Traveling With Technology?

Business trips can be stressful at the best of times. Whether you’re off for an overnight visit to a client, a few days for a training session or a longer business conference there are certain things you need to keep in mind:

Be careful with free WiFi
Many hotels have free WiFi along with libraries, cafes, bookstores and other public areas. Unfortunately, that convenience can come at a huge cost. The wireless network you use to check your email while relaxing with a latte could be operated by someone up to no good or even have been taken over by a hacker.

Using a VPN can help as well as only using secure websites (make sure the sites you visit have the little HTTPS lock).

Connect via your cell phone
The wireless networks in hotels are notorious for being slow or insanely expensive. You may find that you can use your mobile as a wireless Internet connection. This means that you connect your laptop to your phone via WiFi or cable and piggy back on its mobile internet connection. Most carriers and phones allow this – but not all. Importantly, if you’re in another country it can also be worthwhile getting a local sim card for your phone rather than paying expensive roaming charges.

Don’t forget power adapters
You’ve seen it before…people asking to borrow your charger and huddling around in groups until their device has enough juice to get them through a few more hours. Remember it is only funny when it happens to other people so make sure that it doesn’t happen to you. Be sure to pack your correct power adapters and cables, along with any plug/voltage converters required to match where you are going. It is also worth carrying your USB charging cables on your person or carry on luggage, as many planes and airport shops now offer a place for you to plug in for a quick boost.

Have plans for being offline
Sometimes you simply can’t get online, which will do you no good when you’re checking into your hotel and all your booking details are tucked safely away in your email acount. You can print out essential travel and business details on paper, but if you have a lot or don’t want to carry them, you can also save them to a document on your phone or computer. Emails can be copied and pasted into a MS Word document, or you can print them to PDF by pressing Print > Save to PDF (or similar). Many apps also have an offline mode that allows you to store the information on your computer, including Evernote and Netflix.

Need a tech checkup before you go away? Call us today at 08 8326 4364 or via email at support@dpcomputing.com.au.

Remote Support – Watch Us Fix Your Computer!

Remote Support

When your computer is acting crazy the last thing you want to do is unplug it and take it down to the local repair shop. With so many cables and connections most people don’t know what goes where. Tech support though has come a long way in recent years and now you have another option: remote support.

With remote support, one of our experts will connect to your computer through the internet and fix your problem (as long as the computer starts and has an Internet connection). You can even watch what is happening on the screen or step away and we will contact you when the problem is fixed.

Remote support takes place when the end user is on the phone, or in a chat with the technician and can run a program to give the technician access to your system. Remote access, on the other hand, does not require an end user to be present but means that the remote access software has already been installed on the computer. If the device is on and connected to the internet, a technician has the ability to conveniently and completely fix the issue by connecting to the machine at any time.

Remote support and remote access are a better way to approach a huge range of issues and have some great benefits:

High success rate: Around 80% of problems can be solved this way. We are sure you have been on the frustrating end of a call center style support session at least once and can guarantee – remote support is nothing like that. Our technicians don’t ask you to click a hundred buttons and read the screen back as they can see your exact screen and can control your computer. Our technicians simply ask your to download and install our remote support software and then the technician takes over, identifies the issue and fixes it for you.

Location independent: For some people, the best part of remote support is that it doesn’t matter where you are located. If you are away on holiday, at home with the kids or laying a beach our remote techs can still fix your computer problems.

Complete privacy: Remember you can see exactly what the remote technician is doing? As such there is no better way to know your privacy is protected than to see exactly what is happening. Unless identified as the issue, our experts won’t go anywhere near your private files and photos.

You’re in control: We can either perform this support as a one off incident where you control the session (ie remote support) or we can install a program that allows us to remotely connect when you are not around (ie remote access) – we can then remote in after hours or at a time that suits you.

Next time your computer is misbehaving, or you need help setting up a new device or program, let us know. We may be able to jump in and get your system going again without you leaving the office or us coming onsite, saving you time and frustration.

Also remember to be on the lookout for scams. If someone rings you and says they need remote access to your computer confirm that they are from your IT support company and / or you requested the support call.

It has never been easier to get expert help for your computer issues. Contact us for more information.

IT vs Productivity – How You Can Win the Battle

Productivity & ITHow much time and productivity did you and your staff lose on computer problems over the last year? Without getting an analyst in to crunch each action and every number, you’ll never know how much money you could have earned in those lost hours. Right now, what you know for sure is that you didn’t go into business to be an IT expert, but suddenly there you are: battling servers, workstations, software, protections and permissions, all on a daily basis…managing all those things you don’t particularly care about, or understand more than you need to. Somehow, you ended up running an IT company plus your regular business.

