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Most modern computers have a weakness that allows hackers to steal encryption keys and other sensitive data, according to new research.

Cyber security firm F-Secure said it had managed to revive a decades-old attack that involves stealing user data during a computer's reboot process, warning that the majority of modern-day computers are vulnerable to the exploit.

The exploit, known as a cold-boot attack, which has been known to hackers since 2008, involves rebooting a computer without initiating a proper shutdown process, then scalping the residual data that briefly sits on the machine's RAM. While most modern laptops have been designed to overwrite this data by default, the research team was successfully able to disable this overwrite function.

Researchers warn that the attack could mean that businesses risk losing data through machines they have either lost or ditched in recent replacement cycles, and that current security measures are not good enough to protect against the exploit.

"Typically, organisations aren't prepared to protect themselves from an attacker that has physical possession of a company computer," said F-Secure principal security consultant Olle Segerdahl.

"When you have a security issue found in devices from major PC vendors, like the weakness my team has learned to exploit, you need to assume that a lot of companies have a weak link in their security that they're not fully aware of or prepared to deal with."

F-Secure said that although the exploit requires some extra steps to the classic cold boot attack, it's proven to be effective against every modern laptop tested. It added that because the threat is typically used against devices that are stolen or lost, hackers have plenty of time to execute the attack.

Segerdahl also added that there's no reliable way for organisations to know their data is safe if a computer goes missing, and because nearly all company laptops will have things like access credentials for corporate networks, it gives attackers a consistent and reliable way to compromise corporate targets.

Rather worryingly, there is no easy fix for this issue either, but Segerdahl stressed the importance of invalidating access credentials once a machine is reported lost, stolen, or no longer in use.

When contacted by IT Pro, Microsoft senior director Jeff Jones said: "This technique requires physical access to a target device. We encourage customers to practice good security habits, including preventing unauthorized physical access to their device." Crucially, however, there was no mention of a potential fix for the problem.

F-Secure's advice is for businesses to configure laptops so they automatically shut down or hibernate instead of entering sleep mode, or require employees to enter an encrypted system's BitLocker PIN each time they boot up their machines.

Written by Bobby Hellard

Original article: http://www.itpro.co.uk/security/31911/businesses-at-risk-of-data-theft-through-classic-cold-boot-attack

Image: Shutterstock

Microtechs 24/7 UK White label support services

With more demands for 24/7 support and quality customer service in the forefront for many businesses, now may be an appropriate time to review how you deliver support and what it costs your business in resourcing, customer retention and new business wins.

Advantages of Outsourcing your support desk.

*     Flexible hours

*     Reduced cost

*     Easier management

*     Higher profits

Microtechs can help.

We can provide a completely UK based support function for your customers or products whilst simultaneously saving you money and improving your service levels.

*     Office hours or 24/7

*     UK based from Guildford, Surrey

*     1st & 2nd line / NOC and incident management capabilities

*     Ability to learn and support bespoke applications

*     All white labelled to your brand

*     25-50% reduction in overheads

*     Pricing from £500 per month

*     Sole traders through to enterprise companies supported

"We transitioned our first line tech support for our entire subscriber base across to Microtechs in 2015 in order to offer a true 24/7 helpdesk service. Since that point, we have been delighted to see a huge reduction in calls unanswered together with a substantial increase in first time fixes and a subsequent dramatic increase in customer satisfaction levels and retention rates. Most noteworthy of all, we have also seen an overall reduction in cost to our business. It’s vanishingly rare to come across a service that is simultaneously more competent, more comprehensive and less costly – but that is exactly what Microtechs is currently providing to us"

Please contact us for further information on 01483 407417

 

 

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Anyone who has ever cursed a computer network as it slowed to a crawl will appreciate the remedy offered by scientists at Rice University.

Rice computer scientist Eugene Ng and his team say their solution will keep data on the fast track when failures inevitably happen.

Ng introduced ShareBackup, a strategy that would allow shared backup switches in data centers to take on network traffic within a fraction of a second after a software or hardware switch failure.

He will present a peer-reviewed paper on the work this week at the SIGCOMM 2018 conference in Budapest, Hungary.

Ng said the idea would solve a common annoyance among data professionals, scientists and everyone who relies on a network to deliver results day in and day out.

