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Could your next colleague be a bot?

BREXIT COULD lead to a rise of the machines as more and more industries turn to automation as a cheaper way of plugging the holes left by lack of EU migrant labour in the coming years, according to industry analysts.

Mark Gray, UK sales manager for Danish bot-maker Universal Robots, told trade magazine The Manufacturer: "In the past month I've sold six cobots to companies that are struggling to find staff because eastern Europeans either aren't coming over in sufficient numbers or are returning home."

But it's not just production lines. We could be seeing more robot waiters and bartenders in the coming months following hot on the heels of Mofongo's robot-made cocktails, a regular sight to us techies who usually see the robo-shaker several times a year at trade shows.

So-called cobots (collaborative robots) are designed with limiters to make them Asimov-minty-fresh to work safely alongside humans. That's the key thing - there's no "them" and "us" here - you'll be working alongside and interacting with cobots.

Mark Bridger, VP of OpenText UK, added: "From a productivity perspective, we spend a third of our time in the workplace collecting and processing data. AI and robotics could all but eliminate this work, freeing us up from the time-consuming administration and allowing us to focus on other more creative or rewarding aspects of our jobs.

"We should stop viewing AI as an existential threat to employment. AI technology cannot replace people but it can work alongside humans to boost business productivity and make employees' lives easier."

According to the International Federation of Robotics, the UK has been a slow adopter of cobots so far with about 71 robots per 10,000 workers. France sits at 132 and hyper-efficient Germany uses 309.

The term "Industrie 4.0", referring to a fourth industrial revolution through smart automation is on the lips of mainland Europe and now it looks to be on its way here.

By Chris Merriman

Original article: https://www.theinquirer.net/inquirer/news/3034337/robots-could-replace-migrant-workers-as-brexit-shortages-bite

Microtechs White label service desk and NOC

Most of our customers approach us as they are looking for a fully UK based extension of their support team.

Do you need help with; 

             Covering support overnight and weekends

             Need to free up your senior staff to work on project or development duties

             Issues with staff retention

             Outsourced overseas and have experienced a high number of complaints.

We have a mixture of clients which use our helpdesk and monitoring services which include;

             1st /2nd line remote support calls

             24/7/365 or office hours

             Incident management services with third party escalation

             Proactive monitoring NOC services

             Catch and dispatch only monitoring services

             Fully inclusive services with an average 80% resolution rate

             15-minute NOC response times

             Fully GDPR compliant

             Completely white labelled to your brand / customers brands

             Desktop / Network / O365 / Mac / Telecoms / Bespoke software

             Pricing from £500 per month

We are all based from one office in Surrey and tailor our service to dovetail to your requirement.

I guess that’s why we are different to other companies. We spend time to learn, develop, sculpt and continually improve our service to your customers.

If you need overflow during the day or a whole support desk from scratch or just some monitoring services overnight, please get in touch on 01483 407417

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Firms lack solid disaster recovery and backup strategies, survey finds

Almost four million UK businesses could be at risk of losing their data due to inadequate - or even nonexistent - backup practices, according to new figures.

A study of 514 UK business leaders, conducted by business internet provider Beaming, showed that companies are failing to follow best practices when it comes to protecting their data against hardware failure or cyber-attack.

Most worryingly, the survey showed that 17% of all respondents do not back up their business data at all, with the only official copy residing on the individual system it was created on. This figure is predominantly influenced by sole traders and micro-businesses of less than 10 people - 20% and 10% respectively say they keep no backups, while that figure plummets to 2% for medium businesses of between 50 and 249 employees.

However, almost 50% of survey respondents said that their backups were kept on a separate system within the same office - indicating a troubling lack of disaster recovery plans. Scaling up the findings of its survey to reflect the UK government's figures for the number of businesses in Britain, Beaming claimed this implies that around 3.8 million businesses are not adhering to best practices.

"Our research shows that almost four million UK businesses are vulnerable to data loss from single events and could potentially become unable to operate," said Sonia Blizzard, Beaming's managing director. "Most businesses, particularly at the smaller end, don't do enough to safeguard their information."

This figure was relatively consistent across all company sizes; 42% of medium-sized businesses admitted to keeping no offsite backups, as did 30% of large companies with at least 250 employees.

This contradicts guidance from the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), which advises that backups should not be accessible to staff or connected to the system housing the original data. Ideally, they should also be in a separate physical location to the system of origin.

The reason for this is that while backing up data to an external device such as a NAS drive or file server within the same office protects against hardware failure, disk corruption and other technical issues, it does not provide any defence against disasters such as fires or floods, which can wipe out both the original data and your backups in one fell swoop.

It also leaves businesses open to malware. Ransomware infections, for example, can often spread through the network to other machines. If the system on which your backups are stored is on the same network as the rest of your IT, this means that your backups could become infected as well.

