ITCS Blog

Windows Server 2008 R2 End of Life Support is nearing: January 14 2020

Only 6 Weeks until Microsoft ends the life of some of its most popular products.

These products include: Windows Server 2008, Windows Server 2008 R2, Office 2010, Windows 7, and selected business server software.

What does that mean for your business?

1. You’ll lag behind your competitors:

There are no patches or updates for old software, leaving businesses
still using it lagging behind competitors.

2. Outdated servers like Windows Server 2008 R2 costs more to run:

Old software costs more to run. Companies that upgrade to smarter,
faster, more secure systems and migrate to the cloud, save a fortune over time with drastically reduced capital costs.

3. You will be vulnerable with Windows Server 2008 R2:

Hackers love end of life operating systems, because it’s far easier to exploit.
The combination of no more security updates and lots of unpatched
holes makes it a prime target for cyber criminals.

4. Windows Server 2008 R2 will not be GDPR compliant:

Organisations that fail to protect their customers’ data are not compliant with GDPR. One of the main criteria of the new regulation is that
you have to use up-to-date, secure operating software, so if yours is falling short then all the hard work you did in 2016 will have been for nothing.

What if I don’t upgrade or replace Windows Server 2008 R2 by January 14th, 2020?

Imagine using a product that a company doesn’t want to take responsibility for anymore. You’ll be using the product at your own risk. This means that Microsoft will not take responsibility for loss of data due to security breaches.

What shall I do?

If you haven’t upgraded yet, it’s best to seek the help of an IT professional. This is a good way to ensure that everything is upgraded correctly and that all firewalls and antivirus are in place and working optimally. Depending on what type of hardware and software you’re using, you may need to take specific steps to make sure everything is fully compatible.

To meet with a member of our team or discuss your needs, please contact the ITCS support desk on 08456 400200 or email support@itcs.co.uk and we will be happy to help.

WebWindows Server 2008 R2 End of Life Support is nearing: January 14 2020

The Secret to Success

Brian Stokes, Managing Director at ITCS, discusses his secrets with us to running a successful company that continues to expand 15 years on.

“When beginning ITCS all those years ago, my vision was to create an IT Computer Services Company that delivers the support, software platforms and technological solutions that are essential for business success.” 15 years on, and ITCS are still doing just that! In this blog, we look at what traits are essential for any entrepreneur / Managing Director of a successful company:

The Ability to Deal With Risk:

As an entrepreneur, the MD has always operated effectively in an environment filled with risk and uncertainty. ITCS created growth through what was one of the longest lasting recessions on record. Brian and the Directors have calculated, managed and mitigated a lot of risk while developing ITCS through the years. This risk – even in good economic times – is ever more apparent when dealing with new technologies, along with fuelling the aspirations and growth of the company.

Being Results Oriented:

Brian and the team are definitely results oriented, always taking ownership to get the task done. He has a “can-do” attitude and demonstrates common sense with his decisions and actions, allowing him to cut through and resolve problems that may divert others.  His business judgement is sound and has become stronger over the years with each experience, decision or recommendation.  Not only does Brian desire to make a contribution to results, he needs to see the results of his contributions quickly, not measured in years!

Energy & Ambition: 

High levels of enthusiasm and energy is consistently generated, much higher than would be reasonably expected.  Brian has engrossed himself in work for the past fifteen years; he is clearly enthused by achievement, as there is no sign of him slowing down! This is evident with massive growth and office expansion plans, all set for the year ahead (watch this space…). He is fully committed to the company, its goals and overall success. This energy enables ITCS to tackle projects as they come up and finish them, time and time again. Entrepreneurs don’t have someone looking over their shoulder.  If they don’t get it done, the company will fail. Brian says “being an entrepreneur is neither a part-time nor a full-time job. It’s a lifestyle”.

The Desire to Keep Evolving:

Brian has always been willing to accept much higher levels of responsibility than is the norm in any position he has taken on. He has always acted as a strong role model. He trains and coaches others, and takes a leading role much earlier than would be expected in a normal corporate environment. Entrepreneurs are extremely competitive, they don’t take no for an answer and are unwilling to lose. Many companies are formed out of such competitive natures – ITCS being one of them!

Being a Team Player:  

While being a team player is not always seen as a trait of an entrepreneur, Brian argues this point. “Being a good team player and surrounding yourself with other talented entrepreneurs is a key factor to success” He asserts. He recognises how his role contributes to the overall effort and prosperity of the organisation.  He accepts accountability and ownership and expects others to do the same.  He also recognises the roles and contributions of others and sincerely applauds their efforts.

Multitasking Connoisseur:  

Being a successful business owner is reliant on being flexible to accept new opportunities, assignments and responsibilities.  Brian can perform more than one role until the incremental duties and functions assumed can be assigned to co-workers in newly defined roles.  He is also willing to dig in and do grunt work tasks which eventually will be performed by lower level employees.

Improvement Orientated:

More than willing to challenge existing procedures and systems in a constructive way, Brian suggests changes and improvements frequently and encourages others to do so also.

Finally and most importantly:

Believe in and Empower each and every employee

Gone are the 1950s ways of working when the boss wielded all the decision-making power, that hierarchical style is not the way to work as a team. Empowering your employees is the way forward. To be successful, empowerment requires that managers trust their staff; trust that they will make the right decisions and that they will be effective in achieving their goals.

When people are self-determining and self-managing at work, they have a greater sense of job satisfaction. With this comes increased motivation and drive to do a great job. So staff are more effective in their roles and more productive; not to mention happier.

Greater autonomy also stimulates creativity and helps generate ideas, bringing more innovation to the business. This fuels the development of new products and services, or enhances business processes, all of which helps drive business success.

WebThe Secret to Success

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

Benefits of Office 365 for SMEs


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FACT:

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

Office 365 offers SMEs endless benefits. 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:

With Office 365, you gain lots of cyber security features to keep your data safe, including Encrypted Email, Data Loss Prevention, Mobile Device Management and Advanced Threat Analytics.


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.

WebBenefits of Office 365 for SMEs

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:

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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:

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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?