The Coronavirus (which is now being called COVID-19) is spreading and we will be feeling the effects for a while. As such, businesses should start to make preparations on how to handle things. Your first priority should be for the health of your employees and customers. Then you need to consider business continuity and prepare for mobile or remote working capabilities for you and your staff. Continue reading
In just a few years, the Internet of Things (IoT) has gone from being a concept used in science fiction into what can be considered as everyday technology. Continue reading
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
- Contact your Service Provider to discuss your specific business needs to ensure you get the most appropriate and effective solution for your business
- Identify the telecommunications and data services your business requires. These services could include, multiple phone lines, EFTPOS terminals or cloud services
- Establish the business equipment you will want connected to the network – eg security systems, fire alarms, printers or data backup solutions
- Contact the equipment providers to make sure they are compatible with services over nbn™ network
- 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.
More 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.
Unified Threat Management (UTM) is a special kind of firewall solution focused on proactive protection. Consider it like a team of virtual bodyguards that stand at the door between your business and the internet, keeping trouble out while your legitimate traffic can come and go normally.
With the increasing number of connected devices in your business network and the different ways your employees can now connect, it is more important than ever to set up dedicated security systems that give integrated protection. UTM is a series of solutions that work together, simultaneously layering your protection across the board. We’ll cover the four main inclusions here and show exactly what they can do for your business.
Put simply, a firewall keeps an eye on all the data coming in and out of your network and looks for anything abnormal. While every home PC comes with a software firewall built in, those ones pale in comparison to what a UTM firewall can do. Remember the team of virtual bodyguards? Imagine the home firewall asking nicely if the data should be doing that, while the UTM slams the data to the ground and demands answers. Its job it to make sure the data entering your network is safe, that it is not part of a cyber-attack, and that in the rare event your network becomes infected, your servers aren’t being used to attack another business.
Anti-virus Where it Matters
With so much new malware being released daily, it’s easy to fall behind in updates and discover you’ve been infected. Your employees are likely doing their best, but manually scanning each file can be exhausting and time-consuming. Your UTM anti-virus is built into the firewall, ensuring known or suspicious malware is stopped at the door removing any risk. Clearly that is the best outcome possible and will allow your employees to work at maximum efficiency, while you can run your business with confidence.
Most cyber-attacks come via email these days, with either an attachment or a link. Once clicked, the malware wreaks havoc in your network. Obviously, your employees are smart enough not to open random attachments/links, so hackers use phishing emails. These are emails that look legitimate and may refer to vendors you use, financial services you have accounts with or even seem to be from other employees. Your UTM strips down each email and checks it against high-tech legitimacy markers. If it sees anything suspicious, the email is marked as spam and either held for review or bounced away.
As the phoney emails are blocked, your employees never see the emails so they can’t accidentally open up the network for attack. While the UTM is monitoring for phishing/fake emails, it’s also culling out the general spam that clogs up inboxes. Employees will no longer have to spend precious minutes each day wading through the junk, and the likelihood of missing an important customer email has greatly dropped.
In a perfect world, your employees would only access work-related sites and do work-related things online. Content filtering can help you limit the risk they’re bringing into your business via their Internet browsing. Your UTM can be set to restrict sites that infect computers, such as adult content, gambling or illegal downloads. It can also be used to restrict access to social media sites like Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest, either during work hours or completely. It’s up to your policies how much you’d like to filter and whether to add any flexibility. Some businesses allow social media during lunch breaks or have special reward hours each week. Simple tweaks like this can increase productivity overnight and give you the security you’re looking for.
You can see how a layered security solution like UTM provides a space for your business to thrive, where systems are secure, employees are able to maintain efficiency, and cyber problems stay outside the doors. The way the layers work together is more effective than a patchwork of separate systems, and a UTM is much easier to configure and maintain.
We can find the right UTM solution for your business. Call us today at 08 8326 4364 or firstname.lastname@example.org!
Businesses around the world are being targeted with a cyber-attack that sends victims a fake invoice that looks real enough to fool to most people. It is based on an old scam that used to see invoices faxed or mailed to the victims and now it has made its way into the digital world and instances are on the rise.
You may have already seen some of the less effective attempts – an email advising your domain is expiring (except it’s not from your host and your domain is nowhere near expiration) or others that describe a product or service you would never have purchased.
The new attacks though are much more advanced as they look completely legitimate and are often from contractors and suppliers you actually use. The logos are correct, spelling and grammar are spot on and they might even refer to actual work or products you regularly use. The senders name may also be the normal contact you deal with at that business as cyber criminals are able to ‘spoof’ real accounts and real people. While it is worrying that they know enough about your business to wear that disguise so well, a successful attack relies on you not knowing what to look for.
