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A new computer is a significant investment for any business, large or small. Many companies end up using older systems for longer than they would like because they want to get their money’s worth out of the purchase.

Do you find yourself banging on your keyboard in frustration? Have you tried every tip and trick you found online, only to still struggle with a slow PC?

There are some great upgrades you can do that won’t cost as much as a new computer, and they’ll make your PC feel like new again.

Computer speed upUPGRADE TO A SOLID-STATE DRIVE (SSD)

The price of solid-state drives has decreased significantly in recent years, making them a budget-friendly upgrade that can help speed up an older computer.

HDDs have moving parts, while SSDs do not. SSDs use flash memory, which allows for quicker response time. This results in faster boot times and smoother performance when opening files and applications.

Some of the advantages of upgrading your computer’s hard drive to SSD include:

  • SSD read/write speeds up to 2500 MB/second compared to HDD at up to 200 MB/second
  • SSD access time of 0.1ms as compared to HDD at 5.5-8.0ms
  • SSDs use between 2-5 watts of energy compared to HDD at 6-15 watts

INCREASE THE RAM (MEMORY)

One low-cost upgrade that can lead to significant performance gains is a memory upgrade. If your PC only had 4GB of RAM when you bought it, you’re likely to have trouble opening too many tabs in your browser or using any graphics-heavy program.

Adding more RAM to your computer can make a big difference in its speed and performance. If your PC has available memory slots, upgrading to 8GB or 12GB of RAM can make it feel like you have an entirely new computer.

GET A PROFESSIONAL COMPUTER TUNE-UP

Online PC cleaners might not provide the same level of tune-up as a professional IT provider. We will deep clean your system by eliminating all the duplicate files, repairing internal errors, and checking the Windows Registry for any issues. This will help to speed up your system and keep it running smoothly.

We can also check for failing parts and provide guidance on your most impactful upgrade options.

GET HELP IMPROVING YOUR COMPUTER’S PERFORMANCE TODAY!

Don’t struggle with an older PC! We can help you with cost-effective upgrade options that will fit your system and budget perfectly. Call us on 01543 889 444

Protect Yourself From Phishing Attacks

Phishing attacks remain a major concern for businesses worldwide, they are the main delivery method for all types of cyberattacks. In 2020, 75% of companies experienced at least one phishing attack. 

These attacks can have devastating consequences for a business, ranging from data breaches to ransomware attacks. Businesses must remain vigilant in their efforts to protect themselves from any kind of Cyber Attack. 

Phishing is an attack that uses fraudulent emails and usually websites to trick individuals into revealing sensitive information or infecting their devices with malware.

Mobile threats have increased dramatically in recent years, with a 161% increase in 2021 alone.

Here are a few things you can do to protect yourself from this type of attack:

  • Use email filtering to screen out suspicious messages.
  • Use DNS filtering to block malicious websites.
  • Use next-generation antivirus and anti-malware software.
  • Stay up to date on cybersecurity trends and educate yourself on how to spot phishing attempts.

PHISHING VIA TEXT MESSAGE

A greater number of people are less suspicious of text messages than emails.

Although smishing attacks are increasing, cybercrime entities are still taking advantage of the easy availability of phone numbers. By using text messages to deploy phishing attacks, they are able to target a larger audience.

A popular phishing campaign in 2022 is via text messages. More people are now used to receiving text messages than in the past, especially from retailers and service businesses. They push text updates for sales and delivery notices, which has enabled people’s guard to be lowered. 

The goal of the attack is to capture personal data, when a user clicks on a link included within a text message.  The link within the message will redirect the user to a genuine looking website.

The website you’re redirected to will look official and contain a contact form. Once you submit your personal details to the contact form. The hackers have your credentials. 

EMAIL COMPROMISE IS ON THE RISE

Ransomware has become a bigger threat in recent years because it’s a lucrative source of income for criminal groups that launch cyberattacks. A new, up-and-coming form of attack is also becoming quite profitable, and so is growing in popularity.

(Business email compromise – BEC) scams are also on the rise and costing businesses millions each year. These scams typically involve attackers posing as staff members in an attempt to trick employees into making Bank Transfer requests or gift card purchases.

