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5 Microsoft 365 features to help your business

Microsoft 365 is a subscription-based evolution of Microsoft Office, designed to help you run your business more efficiently and safely. It is more than just apps such as Word, Excel and Powerpoint; it brings together best-in-class productivity apps with powerful cloud services, device management, and advanced security in one, connected experience.

The subscription model of Microsoft 365 makes it an ideal, cost-effective solution for SMEs that want to deploy a mobile, collaborative work environment that is productive and secure with features that offer a competitive advantage. With its combination of the operating system (Windows 10), the productivity suite (Office 365) and the authentication system (Enterprise Mobility and Security), Microsoft 365 is a turnkey suite that SMEs can deploy quickly and inexpensively, offering smaller businesses the edge to succeed in a competitive marketplace.

With this in mind, we thought we’d take the time to highlight five of the most innovative Microsoft 365 features that will likely be an asset to the running of your business.

1. Real-time co-authoring

With Office and OneDrive or SharePoint, multiple people can work together on a Word document, Excel spreadsheet, or PowerPoint presentation. People working on these documents at the same time is a collaboration method referred to as co-authoring.

2. Easy editing and converting to PDF

Converting finished documents, spreadsheets or presentations to PDF is easy in Microsoft 365 with the Save as PDF integrated feature.

3. Improved version control

Microsoft 365 offers much-improved version control with co-authoring. Easily see which changes were made when and by whom. You can also revert back to any previous version of the file, whenever you need to.

4. Work anywhere from any device

Devices Microsoft 365

Work on cloud files using any up-to-date web browser using any device type in any location. You can even access and work on Word, Excel and other productivity apps directly from your smartphone, while you’re on the move.

5. Intelligent email

Clutter Microsoft 365

With the Clutter feature, Microsoft will use your mailbox rules to automatically organise your email so high-priority messages are visible first. Other incoming mail is moved to your Clutter inbox for you to view separately when it suits you.

Moving to Microsoft 365

Are you an SME looking for assistance with your migration to Microsoft 365? Get in touch with the help4IT team for details on how we can assist you with a smooth transition.

How to provide the best IT support for your remote workers

The number of employees working remotely within the UK has grown significantly in recent years, largely due to the impact of Covid-19 and the subsequent national lockdowns. According to a study by the Wales Institute of Social and Economic Research and Data, remote working was relatively rare in 1981 when only 1.5% of those in employment worked mainly from home. By 2019 it had tripled to 4.7%, however, it rose suddenly and dramatically in lockdown with just over 43% of employees working almost always working remotely.

With 36% of working adults reporting that they have worked at home at least once over a 7 day period in January 2022, there has emerged a significant requirement for employers to ensure that their staff can fulfil their roles to the best of their ability outside of the office or other traditional work environments. With the remote working trend likely to continue long after the impact of Covid-19 has diminished, employers must be able to provide a high standard of IT support services for staff working from home and other spaces outside of official company premises.

Key areas that employers need to consider when accommodating the requirements of remote workers include the following.

Ensure remote workers can get technical issues fixed by a remote IT support team

If large sections of your team are not office based, it’s unlikely that you will be able to provide onsite IT support for every issue that they encounter. You need to ensure that you have a good system in place for responding to their issues quickly and fixing the problem remotely, wherever possible. If your business serves customers from around the world, then you may need to consider providing a multi-lingual remote IT support department.

Ensure that your remote team can access IT support 24/7

If a high percentage of your staff do not work regular 9 to 5 office hours, it’s important that they are able to access help and fix IT issues whenever they occur. If you are unable to establish an in-house 24/7 IT team, consider outsourcing support to a dedicated managed IT support company. This will ensure that staff working from home late at night or operating in different time zones are not prevented from meeting important deadlines or delivering solutions to customers.

Ensure that you can deal with local emergencies experienced by remote workers  

Whilst most issues can be resolved remotely, occasionally an onsite visit is the only option for resolving urgent issues faced by staff working remotely. You, therefore, need to ensure that you can facilitate a response to any emergencies occurring no matter where in the country, or the world, they happen. One way to do this would be to work alongside multiple local IT support providers based on the locations of your remote staff. This might work for smaller businesses, however, for larger and more complex operations you should consider hiring a local managed services provider (MSP), one that can leverage network connections to ensure onsite support is provided quickly no matter where in the world your staff are based.

