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.

eBook – 5 Reasons Your Business Needs Office365 Today!

5 Reasons Business Need Office365Microsoft Office works well enough in many situations, but you may not know what you are missing out on if you don’t at least take a look at Office 365. Not only will Office 365 make your business more productive, in most cases it will also work out cheaper than what you are currently paying for the Office suite. This is why so many of our clients are switching to it.

We wrote an ebook about it so you can see how it’ll help your business and save you money.

 

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!

  • 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.

What’s Best for Your Computer: Shut Down or Sleep?

Off or Sleep?Most offices and homes are trying to reduce power costs by turning off lights and appliances, but do the same rules apply to computers? After all, it requires more than flicking a switch on your way out the door. Some people believe you should shut down your computer after every use to save wear and tear, others believe you should never shut down your computer – ever. While others simply want to make sure the programs and documents they left open are still there waiting for them when they return. So, who is right and who is wrong?

Back when computers were huge behemoths that took a long time to start, you’d go nuts at the person who shut it down when it was your turn. If you have an older computer you may still do! Modern computers actually have two options for their downtime: Shut down or sleep.

When it shuts down, the system goes through and closes any open programs (often prompting you to save first), then gradually cuts power to all components. It is a  process that seems quite fast to us but is actually made of 1000+ intentionally ordered steps. If there’s a sudden blackout or you hold the power button until it turns off, these steps aren’t followed and damage may occur. The second option is to put your computer to sleep. This can be triggered by an automated timeout or a user click. Your system uses a special type of memory called RAM to hold all your running programs exactly as you left them but using minimal power. The hard drive stops spinning, the graphics card lets the screen go black, and even the system fan slows to become almost silent. When you wake it by moving the mouse or pressing a key, it ‘wakes’ again almost instantly.

Reasons to Shut Down

A switched off computer isn’t drawing power which is great for the environment. But shutting down is about more than saving power. It can sometimes give improved stability over a machine that’s been running for days/weeks. This is because every time you shut down, you give your computer a chance to clear out all temporary junk files it’s been carrying in memory. It also triggers various health checks on startup that may otherwise be missed, important routines like checking for updates or scanning for viruses. It’s certainly more convenient to spend an extra minute booting up than lose everything to a system failure or cyber-attack. For older computers or those under heavy strain like gaming or video editing, shutting down also provides a necessary chance for the components to cool down.

Reasons to Sleep

Speed is the big selling point here. You can literally sit down and start working where you left off without the delays of bootup, finding your program, opening your saved files, scrolling down… it’s all right there and ready. You can even tell it how long to wait before putting itself into sleep mode, just in case you get called away and forget.

The best method is….

Since the whole point of having a computer is that it’s ready to work when you are, we recommend shutting down at night when it’s definitely not in use but using sleep mode during the day. Updates will get all the rebooting they need, memory is refreshed for the new day, and you’ll get the best of both worlds – speed and stability.

 

We can help give your computer a service and improve your computers boot time, give us a call at 08 8326 4364 or support@dpcomputing.com.au.

How To Survive A Hard Disk Crash

How To Survive A Hard Disk CrashThere’s been a massive digitization within businesses but with that comes one gaping flaw – a hard drive crash could wipe out all your data in an instant. Nobody and no data is immune – accounts, quotes, documents, email etc. are ALL at risk.

If you’ve ever lost your data or had your computer stolen, you know the panic and rage that follows…turning your business upside down, hoping desperately to find that USB drive that might contain a backup of data…before collapsing onto the floor as it sinks in: it is all gone.

Currently your hard drive is probably still in a good shape but surprise failures do happen. The mechanics don’t last forever, and even brand-new drives can be blitzed by a power surge. Theft is always a risk, as is user error like deleting files accidentally, or even getting hit by a nasty virus that destroys or holds your files for ransom. Some businesses are using apps like Dropbox, iCloud or OneDrive as their backup, thinking if their hard drive crashes or gets stolen, they’ll just download the files from there. Unfortunately, those very handy apps are no help if you’ve been hit with ransomware. Almost instantly as the malware encrypts your local files, those sync apps upload the infected versions. Older, safe versions of the files no longer exist, as these apps are designed to give a constant mirror of your drive, not a proper backup.

