Power Conditioning for Stability

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Goodbye Freeserve, Hello…Who?

Many people on LinkedIn will be using their own branded domain names but every so often I come across someone who has had their old freeserve, fsnet etc. email address for so long that it’s been hard for them to give it up. Well, now needs must; at the end of the month Freeserve and its derivatives will be no more.

If you haven’t done it already, a new email address is needed urgently. If you already have a business domain but have stuck with your Freeserve or any other internet provider’s email address, now is the time to sort it out. Actually the time was ages ago but we are here now.

If you have your own domain, get a mailbox on it and use that and stick to obvious addresses such as first.name@domain.co.uk or info@domain.co.uk – that way people can guess your address and you’re less likely to miss an important email. If you’re in business and don’t have a business domain, get one.

If you don’t have your own domain and just want a personal email there are several free ones on offer: GMX, Gmail and outlook.com as examples. Many choose Gmail; it works fine allows you to synchronise add-ons and bookmarks within Chrome but I have always found it a bit cumbersome and prefer Outlook.com’s better integration with Outlook the program. It’s even better now it’s a thinly disguised Exchange on-line. Because it doesn’t use IMAP, Outlook.com handles calendar and contact integration better too. Useful extras include the ability to collect email from other mailboxes and forward to yet more.

Once you have created the new mailbox you can transfer your existing emails to it by exporting and importing from Outlook (the program). Why oh why did Microsoft use the word “Outlook” in so many not-the-same ways?

In Freeserve set out of office to tell correspondents to use the new email address. In your new mailbox remind them to use the new email address too. Don’t underestimate the amount of time it will take people to update their records and habits.

If this seems overcomplicated or you don’t have the time, I would be happy to help you just get in touch for a fast friendly service.

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Daubeneys is back from sabbatical

About three years ago I took a sabbatical to work on an equine database. Defra’s new Central Equine Database should go live this June. It’s been fascinating: an opportunity to see yet another side of the IT world and to catch up on some of the latest technology.

The IT and internet world has moved on in the past few years with lots of small but cumulative changes to improve the reliability of domestic systems; faster, longer range Wi-Fi; better integration between mobile and desktop devices; simpler printer setup and so on. It has all served to oblige all of us to keep in touch wherever we are – a two-edged sword for sure.

I now return fresh with new knowledge of cloud-based computing, databases as well as the usual email, security, broadband, backup, etc.. It’s time to do some work back in the real world.

Daubeneys is here to help you with:

  • Broadband
  • Wi-Fi
  • Email
  • Mobile devices
  • Printing and scanning
  • Backup and archiving

For larger organisations, we offer:

  • Cloud computing including Amazon Web Services and Azure
  • Scalability and fault tolerance
  • Scripting and automation
  • Security against penetration, malware and phishing
  • Remote access and mobile working
  • Active Directory onsite and hybrid

 

If you want to discuss any computer or internet problems, feel free to email me or call for a chat.

Posted in Digital Lifestyle | Comments closed

Digital Diet Time – Addicted to Technology?

Digital Diet Time – is it time to trim off some digital tonnage?

My friend’s daughter recently lost her mobile phone just as she was setting off for a weekend break with her girlfriends in Paris. Although my immediate comments were a sympathetic ‘what a nuisance’, my condolences for her loss were unnecessary as my friend added – ‘She said how relaxing it was, no texting, no Facebook to update, she had a digital free zone for four days and she loved it!’

A Digital Warning!
For every warm digital news story though (usually involving the lack of it!) there are a dozen tales of digital dangers and pitfalls. Trolling, internet grooming, bullying by Twitter, invasion of privacy and digital ignorance – the list is long. A friend’s son was recently ‘let go’ from his new job at a bank when they discovered that he had got a warning from tweeting something deemed ‘inappropriate’ about leaving his retail job. Even the funny stories should carry a beware sign for the rest of us.  I have a another friend who until recently was a Facebook virgin, now posting her son about buying him new underpants. His friends think it’s hilarious – but I doubt he thinks it’s amusing! But when my daughter called me to have a laugh about it – I suddenly realised that my messages weren’t private either – arrgh! Delete – delete!

Technology Overwhelm – digital diet time?
Looking around it’s clear that our digital lives are getting out of all proportion. When my daughter came home from University a few weeks ago, she sat nursing her laptop updating Facebook, hotmailing, Blackberry in hand keeping up with an avalanche of texts and BBM messaging and watching Come Dine With Me on TV at the same time. She knows it’s too much, but as media theorist Marshall McLuhan asked, “How are we to get out of the maelstrom created by our own ingenuity?”

