.

This article provides tips to help you cut these hefty costs.

Modern Software Solutions

Software packages are a part of your obligatory expenditure in business. You don’t simply require hardware and computing power – you also need the programs that’ll help you perform whichever process your business is concerned with. With software developers quickly moving to produce the best solutions for businesses large and small, there’s healthy competition to take advantage of in this space.

Whether you take it upon yourself to personally monitor the emerging tech scene, or you rely on IT specialist advisors to do it for you, it’s fundamentally important that you keep your software up-to-date and effective. The best software packages – offering the best balance between investment and outputs – are centralised, allowing you to process a number of different functions through the same program. These are easily onboarded as third-party applications, with data transfer capabilities to ensure that you don’t lose your past work.

Energy Usage

Computing power relies on a constant source of energy and, especially in larger offices maintaining a number of devices between working hours, this can add up substantially. You can enact a number of strategies to keep your energy costs down – the simplest of which being to ensure that no device is left running unnecessarily. Likewise, purchasing efficient hardware with low-energy cooling systems is another way to reduce the energy used by your computers.

Meanwhile, you can also cut costs with the energy supplier themselves. Use this site to find a comparison of utility prices in the UK, with business-specific packages competing for your attention and custom on-screen. This is the simplest way to reduce your expenditure on energy bills, and will help you make cost-efficient use of the tools that your staff use every day.

Upgrade Wisely

Every company must intermittently upgrade their hardware, which is a costly process that you’re unable to avoid as computing systems slowly become either obsolete or incredibly slow. When you are forced to consider a wholesale upgrade to your computing systems, you’re faced with a choice – whether you invest in a long-term solution with plug-in extras you can onboard over time, or a shorter-term investment that gets your company running smoothly on new hardware.

In either case, you’re going to want to talk with IT specialists, and monitor tech sites, in order to find the best deals on your new office equipment. Bear in mind that many providers will provide discounts for multiple computer purchases, so sometimes it pays to buy in bulk to achieve the discounts that’ll cut your IT costs.

These tips will help you cut the IT costs in your company dramatically, while maintaining the same performance levels that helps your staff make the most of the technology available to them in the workplace.

WebTips for Cutting IT Costs in Your Company

ISDN Phaseout 2020: Threat Or Opportunity?

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It is common knowledge amongst telecommunications experts that ISDN is a dying technology, and is planning an ISDN phaseout beginning next year.

BT will begin with a cease in supply in 2020. They intend on moving to a full migration by 2025, permanently switching off ISDN networks. The BT ISDN switch off could affect many businesses – especially if you’re unaware of the phaseout, and are looking to invest in or upgrade your current business telephone system.

ISDN’s days are numbered. Is your business ready?

What is ISDN?

ISDN (Integrated Service Digital Network) is a telecommunications technology that enables the transmission of digital data over standard phone lines. Known as the original high-speed internet service, it can be used for voice calls as well as data transfers. It sparked high-speed internet development between service providers in the 1990’s and revolutionised internet use.

ISDN is a communications network that relies heavily on physical infrastructure; specifically, copper wiring. It came to prominence because it provided the opportunity to transmit voice and data over the same lines. However, because of its reliance on physical infrastructure to manage calls and additional functionality via a PBX (or multiple), this takes up space within business premises and requires resources to administer and maintain them. Similarly, it is hard to add and remove new lines to an ISDN network because it requires the physical addition and removal.

Why the ISDN phaseout is important for my business:

The BT ISDN phaseout marks the next evolution of telecommunications technology. Despite being continually updated, ISDN phone lines are still cost far too much to maintain and run. Although the BT ISDN end of life of 2025 has not been set in stone, businesses will be unable to buy systems that use ISDN after 2020. If you currently have a traditional ISDN/PSTN based system, now is a great time to look into alternatives – and what many businesses don’t realise is just how beneficial the new systems are.

Hosted Telephony – what is it?

There are two future-ready solutions storming the market right now; the one we will focus on is Hosted Telephony.

Hosted telephony is a complete business phone system, delivered over the internet and provided by a host and/or telephony company.

ISDN phaseout VOIP ITCS

IP Technology:

IP (internet protocol) technology is incredible advantageous for business, and many are beginning to realise the endless benefits. When it comes to facilitating communications, organisations are able to use IP technology build a single infrastructure that supports both their voice and data communications needs.

After the ISDN phaseout, all phone lines will be superseded by IP technology, which is vastly superior to what we have used in the past.

