Santa has a very important responsibility with his Christmas Lists, as they contain a lot of personal data!  This means they come under GDPR because of the personal identifiers held on the list.  So, what advice would we give Santa if he came to MJD for IT support on keeping his Christmas Lists safe and secure, let’s jump in:

  • Ensure that he has them stored electronically in a location that is backed up regularly.
  • Ensure that only the elves who need access to the lists have access to the lists and review permissions every year.
  • Only store the data he needs to on the individuals on his Christmas List and clearly state why he is keeping the data.
  • Ensure that the lists are held securely and adequate protection measures put in place.

So, for Santa to do this we’d recommend the following:

  • Layered security software to protect all devices on his network (antivirus alone is no longer sufficient).
  • A robust back up system, such as a Datto.
  • Have permission levels and security groups setup for users on the network.
  • Review the data each year and check that he still needs to keep the data and if so for how long (For Example – scrooge should be removed from the list).
  • Review his processes for data requests, right to erasure requests and correcting data held (For Example – if the grinch wants his data removed then he can ask and it will be done.)

We here at MJD are always happy to help Santa with his IT support requests to ensure he can concentrate on his core business activities of delivering presents to all the lucky girls and boys.  If you would also like some advice on GDPR and cyber security please don’t hesitate to get in touch with the team here at MJD.

 

We all love to get the most for our money, but we want to highlight the potential dangers that lurk within “Black Friday Deal” emails.  We encourage everyone to exercise just as much caution, if not more, before you click on any link within these emails.  Our previous blog posts on phishing emails and staying safe within your emails are linked here: The silent threat in your InboxGone Phishing!

We urge everyone to remember, these emails are just as likely as any other type of email to be spoofed by cyber criminals to get you to click on the link.  They may even allow you to buy a product, albeit a counterfeit product, to get your details and your money.  If you do receive an email with a deal you’d really like to purchase from a trusted shop, try typing the website straight into the web address bar in your browser and finding the product that way.  Then you don’t have to worry about clicking on a potentially malicious link.  In the past twelve months alone, the Active Cyber Defence programme has removed 113000 malicious URLs from fake online shops where consumers ended up with counterfeit goods or nothing at all.

The National Cyber Security Centre offer some great advice on keeping yourself safe while online purchasing this Black Friday here.

They offer some key top tips such as:

–              Be selective of where you shop

–              Only provide necessary information

–              Use a secure and protected payment method

–              Keep your accounts secure

If you do receive a suspicious-looking email over this festive period, forward it to report@phishing.gov.uk for the NCSC and the City of London Police to include it within their Suspicious Email Reporting Service.

As always, if you think you have fallen victim to a scam email or phishing email please don’t hesitate to contact the team here at MJD to help you get yourself or your business secure again.  And if you find any great black Friday deals let us know too!

Worried about migrating to 365 but want to take advantage of the advantages that Microsoft 365 has to offer?  Here at MJD we follow a 12 step process that keeps our clients involved throughout the whole process, but only the steps which directly affect you.  All the other technical steps and work we take control of and deal with on your behalf.  This allows our clients to focus on their core business activities and know exactly the key points at which the migration might affect their activities ahead of time.

The key to a stress free 365 migration is planning and awareness.  If you and your employees know exactly what to expect and when, this allows you to plan your work around the steps of the migration to help minimise downtime and the impact on your business.  The key part of the process for the team here at MJD is our 365 migration software, the tools which this includes allows us to minimise downtime for our clients to just 15 minutes for the majority of our customers.  The various tools in our software allow us to check the process at multiple stages prior to the migration, so that we have worked out all the issues and potential set backs in the process with our client before we even hit the migration button.

The migration time and date is discussed and planned with our clients, to ensure that this is at a time which will have the least impact on core business operations and engineers are scheduled for the migration and for immediately after to ensure that all end users are fully setup and receiving mail flow.  This way, you know that any issues that do occur are dealt with as soon as they happen, again minimising down time as there is no waiting period while we assign an engineer.

