How technology can help the success of your business

Technology is an important enabler of competitiveness and when managed strategically within a business can enhance productivity, growth and returns. COVID-19 has confronted businesses with many challenges in terms of how they operate and how they stay competitive, forcing change and driving them to utilise technology to improve their flexibility and efficiency.

Client service

During this pandemic every business has had to find new ways to meet the needs of their clients whilst maintaining a quality service. Adopting new technology and maximising the use of existing software has helped many businesses adapt quickly to new challenges and meet the evolving needs of clients. Services such as Microsoft 365 have enabled companies of all sizes to move staff to home working, as files, emails, and collaborative tools, such as Teams, can be accessed from anywhere with an internet connection. A silver lining for many companies has been an increase in productivity and a reduced need for costly office space.

Making the processes to access your services simpler and more intuitive will encourage client loyalty and referrals, giving your business an important competitive edge to enable it to grow.

Cost effective

Utilising technology can help you run your business more cost effectively, and through the use of automation can increase efficiency and accuracy.  The right technology for your business will help increase productivity, enable your business to scale more easily and enable it to adapt quickly to changes within the marketplace.  When investing in new technology it is important to have a good understanding of your current processes and business needs, so that you choose technology that enhances the way you operate.  Training staff to use newly acquired technology is also vital to ensure that your business fully benefits from the investment. The wrong IT investments can be time consuming and costly, it is always worth seeking expert advice and researching the latest technology trends in your sector.

Data analysis

Business intelligence is a technology-driven process for analysing data and providing businesses with information that enables them to make informed decisions. If you can manage your resources using real-time key performance indicators (KPIs), it will enable you to focus your efforts on the areas of the business that will have the greatest benefit.

Which technology?

By investing the time and effort into understanding how technology can provide a competitive advantage, you can be rewarded with a significant edge over your direct competitors. Most businesses can benefit from having someone assess how they can use technology better to improve business results.

Adept IT Solutions helps companies, large and small, leverage technology to improve existing processes and accelerate business growth. By taking time to fully understand the business of our clients we can provide advice on applications and technology that can best move the business forward.

If you would like advice on how to enhance your business through better technology call us today 01603 451810 | hello@adept-it-soltions.co.uk

Financial Scams, the law and ways to avoid becoming a victim

IT Security Norwich

This month Ben Dures (Scott Moncrieff & Associates) and I discuss the law and how to protect yourself against financial scams and the steps you should take to recover lost funds.

According to the Financial Services Compensation Scheme, financial scams are becoming more sophisticated, and as more people move to online banking, extra vigilance is needed.  Although in most cases your bank or building society will reimburse money taken from your account without permission, this is not guaranteed.  Below we look at the law in this area, and what practical measures can be taken to avoid falling prey to the scammers.

Getting Your Money Back

The good news is that under the Payment Services Regulations 2017 (PSR’s) you should get your money back, unless the bank can show that you have consented to a transaction. This may sound obvious but in practice it can be difficult for the bank to establish, as it involves several factors.

First, the bank must show the payment was authenticated. Authentication is the procedure which allows the bank to verify the identity of its customer, or the validity of the use of a specific payment instrument, including the use of the customer’s personalised security credentials. This can be done in a number of ways (e.g. chip and PIN, card number, CVV and expiry date etc.).  In many cases involving scammers, the payment was authenticated, because the scammers obtained your details.  So, to the bank, it looked legitimate.

Second, the PSR’s require consent to each and every transaction. So because you gave permission for one transaction, does not automatically mean you gave permission for any that followed.

In most cases, if you can show prove that on balance of probabilities, you neither carried out the transaction yourself, nor gave consent to it, that should be sufficient for you to get your money back.

However there is a potential sting in the tail.

Safeguarding your details 

Under most banking terms, if the bank can show that you’ve failed to take reasonable care of your security details and this has allowed the scam to take place, then may refuse to reimburse you.   They must show that you were grossly negligent, which is quite a high threshold.   However, it is also often a matter of interpretation, which can give rise to disputes.  So for example, if you are tricked into giving this information to someone who sounded very plausible, is that gross negligence?  Often the test will be what the hypothetical reasonable person might have done in the circumstances, but arguably this doesn’t take into account individual vulnerability. What about sharing details with family members or carers, who then remove money without consent?  On a strict interpretation you should not share your details with anyone, but in many situations this is a necessity.

