7 Ways To Keep Your Systems Secure

eBook - Business Security Guide - 7 Ways to Keep Your Systems SecureCyber-attacks on your business can be crippling, but there are easy ways to keep the bad guys out. We have written a great eBook listing 7 simple but effective ways to reduce your risk of malware or hacking.

Click here to subscribe to our monthly newsletter and access your copy of this book – 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!
  • 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 you can save on your IT, give us a call on 08 8326 4364 or support@dpcomputing.com.au.

The Best Way to Purchase New Computer Systems

Buying new computers

You have decided to buy a new computer for your business or perhaps even a whole set of new computers. You can almost taste the excitement as you think about those sleek new machines and how much more productive your employees will be. There is just one thing left to do: actually choose which ones you need. This is where it starts to gets tricky. Most people pop down to their local retail store and look at the display models and then get overwhelmed when the salesperson starts throwing around technical jargon. This scenario almost always ends up with your business having the wrong computer. Here’s why, and what you should do instead.

Most retail salespeople are minimally trained
Unsurprisingly, salespeople are trained to sell! They may have an interest in computers and they’re certainly great at reading the words on the box to you, but that maybe the limit of their knowledge. Their main goal is to make the sale, earn the commission and go home happy. You want a computer to suit your business needs, which isn’t particularly high on the salespersons priority list. They are not equipped to deeply understand the way your business works and nor do they have the time or desire to find out. You are also more likely to be upsold extras you don’t need but can rapidly drain your budget.

Compatibility can be a problem
There are so many moving parts to your business network, from printers to routers, laptops to desktops and a variety of software programs that anytime you throw a new computer into the mix you could end up with compatibility problems. Salespeople don’t know what your current setup is at your office but may still make recommendations based on assumptions and hopeful guesswork.

Even the number and types of ports available on retail computers may cause a problem once you’re setting up. The last thing you want to do is end up with a collection of wobbly adapter plugs as you attempt to make do until it is time for a do-over.

Most computers sold at retail stores only come with the home versions of the operating system and MS Office software. This then leads to another round of compatibility issues.

Yes you can may be able to create workarounds but this then leads to efficiency and performance hits. It is best to skip the drama and get the right computer first time around.

Support could get tricky
Your IT provider will often stick to a handful of vendors to ensure all parts are kept uniform. That way they know which parts will work together, and should something fail, they can usually get replacements quickly. IT support providers often have special relationships with suppliers and vendors and can get special pricing, extended support and upgrades that a salesperson can’t match. Your IT budget goes further with your consultant, and not just on the day of purchase.

When you buy computers through your IT provider, you know you are getting the exact computer your business needs. They know your business inside and out, including your long and short-term goals and if needed will do more research before making  recommendations.

IT providers will also provide business class systems with business class warranties. Remember, you will want your computers to last at least 3-4 years of heavy usage, so it’s a good idea to buy only business-grade computers and components. While the computers at the retail store are equally shiny, they are rarely as durable as the ones your consultant can supply.

As well as selling you the new systems your IT provider will also be able to set the new computers up, ready to go with the exact software you need. They can strip out all the bloatware (unnecessary programs and trials that come pre-installed) and configure your new computers to your needs. Your employees will then be able to enjoy the new systems and take full advantage of the productivity boosts you paid for from day one. That means internet working, internal network connected, your programs playing nice with each other, printing without problems and all your settings data and email transferred from the old computer!

If you are in South Australia we can help with your next purchase – ask us how by contacting us now on 08 8326 4364 or support@dpcomputing.com.au!

4 Ways to Avoid IT Downtime

Avoid computer downtime

Technology is a wonderful thing, but what happens when the IT stops working? In today’s world IT is a necessity. Unfortunately, this means when downtime inevitably hits, you have a BIG problem.

Maybe it’s from a malware or virus attack, a bug in the system, hardware failure or something else… Whatever the cause, the impact is real and measurable and you need it fixed ASAP. Research firm Gartner, reports that 43% of small businesses close their doors right after a major data loss, and only a tiny 6% survive long term. The financial cost of each hour can be in the thousands, and the damage to your brand could be irreparable. While downtime will occasionally strike every business, there are things you can do to minimize the duration, frequency and interruption to your business.

