Why do you need to reset your password?

reset your password

How easy is it for hackers and cyber attackers to get hold of your data?

Passwords are their first way in and if you don’t reset them regularly, you make their life much easier.

Imagine you go four months without resetting your password because you ignored the reminder. You were running late for a meeting and told yourself you’d remember to do it another time. As soon as you came back to your desk, you’d forgotten all about it.

During the last couple of months, a hacker has gained access to your password. Because you haven’t changed it, they’ve been logging in to your account for weeks, tracking and monitoring your communications.

They now have access to your sensitive corporate data and you’ve got a data breach to deal with.

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4 ways to spring clean your data

Spring is here and it’s the traditional time to remove the clutter from your life.

There’s no reason why your data should be exempt from this. It may not be physically there, but it’s sitting there getting dusty nonetheless. So it’s that time of the year to ask yourself: does your data need a good de-cluttering? Is it time to spring clean your data?

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The biggest drivers of bandwidth consumption

bandwidth consumption

Is slow internet connection a common complaint among your employees?

A slow internet connection can be a hassle, but there’s an easy way to solve this.

If you’re aware of the activities slowing down your bandwidth, you can change your usage and speed up your internet connection.

So take a look at some of the key culprits that are potentially slowing down your system.

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GDPR: Backups and the Right to be Forgotten

gdpr backups and the right to be forgotten

 Do you know how GDPR will affect your backup processes? Take a look at how you can make sure you adhere to regulations.

With GDPR regulations enforceable from May 2018, you may have noticed lots of people giving advice on how to protect your data. But how does it change the way the deletion of data is handled?

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Are you Risking an Attack on your Infrastructure?

In 2016, more than half of British businesses were hit by ransomware attacks on their infrastructure – so we want to pose a couple of questions to see where you think you stand on security for your network.

Don’t risk an attack on your infrastructure

Ransomware is unpredictable, hard if not impossible to prevent, and is currently showing no signs of slowing. Businesses are facing numerous challenges from this evolving, dangerous threat.

Companies in the UK were found to experience more ransomware attacks than the other countries surveyed – pointing to the fact that the UK has a bigger ransomware problem.

54% of UK companies were found to have been hit by a ransomware attack, compared to 47% in the United States.

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How did we do at the Comms Dealer National Awards

Systems IT was delighted to be “highly commended” at the Comms Dealer National Awards this month.

The company was judged against hundreds of applicants in the Best SME Contact Centre Solution and were shortlisted for the final four at the awards night held at the Hilton on Park Lane.

Unfortunately, Systems IT missed out on top prize on the night but received high commendation from the judges in the first year of entering any type of awards.

Director Tom Lawrence said: “We are proud of our achievements over the past 12 years of trading and of course this shows we are recognised in the industry.

“Of course we would have liked to go on stage and pick up the award but the competition was so strong.

“We are not disappointed or disheartened and I know that the team are even more driven to win next year and show our progress.”

On the judging panel were industry experts that looked at the overall case studies by the entrants and said Systems IT were “outstanding” in the service to customers.

The awards were hosted by the BBC’s Gaby Logan and there were around 700 in attendance

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How are you running your back-up for your important documents?

How are you running your back-up for your important documents?

This is a question that is usually answered with uncertainty or with an old system that will more than likely cause your business’ files and folders damage or cost it a lot of money.

Because people see it as “just working” and are very reluctant to change their back-ups due to security reasons – this leaves them languished in the past.

So the question is – where would your business be if your server, all of a sudden, wasn’t working?

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Comms National Awards Finalists!

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Systems IT is delighted to announce it has been shortlisted for two prestigious accolades in the Comms Dealer Awards 2016, at our first time of entering.

When judged against all other applicants, Systems IT is a finalist in the Best SME Contact Centre Solution and Best Enterprise Contact Centre Solution categories.

Find out more information here

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BTdown

Today’s BT failure highlights the importance of your internet connectivity and shows the impact that not having your internet has on your business.

Most of London has been hit, along with a corridor reaching up as far as Manchester.

If you lose your internet connection, what are your options?

  • You sit there doing nothing and waiting for the connection to come back up
  • You join the crowds at your local coffee shop and pray it’s not too loud for you to get some work done.
  • You go home and work from there, assuming your kids aren’t monopolizing the bandwidth
  • You can tether to your phone and pray you don’t use up all your allocation. At £6.50 per MB afterwards, you could face a hefty bill.
  • Your backup solution automatically fails over and you keep working.

Let’s look at the implications of these options:

Sitting doing almost nothing will cost you, on average, £200 per user per day (your average daily wage x 1.4 – to include other business costs) and that doesn’t include the opportunity costs for lost sales.