Ensure that strong security standards and procedures are implemented

Never assume that staff working remotely are not a threat to your central systems. Without carefully considered security procedures and solutions in place, staff may attempt to access company files from unprotected or public networks potentially compromising sensitive data and information. Important steps to ensure that staff can work safely whilst remote include the following:

  • Mandating Two-Factor Authentication (2FA)
  • Mandating strong passwords and user access protocols
  • Limiting access to sensitive files and directories
  • Providing training and support on common security risks such as phishing attacks
  • Setting up a VPN network
  • Setting up systems to ensure that security software on devices used to access company information is kept up to date
  • Implementing a cloud-based mobile device management (MDM) service such as Microsoft Intune.

Ensure you have considered the bigger picture for remote working staff

It’s not enough just to provide a solution for fixing IT issues for your remote staff. You need to ensure that your business can continue to operate well in the face of bigger systemic issues such as server failures. Backup server maintenance, temporary systems, and devices for both your office-based and remote staff all need to be considered to assure uninterrupted productivity and business continuity.

The help4IT advantage: providing specialist support for remote working staff

With our extensive global partner network, the help4IT team provide emergency support for our clients that have operations in multiple countries and remote staff working in varied locations. We have also assisted countless businesses to migrate to a platform that offers best in class security provision for both office-based and remote working team members.

To find out more about how we can help you, please get in touch.

Cyber security tips for charities

According to a 2021 report by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport, more than a quarter of charities (26%) reported having cyber security breaches or attacks in the 12 months preceding the date of their analysis. Larger charities are more likely to be affected by cybercrime, with 50% of high-income charities (£500k or more) and 68% of very high-income organisations (over £5m) reporting that they have experienced breaches within a 12-month period.

These worrying statistics are accompanied by reports of triple-digit increases in cyberattacks. With no slowdown in sight for security breaches, it is more important than ever for organisations to ensure that their systems are protected as well as can be. For smaller charities and non-profit enterprises, this may present certain challenges from a finance and training perspective. However, there are simple steps that charities of all sizes can take to safeguard their data & protect confidential information relating to donors, trustees, and other stakeholders.

Below we have outlined some of the most important areas that charities need to consider when assessing their IT systems and security.

Ensure that you are securely backing up your data

Whatever the size of your organisation, you are likely to be storing vital documents that would impede your progress if lost. Information such as donor and volunteer details, governing and compliance documents, invoices and payment details must all be stored very carefully. Therefore, all charities must take steps to back up regularly and ensure that important files are not just stored on local machines. Storing all your critical files in the cloud is highly advisable, however, you do need to take care when migrating to a cloud system.

Take steps to protect your charity from malware

The WannaCry outbreak in 2017 is an example of malicious software, or ‘malware’ for short, that affected charities as well as businesses and other types of organisations. To protect your charity against malware attacks like this it is important to use antivirus on all computers, laptops or any other devices that connect to your server. You should prevent trustees, volunteers, and staff from downloading any suspicious apps using one of your organisation’s devices (or prevent them from accessing important data from devices that belong to them but have not been security checked).

It’s also very important to keep all your IT equipment and software up to date (patching) and to ensure there are controls in place in terms of how USB drives and memory cards are used. It’s a good idea to encourage staff to transfer data via cloud storage or email rather than use memory sticks which can be unwittingly infected.

Make sure any smartphones or tablets are safe for use by staff and volunteers

Many charitable organisations have staff and volunteers working “in the field”, where it’s essential for them to be able to access the central server using a mobile device. As such, it’s very important to ensure that these devices are configured properly and connect to your server in the most secure way possible. Essential steps to take to on this front include ensuring adequate password protection is in place; making sure that you can track, lock, and wipe any lost or stolen devices; making sure each device is regularly checked and updated; ensuring apps on each device are updated to the latest versions and ensuring staff and volunteers do not connect to your server using unknown Wi-Fi hotspots.

Look at ways of using passwords to protect your data

All the devices used by people within your charity will contain sensitive data such as the personal information of donors, supporters, trustees, volunteers, and staff members. It is essential that this information is available to you and other senior people in the management team but not to unauthorised users. Steps you can take on this front include using two-factor authentication for access to important accounts; banning the use of predictable or easy passwords; using password manager systems that enable tiered access to different file systems dependent on the seniority of the end-user, and ensuring that default passwords can never be used to access any parts of your server.

Take steps to avoid phishing attacks

Phishing is where cybercriminals send mass communications to many different targets (typically via email) where they ask for sensitive information such as bank details or access to an online account. Often these communications will include a link to a website that imitates a well-known brand or institution. Phishing attacks are becoming increasingly sophisticated, with their communications and websites looking near-identical to the brands they are imitating.

