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Understanding SIEM and Its Benefits for SMEs

As cyber threats are becoming more sophisticated, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) face a growing need for robust cybersecurity solutions. Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) is emerging as a powerful tool, offering SMEs a proactive approach to cybersecurity that goes beyond traditional measures. Here we review SIEM and explore how it can fortify the digital defenses of SMEs.

What is SIEM?

SIEM, or Security Information and Event Management, is a comprehensive solution that combines Security Information Management (SIM) and Security Event Management (SEM). It involves the collection, analysis, and interpretation of security-related data from various sources within an organisation.

What are the Benefits of SIEM for SMEs?

  • Real-Time Threat Detection – SIEM systems actively monitor network logs, devices, and applications in real-time. This enables SMEs to detect and respond to security incidents promptly, reducing the risk of prolonged cyberattacks.
  • Incident Response and Forensics – SIEM provides a centralised platform for incident response and forensic analysis. In the event of a security incident, SMEs can trace the origin, identify affected systems, and implement corrective measures swiftly.
  • Compliance Management – SMEs often need to comply with industry-specific regulations and standards. SIEM tools assist in monitoring and reporting on activities that may impact compliance, helping businesses adhere to regulatory requirements.
  • Log Management and Retention – SIEM solutions collect and store extensive logs, allowing SMEs to maintain a comprehensive record of network activities. This is invaluable for investigations, audits, and compliance reporting.
  • User Activity Monitoring – By tracking user activities and behaviors, SIEM helps SMEs identify unusual patterns or potential insider threats. This proactive approach enhances the overall security posture by preventing unauthorised access.
  • Threat Intelligence Integration – SIEM systems integrate with threat intelligence feeds, providing SMEs with up-to-date information on emerging threats. This ensures that security measures are aligned with the current threat landscape.
  • Customisation and Scalability – SIEM solutions can be tailored to the specific needs of SMEs. As businesses grow, SIEM platforms can scale to accommodate increased data volumes and expanded IT infrastructures.
  • Cost-Effective Security – While investing in cybersecurity is crucial, SIEM offers you a cost-effective solution by consolidating security functions into a single platform. This reduces the need for multiple standalone security tools.
  • Improved Operational Efficiency – SIEM tools automate the analysis of security data, enabling SMEs to identify and respond to threats more efficiently. This automation reduces the burden on IT teams and enhances overall operational efficiency.
  • Enhanced Visibility – SIEM provides SMEs with a comprehensive view of their IT environment including network activities and security events enabling them to make informed decisions while also proactively addressing potential risks.

How can SMEs Implement SIEM?

Implementing SIEM requires several steps.

  • Assessment and Planning – Conduct a thorough assessment of security needs and plan the implementation of SIEM accordingly.
  • Integration with Existing Systems – Ensure seamless integration with existing security infrastructure and IT systems.
  • Staff Training – Train your IT staff to effectively use and manage the SIEM system to maximise its benefits.
  • Continuous Monitoring and Maintenance – Regularly update and fine-tune the SIEM system to adapt to evolving threats and maintain optimal performance.
  • Regular Audits – Conduct regular audits to assess the effectiveness of the SIEM implementation and identify areas for improvement.

In conclusion, SIEM is a powerful cybersecurity solution that empowers SMEs to proactively defend against a multitude of cyber threats. By offering real-time threat detection, incident response capabilities, and enhanced visibility into security events, SIEM provides SMEs with the tools needed to navigate the complex and ever-evolving cybersecurity landscape. As SMEs continue to grow and digitalise their operations, implementing SIEM becomes not just a necessity but a strategic imperative for ensuring the resilience of their digital infrastructure. However managing SIEM is the key in keeping business safe.  Rewieving logons and activities is time-consuming task. Therefore having an MSP take over the management ensures everyone is safe and can focus on their core expertise and tasks.

If you’d like to learn more about SIEM and how we at help4IT can assist you, get in touch with us today. Or visit our managed SIEM for small business page.

Best File Sharing Technologies for Law Firms

In the fast-paced and document-intensive world of law, effective file sharing is crucial for collaboration, client communication, and maintaining the confidentiality of sensitive information. Choosing the right file sharing technology is a paramount decision for law firms of all sizes. Here we explore some of the best file sharing technologies for legal practices.

ShareFile by Citrix:

Designed with security in mind, ShareFile by Citrix offers law firms a secure platform for file sharing and collaboration. With features like encrypted file transfer, document tracking, and custom access permissions, it ensures that sensitive legal documents remain confidential. Integration with legal software and robust audit trails adds an extra layer of compliance.

iManage Work:

Built specifically for the legal industry, iManage Work provides a comprehensive document and email management solution. Its file sharing capabilities include secure collaboration spaces, version control, and granular access permissions. With a focus on simplicity and productivity, iManage Work streamlines workflows for legal professionals.

NetDocuments:

NetDocuments is a cloud-based document management system designed to meet the stringent security and compliance requirements of law firms. It offers seamless file sharing, real-time collaboration, and advanced search capabilities. The platform’s focus on mobility ensures that legal professionals can access documents securely from anywhere anytime.

Box for Legal:

Box is a versatile file sharing and collaboration platform that caters to various industries, including law. Box for Legal provides law firms with a centralized hub for document management, secure sharing, and collaboration. Advanced security features, such as access controls and document retention policies, make it a robust choice for legal professionals.

Microsoft SharePoint and OneDrive:

Part of the Microsoft 365 suite, SharePoint and OneDrive offer law firms a familiar and integrated solution for file sharing and collaboration. SharePoint provides a centralized document repository with customizable access controls, while OneDrive ensures secure file sharing and access from multiple devices. If you already use Microsoft 365 suite you’re one step from having a holistic file sharing and collaboration solution for your legal practice.

HighQ Collaborate:

HighQ Collaborate is a cloud-based platform designed to enhance collaboration and file sharing for law firms. It includes features like secure document exchange, task management, and client collaboration portals. With a strong focus on client communication and project management, HighQ Collaborate streamlines workflows for legal teams.

Key considerations on file sharing solutions for law firms:

  • Security and Compliance – Choose platforms that comply with legal industry regulations and offer robust security features, including encryption, access controls, and audit trails. This ensures safety of all parties and mitigates risks of compliance issues.
  • Integration with Legal Software – Choose file sharing solutions that seamlessly integrate with commonly used legal software and case management systems to enhance workflow efficiency. This ensures everyone can focus on the essential tasks without having to waste time juggling with multiple apps and softwares.
  • User-Friendly Interface – Opt for platforms that are user-friendly and intuitive to encourage adoption among legal professionals who may not be tech experts.
  • Mobility – Consider the mobility features of the platform to ensure lawyers can securely access and share documents while on the go.
  • Collaboration Features – Evaluate collaboration tools such as real-time editing, comments, and version control to enhance teamwork among legal professionals.

In conclusion, the right file sharing technology can significantly impact the efficiency and security of a law firm’s operations. By choosing a platform that aligns with the unique needs of legal professionals, firms can streamline workflows, enhance collaboration, and ensure the confidentiality of sensitive legal documents.

