Date:

Author

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

I wanted to share an incident with you that we came across recently, as it could happen to any business and be very costly.

You’ve probably heard of phishing emails – it’s when criminals send bogus emails to individuals to get them to reveal usernames, passwords, and credit card details usually by simply clicking on a link.  And while many scam emails are easy to spot, some can look very convincing.  Even if it looks like it’s from a credible source such as one of the big banks or a large corporation like Microsoft, it could just as easily be from a cybercriminal.

What business owners don’t often realise is how many of these emails come into their businesses every day and how easy it is for people to respond with devastating consequences.

A prospect called us to work out how an email had seemingly been sent from them to all their clients requesting payment into a specific account “without delay to avoid the loss of service”. The answer was that hackers had used a phishing email to trick them into providing the login details to their email system. The hackers then logged in and sent this email out as if it really was from this business owner.

Not only did one client pay – into the hackers account, but can you imagine the effect of such an abrupt and demanding email on the client relationship?! What was worse was that their only recourse was to tell their clients that they had been hacked, which made their business appear even more disorganised and vulnerable.

So, what can you do to ensure this doesn’t happen to your business?

Well, your best defences are education and motivation.  Share the problem with your people.  Build a team of committed defenders against cybercriminals.  Help them to spot the dangers – the do’s and don’ts and the need for caution and vigilance. Talk to them about the consequences of damaging their livelihoods and your business.  It could honestly be the most valuable investment you ever make.  Make no mistake, phishing could kill your business.

And of course, here at The PC Support Group, we can help you build defences against cybercriminals and provide advice and guidance to make sure your business is safe and secure.  It’s what we do! Call our team today for an informal and confidential chat on 03300 88 6116 or email them on  [email protected].

Phil Bird

Managing Director, The PC Support Group

 

 

 

 

Date:

Author

Category: Business, IT News, IT Support, News.

The PC Support Group has been announced as an award finalist of the 50 Best Managed IT Companies 2018.

 

The 50 Best IT Companies awards recognise and highlight the best of the best well run businesses in the UK IT sector with companies being evaluated in 12 key areas to measure their best practices.

 

The PC Support Group, which has its head office in Speke, provides fully managed IT support to SMEs across the North West.

 

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

 

“We are delighted to have made it to the finals of these prestigious awards which shows that our business practices are one of the best in the country amongst other IT companies.”

 

Phil continues:

 

“We work hard to provide a world-class IT support service, working with our clients to help them grow their business by using the best technology for them and we know our business practices reflect this.”

 

The winners will be announced at the awards ceremony on 13 December in London.

 

 

 

 

Date:

Author

Category: Business, Data Backup, IT News, IT Security, IT Support.

I’ve read several interesting articles recently about data backup and how being unable to access data and systems is the nightmare scenario for all businesses. However, one thing that rarely seems to be mentioned is the act of data recovery. Hopefully, most companies by now realise the importance of having their data backed up but few appear to think about how long it might take to recover the data onto a live system should disaster strike.

Did you know that 90% of companies experience some form of downtime whether it’s a disk or other critical hardware failure, a flooded office or the latest cyber attack?  We’ve all experienced something.  Interestingly, a lot of our prospects when they first contact us have no idea how quickly they could recover.  Unfortunately, some businesses never recover which is not surprising when the average cost of one hour of downtime is £6,500 for a small business and £64,000 for a mid-sized one2.   Very sad when you consider that 93% of data loss issues are avoidable1.

Even IT businesses like us are not immune, the difference being we have robust business continuity measures in places preventing any issue becoming a major disaster.   In fact, only a few weeks’ ago we suffered a power outage for nearly half a day at our offices in Speke, but our services remained operational and none of our clients were left without support.

How did we do this?  We use a six-step disaster recovery plan that helps assess risks, identify weaknesses and put proactive measures in place.  Once you have this plan, recovery is much easier and quicker and therefore less costly for you and your business.  For instance, businesses without a plan experience greater downtime – on average 18.5 hours to get back up and running2.  Time and money that no business can afford.   So, by planning for the worst you can make your business stronger and more resilient today.

To get you thinking, here are a few questions for you to consider:

1: What is your business-critical data is and where it is held?  Is it backed up?

2: Is your backed-up data kept separate from your computer system, in a secure place with restricted access?

3: How regularly is your data backed-up – daily, weekly, monthly?

