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Keeping safe on the internet – advice from Waytime

May 13, 2017 in Blog by Liz Turner  |  Comments Off on Keeping safe on the internet – advice from Waytime

You will have seen all the publicity about the cyber-attack in the NHS.  So this seems like the ideal time to remind everyone about how to avoid getting your computer infected with ransomware.

As a reminder, ransomware is a particularly nasty type of software which can encrypt the files on your computer and then demand money for everything to be unencrypted.  You may think that your computer is protected because you have antivirus software running.  But please be aware that as this is technically not classified as a virus, it is a very real threat and your computer is not 100% protected.

Please follow these guidelines to minimise the risks:

  • Do not open an attachment or click on a link from an unknown source or if it looks suspicious in any way.  This is not only for your work account but just as important if you use personal email accounts at work such as Hotmail or Gmail.  Don’t be fooled by an email from “HMRC” telling you that you’re getting tax rebate. Equally, don’t fall for the Amazon password change or a failed delivery from a courier
  • If you keep important data on you PC, make sure it is backed up and do not leave the backup disk permanently attached to the computer (if your PC gets infected, it will infect your backup too)
  • Be vigilant when you are browsing the internet – do not click on random links and don’t install anything if you are even slightly unsure of its legitimacy
  • If you open a Word or Excel attachment and you’re asked to enable or run a macro, please select No.
  • Make sure your computer is up to date with all the latest patches from Microsoft or Apple
  • Your work computer will have up to date antivirus software but make sure your home computers are protected too

If your computer gets any kind of encryption virus such as Cryptolocker, you will get a notification saying that your files can be unencrypted if you pay a certain amount.  Turn off your computer immediately – press the power button for 5 seconds until it is off.  Do not go to Start and Shutdown as you would normally.  This is to try to minimise the impact of the infection as it will encrypt anything your computer is connected to – including servers.  Once your computer is switched off, contact us immediately on 01372 940291.

If you have any queries then please contact us on 01372 940291 or email us at support@waytime.co.uk

Thanks,
Liz and the Waytime team

What is GDPR and do you have to do anthing?

April 26, 2017 in Blog by Liz Turner  |  Comments Off on What is GDPR and do you have to do anthing?

You’ve probably heard of GDPR but what does it mean?  Firstly, it stands for General Data Protection Regulation.  The main objectives are:

  • To give everyone in the EU back control of their personal data
  • Simplify the regulatory environment for international businesses as there are so many regulations that it’s all getting a bit confusing

It will apply from 25th May 2018 so just over a year to prepare.  It will also supersede the Data Protection Act 1998 (the one we all know and love).

But we’re leaving the EU so can’t I ignore it?  Even through Article 50 has been triggered, the UK won’t be out of the EU by May 2018 so this regulation is not something to be ignored!

Is it just for organisations in the EU?  No.  It applies to any organisation that markets goods or services to EU residents, regardless of its location.

So who does it apply to?  There are two groups that should abide by the GDPR:

  • Controllers.  A data controller states how and why personal data is processed (this could be any organisation whether charity or profit making company)
  • Processors.  A data processor is the group doing the actual processing (this could be an IT company)

It’s the controller’s responsibility to ensure their processor abides by the new regulations.

So what do we actually have to do?  Controllers must ensure personal data is processed lawfully, transparently and for a specific purpose.  Once that purpose has been fulfilled then the data is no longer required so it should be deleted.  So personal data can’t just be kept forever.  They’ll have to keep a record of how and when an individual gave permission – and make it easy for that individual to withdraw their consent.  According to the European Commission, personal data is “any information relating to an invididual, whether it relates to his or her private, professional or public life.  It can be anything from a name, a home address, a photo, an email address, bank details, posts on social networking sites, medical informaton, or a computer’s IP address”

Controllers also have to make it easy for people to access their data (they’ll have to approach the company to get access and the company must get back to them within a month).

There’s also the “right to be forgotten”.  This is when inviduals can ask for their data to be deleted if it’s no longer necessary for the purpose for which it’s been collected.

What happens if there’s a data breach?  If a company suffers a data breach then they must notify the data protection authority within 72 hours.  If this doesn’t happen then there’s a big fine…up to 10m Euros or 2% of your global annual turnover, whichever is greater.

What happens if you don’t comply with the new regulation?  The fines get worse.  Up to 20m Euros or 4% of your global annual turnover, whichever is greater.

