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Many people are not aware of this, but Wi-Fi hotspots at Starbucks, Barnes & Noble or your local hotel that offers it as a complimentary service are not safe for confidential browsing, performing financial transactions or for viewing your emails.

Public Wi-Fi does not offer encryption for individuals using the same password and hotspot. Also, your signals are broadcast across the immediate area. It is easy for someone else within your vicinity to eavesdrop on your communication. An unskilled hacker can intercept your signal using a phony hotspot or a tampering software that can be found on a search engine.

The first task of a hacker is to get on the same network as the potential victim, then they can carry out that task with a public Wi-Fi network because they have the password. It does not matter if a network password is given out by the cashier or printed in your hotel room's welcome packet, once public, your security is compromised.

Many public Wi-Fi connections use Wi-Fi Protected Access 2 (WPA2), a secure protocol for encrypting traffic between the wireless AP and the client. Many people think having this encryption secures their traffic, but they do not realize anyone who has the password can still snoop on the packets that traverse over the network.

Attackers can obtain a lot of information when eavesdropping on your Wi-Fi network connection. They can capture your passwords and content for sites that you sign into that do not require Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) encryption. Also, they can easily capture your email and file transfers that do not have any encryption applied. An attacker can also capture voice communication across Wi-Fi and replay it.

Software used to eavesdrop can be easily obtained on the internet and does not require a lot of technical skills to operate. This helps contribute to public Wi-Fi hotspots being more popular attack targets than some personal or private networks.

4 actions to secure your data on a public Wi-Fi

1. The best way to secure your traffic while using public Wi-Fi is to use a virtual private network (VPN). When connected, all your internet traffic is sent from your computer through an encrypted tunnel to the provider’s endpoint. The traffic is secure from any local eavesdroppers on the public Wi-Fi network. These public VPN services typically cost only $5-$20 per month. There is even software available on mobile phones that will enable a VPN to start automatically when connecting to a public Wi-Fi hotspot. The primary complaint when using a VPN is it can slow down your connection speed by 25 to 50 percent.

2. If you do not have a VPN configured, make sure that each time you connect to a website over a public Wi-Fi your session is encrypted. In your URL field, you should see HTTPS and not HTTP.  You also want to make sure the entire session remains encrypted while you are browsing. There are some sites that will encrypt your login and then later during the session will send you to an HTTP connection, which will make you vulnerable to a hijacking attack. There are some sites that will give you an option to encrypt your entire session. It is best to encrypt the entire session.

3. Never perform a file transfer protocol (FTP) transaction over a public Wi-Fi. Also avoid using any other protocols that transfer data in an unsecured manner unless you have a VPN established. You can consider using secure FTP, which would encrypt your session. Also, for email client programs, you need to verify that SSL is being used for IMAP, POP3 and SMTP server connections.

4. A very common attack involves a hacker setting up a public Wi-Fi hotspot of their own near the site of the public Wi-Fi. It will likely have a similar name to the legitimate one the business uses. The problem is that all your browsing activity is being routed through the attacker’s network, which would enable them to monitor the traffic. To avoid this, always verify the exact name of the hotspot’s SSID from the business hosting it. Also, make sure you do not see two access points with the same name.

Wi-Fi eavesdropping is growing as an attack vector because more public Wi-Fi hotspots are being installed. Many cities, such as San Francisco and New York, offer free Wi-Fi at various public locations, and more people are taking advantage of it.

The problem is it is very easy for novice hackers to obtains personal information from these public hotspots. Users should consider using a VPN when connecting to a public Wi-Fi hotspot because the benefits of this protection far outweigh the cost of being compromised.

Picture credit: Thinkstock

Original article: http://www.networkworld.com/article/3194005/mobile-wireless/how-to-protect-your-data-when-using-public-wi-fi.html

Written by Mark Dargin. An experienced network and security engineer/architect who presently works for GE Healthcare's Customer Technology & Cloud Services Team.

Microtechs 24/7/365 White label Technical Helpdesk

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

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

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

How does Outsourcing your helpdesk benefit your business?

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

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

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

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

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

 

Call us now on 01483 407417

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In a new study, researchers demonstrate ground-based measurements of quantum states sent by a laser aboard a satellite 38,000 kilometres above Earth. This is the first time that quantum states have been measured so carefully from so far away.