The bank should also take reasonable care, so should be alert to suspicious looking transactions, and have methods for flagging these and verifying they are genuine.  For instance there may be unusual activity on the account.  If the bank has failed to notice something that it ought reasonably to have picked up on, and a suspicious transaction has gone through without anyone checking it with you, then on the face of it the bank has been negligent and this has caused you loss.  In these circumstances, it ought to refund you.

The Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) deals with disputes between banks and their customers and if you cannot resolve your issue direct with the bank, a complaint to the FOS is usually the best place to start, rather than taking the matter to court. The best advice however is to take steps to avoid being scammed in the first place.

Security tips to avoid a financial scam  

Awareness

A phisher is clever in their techniques and will try and gain your trust through psychology and perceptions, be aware of the latest scams as your first line of defence.

Passwords

Passwords are used every day and they are the first line of defence against malicious attacks. Choose unique passwords for your online accounts and if you have too many to remember use a password manager to help you store them safely.

Payments

Only make online payments on secure websites, the URL must have a padlock and https. When making payments use secure connections and avoid using public WiFi.

Verify

Credible companies, such as banks and Microsoft, will never ask for personal information (usernames, passwords, account numbers) through an email.  Beware of poorly written emails, overuse of jargon or emails without contact details. If in doubt end the call and then call them back to make sure it is a legitimate request.

Check Links

Understand the risks involved in opening links from an untrustworthy source. Don’t click on a link unless you have checked it is from a reliable source.  If necessary, check with the recipient before opening.

Email sender address

The display name on an email can be set to appear to be someone you know, but the email address itself is often a giveaway so don’t forget to check before you respond.

Check accounts

Get into a habit of regularly checking your online accounts so you can respond quickly to any suspicious activity.

Threats

Beware of threats, blackmails and warning emails.  A genuine threat will usually be replaced or used in conjunction with a phone call.

Avoid traps

Ignore emails that look too good to be true, emails offering prizes or easy money are often a trap. Be suspicious of appeals and requests for money and always check the veracity of a charity and only donate directly through a website with a secure domain.

Personal information

Be very careful about how much personal information you share on social network sites. Fraudsters can use your information and pictures to create a fake identity or to target you with a scam. Review your privacy settings on all social media, don’t publish your date of birth and make sure only friends can view your posts and pictures.

Updates

Ensure all your computers are using the latest version of all software, including internet browsers. Many phishing attacks exploit systems that are not updated.

Anti-Virus

There are many good reasons to use antivirus software. Install an enterprise level AV solution, regularly monitor the status and ensure that it is kept up to date.

Web and spam filter

Use a web filter that blocks malicious websites and install a spam filter that can prevent emails from reaching the inbox of employees.

Firewalls

By using a desktop as well as a network firewall you will drastically reduce hackers infiltrating your systems.

Email authentication

Email authentication is a technical solution where your mail server checks that emails are not forged and flags the emails accordingly or even rejects the messages.

As financial scams become more prevalent it pays to be cautious, vigilant and use common sense.

If you have suffered a financial scam and need legal advice contact Ben Dures on 07940 887494 | bdures@scomo.com, for a no obligation chat. If you would like more information about IT security and how to safeguard yourself against cyber attacks please contact Lucy Blake on 01603 451810 | hello@adept-it-solutions.co.uk.

Cyber Security Awareness – how safe is your business?

To run a successful business in today’s world you need efficient IT systems.  Investing in good technology can help you work more effectively and securely, however the most advanced technology will not protect your business from human error and employees falling foul of a cyber-attack. With an increasing reliance on technology keeping employees up-to-date on the myriad of cyber threats, and how to minimise risks, is a vital measure in protecting your business. 

Increased cyber-attacks

Since COVID-19 there has been an increasing number of hackers taking advantage of people working from home, where IT systems are often less secure than in the office. It has therefore never been more important to treat cyber security as a core measure within your business.

Government statistics show an increase in cyber-attacks where almost half of businesses and a quarter of charities have experienced cyber security breaches or attacks in the last 12 months. There has been a rise in phishing attacks (86%) but a fall in viruses and malware (16%) attacks.  Whilst many businesses are more resilient to online attacks due to enhanced IT security and improved methods of recovery from a breach, a negative outcome can still cause considerable damage and cost to a business. When confronted with a cyber-attack businesses will often worry about the vulnerabilities of their IT infrastructure and overlook the people who are using that technology. 

