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.


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.


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 |


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:

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

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. instead of the correct
  • 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. ( ;;

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/

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. or 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.


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


Your business has been hacked – what should you do?

Cyber attacks are increasing and becoming more sophisticated.  If you are attacked it is important to act quickly to limit the damage.

Here are some steps to take that will limit the damage to your IT systems and get you back up and running safely.

Take immediate action

The longer you wait, the more damage that can be done.  Identify which systems have been compromised, which IP addresses were used in the attack and establish whether it was caused by a virus, malware, unauthorised remote access or another cause.  If possible isolate infected computers by disconnecting them from the internet and network to prevent viruses and malware from spreading. Keep your staff informed and involved and advise them what steps need to be taken.

Contact your bank

Speak to your bank and stop and report payments as necessary.

Update your security software

Click on your security software and make sure the latest virus signatures are installed and carry out the update.  Perform a manual virus scan of your whole system, which should remove any immediate threats, and if the scan fails get professional help.

Change your online passwords

Once you have scanned your system change your email password as well as passwords on affected accounts, including any using similar passwords. Tips on how to secure your company’s passwords.

Check for changes to your accounts

Check the rules in your email account for any suspicious rules.  Ensure that email forwarding is turned off so that copies of emails, including password change notifications, are not sent to the hacker.  Check the settings of your other accounts to make sure no changes have been made.


If you have a security breach the quickest way to recover data is via a good back up.  Any data lost through human error, a hardware malfunction or a cyber attack can be restored from a recent back up so that you can get back to work with minimal disruption.

Disclose the breach

If you have a data breach speak to an expert who can advise you about regulatory mandates and whether you need to inform clients and stakeholders.

Train your staff

Train your staff about data security and make sure they are aware of their role in protecting company data. Educate them about password security, sharing sensitive information, clicking on links and downloads, updating security software, and questioning credibility before acting upon requests by phone or email.

Update your IT security solutions

Carry out an audit of your IT networks and update your security solutions where required.  Compile a data security policy with a checklist of protocols that your staff can refer to.

IT professionals are trained to handle these situations, so if you do not have in-house expertise take advice from an IT expert.

If you want advice on how to safeguard your business contact us or call 01603 451810 or


Tips to safeguard your company data

How would your company cope if there was a major data breach?  Loss of data can have a devastating impact on a business and it is easy to think that it won’t happen to you until it is too late.  With cyber attacks becoming more prolific and increasingly sophisticated having good IT security solutions in place is a priority. 

We have put together some solutions that are easy to implement and will help safeguard your company data.

Data Security Policy

To compile a Data Security Policy you need to understand what data you have and establish where it is stored and how it is used.  Categorise your data so that the right levels of security are in place and ensure individual access privileges are kept up to date.  Carry out an IT audit of your networks, computers and mobile devices and establish where data is stored and where you are vulnerable. Keep your Data Security Policy up-to-date and provide a checklist of security protocols that your staff can easily refer to.

Staff training

Many employees still click on links and are careless about accessing company data in public spaces.  Train your staff about data security and make sure they are aware of their role in protecting company data.  Face-to face training is often more effective and enables you to establish knowledge gaps and answer any queries. 


Passwords are the first line of defence from malicious attacks so should be an important part of your Data Security Policy.  Ensure that you use passwords for all computers and mobile devices.  Avoid obvious and default passwords and if you suspect a compromise change your passwords immediately.  For companies wanting more robust security it is worth using a password management system such as Last Pass or Roboform.

Multi-factor authentication

One of the leading sources of data breaches are through password theft so it makes good sense to complement your password policy with multi-factor authentication.  Multi-factor authentication identifies the user via more than one factor, such as a password or pin number, a mobile device or a fingerprint.  

Up to date software

Updates to your software provide critical security patches that will protect you against hackers and computer viruses. Some of the most harmful cyber attacks take advantage of software that has not been updated.  A common misconception is that because the automatic update box is ticked that updates will routinely happen, but this process can easily be interrupted by a computer glitch.  If you value good security you may consider using a proactive maintenance and monitoring plan such as our Bronze Plan, which will ensure your computers are running the latest updates and anti-virus software as well as protection from malicious attacks.

Data backup

If you have a security breach the quickest way to recover data is via a good back up.  Any data lost through human error, a hardware malfunction or a cyber attack can be restored from a recent back up so that you can get back to work with minimal disruption.

Data Encryption

Encrypting data is a useful security tool which means that if your hard drive is stolen the perpetrator will not be able to read the data.