So what’s next?  Start preparing now.  Determine if your company needs a data protection officer to oversee the process.  Take a look at your current processes and procedures for data security, you may already be covered.  Ensure any personal data that you currently store is secure – this should already be the case though.  Check the data protection policies of your 3rd party suppliers as they may be your processors – you don’t want them to let you down.  You may have to amend the contracts with your suppliers to make sure everything is covered.  This is the toughest privacy regulation in the world so don’t leave it to the last minute.  As you can imagine, the internet is full of useful advice.  I recommend that your next port of call is the main GDRP website

External links:

What is an Internet Usage Policy and do you need one?

April 18, 2017 in Blog by Liz Turner  |  Comments Off on What is an Internet Usage Policy and do you need one?

As soon as you employ your first member of staff, it makes sense to have an Internet Usage Policy. This policy will detail the appropriate use of company equipment, network and Internet access. You may think that the contents of the policy go without saying but in our experience, it’s better to say it out loud (and then get each member of staff to sign up to it!).

There are quite a few sample Internet Usage Policies on the internet so I recommend that you use one of those as a template and then personalise it. No point reinventing the wheel. GFI provide a good sample document here

The main points to cover are:

  • Internet access is only allowed to support your job and should be used responsibly
  • You have the right to monitor internet usage
  • Staff should not install any additional software without speaking to their IT team
  • Nobody should download music, movies or illegal software
  • Emails sent in the company’s name should not contain content that is deemed to be offensive
  • Business equipment should not be used to access personal emails or work associated with any other business

Once you’ve finalised the policy then ask current members of staff to read and sign it.  Then add it to the procedures for new starters.

Top 5 common technology problems for small businesses

April 10, 2017 in Blog by Liz Turner  |  Comments Off on Top 5 common technology problems for small businesses

When you start a business, it’s all about getting some sales and making sure that cashflow isn’t going to let you down.  Probably one of the last things on your mind is planning the IT for your growing business…you’ll cross that bridge when you get to it.  But now your business has a few members of staff, you may find that the IT starts causing a few problems. Here are the top five technology challenges that we come across.

  1. Not sure if everything is being backed up.  If your files are spread around several computers, you need to make sure they’re being backed up.  So maybe it’s time to look at storing your files in a central location – either a local server, NAS or on the cloud.  Then you can sign up for a system which will backup everything automatically – no manual intervention, no tape changing.  Simple.  But we’d also suggest doing a test restore every so often – you don’t want to wait for a disaster before realising your backup isn’t reliable
  2. Computers are a bit slow.  Budgets are tight for new businesses so some of the PCs may not have been the best spec.  It may just be a case of adding a bit more memory and giving them a healthcheck.  But if they’re several years old then perhaps now’s a good time to look in to replacing them.  It’s pretty frustrating to use a slow computer so think how much more everyone will get done with faster machines
  3. Too many different systems.   When businesses are getting off the ground, it’s common to have several different systems – one for accounts, one for CRM, another one for stock, file storage, email system, the list goes on.  Before long, you’ve got multiple sets of user names and passwords to remember.  It makes it even more complicated if some of these systems force you to change your password every few weeks.  It may also mean that your workflow procedures aren’t the slickest because you’re having to enter your data in to too many systems.  This is the time to take a step back, look at how you want your business to work and design a workflow to accomodate you (rather than you working around all your various systems).  Once you’ve got the plan down on paper, you can look at what’s available on the market to fit your needs.  This may be a simple move to a different accounting system which can automatically produce invoices or a bigger jump to something like Microsoft Dynamics.  It will be time-consuming but worth it in the end.
  4. Questionable security.  Is there pretty much a free for all when it comes to storing files?  Invoices on one laptop, quotes on another or everything accessible by everyone on the server?  Everyone installing what they like on the computers? This makes it very difficult to manage security.  Start planning for better security:
    • an internet policy so staff know the guidelines for acceptable use of the internet
    • secure passwords on all systems.  Your data is only as secure as your weakest password.  So enforce reasonably complex passwords that have at least 8 characters with a mixture of numbers, letters and symbols
    • company-wide antivirus system.  If everyone is using a different AV application on a different subscription then it’s time to get everyone on the same application.  If there’s only one subscription then it will be much easier to manage and more unlikely for one of the PCs to be out of date
    • Keep your computers up to date with the latest operating system updates
    • Don’t use outdated operating systems or applications.  Have a look here for our list of risks associated with using outdated technology
    • If you keep confidential data on your laptop then you really should encrypt it.  You don’t want your data getting in to the wrong hands if your laptop is stolen
    • Install a decent firewall and make sure it’s configured properly – if you’re not sure how to do this then have a chat with your IT support partner
  5. Lack of planning – waiting until something breaks.  If your IT strategy is to replace something when it breaks then this may be creating more headaches for you then necessary.  Minimise the emergencies by getting maintenance contracts on hardware and replacing mission critical equipment after 3 years.  If you rely on one computer to run the payroll, what happens if it goes wrong?  Do you have the payroll application media so you can install it on a different PC?  Do you have a recent backup of your data?   Plan ahead…you know it makes sense

