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Cyber Security Update

According to the Australian Cybercrime Online Reporting Network, a snapshot for the period ending 31 March 2018, showed that the top three cybercrimes reported have not changed in the past 12 months. The three top cybercrimes are Scams 51%, Purchase scams, 22% and 7% cyberbullying.

The biggest age bracket that falls victim to cyber-crime has also not changed in the last 12 months. The age bracket most susceptible being, the 20-40-year-old age bracket with email, social networking and website advertising, as the three top targets of cybercriminals.

For the residential non-business person, it is important to continue to think of Mobile devices as mini computers. Mobile device users must use a password, be aware when using Wi-Fi networks and ensure that they log out at the end of a session. Spam filters and a reputable Anti-virus solution needs to be deployed across all devices.

Other factors to consider are ensuring that you do not open unknown links or attachments that arrive in an email, protect your passwords and do not give them out under any circumstances. Remember there are a lot of people who have false identities on the internet. They are not necessarily who they say they are.

Is it any different for Small to Medium Business?

The small to medium business environment continues to face the threat of cyber-security daily. The Stay Smart Small Business guide highlights that 59% of Australian organizations have their business interrupted by a cyber breach every month. Cybercrime reports indicate that 43% of all cyber-crime targets small to medium businesses and that 80% of hacking-related data breaches involve weak or stolen passwords.

This is no comfortable environment for small to medium businesses to operate in. Reports and statistics continually show that a small to medium business needs to have the right support in place, so they can have confidence that they can minimize and mitigate the risk of cyber-crime. This is where Computer Troubleshooters are well placed to provide this assistance and guidance to a small to medium business. Computer Troubleshooters have a range of proactive subscription-based plans that target the needs of Australia’s small to medium businesses.

What’s the impact of a security breach?

A recent Telstra Security Report 2018 identified that the loss of productivity is the major impact followed by corrupted business data, loss of intellectual property, loss of reputation, loss of customers, loss of trust from customers and partners and increased stress to workers.

This is not new, but it highlights the need for businesses to adopt the approach of being alert, prepared and responsive.

What does alert, prepared and responsive mean?

Alert means that the business is aware of the importance of having a strategic and an action plan to ensure that it is minimizing and mitigating the risks to its business. It’s a constant discussion topic between the employees of the business and the owners, sharing of experiences take place. Policies are developed to minimize risk.

 

Prepared means undertaking steps such as developing an action plan, investing in a program of education for staff, conducting regular security audits so you’re aware of the risks, investing in software across the endpoints and network structures to minimise risks, implementation of a back-up solution, and engagement of a trusted technician to effectively support the organisation.

Responsive means that the organization has in place a proactive support plan that is provided by their trusted technology partner such as Computer Troubleshooters. Some elements that are being undertaken proactively are such things as patch management across all applications and operating systems, application whitelisting, management of administrative rights and network access, proactive policy implementation around password management, monitoring that the backup solution is working, implementation of the latest technologies and processes such as two-factor authentications.

How can Computer Troubleshooters assist you with Cybersecurity?

Start with a security audit and discussion about your business security needs. Seek information from a local expert who can guide you through the key questions you need to address for the size of your business.

Review the plan options around the Total Protection Plan, incorporated with a Microsoft Office 365 discussion, understand the backup options and finally ensure you have monitoring and at least patch management included in your plan to minimize the risk of a cybersecurity breach.

The Office Australia Information Commissioner Quarterly report identified that the biggest source of reported data breaches was caused by Human error, closely followed by malicious or criminal activities. The message is, do not forget to educate your staff.

For further assistance call your local Computer Troubleshooter by calling 1300-28 2878 or visit www.computertroubleshooters.com.au

Helpful links

http://www.asbfeo.gov.au/sites/default/files/documents/ASBFEO-cyber-security-research-report.pdf

https://www.staysmartonline.gov.au/get-involved/guides/smallbusinessguide

http://blog.cebit.com.au/what-the-norton-smb-cyber-security-survey-2017-reveals-about-australian-small-businesses

https://www.oaic.gov.au/

https://www.telstra.com.au/business-enterprise/solutions/security/security-report-2018

 

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IT Service and Support

Changing role of IT Service and Support

The role of IT Service and Support is changing with the increased reliance on technology in small to medium businesses today. It has shifted from being one of repair and fix to one of being an enabler and an advisor.

