7 essential layers of cyber security

Unfortunately, there isn’t just one magic piece of technology you can implement in your business to give you 100% security. To give yourself maximum protection against cyber threats, you should be layering your approach like an onion, or an ogre (a little reference for any Shrek fans out there).

Here are 7 things we think you should be looking at to give you and your business the best possible chance when it comes to cyber security.

1. Social engineering

 • Make sure you have a process in place to verify email senders or callers when they are asking for sensitive information, or for something to be carried out in relation to security or finance.

For example, make sure that all staff know that if they receive an email asking for money to be transferred, that they should ring the person asking and verify that it’s a legitimate request before taking action. 

2. Physical security

 Virtual systems are great, and badly needed, but don’t abandon physical security just because you feel protected!

• Keep physical servers locked away
• Don’t leave USBs or passwords out on display. In fact, don’t write passwords down – you should be using a password manager instead. 

3. Wireless security

 WiFi is often overlooked, but WiFi signals extend beyond the four walls your business is situated in which can leave you open to security breaches.

• Make sure the router password has been changed from the default
• Check the protocols it uses are up-to-date giving you the best security. Neither WEP or WPA are sufficient protection anymore
• If you’re offering the use of WiFi as a business, you are legally responsible for what people are looking at online. Make sure you have correct filters, and IP address logging capabilities.

4. Passwords

 • Passwords should be long, not contain personal information (like your favourite football team, or kids’ names) and you should use a different password for each login you have.
• Using a password management tool like LastPass will make this easier.

5. Multi-factor authentication

 • Most systems now support multi-factor authentication which will help protect your account. It means you’ll need to provide an extra piece of information when logging in, such as a code generated by your mobile, but it can stop a hacking attempt dead in its tracks! 

• Check the settings on your critical accounts such as email, or database which holds customer information and make sure multi-factor authentication is enabled

6. Email security

 • You should never click links or open attachments on emails when you don’t know the sender – if you think something is suspicious but aren’t sure, ask your IT provider to check it out for you. They won’t mind – it’s better to be safe than sorry.

• Make sure to have spam and phishing filters in place – these won’t stop suspect emails 100%, but they will reduce the number decreasing the likelihood of a member of staff falling for a phishing attack. 

7. Anti-virus

• Anti-virus should actually be the last line of defence – although there’s nothing out there that’s 100% perfect, so don’t rely on it always picking up on something dodgy.

• For maximum protection for your business, consider using a product that supports application whitelisting and device control which will give you more control over the devices used within your business.

If you’d like us to take a look at your data security setup as it is at the moment, and check that your security is up to scratch, give us a call on  01732 617788 or drop us an email to [email protected]. We can chat about what you need, and how you might get the best out of it for your business. Got a jam-packed schedule? Book an appointment to chat with Jon Cross hereWe can help you make sure that your security measures are doing what they should, and keeping you protected.

 

5 reasons you should be using a password manager

5 reasons you should be using a password manager

Most of the time we find ourselves saying things like, one size doesn’t fit all because every business is unique, but in this instance, a password manager is a tool everyone should be using and here are five reasons why.

#1 Every account you have needs a unique password

 That’s right. This might sound like a slightly terrifying concept because when taking into consideration both business, and personal use you could be looking at a number in the hundreds for how many accounts you have that require login information, but having a unique password for each and every one is important.

 Even if you use a relatively strong password, if say, your password is leaked in a data breach at a clothing company, hackers could try your login credentials for that in order to get into your email – where they’ll not only have access to read your emails, they’ll also be able to reset passwords for other things.

 By storing your passwords in a password manager you can be safe in the knowledge that they’re secure, and you don’t need to stress about remembering them all.

#2 Generate passwords at random

 Password managers have a feature that allows you to generate a strong password, using symbols, random letters and numbers, and capitals and lower case. Because you don’t have to remember them off the top of your head, you can use the generator’s suggestions and know that if you don’t even know the password off the top of your head, a hacker is highly unlikely to have success at guessing it either.

