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Category: Cloud Computing, Data Backup, IT News, IT Security, IT Support.

If you’re assuming that your cloud synching and sharing services, such as Dropbox or Google Drive, are acting as your backup or are taking responsibility for automatically backing up all your data, then, please, think again!

The fact that some businesses are making this assumption came across loud and clear at an event we hosted recently to help improve SMEs cybersecurity awareness and skills.

It’s an understandable assumption to make, but it’s also a dangerous one too – that could extract a heavy price if you fall victim to a determined cybercriminal. Let me explain why and what to do to keep your priceless data and systems safe.

The boom in cloud-based services is transforming the way businesses operate, with fantastic new capabilities now at our fingertips. But it’s also a complex, and at times confusing marketplace, with new, multi-layered products and services emerging all the time, each trying to outdo their rivals with more and more features and functionality, backed by persuasive sales and marketing campaigns.

It’s important to remember that, while cloud file sharing and storage solutions synch your data across multiple devices, this does not add up to a robust backup system. In fact, file syncing services cannot differentiate between ransomware-encrypted files and regular files, and therefore they can sync malware-infected data! And ransomware attacks on businesses are rising, up 12% in 2018, with businesses now the victims of more than 80% of all successful ransomware infections.

As a specialist IT support and services company, we devote significant resources to understanding these cloud-based products, their features, benefits, and complexities, so that we can help our clients to make informed decisions about their IT. But for many SMEs, often with small teams and limited resources, it can be very difficult to navigate a safe course.

When it comes to backing up your data and systems, my golden rules are:

  • Assume nothing!
  • Question everything!
  • Be certain that you have a dedicated backup solution over and above your file sharing solution
  • True cybersecurity is about having layers of protection – think of your premises with combinations of locks, alarms, password-protected entry systems, and CCTV.

Earlier this year I spoke about the key questions to ask about your data and backup arrangements, questions that enable you to ensure that you have robust measures in place. Click here to review that advice. Or if you’d like to discuss your backup options and how we can help you to make the most of new technology – and keep your business safe – call our team on 03300 886116 or email us on info@pcsupportgroup.com for an informal and confidential chat.

Phil Bird

Managing Director, The PC Support Group

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Category: VoIP, IT News.

One characteristic that I know that successful businesspeople display time and time again is the ability to see opportunities where others only see problems.  And for me, the “Great BT PSTN/ISDN Switch Off” has got OPPORTUNITY written all over it!

So, what exactly is this big switch off and why should you be taking action sooner rather than later? Well, this is the process where PSTN (the traditional public switched telephone network) and ISDN lines will finally be switched off and everyone will move to cloud-based telephony or VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol).  And in case you were unaware the first stage of the process begins in just six months’ time.

But the thing is, why wait? Because even without this move by BT, the advantages of VoIP telephony are so game-changing for SMEs that it’s a no-brainer! VoIP allows you to make voice (and potentially video) calls anywhere in the world, from any device – all you need is an internet connection.

It will transform your business communications. With VoIP you’ll get:

  • substantial reductions – up to 70% – in business phone line and contract bills
  • next-generation technology that’s simple to transition to and easy to use and maintain
  • flexibility to use your own devices, keep the same number across all devices, add and remove users at speed
  • access to the latest versions, updates and mobile working features
  • integration with your other business systems
  • a great phone system to boost productivity, agility and customer service – without ANY capital investment.

The process is simple too. The only things you need to do is check your current contract (don’t accidentally fall into long renewal) and then find a qualified supplier with VoIP experience.  I would strongly recommend one that doesn’t tie you in for any length of time, so you can easily change if your provider doesn’t deliver the service you need.

I know there are people who are still nervous about making the move – and I do understand this because our traditional phone lines have been so familiar to us for generations – so let us help you TODAY.  Here, at The PC Support Group, we look after many of our clients’ combined IT and telephony needs – using a single, trusted supplier will make life easier for you and is more likely to identify more opportunities to take full advantage of VoIP and save more money in the process.

So, if your business is still using the old ISDN lines or if you have already moved to VoIP but are not happy with the service you are receiving then why not email our team on info@pcsupportgroup.com or call them on 03300 886116 for an informal and confidential chat on making the switch to VoIP sooner rather than later.

Phil Bird

MD, The PC Support Group

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Category: IT News, Latest.

Whilst we have all been enjoying the recent heatwave, our computer equipment definitely has not.  When switched on, our computers’ internal components generate heat, so if they are exposed to additional heat, it can cause major problems.  For example, the hard drive can expand in heat and consequently fail which could result in you losing your files.