"A data network consists of servers and network switches," said Ng, a professor of computer science and electrical and computer engineering. "Switches move data packets to where they need to go. But things fail, especially in large-scale data centers with thousands of pieces of hardware."

The usual response to a failed switch is to shunt the flow of data to another line. "Generally, the network has multiple paths for connecting servers so, just like if there's a closure on the highway, we'd drive around it. This is a conventional, natural approach that makes a lot of sense: You reroute around the failure to get where you need to go."

But sometimes that other road is congested and everything slows down. "Data centers aren't the internet; they're not about people surfing websites," Ng said. "They're about supporting data-intensive applications like data mining or machine learning. And a lot of these applications have stringent performance deadlines, so blindly rerouting traffic could be the wrong thing to do in a data center."

Rather than the expensive option of installing redundant switches throughout a network, the Ng lab's strategy would put fast switches and software in strategic locations that could pick up the traffic from a failed switch in a microsecond. When that problem is resolved, the team's software makes the backup switch available to handle another failure.

The switch is fast enough -- the failure-recovery time is 0.73 milliseconds, including latency from hardware and control systems -- that most users would never know that part of the system had failed.

"The reality is that the fraction of devices that fail at any given time is very small, and most of these failures can be addressed by things like rebooting the device," Ng said. "Sometimes the software gets screwed up and a simple power cycle will bring it back. These failures may also not last long.

"These are the characteristics we're trying to exploit," he said. "Because of that, we can get away with having very few devices back up a large number of devices."

Ng said ShareBackup could save data centers time and money not only by maintaining full bandwidth but by also helping to analyze problems, including misconfigurations that commonly lead to network failure.

"Part of our work is to help data centers figure out what went wrong in the network," he said. "Once the backup is activated, you can take the failed device out of the production network and test it to identify which component caused the problem.

"Now, if we take two devices out and can't figure out which went bad, both need to be replaced," he said. "It's very likely only one of the devices is having the problem. Our software can diagnose these devices in a semiautomatic manner, and if one of the parts is good, it can be reinstated."

Story Source:

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

Rice University. "Ciircuit-switching tech to help data centers recover from failures." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 16 August 2018. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/08/180816132107.htm>.

Image: Shutterstock

Microtechs 24/7 white label support services

With Microtechs outsourced UK remote support services you can focus on managing relationships and delivering your core business. Manned 24/7 by fully trained technical staff in Surrey, your customers will receive a personal answer to any support issue raised, at any time of the day or night.

             Are you a IT / Telecoms / Software provider with an expanding customer base?

             Are you spending so much time on IT support that you struggle to develop new clients?

             Are you struggling to find and retain the right support team members?

             Need to cover extended hours easily?

             Had a poor experience outsourcing offshore?

             Looking to increase your customers up-time?

             Need to reduce your costs and lower overheads by as much as 40%?

Our client-specific 1st and 2nd line teams can monitor your servers and support queue (email, alert or phone) 24/7 or just as overflow. When a new incident comes in, we work to resolve the issue and respond to your customers through phone or your support system, thereby maintaining 100% transparent support. This includes 3rd party escalations and incident management.

As a white label managed service provider, we operate as an extension of you, so your customers will be thanking you for the expert service they receive, the peace of mind you bring and the additional value you have added to their business.

             Fully inclusive services with an average 80% resolution rate

             15 minute NOC response times

             80% of telephone calls answered within 60 seconds

             Completely white labelled to your brand / customers brands

             Desktop / Network / O365 / Mac / Telecoms / Bespoke software / Wi-Fi

             Pricing from £500 per month

If you need overflow during the day or a whole support desk from inception 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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Research shows that 'flexible work boundaries' often turn into 'work without boundaries'

Employer expectations of work email monitoring during nonwork hours are detrimental to the health and well-being of not only employees but their family members as well.

William Becker, a Virginia Tech associate professor of management in the Pamplin College of Business, co-authored a new study, "Killing me softly: electronic communications monitoring and employee and significant-other well-being," showing that such expectations result in anxiety, which adversely affects the health of employees and their families.

"The competing demands of work and nonwork lives present a dilemma for employees," Becker said, "which triggers feelings of anxiety and endangers work and personal lives."

Other studies have shown that the stress of increased job demands leads to strain and conflict in family relationships when the employee is unable to fulfill nonwork roles at home -- "such as when someone brings work home to finish up."