Taking a few simple actions now may result in your business staying open while your competitor gives up.

1. Use monitored antivirus and firewalls

While most businesses have these protections, not all have embraced the idea of monitored antivirus and firewalls. Instead most small business setups have more in common with a home network than a robust professional system. Given that SMB are a primary target for malware and cyber-attack, you should seriously consider moving to the monitored versions. Our experts set up custom protection to block all attacks, both known and emerging. All updates are taken care of and company-wide protections applied.

2. Have backups you can count on

A backup can not only protect you from digital threats like viruses and ransomware, they also protect you against physical threats like robbery, fire or natural disasters. The last thing you want is for your business to be crippled by data loss. A robust backup system can be as simple as asking our team to take care of it, or if you have an on-site technician, using the rule of 3: one backup on the server, one unplugged from the server, and one off-site. If anything ever goes wrong, you’ll be able to pull up the most recent backup and continue as normal. Businesses without good backups tend to be down for days, if not weeks. You also need to regularly test your backups to confirm they are working and also backing up the correct data.

3. Planning

Nobody likes to think about their business flooding or being hit with ransomware, but do you and your employees know what to do if the worst happens? Having a comprehensive Disaster Recovery Plan helps you get up and running quicker and  minimises downtime. Everyone knows what their role is, what steps they need to take, who to tell and which systems take priority.

4. Monitor hardware for early signs of problems

Computer hardware is like any piece of equipment – when it’s getting old it will let you know! This could be anything from making noises, being louder or slower than normal or even system crashes. Each symptom is your early warning sign that allows you to take action before a crash that sends everything into downtime. We can even implement hardware monitoring to look for signs of impending issues. If the signs point to imminent failure, we can let you know and often repair or replace the affected hardware with little or no downtime.

Downtime is an unavoidable part of all modern businesses but your preparation can dictate whether it goes for one minute or one week and how often it happens. According to one study, most firms experience 43 hours average downtime per year, a number much too high for most peoples comfort. While scheduled downtime can sometimes be unavoidable, your business will appreciate being able to skip the panic of surprise downtime events. Reducing your risk is the best action you can take, making downtime a truly rare occasion. Even better, our Proactive or Managed Services can take care of this for you, stopping many downtime events before they occur.

Talk to us about ways to reduce your downtime. Contact us today on 08 8326 4364 or at support@dpcomputing.com.au.

How to Securely Dispose of Your Old Computers

Securely dispose of old computers

Getting new computers for your business is exciting, but what do you do with the old ones? Sometimes they may get handed down to another staff member, re-purposed for another function, sold or even thrown out.

The problem is that there is sensitive data on them. There are passwords, emails, account numbers, license keys, client details, financial information, browser history…. the works! Every computer contains a treasure trove of sensitive information that cyber criminals would love to get their hands on!

Deleting all the files on the computer doesn’t actually make them disappear, nor does waving a strong magnet over the drive. These mistakes have cost businesses millions of dollars over the years.

Most businesses and users are unaware that specialized data deletion and cleanup is necessary. A 2016 experiment proved just how dangerous the situation can be. Researchers bought 200 used hard drives and found that 67% held unwiped, unencrypted sensitive data, including sales projection spreadsheets, CRM records, and product inventories. Even more frighteningly is that they didn’t need any special hacking skills to get this data – it was all right there on the hard drives, easily readable and helpfully labelled. It is also not surprising that with simple data recovery tools, people have also been able to access medical records, financial info and even defence related  data, all waiting patiently on a discarded hard drives.

Why deleting files doesn’t help

Data on a hard drive is stored like a book with an index. Every time data is written, a quick entry is written into the index so when you need it again, it knows where to look on the hard drive. The index is used for files you create as well as system files you can’t even see. If you delete a file it is more like changing the index to say nothing is on page 10 and you can write something else there when you are ready. But if you manually go to page 10, you will find the information is still there. The file still exists until it’s been written over – it is just the index reference that is deleted when you “delete” a file.

