Monday, November 24, 2014

Security

So there has been a lot of rumblings over the weekend over security.
This was after it was announced that there is a Russian website with links to numerous webcams. mostly in the USA, more details of what has happened is on the BBC news channel http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-30121159

What can you do?

When ever you get a new piece of tech, that connects to the internet change the default password.  This has been advice we have issues for years, but whatever you connect, Router, printer, camera, phone, change the password.
Recently I moved my home Broadband connection to SKY (well it was free) and we only really use it to download to the sky box!, but this router came with a random set password, but still the first thing I did, even before it went online was to change this password.

Tip number 2, don't set all the passwords the same, just in case someone actually accesses your router.

Of course it isn't rocket science to have the kit to ask you to change your password as the first thing it does when you connect to it. However I do wonder how many people would actually then set a password, or accept a default one, to save time, when all you want to do is play with your latest toy!

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Some times I think why bother

Last week, we had several incidents, nothing new there, but I was left drained come Friday.

First call an elderly lady (home user) called to say she an old computer but it doesn't come on, an engineer was dispatched to see what was happening, after telling her that a 7 year old PC if found faulty wouldn't be worth repairing.  Engineer on site, turns everything to here the customer say, oh what button did you press I didn't touch the screen thing!  Yes she hadn't turned it on, and the computer was older than stated as it was running Windows 2000!

Next call from a sole proprietor, who had dropped their laptop, and now the battery is broken, as it doesn't charge, after explaining this would need to be confirmed, or the fault found, well I won't bother I can't be without the laptop, which means this will fail totally just when they need it most.

Which runs nicely into the next call, after a call last month with a faulty screen/Graphics system on a laptop, and I can't do without it, oh hang on it works fine after a reboot!
The laptop gave up, so can you fix it now, simple answer it is going to take a day or two depending on what work is required, I will just buy a new one then, oh and can you get it working today for me.

I have a simple mantra of we do your IT and Tech and you get on with doing the business you're good at.  Simply, your business will more than likely need your IT and tech to be running.  So it deserves to looked after properly, monitored and managed, so you get the best out of it, with regular replacements planned, and organised.  Your business will suffer to varying degrees if it fails, whilst it may cost you a few hundred of pounds, or tens of thousands, I'm sure you would much rather have it working for you, than costing you money.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Just how old do you want your equipment to be!

We are seeing a rise in the queries regarding repairing equipment that really should be put out of it's misery!
For example, my laptop is running slow and has viruses on it.
The laptop is actually a 7 year old laptop, absolutely smothered in all types of malware.  So not surprising that it is running slowly, once all of the malware is removed, then it is time to get to work on cleaning it up and trying to get it running better.

Problem is this is going to cost a great whack of what it would cost to get a nice super fast laptop that will give you another 5 years of pleasure.

Also servers that are still running Windows Server 2003, yes it is still supported (at least for the next few month) but when the hardware is 10 years old, and your entire business is on it, is it worth the risk!

So here is a trick we use with customers, if you put it on a lease (or any type of finance) cost the upgrades to be paid down over 3 years, scope the equipment to last 5 years (this gives you 2 years) with the payments you would have made over these 2 years you make save this and use it against the next lot o purchases.

On the plus side you always know that the equipment isn't costing you too much in lost productivity (As long as you have it properly maintained) Your staff will be happier.  And slightly more important you aren't risking your business.

Lastly please remember the best way to change your server is to have it changed in a planned fashion, which isn't an option when your 10 year old server fails!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Internet Connectivity

Following on from the last blog post, this one deals with Internet connectivity.

So as a business you can get some great deal from many providers, but before you do so STOP!

Now go and talk to your IT (Technology) Provider.

Although most broadband migrations go smoothly what is going to happen if it doesn't?
Other things you need to ask/establish are

  1. Is Broadband enough or do you need another option
  2. Do you need a resilient/Redundant connection
  3. If yes to above, how is that going to happen
  4. Is the connection capped
  5. What happens when you reach the cap limit
  6. How easy is it to get support? Search the Internet to see customers experiences, these are likely all to be negative as we only ever seem to moan on line.  But are there good ones.  Talk to other businesses
It is highly likely your IT provider can supply broadband to you, so why not make this your first call. After all you already know how good their support is! And it is likely to mean you don't have to speak to India to not get any service!

They will certainly give a better migration service than a broadband only supplier, after all they want to make sure you are happy with the whole experience.