It didn’t start that way. You got into business because you’re great at what you do. We can help you get back to doing what you’re really passionate about, and free up your time for revenue growth activities. Offload all those niggly It tasks sucking away your day to our Managed Service Provider (MSP) team.

Here are some examples of what we can take care of for you:

Software and security updates: If it seems like an update for something is always popping up, sending your employees away for yet another coffee break while it runs, you’re not far off. While it is great that software providers are continually improving their product, patching holes and reinforcing against threats, keeping up with them all can be incredibly time-consuming. Our MSP can handle all updates and patches keeping your employees focused on their business tasks.

Help desk: We can take care of all those “I don’t know how to”, “I think it’s broken” or “I need another” tech problems that can drive you crazy. You can simply circulate the new protocol – ask DP Computing – and watch how fast these small problems are solved, and your employees are back to work, more productive than ever.

Network management and security: The last thing you want is extended downtime due to a crashed server or a cyber-attack. Our monthly MSP plans works with you to balance security with your business’ necessary tasks and access, leaving you protected and operational. You’ll have staff set-up with the exact permissions they need, robust backup systems in place, and early warning when hardware/software is aging out.

Strategic IT planning: Why blow your IT budget putting out fires, buying incompatible systems or tech you simply don’t need? DP Computing can conduct strategic planning in line with your goals so you’re able to scale what you already have and schedule new expenses in time to meet projections.

The time you spend battling IT problems could be time you spend earning money, growing your business and moving strategically forward. Moving to a monthly managed service plan with DP Computing is easier than you might think. Simply let us know you’re ready to get back to the parts of your business you love and we’ll take the stresss of computing away from you.

Get managed services for your business. Call us at 08 8326 4364 or via email support@dpcomputing.com.au.

Eleven Best Security Practices To Stop Ransomware

Ransomware and most malware attacks start in two main ways. A booby-trapped email with a malicious attachment or via a compromised website; which then work their way down to your endpoints and servers.To stop these attacks, it is critical that you have a multi layered approach to security.

This starts with a training your employees and patching your devices right through to cloud based malware filters, dedicated hardware firewalls and corporate grade security applications on each device.

The eleven best security practices to apply now are:

  1. Employee training
    Regular training for employees is essential. Employers need to inform their staff on what to look out for and don’t trust the contents of every email they receive.
  2. Patch early, patch often
    The sooner you patch Windows the fewer holes there are for ransomware to exploit.
  3. Backup
    Backup regularly and keep a recent backup copy off-line and off-site. Offline and off-site means ransomware can’t get to it. With recent backups data loss can be minimized.
  4. Implement corporate grade security software
    A free antivirus program might be ok for home use but do you really want a free program protecting your confidential business data and financial information?
  5. Install a firewall or UTM
    You probably don’t just rely on a cheap door lock on the front door of your house so why rely on a basic firewall on the electronic entrance to your business?
  6. Enable cloud based email filtering
    Don’t rely on your local antivirus software detecting and stopping malware within your email application. Block it before it even enters your network by using using a cloud based filter – one that uses multiple filters is even better.
  7. Enable file extensions.
    Enabling extensions makes it much easier to spot file types that wouldn’t commonly be sent to you.
  8. Disable Macros
    Don’t enable macros in document attachments received via email. A lot of infections rely on persuading you to turn macros on, so don’t do it!
  9. Be cautious about unsolicited attachments
    If you aren’t sure – don’t open it. Check with the sender if possible.
  10. Admin Login Rights
    Don’t have more login power than you need. Having administrator rights may bake things easier for administration but they also give malware free ranges on your computer and network. An infection which may be able to be contained to one device could become a network disaster is the malware exploits admin rights.
  11. Keep applications up to date.
    Stay up-to-date with new security features in your business applications
    For example Office 2016 now includes a control called “Block macros from running in Office files from the internet”.

How The ‘KRACK’ Wi-Fi Security Issue Affects Us All

WPA2 KrackedThe invention of Wi-Fi or wireless networking has been a dream come true. We can use our laptops and tablets anywhere in the office and our phones are using the main internet connection instead of sucking down data on the 3G / 4G network. It is essentially the backbone of the smart tech boom for home and business alike. Most Wi-Fi networks are password-protected with an encryption called “WPA2” and up until now this has been safe and secure.

Recently, a security flaw called KRACK (The Key Reinstallation AttaCK) was discovered. KRACK allows hackers to break into Wi-Fi networks – even the secured ones and your wireless networks are possibly vulnerable as a result.

