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Energy-saving Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs) could help meet demand for wireless communications without affecting the quality of light or environmental benefits they deliver, new research funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) has shown.

A University of Edinburgh team has found that transmitting digital data via LEDs at the same time as using them to generate light does not make the light dimmer or change its colour. Nor does it make the LED more energy-hungry. Dr Wasiu Popoola of the University of Edinburgh, who led the research, says these concerns have held back the more widespread adoption of Light Fidelity, or LiFi, which uses household LEDs to enable data transfer.

But these findings help eliminate key hurdles to using LEDs to help satisfy the increasing global thirst for wireless communications. Preserving the quality of lighting is, in particular, a vital consideration as it can have a major effect on the physical and mental wellbeing of people in both their homes and their workplaces. LEDs have secured a huge increase in their share of the worldwide lighting market in recent years, as well as being used extensively in TV and other displays.

Although it has long been known that LEDs can be 'piggy-backed' to transmit data to and from mobiles, tablets, sensors and other devices, questions have surrounded the ability to do this without affecting LEDs' core capabilities or the money-saving and 'green' benefits that make them so popular.

Focusing on LEDs producing 'warm white' and 'cool white' light, the Edinburgh team looked at two different data transmission techniques: on-off keying, where the LED works like Morse code, switching on and off extremely rapidly and imperceptibly to human eyes; and continuous signalling, where imperceptible changes in light intensity are used to achieve the same goal.

Neither technique was found to significantly reduce the lightbulbs' brightness or their life expectancy, or to cause any significant change in the colour of the light. Both techniques also produced only a negligible change in the heat generated by the LEDs -- a key consideration as any temperature increase would indicate the LED using more electricity to produce light, making it less energy-efficient and less carbon-friendly.

Dr Popoola adds: "Our ever more connected world will need more bandwidth than the overcrowded Radio Frequency part of the spectrum can provide. Plugging a key knowledge gap, our results are very encouraging for the future of light-based communications that could help realise the full economic and social potential of a wireless future. It's vital that LED manufacturers know what impact the incorporation of data transmission capabilities would have on their products. Our researc shows that there's no dark side to using LED lights to supplement WiFi."

Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC). "No dark side to using LED lights to supplement WiFi." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 11 October 2017. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/10/171011120650.htm>.

Image credit: Buzzfeed.com

Microtechs Specialist White label Wi-Fi Support

 

Supporting some of the largest Wi-Fi providers in the UK, Microtechs prides itself with the ability to adapt between end user and staff support. Constantly monitoring staffing levels, to ensure seasonal fluctuations do not affect our service levels.

Some of our clients include major UK airports, hotel chains, holiday parks and shopping centres.

Manufacturers and distributors of Wi-Fi and other cloud based products, also use our helpdesk to provide support to a wide range of resellers.

Feel free to call our friendly solutions team, who will be happy to discuss further and help tailor a solution to you.

 

 

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A major new international research program is responding to the overwhelming demand of internet traffic to develop ubiquitous wireless data coverage with unprecedented speed at millimetre waves.

For the first time in the Internet's history, the data used by tablets and smartphones now exceeds that of desktops. Emerging technologies and entertainment such as telemedicine, Internet of Things (IoT), 4K video streaming, cloud gaming, social networks, driverless cars, augmented reality and many other unpredictable applications will need zettabyte (1,000 billions of billions) of wireless data.

Smartphones will continue to work at microwave frequencies for many years because of microwaves' ability to pass through barriers. Though due to limitations to the amount of data that can be transmitted by microwaves, the only way to provide data with very fast download speeds is through covering urban areas with dense grids of micro, nano and pico 'cells', at microwave frequencies to serve a small number of users per cell.

However, manufacturers and operators have not yet solved how to feed a huge amount of data to a new maze of cells. Fibre is too expensive and difficult, if not impossible, to deploy in many urban areas, due city council permits or disruption.

A desirable solution is a wireless layer that can provide data at the level of tens of gigabit per second per kilometre square. It also needs to be flexible and come at a low cost.

Only the millimetre wave frequencies, 30-300 GHz, with their multi GHz bandwidths, could support tens of gigabit per second of wireless data rate. Unfortunately, rain can weaken or block data transmission and other technological limits have so far prevented the full exploitation of this portion of the spectrum.

The €2.9million European Union's Horizon 2020 ULTRAWAVE project, led by engineers at Lancaster University, aims, for the first time, to build technologies able to exploit the whole millimetre wave spectrum beyond 100 GHz.

The ULTRAWAVE concept is to create an ultra-capacity layer, aiming to achieve the 100 gigabit of data per second threshold, which is also flexible and easy to deploy. This layer will be able to feed data to hundreds of small and pico cells, regardless of the density of mobile devices in each cell. This would open scenarios for new network paradigms and architectures towards fully implementing 5G.

The ULTRAWAVE ultra capacity layer requires significant transmission power to cover wide areas overcoming the high attenuation at millimetre waves. This will be achieved by the convergence of three main technologies, vacuum electronics, solid-state electronics and photonics, in a unique wireless system, enabled by transmission power at multi Watt level. These power levels can only be generated through novel millimetre wave traveling wave tubes.

Professor Claudio Paoloni, Head of Engineering Department at Lancaster University and Coordinator of ULTRAWAVE, said: "When speeds of wireless networks equal fibre, billions of new rapid connections will help 5G become a reality. It is exciting to think that the EU Horizon 2020 ULTRAWAVE project could be a major milestone towards solving one of the main obstacles to future 5G networks, which is the ubiquitous wireless distribution of fibre-level high data rates.

"The huge growth in mobile devices and wireless data usage is putting an incredible strain on our existing wireless communication networks. Imagine crowded areas, such as London's Oxford Street, with tens of thousands of smartphone users per kilometre that wish to create, and receive content, with unlimited speed. To meet this demand, ULTRAWAVE will create European state of the art technologies for the new generation of wireless networks."

The ULTRAWAVE project started on the 1st September 2017 and will be presented to the public by the Kickoff Workshop at Lancaster University on the 14th September 2017.

Story Source:

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/09/170926135219.htm

Materials provided by Lancaster University. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

Picture credit: clubtroppo.com.au

Microtechs 24/7/365 White label Technical Helpdesk

In today's world, a rock solid IT infrastructure is key to every successful business. At Microtechs we have the experience and resource to ensure your company has the support it needs 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. We are able to provide an immediate response from our state of the art Technical Operations Centre which is based in the heart of Surrey.

With our rapidly expanding team, all specifically trained, working 24/7/365, we are able to provide excellent customer service and technical support. All of our services are available completely white labelled, ensuring a seamless extension to your company.

Through our services you are able to extend your hours to 24/7 or simply use us as an over flow assistant during office hours. This is all tailored to your business needs.  

How does Outsourcing your helpdesk benefit your business?

1.       It reduces your staffing costs. Why hire another member of staff, if you can outsource all of your calls for less? We are normally between 25-50% cheaper than an in-house option.

2.       It expands your opening hours. We have a technical operations centre which is open 24/7/365.

3.       It will improve your customer experience. Are you taking multiple calls from clients, but can’t get back to them as quick as you would like? Well now you have a team of 30 staff taking your support calls for you. Have an important meetings? No problem, your helpdesk has your back.

We work with over 60 IT & Telecoms Businesses who trust us to deal day to day with their clients.

Feel free to call our friendly solutions team, who will be happy to discuss further and help tailor a solution to you.

 

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Researchers from North Carolina State University have developed a system that can simultaneously deliver watts of power and transmit data at rates high enough to stream video over the same wireless connection. By integrating power and high-speed data, a true single "wireless" connection can be achieved.

