How Not To Struggle With Data Storage

Large data

Many businesses have already embraced the benefits of going fully digital and it has saved us time and eliminated the need for stacks of file cabinets in every office.

But the digital boom presents us with a brand new range of issues. By moving all our files into a digital space, the amount of storage we need to maintain has grown larger and larger.

As digital technology has improved, the resolution and thus the size of the digital files we create has exploded. Items such as photographs, which used to be printed on film are now digital files stored and transferred by computers. As a result of the increase in both the number of digital files we use and their ever-growing size, the size of the data we need to store and backup has exploded exponentially.

This blog lists a number of ways in which we can tackle our ever-growing storage problem.

A Local Server or Network Attached Storage (NAS) Device

A local server is a high end computer system machine designed to serve many files to multiple clients at one time from locally held storage.

The advantage that a local network server has is that all your vital data is available to all users in one central location. This means that all employees on the network can access all the resources made available.

These machines can serve files at the speed of the local network, transferring large projects, files, and documents from a central source within the network quickly and with ease.

A Network Attached Storage device (or NAS) has many of the same network properties but in a smaller more compact profile. These can be available in units small enough to fit in a cupboard nook and yet still provide staggering storage capacity on only a small amount of power.

Both of these units can often be expanded with more and more storage, so as an organization grows over time its storage requirements are met.

Cloud Storage

Sometimes the best option for storage is to move your ever-increasing data outside of the business and into the cloud. Offloading the costs of hardware and IT management can work out to be an intelligent business decision and one that provides freedom and flexibility for your data storage needs.

The real advantage of cloud storage comes from the ability to expand and contract your services as needed without the overhead of adding and maintaining new hardware.

By moving storage to the cloud, data can be accessed from anywhere in the world allowing limitless expansion to any number of devices, locations and offices. Being able to access data from many locations at a single time can often provide a valuable boost to productivity that can help to improve productivity.

Some drawbacks of cloud storage come from factors that may be outside of the control of the business. Not all businesses have access to internet connections that are fast enough to handle large amounts of data transfer to and from the cloud.

Local laws and security regulations can prove to be a barrier to enabling storage in the cloud too. Some regulations either prohibit the feature entirely or enable only certain specific types for use.

The Right Choice For You

Both cloud and local storage can provide further benefits to enhance your business. Audit logs, central backups, and version control can all be used to secure the way your firm handles data.

Whatever your situation, whether a small NAS, server or cloud, we can advise on the best choices for your business.

Contact us on 08 8326 4364 or support@dpcomputing.com.au to allow us to use our expertise to make the right choice for your data.

Businesses Top 5 IT Security Problems

Security Problems

In today’s world, companies seem to be having security issues most weeks. These issues relate to 5 main problems. Is your company guilty of any of them?

1. No Backups

A shocking number of businesses do not back up their data properly. According to market research company Clutch, 60 percent of businesses who suffer a data loss shut down within six months.

Even with companies that think they are doing their backups correctly they never regularly test those backups. It is a step that businesses miss surprisingly often\ so don’t be that business that only finds out that their backup isn’t working when it is already too late.

2. Being Reactive and Not Proactive

Technology is changing on a daily basis. Attackers are always working on new ways to break into businesses, hardware is evolving faster than most of us can keep up and old systems fail due to wear and tear. A huge number of businesses wait until these issues impact them directly before they respond. This results in higher costs, longer downtime, and harder hitting impacts.

By responding to hardware warnings before it fails, fixing security holes before they’re exploited and upgrading systems before they are out of date: IT can be done right. Being proactive about your IT needs means systems do not have to break before they are fixed. This results in less downtime, fewer losses and lower IT costs for your business.

3. Poor Passwords

A surprising number of people will use weak passwords to secure their accounts. Even more will write down their passwords on a post-it note right next to the computer. In other cases many people have no passwords at all! Strong passwords act, not only as a barrier to prevent unwanted entry, but as a vital accountability tool too – when system changes are made it is essential to be able to trace back to the account that made that change.