The danger of BEC is when criminals gain access to email accounts, they have the ability to send phishing messages that appear very convincing to employees, customers, and vendors. 

Potential victims in most cases will automatically trust the known email address, making these emails highly effective tools for cybercriminals.

SMALL BUSINESSES ARE BECOMING MORE FREQUENT TARGETS OF SPEAR PHISHING

No business is too small to be targeted by hackers. Many small businesses are targeted because they often have less sophisticated IT security systems than larger companies.

Spear phishing is a more dangerous form of attack because it’s targeted. A spear phishing attack using BEC is tailored to the specific individual or organization being targeted.

Spear-phishing used to be more commonly used against larger companies, as it takes considerably longer to set up a targeted and tailored attack. However, large criminal groups and government-assisted hackers have made their attacks more efficient, they are now able to target most businesses with ease. 

Small businesses are becoming targeted more frequently by these types of attacks that are more difficult for their users to identify as scams.

MORE BUSINESSES ARE BEING IMPERSONATED RECENTLY

Attackers have become increasingly skilful at impersonating businesses in order to dupe users into clicking on malicious links or attachments. The most popular method is, sending emails that appear to come from legitimate companies that the user may be familiar with.

Amazon is a common target for business spoofing, but it also happens to smaller companies. There have been examples of website hosting companies having client lists breached, and the cybercriminals have then sent emails impersonating the hosting company. 

The emails asked users to log in to an account to fix an urgent problem.

IS YOUR COMPANY’S DATA PROTECTED FROM THIS STYLE OF ATTACK?

When it comes to protecting your business, it’s important to use a multi-layered approach. Start with a cybersecurity audit to review your current security measures and identify ways to improve.

We’ve done this for numerous companies within Staffordshire, please get in touch with us today to find out how we can help. 

Call us today on 01543 889 444 to see how we can protect your business.


Cyber Security Staffordshire

The 3 Cyber Security Vulnerabilities You Need to Ensure Your Business Doesn’t Have

You need to take cyber security seriously, regardless of the size of your business. Criminals are targeting both small and large businesses, and you need to check for any weaknesses in your security regularly. Here are 3 Cyber Security Vulnerabilities you need to ensure your business doesn’t have.

Summary

  • Check your Antivirus software regularly and keep it up to date
  • Do you have Weak Login Credentials / have any of your accounts been compromised
  • Lack of Ransomware Protection

VULNERABILITY #1 – LACK OF ENDPOINT SECURITY

Many businesses don’t have or regularly check their endpoint security solutions such as antivirus programs. This leaves their business susceptible to cyber attacks such as ransomware and malware.

Some endpoint solutions rely on virus definitions or signatures to detect an attack. Some out of date software is often inadequate.

Many cyber criminals can bypass definitions quickly and undetected. Some solutions don’t monitor for unexpected and unusual behaviour that typically happens during a cyber attack.

The best way to combat these issues is to invest in an endpoint solution that involves next-generation antivirus, response and behavioral analysis.

What is Endpoint Security?

Endpoint security Is when you secure the endpoints and / or entry points of devices such as desktops, Laptops and mobile devices etc. It has evolved a lot since the more traditional anti virus solutions of the past. It provides a more sophisticated approach when it comes to malware and ransomware.

As virus threats get more sophisticated, it’s good practice to implement this level of protection. The new systems are designed to detect, analyse and block suspicious activity while they are in progress.

Please get in touch if you would like to know more or have any questions about Endpoint Security.

VULNERABILITY #2 – COMPROMISED OR WEAK CREDENTIALS

Cyber Security Staffordshire

Cyber criminals can easily compromise your Username and Password if you haven’t got the right protection in place. For instance, an unsuspecting team member may fall victim to a phishing email and enter their login information into a fake website.

With these compromised credentials, an attacker can gain access to your business data.

There are a number of ways to combat this, such as by enabling MFA (Multi Factor Authentication) on your systems. MFA provides an extra layer of security.

It ensures that users are who they say they are by requiring two pieces of information in order to sign in. This is usually their password and an additional verification, such as a one time access code, in order to login.

Even if the password is compromised, the chances of the additional verification factor also being compromised is very low.

What is Multi Factor Authentication?