"Recently wireless power as re-emerged as a technology to free us from the power cord," says David Ricketts, an associate professor of electrical and computer engineering at NC State and senior author of a paper on the work. "One of the most popular applications is in wireless cell phone charging pads. As many know, these unfortunately often require almost physical contact with the pad, limiting the usefulness of a truly 'wireless' power source. Recent work by several researchers have extended wireless power to 'mid-range' which can supply power at inches to feet of separation. While encouraging, most of the wireless power systems have only focused on the power problem -- not the data that needs to accompany any of our smart devices today. Addressing those data needs is what sets our work apart here."

Wireless power transfer technologies use magnetic fields to transmit power through the air. To minimize the power lost in generating these magnetic fields, you need to use antennas that operate in a narrow bandwidth -- particularly if the transmitter and receiver are inches or feet apart from each other.

Because using a narrow bandwidth antenna limits data transfer, devices incorporating wireless power transfer have normally also incorporated separate radios for data transmission. And having separate systems for data and power transmission increases the cost, weight and complexity of the relevant device.

The NC State team realized that while high-efficiency power transfer, especially at longer distances, does require very narrow band antennas, the system bandwidth can actually be much wider.

"People thought that efficient wireless power transfer requires the use of narrow bandwidth transmitters and receivers, and that this therefore limited data transfer," Ricketts says. "We've shown that you can configure a wide-bandwidth system with narrow-bandwidth components, giving you the best of both worlds."

With this wider bandwidth, the NC State team then envisioned the wireless power transfer link as a communication link, adapting data-rate enhancement techniques, such as channel equalization, to further improve data rate and data signal quality.

The researchers tested their system with and without data transfer. They found that when transferring almost 3 watts of power -- more than enough to power your tablet during video playback -- the system was only 2.3 percent less efficient when also transmitting 3.39 megabytes of data per second. At 2 watts of power, the difference in efficiency was only 1.3 percent. The tests were conducted with the transmitter and receiver 16 centimeters, or 6.3 inches, apart, demonstrating the ability of their system to operate in longer-distance wireless power links.

"Our system is comparable in power transfer efficiency to similar wireless power transfer devices, and shows that you can design a wireless power link system that retains almost all of its efficiency while streaming a movie on Netflix," Ricketts says.

Story Source:

Materials provided by North Carolina State University. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

Original article: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/09/170918111817.htm

Picture credit: www.softlac.com

Microtechs 24/7/365 White label Technical Helpdesk

In today's world, a rock solid IT infrastructure is key to every successful business. At Microtechs we have the experience and resource to ensure your company has the support it needs 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. We are able to provide an immediate response from our state of the art Technical Operations Centre which is based in the heart of Surrey.

With our rapidly expanding team, all specifically trained, working 24/7/365, we are able to provide excellent customer service and technical support. All of our services are available completely white labelled, ensuring a seamless extension to your company.

Through our services you are able to extend your hours to 24/7 or simply use us as an over flow assistant during office hours. This is all tailored to your business needs.  

How does Outsourcing your helpdesk benefit your business?

1.       It reduces your staffing costs. Why hire another member of staff, if you can outsource all of your calls for less? We are normally between 25-50% cheaper than an in-house option.

2.       It expands your opening hours. We have a technical operations centre which is open 24/7/365.

3.       It will improve your customer experience. Are you taking multiple calls from clients, but can’t get back to them as quick as you would like? Well now you have a team of 30 staff taking your support calls for you. Have an important meeting? No problem, your helpdesk has your back.

 

We work with over 60 IT & Telecoms Businesses who trust us to deal day to day with their clients.

 

Feel free to call our friendly solutions team, who will be happy to discuss further and help tailor a solution to you.

 

Call us now on 01483 407417

Posted by on in Latest Microtechs news posts

BY JEFF TYSON & STEPHANIE CRAWFORD

As a business grows, it might expand to multiple shops or offices across the country and around the world. To keep things running efficiently, the people working in those locations need a fast, secure and reliable way to share information across computer networks. In addition, traveling employees like salespeople need an equally secure and reliable way to connect to their business's computer network from remote locations.

 

One popular technology to accomplish these goals is a VPN (virtual private network). A VPN is a private network that uses a public network (usually the Internet) to connect remote sites or users together. The VPN uses "virtual" connections routed through the Internet from the business's private network to the remote site or employee. By using a VPN, businesses ensure security -- anyone intercepting the encrypted data can't read it.

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VPN was not the first technology to make remote connections. Several years ago, the most common way to connect computers between multiple offices was by using a leased line. Leased lines, such as ISDN (integrated services digital network, 128 Kbps), are private network connections that a telecommunications company could lease to its customers. Leased lines provided a company with a way to expand its private network beyond its immediate geographic area. These connections form a single wide-area network (WAN) for the business. Though leased lines are reliable and secure, the leases are expensive, with costs rising as the distance between offices increases.

Today, the Internet is more accessible than ever before, and Internet service providers (ISPs) continue to develop faster and more reliable services at lower costs than leased lines. To take advantage of this, most businesses have replaced leased lines with new technologies that use Internet connections without sacrificing performance and security. Businesses started by establishing intranets, which are private internal networks designed for use only by company employees. Intranets enabled distant colleagues to work together through technologies such as desktop sharing. By adding a VPN, a business can extend all its intranet's resources to employees working from remote offices or their homes.

This article describes VPN components, technologies, tunneling and security. First, let's explore an analogy that describes how a VPN compares to other networking options.

Analogy: Each LAN is an Island

Imagine that you live on an island in a huge ocean. There are thousands of other islands all around you, some very close and others farther away. The common means of travel between islands is via ferry. Traveling on the ferry means that you have almost no privacy: Other people can see everything you do.

 

Let's say that each island represents a private local area network (LAN) and the ocean is the Internet. Traveling by ferry is like connecting to a Web server or other device through the Internet. You have no control over the wires and routers that make up the Internet, just like you have no control over the other people on the ferry. This leaves you susceptible to security issues if you're trying to connect two private networks using a public resource.

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Continuing with our analogy, your island decides to build a bridge to another island so that people have an easier, more secure and direct way to travel between the two islands. It is expensive to build and maintain the bridge, even if the islands are close together. However, the need for a reliable, secure path is so great that you do it anyway. Your island would like to connect to yet another island that is much farther away, but decides that the costs are simply too much to bear.

This scenario represents having a leased line. The bridges (leased lines) are separate from the ocean (Internet), yet are able to connect the islands (LANs). Companies who choose this option do so because of the need for security and reliability in connecting their remote offices. However, if the offices are very far apart, the cost can be prohibitively high -- just like trying to build a bridge that spans a great distance.

So how does a VPN fit in? Using our analogy, suppose each inhabitant on your island has a small submarine. Let's assume that each submarine has these amazing properties:

·         It's fast.

·         It's easy to take with you wherever you go.

·         It's able to completely hide you from any other boats or submarines.

·         It's dependable.

·         It costs little to add additional submarines to your fleet once you've purchased the first one.

Although they're traveling in the ocean along with other traffic, the people could travel between islands whenever they wanted to with privacy and security. That's essentially how a VPN works. Each remote member of your network can communicate in a secure and reliable manner using the Internet as the medium to connect to the private LAN. A VPN can grow to accommodate more users and different locations much more easily than a leased line. In fact, scalability is a major advantage that VPNs have over leased lines. Moreover, the distance doesn't matter, because VPNs can easily connect multiple geographic locations worldwide.

 

Next, we'll look at what constitutes a good VPN, including its benefits and features.

What Makes a VPN?

 

A VPN's purpose is providing a secure and reliable private connection between computer networks over an existing public network, typically the Internet. Before looking at the technology that makes a VPN possible, let's consider all the benefits and features a business should expect in a VPN.

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A well-designed VPN provides a business with the following benefits:

·         Extended connections across multiple geographic locations without using a leased line

·         Improved security for exchanging data

·         Flexibility for remote offices and employees to use the business intranet over an existing Internet connection as if they're directly connected to the network

·         Savings in time and expense for employees to commute if they work from virtual workplaces

·         Improved productivity for remote employees

A business might not require all these benefits from its VPN, but it should demand the following essential VPN features:

·         Security -- The VPN should protect data while it's traveling on the public network. If intruders attempt to capture the data, they should be unable to read or use it.

