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3 Steps to avoid being targeted by phishing scams

Businesses are seeing an increase in the number of malicious emails being received on a daily basis, with it being estimated that nearly half of all emails received are now spam. Email is an effective method of cyber attackers reaching your end users and infecting your network with ransomware.

How do phishing scams work?

Phishing scams work by posing as legitim

ate emails from colleagues, clients or other “trusted” senders but often contain a link or attachment containing a virus. Once clicked, this can give the attackers access to your network, at which point they can do things like start to encrypt files before demanding a ransom to recover them. In fact, 93% of phishing emails contain encryption ransomware. This can be a huge issue, both in terms of security and data protection, and financially. So how can you protect your end users and internal infrastructure and help to avoid being targeted by phishing scams?

3 Steps to Phishing Freedom!!

1. Increased employee awareness

Education is one of the most important things that you can do to help avoid falling target to phishing scams. Describing the things to look out for in suspicious emails that may appear normal and unsuspicious could save your users from clicking on the links or attachments that would otherwise give access to the attackers.

2. Change employee behaviour

Increased awareness for your users will help them to check before clicking on attachments or links that they are not expecting. Changing this behaviour is one of the biggest ways to prevent cyber-attacks through phishing scams.

3. Utilise PhishMe with Systems Assurance Ltd

This is where the PhishMe Simulator comes in. By replicated real-life phishing scenarios, it can provide you with experience receiving this type of email and then you can educate them accordingly and help them to spot the emails… without the risk! Scenarios range from ransomware emails, to BEC (Business Email Compromise), spear phishing, social engineering, drive-by attacks, advanced conversational phishing attacks and malware and malicious attachments. This is an effective and unbiased way to address where there are weaknesses and deliver greater training where needed.

What could Phishing Mitigation Managed Services bring to your business?

Systems Assurance offers Phishing Mitigation Services to their customers to reduce their susceptibility to phishing attacks by over 95% through simulations and training. This can also highlight weaker areas that can then be addressed.

At the same time, Systems Assurance can provide any security, disaster recovery planning and backup strategies so that you can protect your users should they fall victim to a particularly convincing scam.

Get in touch with Systems Assurance today to find out more on 0114 292 2911 or consult@systemsassurance.com

I’ve recently been spending some time trying to speed up my PC. As usual over time, performance seemed to have become a bit sluggish, so a disk and registry clean-up, un-install session and a defrag was in order. 

All done but I’m still not happy! This machine should be flying – so whats going wrong? So I set about some analysis of what my machine is actually doing. After some indepth monitoring of my performance monitor in the Windows Task Manager I realised the processor was hardly doing anything, the memory was only half used and the gigabit network card was practically on tick-over.

So why do I still sometimes have laggy performance when doing simple windows tasks. After a process of elimination my focus turned to the hard drive. I found out I had a Seagate 7200rpm SATA drive with 2MB cache. Seems reasonable to me for a year old desktop machine. But the more I monitored performance the more I realised this was now the weakest link in my machine. So on I moved to research the latest drives. Solid State Drives (SSD) and more importantly to see if I could justify the cost of an upgrade to save me a few, but an annoying few, seconds!

To my pleasant surprise I found the prices have come down to something very affordable and in terms of size I don’t really need huge capacity. Most of my data is stored centrally on our server so I really just need enough space for the Operating System and some of my key applications. So I turned to my trusty back issues of PC Pro magazine. Bingo! A labs section review of Solid State Drives in the June issue. After a quick read and a check on our site for prices I’d settled on the “PC Pro Recommended” Intel X25-M 80GB Drive (SSDSA2MH080G2R5) at £141.00ex VAT.

The tiny drive arrived in a small retail box and comes with a mounting bracket to allow it to fit neatly into a desktop machine. I swapped the SATA cable from the existing drive onto the SSD and attached my current hard drive to another SATA connection, then set about loading Windows from scratch. Immediately there is a significant speed difference as the obligatory reboots whilst installing and applying updates are noticeably faster. After a couple of hours of re-installing all my applications I was ready to go.

Wow! Now I’m really flying! Applications appear on screen as if they have just been minimised, not loaded from scratch. There’s no point trying to give you any time measurements – Everything is just the blink of an eye. It’s the best £141 I’ve spent in years. I think our standard PC configuration will be changed to incorporate these drives as standard since non of our users need large local drive space and when you offset the cost against a normal drive then you are only looking at around £100 premium. Admittedly I did pick a “PC Pro recommended” drive, and they did find some “dogs” that gave no noticable speed increase over a normal hard drive. So if you are thinking of trying this kind of upgrade then do your research or stick to this drive

If you are still not convinced watch this amazing video from Intel comparing the speed of an SSD to a traditional hard drive. Good luck with your upgrade!