How KRACK works?

KRACK doesn’t work via a problem with your device or how it was set up as it is an actual issue with the Wi-Fi technology itself. The attack gets between your device (eg computer, tablet or mobile phone) and the wireless access point (eg modem / router) to reset the encryption key so hackers can view all network traffic in plain text. Since just about everyone relies on Wi-Fi so much, this might mean hackers have a front row seat to your credit card numbers, passwords, confidential files, emails and more.

NOTE: The hacker needs to be in physical range of your Wi-Fi network to exploit this flaw and it doesn’t work remotely like other attacks we’ve seen recently. Given that most Wi-Fi networks extend well past your own home/business walls, this is small comfort, but important to know.

How to protect yourself

Run your updates: Software updates are being released which fix the flaw. Microsoft has already released them for Windows and Apple has one coming in a few weeks. So please take a few minutes to make sure you’re up to date with all your patches on any device that uses Wi-Fi (your smartphones, laptops, tablets, PCs, game consoles, etc). Unfortunately, some devices may be slow to get an update (eg Android phones), or if they’re older, may not get an update to fix the issue at all. If possible, consider using a cabled connection on those older devices or upgrade to one with support. With smart phones consider using data on the 3G / 4G network instead of Wi-Fi.

Be very careful with public Wi-Fi: While your local business center, library or school campus should have expert IT professionals keeping guard over security, it is a very different matter at your local coffee shop. It is unlikely small locations such as this will be on top of security patches. Remember, a hacker exploiting this flaw only needs to be in the same Wi-Fi area as you, so be careful you don’t give them an opportunity to grab your precious data.

Check your browser security: Before sending anything private over the internet, check that you are using a secure HTTPS site. You’ll know these by the little padlock you see next to the URL, and the address specifically begins with HTTPS. Major sites like Facebook, Gmail and financial institutions already use HTTPS.

If you need help updating your devices, or want us to check if you’re safe, give us a call on 08 8326 4364 or via email at support@dpcomputing.com.au.

3 Tech Tips to Help Business Owners

Tech Tips for Business Owners

1) Don’t cheap out on technology

Unsurprisingly, a techology newsletter is advising you to invest in tech, but bear with me for a minute. Technology is becoming the backbone of all businesses, yet we still see people who try and get by with the bare minimum investment and maintenance. And by ‘see people’, we mean they are our most frequent repair and data recovery clients.

When businesses take shortcuts with their technology they will always get higher failure rates resulting in more downtime with employees sitting around doing nothing. Some businesses only think short term rather then thinking of the overall higher costs that old technology causes.

2) Consider a commuting policy

With better technology and the rise of the NBN here in Australia, remote working isn’t just a possibility now, it is beginning to be an expectation. Yes it is not applicable for every job but there are a lot of computer tasks in your business that could possibly be done from home. Even if you offer a split week with 1 or 2 days at home and the remainder in the office can be a huge boost to your workplace productivity.

Remote employees can be more efficient without the distractions of the usual office carry on (birthday cakes, general chit chat etc.) leading to fewer absences and they tend to stay in the job longer. From an employee perspective, they don’t need to waste time commuting, get their work done faster, and generally feel happier and healthier.

 

3) Embrace cloud computing

Many of your existing software packages have a cloud version this will allow multi user support, backup and synchronization benefits. The owner, remote workers, mobile staff, accountant and book keeper can all view the same reports without anyone having the trouble of sending out separate copies.

Cloud technology is also perfect for collaboration using software like Evernote or OneDrive. You and your employees can think of ideas while out, make notes on a mobile device and have it all synced perfectly back to the office. You can even have a file server in the cloud so you can access your documents whenever needed.

Contact us to discuss other ways in which your business can unlock multiple possibilities that will make your days run smoother, your business more profitable and put you miles ahead of the competition. Call us now on either 08 8326 4364 or via email at support@dpcomputing.com.au.

How to Tell if Your Computer Has a Virus?

How to tell if your computer has a virus?Sometimes computers do crazy things that ring alarm bells and make users think it is a virus. Next thing you know the boss is telling everyone to run scans and demanding people come clean about their browsing habits. Fortunately, not all weird occurrences are viruses related – sometimes your computer is simply overloaded, overheating or in desperate need of a reboot.

Here are some of the tell-tale signs that your computer maybe infected with malware:

Strange Error Messages

Does your computer have messages popping up from nowhere that make no sense, are poorly worded or just plain gibberish. Take note of anti-virus and security warnings too, check that the warning is from YOUR anti-virus software and looks like it should occur. If a message pops up that isn’t quite right then don’t click it – not even to clear or cancel the message. Close the browser or shut down the computer, then run a full virus scan.

