The management of your IT ecosystem is not just the maintenance of the physical hardware and your networks, there are also important policies which need to be in place to compliment the good management of the IT hardware and networks.  This week we wanted to cover the importance of an IT policy.

The main purpose of an IT policy is to ensure your corporate information is kept safe through detailing the methods that will be employed to prevent unauthorised access, loss or corruption of the data in both electronic and physical forms. An IT policy will provide all your employees with a secure and acceptable framework for them to take their cues from on how to work with the IT in your network.  An IT policy can also help you to demonstrate to auditors that you have taken your IT security further than just your physical hardware and software implemented.

Now, IT policies can be viewed as micromanagement as they do detail how information should be communicated, how its stored and how it can be used within the IT network.  But it is important that you communicate your IT policy to your employees as a tool to improve communication and transparency.  You are making sure there are no grey areas on how something should be done within your IT network.  It also provides them with a decision making tool which will help to reduce time taken on problem solving if it clearly sets out what they should and should not do within the IT network.

It also means each employee has the same set of controls, so it is a consistent message and helps to communicate a fair and trustworthy environment.  Everyone knows what is acceptable and therefore what they should do.  This does mean that you are also protecting yourself in the instance of malicious actions carried out by employees.  If you clearly detail what is allowed and what isn’t, you can handle the situation with certainty that they acted outwith your companies policies and that they were made aware and agreed to these policies when they were employed or the policies implemented.

All of these add up to create a strong argument for why it is not a question of if you need an IT policy, but of when you will implement an IT policy.  The team here at MJD would always recommend you implement it now and we are here to help make IT work for you!

This is a question we are often asked when quoting or fitting new wireless networks and so we want to break this down and offer a more detailed explanation to help you understand the importance behind on-going maintenance in wireless networks.

Your wireless network is one part of your organisation’s IT ecosystem and as such, needs to be maintained in the same way as your server, PCs and laptops to minimise downtime.   However, the most important reason for on-going management is that your wireless network is a gateway into your organisation’s network.  This means it poses a security risk if it is not maintained and updated.  Especially if you also run public and private networks to allow customers to connect to gain internet access, while also allowing your organisations devices to connect to your private network.  Through your wifi a hacker wouldn’t even have to enter your premises to attempt connection to your network, they could do it from the street.

Here at MJD, our monthly WAP management package means that every time there is a new firmware released for the devices within your wireless network we will get these installed at a time that is convenient for you.  This keeps our clients in compliance with their Cyber Essentials or IASME accreditations and allows you to confidently advise your customers when connecting that your wireless network is maintained and secure.

You may be wondering what firmware is?  Firmware is a type of software which is the low-level control for the devices hardware. Firmware allows your devices to behave in the way the manufacturer designed them too.  The firmware of a device is held on Read-Only Memory, so that even when the device has no power it can still store the data.  As it is read only, firmware updating tools are required to apply updated firmware to your devices.

In addition, by keeping the firmware up to date on the equipment which runs your wireless network, you avoid any issues further down the line if you must try and install numerous updates in one go which can cause further issues and even failure.  By maintaining the network regularly, it means that down time is minimised to small periods of time when the firmware is updated.

If you have any questions about your wireless network or would like to explore WAP management please don’t hesitate to get in touch with the team here at MJD.

Have you ever thought about the security of an email or a file you send? What is in the contents of your email or what data is held within the file you need to transfer to someone? Every day we communicate via email to send information and documents, but sometimes the contents of that email or file are sensitive or confidential. If we were passing on this information face to face, we wouldn’t just discuss it at the kettle or leave the files lying on someone’s desk for them to get when they come back to their desk.

This is where email encryption comes in. With an email encryption service you can send confidential emails with the confidence that only the intended recipient will see the email. You can also see when the email is received and opened. This helps you to maintain compliance with regulations such as GDPR. Here at MJD, we work with our partner AppRiver and recommend their Email Encryption service alongside their SPAM filter. See our SPAM filter blog here.

There are a great host of features available with Email Encryption, lets take a look at them here:

– Office 365 compatible
– One-click encryption in Outlook, Windows and Mac desktop agents
– Track and prove when an email is received/read/replied to/forwarded
– Provides a control panel and registered mail options
– Recall messages, even after they are read
– Add passwords to confidential emails
– Facilitates large file attachment encryption and delivery, up to 100GB
– Built-In Secure E-Signature feature

So how does email encryption work? When you click on the send secure message, the email is then directed to the secure cloud platform to then be sent to your recipient.

Why should I implement email encryption now? As we have increased need to manage regulations on data protection and the trust in the security of emails reducing, secure business communications are becoming a necessity. By protecting sensitive and confidential data, you provide employees and customers with a method of communication that guards against breaches and permits freer, more effective communication. In the new workplace environment where the majority of us are now working from home, electronic communication is the main way we keep in touch and transfer information and data between us, we need to think about how to further protect our data and information. The encryption service we recommend and provide is fully brandable so you can help to increase customer confidence, through the encryption and seeing your brand in the secure cloud together.