There are several things you can do to try to mitigate the impact of a phishing attack. This includes configuring your accounts and devices so that only very senior people within your organisation have access to the most sensitive data; offering basic training to staff and volunteers so that they are equipped with the skills to understand what a potential phishing communication looks like; regularly scan your IT systems for evidence of any irregularities, and put in place spam detection software to help syphon suspicious inbound mail.

Get assistance assessing the IT infrastructure of your charity

Are you concerned about the IT setup or security of your charity’s systems and servers? The team at help4IT have many years of experience providing IT support for charities, non-profits, and NGOs. Read how we assisted Age UK and Meals on Wheels, or simply call us for an informal chat with one of our friendly IT consultants.


The key features of an excellent IT support help desk

An IT help desk is a department, either within an organisation or provided by an external contractor, that is responsible for answering the technical questions of the end-users of an IT system. Most major IT companies have help desks to respond to questions from their customers. Questions may be handled by the help desk in various ways including email, telephone, website, or online chat.

Here are some of the key features of an excellent IT support help desk.

Qualified, friendly support staff

The key to any effective help desk is the people who provide the service. End-users of a help desk need to know that their enquiry is going to be dealt with professionally and quickly, therefore empathetic staff with strong interpersonal skills are essential to the delivery of the service. They must also possess the technical skills required to deal with the most common IT issues.

An effective ticketing system

Providing an exceptional standard of IT support to end users can’t be achieved without an efficient technology setup. Ticketing systems enable end-users to keep a record of the issues they raise, monitor the progress of the issues, and allow multiple stakeholders, with different levels of expertise, to collaborate on any complex problems. An effective ticketing system is, therefore, an essential component to a good quality IT support desk.  

An efficient issue tracking system

An essential element of providing above-average IT support is the efficient recording of issues and bugs that end users are experiencing with the hardware and software they are using. IT support companies, therefore, need to ensure that the helpdesk agent, engineers, and managers can keep track of the issues through to their complete resolution. A good tracking system will keep the end-user up to date on the status of the problem.

Monitoring and analytics

An efficient IT support helpdesk should include analytics on the service provider side, enabling IT managers to gain insight into common issues and fixes for end users of IT systems. This valuable data can be used to help make the handling of future support tickets more efficient and satisfactory for the end-user.

A customer feedback feature

IT support companies need to learn from their mistakes and successes, so customer feedback is essential to this process. A good IT help desk should allow end-users to provide the support team with details of how they feel their issue has been dealt with, once the ticket has been closed.

Interested in a review of IT support for your business?

At help4IT, we have been providing exceptional help desk support to our clients since our inception in 2005. It is the foundation stone of our support packages. If you’d like a review of your IT systems, please contact us today.

What benefits are there for using VoIP telephony within your business?

Today, almost every business need can be better serviced via the cloud. Telephony and communication provide a prime example of the way that cloud technology not only makes services more cost efficient but also more effective and versatile too. VoIP telephony has a lot of benefits for any business looking to get more from an investment in communications networks.

What is VoIP telephony?

It’s very similar to traditional telephone systems in terms of the experience that the user has. However, the key difference is that VoIP telephony uses the internet, as opposed to a telephone network in order to send and receive calls. The sound of people speaking to each other is converted to digital voice communication and then transferred via a digital network.

Why does VoIP telephony work for businesses today?

It’s much more cost effective

The costs involved in VoIP telephony offer the same benefits as any other cloud service – they are less thanks to the lack of set up costs and a reduction in ongoing expenses resulting from the efficiencies and economies of scale of the cloud. So, there are no hardware or software costs payable by the business and no complex contracts to enter into. Instead, businesses using VoIP telephony are effectively able to pay for services as they are required. And, despite this much more appealing cost structure, there is no dip in the quality of service – in fact, many businesses see an improvement.

Supporting agile working infrastructures

VoIP telephony enables businesses to be genuinely agile, supporting a mobile or remote workforce on a global basis. With VoIP telephony, business communications can be accessed from anywhere in the world, and from any device. So, whether your staff want to access voicemail and fax, or you are looking to monitor activities and set answering rules, all of this can be done from any location as long as there is an internet connection.

Making maintenance easier

If you have an issue with a traditional telephone line then you have to call the relevant company and wait for the technicians to get to the problem. If you’re using VoIP telephony then issues are much easier to resolve and cloud telephone companies tend to be able to deal with most of them remotely. Plus, as there is no hardware on site, the maintenance and repair obligations on the business are minimal.