·         Reliability -- Employees and remote offices should be able to connect to the VPN with no trouble at any time (unless hours are restricted), and the VPN should provide the same quality of connection for each user even when it is handling its maximum number of simultaneous connections.

·         Scalability -- As a business grows, it should be able to extend its VPN services to handle that growth without replacing the VPN technology altogether.

 

One interesting thing to note about VPNs is that there are no standards about how to set them up. This article covers network, authentication and security protocols that provide the features and benefits listed above. It also describes how a VPN's components work together. If you're establishing your own VPN, though, it's up to you to decide which protocols and components to use and to understand how they work together.

 

The next two pages describe two common types of VPN. We'll start with the type that's most synonymous with the term VPN.

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A remote-access VPN allows individual users to establish secure connections with a remote computer network. Those users can access the secure resources on that network as if they were directly plugged in to the network's servers. An example of a company that needs a remote-access VPN is a large firm with hundreds of salespeople in the field. Another name for this type of VPN is virtual private dial-up network (VPDN), acknowledging that in its earliest form, a remote-access VPN required dialing in to a server using an analog telephone system.

There are two components required in a remote-access VPN. The first is a network access server (NAS, usually pronounced "nazz" conversationally), also called a media gateway or a remote-access server (RAS). (Note: IT professionals also use NAS to mean network-attached storage.) A NAS might be a dedicated server, or it might be one of multiple software applications running on a shared server. It's a NAS that a user connects to from the Internet in order to use a VPN. The NAS requires that user to provide valid credentials to sign in to the VPN. To authenticate the user's credentials, the NAS uses either its own authentication process or a separate authentication server running on the network.

The other required component of remote-access VPNs is client software. In other words, employees who want to use the VPN from their computers require software on those computers that can establish and maintain a connection to the VPN. Most operating systems today have built-in software that can connect to remote-access VPNs, though some VPNs might require users to install a specific application instead. The client software sets up the tunneled connection to a NAS, which the user indicates by its Internet address. The software also manages the encryption required to keep the connection secure. You can read more about tunneling and encryption later in this article.

Large corporations or businesses with knowledgeable IT staff typically purchase, deploy and maintain their own remote-access VPNs. Businesses can also choose to outsource their remote-access VPN services through an enterprise service provider (ESP). The ESP sets up a NAS for the business and keeps that NAS running smoothly.

A remote-access VPN is great for individual employees, but what about entire branch offices with dozens or even hundreds of employees? Next, we'll look at another type of VPN used to keep businesses connected LAN-to-LAN.

 

Site-to-site VPN

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A site-to-site VPN allows offices in multiple fixed locations to establish secure connections with each other over a public network such as the Internet. Site-to-site VPN extends the company's network, making computer resources from one location available to employees at other locations. An example of a company that needs a site-to-site VPN is a growing corporation with dozens of branch offices around the world.

There are two types of site-to-site VPNs:

·         Intranet-based -- If a company has one or more remote locations that they wish to join in a single private network, they can create an intranet VPN to connect each separate LAN to a single WAN.

·         Extranet-based -- When a company has a close relationship with another company (such as a partner, supplier or customer), it can build an extranet VPN that connects those companies' LANs. This extranet VPN allows the companies to work together in a secure, shared network environment while preventing access to their separate intranets.

Even though the purpose of a site-to-site VPN is different from that of a remote-access VPN, it could use some of the same software and equipment. Ideally, though, a site-to-site VPN should eliminate the need for each computer to run VPN client software as if it were on a remote-access VPN. Dedicated VPN client equipment, described later in this article, can accomplish this goal in a site-to-site VPN.

Now that you know the two types of VPNs, let's look at how your data is kept secure as it travels across a VPN.

Keeping VPN Traffic in the Tunnel

Most VPNs rely on tunneling to create a private network that reaches across the Internet. In our article "How does the Internet work?" we describe how each data file is broken into a series of packets to be sent and received by computers connected to the Internet. Tunneling is the process of placing an entire packet within another packet before it's transported over the Internet. That outer packet protects the contents from public view and ensures that the packet moves within a virtual tunnel.

This layering of packets is called encapsulation. Computers or other network devices at both ends of the tunnel, called tunnel interfaces, can encapsulate outgoing packets and reopen incoming packets. Users (at one end of the tunnel) and IT personnel (at one or both ends of the tunnel) configure the tunnel interfaces they're responsible for to use a tunneling protocol. Also called an encapsulation protocol, a tunneling protocol is a standardized way to encapsulate packets [source: Microsoft]. Later in this article, you can read about the different tunneling protocols used by VPNs.

The purpose of the tunneling protocol is to add a layer of security that protects each packet on its journey over the Internet. The packet is traveling with the same transport protocol it would have used without the tunnel; this protocol defines how each computer sends and receives data over its ISP. Each inner packet still maintains the passenger protocol, such as Internet protocol (IP) or AppleTalk, which defines how it travels on the LANs at each end of the tunnel. (See the sidebar for more about how computers use common network protocols to communicate.) The tunneling protocol used for encapsulation adds a layer of security to protect the packet on its journey over the Internet.

To better understand the relationships between protocols, think of tunneling as having a computer delivered to you by a shipping company. The vendor who is sending you the computer packs the computer (passenger protocol) in a box (tunneling protocol). Shippers then place that box on a shipping truck (transport protocol) at the vendor's warehouse (one tunnel interface). The truck (transport protocol) travels over the highways (Internet) to your home (the other tunnel interface) and delivers the computer. You open the box (tunneling protocol) and remove the computer (passenger protocol).

 

Now that we've examined data in the tunnel, let's look at the equipment behind each interface.

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Equipment Used in a VPN

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While a VPN can be configured on generic computer equipment such as standard servers, most businesses opt for dedicated equipment optimized for the VPN and general network security. A small company might have all of its VPN equipment on site or, as mentioned earlier, might outsource its VPN services to an enterprise service provider. A larger company with branch offices might choose to co-locate some of its VPN equipment, meaning that it will set up that equipment in a co-location facility (or colo). A colo is a large data center that rents space to businesses that need to set up servers and other network equipment on a very fast, highly reliable Internet connection.

As mentioned earlier, there is no standard that all VPNs follow in terms of their setup. When planning or extending a VPN, though, you should consider the following equipment:

·         Network access server -- As previously described, a NAS is responsible for setting up and maintaining each tunnel in a remote-access VPN.

·         Firewall -- A firewall provides a strong barrier between your private network and the Internet. IT staff can set firewalls to restrict what type of traffic can pass through from the Internet onto a LAN, and on what TCP and UDP ports. Even without a VPN, a LAN should include a firewall to help protect against malicious Internet traffic.

·         AAA Server -- The acronym stands for the server's three responsibilities: authentication, authorization and accounting. For each VPN connection, the AAA server confirms who you are (authentication), identifies what you're allowed to access over the connection (authorization) and tracks what you do while you're logged in (accounting).

One widely used standard for AAA servers is Remote Authentication Dial-in User Service (RADIUS). Despite its name, RADIUS isn't just for dial-up users. When a RADIUS server is part of a VPN, it handles authentication for all connections coming through through the VPN's NAS.

VPN components can run alongside other software on a shared server, but this is not typical, and it could put the security and reliability of the VPN at risk. A small business that isn't outsourcing its VPN services might deploy firewall and RADIUS software on generic servers. However, as a business's VPN needs increase, so does its need for equipment that's optimized for the VPN. The following are dedicated VPN devices a business can add to its network. You can purchase these devices from companies that produce network equipment, such as Cisco:

 

·         VPN Concentrator -- This device replaces an AAA server installed on a generic server. The hardware and software work together to establish VPN tunnels and handle large numbers of simultaneous connections.

·         VPN-enabled/VPN-optimized Router -- This is a typical router that delegates traffic on a network, but with the added feature of routing traffic using protocols specific to VPNs.