Each new technological solution brings forth new risks, which is why regular cyber security awareness training on the latest cyber security threats is a vital part in protecting your business.

Steps to reduce cyber threats:

  • create a risk aware culture
  • regular cyber-awareness training for all staff
  • ensure regulatory GDPR compliance
  • establish company protocol to respond quickly to cyber-attacks to minimise damage

Adept IT Solutions Cyber-Security Awareness training

Our cyber security awareness training is computer-based and delivered monthly in engaging bite-sized modules. 

Evaluation

We carry out an initial risk assessment on each delegate, via a questionnaire, to determine their individual knowledge gaps. Using the results from the gap analysis stage, we will automatically craft a 12-month training programme unique to each user – with weaker subjects (e.g. phishing, passwords etc.), being deployed first.

Regular up-to-date training

Each monthly course uses information about current cyber threats and takes about 15 minutes.  Courses can be delivered more regularly to meet the needs of your business. We send out automated invitations and reminders so your training is continuous, efficient and admin-lite.

Engaging and jargon-free

The content is engaging and jargon-free.  Our courses come with video, interactive and blog-style content to engage different styles of learning, whilst avoiding confusing technical jargon. 

Cost

The cost of the course is £2 per month per user, so affordable to every business.

Company data breaches can mean huge financial loss, reputational damage and can even lead to business failure.  Whether you’re worried about the plethora of phishing attacks, new viruses and malware, external and internal security threats or unauthorised access to your IT systems we can train your staff and help you develop a strategy to protect your company data.

For information about our cyber security awareness training and advice on IT security issues facing your business please contact hello@adept-it-solutions.co.uk | 01603 451810. 

 

How can a good IT infrastructure benefit your small business?

Your business may have a brilliant product or service but without the right IT infrastructure you will compromise your ability to operate effectively and securely.  Your IT infrastructure includes your computers, software, internet connectivity and networks and if set up well enables everyone in your business to work with ease, so that your business can thrive.

Planning

If you are reviewing and updating your IT infrastructure it is worth planning it carefully so that your current and future IT needs are considered, this will enable you to scale your business as it grows, quickly and cost effectively. 

Focus on critical business needs

Every business requires an IT infrastructure that supports it’s operational needs. If your staff work in different locations and away from the office you will need software that enables them to work remotely and access office files via the cloud. Think about what your business needs to operate effectively and invest in tools that enhance the way you work. It may be as simple as upgrading or servicing hardware so staff are not hampered by things like slow computers.

Connectivity/Internet

Businesses today rely heavily on email and online services, so it is imperative to have a reliable and fast internet connection that allows you to work online and without interruption.  Good connectivity enables your staff to work more productively, as well as delivering a better service to your clients. Your internet plan will detail what speed of service you subscribe to so you can determine if it meets the needs of your business, or whether you need to upgrade.  You may even consider a new supplier if the service is not reliable.

Network

A slow network hampers productivity and incurs maintenance costs. Investing in a carefully planned IT infrastructure will be more efficient and accommodate the changing needs of the business.  Without proper planning you can end up with a confusing array of cables that may go untested and be incorrectly placed, which can lead to reduced functionality and safety issues. A well thought through network will enable your staff to share files, printers and scanners as quickly and reliably as possible.  If you have a small business it may be a simple case of a wire and switch connecting two computers. Files can also be shared using a cloud service such as Microsoft 365.

Security should always be considered and it’s important that you secure your data network.

Data Storage

Many businesses are now moving their data storage to services in the Cloud such as Microsoft 365, as it provides flexibility, scalability and is more secure and cost effective than an on-site server.  The best solution for your business will depend on how much data storage is required as well as the level of security and control required. If you are unsure get advice from an IT expert who can assess your current IT infrastructure and provide recommendations and costs to upgrade.

IT Security

With the proliferation of cyber-crime IT security has become a critical element of any IT strategy.  Your IT infrastructure should be protected and include a robust back-up solution so that if you ever have a security disaster, such as a failed hard drive or malware damage, you can quickly recover data with a recent back up.  IT security not only protects your company data but ensures legal compliance, it also protects you from reduced productivity through cyber-attacks and viruses.

Leverage technology

When a company invests in the latest technology it can transform the way they work and enhance collaboration with staff, clients and suppliers.  It is worth finding out what IT solutions companies within your industry sector find beneficial, but always do your research because making the wrong IT investments can be expensive in time and money.

