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26 April, 2021

To Exchange, to POP, or to IMAP:…

You’ll be forgiven if the title of this blog made your brain spin a…

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26 April, 2021

To Exchange, to POP, or to IMAP: THAT is the Question

You’ll be forgiven if the title of this blog made your brain spin a little; after all, who NEEDS to know the difference between types of email account? Well, you, that’s who! Knowledge is power, and identifying the type of email you are using will empower you to be in a position to fix it should it not work as expected.

The three terms you will be looking for are POP, IMAP/SMTP and Exchange Server.

POP

POP has been around since the beginning of email, and is the simplest of all the services, not requiring a licence to use. Your email client connects to the mail server, downloading the content onto your device, before removing it from the server by default. If you are using POP on multiple devices, make sure to change the default setting which deletes mail from the server when it has been downloaded; this helps to avoid the issue of being unable to read the same mail on multiple devices. 

Exchange

Exchange was developed by Microsoft and, as such, requires a licence to use, usually in the form of a subscription to Microsoft’s Office 365 package. Exchange works well with other Microsoft products such as Sharepoint and Office, and its storage capabilities and collaborative tools makes it a good investment for a business. The downside is that it takes a bit of know-how to set it up and it isn’t a free service, unlike POP. 

IMAP

No licence is required to use IMAP, as with POP, but the advantage of IMAP is that it syncs more easily between multiple devices by storing both incoming and outgoing mail on the server. It has more functionality than POP, allowing you to customise inboxes and create folders. Its benefits are also its drawbacks; the need to always be online and the ability to sync between devices does mean that it may run a little slower than POP. 

15 April, 2021

The Future is Remote

We’ve been through a period of extreme change — our home and working lives…

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15 April, 2021

The Future is Remote

We’ve been through a period of extreme change — our home and working lives have been turned upside-down and blended together; everything looks very different to how it did two years ago. However, we have also learned a lot — one lesson being that it isn’t entirely necessary to commute to an office each day; remote working has its benefits and for many businesses will continue to be a viable way of working.

But slow broadband and old equipment just won’t cut it — you need employees to continue to be as productive as possible, not easy if faced with a spinning wheel when loading essential software, or repeated wifi drops when on a conference call. Read on for crucial IT considerations for remote working.

Head into the cloud

Being able to share files is paramount and a cloud server is the easiest way to do so. But choose your server carefully — you will need a secure system with adequate storage and collaborative capabilities.

Check network

Consider limitations on your employees’ broadband; they may have usage caps or find it runs slowly when their children are home from school. Consider who will pay for an upgrade to their services if required. 

It’s good to talk

How are you going to run your daily/weekly/monthly meetings? You’ll probably use a video conferencing tool, and may well have been doing so over the last year or so, but if you are planning a change this to increase functionality for your more permanent workplace plans, make sure that everyone has access to it and can log in. Plan a test call just to make sure everyone is able to use the software to avoid last minute stresses!

Be a good guide

If you are implementing new software and tools, make sure you provide guides as to how to use them. Employees will also need cyber-security training as their home system will probably not be as robust as an office-based set-up. 

Provide equipment

As with the varying quality of broadband services, not everyone will have access to the most efficient computers or devices. Consider providing company equipment to anyone without access to a suitable device. 

28 March, 2021

Why is My PC Running Slow?

With the new working from home movement, it’s important to have a PC that…

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28 March, 2021

Why is My PC Running Slow?

With the new working from home movement, it’s important to have a PC that is up to speed; we’ve all experienced the frustration of a typing lag, delay opening a program, or a spinning wheel indicating that our system is taking time to think about what we’ve just asked it to do. Issues such as these can cause even the calmest of people to shout at the screen or consider quitting work with immediate effect. Instead of sitting back and putting up with it (or throwing it out of the window), read on for a few pointers.

Let’s Start

Quite often it can be convenience that is slowing down your PC. The convenience of having your most-used apps open upon start-up can actually be your worst enemy. Check your settings for start-up items and bin those that are non-essential; you are wasting memory and CPU on apps that are essentially running just in case you need them. 

Bring it to Task

Task Manager is an underused tool that should be your best friend. It tells you what’s using the most memory, what’s taxing the CPU, and how much network data a program is using. For the most comprehensive information, open up the More Details tab. Keep your eye on programs that have high memory or CPU use, or that keep going to the top of the list then disappearing. Close these processes and check to see if this improves your computer’s speed.

Stop Browsing

Close down your non-essential browser tabs. It’s easy to lose track once you get past a handful, and some use a significant amount of energy just by sitting there. 

Go Viral

Not literally. But do check your anti-virus software isn’t running tasks in the background as this can use precious power. Schedule its tasks for when you are not using your PC.

Un-sync

Check to see if you have apps auto-syncing, and schedule or manually undertake the syncs.

Turn it Off and On Again

Yes, we just suggested turning it off and on again. There’s a reason that it’s a common suggestion; quite often your computer will need a full reboot to iron out any issues. This is especially important if you tend to keep your computer in an ‘on’ state throughout the day.

9 March, 2021

Why Care Organisations Need Reliable Technology

An ever-changing technology landscape means that its applications are far-reaching, and the benefits of…

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9 March, 2021

Why Care Organisations Need Reliable Technology

An ever-changing technology landscape means that its applications are far-reaching, and the benefits of a reliable system is crucial across all sectors, including care-based settings. From surveillance to cloud-based paperwork, it’s never been more important for the care sector to embrace technology and implement a robust and reliable system.

Electronic care management systems are becoming the norm in such settings, with old paper-based systems being phased out and transferred over. Some may feel nervous about such a transition; after all, what happens if the wifi disconnects or files are accidentally deleted? The answer to this is to invest in a system with file back-up, and to ensure your internet is up to the task. 

Technology gives people more control over their care, helping them communicate with professionals, enhancing the care available to them, and linking them to appropriate services. With the pandemic throwing care services into disarray, it is essential that people in care do not suffer — one way to ensure this is to implement a system that allows them to electronically access services that may previously have been face-to-face. Additional applications may include medicine management, form-filling, and digital care plans, freeing staff to respond quickly to needs and requirements. 