Digital Addiction?

So is it digital diet time – only you can tell if you are addicted to technology? In an excellent book entitled The Digital Diet, author Daniel Sieberg lays out a 4-step plan to break your technology addiction and regain balance in your life. He suggests that as a quick barometer of your digital life, you ask yourself these questions: Do you sometimes feel the urge to pull out your smartphone while someone else is talking to you? Have you ever realized that you were texting or reading emails while your child was telling you about her day and later couldn’t remember her story? Have you ever felt that something hasn’t really happened until you post it online? Do you feel anxious if you’re offline for any length of time? Does a ringing phone trump everything else, including your dinner date?

It’s an irony that the very things that were created to keep connected can leave us with unprecedented levels of isolation and social anxiety. Both our work life and home life are becoming digitally overwhelmed and only we can say – enough!

Digital Mindfulness
Some more enlightened businesses are trialling banning internal emails on at least one day a week so that employees actually prize themselves out of their chairs and go and – wait for it – talk (!) to their colleagues. What startling innovation! Results have already shown a host of benefits such as an increase in employee wellbeing, with employees looking forward to coming to work much more, less absenteeism and maybe not so surprisingly an increase in work productivity!

Bringing Mindfulness (see Jon Kabat-Zinn) to our lives can help us to live in the present moment, reduce depression and lead to greater health and wellbeing and this practice can be especially useful with our digital habits. Sieberg suggests starting your digital diet with a brief detox – a day or two without your technology. Not as punishment but to instill an awareness of what you have been missing. An addiction to technology starts in precisely the same way as any other habit that seems harmless in moderation and then gets out of hand, and if you find your anxiety gets higher over your detox then well done – you are taking the first step to putting technology back in its place.

While diets of any kind can seem painful to begin with, you can quickly feel the benefits of regaining a sense of control. The Digital Diet is aimed – not at being tortuous – but in fact at bringing the pleasure of being connected in healthy way back in to your lives. Why not put yourself on it for 2013 and get ready to feel so much better.

If you want to regain your digital perspective, why not download the kindle version of Daniel Sieberg’s book The Digital Diet or even better get your hands on a real book. And enjoy.

Posted in Digital Lifestyle | Comments closed

Online Security and Protection: Stranger Danger

Do you and your staff know how to a recognise possible Phishing attacks?

Be careful – there are lots of dodgy characters out there!

If you are old enough, some of you may remember the early 1980’s when businesses in the UK were bombarded with telexes from Nigerian princes claiming they had fled oppression but needed to access a western bank to free up their wealth which they had hidden away; the so-called 419 scam after the section in the Nigerian criminal code. All you had to do was reply, giving them some personal or corporate information, they would get back to you with a very fair contract and then you gave them the details of your personal or business bank account for them to move their wealth through; in return you would earn a healthy commission based on the amounts passing through your account….Simple, and an easy way to earn money – except that as soon as you divulged any account details to these people, they emptied your account and spirited your money to an untraceable offshore account and you or your business were left penniless.

These scams were well publicized at the time so it was amazing that thousands of gullible people and businesses (perhaps those desperate for a cash injection) fell for exactly the same scam again in the late 80’s and early 90’s except this time it was based around the hot new technology of the fax machine.

So that’s twice we have put our hand up and asked to be robbed – surely it couldn’t happen again? Well yes, it could and this time there isn’t even the prospect of a big reward for the victims.

Now your gran and mum are online – can they spot a false friend’s so-called distress email?

I expect all of you will have received an email at some time from an organisation claiming to be one you know well, asking you to confirm information to them about you or your business. If you have, you have likely been on the end of a hoax, spoof or phishing attack from one of the many unscrupulous groups prowling the web.

Sadly, thousands of internet and email users have fallen for the same trick in its third technological incarnation. Nearly 30 years on from the first Nigerian Prince attacks, the thieves are now employing a bewildering array of different electronic messages designed to do one thing….strip you or your business of your wealth.