Suddenly Deactivated Anti-virus / Malware Protection

The best way past a security guard is to sneak it when they are not around. Certain malware infections are programmed to disable the security systems first, leaving your computer open to infection. If you reboot and your protections are not enabled you may be under attack. Attempt to start the anti-virus manually and if that doesn’t work, backup your data and try and reinstall your security software.

Social Media Messages You Did Not Send

Are your friends replying to messages you never wrote? Your login details may have been hacked and your friends could be tricked into giving up personal information or money. Change your password immediately and advise your contacts of the hack.

Web Browser Acting Strange?

Perhaps your homepage has changed, it is using an odd search engine or opening/redirecting your to unwanted sites. If your browser has gone rogue it is definitely malware which could be trying to steal your personal or financial details. Skip the online banking and email until your scans come up clear and everything is working normally again. Once you are certain your machine is clean, change all your passwords.

Sluggish Performance

If your computer speed has slowed, boot up takes an eternity and even opening programs takes forever, it is a sign that something is wrong. It is not necessarily a virus though. Run your anti-virus scan and if that resolves it, great, if not, your computer may have a hardware issues or your computer needs a tune-up or service.

Constant Computer Activity

You are not using the computer but the hard drive is going nuts, the fans are whirring, and the network lights are flashing like a disco? It is almost like someone IS using the computer! Viruses and malware attacks use your computer resources, sometimes even more than you do. Take note of what is normal, and what is not and seek help if it looks like something is amiss.

If you have a virus that you can’t get rid of or need a service on your computer give us a call at 08 8326 4364 or at support@dpcomputing.com.au.

Could Your Business Survive a Disaster?

Could your business survive a disaster?

With human errors, natural disasters, power problems and cyber terrorism on the rise, it’s not a case of ‘if’ a disaster will strike your business, but ‘when’ will it happen. If it does happen it is usually not the scope and size of the event that influences how your business is impacted but whether a business has a plan to work their way through the issues.

Put simply, this is a business continuity plan – a document that lays out the pre-planned responses to an event, laid out in detail and implemented to keep your business running with little or no downtime. Think about what would happen if your business was hit by a disaster tomorrow. Would it survive and how much downtime would it take to push you into dangerous territory?

According to an IBM study of companies that have had a major loss of data, 43% never reopen, 51% close within two years and just 6% will survive long-term. For some of those survivors their business continued as usual thanks to their business continuity plan. It is more than just disaster recovery, it’s full preparedness that bypasses the need for weeks of downtime, financial ruin, wasted salaries and a loss of reputation – but it does require a level of advanced planning.

Recommendations

Here are some recommendations on how to help your business survive a disaster.

Prioritize: You will need to plan exactly what you’ll recover first and know who is in charge of making that happen. It goes beyond a checklist of things to do, it is taking an analytical, process-based approach to recovery for each unique business perspective. But be realistic and plan to adapt – there is no point using precious time to reviving the email system if your financial data is leaking onto the internet – even if email did rank as your top priority!

Backup: The most critical part of your business continuity is having full backups located in three places. Why three? One copy locally which you rotate offsite each day, a backup offsite and one in the cloud. The local and offsite backups come into play for system crashes, cyber-attacks and the like. While the cloud backup comes into play when your business has taken a major physical hit, perhaps from fire, flood or other natural disaster where your location is not accessible or destroyed. Some businesses can run entirely location-independent when using cloud systems like Office365, which can be enough to help them survive.

Test: Make sure all employees know what the plan is, where it is located and their role in the plan. It is also recommended to test, prepare and rehearse your continuity plan under simulated disaster conditions. This will uncover new obstacles, priorities, additional threats and other potential problems before it is too late.

As businesses IT environments becomes more and more complex the importance of a robust business continuity plan increases. The best plans look beyond disaster recovery, taking into account scalability of your system and scope of your individual business, to help create strong battle lines that will keep your business operational, both now and in the long term.

Give us a call at 08 8326 4364 to discuss your requirements and assist you in creating a custom business continuity plan for your business.

Here’s How Managed IT Can Help Save Money In Your Business

Managed Services

When it comes to running a modern business, technology is always a growing line item in the budget. Costs can creep up every quarter, along with a new learning curve for simply keeping everything running along smoothly. It is no wonder then that budget restrictions for IT were recently found to be a universal concern for small and medium business.