Wiping data before disposal

There are specialised software tools you can get to properly wipe the hard drives  yourself, as well as dedicated security firms, but your best option is to choose an IT business you know and trust. With that in mind, a methodical approach is required to ensure not a single drive is left untreated. You don’t want to leave data behind, or even clues that a motivated person could extrapolate any information from. The approach might include using checklists to maintain security, or dedicated processes to guide each step in decommissioning. Records should also be kept, including who signs off on completion of the retirement and where the computers are sent afterwards. A proper inventory and auditing process may slow the roll-out of your new computers, but it is always better than having your old data coming back to haunt you.

If you are located in Adelaide or the surrounding area we can migrate any needed data to your new systems and then securely destroy your old hard drives for you. We can then dispose of the computer for you via a recycling centre.

Upgrading your business computers should be an exciting time for you and your employees, so with a little forward planning, you’ll be able to keep everyone smiling and all your data secure.

Need help with your old hardware? Contact us today on 08 8326 4364 or at support@dpcomputing.com.au so that we can securely dispose of your old equipment.

Revive Your Slow Computer with an Superfast SSD

Old age creeps up slowly on most of us.  Unless you’re a computer – then it seems to happen overnight!

One day you are using the computer fine, the next day it is so slow and booting takes so long you not only have time to make a cup of coffee, you could have walked to the local café for the good stuff!

This is when most people throw their hands in the air and start wishing for a new computer. Except your computer isn’t broken, it is just….slow. Time-wasting, focus-losing, frustratingly slow. Like most machines, computers have parts that slow things down and eventually wear out (especially when they are in near-constant use).

The hard drive is the #1 cause of speed issues in most computers. Traditional hard drives are made up of round magnetic platters, spinning at up to 7200rpms, while a  head on a mechanical arm whizzes back and forth reading and writing data. Eventually, the platters take longer to spin up, unable to reach full throttle and the mechanical arm becomes sluggish. Which leaves you waiting and waiting…

SSD’s Can Give Aging Computers A New Lease on Life.

If you haven’t heard of SSD’s previously then you should get excited as the new era of hard drives are here with Solid State Drives – and they have no moving parts.

They are actually a lot like your USB stick that continually takes a beating but still performs perfectly.

Making a simple upgrade from an old hard drive (HDD) to a SSD can significantly reduce boot time and improve application loading. They are also:

  • Cool – With no moving parts they are much, much cooler than traditional hard drives.
  • More durable – No moving parts to wear out
  • Compact – A little larger and thicker than a credit card
  • Lightning fast – Data is accessed nearly instantly.
  • Suitable for all systems– laptops and desktops

Upgrading your tired hard drive to a super-fast SSD can be done within one day. For only $AU320, we will supply and install a 240GB SSD for you, as well as clone your existing hard drive to it (Windows, programs and data). A full 12 month parts and labour warranty is included.

This is a limited time offer so don’t delay, book your SSD upgrade in today (someone else can make the coffee tomorrow!).

Call us on 08 8326 4364 to book in your upgrade.

Is It Time To Retire Those Old Legacy Applications? Here Is How To Tell For Sure

How to retire old programs

You have likely been using the same applications for some time in your business. While you have been replacing computers and devices regularly to maintain your competitive advantage, the standard software installation have largely remained the same. The programs do the job perfectly and everyone knows how to use them, so what is the point of upgrading?

In some cases, it is completely fine to keep that old legacy program. However, there are some aspects that you should consider:

 

Support Available

With some software the author has moved on from supporting the program. They may have closed the business, sold it or gone in a different direction completely. Either way, they are no longer interested in helping and supporting the program. Every time you come up against a problem you have nowhere to turn and productivity takes a hit as you try and come up with a workaround. You also run the risk that it could suddenly stop working after a Windows update, start clashing with other essential software or even create large holes in your network security. Even applications from bigger companies like Microsoft have stopped support for older versions. Having support available to both assist and protect your business is a huge advantage.

Hardware Compatibility

Due to the rapid advancement of computer hardware, you may find a simple component refresh leaves your legacy program completely incompatible. The latest CPU, graphics card or motherboard may suddenly brings your entire business to a standstill, purely because it is too advanced. Owners can work around this by keeping some older computers running for that program, but as the hardware fails, you may find yourself struggling to find replacement parts or technicians able to install them.