Stop for a moment and think about what you’d lose right now if your hard drive failed. What’s on there? Accounts, orders, client details, financial records, tax info, photos, videos – your entire business. It’s not a feeling we would wish on anyone!

What You Can Do

Backing up at data used to be something only tech geeks did, but like everything cool, it has gone mainstream. We recommend at least a 3-2-1 approach: 3 copies of your data, with 2 local at your office and 1 offsite.

Typically, this means keeping your regular hard drive where your data is now, one copy of precious files on at least one (preferably 5 – one for each workday) backup USB drives, and one that automatically uploads to the secure cloud as you add new files. That way, the USB drives protects your data if your computer dies, and the cloud copy protects you if something happens to the computer and your USB drive, like fire, flood or theft. It’s a good idea to make sure you unplug that backup USB drive afterwards and lock it away in a fireproof safe or even better, taken offsite – as connected devices can easily become infected during an attack or stolen during a break-in.

Two of these methods require you to actually pay attention, which is where many businesses struggle. Not that it’s tricky, but unless you’re one of those cool geeks it’s pretty boring and not a high priority after a long day! That is why we recommend a cloud backup solution and also an automated local backup.

You’ll be able to retrieve files at will, without having to roll back your entire drive, and know your solution has caught even the smallest file change without you needing to flag or mark it in any way. Even better, because there is a copy in the cloud, you can access your secure backup from anywhere. So if the unfortunate happens (ie a fire or flood) and you can’t access your office at least you have your files safe backed up in the cloud.

We are able to get you set up with the perfect backup solution that meets your needs, both now and in case of emergency.

If you’re ready to protect your data before you lose it, give us a call at 08 8326 4364 or support@dpcomputing.com.au.

3 Essential Steps Before You Fire an Employee

Before you fire an employeeYour 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 support@dpcomputing.com.au or 08 8326 4364.

4 Smart Reasons You Shouldn’t Have In-House IT

In house IT.It can be tempting to hire an in-house IT technician to take care of your network and set them up with a cozy office just down the hall, but is it the right decision for your business? If you are like most businesses, you’re always on the lookout for ways to save money while improving results. Sometimes this means expanding your staff to include a team of tech specialists to be at your beck and call, but this can often be an unnecessary expense that leaves you with highly paid employees twiddling their thumbs when not needed. For SMEs who are looking for the best of both worlds, we recommend Managed IT services.

Put simply, Managed IT is our solution which gives you that team of specialist technicians and network experts, without the ‘quick, look busy’ element – and at a fraction of the cost. Naturally, you’d rather see your IT budget working to support your growth and be kept as low as possible. That is our focus too, and why we don’t simply maintain and repair your systems, we proactively monitor to avoid downtime and work with you to ensure your IT increases productivity and efficiency. Whether you already have in-house IT staff and are auditing the value or are curious about what having external IT support might be like for you, we have put together a few factors to consider before making your choice:

Availability: Most employees work 9-5, but what happens if something goes wrong with your systems outside these hours? Your in-house technician won’t appreciate being woken at 1AM and being called in for an emergency. It is more likely that they simply won’t answer the call (or “hear” it), or if they do, expect some hefty contract renegotiation come the next business day. Managed IT is very different as we are ready for after hours issues and have support technicians ready. We know that every minute of downtime is affecting your revenue, plus your business reputation, so we prioritize getting your systems up and running ASAP. As a bonus, with our Managed IT these types of disasters are rare as we are constantly monitoring and correct and problems before they become an issue.

Total cost: One of the things that may have attracted you to having an in-house technician is the cost. Yes, you may be able to pay them a lower hourly rate but there are extra costs like hiring, training, sick leave, holidays, ongoing training and superannuation. Once you start adding up the cost of an in-house technician, you may find it is eating up your IT budget and leaving you scrambling to fill gaps you didn’t expect. Upgrades get delayed, opportunities missed, and IT expenses become a sore point. In comparison, Managed IT is one fixed monthly rate delivering enormous value, including access to specialists with a wide range of knowledge and experience.

Ongoing Training: Putting aside the fact your technician will often spend entire weeks away upgrading their skills and leaving you scrambling for support while they’re gone, those training costs quickly add up. With a salaried technician, you will have to pay all their ongoing training and certification costs (including travel and accommodation costs for industry conferences). We know how important it is to remain current, certified and skilled in new technologies, so we spend the money to invest in our technicians so that we can serve you better. We are also part of industry related associations and attend multiple conferences each year, all at our own expense (saving the end clients money).