Software

Your software needs will range from the operating system your network will be running upon, to the productivity tools you and your team will need to run the business. Assess your needs and shop around for technology solutions that will either support or streamline your processes.

Microsoft 365 will provide many small businesses with the IT solutions they need to operate efficiently, cost effectively and flexibly.

Enterprise email

An efficient email system is a fundamental tool for any modern business, as many businesses have found during the current pandemic. A reliable and fast system such as Outlook, when set up correctly, can enhance efficiency, collaboration and reduce stress. Setting up your own email system with suitable IT security can be a minefield, so if you lack the know get advice from an expert.

VoIP vs Landline

Many businesses are switching over to VoIP (voice-over-internet-protocol), a cloud-based phone system that provides a secure and professional telephone service at a fraction of the cost of a traditional landline. VoIP offers the same quality of service as traditional PSTN phone services but may not be the ideal solution for every business as it relies on a reliable internet connection.

How to manage your IT infrastructure

Regardless of your business needs, make sure you get expert advice with a view to your future requirements, which will help you scale more easily and will be more cost effective. Whether you intend to hire internal IT support or use Managed IT Services, it’s important to know that your IT infrastructure will be designed, installed, and maintained by knowledgeable and experienced experts who will enable your business IT to run smoothly and securely.

If you need IT advice, or want to book a free consultation with one of our IT infrastructure experts, please contact Adept IT Solutions today 01603 451810 / hello@adept-it-solutions.co.uk.

IT tips to stay resilient

The recent pandemic has forced change upon many businesses. For some this has created challenges, whereas others have reaped unforeseen benefits from more flexible and efficient ways of working. 

Many organisations have adapted by migrating the running of their business, and the delivery of their services, online.  These strategies have not only facilitated more agile and collaborative working but have provided businesses with greater flexibility to cope with the unexpected.  However, these new working practices have placed an increased dependence on reliable and smooth-running IT systems.

Outlined below are some key areas of your business IT that should be evaluated, so you can run your business effectively and maintain resilience through these unpredictable times.

Leverage technology

It is important to understand how technology can help your business develop and grow but firstly you need to assess whether your current IT is meeting your needs. By aligning your IT with your business objectives will help ensure investment is made in the areas where it will have the greatest impact. If you don’t have the time or inclination to find out what technology is available and appropriate for your business seek expert IT advice, so you avoid making expensive and time-consuming mistakes.

Hardware

Evaluate your hardware, such as computers, to assess if they are fit for purpose.  Slow or unreliable computers can be frustrating and have a serious impact on productivity as well as IT security.  Taking a proactive approach to your IT and fixing issues early before they escalate into bigger problems is always more cost effective in time and money. Ensure that your staff have the right IT equipment to carry out their jobs effectively and ensure that they have been trained how to use it to maximum benefits.

Update software

Keeping your software up-to-date is a vital element of your IT security and will safeguard you from cyber-attacks.  Regularly check that all software is up to date and still supported and remove software that is no longer used, as this will slow it down and affect performance.

To check your MS Windows updates:

Click the START button, choose SETTINGS and then Update & Security

If updates are available, restart it or schedule your restart.

Regular health check

Looking after your computers will help enhance their performance and useful life.  A service, or health check, is a maintenance procedure that helps improve the speed and performance of your computer and ideally should be carried out annually.  It involve a series of tests that will determine:

  • if upgrades are needed
  • presence of viruses or malware
  • if temporary files can be deleted
  • potential issues that require action such as a failing hard drive
  • preventative maintenance such as clearing dust from cooling fans and heatsinks to prevent overheating

Proactive monitoring and maintenance

If your business relies on maximum uptime and security, and you don’t have time to continually check on your computers, you may want to consider a maintenance & monitoring service that provides the following benefits:

  • Protection against viruses and malware
  • Ensures backups are performing successfully
  • Manages updates of Operating System and third party applications
  • Preventative maintenance
  • Offers practical solutions to ensure systems are running efficiently

A monitoring and maintenance solution (like our Bronze Plan) is all handled in the background, so that you and your staff remain productive.

IT Security

During COVID-19 cyber-attacks have become more prevalent and present a major threat to your business. Your IT strategy should outline how to safeguard your company data as well as ensure compliance to current regulations. This should include staff training about the latest cyber security attacks as well as highlighting the importance of vigilance when working online.