Of the businesses that do make use of offsite backup services - around 21% of respondents - the method varies depending on company size. Small, medium and large organisations tended to prefer external data centres and colocation facilities, while sole traders and micro-businesses were more likely to go for a cloud-based option.

The NCSC advocates the use of cloud as an easy, hassle-free solution for organisations who want to back up their data, and advises companies to make it a part of their routine.

"We know that backing up is not a very interesting thing to do (and there will always be more important tasks that you feel should take priority), but the majority of network or cloud storage solutions now allow you to make backups automatically," it advises.

"Many off-the-shelf backup solutions are easy to set up, and are affordable considering the business-critical protection they offer. When choosing a solution, you'll also have to consider how much data you need to back up, and how quickly you need to be able to access the data following any incident."

Article source: http://www.itpro.co.uk/backup/31273/50-of-uk-businesses-are-leaving-data-at-risk

Written by Adam Shepherd

Microtechs White label 24/7 Outsourced Helpdesk and NOC

Most of our customers approach us as they are looking for a fully UK based extension of their support team. This is normally to help with covering support overnight and weekends, because they want to free up their senior staff to work on project or development duties, because of issues with staff retention or because they have already outsourced overseas and have experienced a high number of complaints.

We have a mixture of clients which use our helpdesk and monitoring services which include;

             1st /2nd line remote support calls

             24/7/365 or office hours

             Incident management services with third party escalation

             Proactive monitoring NOC services

             Catch and dispatch only monitoring services

             Fully inclusive services with an average 80% resolution rate

             15-minute response times

             Fully GDPR compliant

             Completely white labelled to your brand

             Desktop / Network / O365 / Mac / Telecoms / Bespoke software

             Pricing from £500 per month

We are all based from one office in Surrey and tailor our service to dovetail to your requirement.

I guess that’s why we are different to other companies. We spend time to learn, develop, sculpt and continually improve our service to your customers.

If you need overflow during the day or a whole support desk from scratch or just some monitoring services overnight, please drop me an email or give us a call.

Please contact us for further information on 01483 407417.

Posted by on in Latest Microtechs news posts

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Virtually every mobile provider offers 4G contracts now, but which one is the best for you?

4G has been up and running for over six years now and it's become the industry standard as consumers and businesses users alike need a high-speed connection to power their streaming, social media networking and of course mobile working. As devices have morphed into mobile offices, employees need access to a solid network and the evolution of 4G has accommodated this.

In fact, mobile provider Three has so much faith in 4G tech, it has phased out all of its 3G handsets in recent months, backing 4G tech wholeheartedly. But now all mobile networks offer competitive 4G services and many have invested a lot of money to boost coverage to beat their rivals, how can you choose which is the best 4G mobile network for you?

There are lots of things to consider, beyond cost. Although all of the UK's major networks offer 4G services, some are more reliable and offer faster speeds than others. The other consideration is which device you want to go for as different networks also offer different phone models.

We've rounded up the best deals and benefits for each of the four major networks in the UK to see which suits your lifestyle and usage best.

(NB: these are the costs for an individual, SIM-only, 12-month contract. Business contracts and contracts with a phone can and likely will vary. Average speed results taken from www.opensignal.com. All data correct as of June 2018)

EE: 4G cost and reliability

EE is hailed as one of the first proponents of 4G in the UK, helping to bring the technology to more customers than any other network. According to OpenSignal's State of Mobile Networks report for the UK from September 2017, EE continues to be the best network overall for availability, speeds, and latency.

Customers currently enjoy the fastest 4G speeds, with an average of 28.99 Mbits/sec, almost 6 Mbits/sec more than its nearest rival, although this represents a slight drop from earlier in the year.

EE also continues to serve the largest area in the UK, with coverage now at 99% of the population, representing 86% of the country's geography. The company aims to extend this geographical coverage to 95% by 2020, ensuring some of the most remote areas receive access.

EE's cheapest 4G plans start at £10.99 per month with 250MB of data and unlimited texts. At the top end, you can expect to pay £44.99 per month for 40GB of data, unlimited calls, and texts. All of EE's 4G plans allow for the option to use UK allowance for minutes, data and texts while abroad.

O2: 4G cost and reliability

O2's 4G offering has improved in recent years, connecting more areas of the UK than ever before, however, it still disappoints when it comes to speeds and is still positioned as country's slowest operator.

According to OpenSignal data, the network currently has an average 4G download speed of 15.06 Mbits/sec, almost half that of EE. Despite this, the network enjoys 97% coverage, meaning plenty of customers are able to access 4G services.

However, O2 does offer slightly cheaper services, with its 4G packages available from £10 per month for 250MB of data. At the top end, you can expect to pay £42 for 30GB of data.

Three: 4G cost and reliability

Three has always been the smallest of the UK's four network operators, although its coverage is growing all the time. Currently, it's able to provide services to 91% of the population, although it plans to expand this to 98%.