If you’d like to learn how we at help4IT can help you optimise your IT operations, visit our legal IT support page or get in touch with our team.

The Break-Fix IT Model Advantage for SMEs

Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) often seek flexible and cost-effective solutions to manage their technology needs. One such approach that has gained popularity is the Break-Fix model, offering a unique set of benefits tailored to the requirements of smaller businesses. Here we explore the benefits this resurging service model brings to your business.

Cost Efficiency

The Break-Fix model operates on a pay-as-you-go basis, allowing SMEs like yours to control IT expenditure more effectively. Instead of committing to a fixed monthly fee, you only incur costs when an issue arises and requires professional intervention. This flexibility is particularly beneficial for SMEs with budget constraints, allowing them to allocate resources strategically.

Customised Support

SMEs often have diverse and evolving IT needs. The Break-Fix model provides tailored support based on specific issues or projects, ensuring that businesses receive assistance exactly where it’s needed. This customisation allows SMEs to address critical issues promptly without investing in comprehensive support packages that may include services they don’t need.

Scalability

The scalability of the Break-Fix model aligns seamlessly with the growth trajectory of SMEs. As businesses expand, their IT requirements may evolve. With a Break-Fix approach, SMEs can scale their IT support in response to changing demands, avoiding the commitment to long-term contracts that may not align with their growth trajectory.

Focused IT Spending

By adopting a Break-Fix model, SMEs can focus their IT spending on critical areas that directly impact their operations. Rather than allocating resources to ongoing maintenance tasks, businesses can invest strategically in resolving immediate issues or enhancing specific aspects of their IT infrastructure, contributing to overall efficiency.

Access to Expertise

Engaging with a Break-Fix service provider enables SMEs to access a pool of specialised expertise. When an issue arises, businesses can tap into the knowledge and skills of experienced IT professionals without the need for an in-house IT team. This not only reduces labor costs but also ensures that SMEs benefit from the proficiency of specialists in diverse IT domains. If you have an in-house team, this model helps you have issues your team doesn’t have know-how on solved without delay.

Autonomy and Control

SMEs retain a high level of autonomy and control over their IT support with the Break-Fix model. They have the flexibility to choose when to engage with IT services based on their specific needs, allowing for strategic planning and decision-making aligned with business objectives.

Risk Mitigation

The Break-Fix model inherently responsively addresses risks. Instead of investing in preemptive measures that may or may not be necessary, SMEs can focus on mitigating risks as they arise, ensuring a pragmatic and cost-effective approach to IT management.

Managing your IT Requirements

In conclusion, the Break-Fix model offers SMEs like yours a viable and efficient alternative for managing their IT needs. Its flexibility, scalability, and cost-effectiveness make it a compelling choice for businesses looking to navigate the intricacies of the IT landscape without committing to long-term, comprehensive support contracts. As technology continues to evolve, the Break-Fix model stands out as a pragmatic solution that empowers SMEs to harness the benefits of IT support tailored to their unique needs. The model is exceptional for providing value to internal departments through audits, compliance best practices, cybersecurity implementations, and education freeing up time by allowing them to focus on what they excel at.

If you’d like to learn how break-fix PAYG model can help you in optimising your IT operations, get in touch with us today.

The Risks of Using Outdated Hardware in Business

As a business owner, you understand the importance of staying competitive. While many companies focus on software and digital strategies to maintain their edge, the hardware that supports these operations often gets overlooked. Using outdated hardware can pose significant risks and challenges that can impact the bottom line. Here we look at the risks of using outdated hardware and why it’s essential to keep your technology up-to-date.

The consequences of outdated hardware

Decreased Productivity – Outdated hardware can significantly decrease employee productivity. Slow computers, constant crashes, and long loading times for applications can lead to frustration and wasted time. In today’s business landscape, every minute counts. When employees spend valuable working hours waiting for their machines to respond, it results in decreased efficiency, reduced output, and lost opportunities.

Security Vulnerabilities – One of the most significant dangers of using outdated hardware is the increased vulnerability to security breaches. Cybersecurity threats evolve rapidly, and older hardware may lack the necessary features and updates to protect against these threats. Outdated systems are easier targets for hackers, and they may not receive critical security patches, making your business data and sensitive information more susceptible to breaches.

Compatibility Issues – As software and applications continue to advance, outdated hardware may struggle to run new versions or, in some cases, may become incompatible altogether. This can limit your ability to take advantage of the latest tools and features that could enhance your business operations and customer service. Additionally, it may lead to complications when collaborating with partners and clients who rely on updated technology.

Costly Repairs and Downtime – Old hardware often requires more maintenance and repair, which can lead to unexpected costs and downtime. Businesses may find themselves frequently investing in repairs and replacements, resulting in a drain on resources that could have been better spent on growth and innovation. Frequent downtime can also impact customer satisfaction and erode trust.

Energy Inefficiency – Outdated hardware tends to be less energy-efficient, contributing to higher electricity bills and a larger carbon footprint. In an era where sustainability and environmental responsibility are highly valued, using outdated technology can harm your company’s image and increase operational costs. As the electricity is more expensive you may find yourself having to review budgets to cover unexpected business expense hikes. Old hardware can add hundreds to your bills.

Limited Performance and Scalability – To make it in today’s competitive world the ability to scale and adapt quickly is crucial. Outdated hardware may not be capable of handling the demands of a growing business, limiting your ability to expand, adopt new technologies, or adapt to market changes. This can stifle innovation and potentially lead to missed opportunities. According to Scottish Business News, almost 9 in 10 UK businesses struggle with basic daily tasks due to outdated systems.

Poor User Experience – Your employees are your most valuable assets, and their user experience matters. Outdated hardware is frustrating to use, resulting in reduced job satisfaction and increased turnover. To attract and retain top talent, it’s crucial to provide the tools and technology that allow employees to perform their best.

Keeping your hardware up to date

Keeping up with your competitors requires staying up to date with the latest hardware. The dangers of using outdated hardware, including decreased productivity, security vulnerabilities, compatibility issues, costly repairs, energy inefficiency, limited performance, and a poor user experience, can have a profound impact on your bottom line and reputation.

Investing in up-to-date hardware is an essential part of maintaining a thriving business that can adapt to changing market conditions and emerging technologies. While the upfront costs of hardware upgrades may seem daunting, the long-term benefits far outweigh the risks of using outdated technology. Your business’s efficiency, security, and ability to innovate all depend on it.

If you’d like to learn how you can optimise your IT systems and expenses related to your IT operations, we’d be happy to advise and assist. Contact us for help optimising your hardware.

How We Contribute to Successful Cyberattacks

In the ever-evolving landscape of cybersecurity, it’s not just technological defences that need to be strengthened. While firewalls, encryption, and intrusion detection systems play a pivotal role, there’s a subtle yet equally significant player in the game – the human factor. Here we will delve into the crucial role that humans play in the success of cyber-attacks and explore the various ways in which individuals unwittingly become cyberattack enablers.