With an weak or insecure password tracking the individual responsible for reports or accountability becomes impossible. This can result in both auditing disasters on top of technical ones.

4. Little or No Staff Training

People are commonly the weakest link when it comes to IT security. Implementing IT security can be a bit like having state-of-the-art locks on a door propped open with a milk crate when staff aren’t trained to use that lock.

Often businesses can justify spending big on security hardware and software but spend zero dollars on training staff to use them. In this instance, a little goes a long way. Security training can help staff to identify a threat, stop it at its entry point and avoid any issues that may have occurred if the staff member hadn’t had any training.

5. Weak Data Controls

Some companies take an ad-hoc, fast and loose approach to data storage. Often crucial  data is spread across many devices, copied needlessly and even left unsecured. Client data can be found regularly on employee laptops, mobile phones and tablet devices. These devices are prone to being misplaced or stolen along with any data they contain.

Most companies focus on the costs of devices and hardware purchased for the business. The reality is that the data held on those devices is always worth many times more than the device that holds it. For many firms, their approach to data hasn’t been changed since when the firm was first founded. Critical data is often held on single machines that hasn’t been updated because they hold that critical data. Such machines are clearly vulnerable, outdated and of course prone to failure.

Common problems with simple solutions

Each of these common issues have simple solutions to secure against IT failure. With a professional eye and expertise in the field, every business should be defended against IT issues that risk the firm.

If you are in South Australia and need help securing your IT system, give DP Computing a call on 08 8326 4364 or at support@dpcomputing.com.au.

Have You Been Hacked?

Being hacked is the single biggest fear for most computer users. Many people believe the first sign of strange behavior or errors on their PC is a sign of being hacked. But are hackers really inside your machine, roaming around madly and stealing your information? Or should we be on the lookout for other more subtle signs? What does being hacked really look like and what can I do to help prevent it happening?

There is an important distinction to make between being attacked by a hacker and being infected with a virus or malware. Virus software and malware are automated processes designed to damage your system and / or steal your data. There are of course ways that we can defeat these processes, but what if we are instead being hacked and what are some of the signs?

Passwords not working

One of the first steps a hacker might take is to change your computers login passwords. By doing so, not only do they ensure future access to the machine, they prevent you from accessing the system to stop them. For the hacker, this is a crucial step that keeps them in control. With this in mind, we always want to make sure to keep on top of our own login details and how often we change them.

Security notifications from online services

A lot of online services track which device and location you logged into your account from last. If your account is accessed from a new device or a different country it might trigger an automated email or SMS asking if this new login is from you.

If you have just logged into a service from a new computer, tablet, or phone; receiving an email that asks “hey, is this you?” need not be cause for alarm. If you haven’t, it may be time to investigate further. This feature is a very important part of information security and may be a key first step to identify someone else gaining access to your account.

Bank accounts missing money or strange transactions

The end goal for the majority of today’s hackers is typically to profit from their crimes by taking money from people online. As such, it pays to keep a regular eye on your financial transactions to make sure you know what money is coming and going from your account.

You may see a large sum missing where hackers have attempted to take as much as they can in a single transaction. On the other hand unknown or unusual small transactions may be attackers testing the login details they have, to confirm that they work.

Loss of mobile phone or land line connectivity

Phone interruption is a symptom that few people expect but can occur when hackers attack. Many banks and online services use a security feature known as two-factor or multi factor authentication (2FA or MFA). They do this by sending a code to your phone or app when you log in, you then have to enter this code to confirm who you are.

Hackers can try to work around this by calling your phone provider to report your phone as lost or stolen. During this call, they will request your phone number be transferred to a new sim card or redirected to another number that they control. When your bank sends its regular two-factor authentication code to the number registered, it goes instead to the hacker who then can log in. From your perspective the phone service will simply stop working, so if this happens contact your provider ASAP.