#3 You only need to remember one password for everything

‘What? But you said everything should have a different password, make your mind up!’

It’s true, we did say that. But password managers work by saving your passwords for each account so you only need to log in to the password manager to gain access to your accounts. Just one password to remember, but you’re no less secure – result!

#4 Sync across all of your devices

Most password managers also have an app, so you can sync your passwords across your devices so won’t find yourself stuck trying to log in to your emails from your phone and having to manually type in a really long, complicated password. This is such a time saver!

#5 It’s not just passwords

And finally, you don’t just have to use them for passwords. You can also save information like answers to your security questions, or important backup codes for multi-factor authentication.

 

If you’d like to learn more about password managers and how they can improve the cyber security of your business, give us a call on  01732 617788 or drop us an email to [email protected]. We can chat about what you need, and how you might get the best out of it for your business. Got a jam-packed schedule? Book an appointment with Jon Cross here. Password managers are a really great tool, and we think everyone should be using one!

Keep your sanity intact when it comes to projects, with Microsoft Teams

Keep your sanity intact when it comes to projects, with Microsoft Teams

When you’re working on a big project, it can be hard work at the best of times, even when you’re all together in the same office space. The challenges become greater, when you add distance and not being able to see each other in person, into the mix. One of the best ways we’ve found for removing the frictions that come associated with remote working, is making sure the tools you’re using are completely fit for purpose and well-suited to everyone. For this, we recommend Microsoft Teams in particular.

What’s so great about Microsoft Teams?

Since it was launched, it’s the fastest growing app in the history of Microsoft – more than 330,000 companies are using Teams worldwide very successfully, and they can’t all be wrong!

#1 Not just about the chit chat

When you conjure an image of MS Teams in your head, what are you thinking of? Video calling? Chat? Well yes, it does have both of those features but the power of it goes far beyond that. Within the chat feature, you can share files or integrate it with other Microsoft products like OneNote or Office which means you don’t need to keep switching windows to find information that you need. You can even schedule meetings straight from chat – what a timesaver!

#2 Streamline your meetings

Hands up who likes hosting meetings? We thought not. In the age of virtual meetings especially, it’s easy to get involved in something and then realise 5 minutes beforehand that you need to find the agenda, agreed action points from somewhere else, and there was another document you wanted to go through- where’s that?

Meetings in Teams are a breeze. As soon as you’ve created the meeting you can chat to participants about the agenda, share files so they can all see them, and keep the meeting notes all in one place for easy access and finding. Once the meeting is over, the recording is available right alongside the notes and agreed actions – easy for anyone who missed the meeting, and a great way to keep on top of things.

four avatars on a group video call

A reduction of the dreaded emails

By structuring the conversation in Teams, in a way that suits your business, quick conversations can be held here rather than clogging up your inbox and giving you more stuff to wade through every time you check it.

Collaborate on documents from within Teams

Teams integrates seamlessly with Office 365, which means there’s no need to switch apps when collaborating on a document. You can create one, and share it with your teammates immediately so you can work on it together – it’s as easy as pie.

Get the app!

If your work takes you beyond the desk, then there’s no need to miss out on important conversation. You can download the Teams app and have access to all of your apps and documents as well as chatting, and joining meetings. You’ve got the power!

Would you like to know more? Give us a call on 01732 617788 or drop us an email to [email protected]. We’ve also got a guide about how to download and set up Teams to make the most out of it. You can download that here.

Why you should stop hitting ‘remind me later’

Why you should stop hitting ‘remind me later’

We’ve all done it before.

When the message appears, letting you you know that there’s a software upgrade available, it’s always when you’re in the middle of something important, making it far too tempting to just press ‘remind me later’.

It’s so easy to promise yourself that you’ll run the updates when you’re not in a rush, but, be honest, how often do you remember to run the update after you’ve finished your work? It’s especially easy to forget when you’re working between the office and your home.

We can’t overstate this, updates are critical.