Monday, July 28, 2014

What are you missing

What are you missing

You've probably got here as your a small business searching Google for an answer to a Technology/IT issue!
What are you missing by DIY IT Support?
We firmly believe in letting people to do what they are good at, but as Technology has become more and more consumerised, people believe they should be able to buy something on line, and set it up and it will work.

And whilst it may be fun to waste your time when you are at home with this, and it doesn't matter too much if it just kind of works, when it comes to your business things are different.  We recently took on a new customer who had sign a new contract, and part of that contract was to have an awful lot of new technology in place, not only that it had to configured correctly and had to be tested!  They weren't 100% certain they could actually do it.

What was required wasn't actually rocket science, it was fairly straight forward.  But for them it was something that was completely different, and they have certainly benefited from some of our hand holding.

So what did we do, we took a peer to peer network (that wasn't working that well) and we replaced it with a server based network, we added Office 365 to it, for their email.  A Hosted Anti-Virus, and Hosted Back up Solution to it.  Lastly we added a security appliance to make sure the whole network was protected from attack, from the outside.

The installation took 1 day, although the entire network was pre-configured, actual disruption was down to only a couple of hours, whilst we transferred data on to the network.  We actually did a site visit the next day to see what issues they were having, so we could resolve them, they were actually having NO problems everything was working.

Would they have achieved this by DIY approach, well they could have, but what would it have cost them, in time? in lost productivity? And would the end result be as secure, and still be fully functioning?

I suspect not, in fact I would say our cost for the install was less than 20% what they would have lost in time/productivity, they just carried on doing what they are good at, and we did what we are good at.

Make Us your Technology Team because there is no I in Technology.

If you want to know more, or think we could help call 01752 546967 or email martin@limbtec.com

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

IT Security Audit

So what does anyone really need to secure your computers?
1.       Operating System Patches
a.       All of the latest service packs, and patches installed. (and the system rebooted) – If it is a Windows system then these will generally be released on the Second Tuesday of the month (Patch Tuesday) You can get advanced notification of this (Search for Microsoft Technical Security Notifications)
b.      A support Operating System – because systems now run for a long time, and because most of us don’t like spending out unless we have to, there are a lot of operating systems out there that aren’t supported.  If they aren’t supported then any security holes are not being plugged
2.       Other Software Patches
a.       Yes other software is patched we tend to think along the Microsoft Office lines here, but a lot of software is updated, to fix bugs as well as security holes. Check these regularly
3.       Anti-Virus Software
a.       Is it up to date, both the software to the latest version and the virus signatures to the latest version
b.      Is it scanning in real time, and also is a full virus scan scheduled
c.       Are all removable media scanned when it is connected (or inserted) to the computer
4.       Backup
a.       Do you backup up all of your data
b.      Is this backup stored off site, and also easily retrievable (Easiest way for this to happen is to use an online backup)
c.       Has your backup been tested recently I would suggest at least once a month
5.       Staff
a.       Are staff trained to make sure they know what to do, and who to report to
                                                               i.      Can they scan removable media
                                                             ii.      Can they scan an email, or attachment
                                                            iii.      Know how to retrieve data from a backup
                                                           iv.      Who to call for help or report an incident to, so the system can be checked clean
6.       Firewall
a.       If you have a firewall, is it configured correctly to only allow the necessary data in and out of your network
7.       Username/Passwords
a.       Are all your passwords
                                                               i.      Complex
                                                             ii.      Changed regularly
                                                            iii.      Old user accounts removed as soon as possible
b.      Hardware password, changed from the default (admin, password, default etc.)

The above is a fairly comprehensive list of items that need to be addressed, but you might have other items that need to be secure. If you need help to complete this you can contact me on 01752 546967 or martin@limbtec.com

Thursday, June 05, 2014

An Opportunity

Security


So we are being told we have 2 weeks to make sure we are safe before the work done recently to prevent cryptoware and GameOver Zeus come back.

SO what can be done, well a quality anti-virus product, and a quality firewall are the basics.  However (And certainly the case with cryptoware infections we have dealt with) these are infected by people clicking on an attachment.

So perhaps now is the time to carry out some education of staff, (or family members) teach them how to scan emails and attachments before they open, (or ingrain in them) that they can't open any attachments.

Next on the list would be to make sure you are backing up all of your data, and that the backups are working properly, and deal with any issues with the backup.

You might want to consider the following pages on our website

Hosted Anti-Virus
Hosted Anti SPAM
On Line Back up

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Home or Pro/Business

What we see a lot of is small businesses, who when they purchase a new computer, they purchase some new software with it.
However they try to save a few pounds, by purchasing a home version of the product.

Then a few months later on they realise that they simply don't have the right software for the right job. We see it all to often.  How can you make sure that this doesn't happen to you?