To tie all this together and make it work and run smoothly, you will need to use the technology well; taking advantage of the systems available to you, fully training staff, informing those who will be affected by, for example, surveillance systems — this can be a legal minefield and it is wise to seek professional advice when implementing such a system, and ensuring your internet connection has the power to keep the system connected and running 24/7. 

If you have any questions about the type of technology available for your care provision, contact us at Bell’s IT; our experts will be happy to assist any way we can.

28 February, 2021

How to Avoid and Manage CEO Fraud

Cybercriminals’ tactics are becoming increasingly sophisticated, with a significant rise in email phishing scams,…

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28 February, 2021

How to Avoid and Manage CEO Fraud

Cybercriminals’ tactics are becoming increasingly sophisticated, with a significant rise in email phishing scams, particularly over the past five years. One such tactic is known as ‘CEO fraud’, or “Business Email Compromise’, and is a phishing campaign that could potentially cost your business a lot of money.

CEO fraud occurs when cybercriminals hack the email account belonging to the CEO of the company, using it to contact employees of the company, requesting the transfer of funds. The criminals usually target finance, HR, IT, the executive team, and departments with financial authority. CEO fraud is a sophisticated scam and not always easy to spot, which is why awareness and training is key. 

There are several steps companies can take to limit the damage of a CEO fraud phishing attack.

Check and verify sender address

Always check where the email originated. Fraudsters may change the name associated with an email account so that it appears to be from your CEO; the true address will be displayed by hovering over or clicking the sender’s name. Even if the address appears to be correct, make sure you follow all internal processes regarding transactions. 

Verification

If you are at all unsure about a transaction, call the assumed sender to verify.

Train staff

Review internal policies regarding the initiation of transactions, ensuring such transactions are regarded as high-risk processes. Teach staff how to spot fraud and report it, and provide a point of contact in case of any queries. 

Use software

Keep your software up-to-date and set alerts to inform you if your system has been compromised. Anti-fraud software can help assess risks and detect fraud, and is a valuable tool to implement alongside other approaches. 

Be wary of urgent transfers 

Be wary of high-sum transfers, urgent transfers and emails requesting assistance paying an invoice. These may be genuine, but assume they are not until verified. Never pass any personal details to an unverified sender via email. 

By implementing these steps and ensuring that everyone with financial authority follows stringent protocols, you can protect your business from potentially costly CEO fraud.

17 February, 2021

Why You Need a Password Manager

Password generation has become more sophisticated as the years have passed; a lowercase password…

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17 February, 2021

Why You Need a Password Manager

Password generation has become more sophisticated as the years have passed; a lowercase password such as ‘password123’ no longer cuts it, leaving your accounts vulnerable. But even worse than a simple password is a repeated one; the same password reused over multiple sites is bad news – not only can hackers compromise the account they are trying to hack, but also get into your other accounts using the same password. It’s time to step up your password game. 

That little notebook you have in your desk drawer? You know the one – the one with all your passwords scribbled in it? Rip it up; there’s a more secure and convenient method of memorising your passwords, and it’s called a password manager – the digital equivalent of that notebook, but far superior. Not only will a password manager save your passwords, but it will also create new ones when required, securely store payment information, notify you if your password has been breached, tell you if your password is easily guessed, and fill in your personal details on websites whenever you log into a secure site or app.

Some software has this functionality built in, for example, Apple Keychain has recently added alerts for reused or weak passwords and lets you know if a password has been subject to a data breach. However, a standalone password manager often offers extra functionality, for example, many offer family plans, meaning you don’t have to share passwords for joint accounts via text or on a torn-out notebook page. 

Password managers will require a master password to allow access. Many have tips as to how to generate a strong, memorable password master password, but a good tip is to use a string of four of more unrelated words, separated with dashes, for example, eyes-priest-tomato-hallway. This is not only memorable, but also unlikely to be guessed or generated by a hacker. This password is the only one we recommend writing down, but do store it in a secure place, such as a locked desk drawer or safe. 

30 January, 2021

Under Lock and Key

Not all doors are equal, and some will need a little extra attention when…

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30 January, 2021

Under Lock and Key

Not all doors are equal, and some will need a little extra attention when it comes to security. Perhaps your business is open to the public and you need a secure area for staff only, or maybe you need to log data relating to who has accessed certain areas of the building at particular times; whatever the reason, door access control may be the answer to keeping your business premises secure.

There are different types of door access control, with one of the simplest being a mechanical digital lock. This comes in the form of a push button combination lock with a set code that you provide to employees and staff who are authorised to enter the area. These basic systems can also offer a key override, multiple user codes and anti-tamper functions, and are simple to install and use. 

Installing a proximity reader is also an option – this system allows users with a programmed card to enter the area, remaining secure even if the card or access fob is lost as it can be quickly and easily deleted from the database. You can install either one or multiple proximity readers, all of which can be accessed using the same card. For an added layer of security, readers that also utilise a PIN code are available. 

For general access or entry, a dome button may be the answer. These are often found in schools, hospitals and buildings where exits and entry doors are in constant use. Fire doors can be secured with a break glass unit, dissuading staff and the public from using the door as a general exit route. 

Door access controls can also be set up with an activity tracking system. These systems manage all your access controls and doors over single and multiple sites, giving you the peace of mind that you are able to remotely protect both your employees and your clients or customers, regardless of your own physical location. This type of system is intuitive and scalable, allowing for further facilities, doors and users to be added at any time.  

Call us at Bells IT Support for more information on how to keep your doors safe and secure.  

15 January, 2021

How cyber threats have increased with COVID-19

Criminals will always look for a different angle and COVID-19 has presented new challenges…

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15 January, 2021

How cyber threats have increased with COVID-19

Criminals will always look for a different angle and COVID-19 has presented new challenges for those who work hard to keep the IT systems of businesses and individuals safe and secure during these unprecedented times. Having dedicated systems to trace and intercept malicious transmissions, websites, and contact is key, but there are still extra steps that can be taken to protect against harm.