It seems crazy – if a stranger approached us in the street and asked us for personal, financial or other details, nearly all of us would refuse point blank. The problem with email fraud is the small percentage of people who are drawn in by the thieves’ well practised and convincing messages. Before offering some advice on how to avoid being stung by these schemes, we’d like to offer you the chance to test whether you can spot a scam when it comes your way. Take a look at the following link, click on each example email, submit answers and see how many you get wrong. It isn’t as easy as you think. http://survey.mailfrontier.com/survey/phishing_uk.html

So what might you expect to receive in your inbox? It might purport to come from your bank, building society, insurer or now even HMRC, and it is likely to ask you to confirm bank account details, passwords dates of birth or to review a problem transaction etc. The email may well encourage you to click a link or open an attachment. The fraudster may well pressurize you by warning you that failure to comply could result in financial penalties or a suspension of your account. As can be seen from the examples you have just looked at, the situation is made all the more complex in that these fraudulent emails have apparently legitimate corporate identities and logos and what appear to be genuine web addresses.

Online Security and Protection – My advice is:

  • DO NOT RESPOND to the sender. Instead, cut and paste the address from which the message has been sent and paste it into a search box. In all likelihood you will immediately find evidence there that it is a scam, hoax, spoof or phishing site. Remember, unlike Spam email which is often trying to sell you something, phishers have only one thing in mind, to steal something from you.
  • THINK ABOUT IT – any organisation of which you are a member or are dealing with should never ask you to divulge sensitive data to them online (unless you initiate the transaction yourself in the normal course of business). If they need to update or check anything with you, they can write to you personally as they always have done and let you contact them at the usual address.
  • ALWAYS BE SUSPICIOUS of any email asking you for a response or private/corporate info which does not begin with a personalized greeting Dear Mr/Mrs etc. If they are who they say they are, they already know your name and they should use it when they write to you. If they don’t, they are likely to be thieves!
  • IF YOU ARE IN ANY DOUBT about a communication, call your local contact/ representative/branch on the usual number (not one that may be given in the email) and speak to a named individual and ask them about the authenticity of the message. For the sake of a local phone call you could save you or your business a small fortune. Or you could call us FREE on 01225 745732 and we can help and advise you on all e.security matters.

The problem is getting worse, not better, so be vigilant. An even more sophisticated version of this financial and identity theft has been growing in the past few years and has become known as spear phishing. This is where the fraudsters send emails only to employees of a targeted company or group. They send these to well researched work email addresses and the messages may look like they have come straight from Corporate management, the finance or IT department and they ask for confirmation of your system password or user name etc.

Whilst it might look genuine, if just one worker responds, they run the risk of allowing the thieves into the heart of their business, putting finances, customer records and personnel data at risk. Ultimately one hasty reply could put everyone’s livelihood at risk.

Don’t think it is only the ordinary rank and file that gets caught out. Chief Executives and Chairmen are just as vulnerable. Take a look at the article from Information Week to see what we mean.

We will be tackling the subject of better theft prevention very soon in a separate blog, but for now our advice is clear and simple. NEVER respond with any sensitive information to someone or some entity that contacts you and doesn’t know your name and ALWAYS check the authenticity of the organization.

Perhaps if we can all spread the word by passing on this advice we can begin to eradicate a form of theft which has developed over hundreds of years from slight of hand on a street corner to a highly sophisticated electronic sting today.

If you would like to share any thoughts or experiences or ask for help in this area, do please contact us at info@daubeneys.com and take a look at the security section of this web page.

Posted in Online Security | Comments closed

EU legislation and old IT equipment – how green is your office?

Are you compliant with EU legislation concerning the disposal of old IT equipment and hazardous goods?

Did you know that there is now strict IT law governing how you should dispose of your old computer equipment? In fact since 2008, you can no longer just dispose of your old computers at the local recycling centre. You also have a duty (and it makes very good commercial sense) to ensure that all data you have created is destroyed before you dispose of the equipment otherwise you run the risk of theft of commercial data and identity theft.

Green – or environmental hazard?

When your old IT equipment needs replacing what do you do with it? Your computer may only be a few years old but it is still an environmental liability. If you can sell it, well done, but more often than not it gets left in the corner before it goes to scrap. Hanging on to it is not the answer either. Casual storage of old IT equipment – computers, laptops, monitors and related equipment can create potential hazards. Apart from anything they take up valuable space, what a hassle when you come to move office or home. And we’ve see all the recent media on how decluttering is good for the soul!

Data Protection Act and EU Legislation

On another note  – have you thought about the confidential business and personal information stored on the hard discs of your redundant computers – are you convinced it’s deleted? If the information includes data on individuals, where do you stand with regard to the Data Protection Act? You have a duty under the law to make sure that data on personnel does not get into the hands of unauthorised third parties.