Social Engineering: The Art of Deception

One of the most common ways cybercriminals exploit the human factor is through social engineering. Social engineers are akin to modern-day con artists, using psychological manipulation to deceive people into divulging confidential information or performing actions that compromise cybersecurity. Techniques like phishing, baiting, and pretexting all prey on human psychology and emotions to gain access to sensitive data.

Phishing, for example, relies on deceptive emails or messages that appear to be from trusted sources. They often contain malicious links or attachments that, when clicked, can lead to data breaches or malware infections. Even the most vigilant individuals can be fooled by well-crafted phishing attempts. According to IDG Research Services around 85% of successful attacks involve the human factor. AV Test stated that each day there are 560,000 pieces of malware detected.

Insider Threats: The Trojan Horses Within

Insider threats represent a unique form of human factor vulnerabilities. These threats occur when individuals with legitimate access to an organisation’s systems intentionally or unintentionally misuse their privileges. This could be a disgruntled employee seeking revenge or an unwitting team member falling victim to social engineering tactics.

Insider threats can have severe consequences, as those within an organisation often have access to sensitive data and systems. Organisations must implement robust access control and monitoring systems to mitigate these risks, all while balancing trust and employee privacy.

Weak Passwords and Poor Security Practices

Human negligence also plays a significant role in cybersecurity breaches. Weak passwords, reused across multiple accounts, or not changed regularly, create an open door for cybercriminals. Simple and easily guessable passwords are low-hanging fruit for hackers, making the job of unauthorised access a breeze.

Beyond weak passwords, failing to keep software and systems up to date, disabling security features for convenience, or leaving sensitive information on easily accessible devices can also contribute to successful cyberattacks. In essence, the lack of security awareness and best practices can inadvertently aid cybercriminals.

To mitigate the risk of credential theft it’s advisable to use multi-factor authentication.

The Role of Training and Awareness

The human factor in successful cyber-attacks is, at its core, a challenge in human behaviour and psychology. However, it’s a challenge that can be addressed through education, awareness, and training. Organisations must prioritise cybersecurity training for their employees, helping them recognise phishing attempts, understand the importance of strong passwords, and grasp the consequences of falling prey to social engineering.

Moreover, fostering a culture of cybersecurity within the workplace can go a long way in mitigating human factors in cyber-attacks. When employees understand the value of their role in protecting the organisation’s digital assets, they become active participants in maintaining cybersecurity. Sharing the guidelines and rules helps along with regular training or workshops helps your staff avoid becoming the human factor enabling successful attacks.

Conclusion

The human factor is a double-edged sword in the realm of cybersecurity. While it presents a significant vulnerability, it also offers an opportunity for organisations to bolster their defences. By understanding the psychology of cyberattacks, investing in training and awareness, and implementing robust security measures, you can significantly reduce the success of cyber-attacks driven by human factors.

In the digital age, cybersecurity is not just the responsibility of IT departments; it’s a collective effort that requires a united front against the threats posed by the human factor. Cybersecurity is, ultimately, as much about human behaviour as it is about technology, and recognising this is the first step toward a safer digital world.

If you’d like to learn how we at help4IT can help you stay safe, visit our website for more tips and schedule a free cybersecurity assessment.

Data Acquisition and Sharing Practices in UK Businesses

In the age of information, data has become the new gold. The value of data is undeniable, and businesses worldwide are continuously seeking ways to harness its potential. In the United Kingdom, this is no exception. Here we dive into the world of data acquisition and sharing by UK businesses, exploring the methods they employ, the challenges they face, and the benefits they reap.

The Role of Data Acquisition

Data acquisition is the process by which businesses collect information from various sources to gain insights and make informed decisions. From e-commerce giants to small local enterprises, organisations are employing tactics such as customer surveys, online forms, and website analytics to acquire valuable data.

One common method used is Customer Relationship Management (CRM), which allows companies to collect, organise, and analyse data about their customers. This data includes contact information, purchase history, and even social media interactions. With this information, businesses can better tailor their marketing efforts and improve customer experiences.

Data Sharing Practices

Sharing data within an organisation is often as crucial as collecting it. Collaboration between departments can lead to more informed decision-making and improved customer service. UK businesses are increasingly turning to cloud-based platforms for secure data sharing. This facilitates easy access to data by authorised personnel, regardless of their physical location. A survey by Gov.UK shows that 83% of businesses use standalone devices to store and process collected data. 34% leverage cloud providers and 14% use servers they own to store data.

Data sharing extends beyond an organisation’s borders as well. B2B data sharing has seen significant growth in the UK, with companies entering partnerships to share data for mutual benefit. This is particularly common in industries such as healthcare, where sharing patient data can lead to better treatment outcomes. According to Gov.UK 17% of UK based organisations share data outside their organisation and 31% acquire or collect data from other businesses and organisations. A staggering 66% share data with other businesses.

Challenges in Data Acquisition and Sharing

While the benefits of data acquisition and sharing are undeniable, there are challenges that UK businesses face. Data privacy and security are paramount concerns, given the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Businesses must ensure they handle customer data in compliance with the law. This includes obtaining informed consent for data collection and implementing robust security measures. 47% of businesses found the ICO guidelines clear to follow and implement. However, 18% found them unclear.

Additionally, data silos, where different departments store data separately, can hinder effective data sharing within organisations. Breaking down these silos and ensuring data accessibility is a challenge that many businesses are striving to overcome.

Benefits and Opportunities

Despite the challenges, UK businesses stand to gain immensely from effective data acquisition and sharing. Data-driven decision-making leads to more targeted marketing efforts, improved customer retention, and better product development. It can also help identify emerging trends and areas for business growth.

Moreover, the data-sharing ecosystem in the UK is fostering innovation and collaboration across industries. The exchange of knowledge and insights is driving improvements in various sectors, including healthcare, finance, and technology.

Conclusion

Data acquisition and sharing are integral components of modern business operations in the UK. Businesses are leveraging various strategies and technologies to collect, organise, and share data securely. While challenges, such as data privacy and silos, persist, the benefits are undeniable, ranging from better decision-making to enhanced customer experiences and industry-wide collaboration.

As technology continues to evolve, UK businesses are poised to unlock even more insights from the valuable data they acquire and share. With responsible data handling and a commitment to data-driven practices, the future of business in the United Kingdom looks bright, promising increased innovation and efficiency.

In this data-rich era, one thing is clear: businesses that effectively acquire and share data are better positioned for success in a rapidly changing world.

If you want to learn how you can optimise your data storing and ensure compliance in your organisation, we’d love to help you. Contact our IT support team for an informal chat.

Know Your Cybersecurity Regulations

If you’ve been playing any sport, you know that different games have different rules and regulations. The same goes for work, school, and even family life. Breaking rules leads to penalties which at times can be devastating for you. Business is no different. If you store any information about clients, customers, and staff, you have rules and regulations you must follow and comply with to stay safe and avoid potentially very serious consequences. Here we look at some of the most important cybersecurity related regulations.