Despite its smaller coverage, the network boasts the second highest 4G speeds, with an average of 22.31 Mbits/sec.

It's also highly rated by its customer base for having a variety of mobile packages, unlimited data tariffs, and deals that prioritise downloads over traditional minutes and texts.

Three's contracts range from as little as £5.00 per month for 500MB of data and unlimited texts, up to £35 per month for unlimited data, texts, and minutes, and free international roaming.

Vodafone: 4G cost and reliability

Vodafone's 4G network began life as a London-only service when it launched in 2013, but efforts to upgrade the network has helped position the provider as one of the UK's leading providers, with speeds that are competitive with the likes of Three and O2.

Vodafone 4G infrastructure currently covers 95% of the UK population, and customers can expect average download speeds of 18.94 Mbits/sec, making it the third-fastest operator.

It's considered to be a great all-rounder, with a good mix of high data tariffs, fast 4G connections, and extra rewards for spending with the company.

Cheapest packages are comparable to O2 - 250MB data allowance, 250 minutes and unlimited texts for £10.50 per month. At the higher end, you can get 40GB of data and unlimited calls and texts for £41.

Mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs)

Although the companies above control their own network infrastructures, they are by no means the only choice when it comes to 4G. There are a number of companies that make use of these infrastructures to provide their own services, although 4G coverage is still tied to the controlling company.

GiffGaff

Infrastructure: O2

Voted best MVNO in multiple years, this mobile network is known for its adaptable contracts and reward schemes for community members. Unlike traditional operators, it does not have a high-street presence and relies on its community for customer support.

As it uses O2's 4G network, it has the same coverage at 97%, with average speeds of 15.06 Mbits/sec

Virgin Mobile

Infrastructure: EE

Although Virgin once restricted its 4G services to its enterprise customers, now everyone can benefit from the super-fast speeds. The company is known for its incredibly low starting prices, with rollover data that allows you to carry over any unused allowance from month to month. WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger are also free to use on this service, so they don't eat into your monthly data.

The best part is that Virgin Mobile makes use of EE infrastructure, meaning customers get access to market-leading 4G with 99% coverage at average speeds of 28.99 Mbits/sec.

Sky Mobile

Infrastructure: O2

Sky Mobile is a relatively new MVNO that has only been available to the public since January. Its biggest selling point is the idea of 'roll-over' data, where customers are able to make use of unused data from one month and add it to the next. Sky Mobile will also let you switch between tariffs each month, even if you are locked into a contract.

Sky Mobile also uses O2 infrastructure, so expect 4G coverage of 97% and average speeds of 15.06 Mbits/sec.

Tesco Mobile

Infrastructure: O2

One of the first supermarkets to dive into the mobile provider market, Tesco Mobile offers capped services, so you don't go over your allowance, and free roaming in 31 countries. You can even earn points as you use the service, which can be linked to your Tesco Clubcard.

Tesco Mobile also uses O2 infrastructure, so expect 4G coverage of 98% and average speeds of 15.06 Mbits/sec.

Written by; Clare Hopping, Dale Walker, Jane McCallion

Image: Shutterstock

http://www.itpro.co.uk/mobile/28073/the-best-4g-network

Microtechs 24/7/365 White label Support Services

Most of our customers approach us as they are looking for a fully UK based extension of their support team.

Do you need help with;  

  • §  Covering support overnight and weekends
  • §  Need to free up your senior staff to work on project or development duties
  • §  Issues with staff retention
  • §  Outsourced overseas and have experienced a high number of complaints.

We have a mixture of clients which use our helpdesk and monitoring services which include;

  • ·        1st /2nd line remote support calls
  • ·        24/7/365 or office hours
  • ·        Incident management services with third party escalation
  • ·        Proactive monitoring NOC services
  • ·        Catch and dispatch only monitoring services
  • ·        Fully inclusive services with an average 80% resolution rate
  • ·        15-minute NOC response times
  • ·        Fully GDPR compliant
  • ·        Completely white labelled to your brand / customers brands
  • ·        Desktop / Network / O365 / Mac / Telecoms / Bespoke software
  • ·        Pricing from £500 per month

We are all based from one office in Surrey and tailor our service to dovetail to your requirement.

I guess that’s why we are different to other companies. We spend time to learn, develop, sculpt and continually improve our service to your customers.

If you need overflow during the day or a whole support desk from scratch or just some monitoring services overnight, please call us on 01483 407417 or email lisa.copley@microtechs.co.uk

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Spyware refers to any software that can be used to track or spy on your activity on a computer, mobile, tablet, or any other digital device.

Often, the term applies to malware that is installed on a computer with a malicious intent to watch a user's actions and replicate them in order to steal data or other information referring to a user. Whether it's the original hacker's intent or not, once a criminal has gained access via spyware, they are able to track anyone's actions on the computer - not just the owner's.

