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.

 

Outlook features that can increase your productivity

Office 365 Outlook is a cloud-based service that is designed to meet the needs of your business in terms of reliability, security and productivity.  It is a powerful platform that combines corporate class email with a suite of useful tools that help streamline the way you work. It allows you to send and receive email messages, manage your calendar, store names and numbers of your contacts, as well as track your tasks.

O365 email is pushed to your devices as soon as it reaches the server so you get important emails right away.  It also synchronises your contacts and calendars so wherever you are, as long as you have an internet connection, you can get the information you need. 

Many Office 365 Outlook features that help with your productivity and collaboration are under-utilised. Here are a few features that you may not been using but can enhance the way you work.

Out of Office

Out of Office  feature allows you to send out automatic replies while you are on holiday or out of the office.

  • Open Outlook
  • Select File > Automatic Replies (Out of Office)
  • Select > Send automatic replies
  • Set date/time and message in and outside organisation, these can be different.

Global Address List

The Global Address List (GAL) in Office 365 can be used as a central database of contacts within your organisation.  Any search function such as composing an email and inviting people to meetings will use the GAL to search against.

To create a list

  • go to https://outlook.office365.com/ecp/ and login
  • To create a list go to Recipients > Contacts > + ADD contact.
  • To add more detail such as telephone numbers click on the contact record or go in via the top menu bar in Outlook

Office Add-Ins

Office Add-Ins allow you to add extra features to Outlook to refine the way you work and increase efficiency  

The Get Add-Ins is located on the far right of the ribbon in Outlook, click on this and you will have hundreds of plug-ins to choose from.  Just select and ADD the ones that you require.

Add-Ins can greatly improve productivity and functionality in your emails, here are a few you may find useful.

  • Adobe sign – e-sign documents, send them for signature and track signing
  • PayPal for Outlook – sending money in a fast, safe and secure way.  You’ll never need to login into the PayPal portal again, just select the Add-In and enter the recipients email address and the Add-Inn will take care if the rest.
  • Template Phrases – custom templates for common emails and include macros for adding dynamic data such as customer details (see below)
  • Boomerang – this is an Outlook productivity tool that can schedule emails, track responses and schedule meetings

Template phrases

This simple add-in enables you to create templates for any common question you receive within your business.  Instead of typing the same text you double click your template in the add-in pane.  It also comes with an array of macros so you can custom information each time you insert the template. 

  • Very useful for commonly used emails create a template to save time e.g. confirming a meeting, arranging an interview, requesting a review. 
  • To add a new template open up a new email Select Show templates > New >compose email and save 
  • To use an existing template: New Email > Show Templates > Select Template  > Insert > Fill In Macro Field > OK 

Shared mailboxes

Shared mailboxes are used by multiple users and enable you to work collaboratively with your colleagues.  Every member can read and send emails from the mailbox, which is synced continuously so you can co-ordinate activities and see which emails have been read and replied to. 

Advantages of share mailboxes include: 

  • Monitor and send emails from a centralised account e.g. accounts@abc.co.uk 
  • Multiple users can share the responsibility of monitoring and handling emails in this mailbox 
  • Sharing the Outlook calendar for this mailbox enables holidays and work shifts to be co-ordinated. 

Delegate access

Using Delegate Access enables you to give permission to someone to access any of the following mailbox, calendar, tasks, contacts and notesYou may want to enable your assistant to manage your emails and calendar or enable someone to act on your behalf whilst you are on holiday or off-sick.   

  • To change Delegate Access click the File tab > Account Settings > Delegate Access > Add person > Select Permissions > OK 

Manage rules & alerts

Your emails can be managed automatically by Manage Rules and Alerts.  Here are some of the things you can do: 

  • Set rules so that emails from a client are directly moved to a named folder 
  • Send an autoresponse email and delete emails while on holiday so you don’t come back to a overflowing mailbox and get a colleague to manage your emails in your absence 
  • Check if your email has been hacked by looking at rules and seeing if a new rule has been set up e.g. to send all “finance related” emails to a new user 

Email delivery options

Using Email delivery options you can choose when an email is sent, confirm delivery of an email and whether to mark an email as confidential. If you want to compose an email in advance you can schedule it for a later date and time, Outlook will automatically send the message and move it from the Outbox to the Sent items folder.  If you are sending an important email you can set a delivery and/or read receipt so you know that it has been received.