"We were quite surprised by how well the quantum states survived traveling through the atmospheric turbulence to a ground station," said Christoph Marquardt from the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Light, Germany. "The paper demonstrates that technology on satellites, already space-proof against severe environmental tests, can be used to achieve quantum-limited measurements, thus making a satellite quantum communication network possible. This greatly cuts down on development time, meaning it could be possible to have such a system as soon as five years from now."

A satellite-based quantum-based encryption network would provide an extremely secure way to encrypt data sent over long distances. Developing such a system in just five years is an extremely fast timeline since most satellites require around 10 years of development. Normally, every component -- from computers to screws -- must be tested and approved to work in the harsh environmental conditions of space and must survive the gravitational changes experienced during the launch.

Marquardt and his colleagues from the division of Gerd Leuchs at the Max Planck Institute in Erlangen report their new research in Optica.

Using light to keep data safe

Today, text messages, banking transactions and health information are all encrypted with techniques based on mathematical algorithms. This approach works because it is extremely difficult to figure out the exact algorithm used to encrypt a given piece of data. However, experts believe that computers powerful enough to crack these encryption codes are likely to be available in the next 10 to 20 years.

The looming security threat has placed more attention on implementing stronger encryption techniques such as quantum key distribution. Rather than relying on math, quantum key distribution uses properties of light particles known as quantum states to encode and send the key needed to decrypt encoded data. If someone tries to measure the light particles to steal the key, it changes the particles' behavior in a way that alerts the intended communicating parties that the key has been compromised and should not be used. The fact that this system detects eavesdropping means that secure communication is guaranteed.

Although methods for quantum encryption have been in development for more than a decade, they don't work over long distances because residual light losses in optical fibers used for telecommunications networks on the ground degrade the sensitive quantum signals. Quantum signals cannot be also regenerated without altering their properties by suing optical amplifiers as it is done for classical optical data. For this reason, there has been a recent push to develop a satellite-based quantum communication network to link ground-based quantum encryption networks located in different metropolitan areas, countries and continents.

Although the new findings showed that quantum communication satellite networks do not need to be designed from scratch, Marquardt notes that it will still take 5 to 10 years to convert ground based systems to quantum-based encryption to communicate quantum states with the satellites.

Measuring quantum states

For the experiments, Marquardt's team worked closely with satellite Telecommunications Company Tesat-Spacecom GmbH and the German Space Administration. The German Space Administration previously contracted with Tesat-Spacecom on behalf of the German Ministry of Economics and Energy to develop an optical communications technology for satellites. This technology is now being used commercially in space by laser communication terminals onboard Copernicus -- the European Union's Earth Observation Programme -- and by SpaceDataHighway, the European data relay satellite system.

It turned out that this satellite optical communications technology works much like the quantum key distribution method developed at the Max Planck Institute. Thus, the researchers decided to see if it was possible to measure quantum states encoded in a laser beam sent from one of the satellites already in space. In 2015 and the beginning of 2016, the team made these measurements from a ground-based station at the Teide Observatory in Tenerife, Spain. They created quantum states in a range where the satellite normally does not operate and were able to make quantum-limited measurements from the ground.

"From our measurements, we could deduce that the light traveling down to Earth is very well suited to be operated as a quantum key distribution network," Marquardt said. "We were surprised because the system was not built for this. The engineers had done an excellent job at optimizing the entire system."

The researchers are now working with Tesat-Spacecom and others in the space industry to design an upgraded system based on the hardware already used in space. This will require upgrading the laser communication design, incorporating a quantum-based random number generator to create the random keys and integrating post processing of the keys.

"There is serious interest from the space industry and other organizations to implement our scientific findings," said Marquardt. "We, as fundamental scientists, are now working with engineers to create the best system and ensure no detail is overlooked."

Story Source: Materials provided by The Optical Society. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/06/170615120552.htm

Microtechs 24/7/365 White label Technical Helpdesk

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

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

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

How does Outsourcing your helpdesk benefit your business?

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

Call us now on 01483 407417

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Achieving good computer security can seem like a daunting task. Fortunately, following the few simple steps outlined below can provide a good measure of security in very little time.

