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Category: IT Security.

Did you know that the UK’s SMEs are on the receiving end of an average of 65,000 cyber attacks every day? Or that the average loss from a successful attack is £25,700, per business?

I was shocked when I read these statistics, published by insurers Hiscox. Perhaps the most worrying trend of all for me is the relentless growth in ever-more sophisticated phishing scams. Even IT experts and senior executives are being tricked by bogus emails in order to steal your personal info and login details, or get you to make a payment – or simply to corrupt your computers to disrupt your operations.

The bottom line is, while some scam emails are easy to spot, the majority look very, very convincing. If it looks like it’s from a trusted company, with branding to match, it could just as easily be from a cybercriminal.

And, as Hiscox and other surveys reveal, the consequences can be extremely serious. Your business bank account could be compromised. Confidential customer data stolen. Or even worse, your entire IT estate paralysed by ransomware. Make no mistake, phishing could kill your business.

The best defences are education and motivation. Share the problem with your employees and give them guidance, after all failing to spot these emails could ultimately impact their job security.  Helping them spot the dangers now could be the best thing you can do to protect your business.

“So how do I spot a bogus email?” I’m often asked.  Here are six things that I would share immediately with everyone in your business. Beware of any emails that ask you to:

  1. make an immediate payment – don’t pay without speaking with the person to check the request is valid. Do not check via email!
  2. enter your ID and password – check with your IT support provider/department that this is a genuine requirement before entering anything you’re not 100% sure about
  3. start paying invoices into a new account – phone the requester to check it’s a genuine requirement
  4. click on a given link – check with your IT support provider/department that this is a genuine requirement
  5. download something onto your computer – don’t download anything unless you’re 100% sure of it’s content. If you’re not – check with who asked you to download it or check with your IT support provider
  6. respond because your account is under attack, been compromised or frozen – there is often no compromise and these are designed to create a panic response. Don’t! Check with your IT support provider that the alert is genuine before responding or clicking on anything

I treat everything as potentially suspicious – sadly that’s the mindset we all need to adopt. If you’re in any doubt, do not open or click on any link or divulge any personal or corporate information, without first contacting your IT team or support partner.

If you’re concerned about your business’s vulnerability to phishing attacks, email info@pcsupportgroup.com or, leave us a message here and we’ll get back to you or call us on 03300 886116 or for an informal and confidential chat.

Phil Bird,

Managing Director, The PC Support Group

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Author

Category: IT Security.

Recent research by Verizon revealed that business owners and senior executives are 12 times more likely to be the target of a cybersecurity attack than any other employee – with SMEs the victims of 43% of all data security breaches.

For me, this worrying trend confirms what I have been saying to our clients for as long as I can remember: Effective cybersecurity has to start at the very top of your organisation – at board level – with clear policies, standards, roles and responsibilities that everyone understands, all backed by sufficient resources to make it happen.

It’s no surprise that top people are most at risk. They’re incredibly busy, on the move, working long hours, trying to achieve as much as possible every day – with the result that they are vulnerable to being caught off guard – and the cybercriminal only needs one mistake to pounce. And that mistake can be very expensive, not just in purely financial terms.

Executives also have onerous legal and regulatory responsibilities, with breaches likely to damage reputations, business prospects, careers – even an organisation’s very existence.

Surveys show that almost all SMEs are now aware of the business-critical importance of cybersecurity. That’s great – but now is the time to put cybersecurity at the heart of the way you do business, to protect everything you’ve worked for. Leadership is crucial, to reaffirm that cybersecurity is everyone’s responsibility, how we all have a vital role in the battle, and why it’s in everyone’s interest to become super-vigilant at work.

First, you and your senior colleagues must have a forensic understanding of all your key risks and vulnerabilities and how your data is gathered, managed and stored. You and your employees need ongoing training to guard against increasingly sophisticated efforts to trick you into revealing information which the skilled hacker can wreak havoc with. Discuss this with your IT provider and ask them if there is anything else you can do.