Phishing

Most individuals have come across phishing attempts in their email, from suspect bank notifications to phantom package deliveries, the threat has always been there. But, with the upheaval and confusion around COVID-19, criminals quickly switched their focus to try and gain access to systems or personal details. 

These have included selling fake personal protective equipment (PPE), test kits, vaccines, tax rebates, and more. Not to worry, however, as Bells IT Support provides email security which can ensure your confidential messages are sent via an encrypted method. Our filters will also ensure that spam is reduced, and viruses/malware are intercepted before hitting your inbox.

Malware

Always a threat, sophisticated criminals have taken to hiding malware, spyware, and trojan horses inside COVID-19 communications, embedding them in links and websites, or building specific malicious domains within which they collect data and spread malware.

It is important to keep your information safe and secure at all times, remain vigilant against anything which seems suspicious, and remind colleagues and employees to stay alert if they receive emails or links which they are unsure about. Having antivirus solutions will help protect your business and information, which is why we recommend ESET for your computer system.

Video chat ‘bombing’

Video chat programmes, such as Zoom and MS Teams, have been important for businesses during COVID-19, ensuring employees have regular contact with colleagues and managers. With the swift increase in users, criminals also looked for ways to exploit these calls for their own purposes.

So, how can you protect your company and employees while using video chat software? Firstly, ensure you update apps and programmes regularly to take advantage of important updates. When creating meetings, take a moment to check that you have a meeting ID and password on your call, which will stop people randomly joining what could be private and sensitive conversations and consider, if you use premium accounts, create meetings which are for invitees only. If that is not possible, you can lock a meeting once everyone has joined, which will stop late arrivals.

Complete solution

Of course, all of these are just small parts of what should be bigger IT security solutions, which is where Bells IT Support comes in. Not only can we provide security firewalls, data encryption, email protection, and antivirus solutions, but we go beyond that, providing CCTV and managed security services, including door access control. Why not contact our team to discuss your needs and requirements, before it is too late?

30 December, 2020

Giving Businesses a Remote Opportunity

The office landscape has changed considerably over the past year; gone are the mornings…

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30 December, 2020

Giving Businesses a Remote Opportunity

The office landscape has changed considerably over the past year; gone are the mornings of jumping in the car or on the train to begin the daily commute. If lockdown has taught us anything, it’s that we don’t necessarily need to be based in the office to be able to do our jobs effectively; we’ve all had to quickly reimagine our ideas of a thriving workspace, and for many people, working remotely cuts out the inefficiencies of many aspects of office life. But is this the future? Could we really be spending the rest of our careers carrying out meetings on Zoom and giving presentations on Teams?

One of the hurdles encountered by businesses is that some workers are unable to work from home. Even with office-supplied equipment, home-life may not be conducive to work; perhaps there are young children at home, or no space to set up a desk; whatever the challenge, it may be an impossible situation for the worker. In this case, it could be argued that an office environment would make for a more productive workspace. 

We all know that workplaces as we knew them probably won’t be the same post-COVID19; perhaps training will be carried out online, or only half the employees in the office at any one time. There are many unknowns, but one thing is sure; businesses need to be working out a strategy that will work for companies, clients and employees alike, safely and efficiently, while considering maintaining (or increasing) productivity. Now is the time for companies to study which remote elements are working for the business and its employees while considering those that didn’t, and how they can be improved.

There are many benefits to remote working, but it doesn’t suit everyone, nor does it suit every job. Both office-based work and home-based work come with their own challenges, and the hope is that when we are able to return to the workplace, a combination of the two is implemented; a blended workplace could well be the answer.

15 December, 2020

Microsoft Teams v Zoom: how to decide…

With a boom in video conferencing software over the past 12 months, there are…

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15 December, 2020

Microsoft Teams v Zoom: how to decide which is best for your needs

With a boom in video conferencing software over the past 12 months, there are many options to choose for your personal or business needs. The ‘big two’ remain Zoom and Microsoft Teams, so we will take a look at both for you.

What are they?

Both Zoom and MS Teams are video conferencing platforms which allow users to communicate remotely, which has been perfect both for businesses keeping employees in contact while working remotely and for individuals taking to friends and family while unable to meet in person.

Which should I choose?

There are a number of aspects to consider when deciding which platform suits your needs. Both Zoom and MS Teams provide free versions of their software, with paid plans unlocking features like being able to increase the maximum number of participants and removing time limits on calls.

Zoom

Zoom has a friendly user interface which makes it quick and simple for new or inexperienced users to join calls. Participants can join meetings by simply clicking a link, with no sign-up required, while also allowing a range of customisable options to suit your specific requirements.

After early issues like ‘Zoom bombing’ the company quickly added verification layers, unique meeting IDs, and waiting rooms where hosts can screen incoming participants. There are also options to allow users to share their screens, tweak audio settings, and add virtual backgrounds to either add fun or help attendees to protect their privacy when working from home.

MS Teams

MS Teams, meanwhile, benefits from Microsoft’s ownership of Skype, with Skype for Business Online coming to a close as it shifts users to Teams. It also has a unique chat service which helps people connect quickly and its integration with Office 365 makes for seamless collaboration across businesses.

In fact, MS Teams can not only be viewed as an alternative to Zoom, but also to programmes like Slack, as it mixes businesses’ messaging, file collaboration, and video calling in one bit of software.

In summary

Both Zoom and MS Teams are go-to names for video conferencing for a reason: they do what they promise well. Of course, for businesses functionality and ease of use sit alongside security and accessibility concerns too, so there is no one simple answer. Instead, contact Bells IT Support today to discuss your needs and requirements and one of our team will be happy to talk through the options available to you.

27 November, 2020

Four Ways To Get Smart With Email…

Love them or loathe them, if your working habits are anything like the average…

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27 November, 2020

Four Ways To Get Smart With Email Security

Love them or loathe them, if your working habits are anything like the average American professional, research suggests that you spend up to 28% of the day reading and answering emails. That’s 2.6 hours a total of 120 messages received each day!