It's normally installed on a device without the user knowing and once it's running, it's often unlikely they'll be able to see anything different happening to their machine or mobile.

The types of information hackers are able to track include keystrokes, the websites someone has visited and their usernames and passwords for those websites, plus other sensitive data that can be used to hack into accounts and carry out other fraudulent activities.

Performance issues

One of the reasons spyware can be such a problem is not only can it give criminals a way into your computer and the opportunity to steal data, but it can also significantly slow down a user's computer as it tracks everything you do.

Spyware can also be used to redirect web searches to questionable websites (used for phishing, fr example), and change the settings of your computer, throttling bandwidth, memory and other processor tasks in the meantime.

“Legitimate” spyware

There are times when software that acts like spyware is installed for reasons that are not just criminal. Organisations may install tracking software on corporate-owned hardware to track an employee’s browsing habits. Parents may also use similar software to spy on their kids’ online activity.

Advertisers use cookies to track users in order to target advertising at them. However, if a user is notified that data is being collected on them, such actions may not be considered spyware (even if the data collected is the same).

Different types of spyware

Spyware can take many different forms, each having their own functions and purpose. The four main types are:

Adware – this spyware tracks information about a user, sucking up data such as web searches, frequently visited websites and downloads. This information is then used to display window ads or pop-up ads.

Trojans – this is malware that appears to be legitimate but can fool users into installing it onto their computers and mobile devices. These Trojans are used to access sensitive data and files and can affect system performance.

Cookie trackers – third-party tracking cookies monitor a user’s internet activities such as web searches, history, downloads, etc for business, marketing or other reasons, depending on the motives of the hacker.

System monitors and keyloggers – this type of spyware is designed to monitor activity on a computer and record data such as keystrokes, sites visited, emails and more, often for nefarious purposes.

Dealing with spyware

If you suspect your computer has spyware on it, you can do the following.

Disconnect the computer from the internet. This may seem like an extreme move but can help prevent the spread of malware and leaking of sensitive data.

If you boot into Safe Mode on a Windows PC, this will only load the minimum number of programs and processes. It may also prevent spyware from loading. When in Safe Mode, delete temporary files. This will speed up spyware scanning. Use can also use the Disk Cleanup utility in Windows; just type Disk Cleanup into the search bar and click on this to start the process.

You can then run an anti-spyware application to remove any spyware or malware from the computer (if you have disconnected the PC from the internet, you may have to either reconnect it to download the anti-spyware app or download this app to a USB drive on another computer).

After this you can then scan the computer to find and remove any spyware or malware you suspect is on your computer, hopefully purging it and the opportunities for cyber criminals to steal your data from your computer.

Written by Clare Hopping & Rene Millman

http://www.itpro.co.uk/spyware/30001/what-is-spyware

Microtechs white label help desk and NOC

Most of our customers approach us as they are looking for a fully UK based extension of their support team. This is normally to help with covering support overnight and weekends, because they want to free up their senior staff to work on project or development duties, because of issues with staff retention or because they have already outsourced overseas and have experienced a high number of complaints.

We have a mixture of clients which use our helpdesk and monitoring services which include;

  • ·        1st /2nd line remote support calls
  • ·        24/7/365 or office hours
  • ·        Incident management services with third party escalation
  • ·        Proactive monitoring NOC services
  • ·        Catch and dispatch only monitoring services
  • ·        Fully inclusive services with an average 80% resolution rate
  • ·        15-minute response times
  • ·        Fully GDPR compliant
  • ·        Completely white labelled to your brand
  • ·        Desktop / Network / O365 / Mac / Telecoms / Bespoke software
  • ·        Pricing from £500 per month

We are all based from one office in Surrey and tailor our service to dovetail to your requirement.

I guess that’s why we are different to other companies. We spend time to learn, develop, sculpt and continually improve our service to your customers.

If you need overflow during the day or a whole support desk from scratch or just some monitoring services overnight, please drop us an email or give us a call.

Please contact us for further information on 01483 407417

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Our customers approach us as they are looking for a fully UK based extension of their support team.

We help with;

  • •Covering support overnight and weekends
  • •Overflow during the day
  • •Freeing up your senior staff to work on project or development duties
  • •Removing issues with staff retention, cover and training
  • •Improvement in SLA's and customer experience

We have a mixture of clients which use our help desk and monitoring services which include;

  • •1st /2nd line remote support calls
  • •24/7/365 or office hours
  • •Incident management services with third party escalation
  • •Proactive monitoring NOC services
  • •Catch and dispatch only monitoring services
  • •Fully inclusive services with an average 80% resolution rate
  • •15-minute NOC response times
  • •Fully GDPR compliant
  • •Completely white labelled to your brand / customers brands
  • •Desktop / Network / O365 / Mac / Telecoms / Bespoke software
  • •Pricing from £500 per month

We are all based from one office in Surrey and tailor our service to dovetail to your requirement. If you need overflow during the day or a whole support desk from scratch or just some monitoring services overnight, please drop us an email or give us a call. 01483 407417 

 

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Written by Clare Hopping

16% of businesses have been hit by a cloud storage security incident, Spiceworks finds

A quarter of businesses are hesitant about signing up to cloud services because they feel they're not secure enough, a study by Spiceworks has revealed.