Their new study, he said, demonstrates that employees do not need to spend actual time on work in their off-hours to experience the harmful effects. The mere expectations of availability increase strain for employees and their significant others -- even when employees do not engage in actual work during nonwork time.

Unlike work-related demands that deplete employee resources, physical and psychological, by requiring time away from home, "the insidious impact of 'always on' organizational culture is often unaccounted for or disguised as a benefit -- increased convenience, for example, or higher autonomy and control over work-life boundaries," Becker said.

"Our research exposes the reality: 'flexible work boundaries' often turn into 'work without boundaries,' compromising an employee's and their family's health and well-being."

As negative health outcomes are costly to them, what can employers do to mitigate the adverse effects identified by the study? Becker said policies that reduce expectations to monitor electronic communication outside of work would be ideal.

When that is not an option, the solution may be to establish boundaries on when electronic communication is acceptable during off-hours by setting up off-hour email windows or schedules when employees are available to respond.

Additionally, he said, organizational expectations should be communicated clearly. "If the nature of a job requires email availability, such expectations should be stated formally as a part of job responsibilities." Knowing these expectations upfront may reduce anxiety in employees and increase understanding from their family members, he said.

As for employees, they could consider practicing mindfulness, which has been shown to be effective in reducing anxiety, Becker said. Mindfulness may help employees "be present" in family interactions, which could help reduce conflict and improve relationship satisfaction. And, he added, mindfulness is within the employee's control when email expectations are not.

Becker, whose research interests include work emotion, turnover, organizational neuroscience, and leadership, is based at Virginia Tech's National Capital Region campus in metro Washington, D.C.

His study, co-authored with Liuba Y. Belkin, of Lehigh University; Samantha A. Conroy, of Colorado State University; and Sarah Tuskey, a Virginia Tech Ph.D. student in executive business research, will be presented at the Academy of Management annual meeting in Chicago on August 10-14.

"Employees today must navigate more complex boundaries between work and family than ever before," said Becker. "Employer expectations during nonwork hours appear to increase this burden, as employees feel an obligation to shift roles throughout their nonwork time.

"Efforts to manage these expectations are more important than ever, given our findings that employees' families are also affected by these expectations."

Story Source: Materials provided by Virginia Tech. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

Virginia Tech. "Mere expectation of checking work email after hours harms health of workers and families: Research shows that 'flexible work boundaries' often turn into 'work without boundaries'." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 10 August 2018. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/08/180810091553.htm>.

Image: Shutterstock

Microtechs 24/7 White Label Support Services

With Microtechs outsourced UK remote support services you can focus on managing relationships and delivering your core business. Manned 24/7 by fully trained technical staff in Surrey, your customers will receive a personal answer to any support issue raised, at any time of the day or night.

             Are you a IT / Telecoms / Software provider with an expanding customer base?

             Are you spending so much time on IT support that you struggle to develop new clients?

             Are you struggling to find and retain the right support team members?

             Need to cover extended hours easily?

             Had a poor experience outsourcing offshore?

             Looking to increase your customers up-time?

             Need to reduce your costs and lower overheads by as much as 40%?

Our client-specific 1st and 2nd line teams can monitor your servers and support queue (email, alert or phone) 24/7 or just as overflow. When a new incident comes in, we work to resolve the issue and respond to your customers through phone or your support system, thereby maintaining 100% transparent support. This includes 3rd party escalations and incident management.

As a white label managed service provider, we operate as an extension of you, so your customers will be thanking you for the expert service they receive, the peace of mind you bring and the additional value you have added to their business.

             Fully inclusive services with an average 80% resolution rate

             15 minute NOC response times

             80% of telephone calls answered within 60 seconds

             Completely white labelled to your brand / customers brands

             Desktop / Network / O365 / Mac / Telecoms / Bespoke software / Wi-Fi

             Pricing from £500 per month

If you need overflow during the day or a whole support desk from inception 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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IT departments aren't at all prepped for the end-of-life of Windows 7 and with almost half of businesses still running Windows 7, it's going to come as quite a shock to the system when Windows shuts down the platform in just over a year.

That's according to a survey conducted by Enterprise content delivery platform Kollective, which revealed that out of 260 businesses decision makers in the UK and US, two-thirds of businesses haven't developed a strategy to migrate to Windows 10, while a fifth of those questioned didn't even know Microsoft was withdrawing support.