Responsiveness to change

Cloud technology is incredibly supportive of business change – and this applies to VoIP telephony too. Cloud telephony is truly scalable, which makes it the ideal communication tool for smaller businesses looking to grow, or for larger enterprises seeking to have some flexibility in terms of the services that are paid for, depending on demand. Scaling VoIP telephony up or down is incredibly fast and simple to do – you won’t need to call in an engineer or pay for extensive hardware additions to scale up and if you need to cut back your services in response to a drop in demand, all that is required is a phone call.

VoIP telephony has a lot to offer businesses today, from simplifying communications to cutting costs. We can help you to create the perfect technology infrastructure for your business. Contact help4IT today to find out more.

How to guarantee a seamless IT transition during your office move

Relocating an office is a big transition. It can involve a lot of upheaval and needs to be managed with precision. The transition of business IT is one of the most important elements in any office move. It not carefully managed, this could lead to IT problems that disrupt business continuity and cause chaos and frustration for your enterprise and for your customers and clients. So, how do you ensure that the IT element of your move is seamless?

Start planning – months in advance

Your IT relocation plan should begin months before the move is scheduled. You’ll need to ensure that you have time to review all the potential outcomes, cover every piece of equipment and system and ensure that the relevant people are well informed when it comes to what needs to happen, and when. Start with a complete review and inventory of all your IT, including essential systems and software and devices and equipment, such as printers or servers. What is required for successful transition for every part of the plan in terms of actions and timescales involved? Make sure you get input from any relevant parties so that no essential steps are missed.

Invest time in creating floor plans

Often, it’s difficult to see where problems may arise without a visual aid to relocation. This is why it’s so important to draw up floor plans as part of the preparation for the office move. Use the inventory you’ve created to design detailed floor plans for each of the spaces in your new office so that you can see exactly what needs to go where and what is required to get everything up and running. This may involve a process of updating, replacing, changing or adding to existing equipment and systems. It’s also a great time to review whether your current IT meets your business needs in terms of both cost and deliverables. If you could reduce spend or improve performance by making changes then integrating these during an office move can mean less disruption.

Test out your new IT

When the first stage of the office move is complete it will be important to test everything before considering the process finished. So, when you’re planning the transition don’t forget to include a test phase that you can implement as soon as the physical move has been completed. This will enable you to identify any problems that need to be dealt with quickly and to prevent issues with business continuity.

Get some good advice

If you don’t have the experience or expertise to be able to identify the potential issues that could arise with IT during an office move then it’s always a good idea to get some expert advice. This will give you insights that you may not otherwise have had the benefit of, and help to make the transition a smoother one.

At help4IT we have a wealth of experience when it comes to ensuring smooth IT transition during an office move – our team is happy to help.

How can you ensure flexibility and security at the same time?

Flexible working is not just something that employees today have a legal right to request. It has also become an integral part of the work culture of many businesses. Being able to offer flexible and mobile working to employees makes an enterprise a more attractive employer and also creates opportunities for cost saving and efficiency. But how do you ensure that this flexibility doesn’t come at the cost of IT and network security?

Device security is crucial

You may have employees hot desking in the office with company laptops or they may be using their own devices from other locations. Whatever the method that you choose, device security is going to be essential. Good password hygiene will make it much more difficult for data and information to be accessed by those who should not have it, even if a device is lost or stolen. Long, obscure passwords with a mix of numbers and letters, as well as the use of two step authentication, will help to boost the strength of device security.

Educating employees will give them tools

It’s a fact that staff often simply aren’t aware of the range of security risks that modern IT presents – and so it’s often up to employers to provide training to educate employees in order to keep company networks safe. The basics of device security will be important, such as not auto saving passwords, but you may also want to educate employees on other risks, such as the dangers of using public Wi-Fi and avoiding public computers to log on remotely to business networks.

Encrypted emails are essential

Email is the key communication tool of choice for employees when flexible working – and it’s often the first place that cyber criminals will look for information and data that could be used to engineer a security breach. Encrypting emails disguises email content and an encryption key is required for anyone who wants to see it. So, sensitive information is protected and only those who are supposed to see the content of the emails sent between the business and its remote workers will be able to do so.

Data backups support business recovery

Cloud technology is a useful tool when it comes to security, enabling regular automated backups from which data can be recovered centrally through an off-site server. In the event of a security breach at your business, backup will be crucial to ensuring business continuity and the access to critical data that is required to get systems back up and running – and secure – once again. Implementing regular data backups is an important part of security and one that employees may need to be involved in enabling.