To set email delivery options: 

  • Select New email > Options (tab on Outlook ribbon) > Select your options 

Delivery options include: 

  • Requesting a delivery receipt 
  • Request a read receipt 
  • Use voting buttons 
  • Save sent items to a specified folder 
  • Mark an email as confidential 

Archiving emails

Email is a popular and fast way to communicate and it also enables you to document conversations and store information in a place that can be easily searched.  A large amount of a company’s intellectual property is contained in email and messaging systems, which is why companies use email archiving.  Benefits include:

  • Storage – too much email data on servers can reduce its performance, archiving moves email data to a secure off-site server or cloud environment so there is no need to delete important emails
  • Back-up – if data needs to be restored email archiving can speed up the process
  • Security – with the right archiving solution your  data is preserved and safeguarded with a continuous back-up
  • Productivity – easy and quick access to archived and backed up email data
  • Compliance – your industry regulations may require you to keep data for longer periods and in more secure environments

Auto archiving helps improve the speed, security and organisation of your mailboxes.  To archive email messages is simple:

  • Right click on your mailbox > Properties > Auto Archive > set parameters 

Calendar 

Office 365 Calendar is a powerful tool with many functions to enhance the way you work.  You can integrate your Google calendar into your Outlook calendar and it will sync the data as it is updated. 

The Outlook Calendar has many possible uses including: 

  • Organise your diary with Outlook Calendar 
  • Search your calendar to locate events 
  • Share calendars e.g. colleagues, holiday calendars  
  • Manage your calendar – share calendars with colleagues and manage permissions such as read, edit and delete options 
  • Make Outlook appointments and share with delegates 
  • Resource calendars – as well as your personal calendar they can also be used for meeting rooms, hot desking and AV equipment.

There are many other useful tools that will enhance the way you work with Outlook.  If you want advice about switching to Office 365 Outlook or help maximising its potential please contact us or call 01603 451810.

 

Is it time to upgrade your business from Windows 7?

Is Windows 7 fit for your business?

Microsoft warns that Windows 7 is no longer fit for businesses as it can no longer meet the growing needs of modern technology and increasing security standards demanded by businesses. Markus Nitschke, Head of Windows at Microsoft Germany, says that businesses who don’t upgrade over the next three years face increased problems with security, reliability and compatibility which will lead to increased operating costs.

Security

Whilst many would like to see security improvements to Windows 7 it is unlikely to happen. Microsoft are focussed on Windows 10, it provides better security than Windows 7 and by making it the superior option Microsoft hope to encourage more users to upgrade. Many took advantage of the free upgrade when Windows 10 was first launched, it is worth noting that Windows 7 and 8 can still be legally upgraded to Windows 10, despite this free upgrade officially expiring in July 2016.

When does Windows 7 Support end?

Windows 7 is still the most popular Operating System for desktops and laptops with 48% of the market share. However the deadline for Windows 7 support is January 2020, at this point Microsoft will no longer issue security updates and patches and it will be strongly advisable to upgrade.

Each business will need to decide when is the right time to upgrade to Windows 10 by assessing if their security needs are being met and establishing if there are any operating issues. Over time Windows 7 and 8 users will be obliged to upgrade as increasingly they will find compatibility issues with new applications and online services. However many businesses may find their bespoke software is not compatible with Windows 10 and the cost to upgrade is more than just a Windows 10 licence.

Why Upgrade to Windows 10?

The greatest advantage of Windows 10 is the improved security, functionality and management. However each business will need to plan for an upgrade, seek professional advice, look atthe cost implications and not leave it until the last minute. Windows 10 has 24% market share but this is set to grow as people upgrade to escape the security and operating issues with Windows 7, which Microsoft say is based-upon “long-outdated security architectures”.

Free Windows 10 upgrade ends 31 December

The end of December is your last chance to get a free upgrade to Windows 10. You may be happy with a previous version but Windows 10 offers greater security, stability and longevity. Apart from wanting your business IT to run efficiently a Windows 10 licence can cost from £100 to £150, so if your office has more than one computer that needs upgrading there are significant savings to be made.

Reasons to Upgrade to Windows 10?

  • With increasing cyber attacks Windows 10 offers greater protection and has regular and free updates that boost its security credentials to above previous versions of Windows.
  • Windows 10 is faster and has improved performance so that your computers can run more efficiently. Benefits include waking quicker from sleep mode and laptop batteries will last longer.
  • Windows 10 is more stable and has less compatibility issues with other applications and software so that your business can get on with its business.
  • If you want to access all the new Windows features you will need Windows 10. The latest update Creators Fall has some impressive new features that can significantly enhance the way you work.
  • Microsoft say that W10 is the last version of Windows, so you may never have to upgrade to a new version ever again.
  • Windows 7 will no longer be supported by Microsoft from Jan 2020, so anyone still running this version will be vulnerable to security threats along with increasing usability issues.
  • Windows 8 will no longer be supported by Microsoft from 2023
  • If you have a Windows XP or Vista computer you are no longer supported by Microsoft, you will be at risk to security threats and we strongly advise that you upgrade to a supported version of Windows immediately.