PCI-DSS

Payment card industry data security standards are put in place to protect any payment card user data to keep you and your clients safe. The founding members include American Express, Discover, JCB International, MasterCard, and Visa. Essentially, they created this standard so that banks, retail stores, online vendors, and software developers would be required to uphold the privacy of the cardholders’ information. 

HIPAA

HIPAA stands for the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. Created in 1996, HIPAA sets regulations that secure certain health information. With the rise of technology and convenience, health industries also adopted the utilisation of online record holding. However, with so much personal information on health records, new security needs to be developed. These confidentiality rules apply to hospitals, pharmacies, medical insurance companies, health clinics, and more. Thanks to the assistance of cybersecurity companies, the above-mentioned entities can focus on their medical work and leave everything else to the experts.

General Data Protection Regulation

I’m sure you’re familiar with the GDPR aka General Data Protection Regulation. This regulation was set up to protect people’s sensitive information in general, limiting what data companies can gather and how they use it. Breaching GDPR can lead to legal consequences and potential hefty fines. To mitigate the risk of breaching the GDPR, many companies turn to cybersecurity service providers for assistance.

Need assistance with cybersecurity compliance?

These are the three most common regulations businesses of all sizes must comply with daily. If you have any questions about regulations, we at help4IT are happy to answer your questions. Feel free to contact us today.

Avoiding Pitfalls- Common Mistakes Charities Make With IT

Charities are dedicated to making a positive impact on society. To achieve their goals, they often rely on Information Technology to manage their operations, reach donors, and deliver services. However, just like any other sector, charities can make IT-related mistakes that hinder their ability to fulfil their missions effectively. Here we explore some common errors that charities make with IT and show you how they can be avoided.

Neglecting cybersecurity

One of the most significant mistakes charities make is neglecting cybersecurity. Charities often collect sensitive information, such as donor details and beneficiary data. Failing to implement robust security measures can put this data at risk. Charities therefore need to invest in firewalls, antivirus software, and staff training to mitigate the risk of data breaches. Regular security audits are also essential to identify vulnerabilities. According to Department for Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport report, 24% of charities fell victim to cyber-attacks in the past year. A staggering 19 of them reported being targeted once a month by hackers.

Ignoring data backups

Data loss can be catastrophic for charities. Whether it’s donor databases, financial records, or important documents, losing this information can disrupt operations and damage a charity’s reputation. Some charities neglect to set up proper data backup and recovery systems. It’s essential to regularly back up data and test the restoration process to ensure it works when needed. One efficient way to mitigate the risk of losing data is to store it both in the cloud as well as offline.

Underestimating IT budgeting

Charities often operate on tight budgets, which can lead to underinvestment in IT. This mistake can result in outdated technology, unreliable systems, and increased operational costs in the long run. Charities should create a realistic IT budget that accounts for hardware, software, and ongoing maintenance. Investing in IT can reduce operational costs by increasing efficiency. By performing proper audits regularly and consulting an IT support service provider who specialises in assisting charities and other non-profit organisations, you can optimise your IT budget without sacrificing quality and operational efficiency.

Failure to plan for scalability

Charities grow and evolve, but many fail to plan for IT scalability. This can result in systems that do not accommodate the organisation’s changing needs. It’s vital for charities to ensure their systems are scalable, making it easier to add users, devices, and services as the organisation expands. Inefficient systems slow down operations causing headaches for staff and customers.

Not embracing cloud solutions

Some charities resist moving to the cloud because of concerns about data security and cost. However, the cloud can provide cost-effective, scalable, and secure IT solutions. It allows remote access to data and applications, making it easier for remote or distributed teams to collaborate. Charities should consider the advantages of cloud solutions for their specific needs. However, it’s advisable for you to turn to an IT provider who specialises in charities to find the best cloud solution for your charity’s needs as there are multiple options with different features to choose from.

Poor vendor management

Charities often rely on external vendors for IT services. While this can be a cost-effective strategy, poor vendor management can lead to operational problems. Charities should ensure vendors meet their service level agreements (SLAs) and provide adequate support. A lack of vendor oversight can result in unexpected downtime and operational disruptions that affect not only the charity but also customers.

Insufficient IT training

Charity staff don’t have to be IT experts, but basic IT training is essential. Many IT issues arise from user errors. Charities should invest in training programs to ensure that employees can use technology effectively and securely. This training can reduce the risk of data breaches and system failures. Regular training improves satisfaction among the staff and mitigates risks that can have devastating consequences for charity, its customers and donors.

Lack of a comprehensive IT strategy

A strategic approach to IT is vital for charities. Some charities lack a cohesive IT strategy, leading to disjointed systems and inefficiencies. A well-defined IT strategy should align with the charity’s mission and include plans for security, data management, and technology adoption.

Require assistance with IT management for your charity?

Effective IT management is crucial for charities, just as it is for any other organisation. Avoiding common IT mistakes can help charities operate more efficiently, protect sensitive data, and better achieve their mission. By addressing these mistakes and investing in IT as a strategic asset, charities can make a more significant impact on the communities and causes they serve. If you’d like to learn more about improving your charity’s IT and security, the help4IT team are happy to assist you and answer any question you may have. Contact us today for assistance.

How IT Can Help You Retain Talent in the Hybrid Working Era

In this era of hybrid and remote work, talent retention has become a hot topic and an issue for many businesses. Communication, collaboration, and security are vital when you want to keep your employees happy and productive. Here we explore ideas for leveraging tech in employee retention.

Infrastructure

It’s vital to ensure that your IT infrastructure supports hybrid and remote work. Provide your staff with laptops, secure VPN connection, and quality collaboration and communication tools to ensure seamless and effective collaboration across the organisation. Ensure your staff has robust and reliable internet connection available to minimise disruptions.

Collaboration tools

To ensure the productivity of your team, you need to implement and optimise the collaboration tools such as video conferencing (Microsoft Teams, Zoom), messaging platforms, and project management software to facilitate teamwork and communication among your remote and in-house team members. You need to provide proper training and support on these tools so your team can leverage them properly and maximise their productivity.

Cyber security

Have proper cybersecurity measures and tools in place to keep sensitive company data and remote work setups secure. Multi-factor authentication, regular software updates, and staff training on cyber security are integral parts of a secure hybrid and remote working environment. You also must implement secure remote access protocols to protect company networks from threats.

Cloud-based solutions

Use cloud-based solutions for data storage and application access so your remote team can access files and applications anywhere. Implement cloud-based backup and data recovery solutions to safeguard your critical data.

Remote support and IT helpdesk

Establish a responsive IT helpdesk to assist your remote team with potential technical issues promptly. Remote troubleshooting and support should be available when you provide hybrid or remote working opportunities to your staff. Provide self-service IT support resources that your team can use to solve common technical issues they face independently.

Remote onboarding and training

Develop remote onboarding processes that effectively integrate new hires into the company culture and help them become productive while working remotely. Offer your remote team ongoing virtual training and upskilling opportunities to help them stay engaged and advance in their careers. This helps you stand out and turn your team into loyal employees.