Different goals: For most employees, a higher wage is the goal and many move jobs to achieve that. You may spend time and money training a salaried tech only to see him move on to a better paying job. In these modern times, switching jobs regularly is expected, with an average of only 3 years in each position. Considering how much it cost your business to acquire, train and upskill your technician, 3 years is an unreasonable ROI. Unlike an internal staff member our goals couldn’t be more different – we only aim to keep you a happy customer for as long as we can!

In the end, your business needs to find the right balance between profit and expertise. When you partner with our Managed IT, you’re securing availability, ever-increasing expertise and a commitment to your success. We work closely with you to provide the very best support and protect you against costly disasters by taking preemptive action to keep you safe and operational. There’s no doubt Managed IT is a better decision than hiring an in-house technician, and we’d be delighted to prove it to you.

Talk to us about Managed IT for your business. Contact us at support@dpcomputing.com.au or at 08 8326 4364.

Are You Backing Up Correctly?

BackupThe 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.

Cloud Sync

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.

Cloud Storage

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.

Cloud Backup

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 support@dpcomputing.com.au.

How to Maintain Your Computers and Network (Without Lifting a Finger!)

Computer maintainance

For a device that’s supposed to make life easier, computers involve a lot of work! As there is so much to keep track of most people forget the routine maintenance that is needed until it is too late. Of course then the damage is already done. Critical business data can get lost forever in a crash and information gets stolen in a hack. It’s a bit like closing the gate after the horses have already fled. This is where proactive people come out on top. Thousands upon thousands of businesses around the world are using managed services to put computer and network problems firmly behind them. It’s a done-for-you maintenance program we offer, and here’s why it is the best choice for your business:

  1. You’re always up to date. It seems like every other day there is some new and urgent update waiting to be installed. Whether they are patching security flaws or adding new features they seem endless. Even if the updates install automatically, they tend to do it at the worst possible moment and do you actually know if it will break something else in your system?. Using our special managed services software, we can make sure your computer’s updates are all finished and done – before you sit down to use it. As part of our service, we also make sure all updates are compatible not just with your hardware, but also with your other software. After all, updates are supposed to make you computers more secure and more enjoyable!
  2. You’ve got super anti-virus. The best anti-virus is the one that’s up-to-date and running, yet you’d be surprised how many people switch it off, never let it update and / or let the subscription expire. While you might be in the habit of scanning files and browsing safely, others in your office might not have the same priorities. Having managed services ensures your anti-virus is always running and dealing with any viruses it finds. As soon as a new virus becomes known, we make sure your system is actively protected against it. We can also monitor for cyber-attacks and alert you before they become a problem.
  3. Your hardware stays healthy. While a reactive person is always stuck without a computer when hardware fails, proactive people with managed services have already had the problem fixed. Our special software monitors the health of your hardware, eg, your hard drive, looking for early warning signs of failure. If detected, we can let you know in advance. This means you’re able to get it repaired at your convenience, making sure no files are lost and no other hardware is damaged in the failure.
  4. You never miss a backup. The worst part of a crash isn’t the financial cost, it’s losing your data forever.  Whether it is a report you have just created, a recipe handed down for generations or a novel you’ve been working on for longer than you’d care to admit, managed services ensures your backups are working correctly. Backed up files are ready to go when you are, and losing files to corruption, failure or theft is a thing of the past.
  5. Support is a call away. Just got a new printer and it won’t play nice? Got a weird error popping up? Your laptop won’t talk to the wifi? Our remote support team can help with whatever technology issue has been annoying you and wasting your time. No nonsense advice is just a phone call away, and our team can remotely connect to diagnose and fix any problems. This means you can likely skip the cord shuffle and carting your computer into the shop and get your most pressing computer issues fixed fast.
  6. You’re always optimized. Whether your computer is actively playing up or not, our monitoring service can keep in touch with your event logs, services and processes and look out for anything that needs correction. This means we’re effectively stopping problems before they get to you, making sure that when you sit down to use your computer, it’s doing exactly what you want.

Put computer problems behind you – get managed services today. Call us at 08 8326 4364 or at support@dpcomputing.com.au.

Office 365 & Email Security

Spam email

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.