ITCS Blog

ITCS Apprentice Awarded Permanent Job Role After Completing Qualification

ITCS’s latest apprentice, Conlan Davies, has completed his training and accepted a permanent position at their Bridgend based offices as a Level 2 IT Support engineer.

Conlan, 22, was offered the apprenticeship after a week’s work experience, and has excelled in his role.

As part of his apprenticeship, Conlan was involved in a number of different projects as he developed his capabilities and gained practical experience. He began in the workshop repairing hardware faults, and due to his knowledge and excellent manner with clients, quickly became situated on the support desk.

“It allowed me to better my knowledge within a Windows server and networking environment” says Conlan, “My apprenticeship has allowed me to become confident helping clients, and I’m now very familiar with many technical domains” Conlan is comfortable resolving issues within areas around Active Directory, Group Policy, Network Security (firewalls/spam filters), Mail Hosting Platforms (Microsoft Exchange/Office 365), VPN (ipsec, L2TP, PPTP, SSL), Proactive Maintenance (Backup Solutions/Compliancy Reporting), Virtual Environments, Switches and Servers, as well as your general DNS, DHCP and Router Management.

He has also recently been involved with mail migrations to an Office 365 solution from a POP/IMAP or Microsoft Onsite Exchange platforms. “I’d really like to master these migrations in the next few months”, says Conlan.

ITCS is committed to supporting the development of talented young people with apprenticeships, student placements and graduate opportunities; the Directors believe that nurturing new talent is a key component of the company’s long-term workforce development.

ITCS are working closely with Bridgend College to develop specialist modules and to encourage apprenticeships within the technology sector. We recognise the importance of investing in the next generation of IT engineers and work closely with the college to tailor modules that will allow our current employees to train our apprentices to the highest standard.

Conlan said: “My colleagues have supported me since my first day and ITCS has really helped me during my apprenticeship. I felt comfortable and part of the team very quickly, even though I was still learning on the job, because the directors ensure that everyone’s opinion is valued, regardless of their job role or seniority. I’m really happy to have been offered a permanent role at ITCS; I’m looking forward to working on bigger projects and taking on more responsibility”.

Matthew Mutlow, Operations Director, said: “Conlan integrated into the business very quickly and is a valued member of our team. He has worked hard during his apprenticeship and we are delighted to be able to reward his efforts by offering him a permanent job at ITCS.

“Apprenticeships are an important part of our workforce development. We strive to offer people opportunities to develop their skills, but also to develop themselves, as people. I’m sure Conlan will continue to thrive as a permanent ITCS employee, and we look forward to welcoming more apprentices into the fold to develop more budding engineers.”

WebITCS Apprentice Awarded Permanent Job Role After Completing Qualification

6 of the best business apps to save you time

There are 5.7 million businesses in the UK. 99.9% of that 5.7 million are SMEs. They are the backbone of the UK economy.

Even if running your business is your life’s passion, you can still feel like everyone wants a piece of you. You’re expected to wear a multitude of hats; from admin to sales, marketing to accounts, the list can seem endless.

You also never seem to switch off – which often means working from your phone.

Innovative and smart business owners are always looking for ways to be more efficient, so they can focus on what drove them to head out into the world of self-employment in the first place.

But what’s the best productivity software to use? In a digital world of apps and programmes, all promising to make you the ‘most productive’, it can be difficult to sift through and decide which is best for you.

The truth is, they’ll all help you get the job done, provided you use them consistently and collaborate effectively. But we’ve pulled together a shortlist of user-friendly apps that will help you in your quest for ultimate efficiency. Here are 6 apps that we believe will help you be as productive as possible, and make life slightly easier as a business owner:

1. Wunderlist: More than a to-do list

Wunderlist allows you to manage all of your to-dos in the cloud.

Wunderlists’ UI is very fast and easy to use. The features are easy to find and everything flows together smoothly.