Invest in network monitoring to trigger early warning

Network monitoring has a number of benefits, from identifying current inefficiencies to informing IT strategy and planning. It’s also a crucial security tool that will act as an early warning if there is a security issue unfolding that is affecting your network.

Flexible and mobile working could be transformative for your business – as long as there is the security in place to ensure this is handled safely. Get in touch with help4IT today on 0207 653 9780 to find out more.

How can proactive IT support and ongoing monitoring help your business?

IT functionality provides a firm foundation on which any business can begin to grow. A well designed infrastructure and proactive support will optimise IT investment to deliver real returns and enable tangible development. For any organisation, the right support and monitoring can be both an efficient way to handle the challenges of modern business IT and an opportunity to enjoy the benefits.

Ongoing monitoring has become essential

From network performance through to attacks on servers, monitoring is a simple way to ensure insight and awareness of critical change to IT systems. The performance insights that network monitoring provides enable IT infrastructure to be better tailored to the business, to identify resources that could be better used and areas where support is lacking. Networking monitoring also provides crucial early warning when issues arise. The timing of a response to something like a security breach can make all the difference to its outcome – without ongoing monitoring some breaches can simply go unseen and the damage can be significant as a result.

Proactive IT support provides access to experts at a manageable cost

An in-house IT team is an expense that many organisations – especially SMEs – simply can’t cover. 24/7 support for problem solving and routine administration doesn’t have to come from an internal team. In cost benefit terms it rarely makes sense to opt for this kind of investment, particularly when economies of scale make the expertise and experience of an in-house team available at a fraction of the price via an outsourced service. With proactive outsourced IT support, a business has the support and strategic vision it needs to thrive without the heavy cost burden of paying for this in-house.

Business continuity is improved with the right support

From network monitoring, to regular maintenance and expert disaster recovery planning, proactive IT support includes many features that are designed to deliver improved business continuity. Operational disruption is one of the biggest threats to organisations today, particularly given the rise in the number of cyber attacks and the much higher expectations that customers now have, particularly when it comes to data protection. It’s essential that organisations have business continuity provision in place and proactive IT support makes this simple.

A well designed IT infrastructure can improve productivity

Businesses that benefit from IT support that helps to optimise infrastructure design and includes regular, proactive maintenance, have the opportunity to significantly improve productivity. Systems and strategies that are the right fit for the organisation (i.e. the hardware and software required to meet business’s needs) support swifter growth and development and help to remove obstacles that hinder productivity. Well maintained systems reduce key frustrations – for example, a well maintained infrastructure results in 80% fewer support calls – and remove inefficiencies that might be preventing a business from moving forward.

Our proactive managed IT support makes all the resources of an enterprise class IT department available to any business. From continuous network monitoring, to maintenance and strategic vision, we can support your IT infrastructure fully. Companies including Groundswell, Accesspoint, Metaforce, FAGE and Oracle have all benefited from our services. Get in touch with help4IT today to find out more.

What data compliance expectations are there for your IT infrastructure?

There is no doubt that the GDPR is dominating the data discussion right now. The EU regulation comes into force on 25th May and will put new obligations on businesses to better handle the data of individuals and make it more accessible to users. However, outside of the GDPR, what expectations exist when it comes to the average IT infrastructure and how do you ensure that your business is meeting these expectations?

Positive data management

Customer expectations surrounding data management have been heightened by the conversations that have arisen around the GDPR. Now, there is significantly more focus on the way that businesses handle data and an expectation that proactive steps will be taken to ensure positive management of any information that customers or clients hand over. Legal compliance requires that data is properly stored and secured, held only for a limited period of time and then safely disposed of. However, this will also help to ensure that your business is able to meet the expectations that customers have around how data should be managed.

Business continuity

Compliance with regulation such as the GDPR could take you down the route of using virtualisation as a better way to ensure data security, for example, and implementing a CRM that can track the dates on which users gave consent. This compliance infrastructure can also be developed to meet key expectations around business continuity and has a range of other benefits. The use of virtualisation, for example, will ensure that you always have a data back up in place, providing the foundations of reliable business continuity even when events or incidents occur to disrupt this.