Performance monitoring and analytics

Implement tools for monitoring employee performance and productivity, focusing on outcomes rather than micromanagement. Use data analytics to gain insights into remote work trends and identify areas where there’s a need for improvement.

Employee well-being and engagement

Use technology to foster a sense of belonging and engagement among remote teams. This can include virtual team-building activities, social chats, and online forums. Encourage regular check-ins and one-on-one meetings between managers and remote employees to address concerns and maintain a sense of connection.

Flexible work solutions

Implement flexible work solutions that allow employees to choose when and where they work, within reasonable constraints. This can help improve work-life balance and job satisfaction.

Feedback loops

Collect feedback from your employees on their remote work experiences and use this input to make continuous improvements to remote work policies and IT infrastructure.

Need assistance optimising your IT setup for remote and hybrid workers?

By investing in these IT strategies, organisations can create an environment where remote and hybrid work arrangements are not only feasible but also conducive to employee productivity, satisfaction, and retention. A well-supported and empowered remote workforce is more likely to remain loyal to the company. If you’d like to learn how we at help4IT can assist you and your remote team, don’t hesitate to contact us for further information.

Common IT Mistakes Made by Small Businesses  

When starting a new business or attempting to grow a small business into a larger one, there are many things to think about and the attention of the team is often pulled in multiple directions. Building your product or service offering obviously takes highest priority, as well as marketing it to the right people and managing new clients or customers. For smaller businesses, it can be easy to overlook areas that are essential to your growth and prosperity – IT being one of the most important yet frequently sidelined areas in start-ups and small companies.

If you’re a small business owner or manager, and you’re concerned about the setup of your IT systems, here are some of the most common mistakes made and how to avoid them.

Using obsolete hardware and software

Obsolete hardware and software can jeopardise a small business by making it vulnerable to security breaches, as outdated systems often lack the latest security patches. They can also hamper productivity due to compatibility issues, reduced performance, and frequent crashes. Additionally, the longer a business relies on outdated technology, the more expensive and complex the eventual upgrade becomes. Furthermore, the lack of support for older systems means that when issues arise, resolution can be time-consuming, leading to extended downtimes. In essence, relying on obsolete technology poses significant operational, financial, and security risks for small businesses.

Not having any cybersecurity measures in place

Smaller businesses often lack cybersecurity measures due to limited resources and the perception that they aren’t primary targets for cyberattacks. Many believe that cybercriminals only target large corporations, underestimating their own vulnerability. Additionally, small businesses might prioritise immediate operational costs over long-term security investments. The absence of in-house IT expertise can also contribute to a lack of awareness about the evolving threat landscape and the necessary protective measures. This combination of factors makes them more susceptible to cyber threats, even though implementing basic security measures could mitigate many potential risks.

Failing to adhere to data and security compliance regulations

By not having any cybersecurity measures in place, small businesses inevitably fail to meet compliance standards. Smaller companies that are non-compliant with data and security regulations face significant risks including hefty financial penalties and legal actions. Such non-compliance can lead to data breaches, jeopardising sensitive information and eroding customer trust. The subsequent damage to a company’s reputation can result in loss of clients and business opportunities. Additionally, non-compliance can hinder partnerships or dealings with larger entities that demand regulatory adherence. Over time, the costs associated with addressing breaches, legal repercussions, and reputational repair can dwarf the initial investment needed for compliance, potentially threatening the company’s viability and long-term survival.

Lack of regular maintenance

Another area that can sometimes land smaller businesses in trouble in terms of both compliance and staff well-being is the maintenance of IT systems. Regular IT maintenance is crucial for both small and large businesses to ensure operational efficiency, security, and data integrity. Regardless of size, businesses depend on their IT infrastructure for daily operations. Maintenance tasks like updates, backups, and security checks help in identifying and addressing potential issues before they escalate into significant problems. These preventative measures also ensure that the systems are running optimally, protecting against data loss, cyber threats, and ensuring compliance with various regulatory requirements. Moreover, a well-maintained IT environment can adapt more easily to evolving business needs, thus supporting growth and sustainability.

A DIY approach to IT

Small companies with poorly maintained IT systems are often in such a place because they have taken a DIY approach to its management. For example, it’s common to see smaller companies elect the person with the strongest IT skills to manage the setup of laptops and devices, despite not having any specialist training in IT.  Ultimately, attempting to address IT issues without adequate knowledge will result in longer downtimes, disrupting operations, and diverting attention from core business activities. DIY IT may be ok for companies with just 2 or 3 members of staff, but for growing businesses a DIY approach will lead to higher long-term expenses, reduced productivity, and potential reputational damage from avoidable missteps.

Lack of investment in training

Investing in IT training for employees is vital for small businesses to enhance productivity, reduce operational errors, and safeguard against security threats. Trained employees can make better use of technological tools, improving efficiency and the quality of their work. Moreover, many security breaches occur due to human error or lack of awareness. By ensuring employees are knowledgeable about best practices, risks like phishing attacks or inadvertent data leaks can be minimised. In essence, IT training empowers employees to contribute positively to the business’s technological ecosystem, promoting a secure and efficient work environment.

What are the key steps to improving the IT setup for a small business?

In summary, then, here are some of the most important steps smaller companies need to take to ensure they avoid costly IT mistakes that will likely disrupt operations and the reputation of the business.

  1. Implement Regular Backups – Ensure data is backed up both locally and off-site, allowing for quick recovery in case of data loss or cyberattacks.
  2. Prioritise Cybersecurity – Adopt a multi-layered security approach with updated antivirus, firewalls, and secure password policies. Regularly educate employees on security best practices.
  3. Upgrade to Modern Hardware and Software – Use current and supported systems to benefit from the latest performance enhancements and security patches.
  4. Migrate to the Cloud – Utilise cloud services for scalability, remote access, and efficient collaboration. This also offloads some IT maintenance to cloud providers.
  5. Engage External IT Expertise – Consider hiring or consulting with IT professionals to periodically review and optimise the IT setup, ensuring best practices and identifying areas for improvement.

At help4IT, we have many years of experience in the SME sector, helping small to medium-sized businesses streamline their technology requirements and improve their scalability. Visit our small business IT support page for further details, or contact our team to discuss an audit of your IT setup. 

Why Microsoft 365 is the Ideal Cloud IT Solution for Most SMEs

The team at help4IT is often approached by small business owners looking for advice on migrating to the cloud. For the majority of SMEs that we work with, Microsoft 365 is often the perfect answer to many of the IT challenges that they face. Here we answer some of the most commonly asked questions about Microsoft 365, and why it is ideal for many small to medium-sized businesses.

What is Microsoft 365?  

Microsoft 365, formerly known as Office 365, is a subscription-based service offered by Microsoft that combines a suite of productivity applications and cloud services. It includes popular applications such as Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, and Teams. Along with the traditional Office software, users get additional features like OneDrive storage, advanced security measures, and regular updates. Microsoft 365 is designed to be accessed online, enabling users to work collaboratively in real time from various devices and locations. Catering to both individual users and businesses, it offers multiple plans to fit varied needs, ensuring seamless integration, collaboration, and enhanced productivity.