A business not adopting this approach will find that in the long term that, it will be always reactive, missing opportunities and end up with an IT infrastructure, tools and processes that are out of date and costing an arm and a leg. This can be avoided where the role of IT service and support is broadened to one of prevention and strategic advice.

How to tell, how your business approaches IT service and support?

Entering an organization and talking with the staff is a good indicator for understanding how an organization is viewing the role of IT service and support. Frustration and low confidence in being able to rely on the IT infrastructure in performing their roles will give a good guidance on the approach being taken.

If it’s letting them down they will talk amongst themselves and comments like, I just cannot complete my work efficiently thanks to the speed of the internet. Or maybe something along the lines of we missed the deadline for that customer proposal the other day thanks to the slowness of my computer will be prevalent throughout the organization.

Yes, poor morale in an organization and frustration with IT technology being able to support staff in the performance of their day to day duties is an indicator of adopting a traditional break and fix approach.

The support and service team will be focused on fixing the network that breaks constantly, performing maintenance regularly across machines are slow, do not have the latest software patches, removing tools introduced by staff that are not part of the standard operating system.

The consequence is that the discussion on IT is always about fixing issues rather than on working out how IT can add value to your business through increases in productivity, adding to the customer experience, delivering increased profitability.

How to cope with the fast evolution of technology?

Technology continues to evolve and change at a rapid pace and with this change comes the increased opportunity for small to medium businesses. Once the technology was really the domain of big business that is not the case today and for many small to medium business owners the question is how to take advantage of these technologies, so they can compete more aggressively and deliver on their promises.

This changes the nature of what a small business s looking for in terms of service and support. Not only do you want the technical knowledge, but they want an IT Service provider that can be a strategic partner by adding value to the business.

 

Do you have control over your Data?

It does not matter what size the business is, nearly all employees are bringing their own devices to work and using these devices within the Businesses network and infrastructure. This spells danger and means that as a business it is very hard to know what devices are being used to access company data.

Without a proactive support plan where you have a provider monitoring and implementing and activating policies that protect your organization from unauthorized access then you are increasing the risk of data loss and the associated impact.

Who maintains and controls the access to your systems when an employee leaves?

The support provided to a business today is more than just fixing computers, repairing networks, and installing software. Managing the movement of people into the business and from the business is a key activity of support today this includes enabling, maintaining and removing email accounts, monitoring and enforcing the password policy across the businesses network infrastructure. All with the aim that a business can act with confidence that their data is safe and secure.

What are the support and services solutions for a business today?

Each Business will have their own needs and views so there is no one solution that fits all businesses. In some instances, it is better for a small business to take small steps in transitioning to a more proactive approach. This enables them to gain confidence with a more proactive approach and monitor the impact on the business before fully committing to a fully-fledged managed services model.

Approach 1 – Purchase a block of Hours

This is where the customer commits to pre-purchase a block of support hours from a Computer troubleshooter and when these hours have consumed another block of hours is purchased. Because you are paying upfront the hourly rate is likely to be at a better value than if just a normal break-fix hourly rate.

At Computer Troubleshooters the services provided for that block of hours will be defined for you what is not covered. You will be able to discuss add-ons for the services not covered.

Approach 2 – A subscription plan

This is where the customer decided to pay a monthly fee for a range of services provided by the IT Service Business. This in effect is a Managed Services solution.

At Computer Troubleshooters we offer a range of subscription plans covering various aspects of your situation. For instance, we have a Total Protection Plan that is focused on ensuring you have an anti-virus solution, some backup and a little bit of system maintenance. Your plan might be focused around Microsoft office 365, hosted email, password management and user access.

You may be looking for a much broader plan which covers a lot more monitoring and maintenance activities supported by IT strategy reviews which are known as our BEST managed services plan.

For further information Call 1300-28-28 78 or www.computertroubleshooters.com.au

 

 

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VOIP Reshaping Business Communications

Voice communications over the Internet Protocol (VOIP) delivers a range of benefits to businesses when looking at the challenge of Business communications. The key benefits that have driven the growth of VOIP are cost-savings, efficiency flexibility, and scalability.

Francisco Soliano JR Managing Director of Computer Troubleshooters East Perth sees “the biggest factor for clients in deciding to implement a VOIP system is cost-effectiveness and the speed with which a system can be deployed minimizing disruption to the business.”