Tips to avoid cyber-attacks:

  • Attachments are the most common method of viruses spreading, don’t open attachments from an unreliable or unknown source
  • Do not click on links within emails that you cannot be sure are safe
  • Always read security warnings but research them before agreeing to anything
  • Choose secure passwords and do not share them
  • Be sceptical and aware of phishing scams and don’t give way sensitive data. Phishing is a common way that online accounts are hacked into and can lead to identity theft
  • Read pop-ups before agreeing to anything
  • Limit administrator rights to minimise problems such as unapproved software being downloaded and security settings disabled
  • Set a screensaver with a password to stop unauthorised access to your computer

Robust Back-up

Embedded in your IT Strategy must be a backup solution. If you are affected by a security disaster, such as a major loss of data or failed hard drive, a good recent back up is the fastest way to recover and it will minimise the disruption to your business.

Permissions

Many businesses will have experienced staff changes over this period. If anyone has left the company ensure that user accounts, including online accounts, are disabled.  If roles and responsibilities have changed ensure user permissions are altered accordingly.  It is important to remember that safeguarding against any data breaches is a key element of maintaining GDPR compliance, so check that your staff only have access rights suitable to their position.

IT supports the fundamental operations within a business and can ensure your business thrives. Our IT consultants have the expertise and experience to assess your IT systems and create a plan aligned to your business goals.  For more information please get in touch 01603 451810 | hello@adept-it-solutions.co.uk

 

How to thrive working from home

The current pandemic has forced many of us to work from home with varying degrees of success.  Some people really flourish with no strict schedule whereas others struggle to be productive and find it hard to motivate themselves.  Now that businesses have set up their staff with home working it looks like there will be a shift in work patterns.  It may take time to work out how best to organise yourself so you can work effectively and keep your sanity; here are a few tips.

Circadian rhythms work when you work best. If you are most energised in the morning this is when you should do the most important tasks, whereas if you are an owl you may start the day with the menial tasks to ease you gently into the day.

Unique perks – embrace the positive aspects of home working. You may find that you have more time, especially if you save time on commuting each day, so why not use this time to learn something new, spend quality time with your family or cook a tasty lunch.

A good workspace is critical for productivity. Find somewhere with minimal distractions, is comfortable and inspiring with enough natural light. If your phone distracts you put it in another room, and if you have children, and it is possible, work in a different room.

Get creative – if you have a mental block step away from your computer, find somewhere different perhaps with a nice view, and use pen and paper to put down your ideas.

Take breaks – to promote your well-being take time-out for yourself away from work and tech – do something enjoyable whether it is intellectual, creative or physical. Research shows that exercise can help you stay focused, and improve your memory, however do something that you enjoy.

Regular working hours – research shows that keeping routines is important to enhance productivity. It also enables you to leave work at the end of the day and helps you maintain a work life balance.

