How to store your passwords securely (stop writing them down!)

How to store your passwords securely (stop writing them down!)

With a large portion of the UK workforce still working from home, security best practices have undoubtedly been relaxed and with that in mind, it’s even more important to have good password hygiene in order to protect your business from threats.

 So, what kind of password storer are you?

  • Write all passwords in the same place
  • Have the same password for everything
  • Create weak passwords all in lowercase
  • Disguising your passwords as phone numbers
  • Write them on little scraps of paper you always seem to lose

If any of the above apply to you, you’re potentially compromising the security of your business in a massive way.

It’s understandable though. According to recent research from Nordpass, the average person has around 100 passwords they need to remember. But with the best practice when it comes to password creation being to randomly generate a string of letters, numbers and symbols for each application or piece of software you use both personally and at work, how on earth Is anyone meant to remember them all?

There is a secure solution to help you keep your password security tip top without you having to hammer the ‘forgot password’ button.

Watch our password manager video to discover how they work, and how using one will benefit you.

Beef up your password security with multi-factor authentication

Beef up your password security with multi-factor authentication

What is multi-factor authentication (MFA)?

Multi-factor authentication, sometimes referred to as two-step authentication, is a way of adding one or more extra steps to any login process, in addition to your password in order to increase security.

This can take quite a few different forms, the most common is probably in the form of a code, either being sent to a separate device, your email address, or generated by an app. But other types of MFA can include: facial recognition, fingerprint scanning, phone authentication, or even security questions.

Why would I want to make it harder for myself to log in?

The reality is that the extra few seconds it takes for you to input a code after your password could be the difference between a cyber criminal gaining access to one of your accounts, and your account remaining secure.

Despite our best efforts discussing good practice when it comes to password security, a distressing number of people still use the same password for many things. That means if there was a hack on a particular website or service and your email and password for that becomes leaked online, cyber criminals are likely to try the same email and password combination on other websites such as Amazon or eBay, and it could even give them access to your email. If they have access to your email, they’ll not only be able to read any sensitive information you may have in your inbox, they’ll also have the means to ‘request a new password’ for other accounts that you log in to using your email.

This is hugely important on a personal basis, but perhaps even more important for businesses where you’re not only responsible for protecting your own business data, but any data you hold on your customers. In the event of a data breach, you can be liable for fines if it’s found you weren’t following recommended security practices.

In conclusion, it might take an extra few seconds to sign in to things, but it’s more than worth it for the peace of mind!

If you’d like us to take a look at your data security setup and look at implementing multi-factor authentication, give us a call on 01732 617788 or drop us an email to [email protected]. Your security is our priority.

Email security is for life, not just for Christmas

Email security is for life, not just for Christmas

Online scams have been around since the emergence of the internet, and as the web has grown in sophistication, so have the scams. One method scammers use to try and target their victims, is by sending an email with a compromised link, or with a view to panicking recipients into parting with financial details.

The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) is reporting an increase in online threats as a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic, so scammers are looking to capitalise on the raised anxiety levels of the general public for their own financial gain. These raised anxiety levels can also make it harder to spot a dodgy email pretending to be HMRC or pretending to be the NHS telling you that you need a COVID test.

You can have the best technical security plan in the world in place, but if your employees aren’t part of the security equation then they could unwittingly fall for a scam and cost your business time and money as a result of a compromised network. Everyone on your team needs to know exactly how to verify if an email is genuine.

How to tell if email contents are genuine

The NCSC has a list of things to look out for, when it comes to evaluating the contents of an email:

Urgency

Cyber criminals want you to react, without even thinking and they do this by sewing the seeds of fear. If your email includes an impossible-sounding deadline for a response or makes you feel panic and dread, this is one indicator that there’s something not right with the contents.

Authority

As we previously mentioned, they also like to pretend to be in a position of authority. Whether they’re falsely claiming to be from HMRC, the NHS, the boss, an accountant, or anyone else who might hold a respected position. It’s worth noting that no organization like the above will pressure you into giving details.

Emotion

If, for example, a charity sends you an email, but it makes you feel especially upset or guilty this can be another red flag that it’s a fake email trying to get you to give up your financial details.

Current events

As mentioned above, many online scammers are looking to profit from anxiety and panic caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. If you get any emails you weren’t expecting in relation to COVID then check them out with trustworthy sources first, like the NHS or gov.uk websites.