A solution for communication needs to cover smartphones, landline communications and video conferencing, hence the term Unified Communications is often used when discussing a solution.

What are some of the trends impacting communications?

The introduction of modern technologies continually changes the way society acts, expectations and behavior. Think how the introduction of email has disrupted traditional mail, the introduction of the mobile phone and wireless technologies have all impacted on the way we communicate and act.

Some of these changes are:

  • The need to be constantly and immediately available, when we call somebody we expect an immediate response. Expectations are you can be reached anytime, anyplace from anywhere.
  • Technology is constantly developing and becoming increasingly available at a value that most businesses can afford. What this means is that more and more functionality and sophistication is available to smaller and medium-sized businesses.
  • The cloud enables people to be able to access their data (work-related files) and applications wherever they are. This increases productivity and flexibility within organizations it also allows organizations to unify all their hardware and software.
  • The usage of chat and messaging tools is becoming more prominent in businesses. These tools are underpinning how organizations think of the customer experience with the aim to be more customer focused. What is important though that these tools become integrated as part of the communication systems and the data is kept for reference. Quicker and easier than email means less time spent on communications equals an increase in productivity
  • Voicemail is not quick enough and often you repeat yourself when the person calls you back. In a lot of cases, they have not even listened to the message. Repeating yourself. Often this is where messaging somebody can be more effective.
  • Communication capabilities can be integrated rather than having disparate solutions. If it’s integrated using a simple package, then you can move seamlessly from application to another without loss of time.
  • The price and capability of the technology continue to come down meaning it is a viable option no matter what your business size is.
  • Improved quality of picture and audio when undertaking virtual conferencing means that more and more meetings across all areas of a business operation are being held. This delivers real and significant savings to an organization in today’s competitive landscape.

 

 

 

What does this mean for a business today?

 

It means that if you have not at least assessed the area of VOIP and Unified communications then you may be limiting the capacity and viability of your business to compete against your competitors.

 

The starting point is to have a discussion with your IT provider about Unified communications and understand what your options are. One consideration in the discussion is the whole issue of security of your networks. Why? Because if using a VoIP then the solution sends the calls through the same path your network used for internet and other traffic.  This naturally increases risk hence the conversation needs to cover security.

 

How can Computer Troubleshooters assist?

 

The local computer troubleshooter can consult with you about your requirements and then assist you in selecting a provider and then assist in the changeover.  Computer Troubleshooters East Perth Managing Director Francisco Soliano Jr recommends the Fonality solution because of the ease and speed of deploying the Fonality system. Effectively the handsets are pre-configured and in effect, it’s a plug and play system. The costs are clear and the flat fee model of Fonality makes it easy to understand the costs and the returns.

 

Call 1300 28 28 78 to locate your nearest Computer Troubleshooter for a discussion on your needs.

 

 

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Recovering Data Files

Virtually every day, Computer Troubleshooter’s engineers receive an inquiry from small business clients and residential customers asking for assistance with recovering data files. By the time they call, panic has set in as they fear that they have lost their valuable information. The client is often willing to do anything to recover the file and the valuable information contained in the file.

In today’s environment clients are constantly storing data in digital format using a variety of devices. The risk of human error is ever increasing, and it is a known fact that over a quarter of data recovery requests are a result of human error.

Customers are often relieved when they hear that accidentally deleted files have the greatest chance of being successfully recovered. It is still a complicated process and often involves using data recovery software to achieve the recovery. Data recovery software is required to examine the storage of the computer to find the remnants of the deleted data files and then extract them back into a recognizable form.

Computer Troubleshooters recommend that if the information is valuable then you should have a data backup solution in place. This applies to residential clients as much as business clients. Key elements of this solution today are to include a cloud storage element enabling you to recover files quickly and efficiently. Computer Troubleshooters also recommend that the solution needs to include regular maintenance checks confirming that your data has indeed been backed up. Look at our affordable monthly subscription plans.

What to do if you accidentally delete a file?