At The PC Support Group, we’ve developed a comprehensive, award-winning portfolio of services, solutions, advice, and guidance to help keep our clients – and their clients – safe.  We’re also Cyber Essentials-certified, having achieved the principal UK Government-backed cybersecurity quality standard.  Some of the services that The PC Support Group offer as part of our portfolio include:

  1. Security surveys and testing – to help identify and manage vulnerabilities
  2. Managed internet firewall protection – that meets the Payment Card Industry Security Standard (PCIDSS) compliance regulations
  3. Managed antivirus services – ensuring detection, protection, and removal
  4. Data backup services – keeping all your data in a safe and secure location
  5. Multi-Factor Authentication – for extra security in addition to usernames and passwords
  6. Data encryption – keeping data safe if your computer or smartphone is lost or stolen
  7. Email security diagnostics – to enhance your system’s security configuration.

Take the lead NOW and email us on info@pcsupportgroup.com or call us on 03300 886116 to find out how we can help keep your business safe and running smoothly.

Phil Bird,

Managing Director, The PC Support Group

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Author

Category: IT Security.

In my last bulletin I shared with you my IT health check, designed to help SMEs to have a solid foundation of basic information about their IT infrastructure, systems and equipment. If you know what cards you have in your hand, it’s so much easier to play the right one, at the right time!

But there’s a natural follow up to an IT health check – a broader exercise, which will help equip you to deal with a nightmare scenario: How would you cope with a sudden crisis in your business?

By sudden crisis I mean, what would happen if your business:

  • lost all its data?
  • couldn’t use its core IT and telecoms systems and equipment?
  • suffered from fire or flood damage to its offices?
  • suddenly lost key members of staff – or a vital supplier?
  • was unable to access bank accounts or key management software?
  • was a victim of the theft of online, intellectual or physical property?

This is something that I continuously consider and review – to be as sure as possible that The PC Support Group could recover from any of these nightmare scenarios. I do worry about this stuff but what it makes me do is plan, and I think you know by now, that I love a plan!

Owner managers of SMEs work so hard, often for many years, to build up businesses that do great things – and provide prosperity and incomes for themselves, their families and their employees, and it really pains me to hear of events when all that effort goes up in smoke – sometimes literally.

Do you think you would survive and recover? Most importantly, do you have plans in place and resources in reserve to help you to deal with these challenges and emerge with your reputation and your business intact? If you do, your chances of making a full recovery are greatly increased. If you don’t, drawing up these plans and allocating adequate resources to cope with an emergency should be a top priority.

We have a series of free guides available about a range of business-critical issues and one is devoted to business continuity, with a six-step action plan designed to help you to prepare. The steps cover:

  • How to carry out a business impact analysis – to understand your risks and vulnerabilities
  • Assessing your current state of readiness – and identifying those areas needing attention
  • How to construct your plan – to ensure you cover all the bases
  • Communicating your plan – so that your team know what to do if something goes wrong
  • Reviewing, testing and updating your plan – because your business is constantly evolving
  • Recruiting external support – for specific expertise and to plug gaps in your plan.

This FREE, six step guide to business continuity is available now, just click on this link:

Business continuity for SMEs – how to survive a major emergency and recover in style.

If you’d like to have a chat about business continuity, or any other aspect of your IT and telecoms, email us on info@pcsupportgroup.com or call our team on 03300 886116 for an informal chat.

 

Phil Bird,

Managing Director, The PC Support Group.

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Author

Category: Business, Data Backup, IT Processes, IT Security, IT Support, IT Training.

It’s a tough job running a business. It’s incredibly demanding, stressful and time-consuming – but, of course, when things are going well, it can be tremendously satisfying and rewarding too.

I hear these personal stories every day as I talk to customers, and I’m constantly learning lessons from these conversations too. One lesson came through to me loud and clear this week.

I reckon that prosperous businesses have some key things in common. And when it comes to their IT, data, and telephony, this boils down to getting the basics right. They’re on top of those absolute fundamentals, minimising their risks and maximising their chances of success.