In a nutshell, Wunderlist is a cloud based task-listing tool. It’s designed for companies of all sizes, and the app helps its users to schedule, manage and track all their projects from one easy-to-use platform.

The software works and will sync across platforms, meaning it can be used on Windows, OS X, web, Android and iOS.

What’s great about Wunderlist is its straightforward interface. Wunderlists’ UI is very fast and easy to use. The features are easy to find and everything flows together smoothly. Creating lists, managing tasks, and categorizing them according to level of priority are made easy. You can assign deadlines to team members, filter tasks, and display the schedule–and as you get to know the software, you’ll uncover some other great features too.

The software was taken over by Microsoft in 2015, too – which means it benefits from Microsoft’s security patch updates.

Download Wunderlist Here:

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2. OneNote  – Microsoft’s most underrated app:

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The app is a powerful hidden gem that lurks in the shadow of its’ better known siblings: Word, Excel and PowerPoint. But don’t be fooled. This app is a little cracker.

OneNote is probably one of the most under-used and underrated app in the Office series. The app is a powerful hidden gem that lurks in the shadow of its’ better known siblings: Word, Excel and PowerPoint. But don’t be fooled. This app is a little cracker.

What if someone told you that there was a program available to you ALREADY in your Office 365 package? One which integrates with Outlook task lists, behaves as a file storage folder, has database functions, and looks like a notebook?  Well, there is. Welcome to OneNote by Microsoft!

People hear OneNote and instantly think of it as another note-taking app – which, yes, it is. But it is also versatile. The software allows you to store most file types inside of it, so you can take notes in a meeting or for a project, and put all related content right next to it. You can also record audio or video notes to yourself directly in the app.

Download OneNote to your phone here:

3. Pocket, the reading list app:

Pocket is basically a virtual space to hold articles, videos and other content for easy viewing later.

This handy little app lets you keep track of anything interesting you find online to read later.

It’s a tale as old as time: you see an interesting article on LinkedIn, get called into a meeting, and bookmark the tab for later. Then you forget, open up a new tab, until you open more and more browser tabs, add bookmarks you’ll never find again, or maybe email yourself links for later reference.

Pocket is basically a virtual space to hold articles, videos and other content for easy viewing later. This isn’t limited to web links – users can download content for offline consumption – and if you really like what you see, you can share with other Pocket users, or share them to social media directly from the app.

Pocket’s free version works well, but the Premium version goes further by dropping the ads, making your content a permanent resource, and providing lots of advanced features (for approximately £30 a year).

4. Lastpass, A free password manager:

LastPass can quickly generate strong and secure passwords, then save them in an encrypted vault.

If we’re all honest, we know we’re meant to have strong passwords, but they’re a nightmare to remember. Not to mention having to generate new, strong passwords all the time, having to enter a 16 character password into a tiny mobile screen, and then having to remember all the different versions – passwords can be stressful.

That’s why a good password manager is essential to any business owner with more than 50 different passwords on their mind. LastPass can quickly generate strong and secure passwords, then save them in an encrypted vault. Your latest passwords are immediately available across all your devices, so whatever you’re using, LastPass will automatically log you in with a tap.

5. Moment – For the procrastinator:

Once you know how much time you’re wasting on Instagram or trawling through your Facebook feed, you can set daily limits for apps.

Moment is an extremely clever app for those of us who struggle to stay off social media, games, and other online distractions when we need to be productive. The app tracks how much you use your device every day, and you’ll be alarmed at the results.

Once you know how much time you’re wasting on Instagram or trawling through your Facebook feed, you can set daily limits for apps. You then get a notification, or if you’re a serial alarm snoozer, a flood of notifications, to get you to stop procrastinating. Annoying, but effective.

6. DocuSign – sign documents online

Docusign is the client-based company’s best friend. It’s a cloud based e-signature solution that’s usable across all devices and a multitude of platforms. The platform can be used to sign various types of documents including business contracts, school permission slips, agreements and approvals.