Don’t Panic – we recommend that you keep the computer turned on, and all applications open while you investigate the simple solutions below:

  • Deleted Items– if an email, check the deleted items folder (it is generally near your inbox) this holds all deleted emails until you close your email application. If you can see your deleted file in the deleted items folder just click & drag across back into your inbox. File restored.
  • Recycle Bin– if the file deleted was a document or image file, check the recycle bin, which has an icon that is generally found on your desktop, click on the icon, it will show you deleted files that are awaiting permanent deletion (generally these are deleted when the computer powers off), just click and drag back to your desktop.
  • AutoSave–applications such as word and excel have an Autosave function that can sometimes save an automated version copy. Within the application click on the top left Office button which will show a menu that includes an item such as Word Options & Save Options, this will generally show the autosave settings and the file location of the autosave directory. You can then go to the indicated location and recover the deleted file (this may vary depending on which version of Office is installed).
  • File Search– Use the Microsoft Search function located in the Start Button (on the bottom left) to try to find your file as you may have saved into the wrong directory or you may find an older version.

If you tried these simple solutions with no luck, then it may be time to get serious,

  • Restore Backup Files– if you have a backup in place you should be able to restore the file back on to your main computer hard drive. Of course, it will only be a version available from the last time you backed up. It will depend on where and what software you are using for your backup as to how this needs to be done.
  • Software Retrieval – this will mean you need to consult a professional to use data recovery software to interrogate your drive, find, & restore your deleted files. Do not run any disk cleanup or defragmentation tools in the interim as these will overwrite drives which may contain your deleted files. Call your local Computer Troubleshooters for this professional service.
  • No file found – of course, we do find times when even we can’t retrieve an accidentally deleted file, that’s when we call in our data recovery partners. Our data recovery partners have specialist equipment, software and use dedicated data recovery technicians to extract hidden data.

After completing the above procedures you may have recovered your deleted files. Of course, being proactive about protecting your data is always the best protection. Back up regularly whether it’s for your business or your personal data. Denial is not a river in Egypt.

Even with a tested and reliable backup system, sometimes unexpected accidents can still happen. 74% of data recovery involves physical damage or corruption which can happen to all data storage devices including hard drives, cell phones, and memory sticks.

For the more sophisticated problems we can use our Data Recovery Partner for the following specialized data recovery services:

  • Hard Drive Recovery: Hard drives are becoming increasingly less common in laptops. External storage devices are in greater use but are at greater risk of being dropped, damaged and compromising your data.
  • SmartPhone and Flash Drives: Flash drives are no moving drives problems such as deleted files, corrupted partitions, file system damage and physically damaged devices can be remedied by their recovery experts.
  • Notebooks, Tablets, Digital Cameras and MP3 Players: recovery services for Notebook PCs and Tablets. Damaged image or audio files can also be recovered.

Computer Troubleshooters is Here to Protect You and Your Data

If you have accidentally deleted files; don’t panic, if approached logically the deleted files can generally be retrieved.

If you need for help recovering a deleted file, or more serious data recovery services, or assistance in establishing solution call Computer Troubleshooters and one of our technology professionals can help you.

 

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Virus Free Xmas

Ho Ho Ho – Have a virus-free Christmas and a malware free New Year. It’s only a few days and holiday season will be with us. At this time of year, we often see an increase in malware activity and clients concerned about shopping online. This article is intended to help our clients and prospective clients stay virus free. Christmas has always been a virus author’s paradise, and a computer user’s nemesis.

The short-history of Christmas malware.

  • “Christmas Tree” (AKA Christma Exec) was spread in December 1987 and was an email-aware worm.
  • In 1990 the same worm resurfaced and forced IBM to shut down its network of 350,000 terminals.
  • Christmas 1999 saw the Melissa virus spread via email. It infected computers and Microsoft word documents, as well as attempting to reformat the C: drive.
  • At the same time, a game was being widely spread by email. “Elf Bowling” where Santa tried to knock down a pack of elves with a bowling ball. This game, of course, was infected with a virus.
  • At Christmas 2000 the Navidad virus spread via email masquerading as an electronic Christmas card.
  • Christmas 2001 saw a similar methodology to spread the Maldal virus.
  • The Zafi virus spread in 2004. Spreading fear rather than cheer.
  • Christmas 2007 saw the Dorf or Storm worm posing as a sexy striptease by Mrs. Claus.
  • Christmas 2009 saw the Koobface worm, which targeted users of Social networks like FaceBook.
  • To skip a few years for the sake of brevity and the risk of boring our readers, we can see that these threats have not gone away. In fact, with Ransomware being the cyber criminal’s weapon of choice these days has seen significant growth creating more headaches than before.
  • 2017 saw the merry Christmas ransomware distribution. After detonation on a user’s system, the Ransom note would be presented with a picture of Santa standing next to a bomb saying that all your computer data is encrypted and unless you pay within a defined time that all your files would be deleted. This was way more serious than a relatively harmless card we saw some 30 years prior.