This goes some way to demonstrating how vital emails are to our working lives and with them being so vital, we wonder how much thought you give to email security.

Not only is email an extremely easy way to get a malicious link into your system, but with the amount of personal information being processed you could be risking an expensive and damaging data breach by not taking the appropriate steps.

Here are five top ways to get smart with your email security:

Always Have A Different Password

Yes, we are all guilty of it. That is, using the same password for multiple applications or simple passwords such as ‘Password123’. However, have you ever considered the damage that someone could do if they managed to find your password and get access?

Yes, it’s a scary thought and one that you don’t want to think about too much! We recommend making sure you have a different password for each application and also that they are changed on a regular basis.

Get Smart With Phishing Emails

It’s not only an incredible offer of someone trying to give you millions of dollars but clever emails that look official and try to get things such as your login details.

If you ever receive an email asking for a password reset, or for you to use their link to log into an account you have then beware. Things may not be quite as they seem!

You will want to check things such as spelling, grammar, click on the email address, and see if it is legitimate, does something look funny with the design? If you are needing to check these things then the likelihood is that the email is not legitimate.

If you are in doubt, do not click on any links. Rather, contact the company directly through the details on their legitimate website and check it out.

Use Your Spam Filter

Prevention a problem happening in the first place is always the best cure and we recommend making sure you have your spam filter turned on. This will prevent phishing emails from reaching your inbox and not only mean you have less traffic but less risk of clicking on any unwanted links.

Make Use Of A Secure Data Transfer Facility

If you are sending sensitive information such as payslips, patient records, legal or financial documents, you will probably not want to send them as a simple email attachment. If someone got access to these (even though you accidentally sending to the wrong person), then there could be big issues.

You will want to consider using a secure data transfer platform (such as Egress) where the recipient is required to log into a portal to view your email. As with our point about passwords, however, just make sure you don’t use the same one!

16 November, 2020

Cloud Storage: Don’t Risk Not Using It

Picture this; you arrive in the office and your PC fails to start, so…

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16 November, 2020

Cloud Storage: Don’t Risk Not Using It

Picture this; you arrive in the office and your PC fails to start, so you spend some time taking a look to see what’s wrong and just can’t figure it out.

You get in touch with an IT specialist as your files from the past five years are all saved locally on your desktop and desperately need them to run your business.

You hear back from the IT specialist and it’s not good news. They explain that your computer’s hard drive has corrupted and will need replacing. When you ask about the files stored on it, they explain that unfortunately they have all been lost, so you would need to restore a backup.

It’s at that point you realise your worst fears as the hard drive you used to physically back up files got dropped and is also corrupted, meaning that you have lost all of the files from the past five years of running your business.

This horror story is something that we have seen more than a few times and really is every business owner’s worst nightmare.

In order to mitigate against risks such as this we always recommend using a cloud-based storage solution which means that your files are not stored locally, but in a remote location meaning that your files are also stored offsite, which is the ideal situation for disaster recovery.

Using a cloud-based storage solution also means that your files can be generally accessed from any location (even your mobile phone). This means that you can always have important documents to hand when they are needed. In addition, you will be able to restrict user access to your files due to the enhanced security features that many solutions provide.

There are a few types of cloud-based storage and which type you require tends to depend on your business size and requirements.

A small business, for example, may choose to opt for a commercial solution such as OneDrive which comes with Office 365, however, it is important to remember that OneDrive does not guarantee that your files will be backed up. This means that if your files get erroneously deleted, there is no recourse or recovery option.

Another solution is an off-site storage solution provided by your IT Support company. For example, we provide bespoke file storage solutions for our clients and tailor the setup to their business requirements. This option is generally preferred because of the ability to tailor the solution to your specific business.

23 October, 2020

Four Ways To Know It’s Time To…

For many small businesses, the need to outsource their IT can come quite far…

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23 October, 2020

Four Ways To Know It’s Time To Outsource Your I.T

For many small businesses, the need to outsource their IT can come quite far down on the priorities list. It is often seen as a cost and something that can be ‘saved’.

This is all well and good until something goes wrong… and wrong it can go!

Just imagine you lost all the files for a section of your business because they were stored on the laptop of an employee who got fired and took their laptop with them. Worse still, imagine that you did not realise that employee had access to all your company systems and was able to use your data to their advantage (or the advantage of your competitors…).

If we imagine another scenario where one of your computers was hacked or got a virus because you used a basic off the shelf virus protection that was not updated for a long time. Who knows what could be done with the data that was accessed or other information (such as bank account or credit card data).

If we have your attention now, then we certainly think you will want to read on as outsourcing your I.T is probably a lot cheaper than you think! Here are our four top signs that it may be time to think about out-sourcing.

  1. You realise that IT is critical to your business and you need someone to make sure it is managed professionally.
  2. You find yourself drawn into ‘fixing the printer’ on a regular basis.
  3. You or your team regularly experience downtime because of old, outdated IT infrastructure of systems.
  4. You have a free antivirus, no firewall to protect your machine, and cannot remember the last time you did a software update.

All these things are signs that you really need to investigate outsourcing your IT. Even if it is as simple as making sure you have the right virus protection and a backup of all your files, then it is time to pick up the phone.

In addition to this, if you are constantly spending time fixing those niggling issues that prevent your team from working efficiently, it would be well worth you looking into a remote IT support package. You may be surprised at how much time you would save to focus on your core business!

16 October, 2020

Video Call Etiquette, It’s Worth Giving Some…

As we are at the beginning of what we expect could be a challenging…

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16 October, 2020

Video Call Etiquette, It’s Worth Giving Some Thought!

As we are at the beginning of what we expect could be a challenging few months, we need to get used to a new ‘new normal’ and this brings us back to the topic of digital communications!

We will all now be very used to videoconferencing, working remotely, and all of those small issues that you can experience when ‘Zooming in’ (other brands are available)! It could be that slightly poor internet connection, completely messy room, distractions from your phone, email, or something (or somebody…) else.