When you sign into any account online, you usually go through a process called authentication. Effectively proving your identity to the website you’re logging into. For many years this has been achieved by using a username and a password.

This is however a very insecure method of authentication. That’s why now almost every bank, some social media websites and online stores use additional authentication.

You may hear Multi Factor Authentication called Two-Step verification or Multifactor authentication. They all work the same way. You still login using your username and password but there is an additional layer of security. This can be a pin number text to your mobile phone or a unique code generated by a separate application.

VULNERABILITY #3 – LACK OF RANSOMWARE PROTECTION

Ransomware is the name given to a cyber attack, where the cyber criminals attack your system and network and encrypt your files making them inaccessible.

This can cause chaos for small and large businesses. In 2017 a notorious ransomware attack called “WannaCry Outbreak” cost the UK £92 million and global costs in the region of 6 billion. This also affected the NHS and all of their computer systems were brought to a standstill.

Even though victims paid the ransom all of the data was virtually unrecoverable. So it’s not just ransomware protection you need. It’s a redundancy plan to make sure all of the data is backed up elsewhere and is accessible in the event of a cyber attack.

The majority of victims in these types of attacks are told to pay the ransom using a crypto currency such as bitcoin. They will then send a passcode, allowing you to get back into your system and files.

Make sure you have software and processes in place to prevent these kinds of attacks. Ensure your systems are up to date with the latest updates installed, ensure you are using a modern endpoint security solution and a working backup solution to ensure you’ve got something to fall back to if the worst should happen.

What is Ransomware?

Ransomware is a type of Malware that adds encryption to a victims files and information. Any data on your computer or network can be compromised. This then stops the IT admin or users from being able to access any critical data.

You wouldn’t be able to access any files, databases or programmes on your devices. It does this by using asymmetric encryption. This is a type of cryptography that generates a pair of keys allowing you to encrypt and decrypt files. The hacker generates a unique key which is given to the victim when the ransom has been paid.

Most ransware is distributed via emails or more targeted attacks. In most cases, once your computer has been compromised. It will give you between 24/48hrs to pay the ransom allowing you to gain access to your data.

HERE TO HELP

Anyone running a successful company should have the steps above in place. To ensure your business isn’t a sitting duck for cyber criminals, by implementing reliable defense strategies and keep. So if you’re looking for assistance with your Cyber Security and based in Staffordshire. Reach out to us for a quick, no obligation chat to see how we can protect your business from cyber attacks. Call us on 01543 889 444


Windows 11 – Your questions answered

Microsoft’s latest operating system is here. But before upgrading your current systems, read this first.

After six years, Microsoft has released it’s new operating system, Windows 11. With technology playing an important role in our lives and businesses, Microsoft’s answer to this growing demand for better technology at home and in business is Windows 11.

We’ve compiled a list of five frequently asked questions about Windows 11 and set about answering them.

1. What’s the difference between Windows 10 and Windows 11?

Windows 11 gets a major boost in performance, functionality and style compared to previous versions of Windows.

  • A new makeover: If you’ve used macOS before, you may see some similarities between Windows 11 and macOS. The taskbar is now centered, tightly rounded corners and new icons just to name a few.
  • New Teams integration: With hybrid working becoming normal, Microsoft integrated Teams into the operating system, making it easier for you to communicate with family, friends and colleagues.
  • Android apps on your PC (coming soon):  Microsoft has announced native support for Android apps within Windows 11. However, this feature will not be available until 2022.

2. What are the system requirements to run Windows 11?

To run Windows 11, you need:

  • At least a 1GHZ dual-core processor
  • 4 GB of RAM
  • At least 64 GB of storage
  • A graphics card compatible with DirectX 12 or later, with a WDDM 2.0 driver
  • 720p display, at least 9” diagonal size, with 8 bits per colour channel
  • TPM version 2.0
  • UEFI, Secure Boot capable firmware

Your processor also needs to be on the supported hardware list, which can be found here.

3. Does it come with Microsoft Office?

No, you will need a valid Microsoft Office license.

But if you have an existing Microsoft 365 subscription, then you are ok. You just need to install Office after upgrading to Windows 11.

Side note: support for older versions of Office, such as Office 2010, ended last year. So if you are still using an older version of Office, we suggest you upgrade to Microsoft 365.