Choosing the right IT provider

The GDPR places more responsibility on businesses to be responsible for data. The knock on effect of this is that expectations are much higher when it comes to how brands design IT infrastructure – including the IT providers they choose. Your customers not only expect your own business to be on top of compliance requirements but for this to also be factored into the decisions that you make about the partners that you work with. Looking for an IT provider that meets requirements, such as FCS, PRA, SANS, Cyber Essentials and SEC standards will help to ensure that data protection compliance is a priority for all those you partner with. And the ultimate result will be that all that data handled is better protected and expectations are met.

Improving internal understanding

True data protection compliance requires everyone in the business to be on board. All staff should understand how IT infrastructure contributes to data protection and also what is required of each person within the organisation to work in a safe and compliant way. It’s also crucial that there is a good understanding of what data the business works with, why it is processed, how it makes its way through the IT infrastructure and where the vulnerabilities lie. This is not just legal compliance but also the only way to ensure safe and efficient data management that meets legal and customer expectations.

We provide unrivalled IT support and consultancy services to help ensure our clients’ systems meet all expectations – contact us to find out more.

The 7 benefits of managed IT support for your business

Managed IT support is a smart solution for any business. From meeting challenges of security through to enabling better strategic planning, there are many good reasons why managed IT support makes sense.

1. 24/7 helpdesk support

Expert support is one of the key benefits of managed IT support. The cost and commitment of providing round the clock helpdesk resources in-house makes this level of support impossible to provide for all but the largest and best resourced businesses. However, as part of a managed IT support package, a 24/7 helpdesk is available to organisations of any size and for everything, from remote problem solving to routine administration.

2. Network monitoring

Security is a significant vulnerability for many businesses today and network monitoring has a big role to play in improving this. Where comprehensive network monitoring is in place there is an early warning system when an issue arises and small inconsistencies that could be a sign of a larger problem are spotted early. Monitoring of critical network and valuable servers is affordable and scalable as part of managed IT support.

3. Strategic overview

Does your business have the right infrastructure to serve its goals and purposes? Have you mapped out hardware and software need in line with business strategy in the coming years? Managed IT support means having an IT manager who maintains a comprehensive overview of your IT and ensures that software and hardware needs are being met and planned for.

4. An upgrade in expertise

For many businesses, working with a managed IT support service means an upgrade in expertise and access to specialists the business would not be able to afford on an in-house contract. The service is set up so that a specialist technician carries out weekly remote administration of the business’ server, preparing and maintaining detailed information on the IT infrastructure.

5. Information collection and communication

Businesses working with managed IT support are assigned a dedicated technician who will keep detailed records about the business. This kind of data can be invaluable when it comes to working out whether the current IT infrastructure is fit for purpose and where key changes could be beneficially made. Communication is easy, as the dedicated technician will keep the rest of the business’ virtual IT department informed and up-to-date.

6. Real time data and regular reporting

Reporting on IT use and need has a crucial role to play in ensuring the infrastructure in place is providing the best possible support to the business. Working with a managed IT service means regular reporting so that key information is always available to the management team. Secure access enables support and data to be obtained 24/7 without any concerns about unauthorised access.

7. System specification and procurement

Procurement and system specification represent a challenge to most businesses, particularly those on the smaller side of the scale. Without the right experience and expertise it may be beyond the scope of existing knowledge to make the right acquisitions. A managed IT support service enables these requirements to be outsourced, saving time and cost and ensuring the right decisions are made.

Managed IT support has a number of very real benefits for businesses looking to ensure they are getting the most from existing infrastructure. Contact help4IT today to find out more.

5 ways that SMEs can improve their Wi-Fi security

Most SMEs will use Wi-Fi within their business, however many companies are unaware that this can pose security risks if it is not secured properly. Even if you’re no expert, there are a number of things that you can do to improve your Wi-Fi security:

#1 Password reset

The first thing to do, and that Building Zones do when we provide customers with a new router, is to reset the standard admin password on the router. Default passwords are easy to find online and accessible should someone want to log in and take control of your network with malicious intent. This simple change is a great first step in ensuring that you remain in control of your network.

#2 Create a passphrase for your secure network

As well as the router password, you also need to implement a password in order for users to connect with the Wi-Fi. This should be something complex including numbers, lower and uppercase letters and symbols where possible, using at least 8-10 characters. Avoid using full words or names that may be easy to guess, and make it as random as possible to provide the highest protection against cracking.

#3 Firmware updates and disabling WPS

Updates are critical to ongoing security, so updating your router is just as important as updating your phone, computer and apps on a regular basis. This enables any big fixes for better service, which can make your Wi-Fi performance even better. Similarly, disabling Wi-Fi Protected Setup (WPS) is essential. Despite providing easier access, this highlights an area of security weakness, so it is best practice to turn off and disable this feature.