A quarter of businesses said they'll leave it to the employees to update and migrate their systems to Windows 10, which leaves many businesses open to fragmentation and secrity risks if the process isn't overseen properly.

“While 500 days may seem like a long time, it took many businesses upwards of three years to transition from Windows XP to Windows 7," Jon O'Connor, solution architect at Kollective said. "Although Microsoft has since streamlined the process, we are expecting similar migration timelines for Windows 10."

However, he warned that businesses need to take the news seriously. It can take at least a month for businesses to migrate to a newer computing platform, with 27% saying there could well be network issues when upgrading machines to Windows 10.

“For large enterprises, the key will be ensuring that the update can be rolled out automatically and at scale," O'Connor added. "Unfortunately, our research suggests that many businesses simply don’t have the network infrastructure needed to achieve this simultaneous update, as such many will spend months – or even years – migrating their systems entirely. If the January 2020 deadline is missed, this will pose a major security threat for the world’s businesses.”

Despite Kollective's argument that businesses are not prepared for the Windows 7 phase-out, figures released by Net Applications showed that Windows 10 adoption is rising fast and should overtake Windows 7 by November. 36.6% of total PCs are using Windows 10, representing 41.4% of Windows machines. In comparison, Windows 7 is running on 41.2% of all PCs and 46.6% of those running Windows.

http://www.itpro.co.uk/microsoft-windows/31819/two-thirds-of-businesses-not-prepped-for-death-of-windows-7

Written by Clare Hopping

Image: Shutterstock

Microtechs 24/7 support services

With Microtechs outsourced UK remote support services you can focus on managing relationships and delivering your core business. Manned 24/7 by fully trained technical staff in Surrey, your customers will receive a personal answer to any support issue raised, at any time of the day or night.

             Are you a IT / Telecoms / Software provider with an expanding customer base?

             Are you spending so much time on IT support that you struggle to develop new clients?

             Are you struggling to find and retain the right support team members?

             Need to cover extended hours easily?

             Had a poor experience outsourcing offshore?

             Looking to increase your customers up-time?

             Need to reduce your costs and lower overheads by as much as 40%?

Our client-specific 1st and 2nd line teams can monitor your servers and support queue (email, alert or phone) 24/7 or just as overflow. When a new incident comes in, we work to resolve the issue and respond to your customers through phone or your support system, thereby maintaining 100% transparent support. This includes 3rd party escalations and incident management.

As a white label managed service provider, we operate as an extension of you, so your customers will be thanking you for the expert service they receive, the peace of mind you bring and the additional value you have added to their business.

             Fully inclusive services with an average 80% resolution rate

             15 minute NOC response times

             80% of telephone calls answered within 60 seconds

             Completely white labelled to your brand / customers brands

             Desktop / Network / O365 / Mac / Telecoms / Bespoke software / Wi-Fi

             Pricing from £500 per month

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

Please contact us for further information on 01483 407417

 

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A new study shows that communication channels between different parts and pieces of computer software are prone to security breaches.

Researchers from Aalto University and the University of Helsinki have found over ten computer security-critical applications that are vulnerable to insider attacks. Most of the vulnerabilities were found in password managers used by millions of people to store their login credentials. Several other applications were found to be similarly susceptible to attacks and breaches across the Windows, macOS and Linux operating systems.

Computer software often starts multiple processes to perform different tasks. For example, a password manager typically has two parts: a password vault and an extension to an internet browser, which both run as separate processes on the same computer.

To exchange data, these processes use a mechanism called inter-process communication (IPC), which remains within the confines of the computer and does not send information to an outside network. For this reason, IPC has traditionally been considered secure. However, the software needs to protect its internal communication from other processes running on the same computer. Otherwise, malicious processes started by other users could access the data in the IPC communication channel.

'Many security-critical applications, including several password managers, do not properly protect the IPC channel. This means that other users' processes running on a shared computer may access the communication channel and potentially steal users' credentials,' explains Thanh Bui, a doctoral candidate at Aalto University.

While PCs are often thought to be personal, it is not uncommon that several people have access to the same machine. Large companies typically have a centralized identity and access management system that allows employees to log into any company computer. In these scenarios, it is possible for anyone in the company to launch attacks. An attacker can also log in to the computer as a guest or connect remotely, if these features are enabled.