What is VoIP? We’ll tell you: 

Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) is a telecommunications technology that allows users to make calls using the internet, rather than using traditional systems. VoIP works by converting sound into digital voice communication, and then transferring it through Internet broadband. Using a VoIP system has several benefits for many businesses:

1. It’s Cost Effective

Most importantly, the cost of using a VoIP telephone is much cheaper than using a conventional phone. Making long distance phone calls are also cheaper when using a VoIP provider. There’s no need for masses of on-site equipment either; only pay for as many users as you need.

2. Easy setup & maintenance

Besides the cost savings, setting up and maintaining a VoIP system is a much simpler job than with traditional telephone systems.

This is because there is so little on site equipment compared to traditional ISDN networks.

3. Greater Control

Furthermore, take complete control of your phone system with an extensive range of call handling and management features. These are all operated through an easy-to-use web interface. Ideal for home workers or multiple sites.

4. Freedom & Portability

VoIP technology is completely adaptable and flexible. This means you can easily add and remove users as you need. More importantly, physical location doesn’t matter either. Regardless of where you are, if you have Internet access, there should not be any problems in terms of costs and connections. In addition, VoIP systems are accessible via email or while you are travelling. Simply take your headset or IP phone, and you can contact staff or clients with a low cost call.

5. Provide better customer service to your clients

Enhance the service you can provide to your customers at all times. VoIP systems include dynamic call handling, pre-recorded messages and seamless transfers at the touch of a button.

6. Reliable and Secure

We provide full support including: training, number porting, provisioning and assistance. This will give you complete peace of mind.

Summing Up:

As you can see, the great BT ISDN switch off is as much an opportunity as it is a problem. The one thing we know for certain is that BT ISDN end of life is around the corner. Make sure you’re prepared for it. Make the ISDN Phaseout an opportunity for your business to cut costs and thrive.

Ready to find out what the advantages of VoIP for your company are? To discuss your particular requirements, or to discover more about the systems we offer, contact us by filling out our enquiry form or call us on 08456 444 200 for advice today. You can also email info@itcs.co.uk.

                                       

WebISDN Phaseout 2020: Threat Or Opportunity?

4 Key Security Threats that Businesses Need to Prepare for in 2019

From high profile data breaches of companies like Facebook and British Airways, to mounting evidence surrounding Russian interference in the 2016 US election, it is safe to say that 2018 was a landmark year in terms of security vulnerabilities and emboldened cyber-criminals. So, with 2019 set to bring more technology advancements, what can you do to protect yourself, and what should your priorities be as a business?

The Information Security Forum – also known as the ISF – is a trustworthy source that senior security professionals and board members turn to for guidance on information security and risk management. They have identified 4 key security threats that businesses will be faced with this year – as well as tips for risk management. You can read the full report here.

Key threats for 2019 include:

1. Increased Sophistication of Cyber Crime

In 2017, high-profile incidents, such as the WannaCry ransomware attack, made file-encrypting malware internet enemy number one. 2018 actually saw a decrease in the number of Ransomware attacks, as many businesses invested in backup solutions that eased the impact of a ransomware attack – or even investing in high quality Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR) systems – which basically eliminate the risk altogether.  However, there are still many high-profile ransomware attacks happening, which is why this threat remains at the top of our list as a threat to business in 2019.

How to Prepare:

John Zorabedian, author of Sophos NakedSecurity Blog – suggests that preventing ransomware attacks can be as simple as getting the basics of cyber security right. Back up your files regularly,  train and retrain employees in your business (we can help with that if you need). Use a password manager and never reuse passwords. Keep up to date with operating system patches and app or software updates. Change the default administrator passwords on things like home routers, modems, and network-attached storage servers.

2.Legislation Falling Behind 

ClickDimensions-GDPRBoth regional and national legislators are struggling to keep pace with the fast-paced developments in Cyber-security. They are set to fall even further behind in 2019, with most current legislation in place being years behind the technological curve. At the same time, as businesses cry out for more regulation, sweeping changes get made with tight deadlines that don’t allow adequate time for organisations to attain compliance. The ISF identifies how national regulations will also provide a hindrance: “legislation by its nature is government and regulator driven, resulting in a move towards national regulation at a time when cross border collaboration is needed. Organisations will struggle to keep abreast of such developments which may also impact business models which many have taken for granted”.

What Can I do?