·         VPN-enabled Firewall -- This is a conventional firewall protecting traffic between networks, but with the added feature of managing traffic using protocols specific to VPNs.

·         VPN Client -- This is software running on a dedicated device that acts as the tunnel interface for multiple connections. This setup spares each computer from having to run its own VPN client software.

So far, we've looked at the types of VPNs and the equipment they can use. Next, let's take a closer look at the encryption and protocols that VPN components use.

 

Encryption and Security Protocols in a VPN

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Encryption is the process of encoding data so that only a computer with the right decoder will be able to read and use it. You could use encryption to protect files on your computer or e-mails you send to friends or colleagues. An encryption key tells the computer what computations to perform on data in order to encrypt or decrypt it. The most common forms of encryption are symmetric-key encryption or public-key encryption:

 

In symmetric-key encryption, all computers (or users) share the same key used to both encrypt and decrypt a message.

In public-key encryption, each computer (or user) has a public-private key pair. One computer uses its private key to encrypt a message, and another computer uses the corresponding public key to decrypt that message.

In a VPN, the computers at each end of the tunnel encrypt the data entering the tunnel and decrypt it at the other end. However, a VPN needs more than just a pair of keys to apply encryption. That's where protocols come in. A site-to-site VPN could use either Internet protocol security protocol (IPSec) or generic routing encapsulation (GRE). GRE provides the framework for how to package the passenger protocol for transport over the Internet protocol (IP). This framework includes information on what type of packet you're encapsulating and the connection between sender and receiver.

IPSec is a widely used protocol for securing traffic on IP networks, including the Internet. IPSec can encrypt data between various devices, including router to router, firewall to router, desktop to router, and desktop to server. IPSec consists of two sub-protocols which provide the instructions a VPN needs to secure its packets:

 

·         Encapsulated Security Payload (ESP) encrypts the packet's payload (the data it's transporting) with a symmetric key.

·         Authentication Header (AH) uses a hashing operation on the packet header to help hide certain packet information (like the sender's identity) until it gets to its destination.

Networked devices can use IPSec in one of two encryption modes. In transport mode, devices encrypt the data traveling between them. In tunnel mode, the devices build a virtual tunnel between two networks. As you might guess, VPNs use IPSec in tunnel mode with IPSec ESP and IPSec AH working together [source: Friedl].

 

In a remote- access VPN, tunneling typically relies on Point-to-point Protocol (PPP) which is part of the native protocols used by the Internet. More accurately, though, remote-access VPNs use one of three protocols based on PPP:

 

·         L2F (Layer 2 Forwarding) -- Developed by Cisco; uses any authentication scheme supported by PPP

·         PPTP (Point-to-point Tunneling Protocol) -- Supports 40-bit and 128-bit encryption and any authentication scheme supported by PPP

·         L2TP (Layer 2 Tunneling Protocol) -- Combines features of PPTP and L2F and fully supports IPSec; also applicable in site-to-site VPNs

Throughout this article, we've looked at the types of VPNs and the components and protocols that they use. Over time, people have developed new and better technologies to use in networks, which improves the features of existing VPNs. VPN-specific technologies, though, such as tunneling protocols, haven't changed much in that time, perhaps because current VPNs do such a good job at to keep businesses connected around the world. Tunnel on to the next page for lots more information about virtual private networks.

Article available from How stuff works

Sources

Cisco. "How Virtual Private Networks Work." Oct. 13, 2008. (April 4, 2011)http://www.cisco.com/application/pdf/paws/14106/how_vpn_works.pdf

Friedl, Stephen J. "Steve Friedl's Unixwiz.net Tech Tips: An Illustrated Guide to IPSec." Aug. 24, 2005. (April 4, 2011)http://www.unixwiz.net/techtips/iguide-ipsec.html

Microsoft. "TechNect: VPN Tunneling Protocols." 2011. (April 3, 2011)http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc771298(WS.10).aspx

 

Pandya, Hiten M. "FreeBSD Handbook: Understanding IPSec." The FreeBSD Documentation Project. (April 4, 2011)http://www.freebsd.org/doc/en_US.ISO8859-1/books/handbook/ipsec.html

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In today's world, a rock solid IT infrastructure is key to every successful business. At Microtechs we have the experience and resource to ensure your company has the support it needs 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. We are able to provide an immediate response from our state of the art Technical Operations Centre which is based in the heart of Surrey.

 

With our rapidly expanding team, all specifically trained, working 24/7/365, we are able to provide excellent customer service and technical support. All of our services are available completely white labelled, ensuring a seamless extension to your company.

Through our services you are able to extend your hours to 24/7 or simply use us as an over flow assistant during office hours. This is all tailored to your business needs.  

 

How does Outsourcing your helpdesk benefit your business?

1.       It reduces your staffing costs. Why hire another member of staff, if you can outsource all of your calls for less? We are normally between 25-50% cheaper than an in-house option.

2.       It expands your opening hours. We have a technical operations centre which is open 24/7/365.

3.       It will improve your customer experience. Are you taking multiple calls from clients, but can’t get back to them as quick as you would like? Well now you have a team of 30 staff taking your support calls for you. Have an important meetings? No problem, your helpdesk has your back.

 

We work with over 60 IT & Telecoms Businesses who trust us to deal day to day with their clients.

 

Feel free to call our friendly solutions team, who will be happy to discuss further and help tailor a solution to you.

Call us now on 01483 407417

 

b2ap3_thumbnail_wifi_20170829-121804_1.jpg

Wireless technology makes it easy to get rid of the cables and take computing away from the desk. It's becoming the household norm, and while the technology is advancing quickly, there are some easy things you can do to improve your own wireless connectivity.

Position Your Router

A wireless signal doesn't carry far, and any walls or large objects may cause interference. For this reason, a wireless router should be centrally located in your home to insure the best range possible. Place the router on a flat surface off the floor and away from obstructions. Additionally, there could be interference from a neighbouring wireless signal. Make sure that you're using a unique wireless channel to limit interference.

Replace your Antenna

The antennas shipped with most routers are small antennas with omni-directional capabilities. These antennas broadcast a signal in all directions, which can be useful if you need wireless throughout your house, but the range is quite short. A directional antenna can improve range by focusing the signal in a specific way, allowing you to aim it where it's needed. These antennas are often called "high-gain" and the signal increase is measured in decibels (dB).

Get a Repeater

A wireless repeater is the easy and safe way to boost your signal. A repeater works very much like a router, but instead of creating a signal, it relays an existing signal. A repeater is easy to install and doesn't require any additional wires or connections. Multiple repeaters make it easy to create a home or business network with complete connectivity.

Get an Antenna Booster

It's possible to make a homemade reflector or antenna to improve your wireless signal. There are templates and building instructions on many Web sites across the internet to use materials as commonplace as foil and cardboard. Common designs are a parabolic satellite shape and a "coffee can" yagi antenna. Both can increase range and direct your signal, though homemade quality will vary.

Upgrade Firmware

Router manufacturers publish firmware updates regularly and upgrading your router can provide a performance boost and access to new features. Another option for the tech savvy is to install third-party firmware. There are a number of free, safe alternatives that may be compatible with your router. One project, DD-WRT, offers more robust features than many of the official firmware packages.

Using these tips, you should be able to squeeze every bit of connectivity out of your own home network. Check out HowStuffWorks' other articles on home networks to learn more.

Article via www.stumbleupon.com         BY ANDREW CRAGO

Picture credit: empoweredsustenance.com

Sources

Northrup, Tony. "10 Tips for Improving Your Wireless Connection." Microsoft. http://www.microsoft.com/athome/moredone/wirelesstips.mspx

"Do-it-Yourself Wireless Antenna Update." http://binarywolf.com/249/

"8 Ways to Extend Wireless Network Range." http://www.wireless-thing.com/2006/02/25/8-ways-to-extend-wireless-network-range/

Microtechs 24/7/365 White label Technical Helpdesk

In today's world, a rock solid IT infrastructure is key to every successful business. At Microtechs we have the experience and resource to ensure your company has the support it needs 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. We are able to provide an immediate response from our state of the art Technical Operations Centre which is based in the heart of Surrey.