'The number of vulnerable applications shows that software developers often overlook the security problems related to inter-process communication. Developers may not understand the security properties of different IPC methods, or they place too much trust in software and applications that run locally. Both explanations are worrisome,' says Markku Antikainen, a post-doctoral researcher at the University of Helsinki.

Following responsible disclosure, the researchers have reported the detected vulnerabilities to the respective vendors, which have taken steps to prevent the attacks. The research was done partly in co-operation with F-Secure, a Finnish cyber-security company.

The research will be presented at the DEFCON security conference on August 12, 2018, and at the Usenix Security conference on August 17, 2018.

Story Source:

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

Aalto University. "Password managers vulnerable to insider hacking: A new study shows that communication channels between different parts and pieces of computer software are prone to security breaches.." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 15 August 2018. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/08/180815102906.htm>.

Image: Shutterstock

Microtechs 24/7 White label support services

With Microtechs outsourced UK remote support services you can focus on managing relationships and delivering your core business. Manned 24/7 by fully trained technical staff in Surrey, your customers will receive a personal answer to any support issue raised, at any time of the day or night.

             Are you a IT / Telecoms / Software provider with an expanding customer base?

             Are you spending so much time on IT support that you struggle to develop new clients?

             Are you struggling to find and retain the right support team members?

             Need to cover extended hours easily?

             Had a poor experience outsourcing offshore?

             Looking to increase your customers up-time?

             Need to reduce your costs and lower overheads by as much as 40%?

Our client-specific 1st and 2nd line teams can monitor your servers and support queue (email, alert or phone) 24/7 or just as overflow. When a new incident comes in, we work to resolve the issue and respond to your customers through phone or your support system, thereby maintaining 100% transparent support. This includes 3rd party escalations and incident management.

As a white label managed service provider, we operate as an extension of you, so your customers will be thanking you for the expert service they receive, the peace of mind you bring and the additional value you have added to their business.

             Fully inclusive services with an average 80% resolution rate

             15 minute NOC response times

             80% of telephone calls answered within 60 seconds

             Completely white labelled to your brand / customers brands

             Desktop / Network / O365 / Mac / Telecoms / Bespoke software / Wi-Fi

             Pricing from £500 per month

If you need overflow during the day or a whole support desk from inception 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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Ordinary WiFi can easily detect weapons, bombs and explosive chemicals in bags at museums, stadiums, theme parks, schools and other public venues, according to a Rutgers University-New Brunswick-led study.

The researchers' suspicious object detection system is easy to set up, reduces security screening costs and avoids invading privacy such as when screeners open and inspect bags, backpacks and luggage. Traditional screening typically requires high staffing levels and costly specialized equipment.

"This could have a great impact in protecting the public from dangerous objects," said Yingying (Jennifer) Chen, study co-author and a professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering in Rutgers-New Brunswick's School of Engineering. "There's a growing need for that now."

The peer-reviewed study received a best paper award at the 2018 IEEE Conference on Communications and Network Security on cybersecurity. The study -- led by researchers at the Wireless Information Network Laboratory (WINLAB) in the School of Engineering -- included engineers at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) and Binghamton University.

WiFi, or wireless, signals in most public places can penetrate bags to get the dimensions of dangerous metal objects and identify them, including weapons, aluminum cans, laptops and batteries for bombs. WiFi can also be used to estimate the volume of liquids such as water, acid, alcohol and other chemicals for explosives, according to the researchers.

This low-cost system requires a WiFi device with two to three antennas and can be integrated into existing WiFi networks. The system analyzes what happens when wireless signals penetrate and bounce off objects and materials.

Experiments with 15 types of objects and six types of bags demonstrated detection accuracy rates of 99 percent for dangerous objects, 98 percent for metal and 95 percent for liquid. For typical backpacks, the accuracy rate exceeds 95 percent and drops to about 90 percent when objects inside bags are wrapped, Chen said.

"In large public areas, it's hard to set up expensive screening infrastructure like what's in airports," Chen said. "Manpower is always needed to check bags and we wanted to develop a complementary method to try to reduce manpower."

Next steps include trying to boost accuracy in identifying objects by imaging their shapes and estimating liquid volumes, she said.

Source: Rutgers University. (2018, August 15). Common Wifi can detect weapons, bombs and chemicals in bags. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 29, 2018 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/08/180815085858.htm

Microtechs 24/7 white label support services

Most of our customers approach us as they are looking for a fully UK based extension of their support team. Now the summer is ending you may have noticed some pain points over the last few months with team members on holiday.