Unfortunately, this one is mostly down to government and regulation. Without doubt, there remains much to be done and it requires the collaboration between governments, private initiatives, the academic sector, and of course, users.

3. Smart Devices will Challenge Data Integrity

Picture+for+ArticleAs the world enters a new era of technology, businesses are implementing smart devices enthusiastically in an effort to impact their business. This is a huge positive; however, many users won’t realise that these devices are often insecure by design, and therefore offer many opportunities for attackers. These types of attacks are on the rise; in 2018, SophosLabs saw significant growth in the volume of attacks targeting IoT devices. One of the reasons for this is that it’s challenging to detect a device is affected until something goes horribly wrong.

There will also be an increasing lack of transparency – vague terms and conditions will allow organisations to use personal data in ways customers did not intend. This will prove problematic for business, as it’ll become less clear to pinpoint what information is leaving their networks or what is being secretly captured and transmitted by devices such as smartphones or conference phones. To add insult to injury, when breaches occur, organisations will be held liable by regulators and customers for inadequate data protection.

The Fix:

Again, the main advice for preventing these types of attacks is to focus on mastering the basics. Make sure all devices are kept updated, and continually updating passwords. A new device that’s being introduced as a replacement for old devices makes it increasingly easy to forget about every connected device on your network. But old devices may carry old security protocols, forgotten passwords, and a whole host of other threats to your networks.

Each device is a potential weak point that has to be secured. So, if there are old access points that you no longer use, you’ll want to thoroughly disconnect them from the network – even going as far as doing a factory reset on the gadget.

4. Supply Chain Assurance Myths

Supply chains are a vital component of any B2B or B2C organisation. They are integral to the smooth running of a business, with valuable – and often sensitive – business information being shared with trusted suppliers. It’s important to remember that when this information is shared, direct control over your data is lost. This year, many organisations will realise that gaining traditional reassurance of their supply chain security is a lost cause. Businesses that continue to focus on assuring supply chain security with approaches such as self-certified audit and assurance, may preserve the illusion of security in the short term, but will inevitably discover that the security foundations they believed to be in place were lacking. Even the smallest supplier, or the slightest supply chain disruption, can have serious impacts on your business. Brand management and brand reputation are subject to the successful security of your supply chain; both are constantly at stake.

What to do:

Refocus on managing key data and understanding where and how it has been shared across multiple channels and boundaries, irrespective of supply chain provider. The best method is to implement a supply chain information risk assurance process, which is focused on information shared with upstream suppliers. This can be done by using supply chain maps to follow the information. Such an upstream information-sharing assessment tracks what is being shared with the suppliers’ suppliers and beyond. The results draw attention to significant concentrations of information, triggering the implementation of additional controls on your suppliers and can mitigate risks.

In Summary:

The unfortunate reality of today’s complex digital marketplace is that it is impossible to prevent every security compromise beforehand, and that no matter how much you prepare, there are still risks. However, being proactive now also means you, and your business will be better able to react rapidly and intelligently when something does happen.

For more information, guidance, and support on making sure your infrastructure is as secure as possible, get in touch with one of our engineers.

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Web4 Key Security Threats that Businesses Need to Prepare for in 2019

1/3 of UK leaders say they’d rather pay a hacker than invest in IT security – is UK plc waiting for the ransom notes?

Like most of Britain’s IT Leaders. IT Specialists ITCS are acutely aware of the importance of robust IT security systems and the threat posed by the growth in cyber-attacks and ransomware.  However, it seems that outside the IT department, business leaders are not giving adequate priority to the business risks they face from IT security threats.

IT Security Risks ‘huge’ as April report shows 350% Increase in Cyber Attacks

The Global Threat Intelligence Report (GTIR) published in April, reported that ransomware attacks surged by 350 per cent in 2017, accounting for 29 per cent of all attacks in EMEA and 7 per cent of malware attacks worldwide.  Victims have included public systems, such as the NHS, which impacted every area of the organization, including patient care.

The NHS response has been to allocate £150m on cyber-security to avoid a repeat of the incident – there is nothing like a headline-grabbing incident to raise the urgency of IT security spending.

‘Ordinary’ businesses face the same security risks as Public Bodies

It isn’t only official Government bodies, but absolutely every business that is at risk from the growing menace of cyber attackers – and it seems that UK business leaders, even in some of the UK’s largest employers are not treating IT security with the priority it deserves.

The 2018 Risk Value Report, published today, sees one third of senior global business decision makers admitting they would rather pay a hacker’s ransom demands than invest more of their hard-won budgets in information security.