Here are two types of invoice attacks you may receive:
1) The Payment Redirect
This style of fake invoice either explicitly states that the payment should be made to a certain account (perhaps with a friendly note listing the new details) or includes a payment link direct to a new account. Your accounts payable person believes they are doing the right thing by resolving the invoice without bothering you and unwittingly sends money to a third party. The problem may not be discovered until an invoice from the real supplier comes in or the transaction is flagged in an audit. Due to the nature of international cyber crime, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to recover the funds even if you catch it quickly.
2) The Malware Link
Rather than an immediate cash grab, this style of attack asks your employee to click a link to download the invoice. The email may even look exactly like the ones normally generated by popular accounting tools like Quickbooks, Xero or MYOB. Once your employee has clicked the link, malware is downloaded to your systems that can trigger ransomware or data breaches. While an up-to-date anti-virus should block the attack at that stage, it’s not always guaranteed (especially with new and undiscovered malware). If it does get through, the malware quickly embeds itself deep into your systems and often remains silent until detected or activated.
How to Stay Safe
Awareness is key to ensuring these types of attacks have no impact on your business. As always, keep your anti-virus, firewalls and spam filters up to date to minimize the risk of the emails getting through in the first place.
Secondly, consider implementing a simple set of procedures regarding payments. These could include verifying account changes with a phone call (to the number you have on record, not the one in the email), double checking the invoices against purchase orders, appointing a single administrator to restrict access to accounts or even two-factor authorization for payments. Simple preemptive checks like hovering the mouse over any links before clicking and quickly making sure it looks correct can also help. If anything looks off, hold back on payment / clicking until it has been reviewed. Fake invoices attacks may be increasing, but that doesn’t mean your business will become a statistic, especially now that you know what’s going on and how you can stop them.
We can help increase your security, talk to us today. Call us at 08 8326 4364 or on email@example.com
Why Digital Transformation is a Top Priority for Small Businesses
New technologies are opening up new opportunities for business.
They are driving a revolution known as DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION, where processes are simplified, ideas are implemented, and businesses are benefiting like never before.
We have written a free eBook that explains what digital transformation is, and the possibilities that even small changes can provide to your business growth.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. You will also get a free copy of our other eBooks including the following so sign up now!
- Is Your Old Tech Dragging You Down?
- Spectre and Meltdown: How you’ll be affected.
- 10 Tips to Stay Safe Online
- 6 Business Problems You Can Solve With A Single Phone Call
Your employees need access to your IT resources and accounts so that they can do their job, but what happens to that access and those passwords when you fire them? Nobody likes to think of firing their employees, or why you’d need to, but nonetheless, it is a responsibility of every business owner and they will face it at some point in time. While your book keeper or accounts team will stop their paychecks it is important to take the same proactive stance to stop their system access.
Most of the time, former employees leaves under good terms and you’ll wish them well. If you are lucky they may even manage the hand-over to their replacement (so your productivity losses are minimal). Other employees may leave your business reluctantly and / or angrily. While you will have very different feelings about the two scenarios, the risk to your business remains high until action is taken. Here are 3 steps you can take to protect your business from an angry ex employee:
Step 1: Limit access to a need-to-know basis
You might be surprised how often a new employee is presented with access to every ones account and has access to all the company data. Accounts, staff & customer details, strategy, marketing etc etc…all those sensitive parts of your business that have made it a success are exposed. A better policy is to limit access to only what the employee needs for their job. Rather than view it as a lack of trust, your employees will appreciate the care you’ve taken to protect your business (and their job). It also helps keeps them from becoming overwhelmed, confused or tempted if the situation ever turns sour. Likewise, take a few moments to delete old or temporary accounts that are no longer required – you never know when a hacker or disgruntled employee will squeeze through those gaps.
Step 2: Quickly change passwords
On average, it will take at least a week before passwords are changed after an employee is fired – if at all! Unfortunately, this type of delay is one your business can’t afford. In 2017, an ex-employee from the American College of Education held their entire email system to ransom for $200,000 after an unhappy exit. Stories of others stealing client databases are also common – especially if they leave to start their own business or work for a competitor. It is not just full-time employees either, contract and part-time employees such as social media managers and customer support email specialists often have access to more of your business than you might imagine. Yes you may be able to get the person involved prosecuted but it only takes seconds to login and wreak absolute havoc on your network. Knowing you can force those bad eggs into a lengthy court case is poor comfort considering the extent of damage you’ll likely endure. The best option is to change their access credentials fast – even before your employee knows they are fired. This lessens the chance of revenge attacks and opportunistic access.