1) Use antivirus software and keep it up-to-date. Check for new definition updates daily. Most antivirus software can be configured to do this automatically.

2) Install security patches. Vulnerabilities in software are constantly being discovered and they don't discriminate by vendor or platform.

It's not simply a matter of updating Windows; at least monthly, check for and apply updates for all software you use.

3) Use a firewall. No Internet connection is safe without one — it takes just moments for a non-firewalled computer to be infected. Windows operating systems ship with a built-in firewall which is turned on by default.

4) Do not provide sensitive, personal information. Don't provide your social security number or credit card information unless the website displays a secure URL, prefaced with "https" — the "s" stands for "secure." And even when you must provide credit card information or other private information, do so judiciously. Consider using PayPal, for example, to pay for goods purchased online. PayPal is widely considered safe, and using it means that your credit card and financial information is guarded on a single website, rather than on multiple sites.

Be aware of sharing too much information on social media, as well. For example, why supply your mother's maiden name or your address? Identity thieves and other criminals exploit social media accounts to gain access to information.

5) Take control of your email. Avoid opening email attachments received unexpectedly — no matter who appears to have sent it.

Remember that most worms and Trojan-laden spam try to spoof the sender's name. And make sure your email client isn't leaving you open to infection. Reading email in plain text offers important security benefits that more than offset the loss of pretty coloured fonts.

6) Treat IM suspiciously. Instant Messaging is a frequent target of worms and Trojans. Treat it just as you would email.

Tips for IM Safety

7) Use strong passwords.  Use a variety of letters, numbers and special characters — the longer and more complicated, the better. Use different passwords for each account. If an account supports it, use two-factor authentication. Of course, it can get complicated to manage all these passwords, so consider the use of a password manager application. This type of app often acts as a browser plug-in that monitors password entry and saves your credentials for each account. All you have to actually memorize is the single password for the manager program.

8) Keep abreast of Internet scams. Criminals think of clever ways to separate you from your hard earned cash. Don't get fooled by emails telling sad stories, or making unsolicited job offers, or promising lotto winnings.

Likewise, beware of email masquerading as a security concern from your bank or other eCommerce site.

9) Don't fall victim to virus hoaxes. Dire-sounding email spreading fear, uncertainty and doubt about non-existent threats serves only to spread needless alarm and may even cause you to delete perfectly legitimate files in response.

Remember, there's far more good than bad on the Internet. The goal isn't to be paranoid. The goal is to be cautious, aware, and even suspicious. By following the tips above and becoming actively engaged in your own security, you'll not only protect yourself, you'll be contributing to the protection and betterment of the Internet as a whole.

By Mary Landesman

https://www.lifewire.com/computer-safety-tips-153314

Picture credit: tipsboss.com

Microtechs 24/7/365 White label Technical Helpdesk

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

 

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

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

 

How does Outsourcing your helpdesk benefit your business?

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

Call us now on 01483 407417

 

 

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A new strategy for sending acoustic waves through water could potentially open up the world of high-speed communications activities underwater, including scuba diving, remote ocean monitoring, and deep-sea exploration.

By taking advantage of the dynamic rotation generated as acoustic waves travel, the orbital angular momenta, researchers at the Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) were able to pack more channels onto a single frequency, effectively increasing the amount of information capable of being transmitted.

They demonstrated this by encoding in binary form the letters that make up the word "Berkeley," and transmitting the information along an acoustic signal that would normally carry less data. They describe their findings in a study published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

"It's comparable to going from a single-lane side road to a multi-lane highway," said study corresponding author Xiang Zhang, senior faculty scientist at Berkeley Lab's Materials Sciences Division and a professor at UC Berkeley. "This work has a huge potential in high-speed acoustic communications."

While human activity below the surface of the sea increases, the ability to communicate underwater has not kept pace, limited in large part by physics. Microwaves are quickly absorbed in water, so transmissions cannot get far. Optical communication is no better since light gets scattered by underwater microparticles when traveling over long distances.

Low frequency acoustics is the option that remains for long-range underwater communication. Applications for sonar abound, including navigation, seafloor mapping, fishing, offshore oil surveying, and vessel detection.