Simple, just ask, talk to us or any IT company and they should be able to help you with the best way to get the software that you require.

And even if it is cloud based products then the above is still right, recently had a case of someone who purchased Office 365 home, then in this case 13 months later they needed to use something from the business package.  The only thing that could be done realistically was to sell them a second Office 365 subscription.  The reason why they purchased home version, "it gave them access to what they needed at that time" however having purchased it online, they never spoke to anyone regarding what would happen in the future.

This is going to have cost them only an extra £40 so not a really big issue, but as this is for 1 user, you can see how a simple mistake could scale up and cost a lot over the lifetime of the product.


Thursday, May 01, 2014

Happy Birthday to us!!

Today Limbtec is 12 years old, so we thought it would be good to see what was happening in 2002 when we started.

Operating Systems

Let's start with Windows XP, when we started a new computing experience had just hit the streets, it was Windows XP, and it has lived as long as we have as a company.  Having said that most of our customers were still using

  • Windows 98
  • Windows 2000
  • Windows NT 4
We also had a few installs of Windows 95, and I do remembers looking at a Windows 3.11 system at some point, along with these we have also seen
Vista, 7, 8, 8.1
along with server 2003, 2008, 2012

This is without mentioning the work we have done on Mac both OS X, and it predecessor, and the few Linux/Unix issues we have dealt with.

Internet Connectivity

ADSL had really only just come out with blistering fast 2MB connections, although a lot of customers were dialing up (YES Really) on 56K connections, or maybe if they were a little posh might have an ISDN connection.  Currently sitting here on a FTTC connection at 76MB, having said that we also do far more online, not just with social media, but almost everything we do is reliant on an internet connection.

Storage
Servers had 10Gb or so of storage, and these we were replacing with servers with 40Gb of storage, now even the smallest of small business have 1TB of storage available to them, and probably even more than this
Although even small businesses had an advantage to having a Small Business Server, now a lot of these customers are using Office 365 and a nice fanless NAS box for on site document storage.
Backup of these were done by tape, DDS 4 or smaller, now for a lot of people the backup is done online into the cloud, and if it is an onsite storage it will more than likely be on to external drives.

Screen's
Almost everyone had a crt screen (about 15") sat on their desks, then LCD screens still around 15", now we put out mostly 19 -21" as standard and a lot of customers buying 24" +.  Also seen the introduction of touch screens, which now with Windows 8 offers a new way of doing some tasks.

We have also said goodbye, to the floppy drive, and starting to see end of optical drives specially in mobile devices. Processors have become much faster, and with multiple cores, and memory, well that now comes in amounts never even dreamed of 12 years ago.

Now just wondering what the business IT environment will be in 12 years time?



Wednesday, January 08, 2014

Good Bye Windows XP

Windows XP is finally looking at end of life this year.  With 31% of computers still using Windows XP
Windows XP Logo
Windows XP Logo
(Source: NetMarketShare)  What are your options?
Firstly how old is your hardware that Windows XP is installed on?  Some people are running hardware that is 7 or 8 years old, in which case we certainly believe it is time to put this out to pasture, and get yourself a nice shiny new computer.  What if for some reason you are running XP on hardware that is less than 3 years old?

So your options are as follows

  1. Replace the hardware, and then run the Windows Easy Transfer Wizard to migrate your data and settings to your nice New Windows 8 device.  Hopefully you will have purchased something with Windows 8.1 pre-installed! But if you didn't then you will need to download the Windows 8.1 Upgrade, this will be available in the store.  If it isn't the first screen you see, then simply run the Windows update, the computer will need to reboot, and then when you visit the store the upgrade will be available.
  2. Keep your current hardware, to install a fresh copy of Windows 8 or even Windows 7 you will need to take a copy of all your data, then install a fresh install, and then restore your Data as per the instructions here http://windows.microsoft.com/en-GB/windows7/help/upgrading-from-windows-xp-to-windows-7#T1=tab01
To be honest most hardware that isn't past it due to age (and by this I mean less than 3 years old) will probably be Windows 7, anything older than this it is time to change the hardware, otherwise you may end up with Hardware failing, and then all the time and expense of getting Windows 7 or Windows 8 running will have been wasted

  • Work more securely
  • Get the latest software
  • Stay supported
  • Reduce Downtime

What options are available to you to upgrade?
  1. Buy new hardware with Windows 8 pre-installed
  2. Buy a boxed product or digital download
  3. Buy Licenses to upgrade the computers in your business


To find out which is the better or cheaper method call us on 01752 546967