Changing role of IT Service and Support
The role of IT Service and Support is changing with the increased reliance on technology in small to medium businesses today. It has shifted from being one of repair and fix to one of being an enabler and an advisor.
A business not adopting this approach will find that in the long term that, it will be always reactive, missing opportunities and end up with an IT infrastructure, tools and processes that are out of date and costing an arm and a leg. This can be avoided where the role of IT service and support is broadened to one of prevention and strategic advice.
How to tell, how your business approaches IT service and support?
Entering an organization and talking with the staff is a good indicator for understanding how an organization is viewing the role of IT service and support. Frustration and low confidence in being able to rely on the IT infrastructure in performing their roles will give a good guidance on the approach being taken.
If it’s letting them down they will talk amongst themselves and comments like, I just cannot complete my work efficiently thanks to the speed of the internet. Or maybe something along the lines of we missed the deadline for that customer proposal the other day thanks to the slowness of my computer will be prevalent throughout the organization.
Yes, poor morale in an organization and frustration with IT technology being able to support staff in the performance of their day to day duties is an indicator of adopting a traditional break and fix approach.
The support and service team will be focused on fixing the network that breaks constantly, performing maintenance regularly across machines are slow, do not have the latest software patches, removing tools introduced by staff that are not part of the standard operating system.
The consequence is that the discussion on IT is always about fixing issues rather than on working out how IT can add value to your business through increases in productivity, adding to the customer experience, delivering increased profitability.
How to cope with the fast evolution of technology?
Technology continues to evolve and change at a rapid pace and with this change comes the increased opportunity for small to medium businesses. Once the technology was really the domain of big business that is not the case today and for many small to medium business owners the question is how to take advantage of these technologies, so they can compete more aggressively and deliver on their promises.
This changes the nature of what a small business s looking for in terms of service and support. Not only do you want the technical knowledge, but they want an IT Service provider that can be a strategic partner by adding value to the business.
Do you have control over your Data?
It does not matter what size the business is, nearly all employees are bringing their own devices to work and using these devices within the Businesses network and infrastructure. This spells danger and means that as a business it is very hard to know what devices are being used to access company data.
Without a proactive support plan where you have a provider monitoring and implementing and activating policies that protect your organization from unauthorized access then you are increasing the risk of data loss and the associated impact.
Who maintains and controls the access to your systems when an employee leaves?
The support provided to a business today is more than just fixing computers, repairing networks, and installing software. Managing the movement of people into the business and from the business is a key activity of support today this includes enabling, maintaining and removing email accounts, monitoring and enforcing the password policy across the businesses network infrastructure. All with the aim that a business can act with confidence that their data is safe and secure.
What are the support and services solutions for a business today?
Each Business will have their own needs and views so there is no one solution that fits all businesses. In some instances, it is better for a small business to take small steps in transitioning to a more proactive approach. This enables them to gain confidence with a more proactive approach and monitor the impact on the business before fully committing to a fully-fledged managed services model.
Approach 1 – Purchase a block of Hours
This is where the customer commits to pre-purchase a block of support hours from a Computer troubleshooter and when these hours have consumed another block of hours is purchased. Because you are paying upfront the hourly rate is likely to be at a better value than if just a normal break-fix hourly rate.
At Computer Troubleshooters the services provided for that block of hours will be defined for you what is not covered. You will be able to discuss add-ons for the services not covered.
Approach 2 – A subscription plan
This is where the customer decided to pay a monthly fee for a range of services provided by the IT Service Business. This in effect is a Managed Services solution.
At Computer Troubleshooters we offer a range of subscription plans covering various aspects of your situation. For instance, we have a Total Protection Plan that is focused on ensuring you have an anti-virus solution, some backup and a little bit of system maintenance. Your plan might be focused around Microsoft office 365, hosted email, password management and user access.
You may be looking for a much broader plan which covers a lot more monitoring and maintenance activities supported by IT strategy reviews which are known as our BEST managed services plan.