Here are our top tips to keep you and your equipment working safely:

  1. Avoid direct sunlight

If your computer is near a window, make sure it is not in the direct sunlight otherwise it could overheat and even become dangerously hot to touch.

 

Consider closing a blind and opening a window or if either of these are not possible move to another part of the room that is not in direct sunlight.

  1. Think cool temperature

Make sure any place or room with equipment in is below 23 degrees centigrade. An airconditioned office is obviously best for maintaining a reasonable temperature but failing that get a fan to blow air onto the computer

 

Equally, if you have to leave your laptop or equipment in a car, make sure they are switched off and in a shaded place, preferably the coolest place within your vehicle.

  1. Equipment positioning

Make sure your computers and other computer equipment have access to an airflow/ventilation to keep them as cool as possible and, try not to put devices too close together. Servers in particular need to be kept cool so a small unventilated cupboard is the worst place for them in hot weather.

 

Also, laptops typically have fans underneath, so try to avoid having your laptop on your knee, better to have it on a flat surface.  If you can hear the fan constantly, it’s a sign of potential overheating.

  1. Unplug equipment that doesn’t need to be on

Make sure you unplug unneeded equipment to stop unnecessary heat from circulating.  If equipment is plugged in and switched on, it is generating heat.  Likewise, once your equipment is fully charged, remove the charger which can also overheat.

  1. Consider a move to the cloud

A move to the cloud means less physical equipment in your office or wherever you work which means less hassle for you.  Instead, any equipment is looked after externally in a professional and well-equipped environment, that would take all of the above into consideration.

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Category: IT News, Latest, News.

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has raided a business in Liverpool over suspected data trafficking, the acquisition, and sale of illegally obtained personal data.

The business is thought to have carried out high volumes of data farming, known as vishing or voice phishing to obtain personal data of motor accident victims to sell onto solicitors for personal injury claims.

Vishing is a form of fraud conducted via the telephone, where a third party will attempt to obtain private, personal and financial information.  Often callers pose as policyholders, claimants or other companies in a position of trust.

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Category: Business, IT News.

Downtime is one of those dreaded words that gives business owners and managers nightmares. When some or all of your people can’t access core IT systems it’s always bad news – for relationships with customers, for productivity, for employee morale and, ultimately, for the bottom line.

The damage and cost of unplanned downtime depends on how long systems are down for, and how much each business relies on smooth-running technology, for income and customer satisfaction. Even planned downtime can cause problems and, these days, is often unnecessary.

Running an IT and telephony support business like I do, I’d love to be able to say that unplanned downtime is 100% avoidable! The reality is that it’s very difficult to prevent every conceivable cause of downtime. Occasionally even the best technology fails and human error is always a possibility.

Faced with a challenge like this, if you’re anything like me, you get practical – very quickly! What do we do about this then? Well, here are some key things you can do to minimise unplanned downtime – and even planned downtime too, come to that!:

  1. Create a strategy and action plan to actively manage all aspects of your IT
  2. Put a disaster recovery plan in place
  3. Organise regular automated backups
  4. Regularly check your backups
  5. Monitor and update all your devices and systems.

The thing is, for most SMEs with limited IT resources and expertise,  the most efficient and cost-effective way of ensuring that these tasks are completed and checked is to work with a trusted IT service partner with specific technical expertise and management skills.

Although there are costs involved, as there are engaging with any supplier, these are usually very reasonable, while the impact of not making this investment can be huge, even existential.

Just one more tip: Make sure your prospective partner offers flexible terms so that you can quickly and easily go elsewhere if you need to – beware those businesses that want to tie you down to long contracts with onerous terms!

If you’re concerned about the impact that downtime could have on your business and what you can do to prevent it, call us on 03300 886116 or email info@pcsupportgroup.com  for a confidential chat about how we can help. Meanwhile, we’ve also created this helpful guide to finding the right IT service provider.

 

Phil Bird,

Managing Director, The PC Support Group

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Category: IT News, Latest, News.

Corporate Vision Magazine has announced the winners of the 2019 Technology Innovator Awards.

The awards now in its fifth year, showcase some of the best most innovative companies, projects, and services within the technology industry. The surge of available technology products and its constant evolution means that the technology industry now stands as one of the most vitally prominent in the world.

North West-based IT and telephony provider, The PC Support Group has been unveiled as the Best SME IT Support Business 2019 – North West of England from CV Magazine.