However, the tradeoff with acoustic communication, particularly with distances of 200 meters or more, is that the available bandwidth is limited to a frequency range within 20 kilohertz. Frequency that low limits the rate of data transmission to tens of kilobits per second, a speed that harkens back to the days of dialup internet connections and 56-kilobit-per-second modems, the researchers said.

"The way we communicate underwater is still quite primitive," said Zhang. "There's a huge appetite for a better solution to this."

The researchers adopted the idea of multiplexing, or combining different channels together over a shared signal, or multiplexing, is a technique widely used in telecommunications and computer networks. But multiplexing orbital angular momentum is an approach that had not been applied to acoustics until this study, the researchers said.

As sound propagates, the acoustic wavefront forms a helical pattern, or vortex beam. The orbital angular momentum of this wave provides a spatial degree of freedom and independent channels upon which the researchers could encode data.

"The rotation occurs at different speeds for channels with different orbital angular momentum, even while the frequency of the wave itself stays the same, making these channels independent of each other," said study co-lead author Chengzhi Shi, a graduate student in Zhang's lab. "That is why we could encode different bits of data in the same acoustic beam or pulse. We then used algorithms to decode the information from the different channels because they're independent of each other.

The experimental setup, located at Berkeley Lab, consisted of a digital control circuit with an array of 64 transducers, together generating helical wavefronts to form different channels. The signals were sent out simultaneously via independent channels of the orbital angular momentum. They used a frequency of 16 kilohertz, which is within the range currently used in sonar. A receiver array with 32 sensors measured the acoustic waves, and algorithms were used to decode the different patterns.

"We modulated the amplitude and phase of each transducer to form different patterns and to generate different channels on the orbital angular momentum," said Shi. "For our experiment we used eight channels, so instead of sending just 1 bit of data, we can send 8 bits simultaneously. In theory, however, the number of channels provided by orbital angular momentum can be much larger."

The researchers noted that while the experiment was done in air, the physics of the acoustic waves is the very similar for water and air at this frequency range.

Expanding the capacity of underwater communications could open up new avenues for exploration, the researchers said. This added capacity could eventually make the difference between sending a text only message and transmitting a high-definition feature film from below the ocean's surface. Remote probes in the oceans could send data without the need to surface.

"We know much more about space and our universe than we do about our oceans," said Shi. "The reason we know so little is because we don't have the probes to easily study the deep sea. This work could dramatically speed up our research and exploration of the oceans."

Story Source: Materials provided by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/06/170626181047.htm

Microtechs 24/7/365 White label Technical Helpdesk

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

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

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

How does Outsourcing your helpdesk benefit your business?

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

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

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

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

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

Call us now on 01483 407417

 

 

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In a proof-of-concept study, North Carolina State University engineers have designed a flexible thermoelectric energy harvester that has the potential to rival the effectiveness of existing power wearable electronic devices using body heat as the only source of energy.

Wearable devices used to monitor a variety of health and environmental measures are becoming increasingly popular. The performance and efficiency of flexible devices, however, pale in comparison to rigid devices, which have been superior in their ability to convert body heat into usable energy

"We wanted to design a flexible thermoelectric harvester that does not compromise on the material quality of rigid devices yet provides similar or better efficiency," said Mehmet Ozturk, a professor of electrical and computer engineering at NC State and corresponding author of a paper describing the work. "Using rigid devices is not the best option when you consider a number of different factors." Ozturk mentioned superior contact resistance -- or skin contact -- with flexible devices, as well as the ergonomic and comfort considerations to the device wearer.

Ozturk said that he and colleagues Michael Dickey and Daryoosh Vashaee wanted to utilize the best thermoelectric materials used in rigid devices in a flexible package, so that manufacturers wouldn't need to develop new materials when creating flexible devices.

Ozturk said one of the key challenges of a flexible harvester is to connect thermoelectric elements in series using reliable, low-resistivity interconnects. "We use a liquid metal of gallium and indium -- a common, non-toxic alloy called EGaIn -- to connect the thermoelectric 'legs,'" Ozturk said. "The electric resistance of these connections is very low, which is critical since the generated power is inversely proportional to the resistance: Low resistance means more power.

"Using liquid metal also adds a self-healing function: If a connection is broken, the liquid metal will reconnect to make the device work efficiently again. Rigid devices are not able to heal themselves," Ozturk added.