For further information Call 1300-28-28 78 or www.computertroubleshooters.com.au
Voice communications over the Internet Protocol (VOIP) delivers a range of benefits to businesses when looking at the challenge of Business communications. The key benefits that have driven the growth of VOIP are cost-savings, efficiency flexibility, and scalability.
Francisco Soliano JR Managing Director of Computer Troubleshooters East Perth sees “the biggest factor for clients in deciding to implement a VOIP system is cost-effectiveness and the speed with which a system can be deployed minimizing disruption to the business.”
A solution for communication needs to cover smartphones, landline communications and video conferencing, hence the term Unified Communications is often used when discussing a solution.
What are some of the trends impacting communications?
The introduction of modern technologies continually changes the way society acts, expectations and behavior. Think how the introduction of email has disrupted traditional mail, the introduction of the mobile phone and wireless technologies have all impacted on the way we communicate and act.
Some of these changes are:
- The need to be constantly and immediately available, when we call somebody we expect an immediate response. Expectations are you can be reached anytime, anyplace from anywhere.
- Technology is constantly developing and becoming increasingly available at a value that most businesses can afford. What this means is that more and more functionality and sophistication is available to smaller and medium-sized businesses.
- The cloud enables people to be able to access their data (work-related files) and applications wherever they are. This increases productivity and flexibility within organizations it also allows organizations to unify all their hardware and software.
- The usage of chat and messaging tools is becoming more prominent in businesses. These tools are underpinning how organizations think of the customer experience with the aim to be more customer focused. What is important though that these tools become integrated as part of the communication systems and the data is kept for reference. Quicker and easier than email means less time spent on communications equals an increase in productivity
- Voicemail is not quick enough and often you repeat yourself when the person calls you back. In a lot of cases, they have not even listened to the message. Repeating yourself. Often this is where messaging somebody can be more effective.
- Communication capabilities can be integrated rather than having disparate solutions. If it’s integrated using a simple package, then you can move seamlessly from application to another without loss of time.
- The price and capability of the technology continue to come down meaning it is a viable option no matter what your business size is.
- Improved quality of picture and audio when undertaking virtual conferencing means that more and more meetings across all areas of a business operation are being held. This delivers real and significant savings to an organization in today’s competitive landscape.
What does this mean for a business today?
It means that if you have not at least assessed the area of VOIP and Unified communications then you may be limiting the capacity and viability of your business to compete against your competitors.
The starting point is to have a discussion with your IT provider about Unified communications and understand what your options are. One consideration in the discussion is the whole issue of security of your networks. Why? Because if using a VoIP then the solution sends the calls through the same path your network used for internet and other traffic. This naturally increases risk hence the conversation needs to cover security.
How can Computer Troubleshooters assist?
The local computer troubleshooter can consult with you about your requirements and then assist you in selecting a provider and then assist in the changeover. Computer Troubleshooters East Perth Managing Director Francisco Soliano Jr recommends the Fonality solution because of the ease and speed of deploying the Fonality system. Effectively the handsets are pre-configured and in effect, it’s a plug and play system. The costs are clear and the flat fee model of Fonality makes it easy to understand the costs and the returns.
Call 1300 28 28 78 to locate your nearest Computer Troubleshooter for a discussion on your needs.
Virtually every day, Computer Troubleshooter’s engineers receive an inquiry from small business clients and residential customers asking for assistance with recovering data files. By the time they call, panic has set in as they fear that they have lost their valuable information. The client is often willing to do anything to recover the file and the valuable information contained in the file.
In today’s environment clients are constantly storing data in digital format using a variety of devices. The risk of human error is ever increasing, and it is a known fact that over a quarter of data recovery requests are a result of human error.
Customers are often relieved when they hear that accidentally deleted files have the greatest chance of being successfully recovered. It is still a complicated process and often involves using data recovery software to achieve the recovery. Data recovery software is required to examine the storage of the computer to find the remnants of the deleted data files and then extract them back into a recognizable form.
Computer Troubleshooters recommend that if the information is valuable then you should have a data backup solution in place. This applies to residential clients as much as business clients. Key elements of this solution today are to include a cloud storage element enabling you to recover files quickly and efficiently. Computer Troubleshooters also recommend that the solution needs to include regular maintenance checks confirming that your data has indeed been backed up. Look at our affordable monthly subscription plans.