Almost all (97%) of businesses said security is the biggest consideration when selecting a cloud-based file storage and sharing service, suggesting providers have a large role to play in convincing customers of the security benefits of using a cloud-based service.

Digging deeper into customer security concerns, 16% of the 544 US and European businesses questioned by Spiceworks said they have experienced a security incident related to their cloud service within the last 12 months, including unauthorised access, stolen credentials or data theft.

However, the survey also found that businesses probably haven't explored all security options to secure data. Although 57% said they restricted the services available for use by their employees, and more than half have implemented user access controls, only 28% have introduced multi-factor authentication and have a file-sharing policy in place, while 74% don't encrypt their data while it's in transit and 78% don't encrypt data at rest.

Reliability (96%), cost (93%) and ease of use (93%) are also important factors decision makers looked into when picking a cloud service for their business.

“It’s evident organisations are putting more trust into cloud storage services, but some are still hesitant despite the recent growth in adoption,” said Peter Tsai, senior technology analyst at Spiceworks. “Although cloud storage services often include features that help secure sensitive corporate information, there will always be risks involved when entrusting your data to a third party.”

Spiceworks' study revealed the most popular cloud storage service is Microsoft's OneDrive, with 51% of organisations using it, while 34% are using Google Drive and the same percentage have opted to use Dropbox.

Article via: http://www.itpro.co.uk/cloud-storage/31166/25-of-organisations-lack-confidence-in-cloud-storage

Microtechs 24/7 White labelled help desk

Most of our customers approach us as they are looking for a fully UK based extension of their support team.

Do you need help with;  

Covering support overnight and weekends
Need to free up your senior staff to work on project or development duties
Issues with staff retention
Outsourced overseas and have experienced a high number of complaints.

We have a mixture of clients which use our helpdesk and monitoring services which include;

1st /2nd line remote support calls
24/7/365 or office hours
Incident management services with third party escalation
Proactive monitoring NOC services
Catch and dispatch only monitoring services
Fully inclusive services with an average 80% resolution rate
15-minute NOC response times
Fully GDPR compliant
Completely white labelled to your brand / customers brands
Desktop / Network / O365 / Mac / Telecoms / Bespoke software
Pricing from £500 per month

We are all based from one office in Surrey and tailor our service to dovetail to your requirement.

I guess that’s why we are different to other companies. We spend time to learn, develop, sculpt and continually improve our service to your customers.

 

If you need overflow during the day or a whole support desk from scratch or just some monitoring services overnight – get in touch 01483 407417

 

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When you see this error on the internet there is an easy fix

Have you ever clicked on a website and its comeback with the message HTTP error 503? Don't worry, it is very common, and most people over the course of their internet life will have encountered the message, whether it's on a desktop computer, laptop, tablet or smartphone. But what does this error mean and what should you do about it when you were expecting to see a normal looking website?

What does HTTP error mean?

HTTP error 503 simply means that there is an error server-side that prevent the clients request being fulfilled. "Service unavailable" is what you will usually see and it means that the server is temporarily unavailable to the client.

You may sometimes see a value in the "Retry-After" field in the HTTP header response that can be used to tell the user when the request can be handled.

When does HTTP error 503 happen?

HTTP error 503 pops up when the server cannot send the resources requested when the client demanded it and there are a number of reasons why this can happen.

The most likely issue is that the server is under maintenance, such as updating, baking up and so forth, and is not connected to the internet while this is occurring.

However, it could be that the server is overloaded and struggling with the number of requests it is receiving, due to a spike in traffic or something more malicious such as a DoS attack. A misconfiguration of a web application can also cause a web server to be overloaded.

Alternatively, there may be the intermittent fault when a wrong DNS server configuration on the client-side results in such an error message. That DNS server may itself have issues resulting in a "service unavailable" message.

How to fix HTTP 503 errors

The easiest solution is to refresh the page and see if that can bring it back.

You can also attempt to restart your computer or router. If the error message shows "Service Unavailable -- DNS Failure", there may be a fault with the DNS configuration of the computer or the router. A router problem can be fixed by restarting it. In the case of a problem with a selected DNS server, it may be fixed by choosing another DNS server to use.

If the HTTP error 503 happens a lot to users of a website, then the administrator needs to troubleshoot the issue and find the appropriate fix.

If there are updates needed for a website, schedule these at a quieter time so that users don't see this message regularly.

If spikes in traffic are causing the error, then it may well be time to increase web server resources to cope with the increase in visitors.