With our rapidly expanding team, all specifically trained, working 24/7/365, we are able to provide excellent customer service and technical support. All of our services are available completely white labelled, ensuring a seamless extension to your company.

Through our services you are able to extend your hours to 24/7 or simply use us as an over flow assistant during office hours. This is all tailored to your business needs. 

How does Outsourcing your helpdesk benefit your business?

1.            It reduces your staffing costs. Why hire another member of staff, if you can outsource all of your calls for less? We are normally between 25-50% cheaper than an in-house option.

2.            It expands your opening hours. We have a technical operations centre which is open 24/7/365.

3.            It will improve your customer experience. Are you taking multiple calls from clients, but can’t get back to them as quick as you would like? Well now you have a team of 30 staff taking your support calls for you. Have an important meetings? No problem, your helpdesk has your back.

We work with over 60 IT & Telecoms Businesses who trust us to deal day to day with their clients.

Feel free to call our friendly solutions team, who will be happy to discuss further and help tailor a solution to you.

 

Call us now on 01483 407417

JOSH BRIGGS WESLEY FENLON

 

It may be hard to imagine, but just a mere 20 years ago, the Internet was nothing more than a novelty -- a way for incredibly smart college professors and researchers to share information, and for a few people to network across the newly developed World Wide Web. E-mail was nothing like it is today. The primitive e-mail systems found at universities or even through accounts offered with the first Internet service providers (ISPs) such as Prodigy and America Online were often difficult to use.

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Fast forward to the 2010s and things have changed significantly. Where wired Internet once kept us tethered to a desk, today's laptops and mobile devices give us access to friends and endless entertainment practically anywhere via WiFi, 3G and 4G technologies.

While we use 3G and 4G data on our smartphones as we're out and about in the world, WiFi still dominates in the home. And in coffee shops. And libraries. And airports. Thanks to the ubiquity of wireless routers and hotspots, just about any plain old wired Internet connection -- faster and cheaper and without the limiting bandwidth caps of cellular data -- can be turned into a convenient WiFi zone.

Whether we install them ourselves or get them from our Internet providers, most of us have WiFi routers in our homes these days. That can cause a couple of problems: When wireless signals are operating on the same frequency, they can cause interference, especially if you're living in an apartment building. And without the proper security, someone could easily hop onto your wireless network.

Chances are you're reading this article because you suspect someone is piggybacking or using your WiFi without your permission. When wireless squatters steal your WiFi, they eat up your bandwidth. In extreme cases, they may even steal information off your computer or infect machines on your network with a virus. But fear not: It's easy to fight back. Let's start with a basic overview of managing a wireless network, which is the first step towards keeping your WiFi setup nice and secure.

Understanding Your WiFi Network

Before you can detect if someone is ripping off your wireless Internet connection, it's important to understand some basic computer networking lingo. For more information on how to set up a wireless network, take a look at How WiFi Works. Now, let's look at a few of the areas in a wireless network that will give you a baseline for determining if your WiFi signal is being sapped unexpectedly.

A wireless network is comprised of a broadband Internet connection from a DSL, cable or satellite modem. You attach the modem to the wireless router, which distributes the signal and creates a network.

This is what's called a local area network (LAN). This LAN is where you set up computer peripherals such as your desktop or laptop computer and printer. Your router will have what's called a dynamic host client protocol (DHCP) table. In essence, your DHCP table is your guest list of every allowed piece of computing equipment.

Each device has its own media access control(MAC) address. Think of this as its signature. Your router uses these addresses to assign each machine on your network an Internet protocol (IP) address. The MAC and IP addresses of your equipment will be useful in a moment when we look at ways to detect whether or not someone is stealing your WiFi. For a more in-depth understanding of IP addresses, read What is an IP address?

There are also a couple of important terms related to WiFi that you should know. A service set identifier (SSID) is the name that identifies a wireless network. By default, this will probably be the name of your router -- Netgear or ASUS or something similar -- but you can have fun by changing it to something more personal or creative, like Abraham Linksys. Today's most commonly used WiFi speed, 802.11n, is capable of up to 600 megabit per second data transfers. 802.11ac is the next standard, which will allow for wireless speeds of over one gigabit per second. 2.4GHz and 5GHz are two different wireless frequencies used in wireless routers.

If you're confused by some of this computer rhetoric, don't be. What's important is that you know what to look for when we get ready to diagnose your WiFi connection. Speaking of which, let's get to it in the next section. After all, that's what you came here for.

Setting up a Secure Network

Okay, it's time to get down to it. Is your wireless network running slowly? Do you have intermittent losses in Internet access and you can't figure out why? First, take a breath. In all likelihood, no one is stealing your Internet. Tons of things could cause a slow connection. Your Internet service provider might be having issues or is overloaded with traffic. Your WiFi router might be experiencing interference from other electronics, or simply be having trouble penetrating the walls and furniture of your home to get a wireless signal to your computer.

There's only one thing you need to prevent 99.9 percent of wireless squatters from using your Internet connection: a password.

The most basic element of wireless security is an encryption protocol such as WPA2, or WiFi Protected Access. Older standards like WEP and the first generation of WPA have been phased out for the more secure WPA2. You don't need to know anything about how the encryption works -- you just need to set up WPA2 security on you wireless router and set a password for the network. Make it something you can remember that's not easy for others to guess (please don't use "password" or "12345!") and you'll be well on your way to security.

So how do you do all of that? Well, that varies by the type of router you have, but most WiFi routers are accessible from a connected device via the address http://192.168.1.1 in a Web browser. Logging in is usually easy, too, as most router manufacturers use a simple pair of words like "root" and "admin" for the device's login and password (you should be able to find this information in the manual). That will take you to a management tool where you can change all kinds of settings, including your wireless security.

 

That tip might set off a little security alert in the back of your head. "Wait, a minute," you think. "If most routers use the same local address and login/password, couldn't anyone get in there and mess with my security settings?" Well ... yes! Without a password, your wireless network is open for anyone to hop on. But a password isn't quite all you need to be totally secure. You should also change the router's login information to something aside from the usual "admin." That will keep virtually everyone from messing with your router -- but let's take a look at how to detect a WiFi leach, just in case.

Detecting Wireless Piggybacking

b2ap3_thumbnail_router-2.png

 

With WPA2 security enabled, it's unlikely anyone will ever piggyback on your network. But there's an easy way to spot squatters: Since every device connected to your network has a unique IP address and MAC address, you can easily see a list of connected devices -- often listed as "clients" -- on one of the settings pages for your wireless router. Many devices broadcast an ID because they've been named by their owners, so if you see "John's Laptop" connected to your network and you don't have a John in the house, you've found trouble! Even if a device doesn't show a name in the router's client list, you can count the number of devices connected and compare to the number of devices you know should be there to see if the numbers are off.

Want to make absolutely sure no one's going to figure out your password and worm their way onto your network? You have a few options. Your router can hide its SSID, meaning it won't show up for anyone searching for connectable networks. The address will have to be entered manually. You can also set up a wireless MAC filter to "whitelist" devices you own, disabling access for anyone else. Of course, this makes it a bit tougher for welcome guests, such as friends, to get online at your house.

Internet monitoring software is also an option. For example, free utility AirSnare will alert you when unfamiliar MAC addresses log onto your network. But with a secure connection, you shouldn't have to worry about that. The truth is, WiFi is not a precious commodity like it once was. You can get it at practically any coffee shop. Millions of us carry around smartphones with always-on data connections. To some degree, that makes WiFi access a faster, cheaper option of Internet access, but it's not always the most convenient one.