Dependent upon the size of your team, this can quickly add up to a lot of money and so really isn’t a viable solution.

Your local coffee shop is a better solution, especially if you’re confident it’s only a short term issue. The cost of a couple of lattes really isn’t much considering you’re still working.  You can’t make those really important phone calls because of the sounds wafting over from the yummy mummies and the students.

Going home is one of the better solutions, particularly if its early in the day and you don’t know how long your office connection will be down.  The commute home will be quicker than normal and the kids will still be at school. It’s quiet and the coffee is free. Hopefully your VoIP solution means you have a softphone app on your phone and so any calls can be made and received in much the same way as if you were at your desk.

Tethering is an option but with the average email using 75Kb of data, you can quickly burn through your xGB of monthly allowance, but it can be a solution for a short term loss of connectivity. Just be careful and keep an eye on your data usage. As previously mentioned, excess data is expensive and so your bill can quickly add up.

Here’s just a few of the images on Twitter under the hashtag #BTdown – thought you might like them.

CaOOHraWQAAV0yqCaOeB2pWIAIsLNfwhat do you do when your internet goes downCaOQifsWwAEPqil

Finally, a redundant failover solution.  Of course, this is the best solution, but it does mean investing in something you hope you’ll never use. It’s connectivity insurance.  There are multiple ways of doing this:

  • Another internet connection, through another physical pipe in the ground and ideally away from the other one so the gasman doesn’t put his spade through it.
  • A wireless solution such as Urban Wimax’s wireless solution. A line of sight solution where a box sits on your roof and connects to one of their aerials around the city
  • 4G connections. Unlimited data via a 4G device that simply connects to the network. Assuming you can get a 4G signal in your office, we can connect it to your router as an automatic failover device.

So if you want to see how mad the world is about BT’s latest failure, have a look on Twitter here.

If you want to see how widespread the damage is, click here.

If you want to discuss your redundancy solutions, click here.

How not to choose an IT support provider

I wonder how choose an IT support providerWhen you Google “how to choose an IT Support company” you get a lot of results: just under 2000 when we did it.

Shall we tell you to look for proactive monitoring, the certifications they hold and the level of qualifications their engineers have? Should we talk about their proximity to your office and exactly what is covered by their support contract before the extra charges start piling on? I could start wittering on about response times and contract lengths, but I’m not going to.

All of these should now be considered hygiene factors. What I mean is that they are expected. They are required and anyone who doesn’t meet them shouldn’t even make it onto the long list, never mind the shortlist.

Let’s look at this from a completely different perspective…

What was your first experience of them like?

Whether it was their website, an email they sent you, you calling them or them calling you; what was the experience like? If it was a good experience, the chances are it will be the same going forward. To me it is a sign of good management if they ensure there is always a good experience.

Did they deliver on their promises?

  • I will get our Sales Manager to call you ….
  • I will call you tomorrow to discuss…..
  • Your proposal will be with you on ……

If they cannot get this right, the chances are it won’t happen in the future either.

Do they have the evidence?

Any sales person can tell you they will be able to look after you and provide you with a top notch service, but where’s the proof? Do they have the case studies available for you to see, either publically on their website or ones they can email to you?

Who can you talk to?

How do they offer you references, if indeed they do? Do they give you a list of 5 or a list of 50? Do they provide email addresses or telephone numbers?

If they are confident in their ability to deliver and the quality they are providing to their current clients, it will be a long list of phone numbers and the offer for you to pick from any of them.

Do you trust them?

Let’s be honest, we can all sniff out a snake oil salesman at 20 paces. The suit may be a little too sharp and the promises just a little too perfect. Trust is a personal thing, but it is critical.  After they’ve left your office, do you have that warm, comfortable, feeling that shows you trust them? They want to earn your trust and then keep it. After all, IT support companies don’t actually make any money for the first few months as they get to know you, your team and your network.

Let’s face it, there are huge numbers of IT support companies in London and the surrounding counties. They will all promise 4 nanosecond response times and be able to show you a wall of MCITP certificates, but if they meet the criteria above and the numbers make sense, you’ve just made choosing that IT support provider a much easier task.

 

9 and a half real Reasons NOT to go into The Cloud

The Cloud

 

If you talk to anyone in IT for very long and the term The Cloud will come up in some way shape or form. Of course, we provide a number of ways you can use The Cloud to help your business and there are many reasons why The Cloud is a good place for you.

However there are a number of reasons why you should stop and seriously consider whether The Cloud is the right place. Let’s look at a few:

1. You’re fine where you are with existing investment in technology

If you have invested in a local infrastructure in the last three years, you are still within the effective lifetime of that investment. Your accountant won’t have depreciated the assets either.