What Version of Windows is My Computer Running

To check which version of Windows your computers are running go the Window icon at the bottom left hand corner of the screen and type winver in the search bar and hit return.

Can All Computers Run Windows 10?

Your computer will need to be of a suitable spec to run Windows 10 but most computers running Windows 7 or 8 will be suitable.

If you would like some advice about upgrading to Windows 10 please give us a call on Norwich 01603 451810 or send us an email.

Windows 10 Fall Creators Update

Since Windows 10 was released in July 2015 there have been several major updates and the latest is the Fall Creators Update (FCU), which was rolled out in October. This is a free update to Windows 10 users and provides a host of improvements including better security for business, enhanced cloud storage, a more intuitive design that advances the user experience and it will make sharing easier.

How will the Fall Creators Update benefit you?

Many of the new features just improve the overall usability of Windows 10 but here are some key benefits.

Better Security

  • The main security advancements are on the Windows Defender Advanced Threat Protection service. This will detect and respond to attacks and will learn and continue to improve protection across the entire Windows Platform.
  • Windows Defender Anti Virus is a significant step up from standard AV solutions and will utilise cloud power, data science and Microsoft engineering expertise to tackle malware and hacking threats.
  • Many malicious attacks are through a hyperlink and the Windows Defender Application Guard is designed to isolate the threat before it spreads across your computer and further.
  • To fight against malware it is important to control applications, the Windows Defender Device Guard will manage safe applications lists which will include automating the process

One Drive files on demand

This feature will enable you to view all your files stored on One Drive, and you will be able to pick the files you want to work on and download to your device, the local drive can then be kept in sync with One Drive files. Before this update you had to download all the One Drive files and often due to limited hard drive space you would have had to view them on the One Drive platform rather than locally. There will also be Apps that can sync files from One Drive and provide notification of download progress.

Cross device working

It will be possible to work across your computer, tablet and phone at the press of a button. For example a document you started on word on the train to work can then continue to be edited once you reach the office and are sitting at your pc.

My People

This makes the static W10 task bar more personal. You can tailor it by adding key contact details, you can even Skype or call from it. One useful feature is being able to drag and drop things like pictures to a contact to make sharing even easier.

Microsoft Surface

Improvements on Surface include the new touch keyboard with predictive text. There is a one-handed touch keyboard and shape writing so you can swipe over keys like a windows phone. There is also a dictation key so you can speak to type, and you can also navigate W10 with your voice.

Mixed Reality (VR) headsets

This is the virtual reality feature but you will need a separate headset. To set it up you will need to launch the Mixed Reality Portal app, which should be fine if you have a modern PC. However if you want to use it on more complex games and experiences you may need a more powerful PC.

Microsoft Fluent Design

This is meant to be a successor to Metro Design and is a new design language that improves the design and animations across apps and services on all devices. It will also be easier to resize apps and windows.

Better Browsing

There are a lot of improvements to Microsoft’s Edge browser. You will be able to pin your favourite websites to the task bar and display website to their full extent (F11). With e-books and PDF’s there will be better options to annotate as well as navigate. Edge will also be able read web pages and e-books out loud.

Cortana

If you use an Android phone you can text from your PC and it will display call notifications. Cortana can also, lock, shutdown or restart your computer with voice commands.

Installing Fall Creators Update

If your computer can run Windows 10 then it should be fine to run the new update, although utilising some of the new creative features like virtual reality will require a moderately powerful graphics card. To install the latest update you need to either download Windows 10 Update Assistant or if you have a pop-up in your bottom right hand corner of your screen you can download from there. This Windows Update is large and will take some time so it’s best to carry it out when you know you won’t be needing your computer, perhaps overnight.

Free Upgrade to Windows 10

We recommend that all our clients with suitable systems upgrade to Windows 10 before 31 December, when it will no longer be free. We are happy to provide further advice for any business who requires some technical support on this matter.

Easy steps to make your computer safe

Computers and smart phones have become an integral part of our daily lives at work and home. With usage increasing people are becoming more exposed to cyber-crime whether they are running Windows, Mac OS, Linux or comparable software on a smartphone. Computer security is complex and far reaching and many people don’t have the time or interest to ensure that they have properly safeguarded their computers. Large companies spend millions of pounds on IT security but here are some simple steps that everyone can implement.