As long as your network is passworded, only a hacker using specialized software is going to get past your security. Technology site Ars Technica has detailed how a $2500 program called Silica can be used in conjunction with Web sites containing dictionaries of millions of words to connect to a secured network and crack its password [source: Ars Technica]. But there's still an easy way to stop even serious hackers in their tracks: Use a better password. The longer and harder to guess, the safer your network will be.

With a strong password, you shouldn't ever have to worry about keeping tabs on who connects to your network. Piggybackers will have to find someone else to mooch off of.

Author's Note

Smartphones changed everything, didn't they? A few short years ago, we hoarded WiFi like a precious commodity. Your neighbors might steal it! Criminals might park outside your house and download illegal files on your network! Sounds horrifying, doesn't it? Well, once we got smartphones with omnipresent data connections, we calmed down a bit. WiFi is now so ubiquitous that you don't have to worry too much about you neighbors leeching off of you -- they've probably got WiFi, too. We don't need to find hotspots when we've got 3G and 4G on our phones. Updating this article, it was amazing to see how much our Internet access has changed in a few short years. And wireless security is a lot better, too -- the article's old mentions of WEP felt archaic in a much more secure WPA2 world. In a few years, someone will no doubt look back on my update revision and say "WPA2? How quaint!"

Sources

Air Snare. "Intrusion detection software for Windows." (April 19, 2009) http://home.comcast.net/~jay.deboer/airsnare/index.html

Broida, Rick. "Stop Internet poachers from stealing your WiFi." PC World. Jan. 27, 2009. (April 18, 2009) http://www.networkworld.com/news/2009/012709-stop-internet-poachers-from-stealing.html

Leary, Alex. "WiFi cloaks a new breed of intruder." St. Petersburg Times. July 4, 2005. (April 20, 2009) http://www.sptimes.com/2005/07/04/State/Wi_Fi_cloaks_a_new_br.shtml

MonsterGuide.net. "How to tell if someone is stealing your WiFi." Feb. 26, 2009. (April 19, 2009) http://monsterguide.net/how-to-tell-if-someone-is-stealing-your-WiFi

Musil, Steven. "Michigan man dodges prison in WiFi theft." CNET.com. May 22, 2007. (April 17, 2009) http://news.cnet..com/8301-10784_3-9722006-7.html

 

The TCP/IP Guide. "TCP/IP dynamic host configuration protocol (DHCP)." (April 18, 2009) http://www.tcpipguide.com/free/t_TCPIPDynamicHostConfigurationProtocolDHCP.htm

http://www.stumbleupon.com/su/1wDeng/:1L4$gW1lE:!eCezjPS/electronics.howstuffworks.com/how-to-tech/how-to-detect-stealing-wifi.htm

Microtechs 24/7/365 White label Technical Helpdesk

In today's world, a rock solid IT infrastructure is key to every successful business. At Microtechs we have the experience and resource to ensure your company has the support it needs 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. We are able to provide an immediate response from our state of the art Technical Operations Centre which is based in the heart of Surrey.

With our rapidly expanding team, all specifically trained, working 24/7/365, we are able to provide excellent customer service and technical support. All of our services are available completely white labelled, ensuring a seamless extension to your company.

Through our services you are able to extend your hours to 24/7 or simply use us as an over flow assistant during office hours. This is all tailored to your business needs.  

How does Outsourcing your helpdesk benefit your business?

1.       It reduces your staffing costs. Why hire another member of staff, if you can outsource all of your calls for less? We are normally between 25-50% cheaper than an in-house option.

2.       It expands your opening hours. We have a technical operations centre which is open 24/7/365.

3.       It will improve your customer experience. Are you taking multiple calls from clients, but can’t get back to them as quick as you would like? Well now you have a team of 30 staff taking your support calls for you. Have an important meetings? No problem, your helpdesk has your back.

We work with over 60 IT & Telecoms Businesses who trust us to deal day to day with their clients.

Feel free to call our friendly solutions team, who will be happy to discuss further and help tailor a solution to you.

Call us now on 01483 407417

 

b2ap3_thumbnail_a-ghost-story.jpg

BY CLAIRE FLETCHER –  via Network Communication News

Expanding on our article on data breaches from ex-employees, Alvaro Hoyos, CISO at OneLogin discusses how businesses can solve the issue.

From recruiting the most talented employees, to ensuring accounts are in order and providing staff with the latest technological innovations, businesses across the globe work tirelessly every day to strive for success. Lurking behind every policy, best practice and guideline, however, is a world that often gets neglected. What happens when someone leaves the company?

Of course, in an ideal world, businesses recruit a capable replacement, tie up any loose ends on a project they were previously working on, and of course, throw a leaving party to ensure both the employee and business can part ways on the best of terms.  Sadly, we do not live in an ideal world and, on occasion, an employee’s departure isn’t quite so clean cut and can cause issues months after they have left the company. This begs the question, are organisations doing everything in their power to make sure a soon-to-be ex (employee) does not walk out the door with access to everything the business holds dear?

Former employees are not always your friends

We have all seen the hugely damaging actions that former employees can inflict upon businesses. One such example is a huge data breach experienced by OFCOM, when they discovered that a former employee had downloaded and shared over six years’ worth of data with their new employer, which happened to be a major broadcaster.

Luckily for OFCOM, the broadcaster in question chose not to exploit the data and alerted OFCOM to the stolen information. Shockingly, the latest research from OneLogin shows that despite the threat of former employees, more than half (58%) still have access to the corporate network once they have left an organisation and almost a quarter of businesses (24%) experience data breaches due to the action of ex-employees.

The OFCOM data breach could have been catastrophic if it had have been used by a competitor, not to mention the potential damage to brand reputation. Similarly, businesses must also consider that when the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) comes into effect in 2018, UK firms could face a penalty of up to 2% of their annual worldwide revenue, or €10 million, whichever is higher, enoughto leave an organisation with financial difficulties. Of course, there are scenarios where organisations have not been as lucky as OFCOM.

In fact, Marriott Hotels experienced the full force of a disgruntled former employee in 2016. According to court documents, a former Marriott employee was fired from the company in August 2016, and was told not to access the company’s internal systems.

However, despite this warning, the former employee accessed Marriott’s reservation system from the comfort of their home, slashing room rates down from $159-$499 to $12-$59. This particular breach cost Marriott $50,000. Mariott, however, isn’t the only organisation to have left themselves open to disgruntled ex-employees. In fact, 28% of former employee’s accounts remain active for longer than a month.

HR & IT must collaborate and take accountability

A former employees’ word is not enough. HR and IT must work together to avoid situations such as this and it doesn’t have to be difficult or time intensive. Automated processes can be used to deprovision all access to corporate accounts within minutes of an employee’s contract being terminated to protect valuable corporate data. There are tools available to ensure that once an employee has logged off for the final time they are locked out from that moment onwards.

OneLogin’s research revealed that only half of UK businesses use automated de-provisioning technology to ensure this happens. In addition, 45 per cent of businesses don’t use a Security and Information Manager (SIEM) to check for application use by former employees, leaving vital corporate data exposed to potential leaks. Businesses revoke a former employees’ means of physically getting into the office, so it is essential that their digital access is also revoked on departure.

Stick to the solution

It is crucial that businesses wake up and acknowledge that former employees exploiting corporate access is a problem and yes, it could happen to any company. It is clearly not enough to rely on the goodwill of ex-employees, however trustworthy they may appear to be. With so much at stake, are organisations really willing to leave the key to the business’ most precious assets in their hands? Quite frankly, there is no reason to.

Some employees leaving an organisation don’t have many loyalties to their previous employer, no matter how amicable their departure was, meaning security risks are highly likely. Therefore, it is imperative that deprovisioning employees’ corporate access on their last day is an absolute priority. Companies need to use the right tools to ensure this happens. These include:

Automated syncing of HR directories such as Workday, UltiPro, and Namely, which are the source of truth for employee status, and IT directories such as Active Directory and LDAP, which often control access to applications.