You may not realise it, but it is quite important to give some thought to video call etiquette! Why we hear you ask? Why should you even worry about it? Well, unless you are on a video call with someone you know very well, you will have an image that you will want to maintain and a reputation to be upheld.

When it comes to video call etiquette, here are our top things to get spot-on:

  • Always have a stable internet connection: after all, you don’t want to be the person who is always dropping out.
  • Dress appropriately: we’ve probably all heard about the ‘Zoom suit’. Shirt on top, PJ’s on the bottom. Whilst that is, in principle fine, just be aware that you probably won’t want to stand up!
  • Remove distractions: are the kids home or do you have a dog who likes to take over your attention? Make sure they are distracted and you have a space to hold your call in.
  • Look at your camera lens: try not to look at the screen and certainly don’t look at your phone (we know you do it)!
  • Think about your backdrop: You may opt to use a virtual background, but if you do not then we recommend hiding that dressing gown that is on the back of the door and making sure your drying washing is not in full view.

If you need any advice about how to get your videoconferencing set up or have a slow, unreliable internet connection that just does not help matters then drop us a call and we will be more than happy to help!

23 September, 2020

All About Zoom

Who HASN’T heard of video conferencing? From grandparents wanting to keep in touch with…

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23 September, 2020

All About Zoom

Who HASN’T heard of video conferencing? From grandparents wanting to keep in touch with grandchildren during the pandemic, to weekly networking meetings and daily work briefings, the increase in video conferencing has been astronomical during lockdown. Advances in technology have allowed it to become a viable way of keeping many businesses afloat during physical office closures, with some companies reassessing working practices to include video conferencing as an alternative to face-to-face meetings and general communications going forward.

Back in April, Ofcom reported that Zoom users increased from 659,000 in January to a staggering 13 million in April; an increase of over 1872%. And Zoom isn’t the only company benefiting from the lockdown – according to this report, Microsoft Teams hit 75 million users at the end of April, increasing its user base by 12 million in just one week at the very beginning of March.

Now a staple of everyday life, the Zoom Boom is showing no signs of slowing. As increasing numbers of workers are choosing, or being told, to work from home, never has there been a better time to own a video conferencing software company (Eric Yuan, who owns 20% of Zoom company is the world’s 146th richest person and is worth an impressive $10.8bn)! Even Facebook has muscled in on the act, offering Rooms via its Messenger app, and Google is getting in on the act with Meet.

But, with each platform hailed and criticised in equal measure, you may be confused as to which is the best for your business. Which you opt for depends not only on your budget and size of team, but also on what you need from video conferencing – do you want Q&A and poll capabilities? Are your calls going to be straightforward video chats, or will you need to share screens and documents?

If you need any advice regarding which software is best for your company’s needs, look no further – at Bells IT, we use the world’s leading products to ensure your conferences will go ahead seamlessly (but do read through these conference call fails, just to avoid ‘going viral’ when interrupted by kids, or a toilet break, or immortalized as a potato… ).

17 September, 2020

The Value Of CCTV!

Whether to keep your property and employees safe, or to deter vandals or opportunistic…

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17 September, 2020

The Value Of CCTV!

Whether to keep your property and employees safe, or to deter vandals or opportunistic thieves, a CCTV system will always be a sound investment for your business premises. It’s a valuable way of ensuring that health and safety policies are implemented and complied with, as well as protecting the best interests of your business by deterring or proving misconduct.

Safety is the cornerstone of any business, with staff and customers a priority; CCTV is a cost-effective security measure, protecting customers, staff and property with 24/7 coverage. Even when you aren’t at the office or on-site, your security system remains hard at work, hopefully meaning you can take a day off or go on holiday without worrying about your business.

Sadly, we live in a time in which companies encourage the public to sue businesses on a ‘no win no fee’ basis. However, with the right security system in place, you can mitigate the losses of false or exaggerated claims by providing evidence of no-fault.

Legislation allows you to use CCTV in the workplace, as long as you make it clear to your employees when they will be on camera and also inform them of the extent and purpose of the monitoring. It’s important that you tell your staff where and when they will be recorded, not only to ensure you are not infringing on strict privacy laws, but also in order to maintain a positive working relationship.

And don’t forget to tell your insurance company when you have had your system installed – you may find they decrease your premiums.

At Bells IT, we offer several CCTV services, including a full service which includes quarterly routine maintenance. From design all the way through to configuration and maintenance we have the whole solution for your organisation.

24 August, 2020

Very Important Password

‘WEAK PASSWORD’: the error message that makes us all roll our eyes in exasperation.…

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24 August, 2020

Very Important Password

‘WEAK PASSWORD’: the error message that makes us all roll our eyes in exasperation. If it doesn’t contain seven different character types, plus a string of random numbers and the name of a type of brassica, it’s not a strong password, right?

It’s a pain, but a necessary one – did you know that one small business in the UK is hacked every nineteen seconds, and there are around 65,000 attempts to hack SMBs in the UK, every single day? With that in mind, here are some tips as to how to secure your digital life with that virtually un-hackable password…

A change is as good as a rest

We get it – it’s tempting to use the same password for everything from online shopping to banking – that way you’ll never get locked out, right? But consider this: someone gains access to your supermarket account, then they move on to your emails, perhaps getting access to your home address, then they try your bank account and bingo! Same password. Essentially, by using the same password, you’ve made it easy for a cybercriminal to empty your bank account, and gain access to personal details in the process.

No need to get personal!

However memorable it may be, using your firstborn’s date of birth or your beloved cat’s name in a password is a definite no-no. These nuggets of information can be found on your social media channels – using them as passwords is a bad move (you may as well pop up a status with your passwords listed in it).

Password password

Who would use the word Password as their password? Lots of you, seemingly – it’s a common theme in top ten password data over the years, alongside 123456, 123456789 qwerty, and 111111. We can’t help but roll our eyes at these!

Phrase it out

See your password as an opportunity to get creative by turning it from a random string of numbers to a passphrase. A strong passphrase is more memorable for you, while being infinitely trickier to crack. Choose four or more randomly chosen words, and your password will be as strong as one that uses a random (and less memorable) string of characters. Just make sure to use a different passphrase for each site.