Microsoft Dynamics 365

Windows 10 – First look and thoughts

It seems like Microsoft with Windows 10 are finally recognising that desktop computing is still alive and kicking; similarities to the Windows 7 desktop have been resurrected with some great improvements.

However users aren’t going to adopt the new operating system just because they’ve brought features back from 10 years ago!! They’re trying to appeal to everyone and really there are only two key types of buyers that lead the majority of Microsoft business customers; After all, win business over and the rest will follow…

Back in March 2014 Windows 8 & 8.1 had a combined market share of 10.7%, compared to Windows 7 with just over 47%. IT Managers decide which operating systems get deployed to their users, not users; something I think Microsoft sometimes forget. Great looking GUI’s with glorious store fronts and Apps aren’t going to attract an IT Manager that is responsible for hundreds of users. Likewise, Managing Directors and Finance Directors aren’t exactly impressed with the freedom of information being blasted straight to their employees desktops.

‘Windows 10 needs to get back to basics, doing the core stuff fast, securely and easily. ‘

Many of our customers were forced to Windows 7 from XP, customers are now being forced from 7 to 8.0 and 8.1. Don’t push us…if we feel the product is right (and trust me, every tech in the land is wanting their grubby little hands on it to see if it makes the grade) then we’ll push our companies towards it.

We want to know what the advantages are for two key types of people:

1. IT staff rolling out the deployments

2. Directors who want to improve the efficiency of their staff.

Everyone else can just get in line!

If you want a sneak preview and beta testing copies then visit the Microsoft Blog.

7 Questions to ask your cloud provider

Whether you’ve moved your infrastructure to the cloud or thinking about it, there are 7 key questions you should be asking your provider.

1. Who owns the data you are moving to the cloud?

Your provider should have a clear answer on where your data will be stored and who owns it. What will they be doing with that data and how much control do you have over it.

2. How important is the privacy of your data to them?

What privacy controls do you get with their standard subscription? Are you able to control the privacy features of your data and what impact on functionality do the various control levels have to accessibility, speed, compatibility etc..


3. Do you know where your data is being stored?

Where in their service is your data being stored, not only what country but what is the architecture around it? Who has access to your data and are you able to access reports on its usage?

4. How secure is your data in their infrastructure?

What levels of certification have the data centres achieved that will be hosting your data? Security is a mix of physical and virtual access. Ask to see external audit reports for their data centres, policies and control reports which they have adhered to as part of the accreditation process.

5. Have they got a published uptime percentage figure that they adhere to, if not why?

What business continuity procedures do they follow, what best practices does the service provider design into their systems including redundancy and resilience.

6. Is the data owned by you?

When you’ve had enough of them, is the data easily moved from their service?
Can you download a copy of your data any time? Are their penalties for downloading or removing your data from their service?

7. How often are you updated on changes?

When things change, are you notified immediately? How will you be notified and will the consequences of those changes be highlighted. Service breaches are often reported in the news before customers are aware of them taking place, that’s too late!

Contact Systems Assurance and ask us those questions or speak with your account manager, I’m sure you will like all our answers…

0114 292 2911 or consult@systemsassurance.com

We now offer the Implementation of Cisco Data Center Unified Computing

Systems has now introduced a new service for our clients. We are now offering the Implementation of Cisco Data Center Unified Computing. In order to be able to offer this service, we have qualified as a Cisco Unified Computing Support Specialist, and achieved CCNP® DC certification.

What does this service include?

The new implementation of Cisco Data Center Unified Computing includes implementing UCS C-Series rack servers, as well as firmware updates. We can configure CIMC, network and storage connectivity, and logging and monitoring the methods for Cisco UCS. Other features include provisioning hard drives and installing ESXI on local hard drives.

Deployments

We can deploy a virtualised environment, or set this up in a rack-mountable configuration, to give you the storage, management, backup and functionality that you need from your IT infrastructure. Whatever the requirement, we can deliver your Cisco Data Center implementation, deployed by our own engineers

Delivering skills for the day or full project management

Systems delivers a range of services, ensuring that we are able to meet your implementation and project requirements, even if you have a skills gap in-house. With the winter holiday period approaching, our team of engineers are able to step in and backfill where staff are taking holidays and annual leave.

If you’re looking for an engineer to carry out a Cisco Data Center implementation, give us a call today on 0114 292 2911.

There’s a vast array of suppliers out there, each with their own USP’s they persistently keep banging on about! Cutting edge solutions, virtually, clouded, continually recovered this and that. Whilst I appreciate our band of brothers has to be up to date on all the latest technologies and solutions, have we really forgotten the basics of doing business?

