COVID-19 has changed the way we work now and into the future, remote working is here to stay. What does this mean for businesses from a technology viewpoint?
question for a business is how to use technology effectively to ensure that
their business has a productive workforce with minimal disruption from
Strategically it means a business needs to focus on deploying the right technologies to support the worker and the functions they undertake.
the 3 key elements to ensuring your workforce can continue working
remotely? The starting issue is ensuring Connectivity. Without connectivity you cannot
work remotely. The second element Communication is about ensuring
everybody stays in contact and has capacity to engage with each other and
clients. The final element of Collaboration is the ability to work
together on the same documents, having access to files etc. in a secure
collaboration across the team requires having the right software platform.
options such as Microsoft Office 365 or Googles G Suite are cloud solutions
at the core of enabling businesses to communicate, access documents,
collaborate with co- workers by sharing files, storing files, combined with an
technologies have a high adoption but there are many businesses yet to
understand the benefits of adopting these cloud-based programs. A
workforce working remotely from home is distributed far and wide, one benefit
of Office 365 is the comfort that everybody will be using the same version of
A secondary advantage is that the fee is monthly, charged by number of users which means you only pay for what you are using. This allows businesses to scale up and down as required. This provides businesses greater flexibility and control over cash flow. You are not paying for something that is not being used.
choices are available for conducting virtual meetings each has its own specific
benefits. The key goal is to select and deploy the platform and then provide
people with the guidance on how to run effective virtual meetings.
technology also enables your team members to conduct informal meetings more of
a social interaction. Alternatively, they can use their normal social media
tools such as What’s app, Facebook Messenger etc. to create a sense of social
The communication solution needs to cover voice and email solutions. Having a virtual PABX solution hosted in the Cloud can ensure that phone calls can be directed to the right people inside the business. The email solution is part of Office 365 which includes capacity to share and store files using OneDrive and SharePoint.
putting the technology in place does not necessarily guarantee success there is
a need to build culture and create understanding between team members. A suggestion
is to create some tasks/projects that need completing by a team using the above
tools within a common framework.
– Remote Connections, Security, Support
element connectivity means having an internet connection for the worker to
access the software and tools, so they can perform their work. It is as basic
as that. However, the internet connection needs to be stable and quick enough
for workers to complete tasks.
This means considerations such as bandwidth and upload/download speeds. It may mean a business upgrading/switching the internet plans of their workers to ensure they can operate effectively. Wi-Fi is so predominant today there may be a need to check the configuration, make changes such as adding Wi-Fi boosters to ensure stable and reliable performance across a home environment.
With connectivity comes some clear concerns for a business owner, such as how secure is it in terms of being hacked, backing up data and email security. These questions raise the question to the level of support required by a remote worker?
workers it is very important that a business ensures they have proactive management
of their equipment and networks. What does this mean? Simply put don’t run the
risk of anything breaking by ensuring you have your IT person/provider constantly
monitoring and maintaining each workers environment.
ensuring all devices are regularly updated with the latest versions of the
software (patch management) ensuring that all security elements are operating,
and functional, ensuing data is backed up correctly in accordance with your
policies. That passwords are managed and updated regularly, that user access is
managed correctly as people come and go from the business and the list goes on.
This is called Managed Services.
In addition to Managed Services It is essential that employees can call someone if something unexpected happens (like a disc failure, network connection failure, etc.) The first step for your provider in the current environment will be to complete the diagnosis remotely using a tool such as TeamViewer or LogMeIn.
give your IT support person secure, full control and access to
your employee’s equipment. Its efficient and fast and means minimal disruption.
If the problem cannot be fixed remotely then an onsite visit will take place.
Note the IT provider must adhere to all COVID-19 social distancing and sanitisation
Finally, consider the option of a VPN (Virtual Private Network) which ensures your communication is encrypted and protected from prying eyes.
article is not exhaustive, but it explains why it is essential to work with an
experienced IT group such as Computer Troubleshooters.
national network of location’s, across Australia no matter where your team is
located, we can support them to ensure they maintain their productivity while
working from home.
Welcome to 2019 = Scam Watch. Scams continue to grow rapidly, and they continue to evolve to elaborate making it more and more difficult for people to recognize and avoid. The Australian government through Scamwatch.gov.au continues to report that Scams are costing the broader community significant amounts of money. Not only consumers but business as well with Small to Medium businesses being a very specific target.
Not all scams are related to the internet but the radar watch on scams reports that YTD October 2018, there was 15,195 reported incidents of which 9% involved a financial loss and $4.966 million had been lost. The key methods for delivering a scam are phone, email, text messaging, the internet and mobile applications.
As the variety of scams continues to grow, and the best form of defense is education and ensuring your IT systems are up to date with virus protection, that your data is backed up and that you are effectively managing access to your systems and email.
The criminals have continued to become more sophisticated with their ability to make an email to appear it is from a legitimate company. This hack involves a company receiving an email re the payee’s bank details have changed and that their invoices for services/goods should be paid to this new account.
In January there is an expectation that more scams involving online shopping, donations to fake charities and investment scams will have been reported over the Xmas period.
Understanding the Scams
Hacking is when the scammer gains access to your personal/business information by using technology to break into your computer, mobile device or network.
Some examples are to trick the user into installing some malware (software application) onto your computer and then that software works in the background to collect personal information such as banking records, passwords, credit card numbers etc.
Once they have this information, they use it to commit fraudulent activities such as identity theft or credit card theft or even directly transfer money to their accounts from your account.
Identity theft is where a person uses someone else’s identity to steal money or gain other benefits. A common method is Phishing, which is where you are contacted either by Phone, email, text, social media and then without suspecting anything you provide personal details.