 

Security Vulnerabilities

The longer a program has been around, the longer hackers have had to discover its weaknesses and holes. It can be a flaw in the program itself or in the operating system that runs it. For example, the program may only run on Windows XP, but Windows XP is not being supported by Microsoft any more. This mean any new weaknesses in XP are not being fixed by Microsoft leaving you open for attack. This is how hospitals across the UK found themselves infected with ransomware last year – they were running programs with known weaknesses that were out of support.

Sometimes it is not always feasible to replace a program immediately and we can help you run it on a virtual machine. That is, getting the older operating system or program to run from within another program. With this setup you will have increased security, an element of support and a strong backup system while you work to find a replacement program. These solutions are very specialized and resource hungry though, so let us know if you need help.

The other option is to move to a new application that fulfills your requirements, is supported, compatible with new hardware and secure. If you have been running the old program for some time, this may feel quite daunting at first but we can help you out and assist with the migration.

Do you need to talk through your options? Give us a call at 08 8326 4364 or support@dpcomputing.com.au.

6 Reasons to Migrate Your Applications to the Cloud

Migrating to the CloudAs we move closer to 2019, it is estimated that over 80% of business traffic will involve some sort of cloud applications. When cloud applications were first released, nobody really understood what the cloud was or how it could help their business, but as the technology improved, so did the secure and flexible solutions available. Some of the most common cloud applications are Microsoft Office 365 and accounting packages such as Xero and Quickbooks.

But has your business embraced the cloud yet and if not what are the benefits?

Your Data Is Safer

While it can give you a sense comfort knowing your servers and thus your data is kept within your office, the risks are less appealing. Your servers could crash, drives become corrupted or unreadable due to a ransomware attack. There are always the standard fire / theft / flood scenarios to consider as well. With cloud applications, your data is safely tucked away in high security data centers and come complete with robust backup systems in case anything goes wrong. As part of their SLA guarantees (usually at least 99.9% uptime), your cloud solution will have technicians onsite whose sole job is to make sure that when you need to use the application that it works. We can help you choose the safest, most robust solution with the best performance.

You Are Always Up To Date

Cloud applications are updated automatically on all devices and unlike when you run an update on a local computer the process is almost instant. This is because the update is running in the data center. Thus you are always up to date with the latest features and security patches, with little or no input from your end.

You Are Free To Work From Multiple Locations

One of the best ways to increase efficiency is to remove restrictions around where you can work. With new cloud applications, users don’t have to wait until they get back into the office to send an invoice, follow up with a customer or even make a record-breaking sale – they can do it wherever and whenever they are. This flexibility opens up a world of possibility and can literally hand you a competitive edge. All your employees need is an internet enabled smart phone, tablet or laptop, so you’re even saving money on tech. You can bet we have tons of ideas on how your business can take advantage of this freedom.

Collaboration is easy

Employees can collaborate with ease as all the data is held in one location. Nobody gets locked out of files because someone else is using it and changes appear in real-time for multiple users. By having a single version of a file, workflow is faster and results are quicker employees enjoy better satisfaction with a job well done. It may sound like a simple but we know how frustrating it can be for people to collaborate without the right tools.

All You Need Is The Internet

With the NBN and other fast Internet options Internet speed is fast becoming a non-issue. It simply needs to be stable and meet a standard speed. If you are concerned, we can run speed checks and recommend other options to make it a smooth transition for you.

Because the cloud is internet based, the application works with your established network, whether it’s wired, wi-fi or cellular (or a hybrid of various connections). Some businesses also choose to have a 4G or another type of fail over Internet connection set up in case their primary internet connection goes down – this way the connection automatically switches over and downtime is completely avoided. We can help set this up for you if needed.

Size Does Not Matter

Cloud applications are a great option for both big AND small business. Smaller businesses can now use the same software as their bigger rivals as they now only need to subscribe to single user licenses. Larger businesses can enjoy the multi-user license savings and avoid the headaches associated with have local application servers running. We can help you choose the application and cost-saving model that suits your business best.

Talk to us about your cloud options and  Contact us now on either 08 8326 4364 or support@dpcomputing.com.au to lock in the advantages today!