4: Is the backup process automated and regularly monitored?

5 How quickly could you access your backed-up data?  Within hours or weeks?

6: How long could your business survive without access to its data?

Answering these questions is just the start of protecting your business. Here at The PC Support Group we can help you with further practical advice and guidance.  Our rolling monthly contracts will ensure your recovery is easy and efficient because we’re good at what we do! Call our team on 03300 88 6116 for a chat about how we can help you or email them on [email protected]

Phil Bird

Managing Director, The PC Support Group

1 The Online Trust Alliance’s analysis of security breaches 2017

2 Backbone Connect, an UK IT infrastructure firm, 2018

 

 

 

Date:

Author

Category: Business, IT News, IT Support.

I recently came across a couple of situations when speaking with prospective clients that got me thinking. The first one was a business owner that was very unhappy with the service he was getting from his current IT support provider.   He had decided to move to us but then realised he was stuck in his existing contract for another year. He has since come to an agreement, so he can move.  The second was a lady I met who spent 30 minutes telling me why her current IT provider and infrastructure was holding her business back but has decided to stay with them for now because it is easier and see how it goes.
Don’t jeopardise moving your business forward because you think it’s too much hassle to move IT provider.  Switching is usually quite straightforward.  Moving supplier can add value to your business beyond cost reductions by taking advantage of better talent, technology, processes, and innovation.  If you’ve decided that your current supplier is not right for you and your business, here are some things to think about before switching that will help a seamless transition:
Check your contract with your existing IT support company
Before you tell your current supplier you want to switch, make sure you are legally able to make the move.  A lot of companies tie you in for a year or more, require several months’ notice and even automatically enrol you into additional years if notice is not given. Even if you’re not ready to change now, make sure you know your contract terms before doing anything.
Pull together all your IT network documents
Make sure you have collated all IT documents that you can, so you can pass this on to your new IT support company and take backups of all your data if possible. If this is something you don’t have, ask your current supplier to provide it before giving them notice.  Examples of the documents that will help are your current website domain host, passwords to servers and other important systems, and information about where data is stored and backed up. 
Do your homework on the IT provider you are switching to
The more information you can find about your new IT provider beforehand, the better chance you have of a great working relationship that will last for years and the more your business will grow.
To help, we have devised a simple guide with 20 key questions to help you choose the right IT support provider, once you have decided to switch.  Please contact us to be sent this free guide.
Check the new supplier has migrated systems like yours before
When changing IT provider, most problems are caused by the new supplier’s lack of experience in migrating cloud so check they have migrated other similar ones. Do they have a dedicated project manager and project team to ensure the transfer is planned and goes smoothly?
Always be open and transparent with your current supplier re switching
Communication is key, and any ethical company will want to make sure that their reputation is not harmed.  By being open and transparent you can agree on expectations before and during the transition.
So, if you have decided now is the time to switch to a better service, feel free to give us a call on 03000 886 116 or email us on [email protected] for a confidential chat.
Phil Bird
Managing Director, The PC Support Group

 

 

 

 

Date:

Author

Category: Business, IT News, IT Processes, IT Support, Latest.

The entries for the inaugural Managed Services & Hosting (MSH) Awards 2018 have been assessed and finalists selected in each of the seven categories. The winners will be announced at the UK Managed Services and Hosting Summit 2018 on 19 September in London.

The awards build on the momentum of the highly successful series of Managed Services and Hosting Summits, which have taken place for the last eight years.  They recognise excellence within the dynamic and innovative ICT sector.

John Garratt, editor of IT Europa, one of the award judges said:

“The entry quality level is very high, and this is perhaps not surprising, given the level of new thinking that is a feature of the sector. We want to use these awards to help publicise the tremendous work going on in the managed services sector and build understanding among customers and potential customers.”

North West based IT service provider, The PC Support Group is one of seven finalists in the Best SMB MSP Project category.  They provide fully managed IT support to SMEs across the Liverpool and Manchester areas.

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

“We are delighted to have made this finalist list once again especially as we are currently undergoing an expansion plan to bring our award-winning service to more SMEs across the North West.”

Phil continues:

“We know we are great at what we do and we receive brilliant testimonials from our clients all the time, so it is equally fantastic when we get recognition from the sector.  We are proud to provide a world-class IT support service, helping SMEs grow their business through technology.”