Scarcity

If you miss out on getting tickets for a hotly anticipated event but get an email a few days later offering you tickets – it’s more than likely too good to be true and you should proceed with extreme caution. Scammers often make use of scarcity and desperation in their attempts to gain money.

Is your email security up to scratch?

With 46% of businesses reporting identified breaches or attacks between March 2019 and March 2020 according to the Cyber Security Breaches Survey: 2020 Email security is everything if you don’t wish to end up joining their ranks for the 2021 survey.

With a combination of both technical solutions and human training, you can be confident in avoiding email scams and associated breaches.

 If ever you’re not sure on an email and would like us to have a look at it for you and advise whether or not it’s genuine, or you’d like some help tightening up your current email security setup, give us a call on 01732 617788 or drop us an email to [email protected] and we’ll be happy to help.

Ring ring merrily on high: Mobile security at Christmas

Ring ring merrily on high: Mobile security at Christmas

This Christmas might be somewhat different to what we’re all used to, and with a temporary lifting of Covid restrictions across the UK so people can spend Christmas Day with their families, mobile security is understandably going to be pretty far down the list of things to think about for most people.

However, with the ability to travel and eat in restaurants, the opportunities for mobiles to become lost or stolen are still going to exist – leaving a laptop on a train, a phone being swiped from a pocket.

We have a couple of questions for you to think about:

  1. If something like that happened to you, could you have complete confidence in the safety of your data?
  2. Even if you feel confident that your personal data is well protected, can the same be said for team members who have access to sensitive business data on their mobile devices?

They might pose some head scratching, but you’re in luck – problem solving is our job, and we’re here to think about things like mobile security so you don’t have to. There are certain things we can look into such as password protection, encryption, or the ability to wipe sensitive business data remotely.

If you’d like us to take a look at your data security setup as it is at the moment, and check that your mobile security is up to scratch, give us a call on 01732 617788 or drop us an email to [email protected]. We can ensure you’re heading for a Winter Wonderland, and not a Blue Christmas!

When is the right time to install updates?

When is the right time to install updates?

There aren’t many things more annoying than sitting down in front of your computer ready to start the workday but being met instead with a ping and a little box asking if you want to install updates.

We completely understand the reasoning behind sighing and clicking on ‘Not now’ or ‘remind me later’, but updates can be crucial. They’re there not only there to make sure you’re using the most current versions of software to improve your workday, they also often contain important security fixes to keep your machine, and therefore your business network, safe from the latest threats and malware.

By postponing them for one day, one week, six weeks, or even longer, you’re potentially setting yourself up for having to deal with some serious problems down the line caused by out-of-date software, or security flaws that could be fixed with a simple update.

And it’s not just you. How many users do you have across your business? If multiple employees are all having the same idea and clicking ‘remind me later’ on a regular basis, that’s creating multiple points of weakness across your network.

[H2] Never worry about updates again

We know these frustrations, and we can also fix them for you really quickly. We can schedule your updates to happen at a time when the user isn’t using their machine, even outside of work hours, so they’ll never be met with that annoying little box.

You’ll never have to worry about people’s work time being stolen by having to do updates, and your business will be protected against newer threats. Just drop us a line, and we can get them scheduled for you, easy peasy.

Give us a call on 01732 617788 or drop us an email [email protected]

How much does IT Support cost?

How much does IT Support cost?

If you are looking for managed IT services, one of the most critical considerations is the pricing of a service. In some cases, you may think the information you are reading from various sources about managed IT services is designed so that you purchase them from a given company.

  • the benefits of outsourcing your IT support
  • the many variables involved in working out the cost of IT support
  • if your setup is simple enough take a look at our pricing page for an indicative cost – PRICING
So how much does IT support cost?

Before we focus on helping you understand different models used in pricing services, we would like to highlight some of the benefits of hiring a company specializing in offering managed IT services.

One of the major benefits is that you’ll save a significant amount of money that could be lost due to data breaches. A 2017 report by IBM revealed that a single data breach could result in damages worth millions of euros, with the average loss per stolen record being over a hundred thousand euros.

Every organization would want to lower expenses to increase profitability. A managed IT service provider will help to lower operational expenses and control expenses. If you are ready for the services, outsourcing them only requires a small investment. All your IT needs can be rolled into an ongoing predictable monthly payment.

This means that the services are an operational expense and easier to predict and budget for. Other than switching away from capital expenditures, managed IT services can lower your IT expenditure significantly. For example, you’ll not incur money on things such as licensing, training, and emergency repairs.

