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It is the fastest growing crime on the planet…

Ransomware is terrifying. Just terrifying.

It is the fastest growing crime on the planet but what does ransomware mean to you?

Imagine switching on your work computer one morning. And instead of the screen you normally see, the screen has gone totally red.

There’s a message telling you your business’s data has been locked. And the only way to get it back is to pay thousands in Bitcoin.

This is not a rare event. It happens to businesses every day. Every business is at risk. And it’s one of the hardest things for us as your IT support company to fix.

Fortunately there are five really effective things you can do to protect your business. Download our latest guide. It tells you how to protect your business, and dramatically reduce your chances of being attacked.

It is important to take a long-term approach to this, just as you would with any form of cyber-attack.  It’s cheesy, but prevention is better than cure!

If you don’t already have these precautions in place, you can call us on 0207 241 2255 or simply fill out the contact form on our website and we’ll quickly get back to you. If you’d like to schedule a call directly with Ben, please connect via his calendar link.

5 Difficult Questions to ask an IT Support Company

During lock-down, many businesses decided that it was time to find a new IT support company.    This was because of the way they were treated when lockdown happened and while they were working from home.  These businesses are now acting on their decision and we have been talking to lots of potential new clients recently.

Finding a new IT support company for your business can be a bit like dating.  Just as when you are dating, you will find yourself asking a lot of questions.  After all, you don’t want to get stuck with someone who promises you the earth but fails to deliver.

It is really important that you find out a lot more about how much their services cost and what capabilities they have, especially while we’re working in unusual circumstances and taking into account social distancing.

But what are the right questions that will tell you the most about your potential new IT support company?  And how will their answers help you to determine if you are a good match?

This month’s guide takes you through what we believe are the five most important questions you should ask an IT Company to learn more about them.

 

Who will be responsible for looking after me day to day?

If the IT support company does assign an account manager to each client, how do they assign them?  Will they match their skills with your needs?  Do they judge which personalities will get on the best?  Or is it just a random decision based on who has the highest or lowest workload?

It is really important that you have consistency from your IT Service Provider.  Ideally, usually you will speak to the same person or small group of people who know your history and set up in detail.  It’s hugely frustrating when you have a problem to have to go over background information before you can begin a resolution.

Will the same person be responsible for any site visits too?  If someone different comes to the office than who you speak to on the phone, will they have the most recent information to hand.

And what precautions are they taking when it comes to site visits? Do they have a new protocol for wearing PPE to protect both themselves and your employees? Are they ensuring they leave anything they’ve worked on clean and sanitised?

What about helping out those employees who are shielding, or living with someone who is? Is there a process for keeping them safe if they need to work on their device?

What experience does your account manager have?  Will they be able to help when any manner of problems occur?

 

Do you specialise in one sector?

If they typically work in one sector and you are in a different sector, how will the service they provide translate?  The set up will be different, how well will they understand your needs?

If they’re used to working with large organisations, how does what they do adapt to a smaller business? Do their solutions differ depending on need or will they recommend the same devices and software to everyone? Should you expect the costs to be similar to those a large corporation would pay, or will they be tailored to your requirements?

Likewise, if they’re used to dealing with small businesses, how will they cope if your business grows?

You should also ask if one client makes up more than 50% of their business. It might sound quite intrusive, but what would happen to your support should that one client go away? Would the IT support company go under? And what would happen if that one client had an issue at the same time as you? Would they become a priority, leaving your business to come grinding to a halt while their problem is solved first?

 

What’s your customer retention rate?

How long does a client typically stay with them?

In the world of IT support, customer retention should be high. If an IT support company delivers what it promises to deliver, is easy to communicate with, and charges a fair price for this, a customer is unlikely to leave them for someone else. It’s simply too much hassle if they’re happy with the service.

If their retention rate isn’t high, why not? Can they give you a reasonable explanation?

It’s probably a good idea to look at the figures from before lock-down. It’s likely that most IT support companies have seen a small drop in clients over recent months due to economics changing.