 

Date:

Author

Category: IT Security, IT Support.

If you think getting scammed is difficult and your business is immune, think again! Here is how easy it is…

 

1. Create a fake invoice as if you’re a local company and specify the bank details for payment as being that of your murky, nasty little criminal bank account. See an example below.

 

 

2. Get the name and email address of the business owner who is to be your victim

 

3. Get the name and email address of the person who pays the bills in the same business

 

4. Spoof an email so the person who pays the bills thinks the business owner is sending it, it only takes a few minutes to do (click here for instructions) – yes it’s that easy! You can spot fake email addresses like the below, check your previous emails from people and companies to see if they have emailed you before. Your email spam WONT always work.

 

 

5. Type the following:

Hi <name>

Can you pay this invoice for me via BACS ASAP

Thanks

<business owner’s firstname>

 

6. Await payment so you can spend it on your murky, nasty, little criminal low-grade life

 

However, if you’re a criminal reading this you’ll already know how to thieve from people and you’re a disgrace; and if you’re reading this and are a decent hard-working person the motto is that you shouldn’t trust emails unless you can be sure they’re from the person you think they’re from; no matter how real they seem.

The most simple fight against this tactic is to have a solid, well-understood internal business process for making payments that ensure nothing is paid without suitable checks and balances.

 

 

 

Date:

Author

Category: IT Processes, IT Purchasing, IT Support, Uncategorised.

Slow Computer Frustration Fix Warning…Practically your whole business – bar the furniture – is on your computer system these days. So, looking after your business means looking after that system. We’re taking a look here at how we can help you to understand how to do that because, even if you employ an IT Support Manager, you’re going to have to know what to expect from him or her! Are you or your IT Support Manager doing the following things?

KNOW YOUR IT SUPPLIERS – Meet them all to be very clear about what they do for you, how much they’re costing you, and review your reasons for signing them up. Great IT suppliers will bend over backwards to help you make life easier come budget time and will have useful ideas for you. Ask them what they’re best at, what they’re renowned for, and how they’ve helped their most successful clients.   When you have to undertake a special project, knowing who to go to for help will save you time and effort. You can often get some superb ideas from suppliers who’ve dealt with similar projects many times before.

KNOW YOUR SERVICE CONTRACTS – check the contract dates, diarise reviews, and read the summaries. Renegotiating old contracts can find you quick savings, sometimes you’ll even find obsolete services you’re still paying for, and you’ll be able to plan much better for contract renewals or tenders.

PRODUCE A FLOW CHART – This should show how all your IT systems integrate, which systems actually do work together rather than should work together. How do your IT systems fit in with the business goals? Such a flow chart should highlight efficiency improvements to start working on and enhance your ability to spot vulnerabilities and fix problems.

IDENTIFY CRITICAL AREAS – Which systems are most/least critical for business continuity? Checking they are being backed-up is the minimum you should do. Ensure you document recovery processes, times and objectives. Know where to locate your disaster recovery plan! When trouble hits (and it will) you’ll instantly know what to do.

FUTURE FINANCE – Avoid traps like over-ambitious spending and set aside a budget for the IT work inherent in important upcoming changes like office moves, restructuring and acquisitions. Such projects heavily impact IT! IT systems do wear out and become obsolete so account for this too. If you employ an IT Manager or outsource – ensure they are briefed appropriately by the person in charge of finance and consulted for their advice about any such upcoming changes.

PAST EXPENDITURE – review the projects and expenditures you have previously approved (or get your IT Manager to do so) and decide which commitments you want to alter, re-approve, cancel, delay or reprioritise.

MORE THAN ONE PERSON ON YOUR IT TEAM? – You or the IT Manager should meet with each member of your team and ask what they like and hate doing in their job. Gain an idea of their skills and weaknesses. Also ask each member if they have any great ideas, something they feel would transform the business. As a result of this you might decide to make changes to your team, but you don’t want anyone to mess up your plan by suddenly leaving. A lack of development opportunities is the number one cause of staff turnover. Listening to your team members will at least show you what development opportunities are possibilities and those free ideas could be very useful indeed.

PRODUCE AN IT OPERATIONS MANUAL – If you have more than one person looking after your IT this will show how the IT Department functions, including external parties, as well as the disaster recovery plan. Having one in place builds confidence amongst your IT team and the wider organisation.