Conversely, those businesses that don’t have a grip on these basics are taking some very big risks, missing opportunities and gambling on their futures – and the futures of their employees too.

So, this week, it’s back to basics! Of course, there are many things that have to go right to be successful in business, but I strongly recommend that you complete my IT health check. If you’ve got a handle on these essentials, then you’ve got good IT system foundations in place and you can build from there. To get a clean bill of health you need to be able to answer all 8 questions!

  1. IT services. Do you know exactly what outsourced services are you currently receiving from your IT provider and at what cost? Do you know the details of the contracts with these suppliers such as when you are tied in until and what notice period you need to give?
  2. Data storage. Do you keep records of all the types of data your business uses, and how you store, protect and use it? Have you assessed the impact of losing each type of data so you can manage and mitigate the risk?
  3. IT equipment. Do you have an up-to-date inventory of all your IT equipment, software, and devices?
  4. Security. What security measures do you have in place such as managed anti-virus, firewalls and multi-factor authentication (like online banking uses) Have you undertaken any of the Government-backed, industry-supported programmes such as Cyber Essentials, to ensure your business is doing all the security basics?
  5. Backup. Is your data being backed up? By who? How many copies are being taken and can you access those easily? Do you check that backups are being successfully completed? What about cloud file storage like Dropbox or SharePoint – these are not backups in their own right
  6. Disaster recovery. Do you regularly assess the risks should any aspect of your systems fail or be inaccessible? Do you have a disaster recovery plan? Just because a server is backed up does not mean you will have instant access to that data in the event of a failure; it could be days or even weeks depending on what plans you have in place.
  7. Updates. Is your operating system and software automatically updated or are you using old, unsupported tech, possibly with security holes waiting to be found?
  8. Training. Do you have measures in place to control how your employees use your IT so that they use it efficiently and safely? Simply training them on how to spot a spam email could save your business from a cyber-crime.

So, how did you get on? Do you feel in control, or do you need some assistance?  If you’d like to find out how we may be able to help your organisation to get the basics right, call our team on 03300 886116 or email us on info@pcsupportgroup.com for an informal chat.

Phil Bird

Managing Director, The PC Support Group

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Author

Category: Windows 7, IT News, IT Security, Microsoft Office.

Windows 7 officially reaches end-of-life in January 2020. So, if you’re one of the thousands of UK businesses still using it, now’s the time to upgrade – or you could be issuing an open invitation to cybercriminals.

 

While your PCs won’t suddenly stop working, from January 14 Microsoft will stop updating or supporting your operating system, meaning that automatic security and bug fixes will end, making it increasingly costly to maintain and vulnerable to attack.

And you can guarantee that cybercriminals will be targeting Windows 7 users after January 14, because they know that their defences are down.

If you haven’t already, my advice is to start planning now to upgrade to Windows 10 and make the switch well before the January deadline. This way you’ll avoid any period where you’re not supported and the associated risks.

 

While Windows 10 isn’t right for everyone, there are many advantages of upgrading from 7 to 10:

  • It’s simple, with a minimum of disruption – in most cases, you can keep your files and software on your existing PC
  • Many programs you use will already have been updated to work on Windows 10, so you can just carry on as normal
  • Although the layout and interface is different with a little patience you’ll be able to transition and use it relatively easily
  • There are many great additional features and functionality on Windows 10 that will be a big help for your business, such as the Cortana virtual assistant and enhanced security
  • Support for Windows 10 is expected to run until at least 2025, so a small investment now will provide peace of mind for the next five years or more.

So, if you’ve decided to go-ahead and upgrade, here are just a few things to bear in mind:

  • You’ll need to calculate how many users you have and how many licences you need
  • While Windows 10 will run perfectly happily on most existing hardware, it may struggle on older machines, so now may be the time to upgrade some of your hardware too
  • Although as mentioned earlier, most software has been updated to enable it to run on Windows 10 you will need to check that this is the case with all the software you use before going ahead
  • Once you’ve established what you require, you’ll need to identify a budget and potentially look into financing options
  • Time, resource and investment will be required but upgrading will almost certainly bring productivity and business efficiency benefits, which will deliver a fast return on your investment.