This solution is not expensive and can transform the way you transfer sensitive information for very little cost. You don’t need to license your whole site, it is done on a per user basis so you can provide the service to your users who deal with sensitive and confidential information on a regular basis.

If you are interested in how this email encryption service may work for your business please don’t hesitate to get in touch with the team here at MJD and we’d be more than happy to discuss and provide demonstrations of the service in action.

Here at MJD our security offering to our clients will help to take care of your Windows Updates.  It will check the updates that come through which aren’t zero day and once tested will be deployed to your Windows devices with our security package.  You may be asking what is a zero day update?  This is an update from the software provider which is so important and of a high priority that it must be applied as soon as it is released.  However, you may notice from time to time you’ll get an email from us asking about a device which is out of date.  This may be that it hasn’t been on for a significant period of time, or that you’ve been aware of the update required to be carried out and have been delaying the update to “later”.

Now, we’re not denying that when you’ve got multiple documents and spreadsheets open, your business management software and emails etc open on your desktop and Windows announces “You have an update!” it can be incredibly inconvenient timing to carry out the update there and then.  And in this case, it’s fine to delay until when you finish that night.  It is highly important that the Windows update is installed as soon as possible.

While it can seem like software updates are an annoying feature and functionality changing demon, they are actually an extremely important part of the security of your device.  Operating System manufacturers are constantly updating their software to combat recent virus, malware and hacking attacks to close off holes in the defences of the software.  This means, if you delay in installing your Windows update, you might potentially be leaving your PC open to virus, malware or hacking attempts!

This is why Windows Updates are so important and why our monitoring software helps us to let you know when devices are out of date.  This in turn allows us to get in touch and ask you to switch the device on and allow the updates to take place.  This is all part of the security management in your network and it should be viewed with the same importance as the other elements of your security package.  If you have any questions about Windows updates, then please don’t hesitate to get in touch with the team here at MJD.

Flora and Skye have been hard at work recording a video for you all to enjoy this Christmas, so without further ado:

 

 

And any who would like the lyrics to sing along here they are:

1st Day of Christmas – A Cartridge in a pear tree

2nd Day of Christmas – 2 IT Engineers

3rd Day of Christmas – 3 Terra Laptops

4th Day of Christmas – 4 Calling Clients

5th Day of Christmas – 5 Gold Pins

6th Day of Christmas – 6 Windows Updates

7th Day of Christmas – 7 Malware Blocked

8th Day of Christmas – 8 Scans Complete

9th Day of Christmas – 9 Printers Cleaned

10th Day of Christmas – 10 Hard Drives Cleansed

11th Day of Christmas – 11 Firewalls

12th Day of Christmas – 12 Phishing Scams Stopped

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from the Team here at MJD!

With the increase in working from home this year, we have been asked this question quite a number of times.  So we thought we should address this as a blog article to help our clients understand all the factors which affect your remote connection when working from home and may limit the speed of your connection.

If we start with a explanation of what a remote connection is.  A remote connection is where the user is able to access IT services, software applications and data from a different location to your office where said services are located.  They do this through an internet connection.  Now while your remote connection is done through your home internet connection, this does not mean that all your speed issues with your remote connection may be to do with your home internet speed.  There are other factors associated with your home network that can impact your remote connection.  Let’s explore them now!

We mentioned internet speed so we will start with the issues this can cause.  Most often our clients can be frustrated with their remote connection being slow when they know they get a reasonable internet speed, however, this will be the download speed.  What you also need to take into consideration is your upload speed which will generally be a lot slower than your download speed and this will affect the speed of your remote connection to your work PC.  It would depend on your type of broadband connection as to whether we would suggest an upgrade here would greatly benefit your working from home setup.

With our current situation in society, the majority of our colleagues and employees may well be working from home all at similar times.  This means you have to share the connection into the office network with all your colleagues, which again can limit the speed which you can get from your remote connection.  If we determine this to be an issue, it may be as simple as creating a more staggered work pattern for accessing your network to allow everyone to work at the maximum speed to be gain from remote working when they need to access the network.  There may be some network infrastructure changes we can recommend to help this aspect as well, but simply creating a schedule to reduce the amount of users accessing your network at any one time may help if this is possible with your core business activities.

The final factor that we need to consider is your home network.  Is there anyone else working from home?  Do you notice the speed issues when the children are home and playing games online or streaming movies or music?  As we move to more of a digital experience in our personal life as well, we rely more and more on our internet to provide us with access to our entertainment.  This means we have an increasing number of devices accessing the internet through our home networks and this can affect the speed of your remote connection, as it is limited by the capacity of your home network.  So the same idea of a schedule may be required to limit the amount of devices drawing from your internet resource when you need to work.  It may also be worth considering the quality and age of your home router or if you are using a wireless or wired connection to the internet.  All of these can also be factors in the speed of your remote connection.