GDPR compliant

By complying to GDPR standards you will be safeguarding your personal data and meeting your legal obligations.  It makes good business sense to protect your company data so if you do not have in-house IT expertise regarding GDPR compliance seek professional advice.

Small businesses are often a target for cyber criminals as they have more vulnerabilities.  If you want advice on how to safeguard your business contact us on 01603 451810 or


How to protect your business from phishing attacks

Phishing scams are rising and are one of the most commonly used cyber security threats. These phishing scams trick users into handing over sensitive information, which is used to gain access to protected data and files.  The methods used are increasingly sophisticated, fortunately there are ways to help safeguard you and your business from these attacks.

Phishing methods

Email link – an email is sent with a link that redirects you to an unsecure website, which requests sensitive information

Email spoofing – an email is created with a forged sender address, so it appears as a legitimate source, and a request for details is made such as usernames and passwords

Trojan – a malicious email attachment allows the cyber criminal to access your system and gain confidential and personal information

Telephone impersonation – confidential information is obtained by impersonating an IT department or well known company

Tips to avoid phishing attacks

Educate your staff

New phishing techniques are coming out all the time and many people are not aware of the dangers and what to look out for.  Keep your staff up to date with all the tactics and conduct regular face to face training sessions to help staff recognise phishing emails and attacks. 

Check Links

Ensure everyone within your organisation understands the risks involved in opening links from an untrustworthy source. Do not click on a link unless you have checked that it is from a reliable source. 


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.


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


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 your employees.


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, it flags the emails accordingly or even rejects the messages.

Check accounts

Regularly check your online accounts for any suspicious activity.

All businesses are vulnerable to phishing attacks but as a general rule be cautious, be vigilant and use common sense.

For practical advice on IT security please contact us or call for a chat on 01603 451810.

Why software updates are fundamental to the security of your computer

Every business needs secure IT but for smaller businesses without in-house expertise it can be difficult to keep all the equipment up-to-date and secure. 

A software update, sometimes called a patch, is a free download that is critical to the security and performance of your computer.  Hackers are constantly writing malware to attack operating systems like Windows and commonly used software like Adobe, so software companies regularly supply updates to protect against these attacks.  Many people wrongly assume that because they have ticked the automatic update box that updates will happen routinely, but this process can easily be interrupted by a corrupt file or glitch in your computer.

Why are updates important?

  • Updates provide critical security patches that protect against hackers and computer viruses
  • Some of the most harmful cyber attacks take advantage of software vulnerabilities and software that has not been updated
  • They introduce enhancements to your software such as new and improved features
  • Software updates will improve usability, compatibility and performance of the software enabling you to work more efficiently

How do you check the update status of your computer?

  • To check your Windows updates: Windows Start – (pc) settings – update & security
  • To check Third Party Software updates take the recommendations from the software vendors or install a proactive monitoring solution.

If updates are available you can restart your computer or schedule your restart when you won’t be needing to use your computer, but never ignore an update. If the last update is over a month old you may have an update issue, as most updates occur on the second Tuesday of the month – Patch Tuesday.

Windows updates can be quick or frustratingly slow, a complex update can take considerably longer but other factors may affect progress such as; the quality of your internet connection, downloading when everyone else is or maybe your files are scattered and your computer needs defragging or a Health Check.

Beware of old operating systems which are no longer supported by Microsoft such as Windows XP. Whilst they may support your old software they leave you vulnerable to viruses and malware as they don’t have the latest software updates.

Good practice

Update Management System

Carry out an audit of your IT hardware and software and make a plan of how to manage it. Updating software can be done automatically but it will need to be checked regularly to ensure that updates have been carried out.

Standard update procedures

Have a standard procedure across all your IT and ensure updates occur regularly and around the same time.

Updates usually will install without a problem but occasionally you will get a conflict with other software, if you have a lot of computers in your business it makes sense to test the updates before rolling them out across the company.

Cloud software

If your software is via cloud services, updates will be applied automatically.  However, it will not include your Windows Operating System updates that are not in the cloud.


If you use mobile phones and tablets across your business ensure that you keep them up to date too.  Mobile Device Management software can help manage updates across all or some of your devices.

Proactive monitoring solutions

Our Bronze Plan will manage all the updating of your operating systems and third party applications and will monitor your systems 24/7.  It will also provide protection against viruses and ensure backups are performing successfully.

For practical advice on managing your updates and IT security please contact us or call for a chat on 01603 451810.