Not only will this app save you time, but it will also save your company tons of paper, and improve the turnaround time of contract signings – how much easier is it to sign something on your phone and email it, rather than printing it, signing it, scanning it, then emailing it back?

You can CC anyone when you send out a document, and everyone involved is notified when it is completed.

It also lets you know if someone has opened the document but hasn’t signed – allowing you can reach out to your client and ask if they need clarification on the contract.

Download phone versions of this app here:

In Summary:

This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to apps that’ll help your productivity. The list of productivity apps really is endless. If you have any other programmes that you like to use, let us know!

Web6 of the best business apps to save you time

Your Business should be using Office 365. Here’s why:


Office 365 graphic

We know that the IT department and investing in technology is one of the biggest expenses for businesses. Whether you are operating with 5 employees or 55, keeping up-to-date with hardware and software – particularly when you are a self-declared ‘Technophobe’ – is enough to bring any business owner to breaking point.

I don’t have time to sit and sort out my IT systems. If it isn’t broken and functions fine, why fix it? “

It’s dangerous to confuse functionality with productivity. Software updates are getting more and more frequent these days, and support for older software decreases over time, until one day you’re faced with the end of life for a key piece of software or the end of support for hardware.

The choice is yours: you can continue to use systems that no longer receive support or updates (exposing your organisation to cyber threats), or you can take the time to evaluate your options.

FACT:

Office 365 is used by over 55% of businesses worldwide.

Microsoft Office 365 is a cloud-based productivity tool for small and medium-sized businesses. The platform is designed to transform the way you work with both your colleagues and customers. But why is it so popular? This article examines some of Office 365’s main benefits.

work anywhere 0ffice 365

1. Work anywhere there’s an internet connection:

Office 365 is a cloud based service – this means that you don’t have to be sitting at your work desk to access it. You can work from home, abroad, your local cafe – from a PC, laptop, tablet, or your phone. The software boasts an up-time guarantee of 99.9% – no more server failures or system updates meaning work comes to a halt.


2. Collaborate with ease:

Every member of your team who needs to contribute to, or edit a document, can all work together on the same version, with changes being made in real time. This saves the inevitable (and all too common) confusion of having multiple versions of a document floating around.


3. Totally Flexible:

Office 365 has multiple options and packages – meaning you are able to select a platform that’s suited to your individual business needs. You’re also able to add and remove licenses with ease; cloud usage can be scaled to align with the growth of your business. Furthermore, business owners no longer need to worry about purchasing expensive extra servers – you simply alter your subscription plan to account for all end users.


4. Monthly Subscription:

Further to the subscription plan mentioned above, Office 365 is a subscription-based service. This makes the software a far more manageable solution for smaller operations, who may work better with a predictable monthly fee. It also helps with business cash-flow, as the month to month style payments can allow your financial teams to plan out the annual budget in an easier way.


5. Robust Security & Reliability:

It is a common misunderstanding that cloud storage is unsafe. With Office 365, you gain lots of cyber security features to keep your data safe – something that smaller businesses without the resources for complex security methods will benefit from. Some of these features include:

  • Encrypted Email
  • Data Loss Prevention: Allowing you to protect sensitive information from leaving your organisation – see Microsoft’s Data Loss Prevention policy for more information.
  • Mobile Device Management: A feature that permits you to control Office on company mobiles.
  • Advanced Threat Analytics: This analyses your systems, detecting and alert users to suspicious behaviour on the network.

6. Expert Support:

Migrating to Office 365 through ITCS gives you access to out support team, meaning that if there’s a problem you can’t solve alone, we are there.

Still unsure? Contact us today for expert, impartial advice about the best cloud solution for your business.

WebYour Business should be using Office 365. Here’s why:

Developing Trust in a Digital Environment

How demonstrating security around your IT Systems allows businesses to gain competitive advantage in a digital age.