If you’re still using Windows 7 and would like to discuss your options and find out how we can help you, leave a message here and mention Windows 7 upgrade and we’ll get back to you or call our friendly team on 03300 886116.

Phil Bird

Managing Director, The PC Support Group

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Author

Category: Windows Server 2008, IT Security, News, Windows 8.

With Windows Server 2008 End of Life happening soon, this means the extended support will also finish.

On January 14th 2020, Microsoft will end all support for Windows Server 2008.

Whilst the systems will continue to work, the infrastructure will not be supported which means it will become vulnerable to cyber-attacks and risks of data loss over time.

Options could include migrating to Microsoft Azure, a cloud computing service or upgrading to a later version of Windows Server including  2012, 2016 or 2019, depending on your requirements.

Hopefully, your IT support company has advised you of this important date if you are currently using Windows Server 2008 but if not speak with them to advise you about your options in particularly what is best for your business requirements.

 

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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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Author

Category: Data Backup, IT Security.

On the back of listening to our clients and having an ear to the ground in the IT sector, we were delighted to jointly host a cybersecurity event in Liverpool last week.

We invited some of our clients to keep them updated about things happening in the technology sector as well as a number of other North West based SMEs with the aim of giving them useful tips about what they can do to protect their businesses and a chance to discuss any pressing cybersecurity issues.

The discussion was expertly chaired by Frank McKenna from Downtown with great input from everyone.   Vic Brown from the award-winning HR recruitment company, High Performance Consultancy was also on hand, providing important policy advice along with her positive experience on how tech has helped take her business to the next level.

We discussed how rapidly advancing technology has been a game-changer for those SMEs who have embraced it and yet, it has highlighted the fact that most businesses do not have the appropriate cybersecurity solutions in place.  Unsurprisingly, several companies in the room had experienced being hacked in the last month and two in the last week alone.  One business had recently lost £20,000 from one incident.

So, my advice to everyone who attended our event and indeed anyone who has a business is this:

  • Without delay, check what data backup you have in place, where it is stored and ask your IT provider, is it appropriate?
  • Make sure you have appropriate data security policies in place and that they are implemented to protect you, your staff and your business. Speak with your HR department
  • Educate yourself and your staff through internal or external training about what to look out for to avoid cyber-crime and what to do, should you be a victim

At The PC Support Group we hold regular events to educate SMEs on cybersecurity and we have produced a free cybersecurity guide. If you are interested in attending any future events or wish to receive our guide please contact us here or send us an email to info@pcsupportgroup.com  or phone us on 0330 886 116 and we would be more than happy to arrange a visit to see how we can protect and enable you to reach your business goals through our exceptional service and IT expertise.

Phil Bird

Managing Director, The PC Support Group

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Author

Category: IT Security, News.

You are more likely to fall victim to cybercrime than anything else.

In the past 12 months, two in five businesses in the UK have been subject to cybercrime with the average cost around £3000 per business (2018 Cyber Security Breaches Survey).

Don’t wait to be a victim.

The PC Support Group in conjunction with HR specialist, HPC and Downtown in Business are offering 30 businesses based in Liverpool with 10+employees an invitation to a select free cyber security power panel:

Date: Thursday 27th June

Time: 12-2pm (lunch & refreshments provided)

Location: Liverpool

Venue: TBC

This event is essential for business owners and directors and will take the format of an informal discussion for 30 businesses only based in Liverpool.

Topics we will cover:

  • The latest cyber security threats and how to identify them
  • How they can impact your business
  • What you can do to keep your business safe
  • Policies to implement to protect your business.

If you are serious about keeping your business safe, you don’t want to miss this non-technical but highly informative discussion.  

Early bird incentive: Reserve your place by Friday 7th June and after the event you will take away with you a FREE cyber Crime guide. 

RSVP to helen.roughley@pcsupportgroup.com by Friday 14th June 2019.  Places will be given on a first come first served basis.

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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.