 

Is this email dodgy? How to tell.

April 3, 2017 in Blog by Liz Turner  |  Comments Off on Is this email dodgy? How to tell.

Today I received an email from Tami Porter telling me that UPS tried to deliver a package to me but I was out.  But I should click on the link in the email to download the invoice.

My first thought was “have I ordered anything on the internet that would be delivered by UPS?”.  Highly likely so let’s take a closer look at the email.

If you look at the sender’s email address, you’d expect to see Tami’s UPS email address or a generic customer support address – something like customerservices@ups.com.  But here we have help@ich88.org.  So not even close to a UPS account.

Then, if I hover the mouse over the link at the end of the email, I can see that it will not take me to the UPS site but somewhere called http://aisasafar.com.

So 100% dodgy!

These are simple checks that you can do if you’re not sure about an email.  But if you’re still uncertain then please don’t click on the link…get in touch with us and we’ll check for you.  We’re here to make the lives of small businesses simpler and safer.  Give us a call today on 01372 940290 to discuss how.

 

Takeaways from the IoD Cyber Security Summit 2017

March 28, 2017 in Blog by Liz Turner  |  Comments Off on Takeaways from the IoD Cyber Security Summit 2017

Spent a very interesting morning at the IoD Cyber Security Summit yesterday. Heard from the Group Chief Information Security Office at Barclays about why cyber security matters, Rt Hon Matt Hancock (Minister of State for Digital and Culture) told us how Government and Business are working together to tackle the threats and Sir George Zambellas (Founder and CEO of CobWeb Cyber Security) gave us a peek in to the future by prediting how cyber threats will evolve. In addition to all that, we heard from a Hiscox insurance expert – explaing how cyber insurance can work for us.

There were lots of interesting discussions but the main takeaways were:

  • Make sure cyber security is discussed and owned at board level
  • Educate the workforce and make sure the training is regular. Think about tailoring the training for different teams
  • Don’t assume you’re safe because you have a firewall and antivirus protection

There’s going to be another push to get more businesses accredited with Cyber Essentials. As you may have read, we passed this earlier in the year so if you need any help then talk to us. Cyber threats aren’t going away any time soon so make sure you’re as prepared as possible. Call us today on 01372 940290 to find out how we can help you.

Top 5 reasons your wifi signal isn’t great

March 27, 2017 in Blog by Liz Turner  |  Comments Off on Top 5 reasons your wifi signal isn’t great
  1. Your router or hub is in the wrong place.  Put it in the middle of your office or house – don’t put it next to the window unless you want to get a signal outside
  2. Your router is behind the TV or on a metal box.  These will interfere with the signal
  3. Your router is old and hasn’t been updated for ages.  Check with your broadband provider to make sure you have their latest kit.
  4. Your network is getting interference from your neighbours’ networks.  Try changing the channel on your router.  The default is 6 or 11.  Try using one of the others (check your router’s website on how to do this).  Or try changing the frequency to 5GHz
  5. Your office or house has really thick walls.  The signal will struggle to get through these so you could try setting up a wireless range extender.  These pick up existing signals and rebroadcast it.  Or you could use powerline adapters – these are adapters that you connect to your main sockets to avoid have to fit network cabling

Success stories – helping clients move to Office 365

March 10, 2017 in Blog by Liz Turner  |  Comments Off on Success stories – helping clients move to Office 365

In the last fortnight we’ve helped two clients move to Office 365.  These two businesses are very different and weren’t faced with the same problems but Office 365 was the solution for them both.