How to Get the Right Tech for Your New Business

getting the right tech

Congratulations on starting your new business! Costs can easily escalate and tech is often one of the bigger expenses. Just the sheer number of technologies available can overwhelm and confuse you. The latest tech has amazing features you didn’t know you needed, and suddenly your budget has gone skywards!

So how do you get the tech right for your business, without all the headaches and drama?

Do You Actually Need It?

Using a cloud application may mean you can skip the big server purchase and the ongoing maintenance costs of a server. Many line of business applications will have a cloud option that allows you to get all the benefits without the big upfront expense. So before you make the hardware purchase, look at what applications you require and whether a cloud version will suit your needs. You may be able to start with a basic package and expand to new versions as your business grows.Things to consider include: do you require remote access, will you need collaboration, do multiple users require access. This level of detail can be overlooked and causes expenses to spiral.

Get Professional Advice

It is easy and cheaper to ask friends and family what their recommendations are, but there are many more factors to consider than just their personal preference. Of course you can trust their input but they may be speaking from a consumer perspective, basing their recommendation on brand loyalty or on how another business does things (which may not be the best business model). As every business is different and matching the correct technology with the business can save you a lot of money and time in the long run.

Buy Business Grade

The majority of computers and laptops you see in the big department stores are not up to business standard. They are designed for home users to perform quick tasks and not run a full 8 – 12 hour (or more) a day workload. Business grade systems have additional features that your business needs, plus longer warranties and better support. Even attached peripherals like network switches and printers are built to a higher standard, to last longer and perform better.

Prioritize Flexibility

Businesses grow and evolve during their first few years and the last thing you want to do is go out and buy new tech, playing catch-up and cobbling together an assorted mismatch of devices. Your new technology should be as flexible as your business, which means making purchasing decisions based on business strategy and not just on price. Perhaps this means instead of workstations for employees, they may only need tablets or rather than having a fixed point of sale system, you might choose mobile checkout devices so your staff can assist customers on the go. These two examples highlight how easy it is to commit to certain tech because it is ‘what you do’ but later discover you’re locked into a certain way of doing business. Trying to change business processes down the line impacts productivity, efficiency and culture in a big way, so we recommend buying with your future success in mind.

Choose A Trusted IT Partner

During your initial set up and growth, you will need an IT partner who can not only help with your purchase strategy but support you through any problems as they occur. That is the difference between a partner and a supplier, a partner is committed to driving long-term business success for you.

You can call on your partner and know they are immediately up to speed with your business, they know how IT can help leverage your competitive advantage and which critical systems they should focus on.

Getting good technology in place shouldn’t be seen as just an expense. It improves your productivity and allows you to serve your clients and customers better while enjoying consistent growth.

If you need an IT partner to help your business grow, give us a call at 08 8326 4364 or support@dpcomputing.com.au.

What Is That Weird Noise Coming From The Computer?

Weird Computer NoisesNew computers are generally quiet, but after a while computers can start making some  weird noises. These noises may be simple clicks or clunks but your computer may also sound like a jet aircraft about to take off. But when should you worry? Your computer has a number of moving and non moving parts that can make noises and these noises can tell you a lot about its current health.

Clicking Noises

Soft ticks can be normal as the mechanical hard drives work a bit like a record player with a needle and platter. Depending upon the brand of the drive you might simply be hearing it spin up and move the needle around. When it starts sounding like a loud click though you should backup your data ASAP and bring it the machine in as soon as you can. If you ignore it all your data may become lost and your computer may fail to boot.

If you take action before its too late our technicians can copy your data onto a new drive and save you heart ache. It is much easier and a lot cheaper to replace the hard drive at the first sign of failure.

Clunking Noises

Unsurprisingly, this one causes certain alarm as computers aren’t meant to go clunk! It may be as simple as a cable having moved into the path of a spinning fan. If that is the case, our technicians will quickly secure the cable back where it belongs or check to see what else could be causing the clunk!