#4 Utilise guest Wi-Fi

Visitors to your offices or work location should not be given free access to your Wi-Fi network through your standard password. This opens up access to their devices, which can be infected with malware and other viruses which can then get onto your network and cause a whole range of issues. You can reduce this risk by setting up a dedicated visitor access as a “Guest network” to your router, which gives them internet access without access to any other devices within your network.

#5 Physical router security

Along with all these practicalities, the location and physical security of your Wi-Fi router should not be forgotten. A single button can reset all the security you have implemented, so restricting access is vital. It is recommended that routers should be kept in a locked cabinet or room, or at least hidden from view in an inconvenient location such as close to the ceiling, where anyone accessing it will be more obvious.

Leave it to the professionals

Ultimately, the best way to guarantee the absolute highest levels of security is to leave it to the professionals. In-house processes are no match for connectivity specialists who understand both basic requirements, and specific industry security regulations. Building Zones specialise in working with businesses across the education and hospitality sectors, as well as venues and office locations.

Get in touch with help4IT to find out more about implementing the most secure Wi-Fi solution for your business today.

What is the difference between big business call centres and a personal IT support offering?

Call centres provide an essential business function for almost every enterprise. However, it’s worth noting that not all call centres are the same. There are large call centres – the type that most of us would associate with the term “call centre” – and there are much smaller help desk arrangements that offer telephony support on a more compact scale. Other than just the volume of people involved there are some key differences between these two types of IT support.

Call centre vs. personal IT support

Phone-based support is one of the most relied-upon methods of customer service, whether this is outsourced or handled in house. It is an efficient and effective way of building brand loyalty and ensuring that there is always someone available to help. If you’re considering looking for IT support for your business then you will usually have a choice between a large call centre and something smaller and more personal. There are key differences between the two that should help to inform the decision.

General support or specific need

Perhaps the key difference between a larger centre and a more personal operation is the focus. Large call centres often have a very broad remit and may be providing less focused customer service to a much broader selection of people. A more personal IT support offering, on the other hand, tends to be more specialised and tailored to the specific IT support needs of the business in question.

Streamlining and cutting costs

Both of these types of IT support benefit from being outsourced. Cost efficiency and levels of expertise can both be improved by passing support telephony over to an experienced third party to handle. There is no need to engage an overseas business to handle this kind of IT support to see the cost benefits, as there are plenty of businesses local to your country or region willing to manage it at a reduced cost.

Improving the service received

Outsourcing telephony often results in an improvement in service levels thanks to the dedicated nature of the services on offer. Working with an experienced third party enables access to considerably broader industry expertise and consistently high levels of service. Working with a smaller support offering can sometimes provide the advantage of consistency and a more personal approach.

Faster resolution times

The goal for any kind of IT support is to provide issue resolution at speed and both call centres and smaller IT support services are designed to offer this to every client business. Smaller teams often have the advantage of being populated by specialists who are purely focused on technical support rather than customer related services. However, larger teams may be able to cope with greater volume.

At help4It we provide unrivalled IT support services delivered by a team of experts with a broad range of experience. If you’d like to find out more about how we might be able to improve the telephony services that support your business please get in touch with help4IT today.

Boosting productivity in your business with Office 365

If you haven’t already made the upgrade to Microsoft’s Office 365 suite, you could be missing out on a range of great opportunities. The Office 365 suite represents a collection of productivity programs and services, dedicated to empowering you to achieve your business’ full potential. So, how can you use Office 365 to transform your productivity?

Productivity and Flexibility

Microsoft Office 365 is built with industry leading processing software, essential communication platforms and cloud support. This means you can work from whatever environment harnesses your productivity best, whether it’s your desk, your home, or on the move. The ability to send, receive and collaborate on vital projects from the comfort of whatever situation you find yourself in allows you to explore more options than ever before, without having to worry about deadlines.

What really makes Office 365 stand out from other offerings is the virtual office suite that it builds, putting all of the tools you need to work effectively at your fingertips anywhere, at any time.

Collaboration and Platform Integration

One of the most prominent benefits of Office 365 over other productivity tools is the level of sharing and collaboration that is possible. The cloud based nature of the Microsoft suite means you can easily share projects with colleagues, clients or suppliers to create synergy and ensure your product exceeds expectations. This goes further than just sharing previous of ongoing projects and collecting feedback, allowing you to integrate your platform to ensure compatibility and allow for the rapid processing of data, documents and projects.