2. You have a slow or unreliable internet connection

This may be the biggest blocker to migrating into The Cloud. With so much reliance on your internet connection, you need to be confident it won’t impact your ability to work effectively. Your cloud provider will advise on how much bandwidth you need and the level of redundancy it is sensible to have in place. The cost of bandwidth is continuously falling, so, again, this isn’t the problem it used to be.

3. The Cloud isn’t designed for your application or your application isn’t designed for the cloud

Usually because of the file sizes involved. Photoshop, InDesign and CAD products (etc.) generate huge files and moving that data up and down an internet connection means either poor productivity or a very expensive internet connection.

If your applications do a lot of automated graphics rendering or you need real-time visibility, you really shouldn’t go into The Cloud. Share trading, air traffic control and weather forecasting are just some examples.

4. You have high security requirements

Data is a valuable commodity in today’s society and there are plenty of people out there trying to get your data. Many people are worried that cloud solutions don’t have the security in place. Compliance requirements such as PCI-DSS need to be considered if you are processing credit card data and let’s not even get started on the US government’s “requirement” to have access to your data if it is hosted on US soil!

5. You’re regulated and have stringent requirements

The service provided by some cloud providers may not meet the stringent requirements required by regulations in such industries as Financial services or Legal.

6. Your applications require processing of large amount of data requiring extreme disk input/output operations and low latency.

Latency may be measured if very small bits but they have a nasty habit of adding up. Most UK backbones are built of fibre, but that doesn’t mean the data moves at the speed of light, as there are many factors that will increase latency – let’s not get too techy at this point – and slow down the movement of data. When time literally does equal money, cutting the distance the data has to travel can make a difference.

7. Your applications are tightly linked to other applications.

If you application is tightly linked to other applications using custom code it may not be a easy to move it to a public cloud. You may need to look at a private cloud which are usually more expensive.

8. “Cloud” is a dirty word in our organisation

Oops. Someone senior had a nasty experience in the past with The Cloud? The Cloud has been around for many years and many companies took the plunge too early; when the necessary internet speeds simply weren’t there. Even though things have moved on considerably, that’s a bone that won’t stay buried. Nothing is changing here until that person moves on.

9. I will be a small fish in a big pool and have no leverage over my vendor

What do you need leverage for? If they are delivering on their promises and you are paying your bills…..

Some of these are valid reasons, particularly when they are application or security-related. If these impact your business, we say stay local, but let’s talk about where your backups are (and a half). For the rest, we’re happy to talk.

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Office 365 from Systems IT

Microsoft Office 365 - available now from Systems IT

Office 365 is now available directly from Systems IT.

Microsoft is encouraging small business owners to use Office 365 – for various reasons:

  • you can use it from any machine, simply by logging in. You can even use it on your phone using the app version
  • you can share files quickly and easily, using OneDrive for Business
  • It’s an OPEX cost, with no upfront charges
  • You always have the most up to date versions
  • and so on…

Up until now, you have always had to buy your Office 365 licenses directly from Microsoft. This means an administrative headache as you track who has what product versions, how many users you have each month  – admin you just don’t want.

Now you can rid yourself of this headache and pass it over to us.  Let us manage your user count and deal with the admin, particularly if we are then providing IT support into your business.

So why use Systems IT?

  • Spread the costs of your Microsoft licensing across the year
  • Only pay for the users you have in each month
  • It’s cheaper than going direct, as we get volume discounts

If you are looking at upgrading your Microsoft Office licensing, get in touch and we’ll quote for you and lets see how we can make life easier for you.

What we think of Windows 10

windows10_2_800_thumb800

I am sure you’ve seen the adverts and the media coverage around Windows 10. Apparently it will be the last version of Windows so it will be interesting to find out where Microsoft goes from here. Two questions that I am sure spring to mind at this point:

  • What happened to Windows 9?
  • Is it any good?

There are those who say that Windows 8 is a horrible desktop operating system (we quite like it!) and by missing out Windows 9, they are distancing themselves from 8. Not so sure on the logic but perhaps the number 8 will be removed from Microsoft terminology. Do you remember what came before Windows 7 and is forever more referred to as “the previous operating system” by anyone in Thames Valley Park or in Redmond?

As to whether it is any good, only time will tell. Here are a few of the features we like:

Action Center(forgive the American spelling)

Sitting on the right hand side, it keeps you up to date on what is happening and provides a series of shortcuts. Perhaps you need to make notes, so there is a button to instantly open OneNote. You can connect Bluetooth devices quickly and easily and, perhaps the best one, a Quiet Hours button for when you don’t want to be disturbed.

File Explorer

Not a new feature but there has been a number of changes to the layout to make it more user friendly: Frequent Folders and Recent Files, for instance. Some of the icons have changed as well, so keep your eye out for that.