ITCS Managing Director Brian Stokes said he was ‘shocked but not surprised’ by these results.  Brian said:

“This report is shocking, seeing as the UK’s top leaders don’t even know how much the ransom is likely to be, or even if they will ever get their data back after paying a ransom. This mindset is sending the wrong message, essentially telling international hackers they have a blank cheque ready – and are sitting waiting for the demands to arrive.  If that’s not scary, I don’t know what is.”

C-Suite leaders are over-confident about IT Security

It seems that outside the IT department, C-Suite leaders and other key decision makers are over-confident when it comes to assessing vulnerability within their own organisation.

Only 41 per cent of UK respondents were confident that their organisation had not been affected by a data breach already, but only 10 per cent of UK business leaders acknowledged that their organization was at risk of a future security breach.

22% of senior leaders ‘don’t know’ if their organization has suffered a security breach already

Nearly a third of senior leaders (31 per cent) believed they were not at risk and do not expect to suffer a breach – while this perhaps shows overconfidence, most worrying of all is that 22 per cent of senior UK business leaders admitted that they were not sure whether their organization had already suffered a breach or not!

Business leaders ‘idealistic’, not ‘realistic’

Kai Grunwitz, Senior VP EMEA, NTT Security, comments:

“Many decision makers within organisations are simply not close enough to the action and are looking at one of the most serious issues within business today with an idealistic rather than realistic view.

“This is reinforced by that worrying statistic that more than a third globally would rather pay a ransom demand than invest in their cybersecurity, especially given the big hike in ransomware detections and headline-grabbing incidents like WannaCry. While it’s encouraging that many organisations are prepared to take a long-term, proactive stance, there are still signs that many are still prepared to take a short-term, reactive approach to security in order to drive down costs.”

The issues that concern UK business leaders

Only 4 per cent of UK leaders identified information security as the single greatest risk to the business.

Notably, 14 per cent identified Brexit as the single greatest business risk facing UK businesses, but  competitors taking market share (24 per cent) and budget cuts (18 per cent) were the biggest concerns – it seems that most business leaders fail to appreciate the risks posed by poor IT Security and the impact a breach could have on the business.

UK Leaders under-estimating costs of an IT Security breach

The report also shows that UK executives are estimating lower costs than their international colleagues should a breach occur.  While global estimates predict costs to be USD1.52m, UK executives estimate their recovery costs would be on average USD1.33m.

UK Leaders under-estimate time to recover from a breach

UK executives also show far more confidence than their international colleagues when it comes to predicting recovery times.

Globally, respondents anticipate it would take 57 days to recover from a breach, whereas in the UK, decision makers predict it would take just 47 days to recover, one of the lowest estimates for any country.

IT Security is not ‘just an IT issue’

Brian Stokes, Managing Director of ITCS, said:

“This survey proves what we’ve been saying for some time, that over-confidence in IT Security is widespread and in most cases this level of confidence is not justified among UK business leaders.   Attacks have the potential to disrupt an entire business so the threat needs to be discussed at board level – in every business, not just within IT businesses.

“GDPR sent UK plc into a panic, but IT Security spending is just as important to address – and also critically important to GDPR.  If these figures are correct, then we have way too many senior executives who are under-prepared, over-confident it will not happen to them, and happy to run the risk and pay an unquantified price if a breach occurs.   Their employees, customers and shareholders deserve better, I encourage them to act now.”

 

Business leaders who have any questions about IT Security can contact ITCS by telephone on 08456 444 200 or by visiting their website: https://www.itcs.co.uk

Web1/3 of UK leaders say they’d rather pay a hacker than invest in IT security – is UK plc waiting for the ransom notes?

ITCS welcomes Severn Bridge Toll Reduction

Multi-award winning Welsh IT support provider ITCS has welcomed the news today that Severn bridge tolls are to be reduced.

The company, whose support vans will now pay £11.20 instead of £13.40 each time their engineers have to make a support visit to their many clients in Bristol said the cut was heartening, but that it is vital for Wales road infrastructure to also be upgraded.

Managing Director, Brian Stokes, said:

“As well as ensuring that the plan to scrap tolls altogether stays on track, the Welsh Government needs to urgently address transport and infrastructure issues in Wales.  The poor state of our over-congested motorways, the lack of an adequate road network between North and South Wales, and our underfunded rail network are all urgent problems which will continue to hamper trade. 