What to do if you accidentally delete a file?
Don’t Panic – we recommend that you keep the computer turned on, and all applications open while you investigate the simple solutions below:
- Deleted Items– if an email, check the deleted items folder (it is generally near your inbox) this holds all deleted emails until you close your email application. If you can see your deleted file in the deleted items folder just click & drag across back into your inbox. File restored.
- Recycle Bin– if the file deleted was a document or image file, check the recycle bin, which has an icon that is generally found on your desktop, click on the icon, it will show you deleted files that are awaiting permanent deletion (generally these are deleted when the computer powers off), just click and drag back to your desktop.
- AutoSave–applications such as word and excel have an Autosave function that can sometimes save an automated version copy. Within the application click on the top left Office button which will show a menu that includes an item such as Word Options & Save Options, this will generally show the autosave settings and the file location of the autosave directory. You can then go to the indicated location and recover the deleted file (this may vary depending on which version of Office is installed).
- File Search– Use the Microsoft Search function located in the Start Button (on the bottom left) to try to find your file as you may have saved into the wrong directory or you may find an older version.
If you tried these simple solutions with no luck, then it may be time to get serious,
- Restore Backup Files– if you have a backup in place you should be able to restore the file back on to your main computer hard drive. Of course, it will only be a version available from the last time you backed up. It will depend on where and what software you are using for your backup as to how this needs to be done.
- Software Retrieval – this will mean you need to consult a professional to use data recovery software to interrogate your drive, find, & restore your deleted files. Do not run any disk cleanup or defragmentation tools in the interim as these will overwrite drives which may contain your deleted files. Call your local Computer Troubleshooters for this professional service.
- No file found – of course, we do find times when even we can’t retrieve an accidentally deleted file, that’s when we call in our data recovery partners. Our data recovery partners have specialist equipment, software and use dedicated data recovery technicians to extract hidden data.
After completing the above procedures you may have recovered your deleted files. Of course, being proactive about protecting your data is always the best protection. Back up regularly whether it’s for your business or your personal data. Denial is not a river in Egypt.
Even with a tested and reliable backup system, sometimes unexpected accidents can still happen. 74% of data recovery involves physical damage or corruption which can happen to all data storage devices including hard drives, cell phones, and memory sticks.
For the more sophisticated problems we can use our Data Recovery Partner for the following specialized data recovery services:
- Hard Drive Recovery: Hard drives are becoming increasingly less common in laptops. External storage devices are in greater use but are at greater risk of being dropped, damaged and compromising your data.
- SmartPhone and Flash Drives: Flash drives are no moving drives problems such as deleted files, corrupted partitions, file system damage and physically damaged devices can be remedied by their recovery experts.
- Notebooks, Tablets, Digital Cameras and MP3 Players: recovery services for Notebook PCs and Tablets. Damaged image or audio files can also be recovered.
Computer Troubleshooters is Here to Protect You and Your Data
If you have accidentally deleted files; don’t panic, if approached logically the deleted files can generally be retrieved.
If you need for help recovering a deleted file, or more serious data recovery services, or assistance in establishing solution call Computer Troubleshooters and one of our technology professionals can help you.
Ho Ho Ho – Have a virus-free Christmas and a malware free New Year. It’s only a few days and holiday season will be with us. At this time of year, we often see an increase in malware activity and clients concerned about shopping online. This article is intended to help our clients and prospective clients stay virus free. Christmas has always been a virus author’s paradise, and a computer user’s nemesis.
The short-history of Christmas malware.
- “Christmas Tree” (AKA Christma Exec) was spread in December 1987 and was an email-aware worm.
- In 1990 the same worm resurfaced and forced IBM to shut down its network of 350,000 terminals.
- Christmas 1999 saw the Melissa virus spread via email. It infected computers and Microsoft word documents, as well as attempting to reformat the C: drive.