Why is Microsoft 365 a great cloud IT solution for SMEs?

Microsoft 365 is a potent cloud solution for businesses because it integrates a range of productivity tools, ensuring seamless collaboration and communication. The platform is built on robust security features, safeguarding sensitive business data from potential threats. OneDrive offers generous cloud storage, facilitating easy sharing and backup of files. Moreover, Microsoft’s consistent updates ensure businesses always have the latest features and security patches. All these factors combined make Microsoft 365 an all-encompassing solution that promotes efficiency, collaboration, and security in a business environment.

How easy is it for a small business to migrate to Microsoft 365?

Migrating to Microsoft 365 is relatively straightforward. Microsoft has designed the setup and migration process with user-friendliness in mind. With the availability of comprehensive guides and support from Microsoft, even businesses with limited IT expertise can undertake the migration, however, it’s advisable to consult with IT experts to ensure that your configuration achieves what you need it to do. Key aspects of the migration will involve setting up user accounts, migrating existing email and files, and configuring settings. For those with existing Microsoft products or email systems, there are tools and services to assist with data transfer. While some initial training might be beneficial for staff to utilise all features optimally, the intuitive interface of Microsoft 365 apps makes the transition smoother for most users.

How easy is it to maintain Microsoft 365 and what sort of maintenance tasks are needed?

Maintaining Microsoft 365 is relatively hassle-free, as most of the heavy lifting, like server management and software updates, is handled by Microsoft. However, businesses should regularly manage user accounts, permissions, and monitor storage usage. They must also configure and review security settings, ensuring compliance with organisational policies and potential threat mitigation. Regular training or refresher sessions can be beneficial to keep staff updated on new features or best practices. You will also need to regularly maintain the hardware used to access Microsoft 365 and maintain network security to protect all devices.

My business uses custom software. How well does Microsoft 365 integrate with custom software?

Microsoft 365’s integration with custom software largely depends on the software in question. Many businesses find success integrating through Microsoft’s Power Platform, especially Power Automate, which can connect to numerous services and applications. Microsoft Graph API provides a way to interact with Microsoft 365 services, offering opportunities for custom integration. Furthermore, Microsoft 365 is built on common standards and protocols, making it more interoperable. However, the ease and depth of integration can vary. It’s therefore essential to work with IT professionals familiar with both Microsoft 365 and the specific custom software to assess feasibility and implement a smooth integration process.

Is it essential to consult with IT professionals when moving over to Microsoft 365?

Yes, consulting with IT professionals when transitioning to Microsoft 365 is essential. While Microsoft 365 is user-friendly, an IT expert ensures a smooth migration, helping transfer data, set up security protocols, integrate custom software and existing systems efficiently. They can identify potential pitfalls, recommend best practices, and ensure your setup aligns with business needs. Moreover, they can provide training to staff, ensuring optimal utilisation of the platform. Their expertise can save time, reduce potential disruptions, and ensure that the transition maximises the benefits of the platform for your business.

Are there any scenarios where Microsoft 365 might not be the best solution for my business?

Yes, there are scenarios where Microsoft 365 might not be the best fit. If your business operates in regions with limited internet connectivity, relying heavily on cloud-based services might be challenging. Businesses with stringent data residency or compliance requirements might find Microsoft’s cloud storage locations unsuitable. Additionally, if your enterprise heavily depends on software that’s incompatible or hard to integrate with Microsoft 365, transitions can be cumbersome. Also, smaller businesses with tight budgets might find some of the advanced features unnecessary and cost-prohibitive. It’s crucial to evaluate your specific needs, existing infrastructure, and budgetary constraints before committing to migrate to Microsoft 365.

What are the key benefits of moving to Microsoft 365 summarised?

In summary, then, migrating to Microsoft 365 offers the following key benefits:

  1. Collaboration and Flexibility – Microsoft 365 offers integrated tools like Teams and SharePoint, allowing employees to work together in real time from anywhere, facilitating a more flexible and collaborative work environment.
  2. Regular Updates and Features – Subscribers receive consistent updates, ensuring they always have access to the latest features, security patches, and software improvements without incurring additional costs.
  3. Robust Security – Microsoft 365 has built-in security measures, including advanced threat protection, data loss prevention, and multifactor authentication, safeguarding businesses from potential security threats.
  4. Scalability – It’s easy to adjust subscriptions based on the needs of the business, allowing for seamless scaling up or down as the company grows or changes.
  5. Integrated Cloud Storage – With OneDrive for Business, users get ample cloud storage, making it easier to store, share, and access files from any device, enhancing mobility and data redundancy.

Need assistance migrating to Microsoft 365?

The help4IT team has been delivering an efficient, frictionless Microsoft 365 migration service to SMEs in a broad range of sectors for many years. For assistance with moving your IT systems to the cloud, or for general small business IT support, contact our team today to discuss an initial audit.

Arranging a Cybersecurity Risk Assessment

According to research by Vodafone, more than half of SMEs in the UK have experienced some form of cyberattack. Businesses large and small must take steps to improve their security postures and one of the best places to start is with a cybersecurity risk assessment.

Here we answer some of the most commonly asked questions around the assessment and how to go about booking one for your organisation.

What does a cybersecurity risk assessment involve?

A cybersecurity risk assessment is a systematic process to identify, evaluate, and prioritise potential vulnerabilities and threats to an organisation’s information systems and data. This assessment considers both the likelihood and impact of various cyber threats, with the aim to guide the development of strategies and controls to mitigate risks. The process encompasses reviewing current security measures, identifying vulnerabilities in hardware, software, and human elements, analysing potential threats from both internal and external sources, and evaluating potential consequences of a breach. The outcome provides a foundation for strengthening an organisation’s cybersecurity posture and making informed decisions on security investments.

Who performs the risk assessment?

The assessment is typically performed by cybersecurity specialists, either from an organisation’s internal cybersecurity or IT team or by external consultants with expertise in this area. As it’s usually only very large companies that have internal cybersecurity specialists, assessments are most often conducted by external consultants for smaller businesses. For larger organisations, the process may involve collaboration between various departments, including IT, legal, operations, and human resources, to ensure a comprehensive understanding of the organisation’s assets and potential exposure. Whether conducted internally or externally, it’s crucial for the assessors to maintain objectivity and to prioritise the protection of the organisation’s assets and data over any other interests.

How is the scope of the assessment determined?

The scope of a risk assessment is determined based on an organisation’s objectives, regulatory requirements, and the specific assets and systems deemed critical to its operations. Key considerations include the types of data the organisation handles, the technologies and systems in use, and the specific threats and vulnerabilities relevant to its industry or sector. Input from stakeholders, such as business units, IT, legal, and executive leadership, helps to identify areas of concern or focus. A clearly defined scope ensures that the assessment is both comprehensive and relevant, allowing the organisation to effectively address its unique risks and maintain a secure operational environment.

How are assets identified prior to the assessment?