Commenting on the success of this year’s awards and winners, Laura Hunter, Awards Coordinator for Corporate Vision stated:

Now in its fifth year, the Technology Innovator Awards showcase the very best of the best from across the technology space. I am proud to offer my congratulations to all of my winners and wish them all the best of luck for the future.”

Phil Bird, managing director, The PC Support Group said:

We are passionate about helping businesses across the North West realise their business potential through world-class IT support and winning awards like these means we are achieving what we set out to do.”

To learn more about these illustrious winners, and to find out the secrets behind their success, please visit https://www.cv-magazine.com.

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Category: Business, IT News, IT Support.

According to a report last year, two-thirds of SMEs now use managed services and this is rising.

 

A Managed Service Provider (MSP) is a third party who manages IT infrastructure on a subscription plan meaning the SME can focus on developing the business and the day-to-day responsibility lies with the MSP.

 

For businesses that don’t have the resources and expertise to look after their IT or simply want to spend time growing their business rather than fixing problems or maintaining IT systems, it is the perfect solution.

 

Managed IT services can cover a range of functions from network, systems, applications, data storage and backup, cloud service solutions, cybersecurity, VoIP telephony and printer management.

 

With technology being essential to all businesses to varying degrees and in particular how fast it is changing, businesses can’t afford to be left behind.

 

If you’re considering using a MSP for outsourcing your IT here is a useful article that outlines the benefits to help you make an informed choice.

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Category: Business, IT News, IT Security, News.

According to a recent study, 86% of the top UK websites failed to comply with GDPR.  Considering GDPR is now a year old, this alarming news.

The findings by ImmuniWeb, a global security testing provider, highlighted that the majority of UK websites were using non-compliant processes or insecure systems to host and manage user data.   Eighty-six percent were found to be using insecure cookies and 17% of sites had either missing or hard to reach privacy policies.

On a positive note, 100% were using Secure Socket Layer (SSL) or HTTPS and had up-to-date content management systems.

The stats also revealed that sites operating across the rest of Europe are more likely to be compliant with GDPR.

Here are some tips on how to make your website GDPR compliant:

  1. Make sure your privacy policy is very clear about the data you are capturing and easily accessible.  It needs to outline the usage of advertising, marketing, transferring data to third parties (who must be named) and IP tracking
  2. Make sure an SSL certificate is obtained for your website to encrypt data to stop people hacking it
  3. Make sure any data capture forms on your website have active opt-in boxes for acceptance reasons including for social media
  4. Make sure users can unsubscribe their consent/withdraw their permission easily and clearly and this should be separate to accepting terms and conditions
  5. Your website should have procedures in place to detect, report and investigate personal data breaches.

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Category: IT News, IT Security, News.

With hackers getting smarter and malware having increasingly devastating results, cybersecurity has never been more important to keep your business safe.

One way of increasing your cybersecurity is with an antivirus (AV) software. That is why it is essential to invest in good AV software. However, it should be stressed that this should be in conjunction with other security measures.   Previously, AV software was renowned for slowing your computer down and therefore an excuse for not investing in it; however, software has come a long way.  According to independent testing by IT PRO, the best business antivirus software for 2019 is Kaspersky Internet Security 2019, which came out as virtually faultless.

The other recommended AV software included BitDefender Internet Security 2019, McAfee Internet Security 2019, Panda Free Antivirus and Avast Free Antivirus.

If you’re unsure about which antivirus software to install or how to configure it, speak with your IT provider for advice or contact The PC support Group here.

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Category: IT News, IT Security, News.

New research says that almost 90% of SMEs are now looking to switch to the IT Managed Service Provider with the best cybersecurity services, above all other selection criteria.

Global IT management company Continuum spoke to SMEs across the UK, US, France, Germany and Belgium about their cybersecurity concerns. Its main conclusions included:

  • Almost all SMEs are now aware of the business-critical importance of cybersecurity
  • 89% of those surveyed would consider switching to a new IT support provider if it offered the right cybersecurity solutions
  • Almost a quarter have already switched following a cyber attack.

The research highlighted that cybersecurity is now the most important issue for SMEs selecting an IT provider and that virtually all businesses were willing to move away from their current provider if it meant getting a better service elsewhere.  Interestingly, the majority don’t feel like they are protected sufficiently and therefore are considering switching for better security

Is your business protected against cyber attacks like ransomware or email phishing? Do you feel that your current provider is giving you good advice and being proactive with measures to protect you and your customers? Or is it time to look at other options to keep your business safe?