We’re looking for an IT Systems Engineer, could you be the right person?
Peak Support Services is an established ICT Solutions Provider to the SME market. We are a Microsoft Certified Silver Partner and are an Investor in People Company. Based from our Matlock office, we are seeking an experienced ICT Professional to join our team installing and supporting systems within our customer base.
Just how safe do we need to be online these days? The question begs quite an arguement so we won’t lecture people on the why’s and ‘why nots’ but an interesting and recent hacking incident with Mat Honan from Wired.com raised the question to multiple firms for their security policies to be reviewed.
Mat has documented how his entire digital life was destroyed in less than an hour on August the 3rd 2012. Hackers managed to gain access to his Twitter account, Amazon Account, Apple ID & Gmail Account. Whilst also setting up remote wiping facilities over his MacBook, iPhone and iPad.
The problem wasnt necessarily that Mat left his accounts open to hacking, he had secure passwords in place. It was the fact that the hackers managed to use Social Engineering to their benefit.
The hack consisted of some cleverly executed planning but it went something like this:
They used his Twitter BIO to find his personal website
His personal website displayed his Gmail address (of which he uses to login to Twitter)
To get into Apple, he needed the Billing info and 4 digits of a debit card, so the hackers did a Whois on the domain name he owned.
They then tricked Amazon into revealing his last 4 digits of his credit/debit card.
Then they phoned Apple and reset his Apple ID using these security codes.
They reset his gmail, twitter, and amazon passwords as well as sending Remote Wipe requests to his iPhone, Macbook and iPad.
Finally they changed all his info on Apple so he was prevented from getting back into the systems.
This may seem sophisticated to some people but in reality its quite a basic hack and in reality could be done by pretty much anyone with 10 minutes of their time and some smart thinking. Apple since this hack have removed the ability to reset user passwords over the phone, although this isnt a permanent fixture they are reviewing their policies to make sure these things can’t happen again, Amazon were yet to comment.
It does raise the question though, is the only way to be truly safe online; to offer some kind of seperation between the services we register for and use…?
Read the full article here: http://www.wired.com/gadgetlab/2012/08/apple-amazon-mat-honan-hacking/
Most recently we saw the professional social networking website ‘LinkedIn’ confirm that as many as six million of its users’ passwords had been stolen/leaked. The passwords, stored in an encrypted form, were reportedly accessed by hackers and have now been posted on the internet, with hackers inviting others to assist with their decryption.
LinkedIn users are being advised to change their passwords immediately anyway. It’s a very simple process of logging in, clicking onto your profile information and choosing reset password. The site has assured users that the compromised passwords will no longer be valid, but it is important that you reset your login details now.
It is not uncommon for many web users to still use low-end security passwords, like ‘password1’ ‘P@ssword’ or ‘qwerty’. These users must still be educated on the risks associated with easy access passwords and most times it’s down to a simple lack of understanding. Others who have gone down the extensive route of creating secure passwords like ‘T1t4n803’ or ‘5ytp3!’ have also started to fall down by using that same password across a number of different services. You may, for example, be using the same password for your LinkedIn account as for your email, utilities or even your online banking. If this is the case for you as a LinkedIn user then it’s vital that you update all of the services on which you use that password.
Ideally you should keep a different password for each online service, in order to minimise the overall risk in the event that one is compromised but often we struggle to do this. Having a secure 8 character password with symbols, uppercase characters, lowercase characters and numbers for 25+ websites would be a nightmare waiting to happen. So what can we do?
Well here’s a suggestion from me, I was one of those people who had a 16 character password with all the symbols, numbers and letter combinations but foolishly I used this on multiple websites for a lack of being able to recall any additional passwords of this complexity. So when LinkedIn got hacked, it was a wake-up call to start protecting my data that little bit more!
I spent some serious time researching for the best application or idea for password management and I personally think that ‘Keeper’ is a clear winner;
Keeper is a safe and secure way to store all of your secret passwords, website logins, notes and other top secret personal information on your MAC, laptop, desktop or mobile device. Its military-grade encryption (128-bit AES) allows data to be safely and securely stored on the hard drive of your computer without fear of compromise and the simple to use interface allows you to quickly access your stored information and search for specific records. For $9.99 a year; you can also Sync your records to your mobile device (iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, Android, BlackBerry) with one click and an Optional “Self Destruct” feature protects you further by permanently erasing all data if the wrong password is entered 5 times. When signing up for a new online service, enter the Keeper application; type in the address and it randomly generates a highly secured password for you to use. Then, it synchronises that information to any device you want to use it on.
If you would like to download or use the application, further information can be found here: http://keepersecurity.com
Websites in the UK have to change the way they track their users from now on, with sites having to receive ‘implied consent’ from visitors that they are ok for their movements to be tracked. The law has been talked about for some time and originally required ‘explicit consent’ from visitors before the site is revealed. But there was a last minute change to the legislation, which means that sites have to obtain just ‘implied consent’ – this is friendlier for businesses but knocks the UK out of whack from the rest of the EU when it comes to the transparency of cookies.