4. How can I upgrade to Windows 11?

If you want to upgrade to Windows 11, you have nothing to worry about. Simply go to Windows Update section within Settings and click check for updates. If your PC is compatible with Windows 11, it’ll be available in the upgrade section. Click ‘download and install’, and then sit back and wait.

5. Do I really need to switch to Windows 11?

If your PC or laptop isn’t compatible, then you don’t have to upgrade, Windows 10 will be supported by Microsoft until 2025.

If on the other hand, your PC is compatible with Windows 11, the choice is yours. Some people like change, while others hate it. We personally love Windows 11.

If you need help understanding the pros and cons of switching to Windows 11, give us a call on 01543 889 444 or contact us here


Your Never Too Small for Managed IT Support

A small to medium size business may only have a handful computers and having an in-house person dedicated to IT support may be overkill. Everything is working fine at the moment but is it performing at its best, but at some point, things will crash and stop working. That’s why it can be beneficial to outsource IT.

Having someone who knows technology working for your team can pay huge dividends and add value by:

  • Providing knowledgeable support and IT help
  • Identifying where you can be more efficient with the tools you already have which can save money
  • Learning business needs and making recommendations about the best IT needs for your company
  • Helping you avoid bad tech purchases or buying software you don’t need
  • Protecting your business technology and ensuring your computers are up to date with the latest security

Small business Breaches

You don’t have to have a large business to attract the unwanted attention of cyber-criminals, in fact a small business can be a particularly appealing target.

According to Accenture 43% of cyber-attacks were aimed at small businesses and only 14% of small businesses were prepared for these attacks on their networks and sensitive data. In fact hackers will exploit a small business as part of their campaign to attack a larger business, as they know the smaller business is less likely to have the same level of security as the bigger businesses. According to insurance carrier Hiscox the average cyber-attack costs a business £200,000 which can be a killer blow for a small business. Some 60% of small businesses that are hacked go out of business within six months, even if they can survive the financial damage along with brand reputation and customer goodwill is devastating.

Outsourced ITAdvantages of Outsourced IT

You may not have a clear picture of your cyber-security status right now but by working with a SJH Computing & Technical Services you will get one. We will conduct an informal audit of your current technology and needs.

For instance, your business may not have a data protection procedure or you may think you don’t have a lot to back-up. Can you recover if your business losses an email chain it was keeping for legal or compliance reasons? What would happen if the computer holding all your accounting suddenly died? We can identify all these problem areas and recommend appropriate solutions.

We will make an inventory of all your tech assets and ensure you are compliant with protecting your customers data, employee records, confidentiality, availability, and ensure the security of the business’s intellectual property.

The cost of outsourcing can be a stumbling block to a small business but managed IT services can often lower costs by streamlining processes and ensuring that the business technology is best suited to current needs and if the worst does happen they are only a phone call away to help.

If you would like to know more about outsourcing your IT needs give us a call on 01543 889 444


Are You Still Using Office 2010? Then It’s Time To Upgrade

Software manufacturers usually give their software a time limiting lifespan and turn their resources to supporting more recent releases. This is the case with Office 2010 when support ended on October 13th 2020 and Microsoft no longer provides tech support, bug or security fixes. There’s now no protection from harmful viruses, spyware or other malicious software and more important no more phone or chat support when things go wrong.

Cyber criminals are on the lookout for businesses relying on this non supported software as they know they are open to exploitation and on their own if the worst happens.

What Can You Do?

You can move your computers to one of the more recent Microsoft software packages such as Office 2019 as a onetime purchase for each machine you operate or buy a Microsoft 365 subscription which gives the latest security updates.

Beware of Microsoft 2019 however, as it came out in September 2018 and is due to be succeeded by Office 2022 in the second half of 2021, and you will only get support and fixes during its lifecycle period and new features are not offered.

Before deciding to wait until later in 2021 and leaving yourself vulnerable you could consider Microsoft 365, this gives you access to Office’s cloud connected features across devices plus 1TB of OneDrive storage, Office mobile apps, Skype minutes and access to support and latest features.

If you have a business account your administrator can ensure you are receiving all new features and everything is up to date.