Hopefully this has helped to explain why it is often not an easy answer or an easy solution to improve the speed of your remote connection while working from home.  If you suspect there are deeper issues or you’d like to discuss any of the points raised in this blog in relation to your own connection please don’t hesitate to get in touch with the team here at MJD.  Let’s make IT work for YOU!

For several years now we have been introducing a different format for the contracted support we can offer our clients.  We will explore the benefits of a per device contract and explain what it is to help you decide if this is the contract setup suitable for you.

A per device support contract is based on the number of devices you have in your network and charged at a set rate.  We have a few different levels of per device contracts, to help customise the support each of our clients requirements.  This means we can monitor the network, perform maintenance and resolve any issues found or reported to us for a known figure each month.  You can plan your cash flow and know the cost of your IT support regardless of the support you require each month.  It takes the unpredictability out of your financial budgeting for IT.

Compared with ad hoc support, you get a guaranteed response time to different priorities of incidents, alongside the cloud support services and network monitoring and maintenance that might be included in your per device contract.

A per device contract can be suitable when you do not have your own internal IT department and you need to be able to predict your monthly expenses, we basically act as your IT department taking away all the stresses that can be involved.  When considering if you require an ad hoc contract or a per device contract you need to consider the importance of your IT infrastructure to your ability to operate your core business.  If without your IT network and devices you could not operate your business successfully a per device contract which allows for monitoring and maintenance of the network would be your best choice we will pro-actively monitor to prevent failures wherever possible.

A per device contract also allows you to increase and decrease your requirements as you grow in size, so it can be a great solution even if you plan to grow in size or know you will need to increase devices for a project then decrease afterwards.  The flexibility along with the known cost of each additional device allows you to plan in the IT costs to your expenses of a project and take one more unknown out of the planning of your future project.

A per device contract allows us to take the uncertainty out of IT maintenance and costs for you and to help you plan and maintain your IT infrastructure.  This means you can concentrate on your core business while we concentrate on ours to maintain your IT network.  Let’s make IT work for YOU.

We had some fun with the team this week and posed the question above to them.  It has sparked some really interesting discussions about what would be important in the this situation, so lets see what everyone would take with them and why.  We discussed the feasibility of electricity on the island, and decided that we had found a bunker which had hydro-electric generator!

Mark

I would take my old tech LW/MW/AM radio and a soldering iron, why? Because unlike a mobile phone the battery would last longer than a day, it can receive signal in most countries of the world, it can’t be tracked like mobile phones or laptops so nobody could find me.  I’m an RAF trained electronics engineer and its old tech so I could re-purpose it to transmit an SOS signal giving my location when I chose to do so, but not before I’d enjoyed the isolation with some enjoyable music.  I think I could do with some time on my own before calling for help. 😊

Craig

I would take an iPod/music player as you are never alone when you have music or a satellite GPS tracker…

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Ian

My piece of technology would be a fully loaded iPod (and headphones) with all types of music, so I could still hear other people’s voices, but still get to enjoy the peaceful surroundings.

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Colin

If I was stuck on a desert island, I would choose to have a solar-powered virtual reality system. This means that when I get fed up of the sunshine, I can in effect go back to the wind and the rain of home etc. It would have infinite uses so would be an effective virtual escape from the ennui of being stuck on an island.

I would also have my brick phone for the first 8 days, as that’s how long the battery lasts.

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Gareth

I would take my laptop with me, because there is a 1% chance I might have signal on the 4g sim on it to binge watch Netflix while working on my tan until I get rescued. 😂

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Marko

For me it would be simple – My mobile phone.

I’d make sure it is packed with useful offline apps to start with and it also has my whole music library to keep me entertained through the days and apps to keep me from getting too bored.

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Natalie

I’d take my GPS watch and mobile.  This way I could turn the heart rate monitor off (extend battery life) and walk/run for 30 mins each day with Live Track switched on in the hopes that my family could identify what island I was on to rescue me!  Bonus, I’d still get some running logged on Strava!

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Due to the severe weather & thunderstorms last night in Scotland, there has been a broadband outage in Edinburgh at one of the major exchanges, which is affecting many areas across Scotland.

We have reported outages from Forres, Elgin, Fochabers, Buckie, Aberdeen, Huntly & Aberlour.

BT have said in a statement: “Following severe storms and flooding in Edinburgh last night, engineers are working to restore broadband to affected parts of the city as soon as possible but due to the scale of the damage we don’t expect service to be restored until later today (Wednesday).

“Phone and mobile services are not impacted. We’re sorry for any inconvenience.”

We are currently still operating as normally as can be expected, our DR plan for this kind of emergency has been activated and is working. We are currently working with our clients to setup remote working etc. If you have a requirement for remote working we can set this up without visiting your site, just give us a call 01343 610999 or email support@mjdsystems.co.uk