Hints for Staying Safe and Virus free.

  • Don’t let your guard down just because it’s the festive season – Hackers, Crackers and Virus attackers prey on those that do.
  • When you start back at work, most people just want to open their email and deal with the deluge. Because malware is often spread by email, it’s a better idea to ensure your Antivirus and Operating System patches have updated first.
  • Similarly, If you wake up to a new computer under the Christmas tree, don’t forget to put it through a security update and to install anti-virus software before you get busy online. (Even if the update takes several hours, it’ll spoil your fun a lot less than being owned by a hacker before lunchtime.)
  • Social media users love to spread hoaxes, especially during the festive season. Before you press that share button think. If in doubt go to the Hoax-Slayer website (hoax-slayer.com) and check it out first.  Nobody gives away free Range Rovers just for a like and your private email address and phone number. Many think a hoax competition does no harm other than wasting everybody’s time. Maybe you should think about it carefully as now some low-life cybercriminal has your personal contact details with which to direct further attacks.

 

Acknowledgements:

Sophos                 https://nakedsecurity.sophos.com/

Hoax-Slayer        http://hoax-slayer.com/

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The latest Security Flaw: Wifi KRACK

The latest Security Flaw: Wifi KRACK           

Sounds scary and technical, another vulnerability, another frightening acronym KRACK, makes one think what is the risk and how does one overcome this concern?

It’s been everywhere in the news, social media and blogs for the past week and this article will aim to try and simplify the technical side and answer some of the questions one has.

What does KRACK stand for?

Discovered and named by Marty Vanhoef a Belgian researcher, KRACK stands for Key Reinstallation Attack. This in effect is a security flaw which allows a hacker (attacker) to break the internet communications between a router and a device. For the weakness to be exploited though the hacker needs to be in close physical proximity of the access point of the communications.

What does this mean for an individual or a business?

It means there is a potential for a cyber security incident where the attacker can capture or interrupt the flow of information from your communications or they can use the weakness to potentially inject and manipulate data.  For example, this may mean an attacker injecting ransomware or other malware into websites.

What is at risk?

Like all vulnerabilities, the risk is the loss of sensitive information such as credit card numbers, passwords, emails, photos, and documents.

What is the most likely scenario for a KRACK attack?

This is difficult to say as there are potentially so many situations, however, one potential target is those organizations that provide wifi access without a lot of IT resources.  An example of this would be your local coffee shop.

Is changing passwords the best way to protect myself?

Changing passwords regularly is a basic security measure that is recommended, however, this will not prevent or mitigate an attack. In fact, the key element to protect yourself includes ensuring all devices are up to date with the latest updates. This includes ensuring the firmware on your router is updated.

A simple tip is to ensure you have automatic updates turned on which will help ensure you have the latest versions and protection installed.

Until you are sure that your device has been updated limit your usage of public networks especially with phones utilizing the Android operating system.

Only transact with websites that have an SSL certificate meaning that the sites URL will start with https instead of HTTP.  This in effect means the site is using encryption which therefore makes it difficult to see what data is being transferred.

Conclusion

Keep yourself informed and be sensible with your usage of public wifi if in doubt do not connect and turn the wifi option off on your device. If still uncertain contact our nearest Computer Troubleshooter on 1300 28 28 78 and ask for a KRACK risk assessment.

 

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Basic Cyber Security

Cyber security threats are continually evolving. Viruses, worms, trojan horses, spyware, phishing, adware and scareware have all been around for a long time. Lately, one particular form of malware known as ransomware has been creating havoc with businesses and organizations worldwide.

Ransomware when detonated works by locking up your files using encryption. You are then asked to pay a ransom to get the code that allows you to unlock your files. Lately, some cyber criminals don’t even add value to this “service” they offer. They just take your ransom and don’t give you the code.

Many customers we see during our daily work (and rescues) don’t even have the most basic cyber security measures in place. This article is intended for the non-technical amongst us to assist and educate about the need to protect computer users against these ever-evolving cyber threats.