So just how green is your office?

The EU has decided that electrical and electronic waste poses such a potential environmental danger that they have issued directives aimed at reducing the amount of toxic materials used in manufacture and controlling the way in which the waste is eventually disposed of. It’s called W.E.E.E. and it’s not the one that has you running around looking bonkers in front of the TV or the noise you make on Alton Tower’s Oblivion!

Waste Electronic & Electrical Equipment (W.E.E.E.):

The waste stream of electrical and electronic equipment has been identified as one of the fastest growing waste streams in the European Union constituting 4% of the municipal waste today and increasing by 16-28% every five years. It is one of the largest sources of heavy metals and organic pollutants in municipal waste. The European Commission has adopted two policies for the recovery of waste equipment and the restriction of the use of certain hazardous substances in electrical and electronic equipment.

WEEE – Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directive
RoHS – Restriction of Hazardous Substances Directive

The Directives are designed to tackle the fast increasing waste stream of electrical and electronic equipment and complements European Union measures on landfill and incineration of waste.

EU legislation and old IT equipment – just how green is your office? Let me help…

Using our Daubeneys IT contacts I can provide you with a means to dispose of your old computer hardware in a positive way. So long as the equipment is not completely obsolete, there are plenty of needy organisations who will be glad of it. Give me a call and we can discuss the best way to dispose responsibly of all your old IT equipment. The future’s bright and a little bit greener! Call me when you get a free moment: Telephone: 01225 745732 Mobile: 07711 513722

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Microsoft cold calling scams – beware malware

These Microsoft cold calling scams are about IT vandals installing malware onto your computer. The definition of malware is a simple one: malware is software that is intended to damage or disable computers and computer systems. These scams usually start with a phone call. A plausible-sounding person calls pretending that they are from Microsoft and that errors have been discovered on your machine and this kind person is here to sort it out for you.

Often the so-called Microsoft caller will ask you to look at the event viewer which is a log of everything that has happened on the machine. Most events are simply information saying this or that service has started. Occasionally there are errors such as ‘this service hasn’t started’ – by the time you look it probably has. If you’re not used to seeing it, it can be pretty worrying. Well, your caller wants you worried!

Event Viewer - mostly harmless

Windows 7 Event Viewer

 

 

The next step is often to take you to a web site where you can connect to a program that will allow them to take over your PC or laptop. Once they have control they can install all sorts of interesting malware. About now you might be asked for credit card details. They’ll take a hefty chunk of cash immediately and have the option of selling on your credit card details too.

If you’re reading this, you already know they’re not from Microsoft or Apple or anyone else you’ve heard of!

They’re Malware crooks – put the phone down!

But – if it’s too late you will need to disconnect your machine from the internet (unplug the ethernet cable or switch off wireless) and be prepared for some possibly lengthy repair work. There are some good anti-malware tools out there but it can be hard to know what is trustworthy because some are simply disguised malware.

What can you do if you’re the victim of a malware Microsoft cold calling scam?

Windows Offline Defender will create a bootable CD to allow a complete clean scan of your system. You can follow that up with Malwarebytes which requires installation but does a good job. If your already installed antivirus will run in safe mode then you can do that too. Finally you can use a tool like MSConfig or SysInternals’ AutoRuns to clean up suspicious looking start-up items.

Any credit cards used online should be reported as compromised immediately of course, and if you have paid anything out tell your card company you have been a victim of fraud. Change your online passwords.

Or call me – Ian Butterworth at Daubeneys IT

I can’t help with the credit and debit card problems but I can solve all your other malware problems caused by these Microsoft cold calling scams so do give me a call as soon as you can if you think you’ve been the victim of one of these IT vandals and I will put it right for you. Telephone: 01225 745732 Mobile: 07711 513722

 

 

 

 

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Self Defence for IT users

Protecting yourself, your data and your equipment

Defensive Software, Data Encryption and Physical security

Most people think they have a fair idea of what is required to stay protected in the digital world; sadly, far too few of us carry out regular due diligence to ensure that the protective barriers are as effective as they ought to be.