Good firewall

All computers should have a firewall, which is a piece of hardware or software that sits between your computer and the internet and only allows certain types of data to cross it. Windows and Apple computers have an integrated firewall built into the operating system, however ensure that it is enabled.

Scan for malware

New malware is being created every day so it is important that you keep your anti-malware software up to date.

Automatic updates

To help your computer run properly with the latest security updates and tools it is important to set your Windows updates to run automatically. Most updates load automatically but if you get an alert make sure you click on the task bar. You should also ensure that your anti-virus program is set to run automatic updates for your firewall and virus definitions.

Install a decent Anti-virus software

Anti-virus software is essential for everyone even if it marginally slows down your computer. Some of the best anti-virus protection is free for PCs such as Security Essentials and Windows 10 users will have Defender inbuilt into the operating system. With the proliferation of adware, spyware and malware some anti-virus software is not sufficient for people needing greater security and programs such as Malware Bytes can be used in addition to routine virus scans.

Ensure anti-software applications are updated regularly, preferably twice a day, and check the settings. You should also scan USB drives and external hard drives, especially if the drive belongs to someone else.

A good web browser

A good browser will offer you more protection and whether you use Edge, Google Chrome or Internet Explorer check the security settings to help enhance your computer security and safety.

Be vigilant

  • 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
  • Do not install “free” software until you have inspected it, often free packages come with spyware, adware and worse.
  • Read pop-ups before agreeing to anything

Don’t trust public wifi

When you are using a public WiFi just be aware that much of your web browsing and email is being sent over the connection unencrypted, so that potentially anyone in that public space can be stealing your passwords and listening to your conversations.

  • When using the internet in public places make sure your firewall on your computer is enabled
  • If you have a 4G connection use that or you’ll need to secure your connection
  • Any sensitive website access, such as web email, with a username and password is used only via secure (https) connections
  • To avoid password theft be vigilant in public places

Don’t leave your PC unattended

Don’t leave your computer on if you’re not around, this may seem obvious but often when people dash out to lunch they don’t think about the people they don’t know or trust who will have access to their computer.

Regular back ups

If you ever have a security disaster a good back up is the fastest way to recover. The damage from malware can be quickly reversed if you can restore your data to a recent back up.

Why are Windows updates important?

Office 365 for business Norwich

Why are Windows updates important?

  • Windows updates help keep your computer running smoothly and safely
  • Security or critical updates help safeguard your computer from malware and unauthorised users from accessing your computer
  • Other updates help enhance the functionality of your computer

Updates install automatically

In Windows 10 computer updating is required and you can set your computer to carry these out automatically. If you want to manually check if your computer has downloaded all updates, use Windows Update (see the three steps below). If any updates are found it will download and install them automatically, you cannot pick and choose which updates you want to download but these are generally related to security and safeguard your computer from intrusion. All security updates and Windows Defender updates and driver updates will be installed automatically.

If you want to control updates for Microsoft Office and other Microsoft programs you need to select Advanced Options in Settings and uncheck “Give Me Updates for other Microsoft products when I update Windows”.

Windows Update

Windows Update will automatically check for new updates every day. The security related updates are important as they ensure recently discovered security holes are remedied, which ensures your computer is safe from unwanted intrusion. Feature updates that improve the functionality of your computer are not essential but enable new features in Microsoft Windows, which can enhance the way you work.

Professional Editions of Windows 10

Businesses with the professional edition of Windows 10 can defer upgrades. Whilst you will still receive the security updates automatically it will delay downloading feature updates for several months until they have been tested on home PCs. This feature is designed to ensure your Business IT system are more stable and allow the new features to be properly tested.

Installation of Windows updates

Many updates take place when you are shutting down or starting up your computer, whilst this may slow down the process it is best to wait for it to complete as restarting your computer may cause problems. Occasionally Windows Updates can get stuck or frozen and in this case you can restart your computer and then logon so the update can continue. If you are continuing to have problems you may want to take further steps or seek professional help.

How secure is your business IT?

GDPR is primarily concerned with giving people more control over their personal data. It is the responsibility of each organisation holding personal data to ensure it is processed lawfully and transparently with the right processes in place to protect it.

There are multiple IT layers within your business that need protecting and unless they are secure you are at risk of a serious data loss or a cyber-attack that can seriously damage your business revenue and reputation.

In a nutshell the minimum requirement to protect your IT should include:

  • A firewall to protect your internet connection
  • Secure settings for your software and devices
  • Controlled access to your files and devices
  • Processes to ensure all software is up to date and consider 24/7 monitoring
  • Software to protect against viruses and malware

Personal Data and GDPR

Overt consent to store, retain and use data isn’t necessary if another lawful basis for processing can be applied.