If the error is caused by a denial of service (DoS) attack, it is a good time to contact a hosting provider to see what mitigations can be put in place to avoid this happening again. You may want to look at increasing security or applying patches that hackers may use to attack your website and take it offline.

Lastly, if the error is due to a programming error, further investigation will be required to pinpoint the issue and take steps to correct it.

http://www.itpro.co.uk/web-browser/30394/what-is-http-error-503-and-how-do-you-fix-it

Written by Rene Millman

Microtechs White Label 24/7/365 White label Support

Most of our customers approach us as they are looking for a fully UK based extension of their support team. This is normally to help with covering support overnight and weekends, because they want to free up their senior staff to work on project or development duties, because of issues with staff retention or because they have already outsourced overseas and have experienced a high number of complaints.

We have a mixture of clients which use our helpdesk and monitoring services which include;

  • ·        1st /2nd line remote support calls
  • ·        24/7/365 or office hours
  • ·        Incident management services with third party escalation
  • ·        Proactive monitoring NOC services
  • ·        Catch and dispatch only monitoring services
  • ·        Fully inclusive services with an average 80% resolution rate
  • ·        15-minute response times
  • ·        Fully GDPR compliant
  • ·        Completely white labelled to your brand
  • ·        Desktop / Network / O365 / Mac / Telecoms / Bespoke software
  • ·        Pricing from £500 per month

We are all based from one office in Surrey and tailor our service to dovetail to your requirement.

I guess that’s why we are different to other companies. We spend time to learn, develop, sculpt and continually improve our service to your customers.

If you need overflow during the day or a whole support desk from scratch or just some monitoring services overnight, please drop me an email or give us a call.

Please contact us for further information on 01483 407417

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A guide to all the latest cyber criminal tricks, and how to beat them

Written by Jonathan Parkyn

When it comes to defeating security threats, awareness is one of the most effective weapons in your arsenal, and our chief aim is to continue providing you with the knowledge and the defences you need to stay one step ahead of the hackers and scammers.

Below we run through the latest security threats and show you new ways to beat them. The overall message here is: don't be complacent. The techniques used by crooks and hackers are always evolving, so you need to keep evolving your security strategies, too.

The trick: Ever-evolving ransomware

We can all agree that 2017 was a bad year for ransomware, thanks to devastating widespread outbreaks like WannaCry and NotPetya. But in its 2018 Malware Forecast, security firm Sophos reveals that cybercriminals may have only been "experimenting" with recent attacks like these, and predicts that the worst is yet to come. "We're expecting cybercriminals to build upon WannaCry and NotPetya and their ability to replicate," says SophosLabs researcher Dorka Palotay.

How to beat it: Back up – the right way

In addition to preventative techniques, such as using an effective antivirus tool, backing up can be one of the most effective way of preventing a ransomware infection - but only if you do it right. Do it wrong and a ransomware attack could end up scrambling your backups along with your originals.

The best backup method is actually to use multiple methods simultaneously. Run a daily backup to an external hard drive using Windows File History (found under Start, Settings, 'Update & security', Backup) or a free tool, such as EaseUS Todo Backup Free. The key thing is to disconnect the drive once each backup is complete. Leaving it attached to your PC allows ransomware to lock you out of its contents, along with the files on your system drive.

Secondly, also back up 'to the cloud' - that is, to an online-storage service. Even cloud-based files can be claimed by ransomware, however, so make sure you use a service that employs versioning, which means previous versions of your files are kept as shadow copies. That way, if ransomware infects any of your cloud backups, you can simply restore the previous version of the file to remove the encryption.

Both Dropbox and Google Drive support versioning, though Dropbox will only keep previous versions for 30 days unless you pay for Dropbox Business (from £10 per user per month). To restore a previous version in Dropbox, log in and browse for the file, then click the three dots button on the right and select 'Version history'. You'll see the latest version at the top and earlier versions below, with the newest first.

Move your mouse to the right of a previous version and a Restore button will magically appear.

The hack: Hiding malicious activity in image files

Cyber-crooks are starting to use image files to cover their tracks, according to Kaspersky. This deception technique is inspired by an old espionage trick called steganography, which involves concealing hidden messages within pictures (and even tattooed on to people's bodies). An attacker could infiltrate a computer using malware, then send stolen data back to their server disguised as an innocent-looking image file. Current security software is unlikely to detect this suspicious activity.

The fix: There isn't one... yet

The news isn't great on this one. Kaspersky admits that the security industry has yet to reliably detect this threat. Most steganography attacks so far have targeted large companies and financial institutions, rather than individuals. However, Kaspersky says that it has seen these techniques being used in updated versions of common Trojans, which could be a sign hackers will soon attack the public.

The trick: New ways to scam you

Phishing is always evolving, with scammers constantly employing fresh tricks to hoodwink their victims. Among the latest scams to watch out for, according to Police cybercrime reporting centre Action Fraud, are fake online job adverts and bogus RSPCA websites advertising fake premium-rate numbers for their cruelty line.