Additionally, you can get reduced labour rates through managed services contracts, which translates to more savings. Service providers employ experienced and certified professionals to do the work. Hiring an outsourcing firm means hiring a team of experts who have the qualifications, certifications, and experience needed for the work. You’ll also get more time to focus on running your business.

IT Support Pricing According to Workstations

More workstations means lower pay. For example, if you need ten workstations to be serviced, you may be required to pay more money per month than another client with 50 workstations due to economies of scale.

Note that companies may have several types of fees. For example, you may find hosted workstations and workstations support cover fee. The former refers the payment for the space and resources used by a particular client while the latter is payment for the issues that may come up in your hosted workstation.

Pricing Based on Servers

Devices used in your firm that needs support for will affect the final expenses. For example, the support needed for cloud-hosted servers and on-premises servers is different hence the cost will also differ. As a result, service providers will have two different prices. You may notice a significant difference between the two services. Usually, cloud server support is easier to manage, and this makes it cheaper than when managing on-premises servers, which need regular maintenance and updates.

Pricing for Network Devices

Devices such as routers, Wi-Fi access points, and network switches are critical components of an IT setup. Therefore, make sure they are included in your support agreement. The expenses that service providers charge for network devices vary depending on a variety of factors, including age, usage, and status.

The Cover Levels

Another aspect that companies consider when pricing managed IT services is the type of coverage that a business needs. The needs vary from one business to another. If you need 24x7x365 cover, you’ll be required to pay more for the services than organizations that require cover only during office working hours.

Onsite & Remote Support

Another major consideration when determining the pricing of managed IT services is whether a client needs onsite visits and remote support. In most cases, remote support is sufficient as most faults can be solved without the need for a site visit.

If you need onsite visits, you’ll pay more money to get a comprehensive package. Professional support firms offer advice on the ideal options for a business and not just trying to sell extra features that may be unnecessary.

The Service Level Agreement

This will also affect the final quote for support. For example, a service provider will consider the response time and the resolution time to determine the amount of money you need to pay for your package. If you opt for a shorter response for your business, the total expenses will be higher. Experts can determine the required response times during an IT audit.

Pricing Based on the Number of Sites

Many businesses have been striving to gain a competitive edge over competitors by launching satellite branches over time. Usually, the expenses for multiple sites relatively lower per location. This is because the branches have few requirements to become operational, while the IT back-bone is located at the headquarters.

Ad-Hoc Support VS Monthly Fees

Ad-Hoc support and monthly retainer support are the two main ways you can pay for the services. The two methods vary in structure and pricing. Although the former may seem cheaper, as one pays for what they use, the overall expenses can exceed the amount of money you pay for monthly support.

One of the main reasons for the popularity of monthly packages is that they offer adequate support at a specified price. Unless there are significant changes in your business, the expenses shouldn’t change much. The ability of business owners to predict the expenses gives them peace of mind.

The Number of Devices and Users

Depending on the pricing model of your choice, the amount of devices or number of users in your firm will affect how much money you’ll pay for a package. Some service providers count workstations when determining the number of uses, while others use the number of the active email address. When it comes to counting devices, some organizations will add things such as tablets and phones.

Major Components of Managed IT Services
Network Monitoring

The service involves actively monitoring a company’s network to eliminate potential downtime proactively.

Data Back-Up

Usually, many back-up solutions have cloud computing options. This helps to ensure your data is available even if your hard drives are damaged.

E-mail Filtering and Archiving

This includes constant backing up of past emails and also using a spam filter to help in eliminating phishing threats.

24/7 Support

It is also known as the Help Desk. It is the call center for a managed service provider. The call centers may be outsourced by third parties while others are in house.

Firewall

It is a physical device that’s connected directly to an Ethernet port. They are designed to block or filter out specific requests or traffic.

Antivirus

It’s one of the most popular forms of protection against malware and various computer viruses.

Office Software Management

A good example of the software is TAKE Office 365. Some firms incorporate office management software to help clients in digitizing various processes.

Finally, when you are looking for managed IT services, ensure that the company you are about to hire has solutions that can meet your unique needs. First, assess the structure and systems you have in place and determine what you need to improve. Focus on areas you think pose more risks. Needs for IT varies.

If you have no idea where to start, professional service providers can help you to take stock of your current situation, identify potential risks and opportunities, and recommend the best course of action. If you have questions about the pricing of various services, visit our pricing page for more information. We understand that needs for IT varies from one client to another and will offer customized services.