Ozturk said future work will focus on improving the efficiencies of these flexible devices, by using materials and techniques to further eliminate parasitic resistances.

Dickey, Vashaee, Francisco Suarez, Dishit P. Parekh and Collin Ladd co-authored the paper, which appears in Applied Energy. The group also has a pending patent application on the technology.

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

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/06/170622143123.htm

Microtechs 24/7/365 White label Technical Helpdesk

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

 

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

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

How does Outsourcing your helpdesk benefit your business?

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

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

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

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

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

 

Call us now on 01483 407417

Posted by on in Latest Microtechs news posts

A look at IT outsourcing plus the pros and cons

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By Laurence Bradford

Updated February 14, 2017

These days, hundreds if not thousands of companies use outsourcing to some degree, much of it involving the technology sector. IT outsourcing involves sub-contracting or "farming out" certain information technology functions to independent, third-party companies or individuals, instead of keeping those functions in-house.

Another term often used to describe overseas hired help is "virtual". As in, a "virtual worker" or "virtual staff".

Let’s dig deeper into it and figure out whether it’s something you or your business should consider.

Types of IT Outsourcing

There are several types of IT outsourcing, defined by where the outsourced work happens.

These include:

  • : moving business/services overseas, typically to take advantage of lower costs and/or a more favorable economic climate
  • Nearshoring: transferring business/services to another country close by, oftentimes sharing a border with your own country
  • Homeshoring/onshoring: allowing employees to work from home rather than an office, factory, or related physical workplace

Examples of Frequently Outsourced IT Services

  • application/software development;
  • web development/hosting;
  • application support or management;
  • technical support/help desk;
  • database development/management;
  • telecommunications;
  • infrastructure

Advantages of Outsourcing

There has to be a good explanation for why so many places are doing it, right?

Here are some of the reasons that companies/entrepreneurs are choosing to outsource parts of their business.

  • Expertise: sometimes an overseas vendor/business has special equipment and/or technical expertise, making them better at the given task than employees within the outsourcing organization
  • Reduced costs: a big draw to outsourcing work overseas is reduced costs for labor, operations, and even equipment
  • Staffing flexibility: according to James Bucki, "Outsourcing will allow operations that have seasonal or cyclical demands to bring in additional resources when you need them and release them when you're done."

Disadvantages of Outsourcing

Here are some potential disadvantages to outsourcing.

  • Language/cultural barriers: these can affect both employees and customers, especially when clear explanations of the problems and solutions are required
  • Different time zones: this can add as a barrier to communication and coordination with the hiring company
  • Slower turnarounds: the language barriers coupled with time differences can sometimes lead to longer project/resolution times
  • Possible loss of quality, unless you invest time in a rigorous screening process

Where to Hire Outsourced Help

There are many places to find outsourced workers nowadays.

Depending on your company’s needs, you may be looking for just one person, or a team, or an entire department.

Finding individual virtual employees or small teams is usually fairly simple. Here are some places to look:

  1. Upwork - formerly oDesk and Elance, Upwork is a great place to find overseas freelancers or more permanent full-time help. Anyone can sign up as a member in various work categories, so you’ll need to do all the legwork of reading through the freelancer profiles and proposals. Posting jobs is free.  
  1. Virtual Staff Finder - this site is like a matchmaking service for entrepreneurs seeking virtual help. While there are higher upfront costs, the virtual workers they match you with are top-notch, which equates to less search time on your end.  
  2. Easy Outsource - this platform works on a monthly subscription basis, where you only pay when hiring workers. They also offer a free plan that allows you fewer hiring privileges.

Aside from these three, there are many websites online for finding virtual talent.

If you’re looking for short-term help or cheaper rates on simple tasks, outsourcing may be the right move for your company. However, remember to be smart about it and don’t just opt for the cheapest bid, because it’s also frequently true that you get what you pay for.

 

 https://www.thebalance.com/what-is-it-outsourcing-2072001

Here at microtechs we offer many different outsourcing solutions, for more information call us today on 01483407417

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Scotland's digital technology sector is forecast to grow twice as fast as the Scottish economy overall in the years to 2024, a new report has claimed.

Skills Development Scotland and the Scottish government-backed Digital Technologies Skills Group said it was the economy's fastest-growing sector.