Don’t be afraid to ask for references either. If you’re looking to employ an IT support company that you can have a long working relationship with, you want to be sure you’re making the right decision. Speak to a couple of their current clients to find out what they like about the company, what they’d change, and if there’s anything that they have an issue with.

 

How much of your revenue comes from fixing problems as opposed to anticipating them?

Today, we all realise that prevention is better than cure. So where possible, things are put in place to reduce the risk of a disaster happening within your network. Updates are made on time; regular back-ups are taken; and we run 24 hour monitoring so that we can act immediately should we need to. Often, problems are fixed before you even know you have a problem.

Of course, you can never protect your business 100% when it comes to the failing of technology. But you can make sure you’re taking every possible step to try.

So if your IT support company is making more money from fixing problems, it probably means that they’re not spending enough of their time on preventative measures. In turn, that means you’ll be spending more money than you need to on keeping your business safe.

 

What’s the worst disaster you’ve ever had to deal with?

Anyone who has worked in IT for any amount of time will usually have dealt with a disaster of some scale. Knowing why it happened and the steps that were taken to resolve it will tell you more about a company than them listing all of their good points.

What was their plan of action? Did they already have something in place to deal with this type of problem or did they just wing it? If it were to happen again, would they be able to follow the same process?  Who was responsible for each step along the way, and how long did it take to resolve?

You can learn a lot about a company from how they answer this question. If they’re happy to go into detail and answer your questions, it shows they’re open and honest. If they’re a little cagey with the details it might be a red flag. It’s really important that you can trust a company when it’s dealing with one of the most integral parts of your business.

Picking a new IT support company is one of the most important decisions you can make!  It really is worth asking the right questions to find the IT support company that fits best with your business.  Remember that the company you employ could mean the difference between a security breach being handled quickly and efficiently, with minimal damage to your business, and one that costs you a fortune and potentially loses you clients.

If you’re in the market for a new IT support service we’d love to hear from you – and we are not afraid to answer those awkward questions!

You can call us on 0207 241 2255 or simply fill out the contact form on our website and we’ll quickly get back to you. If you’d like to schedule a call directly with Ben, please connect via his calendar link.

Preparing to go back to your workplace?

Preparing to go back to your workplace? So, what happens next? At the moment it feels like we’re all living in limbo, doesn’t it? This month’s guide takes a quick look at how a little advanced planning will make the transition smoother. Read more

Video conferencing apps – are they all safe?

Now more than ever, video conferencing apps are playing a big part in our lives. And, as much as it’s important to keep in touch, it’s really important the apps you use are safe! Read more

Bring your own device – 7 crucial steps…

Working from home has quickly become the new “normal”, thanks to the current situation. And it’s uncovered a whole new set of challenges for many businesses. Some of the biggest sit within the concept of BYOD (that’s Bring Your Own Device). Read more

Working from home? Then communication is key!

Most of you will now be working from home.

If not, it is most likely that you will be soon.

And if you are a keyworker and are outside and in potential contact with those who may have Covid-19. I salute you.

For those of us who are at home – this is the best way of containing and minimising the impact and longevity of the virus.

 And also, for those of us who are working from home (WFH) and have their WFH space set up so they can access their tech resources, a whole new set of challenges has arisen.

Communication is key…

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How do we communicate? How do we interact? I can assure you it is not the same as working in the office.

The 7-38-55 rule explains how the written word only gives 7% of the meaning of those words written, the spoken word only provides 38% and the rest is the body language.

If you move from face-to-face communication to just chatting on Slack or Microsoft Teams, be prepared for a bit of a shock!

This great post from Seth Godin goes into details about what we are trying to achieve when we work with others.

And just assuming it will be fine when we switch to remote working opens up a rather big can of worms. His key point is if you want to have a discussion with a co-worker or a group of them, is the online meeting the correct way? Would an email be better? Online poll?