Do you need help with; 

·        Covering support overnight and weekends

·        Freeing up your senior staff to work on project or development duties

·        Solving issues with staff retention

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 drop me an email or give us a call.

Please contact us for further information on 01483 407417.

 

b2ap3_thumbnail_blog-17-aug.JPG

The hole has been fixed, but only for those using the latest version of Chrome

Imperva has discovered a Google Chrome vulnerability that could potentially allow malicious actors to hack into users' computers to find sensitive information from Facebook and other personal platforms.

The bug researchers unearthed use the Blink engine in Google Chrome to break into the browser. Although the vulnerability has apparently been fixed with the latest update to Google Chrome, 58% of Chrome users haven't updated their browsers, leaving them exposed to the vulnerability.

“Attackers could establish the exact age or gender of a person, as it is saved on Facebook, regardless of their privacy settings,” said Ron Masas, a researcher at security firm Imperva. “With several scripts running at once – each testing a different and unique restriction – the bad actor can relatively quickly mine a good amount of private data about the user."

Imperva explained the security hole takes advantage of Audio/Video HTML tags to generate requests to a target resource. It watches the actions made to the resource and then poses questions to the browser about its user based upon the pages it's accessed, requiring yes or no answers.

So if someone visits the site (such as Facebook), hidden video or audio tags will be implemented into the browser. It will then request Facebook posts the attacker has planted and can then analyse the victim's personal data including information such as their age as it's saved on Facebook.

"For example, a bad actor can create sizeable Facebook posts for each possible age, using the Audience Restriction option, making Facebook reflect the user age through the response size," Masas said. "The same method can be used to extract the user gender, likes, and many other user properties we were able to reflect through crafted posts or Facebook’s Graph Search endpoints."

Google patched the security hole in Chrome 68's release after being advised about the potential problem by Imperva's researchers.

Written by Clare Hopping

http://www.itpro.co.uk/cloud-security/31716/imperva-uncovers-google-chrome-vulnerability

Microtechs 24/7 white label support services

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 me a call.

Please contact us for further information on 01483 407417.

b2ap3_thumbnail_blog-14-aug.JPG

Algorithm provides networks with the most current information available while avoiding data congestion

For wireless networks that share time-sensitive information on the fly, it's not enough to transmit data quickly. That data also need to be fresh. Consider the many sensors in your car. While it may take less than a second for most sensors to transmit a data packet to a central processor, the age of that data may vary, depending on how frequently a sensor is relaying readings.

In an ideal network, these sensors should be able to transmit updates constantly, providing the freshest, most current status for every measurable feature, from tire pressure to the proximity of obstacles. But there's only so much data that a wireless channel can transmit without completely overwhelming the network.

How, then, can a constantly updating network -- of sensors, drones, or data-sharing vehicles -- minimize the age of the information that it receives at any moment, while at the same time avoiding data congestion?

Engineers in MIT's Laboratory for Information and Decision Systems are tackling this question and have come up with a way to provide the freshest possible data for a simple wireless network.

The researchers say their method may be applied to simple networks, such as multiple drones that transmit position coordinates to a single control station, or sensors in an industrial plant that relay status updates to a central monitor. Eventually, the team hopes to tackle even more complex systems, such as networks of vehicles that wirelessly share traffic data.

"If you are exchanging congestion information, you would want that information to be as fresh as possible," says Eytan Modiano, professor of aeronautics and astronautics and a member of MIT's Laboratory for Information and Decision Systems. "If it's dated, you might make the wrong decision. That's why the age of information is important."

Modiano and his colleagues presented their method in a paper at IEEE's International Conference on Computation Communications (Infocom), where it won a Best Paper Award. The paper will appear online in the future. The paper's lead author is graduate student Igor Kadota; former graduate student Abhishek Sinha is also a co-author.

Keeping it fresh

Traditional networks are designed to maximize the amount of data that they can transmit across channels, and minimize the time it takes for that data to reach its destination. Only recently have researchers considered the age of the information -- how fresh or stale information is from the perspective of its recipient.