Their report found that it accounted for 5% of Scotland's total business base.

It also suggested that the sector now employed 2% of the national workforce.

The report said that was creating "unprecedented demand" for digital skills.

It is estimated that Scotland has up to 12,800 tech job opportunities annually - a 16% increase on previous demand forecasts of 11,000.

According to the report, the number of tech businesses rose by 53% between 2010 and 2015 - almost three times as fast as businesses across Scotland as a whole (19%).

Micro-businesses, employing between one and 10 employees, accounted for 95% of firms in the sector.

The report also found that more than 60,000 people were employed in tech businesses across Scotland. The top three employment areas were Glasgow (29%), Edinburgh (23%) and West Lothian (9%).

'Digital leader'

Reacting to the findings, Finance Secretary Derek Mackay said: "Scotland has a proud tradition as a digital leader and today this government is putting digital technology at the heart of everything we do, from reforming our public services to boosting digital skills and fostering our tech sector.

"In March this year we published our ambitious, refreshed, digital strategy which reflects our vision for this area by aiming to create 150,000 digital jobs, ensuring all premises have access to broadband speeds of at least 30Mbps by 2021, and integrating digital into schools and further education.

"Today's report is good news and underlines the importance of digital skills to our economic and inclusive growth."

Claire Gillespie, from Skills Development Scotland, said: "The digital technologies sector is expanding and is a key contributor to the economic growth and global competitiveness of every sector in Scotland.

"This growth is creating significant job opportunities for skilled workers, particularly young people and other new entrants across a wide range of roles.

The report comes days after the boss of the trade body for the digital technologies industry in Scotland was awarded an OBE in the Queen's Birthday Honours list.

ScotlandIS chef executive Polly Purvis was granted the award for "services to the digital economy in Scotland".

ScotlandIS represents 300 software, telecoms, IT and digital agency businesses. Its remit includes raising the profile of the industry in Scotland, lobbying policy makers and helping members develop business relationships with customers, suppliers and partner companies.

Ms Purvis has been at the helm of ScotlandIS since 2004 and is chairwoman of the digital skills academy CodeClan, which she and her team were instrumental in establishing in 2015.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-scotland-business-40307681

Microtechs 24/7/365 White label Technical Helpdesk

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

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

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

How does Outsourcing your helpdesk benefit your business?

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

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

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

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

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

 

Call us now on 01483 407417

b2ap3_thumbnail_sleepy-driver.JPG

 

To reduce accidents caused by fatigue driving, HKBU Computer Science scholar Professor Cheung Yiu-ming and his team have developed a system that detects drowsy drivers and alerts them simply using a generic smartphone.

 

To reduce accidents caused by fatigue driving, Hong Kong Baptist University (HKBU) Computer Science scholar Professor Cheung Yiu-ming and his team have developed a system that detects drowsy drivers and alerts them simply using a generic smartphone. This invention clinched two top prizes at the 45th International Exhibition of Inventions of Geneva in April 2017. The research team has already submitted a patent application to the US for the system.

 

The new approach adopts a smartphone's real-time video to track and analyse the facial features of a driver, in particular the changes in his eyelids and head position, which are prominent fatigue symptoms. With this system pre-installed in a generic smartphone, a driver just has to put it near the steering wheel with the front camera facing him in his normal driving position. When the camera captures features like drooping eyelids, drowsiness or even nodding off, an alarm is automatically set off. To ensure that the driver is awakened, the driver has to turn off the alarm either by voice or by hand.

 

Professor Cheung Yiu-ming said this method requires only a smartphone without any additional devices or sensors. It is cost-effective, simple to operate, portable, detects accurately, highly reliable, and supports online system updates. As the system can activate the rear camera of the smartphone, it can also be utilised as a normal driving recording system, as used by many drivers now.

 

Professor Cheung said that the results of fatigue driving should not be underestimated. According to US government statistics, fatigue driving accounts for 31% of road accidents involving heavy vehicles in the USA. An investigation in the US also found that economic losses caused by fatigue driving totalled US$3 billion per year.

 

He said the new system is suitable for all drivers, but especially for professional drivers and machinery workers who have long working hours. He added that the system may also interest corporations with a vehicle fleet, or insurance companies. There is no similar product currently available on the market, making it potentially applicable to act as a driver assistance system to enhance road safety as well as appealing to the consumer market.