To identify assets for assessment, the assessor will start by mapping out your organisation’s critical business processes and functions. Following this, they will determine the technologies, systems, and information that support these processes. This includes physical devices like servers and computers, software applications, data repositories, and even intangibles like intellectual property or customer information. They will engage with department heads and key personnel to understand which assets are crucial for daily operations and which contain sensitive or regulated data. They will also consider assets that, if compromised, could cause reputational harm or legal implications. This holistic approach ensures you capture all essential assets that could be potential targets or vulnerabilities in the cybersecurity landscape.

How are threats identified?

Threats encompass the strategies and methods employed by cyber adversaries that could jeopardise an organisation’s assets. To pinpoint threats to individual assets, databases like the MITRE ATT&CK Knowledge Base are leveraged. Reports from security vendors and advisories are valuable for updates on emerging threats across sectors, regions, or technologies. Additionally, understanding an asset’s position within the Lockheed Martin cyber kill chain helps in determining its protective needs, as this model outlines the progression and goals of a typical cyberattack.

How are risks prioritised?

Assessors consider factors like financial loss, operational disruption, legal implications, and reputational damage as priority risk areas. They use a risk matrix to visually categorise risks based on their likelihood and impact, which aids in understanding their relative significance. After categorisation, the assessor will focus on addressing the most severe risks first, with recommendations for allocating resources effectively. Remember that risk appetite varies among organisations; what’s acceptable for one might not be for another, so any risk assessment must align with the risk priorities and unique goals of the organisation.

What is the best way to document and manage the risks?

The assessment team will set out clear documentation on the way to best manage risks. This may involve a centralised risk register or dedicated risk management software. This repository will detail each risk’s nature, its likelihood, potential impact, mitigation measures, and responsible parties. Integrating the risk management process into the organisation’s daily operations and decision-making is a key outcome of a risk assessment.

What are five main reasons I should book a cybersecurity risk assessment today?

In summary, then, the here are five key reasons you should consider booking a cybersecurity risk assessment for your organisation today.

  1. Protect Valuable Assets – Cybersecurity risk assessments help identify and protect your organisation’s most valuable assets, preventing unauthorised access, data breaches, and potential financial losses.
  2. Regulatory Compliance – Many industries are governed by regulations that mandate regular cybersecurity assessments. Non-compliance can lead to penalties, legal consequences, and reputational damage.
  3. Proactive Threat Management – The assessment identifies emerging threats and vulnerabilities, enabling your organisation to take proactive measures before a breach occurs, rather than reacting after the fact.
  4. Optimised Resource Allocation – Understanding where vulnerabilities exist helps your organisation to prioritise and allocate resources efficiently, ensuring the highest risks are addressed first.
  5. Stakeholder Confidence – Demonstrating a commitment to cybersecurity boosts trust among customers, partners, and investors, ensuring them that their data and interactions with your organisation are secure.

Book an assessment today

The help4IT team offer a range of cybersecurity solutions suited to both small and medium-sized companies as well as larger organisations. Hackers will stop at nothing to get to your valuable data, and it’s up to you to protect your business. Ignoring cybersecurity may work in the short term, but the time to be proactive is now.  Book a cybersecurity risk assessment with us today.

Cybersecurity Compliance for UK Law Firms

Law firms are particularly susceptible to cybersecurity attacks as they store highly sensitive information regarding their clients and their court cases. Cybercriminals target law firms in the hope that they can infiltrate their systems, exfiltrate their data, then hold the firm to ransom for large sums of money. According to the Solicitors Regulation Authority, 75% of law firms have been the target of a cyber-attack. The SRA also found that 23 of 30 cases they analysed involved more than £4m of stolen client money.

Successful cybersecurity breaches are highly damaging for any business, however, attacks like these are particularly costly for law firms. The financial impact can be devastating, particularly for smaller firms, and the reputational impact could result in some firms going out of business.

Reducing the threat posed by cybercrime involves rigid compliance with the regulations, high-quality cybersecurity solutions, and training. For law firms based in the UK, there are various laws they must be compliant with. Here we look at the key regulations and guidelines, together with information on how firms can better protect themselves.  

Regulations and Guidelines for Law Firms in the UK

Achieving and surpassing cybersecurity compliance requires consideration of the following laws, regulations, and industry standards. All firms based in the UK need to consider, create procedures and technical measures around, the following:

  • The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) – While the GDPR is a European Union (EU) regulation, the UK has adopted its principles into domestic law after Brexit, with the UK GDPR. This regulation is all about the protection and free movement of personal data. Law firms, which often handle a lot of sensitive personal information, need to ensure they comply with GDPR requirements concerning data protection, data breaches, and the rights of data subjects.
  • The Data Protection Act 2018 – This UK-specific legislation complements and fills in the gaps of the UK GDPR. It provides more detailed provisions on data processing, data subject rights, and enforcement.
  • The Network and Information Systems (NIS) Regulations 2018 – This regulation aims to raise the security standards of network and information systems across various sectors. While primarily targeting essential service providers and digital service providers, its focus on promoting cybersecurity can have implications for law firms as well.
  • Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) Standards and Regulations – The SRA sets standards for solicitors in England and Wales. As part of these standards, there are requirements relating to the protection of client money and data, which have cybersecurity implications. Law firms are obliged to report any breaches of these standards to the SRA.
  • Cyber Essentials – While not a regulation per se, Cyber Essentials is a UK government-backed scheme that sets out a baseline of cybersecurity for businesses. Achieving Cyber Essentials certification can demonstrate a firm’s commitment to cybersecurity, potentially providing a competitive advantage and reducing risk.
  • Legal Professional Privilege – While not a cybersecurity regulation, it’s worth noting that law firms have an ethical and legal obligation to protect communications between lawyers and their clients. Failing to maintain strong cybersecurity could compromise this privilege.
  • Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) Regulations – For law firms involved in certain financial transactions or advising on them, the FCA’s rules and guidance around data security may be relevant.
  • Other Industry-Specific Guidelines and Regulations – Depending on the areas of practice, law firms may also need to be aware of cybersecurity requirements in specific industries (for example, if they are dealing with healthcare or financial services clients).

For further information on maintaining cybersecurity compliance in the legal sector, this June 2023 report by the National Cyber Security Centre is very useful.

How can law firms ensure their cybersecurity procedures are compliant with all the regulations?

Key steps UK firms can take to improve their cybersecurity postures include the following:

Understand the Regulations

The first step is understanding which regulations apply to your law firm. For all UK-based firms, the GDPR, the Data Protection Act 2018, and SRA regulations are essential. Engage in regular legal and regulatory updates, training, and consultations.

Conduct a Risk Assessment

Identify where personal and sensitive data is stored, processed, and transmitted within the firm. Assess current cybersecurity measures and identify vulnerabilities. Use this information to prioritise areas of improvement.

Develop and Implement Policies

  • Data protection policy – Outline how personal data should be processed and stored.
  • Incident response plan – Detail the steps to be taken in the event of a data breach or cyberattack.
  • Access control policy – Define who has access to which data and systems.
  • BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) policy – If staff use personal devices for work, outline the security measures they must follow.