Microsoft 365 has so many advantages and benefits to be gained, especially in the new hybrid working environment of home and office working.  We would encourage any client not to hold back on the potential to take your business activities to the next level with 365 due to a fear of the migration process.  Speak with the team here at MJD and let’s make IT work for YOU!

As a Cyber Essentials accreditation body here at MJD, we always highly recommend our clients go through the process of Cyber Essentials and always encourage clients to take the next step in their security journey to Cyber Essentials Plus as well.  But, we often get asked why they should take these steps to become accredited, so today let’s explain our reasoning behind the recommendations of becoming a Cyber Essentials accredited company.

The process of achieving Cyber Essentials accreditation should be viewed as a method of checking your current work practices and identifying areas that need improvement to achieve the accreditation.  The process of becoming accredited acts as your checklist to ensure and know that your company is hitting a certain level of cyber security protection for you and your clients.  It may identify areas that you didn’t even realise were related to cyber security.  In this sense it is a valuable exercise to go through to help identify and then resolve weaknesses in your security.  This is then used every year when you reassess to know that you are still working to the same standard.

Through becoming accredited you have a standardised level that any client can recognise and immediately understand how secure your setup is.  It can greatly help when tendering for bids with potential clients as you can answer any cyber security questions with your accreditation rather than trying to explain and demonstrate the policies and technology you have in place.

Another benefit of the Cyber Essentials accreditation is that it comes with Cyber Insurance which is an added benefit, aside from all that we’ve discussed above.  We believe at MJD that this is an investment in your business that will not only benefit you now but in the future as well.  The peace of mind that going through this process will also generate is a benefit that has no monetary value but will put to rest some of the worry that comes with the threats out in the cyber world.

If you have any questions about this process or are interested in getting started on your Cyber Essentials journey please don’t hesitate to get in touch with the Team here at MJD.

This week we asked everyone what their ultimate fantasy dress costume would be, so let us have some fun!  And our canine team have gone one step further and dressed up for the occasion! And we have a new addition to the MJD Canine Team, Jax!  Keep your eyes peeled for an update from the dogs in the near future to hear how Jax is settling into the team here at MJD.

Mark: A fire breathing dragon with real fire!

Craig: The Stig

Ian:  Freddy Krueger from Nightmare on Elm Street

Gareth: Jason Vorhees from Friday the 13th

Marko: An actual Iron Man suit, complete with electronics and lights!

Natalie: Bellatrix Lestrange

With IT hardware not likely to decrease in price anytime soon, we wanted to explain all the factors that may currently be affecting your IT bill within your organisation.  This may hopefully help you to understand the areas where you can have an affect and the areas where you and your MSP can’t affect your IT bill.  To help us begin, we’ve included all the main factors on your IT expenses in the figure below.

In a previous blog we covered the worldwide chip shortage, which you can read here.  Unfortunately, we are still seeing the affects of this in not just the IT world, but even the car industry!  As more and more of the items in our lives involve a computer of any kind they require chips, so until the supply can catch up with demand stocks will deplete quickly for some items.  It’s always worth getting in touch with your MSP as soon as you know you have a requirement to allow them to plan and advise on current stock levels.  This also leads onto the low supply, high demand factor.  When demand is high for any product and supply low the price will trend upwards until either demand decreases or supply increases.

The ever-present threat of cyber-attacks means that the costs required to protect your IT are increasing as more advanced and additional layers are required to protect you and your business.  Your MSP is also increasing their security measures and their insurance costs is increasing as more high-profile cyber-attacks take place and further test the conditions of insurance policies.  We are also recommending that our clients look to invest in their own cyber security insurance as the threat of cyber-attack continues to increase.