 

Professor Cheung said that fatigue-driving detection systems are currently installed only in a few luxury models offered by car manufacturers. Those systems require additional devices and sensors installed in a vehicle, making them non-portable, expensive and difficult to fit system updates, thus not beneficial to general drivers.

 

The fatigue driving detection and alarm system developed by Professor Cheung won the Gold Medal with Distinction in the Computer Science Category and the Swiss Automobile Club Prize at the 45th International Exhibition of Inventions of Geneva in April 2017.

 

Story Source: Materials provided by Hong Kong Baptist University. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

 

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/06/170616121811.htm

 

Microtechs 24/7/365 White label Technical Helpdesk

 

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

 

 

 

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

 

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

 

 

 

How does Outsourcing your helpdesk benefit your business?

 

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

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

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

     

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

     

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

 

Call us now on 01483 407417

 

b2ap3_thumbnail_virus-detection.jpg

Over the past few years, companies have seen the adoption of new technologies and new ways of working explode. While these changes are a powerful thing for businesses, they are increasing the threat surfaces of organizations, and the technology and processes companies have in place to protect them are not keeping pace with the speed of this change.

This change is being driven by five huge global IT trends:

1. Cloud Computing and Server Virtualization

The cloud offers considerable benefits for companies such as scalability of compute power and resources – reducing costs and allowing smaller businesses access to the systems they would never previously have been able to touch. However it does raise natural concerns around security.

2. Mobility

Today’s workforce is increasingly disparate – either travelling between offices or working from home. While generally good for productivity, a mobile workforce presents its own problems for IT management, from device and application management to controlling where connections come from.

3. BYOD and the consumerisation of IT

The consumerization of IT through the move to Bring Your Own Device (BYOD), has been – and continues to be – a massive challenge for IT departments. It has even lead to some in IT circles referring to it as “Bring Your Own Destruction”.

4. Third-party collaboration tools

As businesses have become more disparate, the tools they need change, part of this is the need to collaborate using third party tools. Unfortunately many of these platforms, for example Slack or more recently Google Docs, have all had security weaknesses.

5. The Internet of Things (IoT)

The rise of the IoT means that corporate networks can now have any number of different devices attached, from climate controls to lighting. You don’t have to look far in the news to see that these are all potential weak points.

In face of the expanding threat surface, how can companies continue being flexible with their IT provision, while at the same time reducing security threats? The good news is that there are a number of areas IT departments can focus on to help contain their expanding threat surface, these include:

Keep Critical Data On-Premises and Encrypted

 On-premises and encrypted data provides an enterprise with a greater sense of control compared with having their data in the cloud on third-party storage provisions. Encrypting on-premises data helps further lessen the blow of potential cyber-threats while keeping your data secure.

Monitor Your Systems Real-Time.

Investing in a good monitoring solution, which is deployed on-premises provides IT departments with a proactive and reactive arsenal with which to fend off cyber-threats. Monitoring systems in real-time while applying security policies enables IT departments to better control data and in turn their infrastructure.

Layer Threat Protection

 A singular line of defense in the form a universal security policy is no help in mitigating today’s cyber-attacks. Layering threat protection in the form of uniform security policies across all devices, multiple forms of authentication for users across the business, including remote branches and remote users, gives IT departments a better handle on security. Adding positive and negative threat detection with signatures to the security mix helps create a barrier from all angles.

No cybersecurity effort is going to be 100% effective or foolproof, but by updating their security tools to match technology advancements they can keep data secure and give IT greater control while catering to the flexibility needs of the workforce.

The only way to address the growing attack surface is to create a comprehensive strategy, integrated controls, end-to-end security mechanisms, monitoring, reporting and analytics.

By Pascal Bergeot  CEO of Goverlan

https://www.infosecurity-magazine.com/opinions/three-businesses-threat-surfaces/

Microtechs 24/7/365 White label Technical Helpdesk

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

 

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

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

 

How does Outsourcing your helpdesk benefit your business?

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

Call us now on 01483 407417

The Pros and Cons of Outsourcing IT

 June 15, 2015   Tech4BusinessNow   Article

By: Andrea Coombes

Many companies face the question at some point: Is it time to outsource your company’s information-technology needs? Or, a small business in expansion mode may be asking the opposite question: Is it time to hire an in-house IT expert?