TRUST IN A TIME OF DIGITAL DISRUPTION

Trust is crucial to attracting and retaining customers. It’s no secret that as digital engagement continues to evolve, both business and consumer markets are demanding trustworthy, secure digital experiences.

As technology innovation progresses, customers have a higher standard of expectation on how organizations deliver digital products and services, and see cyber-security as integral to their digital experience.

There seems to be a gap in perception forming between clients and organisations when it comes to technology: “Twenty-first century enterprises use technology to enable consumer engagement, realize value from intangible assets, and develop the workforce of the future,” says Greg Bell, KPMG Global Co-Leader, and Cyber Security. “But these models should be broadened to include cybersecurity as part of the investment, enabling organizations to change faster, while reducing risk.”

OPPORTUNITY AND THREAT

Business and consumer markets are fully aware of the upsides of technology advancement; they are also becoming increasingly aware of the risks that come along with it. It’s a rational concern: we are constantly reading about organisations on the receiving end of a cyber-attack, with leaked information such as passwords, activity logs, and financial records.

Clients are concerned, and rightly so, about how this will affect them personally – they’re less worried about how the security breaches will affect the organisation in question. As organisations continue their transformation journeys, those that are able to address their consumers’ concerns can have a competitive edge.

ACTIONS SPEAK LOUDER THAN WORDS

Brand trust used to be developed through consistency (and persistency) in messaging. Although this still has a part to play, growing customer knowledge means that companies now need to prove their trustworthiness as a brand. It’s easy for companies to overlook the potential ramifications of losing trust. Executives will often think about production disruption and loss of intellectual property – however, tarnished brand perceptions can permanently damage your business.

Chief Privacy Officer at Immuta agrees, “Security and privacy concerns can no longer take a back seat in the product / service development lifecycle — not simply because of the value of security and privacy alone, but for their business impact as well.”

BE PROACTIVE

So what can be done? Businesses need to be proactive in risk minimisation, and a plan should a breach occur. Communicating this to customers will help build trust and enhance the overall experience with your brand. Clients see value in companies providing more transparency and communication to assure cybersecurity protections are ongoing and present. When organisations take the time to align cybersecurity as a business priority, and invest in it properly, they create positioning as trusted leaders and providers. Reputation and trust are precious attributes that both consumers and businesses seek in this digital age.

Ultimately, understanding customers expect you to have some sort of cybersecurity measures in place will go a long way in keeping them happy and maintaining their patronage.

WebDeveloping Trust in a Digital Environment

VoIP FAQs: What is a Soft phone?

A soft phone isn’t actually a phone at all.

A softphone is actually a piece of software – similar to Skype, or Slack, that enables you to make phonecalls from other devices, such as your smartphone, tablet or PC.

If you have a softphone, a headset, microphone, and VoIP provider, you can place video calls and Voice over Internet Protocol, or VoIP, calls.

What’s Great about a Soft phone:

As remote working becomes increasingly popular, the versatility and portability of the softphone is proving extremely appealing for many clients.

With a softphone, you can do many of the things that you can do on your desk phone, whilst unifying communications throughout the business so no call goes unanswered. With a Softphone, you can:

  • Place, receive, and transfer calls
  • Manage your contacts
  • Set call waiting and do not disturb settings
  • Update rules for how calls forward
  • Reroute calls
  • Call with a single click
  • And more

Why You need a Soft phone:

Although no one is exactly throwing their desk-phones away yet, the flexibility of VoIP has allowed business owners to easily use a mix of both handset and soft phones to allow for business versatility.

There are a range of benefits of using soft phones in your business. In addition to significant cost reduction, Soft phones:

  • Are easy to obtain and use
  • Can save money in comparison to desk phones
  • Lower monthly service charges and international call costs
  • Advanced calling features — even video conferencing
  • Adding and removing users easily
  • Provide portability: employees can work from anywhere whilst retaining the same phone number
  • Present a unified and professional company image
  • Integration with CRM systems

Should I get rid of my desk phone?