Another recent scam emails Netflix users to tell them their accounts have been suspended. The link to restart your membership takes you to a fake site that steals your account and billing information.

In smishing (or 'SMS phishing') scams fraudsters send you messages or texts to your phone, hoping you'll click the link contained within. They are an increasing danger says Kaspersky, which saw a 300% rise between April and June in 2017. Many scams target bank customers with texts suggesting that suspicious activity has been detected on their account. They urge you click a link to confirm your account, but doing so leads to a fake site, from where scammers can steal your online-banking credentials details - and then all your cash.

The fix: Don't trust ANYTHING

Sadly, these latest scams simply highlight the need to be hyper-vigilant when it comes to spotting fakes, whether they appear online, in an email or on your phone. You should never assume any unexpected communication is genuine until you've been able to verify it independently. Call your bank if you receive a text message, for example.

Never click links in emails, never disclose any personal details and don't reply to any suspicious texts you receive. Also, remember that unencrypted text messages can be intercepted by just about anyone. It's much safer to use messaging tools that employ end-to-end encryption, such as WhatsApp. Just make sure you install the real WhatsApp, not the recent fake one – cleverly named 'Update WhatsApp Messenger' on Google Play – which tricked more than a million people into downloading it, then bombarded them with ads.

Yes, this is another type of scam to watch out for, and worrying proof that not all Google Play apps are safe.

The trick: Malware goes mobile

Ransomware and other threats are predicted to thrive on phones and tablets in 2018, according to experts. SophosLabs processed 10 million suspicious Android apps in 2017 (up from 8.5 million in 2016), 77% of which turned out to be malware.

"In September alone, 30.37% of malicious Android malware processed by SophosLabs was ransomware," warned the security firm's Rowland Yu in a November blog post.

Apple devices won't be immune from the threat of infection next year. At a recent phone-hacking contest run by Trend Micro, contestants showed off a vulnerability in the latest version of iOS (11.1), that allowed them to run install a rogue app called KeenLab on an iPhone 7 over a local Wi-Fi connection. Details of how this was achieved are sketchy, but Apple is said to be working on a fix.

How to beat it: Update your OS

We realise we're beating a pretty old drum here, but it's essential to apply the latest operating system updates for your mobile device as soon as they become available. It's also worth noting that, with mobile devices, the vast majority of infected software arrives via apps obtained from non-official sources. Most – though not all – mobile malware can be avoided by ensuring you only install apps from the Google Play Store and Apple's App Store.

The trick: Hacking into your home Wi-Fi

Proving that there really is no room for complacency, security researchers at KU Leuven University in Belgium recently discovered a whopping great flaw in the very encryption used to protect many wireless networks.

Until now, WPA2 has been considered one of the safest wireless encryption protocols. But its newly revealed vulnerability to something known as a Key Reinstallation Attack (or Krack) means any would-be hackers within range of your wireless network could gain access to and steal your data or inject malicious files, such as ransomware, on to your devices via your own home Wi-Fi connection. There are no reports of the exploit being used yet, but it's only a matter of time.

How to beat it: Update all your devices

It's important to keep using WPA2 to protect your wireless network – switching it off will only make you more vulnerable. And you'll need to do more than simply change your Wi-Fi password. In fact, the only way to protect against Krack is to wait for manufacturers to issue updates for your devices. Most manufacturers are racing to release fixes for Krack, and many, including Microsoft, have already done so – Windows was patched via an automatic update back in October.

The vulnerability affects all your wireless devices – PCs, phones and tablets – but it's especially important to protect your router. If you're not sure whether your device has received – or needs – a patch against Krack, then contact your router's manufacturer.

The trick: Hijacking your accounts

Though account hijacking itself is nothing new, recent research commissioned by Google, in collaboration with the University of California, Berkeley, revealed how billions of passwords are stolen every year.

The research, which tracked activity on the web's black markets over the course of 12 months, discovered that around 788,000 logins were stolen via malware, such as keyloggers, while 12 million passwords were obtained via phishing scams. A staggering 3.3 billion logins were obtained via big-scale data breaches, such as the recent Computer Exchange hack, which affected two million customers of the tech trade-in store.

How to beat it: Switch to a password manager

Sadly, passwords will continue to be how most of us we protect our services and data in 2018. More secure biometric log-in methods, such as 3D facial recognition, are reserved for expensive devices like the £1,000 iPhone X – and these potentially have their own vulnerabilities, if a recent claim to have beaten Apple's security measures using a mask is to be believed.

Google's own conclusion from its research is one we'd agree with – using a password manager or two-factor verification (or, preferably, both) is the only way to minimise the threat. Two-factor verification is a pain because it adds an extra log-in step, such as typing a code texted to your phone. But it does make it virtually impossible for hackers to get into your account without the code. To set it up on your Google account, sign in here and click Get Started.