While our software develops and is now able to do so much more for us than previous versions, as it gets more advanced so does it’s minimum spec of hardware.  This in turn means that when you are looking to invest in IT hardware, the higher the spec the higher the cost which will also contribute to increasing IT costs.  On top of this, all industries are affected by the transportation and logistics issues which has increased delivery costs of your IT hardware.

The IT industry is facing a skills shortage in the UK, which is the same for many industries right now.  But this does mean that to be able to staff and provide our clients with high quality and efficient IT support that labour costs are increasing and with demand for IT professionals high and supply low, the labour rate is higher.  As you can see through this article, there are a few issues that we are all facing no matter what industry we are in and we are all feeling the affect of this.  Here at MJD, we want to make your IT work for YOU, so if you feel your current costs are increasing beyond a point you can manage with your current IT provider or if you don’t currently have IT support, we are here to help.  We have a variety of support models, designed to suit all sizes of businesses and the team here at MJD are always happy to discuss your individual requirements.

How often when faced with an IT issue do you get asked if you have tried switching it on and off again?  Probably enough that you may even try it yourself before contacting your IT support now?  Maybe even enough that it annoys you that you get asked to try something so simple?  Today we want to explain why we ask this question so often and what the benefits are of a restart of your device.

Regularly rebooting your computer, at least once a week can be beneficial!  It can be tempting to leave your PC on and just log off every night or put it to sleep, thinking you are saving time on the startup.  However, this can reduce the machines efficiency and actually slow you down!  There are a few processes that happen during a reboot or shut down that benefit your PC.

We explained RAMs purpose in an earlier blog, a reboot will allow the RAM to be flushed.  What this means is that all the tasks that are running and using the RAM are stopped and cleared.  When you log on next after the reboot your RAM is clear and ready to go again!  Also when we close a programme it sometimes doesn’t close properly and continues to use some RAM even though it’s closed!  Cheeky we know, but this is called a memory leak, again the reboot is like a reset for the RAM clearing it of these memory leaks.

A reboot will also reset software in the same way it resets the RAM, so if you experience issues with something not working like usual within a programme.  To explain why this works, we need to understand what happens when these issues occur within software.  When these issues happen, what is occurring is the software code has reached a point where it doesn’t know how to resolve the issue it has faced.  The coding doesn’t have an answer for the sequence of events you have just performed.  Therefore, when you reboot the PC the coding for the software is reset back to the start and you can try again, without it being stuck at that point it couldn’t recover from and hopefully not end up at the same stuck point.

Let’s apply this into your working week, if you spend 15 minutes of your working days waiting on slow processes or waiting for programmes to respond and open, this is over an hour each week where you aren’t getting anything productive done on your device.  Compare this with, shutting down your PC once a week minimum, so this is done at night rather than logging off, this takes the same time and same number of clicks.  Then in the morning, you switch your PC on and while it boots up you maybe make your morning cup of tea or coffee before starting the day.  A task you would have done anyway and therefore no working time is lost.  But you have potentially gained over an hour back in a more responsive device to work on!

Hopefully this has helped to explain the benefits of rebooting a device and why it is such an important tool in your IT departments toolbox to help resolve issues you may be faced quicker than it might take to track down that exact issue that may never happen again after the software and device has been reset.  If you have any questions on anything in this blog please don’t hesitate to get in touch with the team here at MJD and let’s make IT work for YOU and give it a helping hand with a weekly reboot!

Ransomware is used by cyber criminals to hack a device and encrypt the files.  They then ask you for a payment to decrypt the files if you are lucky and they do give you the key.  Unlike other computer viruses where they can usually be removed after infecting your device, the only way to resolve a ransomware is to have the key to decrypt the encryption, which usually only comes from paying the ransom.  Ransomware is a costly cyber crime, with WannaCry estimated to have caused losses of $4 billion and NotPetya upwards of $1.2 billion.  It is not something to be taken lightly and the best form of protection is prevention and preparation for what to do in the event of a ransomware attack.  Anti-virus and anti-malware software is no longer enough to protect against these attacks, you need robust layered security measures, procedures and protocols, training on how to deal with suspicious emails and never postpone or cancel updates on your devices.