As with any new law put into place, confusion reigns over proceedings. According to Rob Rachwald, director of security strategy at Imperva, the law is a good way of teaching consumers about how websites track them but is too vague to have much effect. “Websites and internet technology have become so complex that it is impossible for a typical consumer to understand the implications of a simple click,” said Rachwald. “This law will hopefully help people understand that cookies are the keys to personal information and present a threat if exploited, stolen, altered, harvested or hijacked.”
The direct message coming from the ICO is aimed mostly at webmasters; “Some uses of cookies can involve creating detailed profiles of an individual’s browsing activity. If you are doing this, or allowing it to happen, on your website or across a range of sites, it is clear that you are doing something that could be quite intrusive – the more privacy intrusive your activity, the more priority you will need to give to getting meaningful consent,” the ICO guidance said.
People are already asking what happens if I don’t comply in time:
“The government’s view is that there should be a phased approach to the implementation of these changes. In light of this if the ICO were to receive a complaint about a website, we would expect an organisation’s response to set out how they have considered the points above and that they have a realistic plan to achieve compliance. We would handle this sort of response very differently to one from an organisation which decides to avoid making any change to current practice.”
This two minute video sums up the new law in a very amusing but straight forward way:
If you have a website and you’re not sure how to make sure you’re compliant email us today for a free Audit.
As the economy begins to strengthen and businesses start slowly looking when and where they should be investing next; they will have to make a very important decision.
That’s the view of Derbyshire IT support service provider Peak Support Services, whom is recommending that organisations carefully review the important resource decisions that are looming.
Solutions Architect, Kris Haynes said; “As SMEs see the slow signs of economic recovery, re-investment will be needed and this offers an ideal opportunity to re-evaluate whether the functions are best managed in-house or outsourced.”
Outsourcing to specialist organisations offers several benefits, such as reduced staffing costs, access to specialist expertise and knowledge from the provider and the opportunity to focus on the core business and activities that make the business successful.
Many SMEs do not need a full-time resource in areas such as IT, finance, marketing and HR. Specialist providers can offer a highly flexible and responsive service.
The growth in outsourcing has spawned a large number of organisations offering services in these functional areas, but the recession has also hit this sector.
Kris said: “Clients enjoy the benefits and the flexibility that is offered by outsourcing these functions, but many suppliers have struggled to stay in business due to a massive overcrowding in the marketplace.”
“The survivors are typically those who are able to deliver a next-to-none, first-class service that the client cannot afford to be without.”
Peak Support Services supports 40 clients in the Derbyshire area and more than 180 nationally.
Kris said: “We’ve seen the benefits our clients have received when outsourcing their IT support. It has to be said though that it isn’t for everyone; every business is unique. If you are planning for the future of your business, then this is an ideal time to ask the question. Could you benefit?”
For a lot of people, just using Internet Explorer is enough to satisfy their browsing needs. However the chances are you have noticed that some websites do not display correctly. A classic example of this is Internet Banking websites. Through Internet Explorer some of these can appear miss aligned or may not work at all. This is to do with the way that web browsers interpret websites. This is why it is good to always have at least one alternative to Internet Explorer, as this will allow you to render the website in a different way.
There are a lot of good alternatives out their available for download and most of them are free. A popular one is Firefox; it’s very stable and does a good job of viewing most websites correctly, especially the Internet Banking Sites. Another good alternative is Apples Safari browser which not only views most sites correctly but does a fantastic job of rendering sites that utilise HTML 5 animations. Internet Explorer and Firefox on the other hand are not so good at this which demonstrates why it is good to have an alternative browser.
Here are a few web browsers we recommend:
Firefox– A solid all-round browser which is fast & stable but not great with HTML5.
Safari – A fast web browser with excellent HTML5 capabilities.
Google Chrome – A clean and reliable browser which works well with internet banking sites.
It’s always interesting to observe different people’s opinions when it comes down to backing up their systems. Some small companies refuse to take local backups because they don’t entrust themselves to take data offsite with them. Larger firms will only take local backups so they have something tangible to refer to when a disaster hits. Some even exist where they do not take backups at all! But the absolute top of agenda today is those companies that do not check… sure you backup but when did you last check..?
There are two things I want people to take away from this post; one is to consider a disaster recovery policy. Make sure you have something in place that can entrust your business can continue if something did go drastically wrong. The second is even if you have the first in place, check that it is working. Put something in place or someone in charge to check if the process is working, how effective it is and if it needs to be improved.
Many companies believe a ‘disaster’ is a once in a lifetime incident and ‘it’ll never happen to them’. In fact, these incidents are very common. With growing numbers of viruses, hardware failures, security breaches, software issues, and data corruption it’s unfortunately not a problem that is going away. Thankfully, more catastrophic events such as weather-related causes, fires, power interruptions and sabotage are exceptional, but the most successful companies, small or large, prepare themselves for all potential eventualities.
The consequences of an unprepared disaster can lead to any one of the following:
* Loss of customers
* Loss of Credibility
* Inability to pay staff
* Loss of production
* Loss of operational data
* Financial loss
Disaster Recovery Statistics
Statistics show that 20% of all companies will suffer from power failures, hardware/software issues, fire, theft, flood or storm damage. Of those without a business continuity plan:
* 80% fail within 13 months (A further 10% fail within 24 months).