This method equally applies to businesses but is referred to as Whaling or spear phishing. The scammer targets the business to gain confidential information for fraudulent purposes. Usually done by email that is sent to either a group of employees or a specific senior executive. The design of the email looks like it has been sent from a trustworthy source, with a subject that captures the eye as it is a critical business issue that the requires the recipient to act by going to a fake website and prompting them to enter key confidential information.
What are some of the scams?
The following list is not exhaustive, but they give you an idea of where you might encounter a scam.
Holiday accommodation scam: this is where scammers are asking for a payment for something that does not exist. Means fake online websites, fake vouchers unusual practices like paying everything in total (especially bigger trips) with no deposit.
Flight booking scams: same approach using online techniques through fake websites you pay to turn up at the airport and you do not have an authentic flight ticket
Online shopping scams: the scammer tricks through fake classified ads, auction listings, and bogus websites. You purchase but never receive the goods and the website is often only there for a very short period.
Celebrity endorsement scams: these types of scams involve a loss of between $100 and $500. This scam involves signing up for a free trial and providing credit card details from fake websites where they use celebrities to endorse the product without the celebrity’s knowledge.
False Billing: They request you or your business to pay fake invoices for the directory listing, advertising, domain name renewals, or office supplies that you did not order. This type of scam has grown by 33% in 2018. It is a sophisticated scam created through email compromise (BEC, Business Email Compromise). Losses of up to $2.8 million have been reported in 2018.
What are the key things you should do to protect yourself or business?
The following items are not listed in any order, but you should at least implement these items to mitigate the risk.
DO an annual Security IT assessment and act on the recommendations.
Do ensure your Antivirus software is up to date and is maintained weekly. Ensure you have a weekly maintenance schedule where this is checked and updated
Do have a person responsible for maintaining and regulating your user profiles for your computers and email services.
Have IT security as a regular point of discussion at your team meetings Share stories and examples so your team becomes more educated at identifying possible threats.
Ensure you have a backup and that it is checked regularly that it worked at the last scheduled backup time.
Install a password manager for all staff
How can Computer Troubleshooters help you?
As a small business, you probably won’t have the time or the resource to undertake all the above, which is why are joining forces with Crest Australia to conduct IT security assessments that have been backed by the Australian Government with rebates on the fees. Learn more on this Federal government program.
Our Protection Plan service is directly aimed at small to medium businesses which is aimed at allowing you to focus on your business while we focus on your IT security giving you the confidence and peace of mind on this business issue.
Call 1300 28 28 78 for your nearest local Computer Troubleshooter
The facts according to the Boston Computing Network’s Data Loss Statistics, are that 60% of companies that lose their data, will shut down within 6 months of the disaster. This is something that every business wants to avoid.
The following article provides a high-level understanding of how, as a business owner the question for you is one of Business Continuity of which Backup is a key component.
What is Business Continuity?
Business continuity involves a mindset of being proactive and putting plans, processes and systems in place, so that when the unexpected occurs you can return to normal operations with minimal delay thereby reducing the level of disruption and cost to your business.
The aim is to ensure that all essential functions can be up and running or be returned to operational status quickly during various unexpected events such as a natural disaster (Flood, Fire), cyberattacks, theft, or major IT system failure.
What is involved?
The key aspect is to develop a plan that then is well communicated and understood by your staff so they know what to do when the disaster occurs. Like all plans, if it is not communicated and shared then it’s not worth the paper that it is written on.
The process of writing the plan involves identifying the key risks, identifying the ways you can prevent those risks occurring for instance:
risk is data loss
prevention is designing and implementing a multilevel backup solution.
Then the last element of the plan is documenting the steps in responding and recovery if an incident occurs that does bring down your systems.
Businesses today are more reliant than ever on IT, one of the biggest threats these days being a cybersecurity breach. A fair portion of the plan will need to focus on recovery from an IT disaster.
The plan will need to be reviewed regularly as a business grows and circumstances change and the recovery processes should be thoroughly tested to ensure it will work.
What are your backup options?
There are many options available to businesses these days for backup. With today’s modern technologies and cloud storage services, a hybrid combination of traditional on-site backup plus off-site backup to the cloud, has become the popular choice amongst businesses wanting to ensure high levels of continuity.
The key questions in making a choice is determining the level of risk and the importance of the system and the data that is being backed up. Answering these questions will impact on the choice that you make. You can see I have not mentioned cost or price. One might ask Why? Well because you need to remember this is about having a solution that will minimise the cost of failure which will far outweigh the cost of the solution you choose.
If you are not certain about this statement ask somebody who has experienced the loss of data due to a failed system backup.
What are the traditional onsite backup options?
Onsite with machines all backing up either to tape or disc and then being stored onsite. Usually scheduled to occur daily, every couple of days, or weekly. The greatest weakness is that if something happens to the premises the backups can become corrupted and lost and an external service provider such as Kroll Ontrack may need to be used to try and recover the data.
To overcome the above weakness some business’s will transport the discs/ tapes to an offsite location where they are stored.
What is happening today?
The cost of online storage has reduced with the introduction of data centre services and the continued adoption of cloud storage services. Today most businesses will have a recovery strategy based around using cloud storage, with onsite backup devices that then replicate to a data centre.
The drivers behind this are many but one can put it down to speed of recovery, ability to quickly monitor and ensure backup has occurred, hence no unpleasant surprises if a data loss breach or cyberattack occurs.
The first step is to make sure you have a plan and an understanding of your options. This is where you should have a chat with your local computer troubleshooter to understand how they can help you to minimise the disruption to your business from a data loss/breach. Visit www.computertroubleshooters.com.au to locate your nearest provider.