“From our Head Office in Wales, we now cover the whole of the UK.  Many of our clients are located in Bristol, so the toll reduction is welcome, but the road network causes problems even among engineers traveling between Bridgend, Cardiff and Swansea, so we have to keep local engineers on call to service our larger clients. 

“Thankfully, most of our IT support can be carried out remotely, but when staff have to make on-site support calls, there is nothing more frustrating than keeping clients waiting because the driver is stuck in yet another traffic jam on the M4, or struggling on single lane routes when trying to reach a client in North Wales.    The rail network is not much better, many of our staff travelling in by train experience delays on a daily basis and fellow businessmen say they have missed important meetings because their train was delayed.”

“We’ve been told that scrapping bridge tolls represents an important opportunity for Welsh businesses to get the level playing field they deserve.  I call upon the Welsh Government to address the infrastructure issues as a matter of urgency, because Wales cannot afford to see business opportunities wasted.”

WebITCS welcomes Severn Bridge Toll Reduction

Welsh business telecoms provider welcomes iPhoneX – along with better mobile speeds for rural Wales

 

Brian Stokes, Managing Director of Business Telecoms and IT Provider ITCS, discusses the launch of 1PhoneX and mobile connectivity issues for rural welsh businesses.

As a business mobile provider, we’re pleased to see the release of the new iPhoneX. ITCS will be taking pre-orders from 27th Oct, with availability from 3rd Nov. Early uptake is high, with a number of business customers eager to get their hands on the new model X.

However, In the comfort of large cities like Cardiff and Swansea, while tech lovers are debating the benefits of the new iPhoneX and having discussions over who has the best superfast broadband speeds, it’s easy to forget that in some more rural parts of Wales it’s still hard to get sufficient signal to even send a text message.

I’m encouraged to learn this could be about to change.

Wales to implement a new ‘Mobile Action Plan’

While mobile connectivity is the responsibility of the UK Government, the Welsh Government earlier this month announced a new ‘Mobile Action Plan’ to support the mobile phone industry to improve connectivity in Wales.

There are particular challenges in boosting mobile connectivity in Wales. For example, data from Ofcom on television masts show that because of the country’s topography Wales needs 67 masts to reach one million people, while in England to reach the same amount of people 12 masts are required, in Northern Ireland it is 25 and Scotland 45.

The series of actions follows a Mobile Roundtable held by the Minister for Skills and Science, Julie James, with mobile providers and the regulator earlier this year. The plan has been developed in consultation with those at the meeting and others including farming unions, landowners and business organisations.

It focuses on the key areas where the Welsh Government can use the levers at its disposal and its influence to help improve connectivity and capacity. The areas include:

• Planning – Research has been commissioned, due to be completed in the Autumn, to inform changes to permitted development rights for telecommunications equipment to improve mobile connectivity. Planning Policy Wales (PPW) will be refreshed to highlight the positive relationship between telecommunications and the economy. A revised PPW will be published for consultation by Spring 2018. The Welsh Govenment will also work with mobile network operators to revise and update the code of best practice and Technical Advice Note (TAN19)

• Non-domestic rates – Where evidence suggests that a reduction in non-domestic rates would encourage investment the Welsh Government will consider providing non-domestic rates relief on appropriate mobile mast sites.

• Innovation and emerging technologies – The Welsh Government and mobile network operators will work together to identify opportunities to develop and test innovative technologies in Wales, including 5G. There have already been success stories in Wales in this field, such as the Welsh Government working with EE in the Teifi Valley to extend coverage using small cell technology.

• Major events and special projects – Build on work already done at the Royal Welsh Show where collaborative working has resulted in a permanent mast at the showground. The Welsh Government will facilitate relationships between mobile network operators and major event organisers.

Improving mobile connectivity is vital for Wales Business growth

At ITCS, we partner with all the major telephone networks in order to provide the best solution for our customers, no matter where their location. However, as a business telecoms specialist in Wales, we cannot stress how important improving connectivity is for our more rural customers to improve business growth.

We are proud to have worked already with the Welsh Government on the superfast broadband rollout, which has seen tiny rural villages like Mawdlam in South Wales boasting fantastic data speeds of over 300mbps. We look forward to seeing the Mobile Action Plan implemented with similar success and to helping more rural Welsh businesses access all the benefits that modern mobile telecoms are already delivering to our City-based customers.

 

WebWelsh business telecoms provider welcomes iPhoneX – along with better mobile speeds for rural Wales