"I first got excited about this problem, thinking in the context of UAVs -- unmanned aerial vehicles that are moving around in an environment, and they need to exchange position information to avoid collisions with one another," Modiano says. "If they don't exchange this information often enough, they might collide. So we stepped back and started looking at the fundamental problem of how to minimize age of information in wireless networks."

In this new paper, Modiano's team looked for ways to provide the freshest possible data to a simple wireless network. They modeled a basic network, consisting of a single data receiver, such as a central control station, and multiple nodes, such as several data-transmitting drones.

The researchers assumed that only one node can transmit data over a wireless channel at any given time. The question they set out to answer: Which node should transmit data at which time, to ensure that the network receives the freshest possible data, on average, from all nodes?

"We are limited in bandwidth, so we need to be selective about what and when nodes are transmitting," Modiano says. "We say, how do we minimize age in this simplest of settings? Can we solve this? And we did."

An optimal age

The team's solution lies in a simple algorithm that essentially calculates an "index" for each node at any given moment. A node's index is based on several factors: the age, or freshness of the data that it's transmitting; the reliability of the channel over which it is communicating; and the overall priority of that node.

"For example, you may have a more expensive drone, or faster drone, and you'd like to have better or more accurate information about that drone. So, you can set that one with a high priority," Kadota explains.

Nodes with a higher priority, a more reliable channel, and older data, are assigned a higher index, versus nodes that are relatively low in priority, communicating over spottier channels, with fresher data, which are labeled with a lower index.

A node's index can change from moment to moment. At any given moment, the algorithm directs the node with the highest index to transmit its data to the receiver. In this prioritizing way, the team found that the network is guaranteed to receive the freshest possible data on average, from all nodes, without overloading its wireless channels.

The team calculated a lower bound, meaning an average age of information for the network that is fresher than any algorithm could ever achieve. They found that the team's algorithm performs very close to this bound, and that it is close to the best that any algorithm could do in terms of providing the freshest possible data for a simple wireless network.

"We came up with a fundamental bound that says, you cannot possibly have a lower age of information than this value ¬ -- no algorithm could be better than this bound -- and then we showed that our algorithm came close to that bound," Modiano says. "So it's close to optimal."

The team is planning to test its index scheme on a simple network of radios, in which one radio may serve as a base station, receiving time-sensitive data from several other radios. Modiano's group is also developing algorithms to optimize the age of information in more complex networks.

"Our future papers will look beyond just one base station, to a network with multiple base stations, and how that interacts," Modiano says. "And that will hopefully solve a much bigger problem."

Story Source:

Materials provided by Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Original written by Jennifer Chu. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology. "New algorithm keeps data fresh in wireless networks: Algorithm provides networks with the most current information available while avoiding data congestion." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 5 June 2018. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/06/180605120813.htm>.

Microtechs 24/7 White Label Support Services

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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Why consider outsourcing your support desk

Perhaps the biggest pain point and frustration within any business is customer service and support. For many companies, IT professionals must be both technically competent and great on a call, to handle managing the multitude of incidents that arise in an average day or week.

This often leads to overstressed and overworked IT professionals on the help desk who are fielding calls and email enquiries from end users requiring support. When the support desk becomes overwhelmed, customers get frustrated waiting and the perception of your team and brand takes a hit.

Outsourcing your help desk services to an external party can bring many of benefits to your company from reducing costs to easing the load for stressed agents. Before refusing the idea of using a third party, consider all the benefits to be gained from outsourcing customer support operations.

Improved Flexibility

The greatest benefit is the improved flexibility of your service. If your end users are working in Countries outside of the UK, or work outside normal business hours, you are always able to provide the help they require even after your agents have left for the day.

If your help desk has been outsourced to an expert like Microtechs, our team of support agents are available 24 hours per day. This means that whether your physical location is open or closed, there is a customer support agent waiting to help your clients.

Reduced Costs

Outsourcing your help desk to a provider like Microtechs also helps reduce costs for your business. An in-house support desk requires greater cost because now all the office space, telephone systems and computer support equipment have to be procured or provided, maintained, and repaired by you.

Also, your HR department is now responsible for activities such as recruiting, hiring, training, and tracking the performance of all the individuals in your help desk team. By removing these strains, you are freeing them up to perform more vital services and saving money at the same time.

Industry Experts

When end users call into your business with a concern, complaint, or other problem there is nothing worse than hearing a confused or uncertain agent on the other end. Try as you might, your business may struggle finding enough or the right staff to fill all the positions within the help desk and IT group that you need to adequately and properly resolve issues.