Automated deprovisioning of employees from applications that have an application programming interface (API) for user management. Most “birth right” applications that are widely used in companies, such as Office365 and G Suite, have these APIs.

Automatic checklist generation for IT admins, to ensure that they manually deprovision all ex-employees from all apps. Most applications don’t yet have an automated deprovisioning API and require manual intervention from IT.

Application access events sent to SIEM systems, to double-check that no ex-employees are accessing applications.

IT and HR can work collaboratively to fully deprovision all employees. If these steps are carried out correctly, a business can be safe in the knowledge that precautionary measures have been taken to protect confidential data from a departing employee.

http://networkcommunicationsnews.co.uk/2017/08/haunting-presence-ex-employee/

Microtechs 24/7/365 White label Technical Helpdesk

In today's world, a rock solid IT infrastructure is key to every successful business. At Microtechs we have the experience and resource to ensure your company has the support it needs 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. We are able to provide an immediate response from our state of the art Technical Operations Centre which is based in the heart of Surrey.

With our rapidly expanding team, all specifically trained, working 24/7/365, we are able to provide excellent customer service and technical support. All of our services are available completely white labelled, ensuring a seamless extension to your company.

Through our services you are able to extend your hours to 24/7 or simply use us as an over flow assistant during office hours. This is all tailored to your business needs.  

How does Outsourcing your helpdesk benefit your business?

1.       It reduces your staffing costs. Why hire another member of staff, if you can outsource all of your calls for less? We are normally between 25-50% cheaper than an in-house option.

2.       It expands your opening hours. We have a technical operations centre which is open 24/7/365.

3.       It will improve your customer experience. Are you taking multiple calls from clients, but can’t get back to them as quick as you would like? Well now you have a team of 30 staff taking your support calls for you. Have an important meetings? No problem, your helpdesk has your back.

We work with over 60 IT & Telecoms Businesses who trust us to deal day to day with their clients.

Feel free to call our friendly solutions team, who will be happy to discuss further and help tailor a solution to you.

 

Call us now on 01483 407417

b2ap3_thumbnail_password.jpg

Written by Yair Finzi Co-founder and CEO of SecuredTouch

Pick a number, any number, or any combination of numbers, letters and special characters, just not 12345678, password, or admin. Most of us have multiple passwords that we need to remember just to get through an average day; many of those passwords have already been guessed or are for sale on the black market.

The way we’ve been managing passwords just isn’t working, and the United States National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has made some recommendations for best practices for user password management to try to address the situation.

The new recommendations include removing periodic password change requirements, which many people currently address by creating a rotating set of passwords so they can keep track of them all. Requiring all passwords have multiple cases, numbers, and symbols is also going by the wayside, as most people chose ever-simpler passwords to try to minimize their own confusion.

NIST also recommends requiring the screening of new passwords against lists of commonly used or compromised passwords, an easy task everyone can perform via search engine.

To strengthen security, though, most applications require more than passwords. Just logging into a news website requires both a username and password. For more secure sites, a username, password, and additional identifying code is required.

With the ever-increasing activities on our mobile devices, multi-factor authentication – which is becoming mandated by regulations across industries – takes authentication a step further.

Multi-factor authentication is a combination of something you know, something you have, and something you are. Something you know – username, password, identifying code – is “easy.” Something you have is usually a token or an SMS sent to your mobile device, by which you can receive one-time usage codes. Something you are may require additional hardware, such as a fingerprint reader, or leverage existing hardware, like the camera or touchscreen.

The complexity of authentication is becoming such a hassle that many people give up before they get to the point of performing a transaction. Not only that, but most authentication delivers only a one-time authentication, which means an app can be hijacked immediately after log-in by malware that lie in wait, leading to fraud or data theft.

Passwords and one-time multi-factor authentication ultimately aren’t going to cut it – they can all be hacked and hijacked. They also are massively cumbersome and interfere with the user experience.

A solution does exist: behavioral biometrics. While behavioral biometrics is a subset of “what you are” in multi-factor authentication, it adds an additional layer of security because it ensures continuous authentication from initial login to the final transaction.

Behavioral biometrics works behind the scenes, analyzing exactly how you interact with your devices, such as the pressure of your finger on the screen, how quickly you type, the angle at which you hold the phone, and many other parameters that leverage the existing technology on your phone. The combination of these behaviors is used to provide a trust score, allowing the transaction “owner” to automatically assign the level of transactions you can perform during that specific interaction. If the trust score is low, it’s probably not you initiating the transaction.

If the score is high, then you’ll be eligible for the full rights and privileges you have earned as a customer, because the “owner” reduced their own risk by knowing it’s you.

Meanwhile, the consumer has no idea that it’s going on behind the scenes, so the app provider doesn’t need to educate or bother the customer about how to interact with new security requireme6nts nor do they need their customers to sign up for anything.

Behavioral biometrics activities cannot be hacked or duplicated, as no one can imitate exactly how another person uses their phone. As an additional benefit, automated bots are even easier to detect and stop because they have no characteristics that identify them as a human. Behavioral biometrics eliminates the need to register individual users on a shared device, as each profile can be linked to a specific user simply based on their physical interaction with the devices.

In certain circumstances and locations passwords might still be part and parcel of the experience, but as we increase our interactions with mobile devices and IoT grows to where we all have smart cars and appliances, those devices, too, will recognize us by our touch not our username, password, and additional security codes.

https://www.infosecurity-magazine.com/opinions/password-takes-last-breath/

Picture credit: webair.com

Microtechs 24/7/365 White label Technical Helpdesk

In today's world, a rock solid IT infrastructure is key to every successful business. At Microtechs we have the experience and resource to ensure your company has the support it needs 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. We are able to provide an immediate response from our state of the art Technical Operations Centre which is based in the heart of Surrey.

With our rapidly expanding team, all specifically trained, working 24/7/365, we are able to provide excellent customer service and technical support. All of our services are available completely white labelled, ensuring a seamless extension to your company.

Through our services you are able to extend your hours to 24/7 or simply use us as an over flow assistant during office hours. This is all tailored to your business needs.  

How does Outsourcing your helpdesk benefit your business?

1.       It reduces your staffing costs. Why hire another member of staff, if you can outsource all of your calls for less? We are normally between 25-50% cheaper than an in-house option.

2.       It expands your opening hours. We have a technical operations centre which is open 24/7/365.

3.       It will improve your customer experience. Are you taking multiple calls from clients, but can’t get back to them as quick as you would like? Well now you have a team of 30 staff taking your support calls for you. Have an important meetings? No problem, your helpdesk has your back.

We work with over 60 IT & Telecoms Businesses who trust us to deal day to day with their clients.

Feel free to call our friendly solutions team, who will be happy to discuss further and help tailor a solution to you.

Call us now on 01483 407417

 

 

https://redshift.autodesk.com/keep-your-it-support-in-house-or-outsource/

To Tech or Not to Tech: Keep Your IT Support In-House or Outsource?

https://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/c0dc14230df14850e7fc705f70697988?s=240&r=g

BRIAN BENTON

Every company has some sort of information technology (IT) needs, and those needs are influenced by what your business does, the tools used, and the size of your company. Should you hire a full-time IT manager? Or would it be better to hire an outside IT consulting company? Before you decide to hire an employee or a company, you should first determine if you need full-time IT support.

Many small businesses don’t have a full-time IT employee. Those tasks have fallen to the person who is not afraid of computers, servers, or software. Perhaps that person is younger, tinkers with computers, or is a hobbyist.

Here are a few signs that you might need to hire a full-time IT employee or consultant.

·         The person who handles your tech needs has little to no billable time.

·         Your business can’t get work done efficiently because of your tech.

·         Your equipment is aging.

·         You have many software issues. Consistently.

·         Clients suffer because of your tech needs/issues.

·         Your tech just gets in the way.