“A conversation involves listening and talking. A conversation involves a perception of openness and access and humanity on both sides. People hate meetings but they don’t hate conversations.”

His article takes two minutes to read. It may be the best two minutes you spend this week!

If you’d like to discuss the above further or want input from ITGUYS, please get in touch. You can call us on 0207 241 2255 or simply fill out the contact form on our website and we’ll quickly get back to you. If you’d like to schedule a call directly with Ben, please connect via his calendar link.

Has your phone system been designed for your business?

You’ve got to admit, the telephone has come a long way over the past few years. In this month’s guide, we look at seven benefits of having a phone system designed for the way we do business in 2020.

Do you remember how business used to work 20 years ago?

Everyone worked from the office, probably using a huge grey or beige computer with a monitor the size of a breeze block. You just about had space on your desk for your phone and a coffee – your notepad had to balance at a funny angle.

All of your files were either physical or saved on your computer. If someone else needed an updated version you had to email it to them.

Most meetings were in person, but if someone was too far away, they could dial in for a clunky, expensive conference call.

It seems prehistoric now, doesn’t it? Literally, last century!

Business moves on quickly, and technology moves even faster!

Everything that changes with technology helps to improve our businesses and make our lives easier (though it doesn’t always seem that way to begin with).

Computers are faster, less cumbersome, and more advanced… the internet has changed the way we use information… so, what else do we need to look at?

What about your phone system? Have you ever considered that?

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The list of benefits to a new phone system is huge and it’s really worth considering for your business.

Could you do with an increase in productivity in your business? Could you and your customers benefit from the greater functionality a new phone system could bring?

Would you like to save a bit of money while improving your service?

It seems like a no-brainer!

So, if your phone system is three years old or more, a conversation about how bringing your phones in-line with your other technology is a good place to start.

And we’d love to help!

Contact us today on 020 72 41 22 55 or simply fill out the contact form on our website to see exactly how a new phone system could benefit you and your team. If you’d like to schedule a call directly with Ben, please connect via his calendar link.

Google, Brexit and GDPR. Messy isn’t the half of it!

What springs to mind when you think about Google, Brexit and GDPR?

No, we aren’t going to discuss the EU in-or-out question.

We’re going to look at how post-Brexit Britain is viewed by the large tech companies and the wriggle room the change suddenly gives them.

It’s common knowledge that Google uses personal data (anonymised) to target users with adverts and remarketing that match the user’s buying patterns.

The Guardian recently produced an article which goes into greater detail about the ins and outs, but in essence, Google has taken the opportunity to move UK Google and G Suite accounts out of the UK/EU and back to the USA.

This means that the data is not covered by GDPR and is replaced with far weaker data protection legislation. Remember, GDPR was not created on a whim. Previous data protection laws in the EU and member states were not up to the job nor really dealt with surveillance capitalism.

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The aims of GDPR were to give individuals a greater level of protection from their personal data being used in ways that they didn’t agree with. Plus, it gave Big Data even more access to information that we would never want to share with them.

Remember…

A key factor to bear in mind is the complex information sharing agreements that exist between the EU and US – such as the Privacy Shield.

The Guardian article compares the GDPR controls in say, Ireland, with whatever the UK ends up with (after protracted trade negotiations with the rest of the world) and the USA.

Intra-government and trading bloc data-sharing agreements are likely to be complicated. Google’s stance is just the beginning of what is coming up in the next 18 months.

Expect this to be a long a messy journey!

If you want to discuss this in more detail or want input from  ITGUYS, please get in touch. You can call us on 020 72 41 22 55 or simply fill out the contact form on our website and we’ll quickly get back to you. If you’d like to schedule a call directly with Ben, please connect via his calendar link.

Get your staff on board with cyber security…

Think you’ve got your cyber security covered? Read more

A risk assessment will help you be cyber-attack ready!

Just how confident are you that your organisation could stand up to a cyber-attack? Has your company had a risk assessment done? Read more