PLAN – Create a 6-month IT plan. Outline any changes, upgrades, and improvements that you can envisage based on the company’s goals. Share this plan internally, and with your most trusted IT suppliers. The more people who are prepared for your plans, the easier you’ll find those plans to execute. Trusted external suppliers can share their own experiences from other clients, help you avoid pitfalls and help you plan the resources you’ll need to get hold of. This is especially true if you outsource your IT Support.

CONSIDER FULLY OUTSOURCING – If you don’t want to get into funding the cost of an IT Manager AND his or her sickness/holiday cover and all the other inherent staffing issues ….

If you don’t want to carry the entire burden of maintaining IT when you’re also trying to develop your business – lean on a reputable IT support company. That way you’ll have more freedom to bring in more business and work on growth.

By making sure you get the right IT support services to meet your needs, you and your business will benefit.

Date:

Author

Category: Computer Maintenance, IT Security, IT Support.

Office StressDoes any of this sound familiar?

  • You have one or more slow computers, frustrating you and your staff; affecting your productivity and therefore your profitability?
  • You want to make your computer(s) run faster?
  • You’re looking for a quick, simple, cheap or free tip?

The main issues with slow computers usually lie not with the hardware but with changes that occur to the PC’s software. The two most common causes of slowdown are:

  • Every time you or a member of staff loads a program, file, or webpage, the PC’s software registry is updated with new instructions needed to operate that item. However, when the item is removed, these instructions usually remain on the PC. The result: A significantly slower computer.
  • Spyware and viruses are software programs that are loaded on your computer without your knowledge or permission.

You probably already know that the simple rule of thumb to follow is to never download programs like screensavers, emoticons, films, etc from unknown sources. In addition, you should never open any attachments to an email unless you are 100 percent certain you know and trust the sender.

Unfortunately – this also applies to software sold online that purports to “Clean Up” your PC in seconds. You will see these on offer, making claims such as “literally only takes 5 minutes to work”, “Your computer will instantly be restored and you can schedule automatic system clean-ups to keep it running like new.”

The advertisements may also go as far as to claim: “…also protect you against viruses and attack from malicious files, ensuring it runs smoothly all of the time”.

Let’s take a look what SafeBro.com say, for example, about one such TYPICAL download …

“… a nasty rogue infection that works as a double agent. On one hand, it pretends to be a powerful system optimization and antivirus software that would fix your computer, but on other hand (in reality) it brings viruses to your computer and steals your money. Actually this virus is associated with cyber crooks who create fake programs to trick users. Once this software has been installed, it alerts you of several viruses detected on your machine (even if there is no virus in your computer). After a while, it will force you to buy the full/professional version in order to remove the viruses from your computer. That is the actual target of this nasty program. We recommend you to uninstall the software as soon as possible and do not purchase it on any condition. Please note: Manual removal may cause damages to your system if you do any mistake. Use this method only if you understand what you are about to do”.

 

If your PC is infected by this kind of application virus it may do the following…

  • Enter into your computer without your knowledge
  • Scan your computer without your request and claim it has found viruses
  • Display a lot of warnings and alerts popping up on the screen
  • Provoke you to buy its full version or activation code (which may not even work)
  • Collect Personal user information which may include sensitive financial data such as logins, usernames, accounts
  • It may bring further infections are direct the user to infectious sites
  • Make the computer run slow, uses a big part of system resources

That’s not a great picture is it?

It may cost a little more to ensure you use the right software to protect your systems and use qualified, knowledgeable engineers to resolve problems but ultimately it could save you thousands or even save your business.

At The PC Support Group, every computer we look after is subject to a remote weekly health check that includes:

  • Spyware protection and Anti-Virus check
  • Check for early warning signs of problems
  • Removal of unnecessary temporary files that can choke your system
  • Organisation of your disk drives to prevent your computers from slowing down over time

Call us on 03300 886116 if you want your business critical IT System to be in SAFE hands! We’re here to help!

Date:

Author

Category: Customer Service, IT Support.

 

My Brother is a Bit of a Whizz…

… and he tends to help out if I have a problem – so I don’t really need IT Support.

I have heard that phrase (and its slight variations – after all it’s sometimes a cousin) so very often that my heart goes out to all those ‘Bit of a whizz’ relatives out there!