To be ‘lawfully’ processed one of these must apply:

  • Consent: the individual has given clear consent for you to process their personal data for a specific purpose.
  • Contract: the processing is necessary for a contract you have with the individual, or because they have asked you to take specific steps before entering into a contract.
  • Legal obligation: the processing is necessary for you to comply with the law (not including contractual obligations).
  • Vital interests: the processing is necessary to protect someone’s life.
  • Public task: the processing is necessary for you to perform a task in the public interest or for your official functions, and the task or function has a clear basis in law.
  • Legitimate interests: the processing is necessary for your legitimate interests or the legitimate interests of a third party unless there is a good reason to protect the individual’s personal data which overrides those legitimate interests. (This cannot apply if you are a public authority processing data to perform your official tasks.

You will need a Privacy Policy outlining your data management remembering:

  • only collect information that you need for a specific purpose;
    keep it secure;
  • ensure it is relevant and up to date;
  • only hold as much as you need, and only for as long as you need it;
  • and allow the subject of the information to see it on request.

Data Protection Officer

Each organisation must appoint a data protection officer who will advise the organisation about meeting GDPR requirements, and overseeing compliance. They’ll also be the primary contact for the data protection authority. Personally identifiable data including IP addresses count as personal data.

Assess the risks and threats to your business

Before you can establish what level of IT security is right for your business you will need to review the personal data you hold and assess the risks to that data. You should consider all processes involved that require you to collect, store, use and dispose of personal data.

IT Recommendations for GDPR compliance

The recommendations briefly outlined here address the security required to protect personal data held within your organisation. For greater detail on GDPR compliance please refer to:

https://ico.org.uk/for-organisations/guide-to-the-general-data-protection-regulation-gdpr

If you would like to discuss these recommendations and how they relate to your business please call us on 01603 451810 or email support@adept-it-solutions.co.uk.

Minimum requirements

All cloud storage and email services, websites and applications that are used to process personal data must be GDPR compliant.

Devices used to access data on a private network

  • Private networks must have a firewall
  • If guest access is provided all PCs should be password protected, or using a firewall set to public mode (non-sharing)
  • If not password protected then guest access should be provided using a separate network with no access to the private network

Shared Broadband

If the broadband connection is supplied by the landlord, and shared with other tenants, all tenant networks must be behind their own firewall to allow this network to be classed as private.

Devices used to access data on a public network

  • Computer firewalls should be set to Public mode, and tablets and phones should use a 6 digit device security code.
  • Computers, and phones and tablets if data is held on their internal storage, used away from the office should encrypted to safeguard data in the event of a loss or theft
  • Office 365 files accessed directly in the cloud, the default method configured by Adept, are encrypted in transit and at rest, so no VPN is required to safeguard these. Files uploaded and downloaded by the OneDrive sync software are also encrypted in transit.

All computers

  • Use business level security software such as ESET or Webroot
  • Ensure Windows and third party application updates are installing correctly and are current

Emailing files containing personal data

If possible send files containing personal data as a link rather than an attachment, with a password protected sign in required to access the file, as supported by Office 365. If this is not possible or practicable instead password protect email attachments. Text or tell the password to the recipient, or email it to another address. Unless email encryption is used never include personal data in the subject or body of an email.

Office 365

Office is fully GDPR compliant and you can find useful information here:

https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/TrustCenter/Privacy/gdpr/default.aspx

https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/trustcenter/privacy/gdpr/solutions

Office 365 Login management

365 self serve password reset should be enabled to allow secure password changes in the shortest possible time, and to avoid passwords having to be emailed to users.

Where persons not authorised to access personal data can gain access to devices these should always be locked when left unattended, or a password or other login restriction should be used, with devices set to automatically lock or go to a password protected screen saver after a certain amount of time.

Password Management

  • Passwords should never be written down and we recommend a password management system
  • Use unique passwords

Above minimum requirements

Proactive Monitoring

Invest in a proactive monitoring and maintenance solution, such as Adept Total PC Security, to ensure all PCs are up to date and that viruses and malware are dealt with promptly.

Office 365

Utilise 365 file and/or email encryption

  • Set passwords to expire within 90 days or less
  • Enable multi factor authentication

Networks

  • Router running latest firmware
  • Wireless passcode changed regularly

Tablets & phones

  • Utilise Mobile Device Management, enabling the erasure of devices if stolen or lost.
  • Utilise security and encryption software to protect your device from malware and data theft

Local storage devices (servers/NAS)

  • 90 day password expiry for any user account with remote access.

For advice on IT Security in your business please call us on 01603 451810.