Get your technology sorted

  1. Internet – connectivity is vital so invest in a high-speed internet connection from a reliable provider.
  2. Router – wifi strength and speed diminishes the further you are from your router so consider repositioning it or using wireless access points. You can also try a homeplug that will provide a fast and stable wired connection. Old routers can affect the speed and range so if it is more than 5 years old consider replacing it.
  3. The right hardware and software – make a budget and invest in a good working computer and any other hardware or software to enable you to carry out your job properly. If you are unsure what products would work best for you seek expert advice so you make cost effective choices.
  4. Be proactive – fixing issues early before they escalate into bigger problems is more cost effective in time and money. If your computer is slow or glitchy get it serviced before something catastrophic happens and you can’t work at all.
  5. Proactive monitoring and maintenance service – this will help ensure your computer runs efficiently, securely and with minimal downtime. Our Bronze Plan costs £10/month per device.
  6. Cybersecure – there is a proliferation of adware, spyware and malware so good quality AV software is essential e.g. ESET. Keep up to date with cyber threats, our online Cyber Security Awareness course makes it easy and is only £2/month.
  7. Passwords – keep them strong and unique and change them regularly. Consider using a two step verification process and if you need multiple logins use a password management system like RoboForm or LastPass.
  8. Collaboration tools– technology that facilitates collaboration is extremely important if you are working from home. Sending around multiple copies of the same document for different amendments is fraught with potential problems, such as, keeping track of changes and the latest version. Fortunately, there are many services to assist with this, from Office 365 to Google Drive.
  9. Shared mailboxes – the advantage of sharing a mailbox rather than forwarding emails to your colleagues is that you know when emails have been read, replied to and dealt with, reducing the risk of emails being ignored or multiple replies being sent.
  10. Shared calendars can help improve communication and efficiency. Calendars in Office 365 are continuously synced so the information is up to date, making it easy to plan projects and schedule meetings, even if all your team are working from home.
  11. Virtual meetings – whether you use Microsoft Teams, Zoom or Skype many people are now adept at using apps for virtual meetings. Find a couple of applications that work for you and have the functions that you need for your meetings e.g. screen share function allowing everyone on the call to make notes on the screen, reducing misinterpretations. Train your staff so that meetings are professional and effective.   
  12. Headphones – when you’re on video chat use headphones with a microphone, especially if your home has a lot of background noise.
  13. Group channel – now that you’re not in the office create a place where you and your colleagues can ask questions and everyone can contribute. Discussing things with your colleagues will minimise misinterpretations and make you more productive.
  14. Video messaging -whether you need to present something, ask for assistance, or share something of interest, you can video message your team and they can view it at a time that is convenient for them.
  15. Shared task lists – this is another feature in Office 365 that enhances collaboration and productivity while everyone is working from home. Information is continuously synced so it makes it easy to coordinate activities, prioritise tasks, and meet deadlines.
  16. Second monitor – if you’re used to working with a bigger screen than your laptop has, or find two screens makes it easier to work get another screen or use your television as your desktop or second monitor by using an HDMI cable.
  17. Online training – budgets are tight but there are many free online courses to enable your professional and career development. These government courses are free and designed to improve your digital skills: https://nationalcareers.service.gov.uk/find-a-course/the-skills-toolkit

Working from home can be very rewarding and improve the quality of your work. However to make it work you need good routines, have the right technology in place and robust IT security.

For more information about how we can improve your home working, or help your business get the right technology to thrive please call 01603 451810 or email hello@adept-it-solutions.co.uk.

Tips to avoid COVID-19 phishing scams

The anxiety around the COVID-19 epidemic is being exploited by cybercriminals who are creating new scams for financial gain. These attackers have been sending out phishing emails pretending to be from legitimate health organisations, charities and government departments.

As the number of cases of the coronavirus have escalated cybercriminals have capitalised on the fear by sending out phishing emails with file downloads promising urgent health and safety advice and infection maps. However, these files contain malware so when they are downloaded your computer will be infected.

Alternatively, the phishing scams will attempt to gain personal information. They may ask you for confidential information to give you personal health advice, or link you to a document asking you to sign in with your email in order to harvest your password.

Examples of COVID-19 phishing emails:

Tax refund
An email claiming to be from the government about a COVID-19 tax refund.  It will redirect you to a phishing page that will attempt to harvest your personal details such as login and password details with the false reward of a tax refund.  In reality there’s no tax relief but you have handed over your personal data to a cyber criminal.

Health and safety information
This phishing scam claims to provide specialist health advice, but when you download the safety measures.pdf it contains a malware-infected file.

COVID-19 Company Policy
This phishing email claims to be from your company and contains information about your company’s policies and response to the pandemic. You will be led to a link in the email, this leads to a fake phishing site with a fake log-in page that will attempt to harvest your email password.

World Health Organisation
This Coronavirus phishing email claims to be from the World Health Organisation, and tries to dupe you into downloading a malware-infected file.

How to stay safe from coronavirus phishing attempts:

  • Unless you have signed up for email alerts from the organisation, it is unlikely that they would send you a direct email
  • If you receive an email claiming to contain important information check that the domain name of the email matches that of the organisation exactly. (e.g. nhsuk.com instead of the correct nhs.uk)
  • Watch out for generic greetings (such as Dear Sir/Madam) and spelling errors
  • Don’t download any file in unexpected emails
  • Avoid clicking links in any unexpected emails
  • Have a suspicious mind – think twice about downloading an attachment, following a link or responding to an unexpected email
  • For up-to-date details about the coronavirus outbreak go directly to the organisation’s website. (https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus ; https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/; https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019)

With our huge reliance on technology, keeping yourself and your employees up-to-date on the latest cyber threats is vital to protect your business. 

Our monthly bite-sized training cost £2 per month. We offer a free two week trial and phishing simulations to demonstrate how your business can benefit.  For more information please get in contact 01603 451810/hello@adept-it-solutions.co.uk.