Being married to one such ‘whizz’ I know only too well what it’s like for them.  Friends, relatives and neighbours alike will call whenever there’s an IT panic on for them and, more often than not, expect him to give up some spare time to get them sorted out.

The trouble is – not all computer support problems can be sorted really quickly – and they might happen just when he’s settling down for some hard-earned time off with the
family.

PCSG-Engineers-helping-small-business-compressedSo – on behalf of those ‘Bit of a Whizzes’ everywhere AND to help YOU avoid unmitigated business disaster, here’s what you might want to consider before saying you ‘don’t need Computer Support’:

Think about your PC-savvy relative or friend …

  • Is he/she highly qualified and experienced?  It’s a highly specialised area, and all their hard work over the years is surely worth remuneration – should they REALLY be giving it away FOC?
  • When he/she has put in a full day of Techie Support for businesses – do they REALLY want more of it at home?
  • Are you the ONLY person who calls on them?  They may get a bit swamped with these sorts of requests and be far too polite to say anything!
  • What if something goes very wrong and you lose everything on your PC – which results in the loss of your business.  What’s that going to do to your relationship with your ‘whizz’? Is it really fair to put that level of responsibility on them in the first place?

Think about YOU and YOUR BUSINESS …

  • Is your friend or relative doing PRO-ACTIVE maintenance work on your IT system to ensure things have less chance of going wrong in the first place; saving you time and money?
  • Is your technical friend monitoring your back ups and anti-virus?
  • Do you know what qualifications and experience your ‘whizz’ truly has? Are they currently working in computer support?  If not, how are they keeping up with industry changes that may affect your computer systems?
  • Do they have server experience?
  • Can you get hold of them every minute of the working day?
  • Do they never get sick or go on holiday?
  • Is the software they have installed legitimate? Not only does pirated software pose a threat to you and your business from a legal perspective, it also can’t be updated which means it is vulnerable to virus and malware attacks which could bring your IT system to a standstill.

There are certain things that make a lovely addition to your business – a coffee machine, a water cooler, a good photocopier … but your Computer(s) are not one of these ‘nice’ additions.  They are ESSENTIAL.  Without them you may not have a business.  You may be able to ignore the dust if the cleaner calls in sick – but you’re going to need ongoing maintenance and reliable IT support to keep your business in operation!

Pam Case is the Brand Ambassador at The PC Support Group and loves letting people know how we can help them with their IT systems

– See more at: http://www.pcsupportgroup.com/blog/i-dont-really-need-it-support/#sthash.e8n3Nv0U.dpuf

Date:

Author

Category: IT Support.

PCSG-Engineer-web

 

 

Managing IT systems is all about thinking ahead and preventing problems BEFORE they cause major problems, but unfortunately things still occasionally go wrong and yesterday one of our clients had a major incident. Yes I admit no IT support company can prevent everything in advance! Not even our robust processes and powerful support management software.

However, it’s during these times that IT support teams are really tested; how quickly and professionally can they respond?

We tend to focus on the following areas:

  1. Risk Reduction -What do we need to do immediately to ensure that the issue doesn’t impact the business further?
  2. Business continuity – what can we do to ensure the individual or business can continue to operate as close to 100% effectiveness?
  3. Communication – ensure that all parties are kept up to date throughout the period of the issue
  4. Diagnosis – Quickly and calmly get to the root cause of the issue. All too often IT support departments take the “try this, try that” approach, particularly if they panic during a major event.
  5. Fix and test – Don’t just fix the problem; make sure it’s fixed by testing
  6. Confirmation – Is the customer happy that everything is now working perfectly again
  7. Review – What can we learn from this experience? Can we improve our knowledge, systems or processes to avoid or reduce the risk of this reoccurring, or does the customer need to change anything?

I was therefore delighted that following the incident with our customer we received the following glowing report:

“Just wanted to express my thanks for the way the team at The PC Support Group responded to our urgent problem today.

From Scott who took the initial call and very quickly realised that we had a serious problem and escalated the event, to Steve for taking charge and coordinating the effort and for Andy who was hands on working on our servers, and additionally  anyone else I was unaware of,  many thanks.

It appears our processes work!

If you want to know more please email us on [email protected] or call us on 03300 886 116.

– See more at: http://www.pcsupportgroup.com/blog/it-support/when-it-systems-go-wrong/#sthash.gYWadIYI.dpuf