We gathered a list of our customers pet hates when dealing with other suppliers and as such we try very hard to avoid all of them!

1. Delivery costs are added after several orders without mentioning it.

2. If a distributor changes stock levels later in the day after ordering, keep us informed.  It is so frustrating to be told it won’t go or worse WE HAVE TO CHASE, we just need a supplier to keep us informed, not expect us to chase stuff.

2. Too much time is taken when asked for a quote, sometimes up to 4 hours when it is just a simple quote for a Laptop.

3. No time is given to us to find a product that will work when given a set of requirements and the mentality is to just “shift units” so we are told of a unit that just won’t work or is made by a non-preferred manufacturer.

4. When a product is EOL we are told “That is it, EOL, no can do”… This is just not good enough – Manufacturers always bring out an alternative and we do expect a supplier to find it for us.

5. Many times I have given suppliers an opportunity and they make an error, the wrong thing shows up, more than 1 of it show up or it doesn’t show up at all. To be honest I operate a 1 strike policy on this because the competition is so great, there are plenty of suppliers that WILL NOT get it wrong. Bit harsh, but I can’t really afford to spend time sorting out other people mistakes.

6. We work in the IT Department and support a big corporation so our phone lines are support lines, which means we ONLY like being contacted over email unless we need to talk to you about an order or quote that can’t be done over email. Chasing quotes can be done over email and ringing me after you get an Email is unnecessary, just reply.

7. If something goes wrong, we do understand it might not be your fault but at the end of the day if the courier or distributor messes up it helps if you have a decent relationship with said company to make it right again, don’t just blame them and expect us to simply accept it as not your fault.

Improve your Green Credentials and Operating Efficiency

With the Government looking to cut their IT spending budget by as much as £95 million, 18 months of the hardest recession in years and companies looking towards efficiency more aggressively than ever before, IT hardware replacement projects must show huge justification if they have any chance of coming to fruition. 
Yet Vendors are feeling the pinch too and as such are increasing their extend warranty costs by as much as 150% to offset other areas so do you have any choice?
Paul Timms from one of our maintenance partners Maindec, discusses how you could improve efficiency, cut your annual maintenance costs and green stamp your company! [Read Article]

With 3rd Party Hardware Maintenance from Systems Assurance Ltd there is no need to replace this reliable, efficient business-critical hardware; or to incur the costs and business risk associated with platform migration, including application development and recertification.
Opting for a mature, third-party support service will not only drive down costs, but by extending the life of IT equipment organisations improve their green credentials and meet efficiency targets.
Theres a very well established pool of 3rd party support companies around, Systems Assurance partner with two of the market leaders.

What does Cloud bring to your IT infrastructure?

Cloud computing enables resources to be shared and used more easily. The 3 types – public, private and hybrid – offer different benefits depending on your requirements. The ideal cloud strategy will meet your needs, enabling you to share and store resources securely, from different locations and to decrease downtime if hardware is affected.

Benefits for your Company

As an IT Manager, you are no doubt under pressure from your board members to reduce costs, enhance data and ensure security compliance. You will also be expected to deliver the fastest possible solutions to help complete in-house processes. The Cloud can mitigate these pressures and provide better resource utilisation.

Planning for the Cloud

There are a number of things to sort out in relation to planning a cloud strategy. These things include a client device plan whereby all company and personal devices to be used for work are setup with the cloud, as well as defining the implementation stages to begin the process. You must also identify the workload, infrastructure plan and agree ongoing monitoring and management requirements. All of this will contribute to a successful Cloud migration.

Choosing the right solution

Your requirements will determine which cloud solution is the right one for your business model. Different factors that will impact which cloud delivery model is the most suitable are the current demands and need for scalability, workload type, service level expectations and security requirements.


Deploying a secure cloud infrastructure

It’s important to ensure that the deployment of your cloud infrastructure remains secure at all times. Areas to think about are securing the hardware that stores data, such as internal servers, as well as securing the network as a whole to ensure that unauthorised access cannot be gained. Failure to maintain security can mean non-compliance with data protection laws, leading to complex legal implications for your company. As the IT Manager, they will be relying on you to maintain this high level of security and protect them against such issues.

Seamless migration to the cloud

Whatever your requirements, a certain level of knowledge and experience is required to carry out a successful cloud migration. Making sure the process is seamless and you can rely on certified engineers to carry out the work. Sometimes you may have a skills gap internally, so Systems Assurance provide cloud migration services for part or all of your project.

If you’re interested in Systems Assurance’s cloud services, give us a call today on 0114 292 2911 to discuss your project.

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