Several key points to ensure that you protect yourself from ransomware are:

  • Always use robust antivirus/antimalware software
  • Always purchase legitimate software where updates are regularly available to keep it secure
  • Use layered security such as firewalls & device/network monitoring systems
  • Backup your data regularly and ensure the backup you use detects ransomware attacks & protects your data accordingly
  • Keep your device security and software up to date
  • Use a password manager, they are very well priced and can make life so much easier for you.

The best way to protect yourself from a ransomware attack is to avoid and prevent, due to it being highly unlikely you will decrypt the files without the key from the hackers.  This explains why we always recommend installing anti-virus and anti-malware software and why we encourage you not to postpone or cancel updates on your devices.  This also highlights the importance of a good back up system, so that if you do get attacked by ransomware, you can restore from the last clean back up and at most lose a couple of hours to a day’s work.

We have a couple of previous articles on these points which go into more detail on Windows updates here and on back up systems here  and here.

When trying to reduce your chances of downloading ransomware onto your devices practising good online habits such as using complex passphrases and changing them frequently, avoid suspicious websites or downloading files from unverified sources will also help prevent a ransomware attack.  If you have any concerns about your device or network security in relation to ransomware please don’t hesitate to get in touch with the team here at MJD.  Lets make IT work for YOU.

This week we look at another piece of hardware which sometimes is part of the build on your PC or laptop.  The graphics card is the piece of hardware responsible for producing the image which is displayed on your monitor or screen.  It translates the data into a form which your monitor can understand to display the correct image for you.  The better the graphics card the higher quality the image produced.

There are two types of graphics card: integrated and discrete.  Integrated graphics cards are built into your motherboard and this is found on most standard PC and laptop specs.  As it’s inbuilt they cannot be easily upgraded.  Discrete graphics cards are pieces of hardware which can be installed at a later date as an extra component.  This makes them ideal for upgrading at a later date.  The average user who browses the internet and carries out office work, the onboard graphics will be sufficient.  If you intend to carry out gaming or video editing, a discrete graphics card is recommended.

When reading about graphics cards previously you may have heard of GPU, this stands for Graphics Processing Unit.  Much like the CPU, this is the brain of the graphics card.  It acts as the translator turning the signals into a recognisable format for your monitor.  Sometimes a graphics card is needed to allow your PC to display dual screens through the outputs offered on a graphics card.

Modern graphics cards also have their own dedicated RAM onboard, which is the same as the RAM in your PC, however, is just for the use of the graphics card to process the data it is being given to send to the display. If you have any questions or are interested in installing a graphics card to your device please don’t hesitate to get in touch with the team here at MJD.

Let’s breakdown what RAM does and how you can decide how much RAM you need in your device.  RAM stands for Random Access Memory and is a component which is installed in your device and used for short term data storage.  Your programmes and data are stored on your hard drive or SSD, depending on which your device has.  Your processor will move this data from your drive to the RAM for short term access while you are working in the programme or on the file.  This means the amount of RAM you have can directly affect how quickly this process can be completed on your device.

Currently, we recommend a minimum of 8GB of RAM for any PC or laptop that we offer.  This would be sufficient for day to day office work or home use.  However, if you use design programmes or need to run multiple programmes all at one time we would recommend a minimum of 16GB of RAM.

When looking at the minimum spec for software that you work with, remember this is the bare minimum for the programme to run.  So the minimum spec won’t guarantee you will run the programme quickly, this is why it is important to look at the recommended spec if they offer this information or to choose a spec slightly higher than the minimum required.  This means your device won’t be using all its available RAM to run just that programme, it would have some capacity to spare which will also be beneficial for your device in the long run.

If you are unsure of whether you have sufficient RAM for your requirements, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with the team here at MJD who will be more than happy to advise.