There are two very viable solutions to dealing with your company’s tech needs. One is to hire an IT expert in-house. Another option is to hire an IT consulting company to do the heavy work. This option is often referred to as “managed services.” Both solutions have their own sets of advantages and disadvantages.

IT support

In-House Employee. Hiring an employee provides several benefits that you won’t get from outsourcing your IT needs. A direct hire is immediately available during business hours. You will not have to wait in line or fight for time from your service provider. This person can also fix simple issues, such as printer paper jams, a dead keyboard, or a flickering monitor due to a bad plug. Because you have a dedicated IT person, they aren’t pulled away from a billable project. Direct employees also care deeply about you and your needs. You are their only “client” and the only one they have to keep happy. They work on a daily basis with your employees and work closely with your various departments. This intimate relationship means they understand what your other employees need and can invent clever ways to help them accomplish their daily tasks with solutions tailored to their individual needs. Having a direct employee also means that you will not have to plan ahead for extra IT labor costs—their salary has been planned and budgeted already. New software and hardware will always cost you more money. But a good IT plan and budget will help eliminate many surprise costs.

Outsourcing a Consultant. There are several reasons why you might want to outsource your IT needs to a managed service provider. These companies have a larger pool of resources than that of an individual IT direct hire. They have multiple employees that can assist you during a time of need—if your IT manager is sick or on vacation, your company can still continue working when a printer catches fire. There are no training costs to keep up with the constant change of technology. If agreed to ahead of time, an IT company can monitor your systems 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. If there is a problem, they are alerted to it immediately and can fix it before the office opens in the morning. Monday mornings often bring weekend server failures that can cripple the start of the workweek. A managed service provider can help to minimize this.

Either IT solution has its advantages over the other one. Both can successfully fill your IT needs. An employee is more dedicated and knowledgeable about your daily needs. A consultant has more resources. Consultants don’t necessarily understand your unique needs, but they also don’t have the costs that come with an employee (vacation, insurance, sick time). Consultants are likely to cost less—far less in some cases—but an employee has greater potential to better understand exactly what you need.

To learn more, check out this article from the Houston Chronicle on the advantages and disadvantages to outsourcing IT.

 

Does your company use an in-house IT employee or an outsourced managed service provider? Please share your experiences below in the comments section.

 

Here at microtechs we offer outsourced IT and technical support solutions, for more information call us today on 01483407417

By Eckhard Herych Faculty Member of the CGOC

We are now less than a year away from the implementation of the European Commission’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) on May 25, 2018, and the stakes for companies are high.

First, the GDPR “applies to all companies processing the personal data of data subjects residing in the Union, regardless of the company’s location”.

Second, non-compliant organizations can face devastating fines as high as four per cent of the annual global turnover or €20 million, whichever is higher. Third, preparing to meet the requirements of the GDPR cannot be done overnight simply by deploying security software, which, unfortunately is where too many GDPR response discussions start.

The good news is that companies that begin now can make tremendous progress toward creating a data infrastructure that dramatically reduces the likelihood of GDPR non-compliance and that minimizes the financial impact even if something goes wrong. Here are the five key steps organizations must take to get ready.

Unify data management strategically

In the face of the GDPR, other evolving regulations, and advances in technology, data management and governance practices must be unified and auditable across all geographies and lines of business, and across on-premises, private cloud, public cloud, and hybrid infrastructures. The first step to achieving this is recognizing that every executive, manager and user has a stake in data management. C-level champions are essential, and CIOs, CDOs, and privacy officers must take the lead. This initiative must directly connect the data management, information security, legal and information governance teams, along with the lines of business.

Locate and understand the flow of all data

Stakeholders must work together to locate all data stores with collected information (such as customer data), created information (such as work product that might include customer data), and derived information (such as the results of analytics and machine learning that might include customer data).

They must understand the flow of information – the movement of data in business processes across multiple stakeholders (such as corporate counsel, strategic partners, etc.) and systems (such as legacy systems, cloud service providers, PCs, BYODs, etc.). Data mapping is an essential tool to create a visual depiction of how personal information flows across systems and devices as part of business processes. The map can include an overlay of GDPR requirements. In fact, the careful analysis of data flows in business processes is an essential component in our GDPR readiness assessment activities to ensure that our clients gain a sound understanding of their information landscape.

Evaluate all data

Only with the ongoing efforts of the first two steps can stakeholders evaluate the purpose or use of data and the regulatory obligations associated with it. Business users need to understand the value of the information they use to the organization. This is essential to helping all the key stakeholders (CIO, CDO, Privacy Officer, Legal, and InfoGov) assess:

·         What information is subject to GDPR?

·         If data must be preserved, for how long? Is there a conflict between preservation requirements and GDPR requirements? If so, how will it be resolved?

·         Is some data of “Legitimate Interest” to the organization for possible exemption from certain GDPR requirements (for example, GDPR Article 6 Lawfulness of processing)?

·         Has consent been obtained for the intended use of the information (GDPR provides clear requirements and conditions to gain and establish consent)?

Dispose of all disposable data

Now that value has been assessed, it is possible to get rid of all data that has no business, legal or regulatory value, as well as all data that must be deleted to comply with the GDPR. In addition, now that IT knows where all the data is located, it is possible to ensure the proper deletion of all relevant data. This is critical to minimizing the impact of breaches and GDPR non-compliance. Moving forward, the deletion of obsolete data must become an integral part of operations to ensure that companies dispose of records or data in a controlled, legally defensible fashion.

Protect what’s left

·         This is where most GDPR preparation discussions start, but only after following the first four steps is it actually possible to:

·         Properly track the collection and movement of data

·         Effectively control access to sensitive and private data

·         Knowledgeably employ the most appropriate vendor security solutions, such as firewall, anti-virus, anti-phishing, etc.

·         Automate disposal

·         Provide employee training on data protection and privacy that has a chance of being effective

·         Prepare for crisis management

·         Establish processes and procedures to enable the organization to react to inquiries by authorities or individuals within the time frames defined in the GDPR

The inevitable GDPR time bomb is going off soon, and doing nothing to prepare for it beyond some new security measures and training is a recipe for costly data disasters. A real preparation effort will take time, and the sooner you start on this iterative journey, the better the position your organization will be in to avoid GDPR penalties or a least minimize their impact.

https://www.infosecurity-magazine.com/opinions/gdpr-essential-steps-survival/

Picture credit: personnelltoday.com

Microtechs 24/7/365 White label Technical Helpdesk

In today's world, a rock solid IT infrastructure is key to every successful business. At Microtechs we have the experience and resource to ensure your company has the support it needs 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. We are able to provide an immediate response from our state of the art Technical Operations Centre which is based in the heart of Surrey.

With our rapidly expanding team, all specifically trained, working 24/7/365, we are able to provide excellent customer service and technical support. All of our services are available completely white labelled, ensuring a seamless extension to your company.

Through our services you are able to extend your hours to 24/7 or simply use us as an over flow assistant during office hours. This is all tailored to your business needs.  

How does Outsourcing your helpdesk benefit your business?

1.       It reduces your staffing costs. Why hire another member of staff, if you can outsource all of your calls for less? We are normally between 25-50% cheaper than an in-house option.

2.       It expands your opening hours. We have a technical operations centre which is open 24/7/365.

3.       It will improve your customer experience. Are you taking multiple calls from clients, but can’t get back to them as quick as you would like? Well now you have a team of 30 staff taking your support calls for you. Have an important meetings? No problem, your helpdesk has your back.b2ap3_thumbnail_gdpr.jpg

We work with over 60 IT & Telecoms Businesses who trust us to deal day to day with their clients.

Feel free to call our friendly solutions team, who will be happy to discuss further and help tailor a solution to you.

 

Call us now on 01483 407417

CONTACT US

Our business truly is 24/7, We operate entirely out of this office using our own staff.

Microtechs Head Office

Microtechs Ltd
Sussex House
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Broad Street
Guildford
GU3 3BH  

T: +44 (0) 1483 407400
Einfo@microtechs.co.uk

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