The reality is that every business is different, and therefore every businesses communication strategy will be different. The choice between the Desk phone or Soft phone solution is a question that many businesses have to grapple with.

Both IP Desk phones and Softphones have got their pros and cons. You’ll need to take your business individual needs into consideration to determine the most appropriate phone solution.

If you need help or advice determining what solution is the most appropriate for your business, get in touch with ITCS Business Telecoms .

WebVoIP FAQs: What is a Soft phone?

Vacancy: Senior IT Support Engineer Wanted

Who We Are:

ITCS (UK) Ltd is a specialist IT and Telecoms company servicing businesses throughout England and Wales. The company is growing at a rapid pace and looking to recruit fresh talent. The company delivers a wide range of IT solutions including Consultancy, Support, Procurement, Web & Software Development and Training. ITCS specialise in flexible IT computer solutions, providing anything from the support of small networks, through to the development and installation of multi-site operations.

We are seeking an innovative Senior IT Support engineer to join our expanding web department in Bridgend.

Do you think you could fit into our Web team? This is what we are looking for:

Responsibilities and Duties:

  • Dealing with support requests from the 1st and 2nd line team
  • Establishing networking environment by designing system configuration, directing system installation, defining, documenting, and enforcing system standards
  • The design and implementation of new solutions and improving resilience of the current environment
  • Maximizing network performance by monitoring performance, troubleshooting network problems and outages, scheduling upgrades and collaborating with network architects on network optimisation
  • Undertaking data network fault investigations in local and wide area environments, using information from multiple sources
  • Securing network system by establishing and enforcing policies, and defining and monitoring access
  • The support and administration of firewall environments in line with IT security policy
  • Updating job knowledge by participating in educational opportunities, reading professional publications, maintaining personal networks and participating in professional organisations
  • Reporting network operational status by gathering, prioritising information and managing projects
  • Upgrading data network equipment to latest stable firmware releases
  • Configuration of routing and switching equipment
  • Configuration of hosted IP voice services
  • Configuration of firewalls
  • Remote support of on-site engineers and end users/customers during installation
  • Remote troubleshooting and fault finding if issues occur upon initial installation
  • Capacity management and audit of IP addressing and hosted devices within data centres
  • Liaising with project management team and service desk engineers on a regular basis
  • Speaking with customers via email and phone for initial requirement capture

The Ideal Candidate:

Candidates must be able to demonstrate an excellent knowledge and understanding of the following areas:

  • Networking Knowledge (DHCP, DNS, TCPIP)
  • Windows Server Administration 2008 through to 2019
  • Microsoft Exchange Administration
  • Wireless Networking
  • VPN Technologies
  • Cloud Solutions
  • Cisco/CCNA (Advantageous)

If you think you’d fit into this role, please contact Matt Mutlow, Operations Director, with a CV and covering letter by following the link below:

WebVacancy: Senior IT Support Engineer Wanted

Signs It’s Time to Review Your IT Service Provider

Having a good relationship with an IT provider is integral to your business success.

As an SME, the quality of service you get from your suppliers affects everything from your internal operations, to the quality of your customer service.

Lost data, recurring downtime, IT security glitches, poor response times – these can all damage your business reputation.

According to CompTIA, a world leading tech association, reasons for leaving IT Providers usually fall into the following categories:

  •     Poor response times 
  •     Feeling neglected
  •     Too high cost
  •     Lack of innovative solutions
  •     Lack of expertise
  •     Difficult to work with

Here are some of the main tell-tale signs that you need to be considering your IT Provider options:

1. Lack-Lustre Pro-activeness:

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Poor response times are one of the most popular reasons that SMEs search for a new IT Provider. Besides responding to requests quickly, your IT partner should be proactively informing you, and preventing problems before they occur. Routine monitoring and maintenance is imperative, and you have a right to expect this of your IT partner.