Ransomware

In every case we have seen so far, the ransomware package has been physically detonated by a human using the endpoint. Ransomware mostly arrives in email as either an attachment or as a link to a malicious or compromised website. It can also be spread from software downloads, websites and advertising delivered over online ad networks.

What can you do?

Educating yourself and your employees are the #1 defense against cyber criminals.

  • Three years ago, in the olden days, we used to say don’t open an email or attachment from someone you don’t know. These days that rule still applies, however, we have seen cases of ransomware being “redistributed” to everybody in the victim’s email address book, so it’s not just people you don’t know that you can’t trust.
  • Think about that attachment or link you are about to open. Common sense applies. Were you really expecting an invoice from your mother? Were you really expecting that traffic ticket from the police? (Think – how did the Police ever get your email address?)
  • If in doubt about an email then phone the person up and ask if they just sent you that attachment. Better to be safe than sorry.

The most basic cyber security needed on your computers and network.

  • Every endpoint in your network (Cell-phones, Laptops, Desktops, Servers etc.) must have up to date and functional business grade Anti-Virus software.
  • Apply Operating System patches. Manufacturers like Apple, Microsoft and others regularly release patches and updates to fix vulnerabilities that have been discovered (mostly by cyber criminals) in their operating systems.
  • Apply application patches. Products like Office, Adobe, Chrome to name but a few, all have vulnerabilities and exploits. As these exploits get discovered patches are released by the manufacturers to remedy the situation.
  • Always use the latest version of the operating system available. Whilst Microsoft’s Windows 7 is still around and a good operating system, Windows 10 is inherently much more secure.
  • Restrict administrative privileges. Only log in as the administrator to perform administrative functions. Your regular login (and your employees) should only have standard user rights. Why? This makes it harder for malware to be installed, as installation usually requires administrative privileges.
  • Backup your data daily. This needs to be business grade and not to a shared drive on the network. Why? Most ransomware will spread to every “share” it can find – too bad if that is your backup. With regards to ransomware the phrase “Backup or Pay up” springs to mind.

Beyond basic – The next level of cyber security measures.

Once the basics are covered off, we can then talk topics like firewalls, VPN, cloud virus and spam pre-filtering of emails, changing settings in software, 2-factor authentication, and an application that detects and stops unauthorized encryption etc. These will give a much more comprehensive solution beyond basic, however “comprehensive” is probably beyond the scope of this document titled “Basic Cyber Security” and would make it rather long and too technical.

How can Computer Troubleshooters help?

  • Businesses without their own IT resource will often need assistance in implementing these basic cyber security measures. As an IT department for the small and medium-sized businesses, Computer Troubleshooters can be your IT resource.
  • We are able to deploy a management system to your computer(s) and network that keeps a track of your Anti-Virus, Patching, and Backups etc. This system reports to our service desk when things are going away.
  • We are able to assist with your staff training, with a presentation and booklets etc.

Technical Stuff/Further Reading

Australian Government – Australian Cyber Security Centre – Essential 8 Explained PDF Download

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BackUp or Business Continuity

The facts according to the Boston Computing Network’s Data Loss Statistics, are that 60% of companies that lose their data, will shut down within 6 months of the disaster. This is something that every business wants to avoid.

The following article provides a high-level understanding of how, as a business owner the question for you is one of Business Continuity of which Backup is a key component.

What is Business Continuity?

Business continuity involves a mindset of being proactive and putting plans, processes and systems in place, so that when the unexpected occurs you can return to normal operations with minimal delay thereby reducing the level of disruption and cost to your business.

The aim is to ensure that all essential functions can be up and running or be returned to operational status quickly during various unexpected events such as a natural disaster (Flood, Fire), cyberattacks, theft, or major IT system failure.

What is involved?

The key aspect is to develop a plan that then is well communicated and understood by your staff so they know what to do when the disaster occurs. Like all plans, if it is not communicated and shared then it’s not worth the paper that it is written on.

The process of writing the plan involves identifying the key risks, identifying the ways you can prevent those risks occurring for instance:

  • risk is data loss
  • prevention is designing and implementing a multilevel backup solution.

Then the last element of the plan is documenting the steps in responding and recovery if an incident occurs that does bring down your systems.

Businesses today are more reliant than ever on IT, one of the biggest threats these days being a cybersecurity breach. A fair portion of the plan will need to focus on recovery from an IT disaster.

The plan will need to be reviewed regularly as a business grows and circumstances change and the recovery processes should be thoroughly tested to ensure it will work.