Either way, the short answer is: It’s complicated. There are advantages and disadvantages to outsourcing and to hiring in-house.

“IT” itself means different things to companies. Some small-business owners may not even label their technology processes as IT, even though they fall under that term’s scope. Information technology can encompass a broad array of business processes, from creating and maintaining a company Intranet to making sure the company’s printers connect to the computers.

Don’t forget the telephone system, point-of-sale system and everything that’s Internet-based, said Jennifer Martin, founder of Zest Business Consulting in San Francisco and Ojai, Calif.

Whether you end up hiring in-house or outsourcing, make sure you find the expert best suited to your needs. “Determine what your greatest needs are and then hire based on those,” Martin said.

Advantages of outsourcing

  1. You can focus on what you do best
    Are you the owner of a chain of BBQ restaurants? A tax preparer? Your expertise isn’t necessarily in computer networking.
    By outsourcing your IT needs, “you can focus on what you do best and let another professional organization focus on what they do best, which is the IT,” Martin said.
  2. You may save money
    Perhaps the biggest driver pushing business owners to outsource is the prospect of saving money on payroll costs; there are significant cost savings to be had in that regard. But bringing on an outside vendor may require more money than you expect.
    “You have to allow for start-up time, just as you would for an employee, and you need to be sure you have systems in place to keep track of your virtual workers,” said Nancy Strojny, chairwoman of the Portland, Maine, chapter of SCORE, a nonprofit that offers free mentoring to aspiring business owners.
    You might need project- or work-tracking software, and you’ll need an in-house person in charge of making sure project timelines are met, said Strojny, who is also principal of business consulting firm Beauty Vantage Consulting.
  3. You may reduce risk
    Say you choose to hire an in-house IT person, and you ask that employee to migrate your website to your own server. But the server crashes and the hours tick by as your employee works to fix it.  Meanwhile, your customers can’t place online orders. You’re losing money.
    “There’s nothing you can do about that,” Martin said. But, she said, “Usually a reputable company will have an insurance policy behind them and a number of different systems that protect them in case something goes haywire,” she said. “They’re going to have that safety net of having insurance in play.”
  4. A team’s worth of experience
    If you decide to hire an IT employee, that one person likely won’t have the breadth of experience that an outside vendor’s team can bring (assuming you choose to outsource with a company rather than a solo expert).
    “If I’m a small business, it’s hard for me to hire one person that has enough exposure and experience [for] what I need to get done,” Martin said. “If I hire a company, I’m hiring a group of professionals that are probably well versed in a number of different areas.”

The disadvantages of outsourcing

  1. You may have to wait for service
    If you’ve got an expert on staff, that person can respond immediately to a computer crash or other tech emergency. If you’ve outsourced your IT, you’ll be getting in line.
    “They’re not solely dedicated to your company,” Strojny said. “When you have an emergency, you have to wait until you get someone.”
  2. Unexpected costs
    An outside expert can help you assess your technology needs, but there’s also the risk that they encourage you to over-invest in technology.
    “This third-party IT company might say, ‘You need a $1,500-a-month program.’ The business might not know if that’s the right fit for them,” Martin said. “I see people way overspend on what their real needs are.”
    Another potential cost: “If they don’t solve your problems or you don’t get what you think you’ve paid for, then the real cost is high,” Strojny said.
  3. Loss of control
    A third-party vendor may encourage you to purchase systems or products for which they have expertise. Soon enough, you’re so reliant on that vendor that extricating yourself is risky.
    “Before you know it, you’re paying for a bunch of things that you have no idea how to manage and you can’t do it without them, so they become indispensable, which can also mean expensive,” Martin said.
  4. Security risks
    For some companies, outsourcing may entail the risk of sharing proprietary data.
    “They’d rather do it in-house because there’s something proprietary about their software or technology and they don’t want to use a third party,” Strojny said.
    “Even though your remote team has signed some sort of confidentiality or NDA and that’s part of the work agreement, if it’s being outsourced you don’t have the control over it that you’re going to have with an employee,” she said.

http://tech4businessnow.com/the-pros-and-cons-of-outsourcing-it/

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