Our password manager of choice, meanwhile, remains LastPass.

Image: Shutterstock

http://www.itpro.co.uk/cyber-security/31064/how-not-to-get-hacked-in-2018

Microtechs 24/7/365 Support

Most of our customers approach us as they are looking for a fully UK based extension of their support team. This is normally to help with covering support overnight and weekends, because they want to free up their senior staff to work on project or development duties, because of issues with staff retention or because they have already outsourced overseas and have experienced a high number of complaints.

We have a mixture of clients which use our helpdesk and monitoring services which include;

  • ·        1st /2nd line remote support calls
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We are all based from one office in Surrey and tailor our service to dovetail to your requirement.

I guess that’s why we are different to other companies. We spend time to learn, develop, sculpt and continually improve our service to your customers.

If you need overflow during the day or a whole support desk from scratch or just some monitoring services overnight, please drop me an email or give us a call.

Please contact us for further information on 01483 407417

b2ap3_thumbnail_IMT-blur.jpg

Most of our customers approach us as they are looking for a fully UK based extension of their support team.

This is normally to help with covering support overnight and weekends, because they want to free up their senior staff to work on project or development duties, because of issues with staff retention or because they have already outsourced overseas and have experienced a high number of complaints.

We have a mixture of clients which use our help desk and monitoring services which include;

• 1st /2nd line remote support calls

• 24/7/365 or office hours

• Incident management services with third party escalation

• Proactive monitoring NOC services

• Catch and dispatch only monitoring services

• Fully inclusive services with an average 80% resolution rate

• 15-minute response times

• Fully GDPR compliant

• Completely white labelled to your brand

• Desktop / Network / O365 / Mac / Telecoms / Bespoke software

• Pricing from £500 per month

 

We are all based from one office in Surrey, England and tailor our service to dovetail to your requirement. I guess that’s why we are different to other companies. We spend time to learn, develop, sculpt and continually improve our service to your customers.

Call us today 01483 407417

 

 

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A new Ofcom report reveals a massive 925,000 people are still on downloads speeds of less than 10Mbps

With all this talk about high-speed internet, it’s easy to forget many UK citizens are still struggling to get broadband connections that are faster than the minimum speed needed to stream a Netflix show.

As Ofcom outlines in its Connected Nations Report 2018, some 925,000 households and businesses are still unable to even reach download speeds of 10Mbps, accounting for 3% of UK households and premises. While this number has gone down with each successive report, it hasn’t gone down by a significant amount. In May 2016, the figure was at 1.6 million. It then went down to 1.1 million in 2017. With only an extra 150,000 households and premises able to get above the measly 10Mbps in 2018, the availability and uptake of adequate broadband speeds seems to be as sluggish as their download speeds.

“There have been further improvements in the availability of broadband services across the UK. However, more needs to be done to provide consumers with access to decent broadband,” Ofcom wrote in the report. “There are still too many people in the UK who cannot get a decent broadband connection.”

This figure is in stark contrast to Ofcom’s report that 95% of UK premises have access to super-fast high-speed broadband, which it outlined as “providing a minimum 30Mbps download speed”.

“It is imperative that, as well as deploying ultrafast broadband, we ensure that every home and business has a minimum level of fast internet broadband internet, especially in rural communities where lack of access can be a serious problem,” Matt Powell, editor at Broadband Genie said.

While it’s pretty awful so many people are still on such slow broadband speeds, most of them should be getting an upgrade fairly soon. Come 2020, the government will have to make sure every household and business has access to broadband speeds of at least 10Mbps, following legislation passed in March, albeit with one small caveat.

“Homes and businesses will be able to request a connection up to a cost threshold of £3,400,” Ofcom wrote. “For the most expensive to reach properties where the costs of providing a USO (Universal Service Obligation) connection exceed this amount, consumers will need to

That said, a measly 10Mbps will be even more atrocious by the time 2020 comes around, considering that, according to the report, on the other side of the fence, 1.2 million UK premises have full fibre 1GB coverage.

“We’re still a long way from having a full fibre network that is capable of handling future demand for high speed internet access, though a number of providers have announced plans to further invest in and develop full fibre networks,” Powell added. “If the UK is to remain competitive – especially given the uncertainty of Brexit – we need to rapidly expand coverage of ultrafast broadband while still maintaining healthy competition to avoid a monopoly.”

Ofcom will be put in charge of enforcing the Universal Service Obligation’s rollout in 2020.

Written by Alex Lee

http://www.itpro.co.uk/broadband/31028/almost-one-million-brits-still-suffer-with-appalling-broadband-speeds-ofcom-report

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 can 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 can provide excellent customer service and technical support. All our services are available completely white labelled, ensuring a seamless extension to your company.

Through our services you can 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 100 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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