16 August, 2020

Smooth Cybercriminal

The home office is now commonplace, due to both COVID19 and the large numbers…

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16 August, 2020

Smooth Cybercriminal

The home office is now commonplace, due to both COVID19 and the large numbers of small business owners who have set up their offices at home. And, while home-working certainly has its perks, it can be daunting not having your data protected by a robust office security system. Here are a few cybersecurity tips to keep in mind when working from home.

Phishing for information

Some new phishing scams have popped up over the past couple of months; taking advantage of the fact that many of us are home-based, they claim to contain information about company policies. The best tip to avoid being reeled in by such a scam is to closely check sender information before clicking on any link. If you have an employer, it’s worth reporting the phishing attempt to them.

Stay secure

A very easy one to overlook (security software update alerts can seem like niggling irritations at times), but do make sure your security software is up to date, including patching what may seem like minor security flaws. It’s best to allow the software to update automatically.

Passwords? What’s a password?

Passphrases are the new passwords–single words and easily guessed number combinations went out with the iPhone 4. Make them strong, make them unique, and consider using a different one for each website you visit.

Multifactor authentication

This added security layer makes it tricky for hackers to get into your accounts, usually because the site or app will send a code to a phone or device that only you will have access to. Whenever this layered security option is available, we recommend that you activate it.

Trust us

Use only trusted Wi-Fi networks when working out and about. Free Wi-Fi isn’t secure, potentially giving away your sensitive data to cybercriminals. Consider securely tethering a laptop to your mobile when out and about, for added peace of mind. Take note of these tips to keep your home office safe and secure!

30 July, 2020

Six Top Tips To Avoid Phishing Scams

In a world that is becoming increasingly more virtual, our data has never been…

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30 July, 2020

Six Top Tips To Avoid Phishing Scams

In a world that is becoming increasingly more virtual, our data has never been more vulnerable. With a vast amount of our sensitive information stored online, we have to trust that our security systems are robust enough to protect it from fraudulent access via deceptive means, known as phishing.

Phishing can take many forms – from glaringly obvious, badly worded emails to more sophisticated attacks that use attractive templates and ‘phishing kits’ to clone a website, installing credential-stealing code. So, how do you protect your business from them? Read on for our six top tips:

  1. Using a spam filter will go some way to redirecting any blank sender emails and prevent viruses, and when used in conjunction with decent security software, will go a long way to protecting your information and hardware.
  2. Change passwords regularly, using a hard-to-guess and complex arrangement of letters, numbers, and symbols to make them difficult to guess.
  3. Use encryption for any employees or colleagues who work remotely.
  4. Disable HTML emails, opting for text-only versions.
  5. Always check URLs in emails before clicking on them, and watch for URL redirects when you click a link.
  6. Don’t post too much personal information online – you could be opening yourself up to potential security issues.

If you are concerned that an email isn’t legitimate, although from a familiar individual, double-check the email it was sent from. Hackers often change one letter or number in an email, making it appear to be correct at first glance. If you are in any doubt, start a new thread using a trusted email address.

This is by no means an exhaustive guide to protecting your business from phishing attacks, but it’s a handy overview of a few of the ways in which you can protect your business on a day-to-day basis. To ensure you and your business are fully protected from phishing at all times, speak to us at Bell IT Support, and we can guide you!

12 July, 2020

Five Reasons Your IT System Could Be…

Having a secure IT system is extremely important as you not only protect your…

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12 July, 2020

Five Reasons Your IT System Could Be More Vulnerable Than You Realise

Having a secure IT system is extremely important as you not only protect your business, but also your customers, their data, and your reputation.

You would be surprised at how vulnerable the IT system of even a small business could be. Just imagine the damage that could be caused if you lost your data or someone discovered all your passwords!

Here are five points to consider when thinking about how secure your IT system IS:

  • Do I have a backup and if not, why not?

You may have your data stored on your computer hard drive or in the cloud, however, do you have a backup of this data? We do not mean a copy on a USB stick or external hard drive that you carry around with you but a backup at a different location on a secure server.

If you do not, then your data could be at risk. It could be easily lost or, at worst, if you store it on an external drive someone could easily steal it and just think about the access they could have!

  • Do I know who is accessing your data (including old employees)?

You may be surprised at who has access to your data. Have you perhaps shared your logins with a contractor, or even have an ex-employee who is still able to access your systems?

You should be extremely careful about who has access to your data and systems. This access should be carefully managed and tightly controlled.

  • Who has the keys to my palace?

What we mean by this is whether all every employee needs to get access to the data they have access to. For example, if you use OneDrive, does someone working as a receptionist have access to financial management information?

You should always have levels of access set up for each user to protect your data and ensure that people only have access to the data they need to carry out their job.

  • Am I open to attack?

The last question is about your firewall and antivirus. Do you have one and if so, is it kept up to date? With nearly one million new malware threats released each day, you must be secure.

If you are open to attack, hackers can not only access your data, but potentially your systems, sensitive customer data, and even cause you to be fined for breach of General Data Protection Regulations.

30 June, 2020

Four Reasons You Need To Have A…

As a business owner, you will know how important it is to always keep…

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30 June, 2020

Four Reasons You Need To Have A Reliable CCTV System

As a business owner, you will know how important it is to always keep your premises safe and secure at all times. Whilst many businesses have a CCTV system in place, a large number do not and there are a lot of benefits to using it!

We specialise in basic to complex CCTV installations and there are five big reasons why it is worth having a reliable CCTV system installed to help you remain safe. These are:

  1. Crime deterrent

The top reason people install CCTV is generally that is acts as a fantastic crime deterrent to criminals and anyone else carrying out illegal activities. Even the right of a CCTV camera can act as a deterrent in and of itself.

  1. Reduces your insurance

A CCTV system will not only save you money by acting as a crime deterrent, it will also help save you money by reducing your insurance bill. This is because your premises will have increased security and is statistically less likely to experience crime.