With working from home being prevalent across the UK (and the rest of the world!) we’re all much more vulnerable to cyber-attacks at the moment, with criminals taking every opportunity to leverage the pandemic for their own means.

Why is this relevant? Even though they might be invisible to you, updates often contain security fixes for newly discovered vulnerabilities. By not installing updates, you’re leaving yourself and your network vulnerable to attack.

By keeping up with alerts, you’ll be ensuring that your devices are:

• Safeguarded against the most current threats
• Using the most recent versions of the apps
• Being in better overall tech health

Could you really afford to deal with a data breach right now, on top of everything else that’s going on?

No way.

So stop ignoring the updates! Skip the ‘remind me later’ button, set your updates to run, and go and make yourself a well-earned cuppa. Or, even better, get them out of your hair and give them to Crosstek IT to do for you.

Would you like us to handle your updates to minimise disruption to your workday? Give us a call on 01732 617788 or drop us an email to [email protected] Got a jam-packed schedule? Book an appointment with Jon Cross here. We’re always happy to help.

How much does IT Support cost?

How much does IT Support cost?

When it comes to looking for managed IT services for your business, one of the biggest things to consider is the pricing. If you’re not technical, it can be quite hard to understand what exactly it is that you’re paying for, and to determine what benefits you’ll be getting.

It’s important to ensure the company you’re going to hire is able to meet your unique needs. Even if you aren’t technical so are unsure of the solutions you’re going to need, make sure you have a list of things that are frustrating with your current IT setup, as well as an idea of future growth, or anything you’d like to achieve for example, building in the ability for your entire team to work remotely.

Benefits of hiring a specialist company to look after your IT

Cost saving

Who doesn’t want to lower expenses to increase profitability where possible? A good IT company will help you lower operational expenses and control your IT spend. By working with someone closely and talking through what you’re looking to achieve and any pain points you’ve been experiencing in your day-to-day operations, they’ll recommend what to put in place to meet those needs, and your IT spend can all be rolled into an ongoing, predictable monthly payment with no surprises.

Depending on the provider, having your IT managed may mean you won’t incur expenses for things such as licensing, training, or emergency repairs. This turns your IT spend into an operational expense which makes it much easier to predict and budget for in the long term.

Although every business is unique and might require a more in-depth quote, if your IT needs are basic or you’re looking for a ballpark figure for ongoing IT support, you can use our pricing calculator to give yourself an idea.

Experienced professionals

If a service provider employs highly experienced and certified specialist professionals, you’ll be benefitting from the knowledge of an entire team at the end of the phone. It’s like having your very own in-house IT department without the headache or expense of recruitment. This will give you more time to focus on running your business, and less time dealing with frustrating IT niggles.

IT Support pricing according to workstations

The more workstations you have, the lower the cost per workstation. A business with 10 workstations may be required to pay more per workstation per month, than another business with 50 workstations due to economies of scale.

It’s also important to note that depending on the company, you might encounter different types of fees. As one example, you might find one fee covering hosted workstations and another for workstation support. Hosted workstations might cover the payment for the cloud space and resources used, while workstations support might be payment for any technical issues that may arise.

IT Support pricing based on servers

Costs will differ significantly for server support, depending on whether your business uses a cloud-hosted server or an on-premise server. On-premise servers need regular maintenance and updates while cloud server support is usually easier to manage making support much cheaper.

Pricing for network devices

Routers, Wi-Fi access points, and networks are the less-sexy-but-critical components of any IT setup. Whichever IT Company you’re talking to, ensure these are included in and covered by your support agreement. The cost of support for these varies depending on multiple factors including age, usage, and status.

The cover levels

Another aspect which will affect the cost of your IT is how much coverage you need. Some businesses will by their nature only need 9am-5pm support, while for others 24/7 support may be critical. If you need a high level of coverage then you can expect to pay a bit more that organisations who only need support during standard office hours.

Onsite & remote support

Are you going to need onsite visits, or do you only need remote support? In most cases, remote support is absolutely fine as most faults can be fixed without the need for an engineer to pay a visit.