What are your backup options?

There are many options available to businesses these days for backup. With today’s modern technologies and cloud storage services, a hybrid combination of traditional on-site backup plus off-site backup to the cloud, has become the popular choice amongst businesses wanting to ensure high levels of continuity.

The key questions in making a choice is determining the level of risk and the importance of the system and the data that is being backed up. Answering these questions will impact on the choice that you make. You can see I have not mentioned cost or price. One might ask Why? Well because you need to remember this is about having a solution that will minimise the cost of failure which will far outweigh the cost of the solution you choose.

If you are not certain about this statement ask somebody who has experienced the loss of data due to a failed system backup.

What are the traditional onsite backup options?

Onsite with machines all backing up either to tape or disc and then being stored onsite. Usually scheduled to occur daily, every couple of days, or weekly. The greatest weakness is that if something happens to the premises the backups can become corrupted and lost and an external service provider such as Kroll Ontrack may need to be used to try and recover the data.

To overcome the above weakness some business’s will transport the discs/ tapes to an offsite location where they are stored.

What is happening today?

The cost of online storage has reduced with the introduction of data centre services and the continued adoption of cloud storage services. Today most businesses will have a recovery strategy based around using cloud storage, with onsite backup devices that then replicate to a data centre.

The drivers behind this are many but one can put it down to speed of recovery, ability to quickly monitor and ensure backup has occurred, hence no unpleasant surprises if a data loss breach or cyberattack occurs.

 What next?      

The first step is to make sure you have a plan and an understanding of your options. This is where you should have a chat with your local computer troubleshooter to understand how they can help you to minimise the disruption to your business from a data loss/breach. Visit www.computertroubleshooters.com.au to locate your nearest provider.

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Protecting a Business against Ransomware and Scams

Every day, every month there is a new threat to being able to conduct business effectively and efficiently. How do you protect a business from the threat of disruption whether it is a scam, virus, ransomware or simple network or internet failure?

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s (ACCC) eighth annual report on scam activity highlights the significant cost and growth in the disruption to business. The cost of hacking scams had a fourfold increase between 2015 and 2016. Reported at a cost to business of 2.9 million in 2016.  This highlights the significant risk of todays digital world to business.

Scams continue to become more sophisticated using modern technology to make fake emails, invoices, and websites appearing legitimate to even the most astute business person. These scams have devastating effects on businesses by eroding the investment they have made in their reputation, increasing operational costs and in certain cases crippling the business from operating.

 

 

This article looks at how a business can avoid becoming a victim of a scam by ensuring they have the right support and systems in place to minimise the risk of disruption.

Why does size matter?

Larger organisations have the resources, time and budgets to invest in ensuring they are not subject to an attack. As the headlines indicate even with this effort they are not always successful in defending themselves.  The reality is that as smaller organisations are hampered by the amount of money and resources they can spend on IT, means that these organisations are an easier target for the cyber criminals.  The cyber-criminal finds it easier to get in and often it takes longer to detect meaning more havoc created.

Smaller organisations are often a means to access and breach larger organisations. Why? Because the smaller organisation is often the weakest link (security wise) in a supply chain relationship thereby providing an entry point to the larger business partner.

What are the key elements to protect Business Continuity? 

One must ask if the IT environment something that can just be left alone or does it need to be looked after? The answer is obvious it needs to be managed and looked after, it needs somebody who is accountable and responsible for ensuring that the risk is minimised.

For smaller organisations this leads to either employing a resource or developing a relationship with an IT Service provider who is accountable. It makes sense to develop a relationship where the provider is on the front foot and is monitoring all key elements and maintaining an organisations systems in advance of something going wrong. This is commonsense as it is about protecting against a major disruption to a business.

The key components that need to be looked at are:

  • Data back-up/ Business continuity
  • Security of endpoints
  • Network configurations, performance and access
  • Email access and security
  • Software up to date
  • Patch management (ensuring your users are up to date on all updates to the operating system or the Anti-Virus software is the latest.)
  • Website performance and content filtering
  • Password management
  • Monitoring

 

The key element for a business owner is to understand how this approach shifts the nature of the relationship with your IT provider from being reactive to proactive. It means the IT provider is preventing breakdowns instead of reacting to a break down. This means a monthly fee for the maintenance rather than a call out figure. It means the provider is monitoring and using tools to remotely manage and perform maintenance activities.