Social engineering

Another technique that may not even include a technical method is called social engineering. Social engineering is when hackers try to obtain confidential information by manipulating people to freely give them this information. This can be done in many different ways. Some examples are:

  • A strangers phones your office and may pretend to be a customer or supplier but asks for personal or confidential information.
  • A person claiming to be a supplier contacts you and asks you to change the bank account you send payments to.
  • Some one attends your premises for some reason but you have no prior knowledge of who they are or why they are they are requesting access.
  • Some one phones and claims to be from the technical department of your ISP or maybe even Microsoft and requests remote access to your computer.
  • You receive an email claiming to be from the boss or management asking you to do something which doesn’t seem right – like purchasing iTunes vouchers or asking to authorize payment to a new supplier.

Keeping vigilant and maintaining security

These are only some of the techniques that hackers can try to use to gain access to your systems and accounts. It pays to be extra vigilant and pay close attention to the signs and signals that indicate you may have been hacked. It may als

If you suspect that you might have been hacked, or would like help to prevent hackers in future and are located in South Australia, give us at 08 8326 4364 and we will improve your security.

Stay Ahead of Your Competitors & Budgets with an IT Lifecycle Plan

IT Life Cycle

All electrical appliances have an effective lifespan and computers are no different. Computers can expectantly fail after years of service or they may become too slow to keep doing the job. Hardware failures and IT issues can cost big not just in physical costs but also in areas such as productivity losses and unintended downtime.

Improving productivity, avoiding unnecessary downtime and lowering costs are the driving factors in which many modern businesses now choose to adopt IT life cycles.

IT Life Cycle

The IT life cycle aims to make IT budgets predictable, manageable and reduce costs across the business.

The process starts with a thorough plan outlining the demands of the business. By looking at how and where equipment is deployed, we can make the most out of the resources throughout the business. One of the first steps is to reduce equipment duplication and under use within the firm.

With this approach, equipment can be scheduled for upgrade or replacement at predictable intervals based on usage and time frames. With a plan in place, the focus of the life cycle can shift to resource procurement. As equipment approaches the end of its lifespan it can be brought in for replacement, repair and recycling. Old hardware and components can often be reused and recycled in new roles as they are decommissioned from their initial role.

By maintaining as many usable parts as possible we help lower costs of keeping efficient hardware in the front line business environment. This approach helps a huge number of businesses keep modern and up to date hardware in crucial roles where it can serve the biggest impact for the business.

Make the most of resources

Computers in busy business environments will always need replacement over time. It is important to plan and prepare for this time to avoid unplanned downtime, unbudgeted costs and losses in productivity. Doing so, helps to plan a regular, predictable IT budget and you are also less prone to sudden financial spikes.

The IT life cycle additionally allows your business to stay on top of software licensing, upgrades and Operating System changes. By moving old and outdated systems from your network, potential security issues are dramatically reduced.

Additional financial security comes from the manufacturers hardware warranties for businesses that adopt the life cycle. As new equipment is purchased, manufacturer warranties provide guarantees about the handling of any hardware issues. Depending on the length of your life cycle this warranty may cover all, or most of the duration of the equipment’s intended life. The extra coverage provides an extra layer of financial protection from unpredictable IT issues.

In control with information

Tracking the life cycle of your own firm provides invaluable metrics about how equipment use and deployment within your own production environment occurs. Armed with this unique knowledge, better purchasing decisions can be made to equip your business with the best tools needed for your success.

Money can be better implemented by getting the important high-value resources to the places in the businesses that need it most – the ones where they will generate the most value for the firm.

A key factor in getting the most from your firm’s IT is making sure the resources put into the company do not sit idly on a shelf or are not used to their full potential. This insight gained from metrics related to the life cycle ensure that management stay fully informed.

A complete picture puts the business management team back in control of its IT by allowing them to choose the best, most efficient and cost-effective time to replace critical systems. Firms can plan replacements and servicing outside of busy periods so they can operate without interruption and know their IT is fully serviced when they need it most.

Future Planning

With a planned, fully prepared life cycle, IT budgets can be prepared in detail for years to come and everything from computer systems to printers can be upgraded on a tightly controlled schedule.

Businesses all over the world have adopted IT life cycles as a way to eliminate unwanted surprises, lessen productivity losses and make the most out of IT budgets. Implementing your own IT life cycle can greatly improve the way your business operates and provide an advantage over your competitors.