There are three distinctly different things we can all do to protect our data and property and these fall largely in the following categories:

  • Defensive Software
  • Data Encryption
  • Physical security measures (especially for laptops and other portable devices)

Defensive Software

Effective defence against unwanted intrusion, corruption and theft involves far more than just buying a new pc or laptop already loaded up with proprietary protective software and then relying on that to look after your online security. Users must also ensure that they manage that software to ensure all latest releases and updates are downloaded and working. Read more

Data Encryption

Self defence does not stop either with the use of firewalls, anti-virus, anti-spyware and malware and similar software, it should also include encryption of your programs and files. Extremely reliable encryption software is available letting you lock all your files and data away in the equivalent of a locked bank vault. Unless a cyber thief can crack the detailed code protecting your information, everything on your hard disc will be inaccessible to him. This type of protection used to be available only to IT sophisticates. Now we can all use it.

Laptop and Mobile Device Security

How many of us use a laptop or perhaps an even smaller portable device? Where do we use them? Are they more vulnerable than desktop machines? You bet they are! Very recently, Chris a good friend of ours, fell foul of the scourge of business people today…laptop theft. His is a salutary tale and it could easily happen to you, but there a few simple steps you can take now to prevent a whole host of problems in the future.

If you would like a no-obligation discussion on any of the matters raised here, give us a call on 01225 745732 or email us at info@daubeneys.com and we will get back to you. Remember, your vigilance is a thief’s loss!!

Posted in Online Security | Comments closed

Mobile communications: Staying in touch when you are out

Benefits of Mobile/Remote Working

Huge numbers of us work in jobs where we are expected to be accessible virtually 24/7 whether we are in the office, at home or on the road. Three out of every four UK businesses have staff who work away from the main office some or all of the week. Until fairly recently, keeping in touch whilst out and about centred around a combination of a mobile phone and having access to a computer linked to the web.

All that changed with the introduction of the ubiquitous Blackberry (in one of its many guises), more recently the iPhone and Windows Mobile. These small handheld communicators happily deal with voice calls but have full QWERTY keyboards too, letting you surf the net, connect up with your office systems, receive and send emails, construct and save all manner of new documents and send them to third parties. Subject to a network signal being available, you can now be be in complete touch with everything going on in the world and the office.

Some people disagree that this 24 hour availability is an advance, but those in busy jobs,under pressure in these tough economic times, consider it a real step forwards.

One big downside with handheld devices, and Blackberry in particular, is that they can be prone to problems with Spam on a major scale. I strongly recommend that anyone with a smartphone uploads a software program designed to filter outunwanted emails, preventing blocked up mailboxes and maintaining work efficiency. One such package is “ClearMyMail” which can be accessed at www.clearmymail.com where you can sign up for a free trial. After all, if work has provided you with or you have bought yourself a smartphone, there’s not much point in having it blocked up with unsolicited email rubbish!

For those who want to be able to connect up and check on their work/home mailbox while on the move, there are a couple of ways to achieve this. You can either set the smartphone up to receive a copy of all messages received at base or you can purchase a remote accesss package such as “LogMeIn”. Using LogMeIn is easy . You can deactivate it when you don’t wnat to use it and it will give you access to all data held on your desktop or laptop back in the office. You can find out more about LogMeIn at www. .Naturally we would be delighted to talk to you more about issues affecting mobile communicators. Just give us a call on 01225 745732 to discover all the latest news.

The mobile workforce or virtual office

  • Greater working efficiency
  • Work when you want. May improve work/life balance
  • Quicker responses and improved customer care
  • Contactable via one phone number if you wish
  • Able to point all your email to one address if you wish and pick it up as you move around
  • Able to choose how and when you WANT to be contacted.If you only want emails, texts or voice calls,just set the system up to suit your needs.

Some Do’s and Don’ts

Do

  • Get proper advice on making the most of your Smartphone/notebook/laptop
  • Make sure you have a secure password which is required before the device can be used
  • Make sure the data held in the mobile device is backed up regularly
  • Ensure you have suitable levels of security including encryption software.
  • We have discussed encryption via TruCrypt in one of our earlier blogs.

Don’t

  • Allow mobile devices to have free access to your sensitive corporate dat unless very strong security measures are in place (VPN’s, authentication processes and encryption for instance)
  • Forget that remote working with mobile devices will lead to a whole lot more data packets flying around and you will need to make sure that the broadband package you are using is sufficient to cope with that and that office servers are capable of handling such growth.

At the end of the day, like anything else which is introduced without thought, mobile comms can potentially cause lots of problems for business. Keeping on top of access levels, security levels and supplier packages will prevent that and let you and your colleagues make profitable use of this new technology.

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments closed

How to remove a computer virus

The 5 things you should and should not do if you have a computer virus

 

Posted in Computer Viruses | Comments closed