Our first client used a very basic email system but were looking for more features and functionality, such as:

  • cloud storage
  • ability to share contacts and calendars
  • an Office licence included with each mailbox
  • centralised storage of mailboxes (previously everyone’s email was just stored on their PC)
  • ability to easily access email on mobile devices and a seamless transition between them (so if they send an email from a phone, it appears in the sent items folder on their computer)

As all their staff work remotely, this was our first completely virtual project.  We didn’t meet up with anyone – it was all done by phone and remotely connecting to the computers.  So it didn’t matter that they weren’t all in one place or that we weren’t local.  With the help of our main contact, it was all planned with military precision and completed over a weekend.

Our second client had a Microsoft Small Business server so were already used to all the features that Exchange offers (easy setup of mobile devices and shared mailboxes, calendars and contacts etc) but were becoming increasingly worried that they were so dependent on their broadband connection and in-house server.  A power-cut or internet outage would cause the business to struggle without emails.  Also, with different versions of Office on the PCs, it was becoming difficult to keep track of the licences.  Office 365 was the answer because:

  • if they have an internet outage, they can still access their email on their mobile devices
  • they’ve selected the Premium Business subscription plan which includes a Microsoft Office licence for each user

With this client, all the staff were in one location so we were able to start the project at their office at 17:00 on a Friday, complete the migration that evening and remotely monitor the progress over the weekend.  As with all our onsite projects, we were there again on the Monday morning in case of any teething issues, but this just involved helping to setup a few mobiles.  So another seamless transition.

If you’re not sure if Office 365 is right for your company (and it may not be!), then have a chat with us and we’ll go through the pros and cons.  Make the most of our experience to ensure that if you do move to Office 365, it will be as straighforward as the two examples above.

Top Windows 10 shortcuts that you may have missed

March 8, 2017 in Blog by Liz Turner  |  Comments Off on Top Windows 10 shortcuts that you may have missed

We’re all used to a few Windows 10 key combinations that will save time but here’s our top 10 shortcuts that are commonly missed:

  • Windows key + A  –  Open Action center.
  • Windows key + C   –  Open Cortana in listening mode.
  • Windows key + H   –  Open the Share charm.
  • Windows key + I   –  Open Settings.
  • Windows key + K   –  Open the Connect quick action.
  • Windows key + Left arrow key   –  Snap app windows left.
  • Windows key + Right arrow key  –   Snap app windows right.
  • Windows key + Up arrow key   –  Maximise app windows.
  • Windows key + Down arrow key  –   Minimise app windows.
  • Windows key + Comma   –  Temporarily peek at the desktop.

May save you a few seconds!

Should you encrypt your laptop?

February 27, 2017 in Blog by Liz Turner  |  Comments Off on Should you encrypt your laptop?

Encrypting your data means that it will be unreadable by anyone who doesn’t have the proper authorisation.  So this is ideal if you keep sensitive information on your laptop.

Windows 10 has a built-in utility to encrypt your data called BitLocker Drive Encryption.  It’s only available with the Pro and Enterprise – not the Home version.  Your computer hardware should also have a TPM (Trusted Platform Module) chip but these tend to be reasonably standard these days.  If you’re not sure whether your laptop has one then you can easily check by going to Computer Management > Device Manager > Expand Security Devices:

The actual process of encrypting your data is quick and straightforward.  You’ll be prompted to save a recovery key  – you can save this to a USB stick, print it out and/or save it to your Microsoft Cloud account.  You won’t be allowed to save it to the hard disk of your laptop.

Common queries about encryption:

  1. If my laptop is stolen and the hard disk has been encrypted, will the thief be able to access my data? No, they’ll only be able to access your data if they know the startup password (if you’ve enabled one).  If they try to read the hard disk any other way (for example, putting it in to a hard disk enclosure and connecting it to another computer), they will just see encrypted files.
  2. If my hard disk fails and I don’t have a backup of my data, will a data recovery specialist be able to restore my data? No
  3. What happens if I get a new laptop?  How do I transfer the data?  As long as you can login to your laptop using your startup password, you’ll be able to copy your data wherever you like
  4. Will I be able to use my computer while it’s encrypting the data?  Yes, although you’ll probably notice that it’s a bit slower than usual
  5. I use Dropbox.  Will all my files in Dropbox by unreadable on my other devices?  Don’t worry, you’ll still see all your files on your other devices – they won’t be encrypted.

 

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