If you are in Adelaide, South Australia, talk to us about how you currently do IT planning and we will see if we can make the life cycle work for you. Give us a call on 08 8326 4364 or via email at support@dpcomputing.com.au.

Are “Speed Up Your Computer” Programs a Good Idea?

Speed Up Your PC

You probably have been alerted by popup windows while surfing the web. These popups claim your computer has thousands of errors requiring urgent attention. The popups offer a “solution” to cure your computers so called problems.

These advertisements are often described as Speed Booster or Speed Up utilities Reg and will attempt to convince the user they will somehow clean or improve their computer. Within the IT industry these programs are known as “scareware”. They are adverts and software programs specifically designed to convince you that your computer has problems – which it might not have.

Are these popups and utilities trustworthy?

Almost all popups and advertisements that use adverts saying “Fix now for free” or “Speed up your computer” are not trustworthy at all. They are little more than a scam attempting to take your money and / or install malware on your computer. At best these programs claim to scan your computer and show a list of plausible sounding computer problems. Using this, they will ask for payment to “fix” these problems and “speed up” your PC.

Some may even attempt to use these fake warnings and scare tactics to trick you into installing malware on your computers. Once installed, the malware can go many things including stealing files, accounting information, usernames, passwords, emails, and credit card details. Sometimes the first sign a user has that something is wrong is when they check their bank account!

Can software actually speed up my computer?

During normal computer usage you install and uninstall a variety of computer programs and applications may leave temporary files around or entries within the registry. Despite the large amount of “scareware” and fraudulent computer cleanup utilities out there, legitimate applications do exist that are designed to clean your system. This can be something we cover and is often done as a part of a complete computer tune up. The large speed boosts many of the fake utilities to unlock by simply moving files around are almost always false.

Most computer can have a speed boost by more conventional means which include a combination of temporary file removal, registry cleanup, startup file optimization as well as hardware upgrades.

Hardware components such as memory and a SSD upgrades can often be added to boost the speed of even an older PC and give it a new lease of life. Upgrading the computers RAM can double the working memory available to the system. With extra memory, many programs can keep more information available to work with. This upgrade reduces loading times and increases the computers ability to run more programs at once.

Switching from an older style mechanical hard drive to a modern Solid State Disk (SSD) can significantly reduce startup and loading times of any PC as well as speeding up application loading times. Loading data from the hard drive is very often the slowest part of a computer, the bottleneck in an otherwise very fast system. Because an SSD does not use any mechanical components the time to access the disk is nearly instant when compared to older, mechanical hard disks.

These upgrades offer boosts in speed to rival a modern system at only a fraction of the cost originally paid for the new computer. Performing some basic house keeping functions along with upgrading the RAM and swapping to an SSD will provide an instant, dramatic, and safe improvement to the speed of your PC.

If your computer is running slow give us at a call on 08 8326 4364 or support@dpcomputing.com.au and arrange a real and professional cleanup of your computer systems.

How Losing a Mobile Device Can Put Your Business at Risk

Lost device

Losing a mobile phone, tablet or laptop is something that everyone dreads. The expense and inconvenience of buying a new device is unpleasant, but the replacement costs only represents a fraction of the damage done when a device is misplaced. The cost of the data contained within every device can add up to many times more than the total value of the device itself.

Along with any data on the device you may use automatic login to your email and other online services. Each of these services is vulnerable to an attacker having possession of your device.

Saved Usernames and Passwords – Users often click on the link to save the passwords in their browser for sites they regularly visit. While this makes things simpler for the user it also makes it very easy for someone else with access to your device to login to your online accounts.

The problem can multiply where a single password or a combination of similar passwords have been used across several accounts. In these situations an attacker need only gain access to a single one and reuse the same credentials across many sites and services.

Email – Email accounts are a key target for attackers looking for access to your business and / or personal information. It is a service that we all take for granted, setting up the device and using automatic login every time afterwards.