Technical Measures

  • Implement Firewall and Intrusion Detection/Prevention Systems – To protect against unauthorised access.
  • Use Encryption – Encrypt sensitive data, both at rest and in transit.
  • Regular Backups – Ensure data is regularly backed up and that backups are stored securely.
  • Multi-factor Authentication – Implement MFA for accessing the firm’s systems, especially for remote access.
  • Regularly Update and Patch Systems – Keep all software, including operating systems and applications, up to date.

Training and Awareness

Regularly train staff on cybersecurity best practices and the firm’s policies. This should cover topics like spotting phishing emails, proper data handling, and password best practices.

Vendors and Third Parties

Ensure that third-party vendors, such as cloud providers or IT service providers, also comply with the relevant regulations. This can be done through contractual clauses, audits, or third-party certifications.

Regular Audits

Periodically review and audit your cybersecurity measures to ensure compliance. This can be done internally or with the help of external experts.

Incident Response

Prepare for potential breaches by having a clear incident response plan. This should include processes for containment, eradication, recovery, and communication with stakeholders (including regulatory notifications if needed).

Insurance

Consider cybersecurity or cyber liability insurance to mitigate financial risks associated with potential breaches or cyberattacks.

Stay Updated

The cybersecurity landscape, as well as regulations, are constantly evolving. Stay informed about new threats, best practices, and any changes in relevant regulations.

Seek Expertise

It can be beneficial to hire or consult with cybersecurity experts or legal consultants specialising in cybersecurity regulations. At help4IT, we provide a range of cybersecurity solutions that meet regulatory compliance requirements for the legal sector. Book a risk assessment with us today or visit our law firm IT support page for further details.

Why Schools Should Invest in Enhanced Cyber Security and Training

This year alone there have been numerous ransomware attacks on schools in the UK. This has raised a question as to whether schools and other educational facilities invest enough in their cyber security and staff training. The latest victim is UWS, University of West of Scotland who was targeted by a gang called Rhysida.

According to BBC news, Rhysida positioned itself as a cybersecurity team telling the organisation they were doing them a favour by pointing out vulnerabilities in their systems. However, the gang is demanding GBP 450,000 from UWS to prevent them from auctioning all the personal and other sensitive data they have stolen on the dark web.

What consequences can inadequate cybersecurity and training have?

If your school is hacked, it’s not only data that is affected. Rhysida’s attack affected staff laptops, shut down half of the IT systems, and affected student submissions. The university’s website was also down showing an error message due to the attack. This not only caused inconvenience to the staff and students but also put them in danger due to the sensitive data that was stolen. These attacks also impact in the long run the reputation of the school because it shows that there’s a lack of investment in security measures that prevent these attacks from succeeding.

What measures can you take to keep your school safe?

First and foremost, you need to have a proper cybersecurity strategy in place. Having regular cybersecurity assessments performed is the first step in developing a comprehensive strategy that is implemented in your school. Also having regular staff training and keeping your staff and student updated on the regulations and guidelines related to cybersecurity is vital for the overall safety of your school. Keep your devices and systems updated and ensure you have proper cyber security tools available that can detect and react to threats. It’s not enough that you have a firewall and hope for the best. A VPN solution and Microsoft Sentinel are things you will want to invest in to help safeguard your school. Also keeping your staff trained by professionals helps to mitigate risks of data breaches.

Talk to the help4IT cybersecurity team

Schools and other educational facilities have become one of the favourite targets for cybercriminals. If you want to keep your staff and students safe, you need to ensure that your staff are properly trained to spot possible attack attempts, have a robust cybersecurity strategy in place, keep all relevant people informed about regulations and guidelines in terms of cybersecurity, and keep your systems and cyber security tools updated always.

The team at help4IT can assist you with the implementation of all this and more for your school. Visit our Schools, Colleges, and Universities page for details.

Remember, attackers see schools as easy targets for their payday, so they come up with sophisticated and devastating ways to cause damage and extort them. To avoid this potential scenario, speak to our team today for advice on how you can better protect your staff and students.

Empowering Education: Choosing the Right IT Service Provider for Your School

According to Further Education News, 64% of schools are now embedding technology in everyday teaching and learning practices. In such a technology-driven landscape, schools rely heavily on IT services to provide an enriching learning environment that meets the needs of both staff and students.

If you are part of your school’s management team and you are seeking new IT providers to assist with the efficient management of your technology needs and IT infrastructure, you may find the following considerations useful.

Seek IT providers with experience in auditing education environments

A key step to optimising your use of technology is to thoroughly audit it. This includes your current infrastructure, devices, peripherals, and software. Consider areas that require improvement, such as network security, data storage, cloud services, and tech support for teachers and students. IT service providers with experience working in schools will be able to identify weaknesses in your existing set-up and make recommendations that will better meet the needs of staff and students.

Prioritise experience in the education sector

An IT service provider with experience in the education sector brings valuable insights into the unique challenges and requirements schools face. Look for providers who have worked with educational institutions like yours. Their familiarity with the industry will enable them to offer tailored solutions that align with your school’s goals and values.

Check for a proven track record and references

Research the reputation of potential IT service providers by reading testimonials and case studies from other schools they have worked with. Reach out to those institutions for feedback on their experiences. A reliable IT provider will have a strong track record of successful implementations and positive client relationships.

Evaluate cybersecurity measures

Security is a top concern in any educational setting, given the sensitive data relating to students and their families. In 2022, 14 schools in the UK were hacked and confidential data was leaked online. You will want to be confident that your IT service provider is doing everything they possibly can to avoid attacks like this. Ask them about their cybersecurity protocols, data encryption, and compliance with industry standards. A strong cybersecurity framework will protect your school’s digital assets and safeguard student privacy.

Consider support and responsiveness

Timely technical support is crucial for the uninterrupted functioning of a school. Ensure the IT service provider offers quick response times and a helpdesk that is available during school hours. Efficient support will enable teachers and staff to address tech-related issues promptly, fostering a productive learning environment.

Be prepared for the future demands of your school

As your school expands and integrates new technologies, it’s essential to choose an IT service provider that can scale their services accordingly. A flexible and forward-thinking provider will help your school accommodate future growth and technological advancements.

Review cost and budget compatibility

While budget is a significant consideration, focus on finding an IT service provider that offers the best value for your school’s needs. Evaluate the cost of services relative to the quality and range of offerings. Some providers may offer educational discounts or customisable packages to suit your budget constraints.

Align with your school’s educational vision

Choose an IT service provider that aligns with your school’s educational vision and goals. A partner who shares your commitment to enhancing the learning experience and supporting the academic community will be better equipped to serve your school’s unique requirements.

Find out how help4IT can assist your school

Selecting the right IT service provider is a pivotal decision for schools seeking to optimise their technological capabilities and enrich the learning experience. At help4IT, we have a strong track record in helping schools and colleges implement and maintain IT environments including new technologies, hardware, and software. Visit our IT support for schools page or contact us today for further information.

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