Is Microsoft 365 For You?

Microsoft 365 can be on premises, on the cloud or both. Employees can use tools they are used to such as Word or Excel installed on your desktops then, save their work to the cloud and log on via mobile devices such as tablets or laptops and work remotely, ideal in today’s situation.

You can also enjoy video conferencing, screen sharing, group chats and calling with Microsoft 365 Teams and you will always have the latest versions of Office, SharePoint, Exchange and Skype.

Microsoft 365 comes in several business packages. The basic version gives you free Web and Mobile only along with Exchange, OneDrive, SharePoint and Teams.

Continuing with Office 2010 could prove costly if the worst happens so now is the time to upgrade.

Need help upgrading your existing software for your business? Our IT experts can help. Contact us today on 01543 889 444


Microsoft 365 Bookings – Manage Your Appointments Online

Are you always answering the phone taking new bookings and appointments, chasing and answering emails for your business and find you don’t have time to actually carry out those jobs, that’s where Microsoft 365 Bookings comes into its own and is the App you need.

Bookings is an add-on to your Microsoft 365 Business plan. It allows you to manage appointments online with a custom web page which you can integrate with Facebook.

If you are getting bogged down by:

  • still doing paper bookings
  • double booking or getting times wrong
  • regularly having to interrupt your work to make new appointments
  • your client contact list is a mess

Then you seriously need to consider Bookings.

How Does Bookings Work?

Bookings is easy to use and will take the stress and time out of managing your appointments. It will:

  • Create a custom branded public facing calendar (or calendars if needed)
  • Customers can find and book appointments by accessing your site 24/7
  • Bookings will send a confirmation email and calendar invitation
  • Customers can reschedule or cancel if they need, again 24/7
  • Bookings will track all confirmations, reminders and changes for you

By adding custom fields you can also request and manage deposits, manage internal and external calendars or set up different staff details.

Added Benefits of Bookings

There are many additional benefits and features as Bookings is an extension of Microsoft 365 and include:

  • Bookings easily syncs with Outlook calendars helping to avoid double bookings
  • Bookings can help you avoid last minute cancellations as you are able to control how much advance notice is required to cancel
  • Appointments booked as online meetings create a link to enable virtual meetings via Skype or Microsoft Teams
  • The Facebook integration allows you to accept bookings from your page via a “book now” button and Facebook will fill in their contact information automatically making it easier for customers
  • There is also a mobile App for Android and iPhone so you can manage your appointments on the go
  • Bookings can also build your company’s database. The appointments manager gathers data such as names, phone numbers and postal and email addresses all in one place.

Bookings is one of many online scheduling tools available however its integration with other Microsoft tools gives it a big advantage and it’s affordable.

Don’t waste time managing your appointments the old way every week, get online with Bookings 365 today.

Don’t want to take the time to upgrade and integrate Bookings then call SJH Computing & Technical Services on 01543 889 444 and out IT experts can do it for you.


Are your Business Continuity Plans up to date?

Business continuity is preparing for the unexpected and plans ensure you can maintain operations during unexpected disruptions. Such disruptions can include:

  • national emergencies
  • sabotage
  • natural and man-made disasters
  • utility failures
  • data breaches or cyber-security attack

There is however a new threat that not only threatens individual businesses but whole economies – COVID-19.

The situation with COVID-19 has shown to be extremely fluid and can change in an instant so what do you need to do?

Prepare for the Unexpected

A business continuity plan tries to anticipate the worst that could happen without knowing what is going to happen; nobody saw a world pandemic coming.

You may never need to use your plan but taking the “it`ll never happen to me” approach is playing a dangerous game and could leave you up the creek without a paddle so to speak.

When COVID-19 hit many governments required businesses of all sizes across many industries to migrate to remote working or “working from home”. Those businesses with business continuity plans were able to respond with great agility whereas those without a plan would have floundered and found it very difficult and rushing to set up the required hardware and software which could lead to costly mistakes.

Now, many countries are starting to reopen for business albeit with constraints and now is the time to see how your business continuity plan coped and look for any weaknesses. Look back at what worked and what didn`t and ensure you are better prepared for the future.