You are balancing the outlay of maintenance with replacement, plus securing against a steady stream of threats – all while making sure every dollar gives you maximum return on investment. It even sounds exhausting! What typically happens is the tech budget gets stripped to a bare minimum, hoping nothing unexpected pops up and everything keeps moving along nicely. After all, everything is working just fine and that money could make a real difference elsewhere… except as soon as an IT emergency strikes, that tiny budget is obliterated and you’re left to either limp along with insufficient technology or have to dip into another budget area.

Now imagine if budget wasn’t an issue. Imagine that all your tech expenses were predicted and capped, and you got everything you needed without resorting to financial magic tricks. Sounds good, doesn’t it?

Put simply, that’s how a Managed IT Service works. It’s a service designed for businesses with a limited budget who don’t have time for tech issues. For a fixed price each month (which is no doubt less than you’re thinking), you get a team of IT technicians actively monitoring your systems in order to catch issues before they occur, repairing problems on the fly, and ensuring your business is always as secure as possible. Included as part of your Managed IT Service, you also get expert business consulting around the solutions you need now, which solutions will help you rapidly scale, and which technology you don’t need. All for one predictable, fixed price each month. It even gets better with the following benefits:

Reduced downtime and associated revenue loss.

Forget scrambling while systems are down, with Managed IT Services you’ll know which tech is failing and can proactively repair or replace before it impacts your business. Downtime is planned or minimized and your staff are working on what they are supposed to be doing instead of being interrupted by technical dramas.

Your efficiency will skyrocket.

Currently you have probably been responding to your IT events in a ‘firefighter mode’, essentially dealing with problems as they arise and switching to new, improved equipment only when forced by a system failure. With Managed IT Services, problems are automatically reported and optimal solutions designed in advance. Even the small issues that have been slowing your business down and limiting progress come to light, ready to be solved for greater efficiency.

You will be secure against data loss.

Whether you’ve been following the news and worrying about the next cyber-attack, or you are working with confidential customer or proprietary data, your Managed IT Service has you covered. Our technicians secure your business against attack using the latest technology, full backups, software updates and leverage every drop of their know-how to keep your valuable data safe.

Learn know how Managed IT Services can benefit your business – give us a call on 08 8326 4364 or at support@dpcomputing.com.au.

Strategies To Increase Your Email Impact

Smart email strategies

Many small businesses rely on email as their preferred form of communication. Communications either internally or externally to clients, customers and suppliers, still use email as the go-to format. Our love affair with it is no surprise as email is quick, simple and provides a paper trail. Its convenience though shouldn’t mean relaxed – in fact, poor email communication can hurt your reputation and cost you customers. Here’s are some tips on how to be smart with your business email:

Manage your inbox: Your inbox should only be for items you still need immediate access to. Once you are finished with an email it should be deleted or archived. You would never leave a stack of physical letters on your desk reach 6-foot high and you shouldn’t do the same with email. It’s not hard to identify which ones to keep for reference, so create inbox folders and file them accordingly. As emails arrive and are actioned, move them to the relevant folder or delete them.

Write professional messages: Going from casual to careless is easy if you skip the basic elements of good business writing. Spelling and grammar is always important and the sentence structure of your language hasn’t changed. All email programs include a spell-checker and many draw attention to errors, so there is really no excuse. Typing in all CAPS is seen as yelling and using paragraphs makes your message so much more readable. Before you click send, remember to quickly glance over your email to make sure your tone is appropriate and no mistakes have snuck in – or if it is a real important email get one of your work mates to check it for you.

Embrace the subject line: Many emails are overlooked because the subject line meant nothing to the receiver or was empty. Writing these an attention-grabbing subject can be tricky but simply summarizing the message should be fine – just remember to keep them under 5-8 words so they fit on mobile displays.

Be smart with attachments: Try and keep attachments small (under 5MB) as they can clog up email servers. For larger attachments, share the file location as a link using your favorite cloud storage provider. Due to email being used to spread malware always explain in the email body what the attachment is and even follow up with a phone call to the receiver. As always, be careful when receiving attachments, especially if you are not expecting them. If in doubt contact the sender to confirm what the attachment is and always to scan them with an antivirus program before opening.

Keep your CC/BCC under control: The carbon copy (CC) and blind carbon copy (BCC) fields let you send emails to additional stakeholders – this is mainly used as a FYI for the receivers more than anything else. As a rule, use BCC if you’re using an email list or where privacy is an issue. Before you add extra people to the email though make sure the email IS relevant to them as there is nothing worse than being stuck in a pointless email chain!

Contact us know to find out how IT can make your smarter in business.