Use a password manager
If you have good password manager like KeePass or LastPass, reducing your risk becomes mostly automated. You will be able to keep your passwords in a central vault and only share passwords to those who need that access – plus you can section off the passwords to different sections or job roles. If an employee leaves or moves to a new internal position you can change or revoke access.
We can help you secure your network and use a password management tool. Contact us at email@example.com or 08 8326 4364.
The 31st of March is World Backup day and it’s a great time to check your backup or put a backup in place. Businesses lose huge amounts of data every day, purely because ‘backing up’ is stuck at the bottom of their to-do list. So this is your reminder, that even if you only do this once a year when the calendar tells you to make it happen now! But how? What is the easiest, most effective way for your business to backup?
You’ve probably heard of file backup by a number of names: Cloud Sync, Cloud Backup or Cloud Storage. They’re all similar enough to be confusing and meaningless enough to be anything. Here’s what they mean and which one you need today.
Google Drive, Dropbox, iCloud, etc are services that sync up with a single folder on your computer. They mirror it. When a file changes in one, the sync service rushes to change it on your other computers too, so they are always the same. Cloud Sync services are hugely flexible for remote employees or for those squeezing in a few quick tasks while riding the train to work. They are ridiculously easy to use, require no training, and the free tiers are enough for most small businesses and individuals. This all sounds amazing, right? Except…when things go wrong, they go wrong big time! Accidentally deleting a file means it disappears from the Cloud Sync drive and your other computers – almost immediately. Overwriting a file does the same thing, and if an employee edits the wrong file, then those edits are there to stay. If disaster strikes and your local copy becomes corrupted (or ransomed), well you guessed it, the corruption is uploaded too. While some Cloud Sync services now offer a 30 day backup option, you may not notice the file was missing within this time frame.
Cloud Sync services are fantastic for productivity and accessing files on the go, but they simply can’t be relied on as your backup tech.
Amazon S3, Microsoft Azure, etc are massive buildings full of storage drives that work just like your local hard drive but you access them securely via the internet. In fact, when you use a cloud sync app like Dropbox, they’re actually sending your data to one of these locations. While the sync services have a constant back and forth connection between the storage center and your folder, and as explained above aren’t good for backup, you have another option. You can access cloud storage on a per/GB basis yourself and upload your entire backup as desired. It won’t update with changes on your local network, but it will be safe from disaster. When you need to retrieve a file, you simply login and download it.
Your backed up data is secure, protected against disaster, and always available to you. However, because it relies on you or your employee to handle the backup plan and manually take care of the uploads, this is a high-risk solution. Unless your employee is scouring your network each day/week/month for changes to files and uploading them with fervent dedication, chances are this plan won’t work. We recommend an automated or outsourced solution so you can get on with business AND also be protected.
Carbonite, Soonr, Crashplan, etc might not be names you’ve heard before, but they work in the background to monitor changes to files on your computer or network and make sure you’re backed up. You can roll back individual files or whole drives, and even select from earlier backups, not just one. Like sync services, they use cloud storage centers with extra-high security and redundancy so that your data is always there when you need it. Even better, neither you nor your employees need to worry about when it was last done.
The One You Need
Let’s take a moment to talk planning. We recommend starting with the 3-2-1 strategy. This means having 3 copies in total, 2 of them locally such as on your computer and an external drive, and another offsite in the cloud. Using this strategy keeps your business operating when data disasters occur and is an investment in your uptime. We can help get you set up with the 3-2-1 method, including selecting the best cloud service for your needs. If you’re looking for a more scalable, cost-effective solution that gives the utmost peace of mind, ask about our managed backups service.
Need help with your backup then call us at 08 8326 4364 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
As an IT Expert, I get client calls and emails asking me about various emails they receive and whether that particular email is fake or real – almost all time the emails are fake.
To help my clients and others in a similar situation I’ve put together a video that goes through some security tips on how to protect your self from hackers and phishing attempts. The video goes through:
- First alerts of being attacked.
- How scammers and hackers try to fool you.
- How to tell if an email is fake or not.
- The Do’s and Don’ts.
- How to tell if you’ve been hacked.
- What to look for after you have been hacked.
- How to prevent and protect from hackers.
- What is 2-step and MFA?
- What to do after you’ve been hacked.
- Screenshot examples of phishing emails.
Check out the video below and leave any comments in the fields below.