  1. Provides evidence for the police

In the unfortunate event of a crime occurring, having a CCTV system is extremely helpful as it provides evidence that will help in solving the crime. Statistically, crimes are solved much more easily with the help of CCTV footage.

  1. Keeping records

Every business knows the importance of keeping good records and CCTV will help provide you with information such as when staff and visitors are coming in and checking out as well as things such as deliveries and any other activity. This will help you make sure that everything is running smoothly and monitor anything you need.

14 June, 2020

Windows 10 Home or Windows 10 Professional?

A question we are regularly asked when setting up new machines for clients is…

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14 June, 2020

Windows 10 Home or Windows 10 Professional?

A question we are regularly asked when setting up new machines for clients is what version of Windows should be installed. Many businesses actually run on Windows 10 Home edition; however, we would always recommend using Windows 10 Professional edition.

Although the professional edition may cost slightly more, there are several benefits that mean it really is a must for your business. These features mean that your machine is more geared towards business use as well as being more secure than a home edition.

Windows 10 Professional includes a piece of software called BitLocker. This software is not available on the home edition and helps you meet GDPR regulations. BitLocker is a piece of software that encrypts data stored on your hard drive.

It means that if your device gets lost or stolen, the data remains safe and you remain compliant in order that it does not fall into the wrong hands risking you a significant fine.

The second major benefit to using Windows 10 Professional is how you are able to add it to a corporate domain. The benefit of this include being able to roll out centralised user and computer policies to ensure your users keep within the company IT rules, centralised user logon, managing all users with what they can and can’t do, network drives and much more all from your server.

We hope that this gives you a valuable insight into why we will only set up new machines with Windows 10 Professional edition. It may cost a little bit more but is certainly worth every penny.

As a reliable and quality provider of IT Services, we ensure that our clients have the right solutions that keep their business protected and our team are always happy to answer any questions you may have!

2 June, 2020

How To Get Your Business Telephony Right

We know that telephony is a vital part of your day-to-day business operations and…

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2 June, 2020

How To Get Your Business Telephony Right

We know that telephony is a vital part of your day-to-day business operations and it is often not the highest in the order of priorities until it goes wrong!

A faulty telephone line can not only lead to lost sales, but it can also lead to dissatisfied customers should they not be able to get hold of you or at the worst even cause customers to end their service with you.

Particularly at the moment when a lot of us are working remotely, it is important to give some extra thought to the impression you are creating through your telephony system.

Also, as you may have read in our previous blog post, BT is switching off its analogue telephone lines from 2025 and therefore you will need to move to a VoIP system.

What is the right system for me?

There are a lot of telephone systems available such as virtual numbers, simply using your mobile phone or home telephone or system provided by a managed office and it is important to make sure that you select the right option for your business.

We will always advise that you have a system that will grow with your business and this is where we generally recommend a VoIP solution. As well as being relatively inexpensive, a VoIP system will mean that you are not tied down to a particular telephone line and can set up your system to function as your business requires.

What are the benefits of a VoIP system

There are a significant number of benefits to a VoIP system, however the main ones are as follows:

  • Your business is not tied down to a specific line or number (your system is portable as your office grows and / or moves)
  • Calls can seamlessly be transferred even if your team are not in the same physical location
  • Calls can be handled via a headset, desk phone, mobile app or desktop software
  • Calls can be received and made from the same number, regardless of physical location
  • Your system is future proofed in preparation for the BT switchover in 2025

Telephony is an area that we help many of our valued clients with. If you would like to discuss the right solution for your business, we would welcome your call or email and be more than happy to discuss further.

3 May, 2020

Why You Should Always Have A Backup

  We would like to start by asking a question and that is a…

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3 May, 2020

Why You Should Always Have A Backup

 

We would like to start by asking a question and that is a simple one “if you lost all of your data, would you be able to operate your business and what is your back up plan?’’

Many businesses store their data on things such as G-Suite, OneDrive, Dropbox or some other form of cloud-based storage solution. These solutions are fantastic as they enable you to share files between devices and access them remotely, however they have one major floor and that is in relation to backups.

Whilst you may believe that your files are stored safely, there is no guarantee that if a virus got into them, you accidently deleted them or even if the host lost them, you will be able to recover the data.

This is a big risk as the data that businesses store is often invaluable, and you would be surprised at the number of small, medium and even large businesses who do not have a reliable data backup system. Some statistics quote that this could be as high as 50%!

What is a backup & how does it work?

Simply put, a backup is a second copy of your data that is stored elsewhere and accessible should you experience any issues.

There are several different solutions that can work depending on your business needs. The majority of solutions incorporate a cloud backup which is where your data is stored in a physical or virtual file or database to a secondary, off-site location for preservation in case of equipment failure or catastrophe.

You may wish to have all of your files backed up in one go, or incrementally back up files which is where all files are backed up on a specified date and then where only new or updated data is backed up each time.

Disaster recovery

Disaster recovery is a solution that helps protect your organisation from the effects of significant negative effects, such as an on-site fire or other major disruption.

A disaster recovery plan is extremely important for organisations who solely rely on their IT systems for day-to-day operations. Whilst this is a large majority of companies, examples may be care homes, financial institutions and major supermarkets.

If you have an on-site server or hosted on-site software, a disaster recovery system will mean that you are able to be back up and running in a relatively short period of time in order to minimise disruption.

If you do not have a backup, then we strongly recommend that you get one set up and do not run the very real risk of losing your valuable data.

We have a range of backup and disaster recovery solutions to suit the needs of all sizes of businesses and ensure that they remain protected, safe and secure. If you have any questions or would like to discuss your IT needs, our team would be more than happy to help.

29 April, 2020

How Working From Home Can Be Extremely…

With many of us currently working from home, businesses are needing to adapt to…

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29 April, 2020

How Working From Home Can Be Extremely Effective

With many of us currently working from home, businesses are needing to adapt to a new landscape. We provide our clients with solutions that enable their teams to continue operating seamlessly whilst ensuring that their IT system and data remain secure.