It is a service that also unlocks a great deal more than just the email messages as with email access a malicious user can gain access to many of the most commonly used web services online. Using the “forgot my password” button on many websites triggers an email with a password reset link to the email address registered on file. An attacker may use this feature to reset account passwords. Doing this both grants themselves access to your account and denies you access to it.

Contacts – One of the best features of SMS’s and instant messaging is that your contacts know the message is coming from you. When a message is sent from your device to someone you know it displays along with your name, details and maybe even a photograph.  With contact information already programmed into a device an attacker has an opportunity to impersonate you. Using your identity, an attacker may attempt to steal yet more details about you and your contacts.

Social Media – Your social media accounts can often be the face of your brand and are a primary way to reach out and contact customers. They are also extremely vulnerable to being hijacked from a stolen device. Fraudulent social media access allows attackers to harvest both client and business data. Even without profiting directly, posting information on a social media account can cause irreversible damage to a business.

Protecting your business – Services, accounts, and entire businesses can be put in great danger by something as simple as misplacing an unsecured mobile phone or laptop computer. Remember to always put passwords and security measures on all devices.

We can help you to stay secure and remain in control even when losing a device. Give us a call at 08 8326 4364 or support@dpcomputing.com.au and let us help secure your business.

The nbn™ Effect

For this blog article we are lucky to have Chris Gregory. Chris is the nbn Local Manager for SA/NT and in this article he talks about the NBN effect and how it will benefit your business.

NBN Business

The nbn™ effect

Connectivity is set to spur up to 80,000 new businesses by 2021.

New businesses, jobs and productivity via the nbn™ broadband access network projected to boost Australia’s GDP by up to $10.4 billion.

Australia is in the grip of a nation-wide digital transformation with new research revealing the “nbn™ effect” is projected to contribute to the creation of up to 80,000 new businesses by 2021.

Commissioned by NBN Co and conducted by data analytics and economic firm AlphaBeta, the Connecting Australia report is the nation’s first social and economic study into the impact of the nbn™ broadband access network.

The research shows the growth of new businesses in regions connected to the nbn™ access network accelerated at twice the pace of the national average with up to 5400 additional new businesses created in 2017.

More here.

Providing the right tools for businesses to get the job done

Launch of nbn’s Business Operations Centre, the ‘nerve centre’ of our customer service and support initiatives for business customers.  With a dedicated team of more than 100 service experts, this operations centre will be the ‘one-stop shop’ to support the needs of business end customers migrating to and using the nbn™ access network.

More here.

How Australian’s are using the nbn™ access network

With four million end-user premises now activated on the nbn™ broadband access network, now is a great time to take a look at how Australians are using our network.

Download discoveries:  median data consumption came in at 108GB while average consumption was 190GB for the month; 14 per cent of end-user premises accounted for 50 per cent of total traffic

Upload findings:  median upload total came in at just less than 7GB a month, the average, again, soared (this time to 17.45GB) as one per cent of end-user premises squeezed a lot more (164GB a month) out of their connections

Real-time entertainment usage:  Typically the vast majority of traffic demand on NBN Co’s networks comes from live streaming, web browsing and tunneling (usually via virtual private network technology for the purposes of security); end users on HFC / FTTN / FTTP networks all had very similar usage demands, particularly on higher speed plans.

Fixed Line access technology patterns:  fixed Line technology choice is not having a great impact on end-user demand today, but that we must continue to ensure flexibility in the capacity management of the network to meet the demands of the future.

More here.

DIY IT, It May Cost More Than You Think

As a businDIY ITess grows the abilities of the firm becomes increasingly hampered by poor IT performance. Staff get caught up fixing IT issues when they should be working on their job. Check out our latest eBook on ways to help solve this and improve your firms productivity and staff morale.

Click here to subscribe to our monthly newsletter and access your copy of this eBook – don’t worry we won’t share your details and you can unsubscribe at anytime.

If you are already a subscriber and would like a copy please email david@dpcomputing.com.au.

You will also receive a free copy of our other great eBooks including the following so sign up now!