With digital innovation continuing to drive business growth, and with ever-evolving cyber-security changes, your need for a proactive approach to your business IT support will be increasing. If you don’t feel that your current provider is providing you with proactive IT Support, you should really think about changing providers.

 

2. Cost:

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Any business owner worth their salt understands that lowest isn’t always the best value for money. With that being said, high costs alone shouldn’t be a reason to change supplier. However, you pay your current provider to keep your network up, running, and problem free.

If you are doubting whether you are getting real value for your money, you can arrange a free site audit with us. One of our engineers will call out and examine your current systems, then provide a report completely free, and with no obligations.

 

3. Recurring Issues:

Image result for phone frustrated business

Let’s face it; IT will never work like a Swiss watch. There are simply too many variables in business that are beyond your IT provider’s control. However, the entire reason you invest in an IT Partner / IT Department is to avoid day to day business disruption. You trust that your provider will keep downtime to a minimum and keep your data safe. If you feel a bit like Bill Murray in Groundhog Day, facing the same issues repeatedly – despite being told that the problem has been fixed – it’s quite clear that your IT provider is not doing everything within their knowledge to discover the cause of the problem and address it properly.

 

4. No Understanding of your Industry:

Image result for one size fits all business

Yes, perhaps it’s a lofty expectation for your IT provider to have a full understanding of every product / service you sell, but your IT provider should certainly have a sound understanding of the function of your business. A good IT Partner will be able to provide its’ services on a general business level, and be able to tailor its’ services to the specific needs and goals of your own operation. They should have a solid knowledge of how the technology and digital processes you use impact productivity and efficiency.

 

5. Can they Protect you from disaster?

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When disaster strikes, downtime can be expensive, and your hard earned reputation can be damaged. Disaster Recovery as a Service is designed to prevent this. Your IT partner should be able to clearly spell out how they fit into your business continuity plan and if they can’t it is a sure sign that it is time to look for a new provider.

 

Here at ITCS, we believe in building open, lasting, trusted relationships with all of our clients. If that’s what you need and you’re ready to change IT provider – or if you identify with any of the concerns in this article, call us for a chat. We’d love to see if we can help.

 

WebSigns It’s Time to Review Your IT Service Provider

Cyber-Crime & SMEs: Who would want to attack my business?

When you look to the media, it is very rare to see small businesses making headlines for being attacked by cybercriminals. However, cyber-attacks in the UK grew by a dizzying 140% in 2018, and show no signs of slowing down in 2019. Moreover, According to the 2018 Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report, 58% of cyber-attack victims were small businesses.

These figures don’t seem to make sense at first glance. Firstly, why would attackers put a small business in their crosshairs? Surely the big payoffs would come from going after larger operations? Secondly, the news is filled with headlines about cyber-attacks on large entities like the NHS, British Airways, and TalkTalk – SMEs are very rarely mentioned?

It might be tempting to think that your business has little in the way of value for hackers in comparison to the Talk Talks and Yahoos of the world. The fact of the matter is that your business has systems which hold data. Anything your business can leverage to make a profit, so can hackers. The statistics speak for themselves:

2/3 of companies with 10 – 49 employees suffered some form of cyber-attack in 2018.

The ONS estimate around 4.5 million cyber-crimes were committed in England and Wales during 2018.

Cyber-crime now accounts for more than 50% of all crimes in the UK (National Crime Agency).

According to the UK Gov’s ‘Cyber Survey 2019’, 31% of small businesses & 60% of med-sized businesses experienced a cyber-attack in 2018.

These figures are intimidating: The threats are real. But something stands between them and your organization’s data: you and your security teams, with the insight, perspective, and tools to take action.