 

What does this cost?

The key thing to remember this is an investment in ensuring a business is not disrupted. Some providers will charge per device; others will charge a monthly figure based on complexity of what they are managing; others will charge based on per user.

 

As a business owner understand what is included and what is not and what service agreement does the provider use. For instance, at Computer Troubleshooters we provide a 100% guarantee. To locate your local Computer Troubleshooter at www.computertroubleshooters.com.au

 

Final Thought

Change is hard to accept for anybody and in the case of IT management it is hard for people to see the monthly outlay as an investment in their future. But this is exactly what it is. It is a strategic investment that allows a business to minimize the risk of disruption and ensure it can continue to grow and develop.
Sources of information for this article:

Watchguard: The Cyber Crime Guide for small and midsize business

ACCC: targeting scams reporting of the ACCC scams activity 2016

Datto: WannaCry the ransomware Crisis explained

Stay Smart Online  Small business guide Protect your business in 5 minutes

 

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Connectivity, Disruption, The Internet of Things, Small to Medium Business

The world is becoming more connected and the buzz word of the year is “The Internet of Things”. What does this really mean and will small to medium businesses be impacted? The short answer is YES, the harder question is How? Right now, there is no detailed answer but we do know the ‘Internet of Things” will change the way small to medium businesses do business as they use technology to innovate.

This article provides you with an overview of what is meant by the “Internet of Things’ and some of the challenges it creates and the impact on the relationship of the Small to Medium Business IT provider.

Internet of things defined?

The IT world is at its best with the use of jargon and having a language of its own that makes it hard for the ordinary person or the small to medium business owner. Let’s break down the mystique of the Internet of Things. (IoT)

Internet of things is defined asthe interconnection via the Internet of computing devices embedded in everyday objects, enabling them to send and receive data.

Consumers are experiencing the impact of this convergence in all technologies everyday e.g., Smart TV, Internet Fridges, Cameras, Motor vehicles, home security systems, Smart homes electricity, hearting etc. The continued adoption is driven by the benefits delivered to each consumer in the way it improves their daily life.

Is it any different for a small to medium business? The answer is no. Every single business will look at ways they can use the interconnection of computing devices to achieve improvements in their business.

What are the Business benefits for small to medium businesses?

Every business owner will look to 1) improve the top line by increasing revenue from existing customers or from finding new customers, 2) gain efficiencies and improvements in the way products/services are delivered. 3)Reduce costs by streamlining processes, and 4) being able to accelerate the time to market increased responsiveness.

This impacts the way the small to medium business owner thinks about IT and the relationship they have with their IT advisor/technician. No longer is it about a break/fix relationship but rather one that requires the advisor to understand what the game plan is for the business and then provide the strategic advice of how technology can be used and the final part is the buying of and the implementation of the actual technology solution.

A recent Telstra report “Digital transformation. Are you disrupted or disrupting” reported that “55% of all respondents are actively seeking to disrupt current or new market’s”

What are the challenges confronting us with the evolution of IoT?

Security: With an increase in the number of network connected devices serious security measures need to be taken to prevent data leakage. More devices increase the number of vulnerable points. This changes the face of security and requires a total management perspective to ensure you are minimising the risks of a security breach and loss of data. The other challenge that goes with this is simply the volume of data that is being collected. This raises the challenges of data recovery and Business disaster recovery strategies. Without the data, it becomes very difficult to do anything.

Connectivity: As more devices are connected this will impact the thinking around the underlying infrastructure requirements and will drive a move away from traditional centralised server/client paradigms to authenticate, authorize and connect different nodes in a network.

Extended Network Management: IoT creates a need to work with larger data capacity and manage more IP addresses this means more work for the IT support group and they need to be managing around the clock as a business cannot afford the network to be down. This changes the nature of IT from Break/fix to proactive monitoring.

Final Thought

IoT is an issue that the smart business owner is going to take notice of. Why? Because of the benefits it delivers in being able to run a successful business whether that’s moving to a new business model or disrupting an existing market, or using data more effectively to gain improvements and reduce costs.

Stay tuned as this evolves over the coming months and years.

Some interesting reading:

“Digital transformation Are you disrupted or disrupting” Telstra

“Asia Pacific Industrial IoT Cloud platforms 2016” Frost & Sullivan commissioned by Bosch

 

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