Jet Engine Noises

The majority of computers and laptops have fans to keep them cool by moving the air around. The hotter your computer gets the faster the fans spin and thus the more noisier they get. Consistent jet engine noises indicate that your computer is struggling to cool itself as perhaps the fan vents are clogged with dust, your computer is in a poorly ventilated space, or the fan itself is worn out. Each fan has ball bearings inside that wear out over time causing extra noise while it does the best it can. Our technicians can clean out your computer, unclog vents, replace individual fans if needed and give your system a check to make sure nothing else has been affected.

Beep Beep

No I’m not referring to the road runner from the cartoons of old but the beep as you switch on your computer. These beeps actually has multiple meanings. The single beep you normally hear indicates that it has run a self-test and everything is fine. When your computer is unwell, you may hear more beeps than usual. This is because each beep combination relates to a diagnostic code that lets us know what has gone wrong. If your computer is beeping differently, let us know so we can decode it and repair the problem for you.

Some noises your computer makes will be normal while others are a sign of deeper issues. Even if your computer looks to be working ok, a sudden change in noise could mean failure is just around the corner. Taking early action will ensure problems do not escalate, costs are kept low, and your files remain accessible.

Are weird noises coming from your computer? Give us a call today at 08 8326 4364 or support@dpcomputing.com.au.

Why Regular Security Assessments Should Be Your New Normal

Security AssesmentsBy now you know that improving your cyber security is just as important as improving your cash flow – both are essential to your success. While most businesses keep an eye on the financials, they tend to think cyber security is something they can ignore or just set and forget. Unfortunately, cybercriminals are constantly coming up with new methods of attack and the security you had in place yesterday may not be sufficient today.

Instead of reacting to breaches and taking on the costs of downtime, lost files and destroyed trust, a periodic security assessment can identify blind spots that place you at risk. Once you know about these issues, you can setup adequate protection before cybercriminals strike. It is best to use independent IT experts who can audit your security from an outside perspective, often seeing risks that you would otherwise miss.

Regulations change – Are you affected?

Many businesses need to comply with strict government regulations around the way they store, process and protect data. Their operating license depends on staying as secure as possible. All regulations require regular security assessments but they vary in scope and timeframe. As regulations change, so do the security assessment requirements. You can imagine how much stricter they are now compared to just 5 years ago. Our team can ensure your business is meeting the relevant regulations, diving deep to be certain you are safe.

Security patches and updates are vital

It’s so easy to fall behind on your security patches (both for software and hardware), after all, it seems like there’s a new update every week and each one takes precious time to apply. What we are seeing though, is that cybercriminals are targeting any business running up=patched hardware or software. If you are unpatched, you are an easy target and are inviting the bad guys in. When we conduct your security assessment, we take a look at your history and see if your business has a robust patch plan in place and make sure you are up to date. If there’s an issue that is placing you at risk we will find it.

Viruses are always evolving

Just like the human variety, computer viruses are constantly evolving to skip past anti-virus scans and do damage in new and interesting ways. Cybercriminals know people are more aware of the traditional infection methods like downloading an attachment or inserting an infected USB, so they’re getting more and more creative. Your security assessment doesn’t just include ticking that you have the latest anti-virus, it includes identifying where where your biggest vulnerabilities are. This type of precise awareness has a lasting impact on reducing your risks.

Your business may have changed

As your business has grown over the years your entire setup has changed. More employees, expanded remote access, additional vendors, other locations etc. With each change has come a new risk, particularly if your security has been growing around you. It might be your password policies that haven’t been updated since you began, or that you still have the old voicemail system even though phones are within easy reach of customers. This is perhaps one of the most useful areas a security assessment can help with, as you and your employees are accustomed to the business working in a certain way, whether that way leads to risk or not. Our experts will be able to see things from a different perspective, particularly as we make sure to think the same way a cybercriminal would.

What to do with your assessment results

While many experts might present you with a long list of problems and leave you feeling overwhelmed, our team ensures you have a benchmark for progress. You will know exactly what you need to do, what takes priority and how we can help. You will also know exactly what you’ve done well and where your security strengths lie. Employees will see how much you value security, which in turn helps to create a stable culture, and you’ll be able to report your commitment to customers, confirming they’re making the right choice by staying with you.

Book your security assessment today. Call us at 08 8326 4364 or support@dpcomputing.com.au.