- At the same time, a game was being widely spread by email. “Elf Bowling” where Santa tried to knock down a pack of elves with a bowling ball. This game, of course, was infected with a virus.
- At Christmas 2000 the Navidad virus spread via email masquerading as an electronic Christmas card.
- Christmas 2001 saw a similar methodology to spread the Maldal virus.
- The Zafi virus spread in 2004. Spreading fear rather than cheer.
- Christmas 2007 saw the Dorf or Storm worm posing as a sexy striptease by Mrs. Claus.
- Christmas 2009 saw the Koobface worm, which targeted users of Social networks like FaceBook.
- To skip a few years for the sake of brevity and the risk of boring our readers, we can see that these threats have not gone away. In fact, with Ransomware being the cyber criminal’s weapon of choice these days has seen significant growth creating more headaches than before.
- 2017 saw the merry Christmas ransomware distribution. After detonation on a user’s system, the Ransom note would be presented with a picture of Santa standing next to a bomb saying that all your computer data is encrypted and unless you pay within a defined time that all your files would be deleted. This was way more serious than a relatively harmless card we saw some 30 years prior.
Hints for Staying Safe and Virus free.
- Don’t let your guard down just because it’s the festive season – Hackers, Crackers and Virus attackers prey on those that do.
- When you start back at work, most people just want to open their email and deal with the deluge. Because malware is often spread by email, it’s a better idea to ensure your Antivirus and Operating System patches have updated first.
- Similarly, If you wake up to a new computer under the Christmas tree, don’t forget to put it through a security update and to install anti-virus software before you get busy online. (Even if the update takes several hours, it’ll spoil your fun a lot less than being owned by a hacker before lunchtime.)
- Social media users love to spread hoaxes, especially during the festive season. Before you press that share button think. If in doubt go to the Hoax-Slayer website (hoax-slayer.com) and check it out first. Nobody gives away free Range Rovers just for a like and your private email address and phone number. Many think a hoax competition does no harm other than wasting everybody’s time. Maybe you should think about it carefully as now some low-life cybercriminal has your personal contact details with which to direct further attacks.
Microsoft Office 365 provides so many benefits for an organisation in terms of increased productivity, mobility and access to your data and communications no matter where you are allowing a quicker response to problems. All this, plus greater collaboration between staff members due to the power of the cloud.
For many organisations the fear of the unknown stops them from reaping the benefits of Microsoft Office 365 but once you have experienced its power there is no going back. Computer Troubleshooters as an Office 365 expert helps organisations minimise the risk and disruption of a migration to Microsoft Office 365.
How does Computer Troubleshooters mitigate the risks of transitioning to Microsoft 365?
The key services provided by Computer Troubleshooters include an initial IT assessment. This is supported by the development of a plan that outlines how an organisation can benefit through the application of Microsoft Office 365 in terms of daily communications and workflows. This includes a plan for migration and the ongoing maintenance and management of Microsoft Office 365.
One of the key benefits is less headaches around licence version control, renewals of licences and ensuring all licences are legitimate, let alone concerning yourself with infrastructure (email servers, back up security) to run your email system.
This combined with a subscription monthly fee means it is a lot easier to plan and budget for the IT expenditure related to software, infrastructure and maintenance of your IT System.
How does support work for Microsoft Office 365?
For a small monthly fee, you can engage your Computer Troubleshooter technician to manage your Microsoft Office 365 environment. This means you have peace of mind and a first level of response with a person you have trust in and a person who understands your business.
Your Computer Troubleshooter technician will constantly ensure that you are managing your users, maintaining and resetting passwords. At the same time, they will be checking that your system is running at optimal performance and therefore they are preventing issues that may be brewing.
Microsoft offer standard technical support and if an event is classified as critical, this is defined as an event that prevent you from accessing or using services, you can expect a response within one hour. Microsoft Office 365 support is focused around the operation of their centralised hosted applications theta they control within their data centers.
Why engage a professional technician to support your Office 365 implementation?
The simple reality is that for every minute your business is affected by an IT event that creates downtime then your businesses productivity is impacted and as a result impacts your revenue, and profitability.