Task View

How many of you knew that Alt+Tab allowed you to cycle through all your open applications? It’s something that’s been around since forever. On Windows 10, it is Windows+Tab, but there is another function there that is new: Multiple Desktops.

Multiple Desktops allows you to separate out, for example, for email, your CRM work and your online work without being distracted.

Cortana

Of course, no review of Windows 10 would be complete without her name coming up. Initial experiences haven’t been great but I am sure she’ll learn my eccentricities and become more useful.

There is a lot that is different from Windows 8 and I am sure you have received endless communications from Microsoft, or indeed your Windows 8 OS, asking if you want the free upgrade. Microsoft has put a lot of effort into the previous systems and applications that work well with Windows 7 & 8. If you are interested in upgrading to Windows 10, then contact us and we can discuss this is more detail.

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Why have a dog?

Why have a dog and bark yourself? It's the same as hiring an expert and then not listening to them

Why do people ignore expert advice they have paid for?

You buy a dog to keep you safe. With their hearing being far superior to yours, their sense of smell much keener and, if necessary, their teeth much sharper, you have a real sense of security when they’re around.
With the dog around to scare off unwanteds, there is no need for you to bark yourself.

You hire a lawyer to ensure you have no legal issues. You hire an accountant to make sure the taxman doesn’t get more than he deserves and you hire an IT support firm to keep your network running.
Why is it that some people then decide to ignore the advice provided?

Let’s have a look at the possible reasons…

  • You have money to burn. Unlikely, even in sectors where the press would have you believe otherwise.
  • You’re scared of change. Possible but then it’s part of the role of the expert to explain why and to calm you regarding any downsides to the changes.
  • You’re stubborn. Very possible but that really means it’s number 2.
  • You’re too proud…… to say you don’t have budget for the proposal. Very possible, but if you are honest with your expert, they will provide (when possible) a solution that fits your budget and achieves as much as can be done.
  • You think you know best. Do you have a mate with some expert knowledge? Bet you do. Should I ask why you didn’t hire your mate, or refer you to No.1?
  • You don’t trust them. This may well be the case, especially if this is the first time you’ve used the expert.

Hiring an expert is normally done when there is a gap in the knowledge within your business. If you’ve got that far, you’re admitting there is a gap. If you actively seek out someone to help and you ask them to help you, you’re accepting there is a gap. If you are honest with them about the extent of the gap and about the budgets you have available, you will get the right answer for your business. There may be times when it is an answer you don’t want, but then we may be referring back to the middle of the list again.

Windows Server 2003, did you miss the deadline?

Windows

Relax. You’re one of 1000’s

Support of any kind from Microsoft for all variations of Windows Server 2003 finished yesterday (see countdown here) but according to a recent Computer Weekly article, there are an estimated 400,000 UK businesses still running Windows Server 2003 on their server infrastructure, with 1/3 of these on virtual servers in datacentres.

The article estimates that 70% of businesses will not have migrated, either onto a more recent version or into a cloud-based alternative before yesterday

That leaves huge numbers of businesses taking a massive gamble.  What are they going to do if:

  • they have a server failure?
  • their clients question them about data security?
  • question anything to do with compliance (heaven help us)

Bearing in mind that Windows Server 2003 is about 12 years old (clue in the name), it is antiquated technology and so won’t be nearly as performative as more recent versions.

Options:

  • stay and pray that everything works a little longer
  • upgrade your hardware and operating system to a more recent version
  • move into the cloud

Personally I think No.1 is too much of a risk – what do you think?

Are you still running Windows Server 2003?

Microsoft Server 2003 - end of life

Are you still running Server 2003?

If you are, July 14th 2015 is a very important date for you. Why? Because that is the day Microsoft stops issuing security updates of any sort for Server 2003.

What does this mean?

Your server is no longer secure. Although your IT support provision (internal or external) may have a lot of experience in supporting this product, when it does go wrong Microsoft will simply say “told you so” – or a polite American version of.

What can you do?

That’s the easy bit. Pick up the phone and dial 020 7227 7900
We look forward to hearing from you

Cloud Computing & the central London power failure

Productivity is being hit in central London today as an underground fire has cut power to over 5000 homes and businesses.  This is in addition to the, admittedly short, power cut that denied power to a large part of Shoreditch and Bethnall Green yesterday.

Cloud computingWhilst it could be said it was lucky it took place in the Easter school holiday, meaning more people are on holiday than usual, these power cuts will impact the business affected quite dramatically.  The theatres and cinemas around Covent Garden and the Strand were seen to be emptying out, presumably with vouchers for another show in the new future. Shops have had to lock their doors and are losing trade every minute they remain closed.
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