  • 5 Reasons Your Business Needs Office365 Today!
  • Eliminate IT Distractions In Your Business.
  • Is Your Old Tech Dragging You Down?
  • Spectre and Meltdown: How you’ll be affected.
  • 10 Tips to Stay Safe Online
  • Digital Transformation – What’s In It For You?

As always, if you want to talk about ways to improve your IT, give us a call on 08 8326 4364 or support@dpcomputing.com.au.

Why an nbn™ powered plan is good for your business

For this blog article we are lucky to have Chris Gregory. Chris is the nbn Local Manager for SA/NT and in this article he talks about the NBN and how it will benefit your business.

NBN Business

Guide to switching your business

Whether you just need basic internet access, or you’re planning a business-wide digital strategy, an nbn™ powered plan is needed for your connectivity.

As you know, the nbn™ broadband access network is being rolled out area by area. As each area becomes ready for service, affected services will have up to an 18-month window – your ‘ready for service’ window – before they are disconnected, so it’s important you switch affected services before your disconnection date, even if you only use a landline phone.

And always remember – the nbn™ access network is a wholesale only network. Your phone and internet providers on-sell nbn™ powered plans to you.

  1. Contact your Service Provider to discuss your specific business needs to ensure you get the most appropriate and effective solution for your business
  2. Identify the telecommunications and data services your business requires. These services could include, multiple phone lines, EFTPOS terminals or cloud services
  3. Establish the business equipment you will want connected to the network – eg security systems, fire alarms, printers or data backup solutions
  4. Contact the equipment providers to make sure they are compatible with services over nbn™ network
  5. If you’re a small business or operating out of home, consider the best installation spot and optimal Wi-Fi coverage conditions

More information & support on how to make the switch, visit here

Why an nbn™ powered plan is good for your business

Whether you just need basic internet access, or you’re planning a business-wide digital strategy, an nbn™ powered plan is fundamental.

The role the nbn™ access network plays in your digital future will largely depend on the size of your business.

You’ll also need to consider the degree to which your data speeds and connectivity options affect the experience of your customers—as well as the interactive applications you use, such as video conferencing, 24/7 e-commerce applications and a wide variety of cloud-based services.

Better connectivity opens up new opportunities for your business and can transform the way you interact with customers and suppliers.

NBN BenefitsMore information & support on nbn™ access network for small and medium business, visit here.

Wholesale broadband traffic classes – why they’re important to your business

For residential users, the switch to the nbn™ access network is relatively straight forward. However, business users will have a range of options to consider—including switching to a solution on the nbn™ access network and/or looking at other connectivity options in the market.

When a phone and internet provider develops business (and residential) plans using the nbn™ access network, those plans are constructed from two basic wholesale ingredients—the first of which is a Traffic Class, the second, a Service Level Agreement (SLA) between nbn and the provider.

nbn offers three Traffic Classes that vary in capability, performance and priority at a wholesale level. For your business, this is all about quality of service options.  By combining different wholesale Traffic Classes with optional enhanced SLAs between providers, businesses can choose from a variety of connectivity plans to suit their specific needs.

It all depends on what is available to you, what works for you, and how you decide to integrate the nbn™ access network into your business.

Read more here.

Service level agreements – why they’re important to your business

You’re probably familiar with Service Level Agreements (SLAs), which cover fault rectification, when it’s available and how long it takes to resolve.

For fault trouble tickets raised between 8am and 5pm on business days, the Standard Service Level for all nbn™ services available to phone and internet providers applies (see table below).

If your business has critical data needs, we recommend you speak with your phone and internet provider about having enhanced Service Level Agreements (eSLAs) in place with nbn in relation to your bundle or package. This means nbn will provide a higher level of support to your provider, who in turn should be able to provide a higher level of support to you.

The right questions to ask your phone and internet provider:  make sure the plans your phone and internet provider suggest are the right size for your business’ data needs. You may find that for some low-priority business services, a plan based on the residential ‘best effort’ service quality plus an eSLA in place between nbn and your provider meets your needs.  While for voice services, you might look at a plan based on a higher quality of service option, which are designed to primarily support voice communication.

Read more here.