Here are a few simple, yet effective tips that will benefit any business owner:

1. Perfect Password Protection:

This seems obvious; password protection is a standard practice these days. However, using a strong password that gets changed regularly is the foundation of good cyber-security. Follow these simple protocols when creating your passwords to ensure they are as strong as possible:

  • 8-16 characters in length
  • combination of upper and lowercase letters
  • include numbers and symbols
  • don’t choose obvious passwords
  • Change regularly

Implementing policies to deal with the sharing of passwords, even with co-workers, is also a good idea.

2. Layered Protection:

Layered protection in terms of technology and tools, means implementing various security controls to protect separate entryways. For example, deploying a firewall, endpoint protections, and secure email gateways – as opposed to relying only on traditional perimeter defenses. This also means limiting access to certain types of information, and adding levels of protection such as additional passwords, encryption, and so on.

Potential security risks can occur at a variety of levels. As a business owner, you need to set up security measures that provide multiple layers of defence against these risks. Layered security aids in keeping even the most sensitive data safe.

3. Monitor Personal Devices:

This sounds a little bit ‘Big Brother’-esque, but this doesn’t mean invading your staff’s personal privacy or disallowing specific software and apps. It just means that as a small business, you may not have the capital to provide devices like laptops, tablets, and smartphones for employees to use. In other words, employees may use personal devices to access company data.

If this is the case for your business, you need to create policies that allow your network administrator to install monitoring software, push automatic security updates, and call for regular password changes.

4. Train Employees:

Even with a technical support staff in place, your employees can create some of the greatest risks to cyber-security. However, when properly trained, they can also become some of your greatest assets – and a first line of defence against a data breach. With this in mind, it’s imperative that organisations conduct regular training sessions throughout the year to keep employees aware of potential scams and the ways they can make their organisation vulnerable.

 

 

5. Plan for Attack:

As you’ve seen above, cyber-attacks are now so prevalent, it’s best to prepare for the worst. You need to take a proactive approach to IT security. Ensure you employ a company that will take the time to get to know your business, and design a network security solution to suit your needs and budget.

 

 

6. Hack Yourself:

Before creating procedures and controls around IT security, organisations need to determine their risk. One of the best ways to find vulnerabilities is to hire an appropriate consulting firm or IT specialists to audit your system in search of weaknesses. From there, you can begin to make changes that will better protect your business, your network, and your clients.

 

 

 

Rounding Up:

SMEs have an inherent advantage over larger companies: smaller business tend to be more agile and flexible, so can adjust to changes quickly. The lack of red tape and corporate complexity means they can act and adapt fast. By giving cyber security the same priority as other business goals, SMEs can maintain their advantage and thrive in the new digital world. Cybercrime is on the rise and IT security is vital. ITCS can help you defend your data. Get in touch today for a free IT security audit – forewarned is definitely forearmed.

WebCyber-Crime & SMEs: Who would want to attack my business?

What Smart E-Commerce Solutions are on the Horizon?

Online retail sales have burgeoned in recent years. It now seems as if there is an application for every product and service on the market. All experts agree that these trends show no signs of slowing down and if anything, they are expected to increase. The same holds true when examining the meteoric rise of user-friendly and cutting-edge ecommerce platforms. After all, such systems are absolutely necessary to secure online sales and to proactively address any issues that a customer may have. This is why a great deal of thought has been placed into adopting some of the latest and most innovative smart technologies. So, how has the e-commerce sector evolved and what interesting amenities might be looming just over the horizon?

Smart Systems and Artificial Intelligence

The role of artificial intelligence (AI) will continue to gain ground as computing power increases alongside the demand for more intuitive UX architecture. How might some of these transformations translate to the end user? While no one possesses the proverbial looking glass, some features that are likely to emerge in the coming years include:

  • Smart chatbots to partially replace human interactions.
  • Facial recognition technology to augment existing security protocols.
  • Marketing campaigns based solely off of the buying habits of the client.
  • A more accurate collection and interpretation of big data to hone advertising strategies.