Outsourced providers such as Microtechs recruit best of breed agents with the skills to succeed in a customer service environment while also exercising their IT knowledge to solve the problems of your customer.

Better Management and Tracking

When your help desk services are outsourced to a company like Microtechs, so too is an enormous amount of work and cost.

In addition to maintaining the facilities and equipment needed to run a support desk, a partner like Microtechs takes on the responsibility for recruiting, hiring, and training customer support agents. It will also be our responsibility to track hours worked and days missed, provide annual leave as well as pay salaries and provide benefits.

Rather than asking your team to pull double duty as computer experts and customer service specialists, they can focus on the role they were trained for: computer system’s management.

Rapid Response

Finally, there is the benefit of improved response time for your customers and end users. With an in-house customer support desk, it is easy for your employees to become overwhelmed by sporadic volume from time to time. This not only reduces your SLA, but it also often prevents your team from offering quick and efficient service your customers expect.

Microtechs 24/7 UK based outsourced support services

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.

Image: Shutterstock

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Smart lighting, intelligent speakers and screen-mirroring are among the technologies that are moving from the home into the office – and all have an impact on IT

CIOs must assess how consumer technology is crossing over into the workplace, according to a new survey from Aruba, the networking division of Hewlett Packard Enterprise.

The trend goes way beyond bring your own device (BYOD), and IT administrators will need to work much more closely with their colleagues in facilities management to support new digital workplace initiatives, the Aruba study said.

The study, based on a survey of 7,000 workers, revealed not only high adoption of standard technologies, such as Wi-Fi (supplied by 82% of organisations surveyed) and cloud applications (43%), but traction with a new generation of technologies.

Internet of things (IoT)-driven technologies such as automatic temperature controls and lighting (24%), voice-activated and wireless conference room audio-visual (AV) technology (23%), and location-aware corporate mobile apps (23%) were among the new technologies being used in the workplace.

Almost three-quarters (71%) of respondents said they would welcome a fully automated workplace, so that working conditions such as light and temperature could be adjusted in real time to suit individual preferences. Similarly, 72% thought all office equipment, such as the height of desks, should be automatically adjustable, and 71% said biometric data should replace passwords.

Almost two-thirds of the employees involved in the Aruba study (64%) said they thought their organisation risked falling behind if new workplace technology was not integrated. Also, 71% said they thought the workplace of the future should be fully automated, and 72% said the workplace should become a completely interactive environment that automatically updates and adjusts itself, while 61% called for virtual and augmented reality to play a bigger role.

The survey reported that the majority of workers globally (64%) believe traditional offices will become obsolete. According to Aruba, this suggests a clear mandate for IT to work with business managers, employees and other stakeholders to create a roadmap toward the interactive digital workplace.

Aruba recommended that IT teams should begin investigating whether the underlying technology infrastructure is flexible enough to support the digital workplace. IT leaders that are investing in new digital workplace technologies are aligned with the evolving needs of the workforce, said Aruba, but where there is a gap, CIOs and IT executives could put a roadmap in place.

By Cliff Saran

Image: Shutterstock

https://www.computerweekly.com/news/252446457/IT-must-prepare-for-an-IoT-enabled-digital-workplace

Microtechs 24/7 White label support services

With Microtechs outsourced UK remote support services you can focus on managing relationships and delivering your core business. Manned 24/7 by fully trained technical staff in Surrey, your customers will receive a personal answer to any support issue raised, at any time of the day or night.

             Are you a IT / Telecoms / Software provider with an expanding customer base?

             Are you spending so much time on IT support that you struggle to develop new clients?

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Our client-specific 1st and 2nd line teams can monitor your servers and support queue (email, alert or phone) 24/7 or just as overflow. When a new incident comes in, we work to resolve the issue and respond to your customers through phone or your support system, thereby maintaining 100% transparent support. This includes 3rd party escalations and incident management.

As a white label managed service provider, we operate as an extension of you, so your customers will be thanking you for the expert service they receive, the peace of mind you bring and the additional value you have added to their business.

             Fully inclusive services with an average 80% resolution rate

             15 minute NOC response times

             80% of telephone calls answered within 60 seconds

             Completely white labelled to your brand / customers brands

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If you need overflow during the day or a whole support desk from inception 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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