12 tips on how to spot scam emails

A heavy reliance on carrying out business online has resulted in an explosion of cyber crime. In 2020 email phishing will continue to be a major form of online attack increasing the need for businesses to be aware of current threats.  Many cyber criminals use AI systems that can automate processes making the attacks prolific, sophisticated and hard to spot.

Your business may have put good IT security in place but cyber criminals will target your weakest link, which is often your employees.  Human error remains the primary cause of data breaches and can result in a major loss of sensitive information.  Keeping your staff trained and up to date with the latest threats should be a key part of your IT security strategy.

We frequently have clients asking if an email is genuine, whilst there are no hard and fast rules double check the details and take head of the following:

  1. Unknown sources – pay close attention to emails from unexpected and unknown sources
  2. Company address – check the company name and email address with an independent online search, is the link a well-known website spelled incorrectly?
  3. Sender address – the display name can be set to appear to be someone you know, but the email address itself is often a giveaway
  4. Generic salutation – what greeting have they used in the main body of the email? Fake emails often use generic terms such as ‘Dear Customer’
  5. Poor grammar – are there grammar and spelling mistakes? Often phishing emails are carried out by non-native speakers
  6. Sign-in requests – is the email asking you to go to a website which then asks you to sign in?
  7. Check the links by hovering the mouse over it – if the address has spelling errors, or the domain doesn’t match the email domain, or a verified sharing device (i.e. dropbox.com or sharepoint.com) it is likely to be fake
  8. Registered email – Is the email they have used for you the one you used to register with the company?
  9. Beware of attachments from unknown people or businesses, if necessary, check with the recipient before opening
  10. Ignore threats, blackmails and warning emails. A genuine urgent threat will be replaced or used in conjunction with a phone call
  11. Be suspicious of appeals and requests for money. Check the veracity of a charity and only donate directly through a website with a secure domain https://
  12. Ignore emails that look too good to be true – emails offering prize winnings or easy money are often a trap

It is crucial that businesses take steps to ensure they are doing all they can to educate employees on current cyber threats. Training staff how to recognise phishing emails is one step towards helping mitigate the risk of a data breach and its devastating effects.

Our cyber security awareness training is computer-based and delivered monthly in engaging bite-sized modules.  It costs £2 per month per user so is affordable for every size of business. For more information please contact us.

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End of support for Windows 7 – what does it mean for your business?

Windows 7 has been a very popular operating system amongst business and home users, however support will end on 14 January 2020.  Whilst you will still be able to use Windows 7 after this date, Microsoft will no longer provide the following:

  • Technical support
  • Software updates
  • Security updates

What are the risks of not upgrading?

If you continue to use Windows 7 you will have no software and security updates, this makes your systems unreliable and at a much greater risk from virus and malware attacks.  Some security experts believe that malware developers are holding potential Windows 7 exploits back until support ends, when they will unleash attacks on those systems that are least protected and most vulnerable.

Some businesses may be resistant to change or reluctant to upgrade for financial reasons, but by not upgrading you are taking serious security risks for your business.  Running unsupported operating systems may also cause your business to fall foul of compliance standards as they will no longer be receiving security updates, meaning that personal data will not be properly protected.

Risks to your business:

  • Reduced security
  • Increased risk from virus and malware attacks
  • Data loss
  • GDPR compliance issues and potential fines

End of Life Server 2008

Windows Server 2008 will also reach end of life on 14 January 2020, which means there will be no security updates from this date, presenting major security risks for businesses who don’t upgrade.  Without support your server may also be in breach of regulatory standards and you risk penalties for GDPR non-compliance, which can be very severe.  It may also affect your PCI compliance, and you may find that organisations such as major credit card companies will not work with you if you are non-compliant. Upgrading your server may take more time than upgrading your operating system, so it is vital that you plan ahead. 

What to do next?

It is recommended that you contact your IT provider who will give advice and guidance on how best to upgrade from Windows 7.  Microsoft will not take responsibility for any security breaches that occur to Windows 7 systems after 14 January 2020, so with malware being developed daily it is strongly advised that you upgrade before this date.

Cyber security attacks are becoming more prevalent and sophisticated, running applications and data on unsupported servers such as Server 2008 can create serious security risks and compliance issues.  It is important that you get professional IT advice to ensure that your computers and servers are upgraded before support ends.

If you need any help with upgrading your IT systems please contact us for advice on 01603 451810 or hello@adept-it-solutions.co.uk.