* 50% of businesses experiencing a computer outage will be forced to shut within 5 years.
* 80% of companies have not developed any crisis management to provide IT coverage sufficient to keep the business functionally effective.
* 53% of claimants never recoup the losses incurred by a disaster
* 43% will never re-open
Source: London Chamber of Commerce
So my question to you is do you have a backup system in place? And if you do, does it work?
Utilising technology today brings forth some fantastic business benefits, it increases productivity, increases our commercial awareness and it makes processes more efficient. What would happen though, if all of this productivity & efficiency were stripped away from us in a heartbeat?
At Peak Support Services, we know how important business continuity is, in fact we say that the best IT support is often the kind that never gets in the way and there are good reasons why - Proactive maintenance.
Using a combination of software integrated tools, we can monitor 24x7 server hardware and software at a distance. These tools give us critical information like imminent hard disk failures, available disk space or memory utilisation.
Imagine an environment where your IT Company call YOU and let you know that in the next 3 days your server is going to fail but not to worry because WE already know and have ALREADY fixed it.
So, Which side of the page would you rather be on…?
Once again, Microsoft like to share the work that is being done to drive down piracy and reveal the names of those companies that they have taken action against in the name of Software Piracy.
Reducing the piracy rate in the UK by just 10 percent has the potential to stimulate £5.4bn in new economic activity and create over 13,000 new jobs*. So, Microsoft will continue to fight piracy and take strong action against those involved.
This years Named and Shamed IT Providers List:
Nybble Information Systems
Fleetwood Computers (MRG Distribution)
Seaford Computer Services
Ecomputers (UK) Ltd / Mod Squad Ltd
Dinas Computers Ltd
Icon Computer Services
Computer Wizard Ltd
Digitek Computer Systems
JC Computer Supplies
Nexus Computers Ltd
Software piracy is bad news for everyone in the IT industry, it takes business away from legitimate resellers who strive hard to educate consumers on licensing requirements and it also compromises customers with low-quality or corrupted products.
If you know a company that is pirating software,
please help us protect the industry’s revenue and
reputation – report it.
Join the fight. Report piracy:
Find out more:
One of our long standing customers SV Timber Ltd recently took on one of the most dreaded missions known to the business world. Yes, I am indeed talking about moving offices… Those of you who have undertaken such a task know how truly stressful, difficult and hectic this can be and so when the news came along that this was happened we knew we had to help our good friends along.
At Peak Support we have always strived for a one-stop shop solution, the prospect of our customers being able to come to us with any enquiry about an array of products or services and then us being able to manage and/or implement that service under the one roof. This approach means that we are able to orchestrate and manage large projects like moving offices with minimal disruption.
SV Timber approached us in October 2011 with the prospect of moving offices and one of the first concerns to be raised was retaining existing phone numbers. Their existing phone suppliers couldn’t guarantee that they could do this and we were unable to get clear and concise information from them. We proposed that we manage his telecoms and review if we can actually make any savings so we produced a cost audit for SVT, which in the end; reduced their telecommunications bill by £ 700.00 a year and also guaranteed that all the way through the process we would retain control and they could rest easy that their business was in safe hands.
We provided a network wide, Cat6 Ethernet cabling deployment installed by our in-house Exel accredited installer and guaranteed the work with a 20 year lifecycle as well as installing powered CCTV units throughout the warehouse and surroundings. This was all planned in and around their commitments to electricians, builders and plumbers to make sure the job wasn’t affecting any other timescale based deployments.
The second phase of the installation was to implement a set of lines into the building so we could migrate their existing connections. Things unfortunately turned a little for the worst when we found previous owner damage to equipment on site and steps had to be taken to turn this around. Adding a number of complications at this stage; meant increasing the time required completing the job and this was no longer an option. Throughout multiple conversations and pulling some strings that needed to be tugged (even yanked, you might say), we managed to get a number of lines ready for production before they moved in and everything was ready to go.
We were then faced with Broadband. Because of the lead time that had been created from the telecoms problems, we now weren’t able to provide ADSL on time for SV Moving in so we managed to implement a redundant 3G dongle and backup POP email collection and so SV Timber were able to continue working.
Finally, 5 days later our mainline ADSL connection kicked in and their entire business migration was complete, it had been physically lifted from one site and dropped to another. Minimum downtime, savings along the way and all jobs completed to a top class standard.
Overall, the complications were great and there were some real challenges but all in all it came together pretty nicely!
Most of the team over at SV Timber, glad to be settled into their new premises.
Mission complete SV Timber Ltd, Well done!
“Derbyshire timber merchant: SV Timber Ltd is a vibrant, exciting and forward thinking independent specialist timber merchant, based in Ilkeston, Derbyshire.
Being an independent timber merchant and specialising in timber only are two things that set us apart from our competition. With independence comes the ability to make key decisions very quickly, in short we can provide you as the customer the service you need without the need to go through a large hierarchy. Specialising in timber only makes us more knowledgeable about the quality of product we buy and sell and also in our opinion more competitive.”