The other factors to consider are cost control as you now have affixed monthly cost that is directly aligned to the number of staff you are employing. You only pay for what you need supported.
As Microsoft 365 is a cloud product, so consequently there is rarely fees for call outs as the product is supported remotely by the technician.
Access to an expert who specialises in Microsoft Office 365. This means you can rest easy knowing that your local expert is able to utilise their years of experience to your businesses benefit. Microsoft Office 365 is a critical platform of your business and by outsourcing to the specialist means no headache employing people, training them and managing their performance. All these activities are draining and divert your attention away from your core business activities.
How does Microsoft Office 365 allow my business to grow?
Given today’s changing technology environment, changing expectations of the younger generation, and the need for greater flexibility as to where employees work, Microsoft Office 365 allows a small business to meet these challenges head on.
How? With the power of the cloud, flexible communication technologies, and the applications available MS Word, MS Excel, Powerpoint, Outlook and Skype for Business, allows each small business to develop efficient collaboration between staff and increased communication capability between staff no matter what location, device being used or time of day.
It means every business can look professional and compete against each other no matter what size they are.
A Dimensional research survey of 300 SMB professionals indicated that the key requirement, for small business is “anytime, anywhere access to data and applications makes employees more effective” (1) using Office 365 enables this ensuring that a business is maximizing the opportunity for staff to be more productive, through effective sharing of documents no matter where your team is.
The new generation of workers are using mobile technology at levels we have never seen before. They are mobile in nature and expect to be able to work from any device. Email delivered to the phone, the ability to access documents and work on those immediately is all possible on the phone with Microsoft Office 365.
What is your first step to make certain you are utilising Microsoft Office 365 effectively or the first step to see how you can benefit from Microsoft Office 365 is to call your nearest Computer troubleshooter on 1300 28 28 78 or visit www.computertroublehsooters.com.au
1) Bridging the Information Worker Productivity Gap: New Challenges and Opportunities for IT, IDC, September 2012
The latest Security Flaw: Wifi KRACK
Sounds scary and technical, another vulnerability, another frightening acronym KRACK, makes one think what is the risk and how does one overcome this concern?
It’s been everywhere in the news, social media and blogs for the past week and this article will aim to try and simplify the technical side and answer some of the questions one has.
What does KRACK stand for?
Discovered and named by Marty Vanhoef a Belgian researcher, KRACK stands for Key Reinstallation Attack. This in effect is a security flaw which allows a hacker (attacker) to break the internet communications between a router and a device. For the weakness to be exploited though the hacker needs to be in close physical proximity of the access point of the communications.
What does this mean for an individual or a business?
It means there is a potential for a cyber security incident where the attacker can capture or interrupt the flow of information from your communications or they can use the weakness to potentially inject and manipulate data. For example, this may mean an attacker injecting ransomware or other malware into websites.
What is at risk?
Like all vulnerabilities, the risk is the loss of sensitive information such as credit card numbers, passwords, emails, photos, and documents.
What is the most likely scenario for a KRACK attack?
This is difficult to say as there are potentially so many situations, however, one potential target is those organizations that provide wifi access without a lot of IT resources. An example of this would be your local coffee shop.
Is changing passwords the best way to protect myself?
Changing passwords regularly is a basic security measure that is recommended, however, this will not prevent or mitigate an attack. In fact, the key element to protect yourself includes ensuring all devices are up to date with the latest updates. This includes ensuring the firmware on your router is updated.
A simple tip is to ensure you have automatic updates turned on which will help ensure you have the latest versions and protection installed.
Until you are sure that your device has been updated limit your usage of public networks especially with phones utilizing the Android operating system.
Only transact with websites that have an SSL certificate meaning that the sites URL will start with https instead of HTTP. This in effect means the site is using encryption which therefore makes it difficult to see what data is being transferred.
Keep yourself informed and be sensible with your usage of public wifi if in doubt do not connect and turn the wifi option off on your device. If still uncertain contact our nearest Computer Troubleshooter on 1300 28 28 78 and ask for a KRACK risk assessment.