If you do need onsite visits, your monthly price will be higher for a more comprehensive package. This is a good thing to look out for, a good IT company should advise you of the best options for your business and not just try to convince you to pay for extra features which you may not actually make good use of.

The Service Level Agreement (SLA)

If you require a faster response time, it’s likely that you’ll pay more for priority support. If you aren’t sure what your needs are in terms of response times, this should be easy for an expert to determine when they carry out an IT audit for you.

The number of sites

Many businesses have a HQ, and a number of satellite branches. The cost for IT support in these extra sites can often be lower, as their IT needs aren’t as extensive as that of the main hub at the headquarters.

Ad-Hoc support vs monthly fees

The two main ways you can pay for managed IT support, are ad-hoc support and a monthly retainer. Although ad-hoc support might seem cheaper, and often is in the short term, it can lead to a mis-matched IT network which could lead to security issues or cause more expense in the long run with big expenses like the replacing of hardware taking you completely by surprise. Ad-hoc support allows the fixing of problems, but rarely is there an opportunity for someone to take a good look at the bigger picture and how all of your IT works together.

One of the main reasons monthly packages are so popular is that they offer the support you need at a fixed cost to you. You’ll also have someone keeping an eye on the bigger picture of your business IT, there to suggest tweaks and changes to keep you up-to-date and your IT a tailor-made fit for your business.

The number of users and devices

Depending on whether you’re choosing ad-hoc or monthly support, the number of users or devices in your organization will change how much you’re paying for a support package. Some IT companies determine the number of users by looking at the number of workstations, others use the number of active email addresses.

When you’re looking at a managed IT agreement it’s also important to make sure any other devices you need support for are covered by the agreement such as tablets and phones.

The main elements of ongoing IT support

Network monitoring

This involves an engineer actively monitoring a company’s network to fix issues before you’re even aware of them, eliminating any potential downtime.

Data back-up

It’s important to make sure you’re covered if hard drives are damaged. Many back-up solutions have cloud computing options which means you can ensure your data is accessible no matter what.

Email filtering and archiving

Spam filters are incredibly necessary to help eliminate phishing threats keeping your business safe. This also includes things like a constant backup of emails.

Service desk support

This might also be known as the Help Desk. It’s where you can log your issues ready for an engineer to have a look at. Some companies might outsource their help desk to third parties while others are kept in-house, this is an important question to ask if you’re looking for support.

Firewall

A firewall is an important part of your IT security. It’s a physical device that’s connected directly to an Ethernet port and they’re designed to filter out our block specific traffic so it doesn’t gain access to your network. Having ongoing support means you can have someone continually monitoring your firewall and making sure it’s doing its job to suit you.

Antivirus

Your antivirus is essential protection against malware and various computer viruses. It’s another crucial part of your security defenses, and it should be actively kept up-to-date to ensure you’re always protected as much as possible from updated threats.

Office software management

Some firms incorporate office management software to help digitize processes and streamline time during the workday for staff.

If you have absolutely no idea where to start, IT providers can help you by completing an audit of where you’re at currently, highlighting any potential risks when it comes to security or downtime, and then recommend the best course of action going forward.

 If you’d like us to take a look at your IT setup as it is at the moment, give us a call on 01732 617788 or drop us an email to [email protected]. Everyone is different, so we’ll make sure we’re recommending a service that suits you right down to the ground.

Take this one crucial step before you sign off for 2020

Take this one crucial step before you sign off for 2020

There’s a lot to think about before we close our businesses for Christmas.

  • Is someone on standby for emergencies?
  • Is the voicemail switched on?
  • Wait… did we reply to that important email?

But I have one more thing to add to your list. It’s one of my favourite things to talk about… updates!

The holidays are a great time to make sure all updates have been applied, and give your device a bit of attention before it has its annual break.

We need to schedule this to fit with our holiday support hours, and make sure we’re not interrupting your team.

Call us on 01732 617788 or drop us a line at [email protected].