This means that each of the applications in the Office 365 work flawlessly together to ensure that you have the tools you need to deliver outstanding projects in a user-friendly, intuitive and simple manner.

Office 365 in your business

If you’re interested in exploring how Microsoft Office 365 can boost productivity in your workspace or your business, why not give us a call today? We’ll be happy to talk to you about the best options for your bespoke needs and create a package that delivers the maximum return on investment, transforming the way you work.

To find out more, speak to one of our friendly trusted advisors on 0800 043 4448 today. Alternatively, read more about our customised Microsoft Office 365 solutions for SMEs.

How can technology drive your business forward?

Technology is incredibly vast term, branching into almost every modern industry and business, empowering users to experience improved productivity, connectivity and specialist expertise. But how can you use relevant technologies within your enterprise to drive your business forward?

Exploring new opportunities

One of the most significant benefits of a technology driven business environment is the range of new opportunities that technology can open up for your business. Thanks to the internet, there are an infinite range of information sharing sources available, so developing your understanding and expertise within a field is easier than ever, breaking down the barriers for small businesses and entrepreneurs.

This allows businesses to build a niche market, becoming an industry leader in a specific field and delivering innovation that drives their business forward whilst propelling the whole technology sector to new growth, expanding the already vast range of opportunities and opening new doors for you and your customers.

The advantages of improved connectivity

Connectivity is key in business, empowering you to communicate effectively with customers, suppliers and prospects to deliver a more personal and innovative service. Technology plays a huge role in business connectivity, allowing for a range of simple communication tools, from emails to instant messaging. This is important as it means that individuals and business centres around the world can share information and data to improve the service and ensure your business is performing to its full potential.

Driving your business forward

As technology continues to develop and innovate, and cloud technology and super-fast Wi-Fi become commonplace in business throughout the developed world, the corporate environment is always changing and adapting to new trends, developing new apps and programmes to take advantages of these opportunities. As a leader, it’s your responsibility to ensure that you’re taking steps to future-proof your business and equip your staff with the technology they require to deliver the best service possible.

To find out more about how you can equip your business to experience increased efficiency and drive your business forward, get in touch with one of our friendly IT consultants today on 0207 653 9780.

What could have been done to prevent the WannaCry ransomware attack on the NHS?

Last week, the NHS saw one of the biggest cyber-attacks to date, encrypting over 230,000 computers in almost 150 countries. Although the attack was stopped, the ransomware was able to drastically impact the operation of many NHS Trusts, including GP surgeries, hospitals and more. There is no denying that the rapidly spreading WannaCry has shaped the future of cyber-security across the world, but the question is knowing what we know now, what could have been done to prevent the attack and how can we ensure we are protected in the future?

What is WannaCry?

WannaCry (or WannaCrypt) is a ransomware programme that targets Microsoft’s Windows operating system, usually infecting computers through a phishing email or by targeting vulnerabilities in unpatched systems as a computer worm. Although it is not clear who was behind this attack, the ransomware encrypts data on the computer, demanding ransom payments in the form of cryptocurrency Bitcoin, which can be incredibly difficult to track.

What can be done to prevent ransomware attacks like this?

Investigations suggest that the WannaCry ransomware software first entered NHS systems through a vulnerability in the outdated Windows XP operating system, of which Microsoft ended official support in 2014. These means that computers still operating on Windows XP or early Windows Server operating systems did not receive the recent patch that was released for current operating systems, which could have prevented the wide-spread infection.

Microsoft has since taken steps to prevent the spread of the malware by releasing a fix for versions of Windows that it had previously retired, including the once highly popular Windows XP. It seems that this vulnerability served as the main entry point for the ransomware, suggesting that, had the systems been kept up to date and had the proper security software in place, the breach could have been avoided.

Learning from the attack

In light of the attack, the NHS are working with cyber-security firms to increase their cyber-security and remove vulnerabilities like this to prevent future attacks. Microsoft have also taken steps to protect all users against threats by releasing updates for the majority of current and retired systems which removes this fatal flaw,    but they advise that all users take extreme caution with emails from an unknown sender, especially those containing suspicious documents or links. The best practise is to protect your computer with an up-to-date antivirus, and making sure that your computer is running the latest version of a supported operating system.

Protecting your business

If you’re in a business environment, the best option is to consult a cyber-security expert who will be able to work with you to establish security procedures and implement protection software, backed up by a secure back-up solution to ensure that you are protected in the event of a disaster.

To find out more, speak to a member of our cyber-security team on 0207 653 9780.

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