We thought we would put together a summary of our top advantages & disadvantages when working from home as there are several things that should be considered.

Advantage 1 – Flexibility

Perhaps the main advantage to working from home is the flexibility that it can provide. It enables your team to be able to continue with some of the simple day-to-day things such as receiving deliveries, working flexible hours, taking care of the kids and much more.

This flexibility is something that is very attractive as it can help your employees to maintain a healthy work / life balance. It also cuts out the time your team spend commuting which is always welcome!

Advantage 2 – Creature comforts

It goes without saying that working from home means that your team can work from an environment they feel comfortable in.

This includes things such as having their own kitchen to cook lunch and being able to work in a relaxed environment. It is a known fact that a less stressful environment generally leads to a better quality of work!

Advantage 3 – Access to office systems

Unlike in the early 1990s, advances in IT technology mean that your team can access office systems in much the same way as if they were in the office.

Making the most of things such as shared drives hosted software means that you no longer need the confines of an office to continue working as normal!

Whilst there are many advantages to working from home, there are also some disadvantages that should be considered.

These disadvantages, however, do not need to be things that prevent your team from working effectively!

Disadvantage 1 – Communication with team members

Working remotely can cause a few challenges when a team environment is helpful to how you function. In addition, it means that things such as face-to-face team meetings are not possible.

Whilst this can be a disadvantage, we are able to provide things such as bespoke videoconferencing, team chat software that can help to overcome this and bring your team together. In addition to this, integrated telephony solutions can mean that your team can take and make calls as if they were in the office.

This is an extremely cost-effective way to work when you consider the overheads of an office!

Disadvantage 2 – IT Issues can be a challenge

When your team are not based in the office, having an IT issue can prove to be a challenge. In addition, they may find that their internet connection is not wholly reliable and therefore cause downtime.

Whilst we are unable to help fix any home broadband issues that are the cause of your Internet Service Provider, having a managed IT service means that your team will always have someone to call should something go wrong. This means that they can take action rather than doing nothing!

Disadvantage 3 – Ensuring that your team are working efficiently

This is often one reason where people like to have their team working from a central location. We have all heard about the three-hour lunch break, heading off for a round of golf or having a nice lie in and cutting the day short!

These things do not need to be a concern however, as by using our software you can see when your team are online or offline and monitor computer usage to track actions in a non-intrusive way. This will help provide valuable insight as you run your business.

Overall, the advantages of working from home often far outweigh the disadvantages and as well as being possible, they can save you the overheads of an office!

If you have any questions or would like to discuss your IT needs, our team would be more than happy to help.

22 March, 2020

BT ISDN and PSTN Switch Off 2025

In 2014, BT announced that it would switch off its voice ISDN and PSTN…

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22 March, 2020

BT ISDN and PSTN Switch Off 2025

In 2014, BT announced that it would switch off its voice ISDN and PSTN circuits by 2025 and orders for these circuits will no longer be available from 2023. Advances within new IP technology, mean that these services are no longer worthwhile.

What do I do?

You can migrate your lines to SIP or move to a hosted telephony solution such as VoIP (Voice over IP). SIP is an IP Based telephone line. This is the direct replacement for voice services previously using ISDN or PSTN. If you phone system does not have availability for SIP functionality, we can migrate your services to SIP and then back to analogue using a converter. However, our hosted telephony solutions are feature rich and can reduce your overheads and the stress of the BT switch off.

 

Will I lose my numbers?

No, not at all. We can seamlessly port all of your number to Bells IT without losing a single call.

27 February, 2020

Microsoft Windows 7, Server 2008 and Exchange…

  Back in June 2019, Microsoft announced that Windows 7, Server 2008 and Exchange…

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27 February, 2020

Microsoft Windows 7, Server 2008 and Exchange 2010 End-Of-Life

 

Back in June 2019, Microsoft announced that Windows 7, Server 2008 and Exchange 2010 would become end-of-life products early 2020. The date was set for January 14th, 2020. On this day, Microsoft will stop supporting these products, but what does that mean? Well, this means that Microsoft will stop producing security patches or updates, it will no longer be classed as a compliant system for some vendors and they will no longer support the operating system. However, this does not mean that your computer will mysteriously stop working. We have had many conversations with new clients panicking about the deadline, believing that their computers will stop working.

 

So, what are my options?

An in-place upgrade to Windows 10. Previously, Microsoft offered all Windows 7 users to upgrade to Windows 10 for FREE. However, they decided to stop this offer more recently. If you have opted in for this service, you are still able to receive it. For all new upgrades, there is now an upgrade cost.

How do I upgrade to Windows 10?

The first step is to decide if your existing hardware is reliable enough to last. If you are having to pay for the upgrade, you may want to bite-the-bullet and purchase newer hardware that comes with Windows 10.  If your hardware is relatively new, then you can pay the small fee for the Windows 10 installer. We can also offer to manage all of this for you and for your company.

 

What about the other products, do they impact me?

Server 2008 and Exchange 2010 are normally used commercially or within small to medium businesses. If you are aware of using a small business server, or have an older server, then yes, this may affect you. If you are a business owner with a server and unsure on the products you use, then we are here to help. Give us a call to discuss your options.

12 February, 2020

CCTV Law – Home vs Business

  CCTV at home If you are looking to have CCTV fitted at your…

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12 February, 2020

CCTV Law – Home vs Business

 

CCTV at home

If you are looking to have CCTV fitted at your home, it’s important to choose the right location and angles to capture the areas you want. There a few legal implications of installing home CCTV systems. It is advised under the Human Rights Act, that you make every effort to ensure that ‘collateral intrusion’ of nearby premises or public areas are kept to a minimum.

CCTV for your business

It is vital to follow the guidelines for use of CCTV at work. Failure to follow or understand the guidelines may result in your footage being dismissible if you ever needed to use it. If you are looking to use CCTV in your place of work, you are now required by law to register with the ICO. You will also need to comply with the Data Protection Act 1988.

At Bells IT Support, we can design, install and manage your CCTV requirements. We can offer this service to all individuals and all industries.