Planning with a Managed Service Provider (MSP)

COVID-19 is not over yet and you could find yourself having to go back to remote working as spikes in the virus occur and local lock downs are forced back upon businesses. Your business continuity plan will lay out how to proceed but beware there can be many pitfalls and security issues with working remote and working with an MSP can enable you to ensure you have the correct hardware and software, set up data protection and develop a backup setup amongst other things.

If you would like to know more give us a call on 01543 889 444.


Remote IT and Cloud technology

Ten years ago, the “Cloud” was virtually unknown however this technology has grown to new heights and it is now a phrase used almost daily in offices around the world. More and more businesses are using it for the huge benefits it has to offer.

This sudden uptake has raised questions too. Businesses want to know what the Cloud can do for them but want to understand it before committing their data to it and most of all – is it safe?

What is The Cloud?

The principle behind the Cloud is that it allows you to store, retrieve and work on your data without you having to worry about the fine detail of where or how it is kept. It may be stored on a single computer or distributed across multiple servers all around the world. Most often it is stored across one or more data centres as close as possible to your physical location.

From the perspective of the user it does not matter where the data is stored, just that the Cloud server will retrieve your data as quickly and efficiently as possible. You do not have to worry about the specifics and lets you get on with the running of your business.

Is the Cloud safe?

Your data will be sitting on one of many multiple computers stacked together in an air-conditioned temperature controlled clean room. Data centres make storing and securing data their entire business employing high level cyber-security and physical security with walled compounds, guards at security gates and state of the art CCTV. They also employ redundant power supplies to protect against unplanned power outages.

Cloud convenience

Storing data in the Cloud means having easy access to your data and regular backups. Staff across the business can work, share, and transfer documents at the same time without the worry of redundant copies or working on the wrong version and saving over previous versions.

Many companies didn’t know they needed the Cloud until they started using it.

Security

Attacking a fortified, secure data centre is almost impossible, and the most significant threat comes from the users of the Cloud. A weak password or reusing an old one can open your data to hackers. A phishing scam or installing malicious software on your computer gives attackers the single opportunity they need to strike.

These issues can be guarded against with staff training, awareness, and simple security tools along with a password manager can guard against the biggest threats to your company.

The Cloud is the safest, most reliable, and most secure way to store your company’s valuable data.

If you would like to know more or would like any help with the Cloud give us a ring on 01543 889444


Returning to Work: Make sure you are IT Safe

Your business has had the go ahead to return to work onsite, but you are unsure of the precautions you need to carry out. Guidelines have been produced regarding social distancing and keeping your workforce safe but what about IT safety?

If you have had remote working during quarantine you could allow workers to stay at home if they are at risk or oppose the idea of returning too soon.

For those coming back, you could use a phased return to ensure social distancing making people feel more secure. You could use a hybrid approach, allowing people to work in the office three days a week and two days at home, allowing a staggered return and letting them regain their confidence to return to full workplace.

Do you have the correct technology?

You may think you have the technology to support your staff both working onsite and remotely but is it capable of supporting your business long term. Will your technology support you for the long haul or as some are saying the new way of working?

To achieve a flexible hybrid model of working you could go with cloud solutions or you could expand on site IT. Do you need the additional infrastructure to handle remote employees using VPNs? Both onsite and remote staff might need to securely access systems at the same time. Cloud collaboration software will allow both onsite and remote staff to use resources at the same time.

When you bring people back to the office you may need to space your workstations further apart to ensure social distancing meaning you may have to move computer hardware as well, or if you previously used shared computers, you will have to add more desktops or laptops.

Further IT precautions

Cyber-criminals are always on the lookout to make a quick killing; you only have to look at the proliferation of scams that have occurred during lockdown. Many businesses had to move quickly to remote working sometimes allowing staff to access the business from personal devices which could leave them open to cyber attacks.

Now is the time to explore any vulnerabilities in your IT systems. Double check permissions ensuring say someone from procurement cannot access payroll and vice-versa. Also confirm that all your staff have adequate virus protection on their devices and security patches are up to date.

You will naturally be concentrating your efforts on social distancing, deep cleaning, etc to ensure your staff are safe to return to work but don’t forget your IT needs. If you need any help ensuring your IT is safe and ready give us a call on 01543 889444.