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Part of GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation - more here is assessing the way you store patient data. Many businesses use to removable USB drives which are then taken offsite. When assessing your GDPR risks you may decide that you would like to also encrypt portable drives you use that may contain personal data.

The following gives you step by step instructions on how to use one of the most popular encryption methods: VeraCrypt (which is derived from TrueCrypt). ...continue reading "Encrypting USB devices with VeraCrypt"

With GDPR encrypting USB drives with BitLocker is an easy way to help to secure personal data.

Part of GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation - more here is assessing the way you store customer data. Some businesses backup to removable USB drives which are then taken offsite. Or use removable USB drives to transport data. If personal data is stored in this way a GDPR recommendation is that the device is encrypted.  If you have Windows 10 Professional or Ultimate encrypting USB drives with BitLocker is relatively easy. ...continue reading "Encrypting USB Drives with BitLocker"

Spectre and Meltdown security Flaws in Most Modern Devices

I am sure many of you will have heard that there are security flaws in Intel, AMD and ARM processors - called Spectre and Meltdown. Spectre affects all modern processors, whereas Meltdown affects Intel, plus Itanium and Atom chips made before 2013. Potentially these flaws could enable hackers to steal passwords and sensitive data from ANY device made in the last 20 years that has a processor. Note this includes Apple devices - see link at bottom of page for which versions have been issued 'mitigations' (in Apple speak).

...continue reading "Update About Spectre and Meltdown Security Flaws"

Image of person breaking into a computer

Over the last 10 months I have constantly mentioned security, security, security, because we live in a world where criminals are exploiting every IT and online weakness they can. In 2015 we had very few businesses phone us with problems.  In 2016/17 we have seen an increase – as criminals are now targetting businesses. So much so, that I think you need to dedicate November to looking at your security.

Do you have old computers that are no longer receiving Security Updates?

The ransomware attacks on old Windows XP computers in the NHS earlier this year proved that old computers can be a security weakness. So, do you have any old equipment that pose a security risk to your business? Plus are you planning for the future? Microsoft have said that they plan to stop providing security updates for Windows 7 in 2020, so now is a good time to start planning and budgetting to replace them.

Update, Update, Update

Make sure everything is up-to-date. Microsoft updates, Apple updates, router updates, application updates - all help to ensure you are secure.

Who has access?

Ransomware normally spreads by mapped drives, so a simple way of reducing your risk is to stop giving everyone access to everything. Only give them access to folders they need. That way, if their computer is infected by ransomware the spread of the virus will be more contained.

Don’t forget SmartPhones, tablets, laptops

Does anyone in the business connect their own computer/tablet/phone to your network? If so, how good is the security on these devices?

Most businesses now encourage people to collect business emails on SmartPhones and tablets. Research by Kaspersky Lab and Allot Communications reported at the beginning of 2016 that 79% of businessmen and 67% of businesswomen use potentially risky apps every day.  Most modern SmartPhones have some form of security, but older ones may not have. Apps that enable peer-to-peer file sharing, emailing and web conferencing are those deemed most risky. So, is the user of the company SmartPhone likely to be downloading any of these and, if so, do they understand the risks?

Also, what happens if someone’s phone/tablet gets stolen – do you know how to remotely remove access to the business emails and data?

Do people access your server from home?

More and more people are working from home and require access to company files and folders. How this access is given can vary, and some ways are more secure than others. Security is something that should be regularly checked and evaluated as threats evolve.

Is the Internet Security software you are using still good?

Everyone has their favourite Internet Security software that they will swear is the best, but reality is that software performance varies from year to year. Companies amalgamate, get taken over, change their focus. In 2016 Avast took over AVG for example - we are monitoring the result.

So, is the Internet Security software you are using still good? Don’t keep with it just because you have used it for the last 5 years. Check out the facts. A good start is The test results can vary from month to month, so we would recommend you consider any software listed that has 5 circles and above. Some may be brilliant at stopping threats, but be so intrusive that they cause constant problems – we personally have found this with Bitlocker and Panda. Others, such as Avast Free, are not intrusive at all, brilliant and fast, but give you little power to exclude files and programs. You may need to do a little research to find the best option for you.

When did you last check that your Internet Security software was active and current?

We frequently go to new customers and find that although an Internet Security software program has been installed, it is no longer updating/running. Or that the old security program was never uninstalled. We would recommend that in November you go to every computer and check your Internet Security is running, is up-to-date and run a full scan of the computer hard drive. Don’t forget your server.

Do people in your company know how to identify emails that may contain links to ransomware and other threats?

The nature of threats change. A lot of threats in 2016/17 came via email attachments. So does everyone in your business know how to identify a threat. In our experience people know that threats come via email but they don’t understand that Word or Excel document can be especially unsafe. Also, make sure people know that that if in doubt they can always phone the person that sent the email to check it is genuine.

Do people understand why they need strong passwords, how to create them and how to remember them?

The most basic, but a very important, part of security is good passwords. Many people hate the idea of a strong password, but there are reasonable compromises – making a password longer makes a difference. Mixing in numbers makes a difference. If you help people create a system that works for them, then they will be happier to use stronger passwords. Remember that everyone is different – some people find it easy to remember numbers, but others find it easier to remember text. Help everyone set up a system that works for them. There is more about creating stronger passwords here… 

Internet and email security is constantly changing and evolving – an ongoing battle between suppliers and criminals. It is important to regularly evaluate your security to see whether you need to change your systems to help protect your data and your employees.

Rebecca Mansbridge
November 2017

We have often visited new clients and found that they don't understand the difference between differential and incremental backups. Nor the consequences. Sometimes with the result that they have lost vital data. So here is a quick summary. ...continue reading "September Quick Tip: Incremental versus Differential Backups"


Image of a person removing files from a computer

Backups are the computer task that everyone hates until there is a disaster, and then they are so pleased that they have good backups. The challenge is that backing up is not very exciting. So they are easily forgotten or neglected. You may not be excited with September's housekeeping, but it really is good to check your backups. So September housekeeping = backups ...continue reading "September Housekeeping = Backups"

Image of a person doing email housekeeping

Email is now the most important part of most businesses IT. Take away someones access to files and folders and they may moan a little. Take away access to their emails and they will be seriously unhappy. Communication is vital to modern businesses and email is now the most popular form of communication for most small businesses. Yet it is often given less housekeeping attention than the company printer. So August is the month to change this - the month to do some email housekeeping. ...continue reading "August Housekeeping = Email Housekeeping"

Image of a person painting the letters www

Most businesses have a website now, but small businesses often don’t have the ability to manage the website themselves. So they often rely on third parties. These third parties may be brilliant or they may be dire.  Either way there are some key questions you should be asking yourself, and your suppliers regularly. So this month we are doing website housekeeping: ...continue reading "June Housekeeping = Website Housekeeping"

The ransomware that has affected the NHS and other computers exploits security flaws in the old versions of Windows - specifically Windows XP, Vista, 8, Server 2003 and 2008. Microsoft have issued a security update for these operating systems. Once it has accessed a computer it spreads around the organisation using a flaw in Microsoft's SMB protocol. ...continue reading "Update re Ransomware"

Our news round up April includes, includes the ending of support of Vista and the possibility that Toshiba may cease to trade. There are hints of a possible future where cars will be fuelled at work and groceries be delivered by robots. In the meantime there is more about the Microsoft Creators update. ...continue reading "April 2017 Technology News Round Up"

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