It is therefore clear to see that the role of “smart” systems involves much more than architecture alone. The main goal is to provide the end user with a more targeted and interact experience than in the past. This will breed loyalty over time and encourage future purchases. However, smarter and more flexible are not always better. We need to embrace a careful balance between technological advancement and a user-friendly e-commerce system.

Designed for the Individual as Opposed to the Coding Expert

The first e-commerce providers tended to adopt a “one-size-fits-all” approach. In other words, they were comparatively inflexible in regards to their ability to be moulded around the discrete needs of a specific organisation. They instead offered “blanket” approaches and naturally, some freelance businesses fell through the digital gaps. It did not take long for developers to realise this oversight. This is why we have seen the emergence of more targeted and user-friendly solutions such as those which are currently offered by Shopify.

To put it simply, it is much better to work smart as opposed to hard. As the number of individual entrepreneurs continues to grow, we should expect e-commerce software to adapt to this inexorable momentum. This ultimately signifies more flexible architecture, drag-and-drop functionality, 24-hour customer support solutions, and websites that can be modified on the fly as opposed to requiring the use of a dedicated IT expert. Larger enterprises as well as small businesses should both benefit as a result. While the digital future is not set in stone, it is likely that these trends will continue to emerge (to the benefit of everyone involved).

WebWhat Smart E-Commerce Solutions are on the Horizon?

World Password Day should Be Every Day!

It’s World Password Day: when you look back – even as little as ten years – cyber security has never been as important as it is today. Businesses and Consumers both store some of their most sensitive details live behind online password protection. Financial information, confidential files, official documentation, personal photos, the list goes on. With intimidating statistics coming out about hackers and business all the time (Did you know there is a hacker attack every 39 seconds?), it seems that keeping sensitive online data safe needs to be at the top of everyone’s priorities.

With this in mind, World Password Day seems to present the perfect opportunity to be diligent about ensuring our passwords are secure. A few tips to keep in mind include:

1. Make your passwords 9-10 characters long:

Most websites recommend an 8 character minimum, but we would recommend using a minimum of 9 or 10 characters on all passwords.

2. Check your password vulnerability:

Go to a site such as haveibeenpwned.com – this is a completely free site built by one of Microsoft’s Regional Directors. Type in one of your passwords and see if your chosen code-word have been compromised in a breach and are generally available to hackers. If they are, change them wherever they are used.

3. The No-Name Rule – but expanded:

Do not use common passwords, and do not use basic personal details within your passwords. Info such as your birthday, family members’ names or pets’ names is easily guessable. According to security company SplashData the two most commonly used passwords are “123456”, and “password” – a dream for hackers and fraudsters.

4. Complex is Best:

Strong passwords normally incorporate a mixture of the following:

  • Uppercase characters
  • Lowercase characters
  • Base 10 digits (0 through 9)
  • Nonalphanumeric characters: ~!@#$%^&*_-+=`|\(){}[]:;”‘<>,.?/

5. Lather, Rinse… but DO NOT REPEAT:

Do Not Re-Use Passwords! Password reuse is extremely common. It’s extremely risky, but it’s a regular occurrence, because it’s easier to remember one or two passwords, and people aren’t aware of the potential impact. But, repeating the same password across several sites means if a hacker discovers just one password, all personal info is suddenly at risk. Therefore, it is crucial to diversify your passcodes to ensure hackers cannot obtain access to all of your accounts at once, should one password be somehow compromised.

Overall, it is absolutely crucial to ensure that your passwords are as secure as possible, every day – not just on World Password Day. CyberCrime is only escalating, and neglecting the defence of your network is simply allowing your data to be hacked. Secure your passwords now, and make sure you keep vigilant to the risks that we all face.

If you have any questions or concerns around computer security, please don’t hesitate to contact the ITCS support desk on 08456 444 200, we are always happy to help.

WebWorld Password Day should Be Every Day!