Is your business prepared for extreme weather?

July 26th, 2019 Posted by Uncategorized

The UK is in the midst of a heatwave right now and  yesterday (25th July 2019), temperatures reached highs  of 38.1 degrees Celsius in some parts of the country.

Water pipes are bursting and trains are running slower for fear of tracks buckling, causing disruption to thousands of passengers.    

But have you thought about the disruptions the weather can have on your IT systems? 

And it’s not only the hot weather that we need to think about either.  Storms are set to follow the heatwave, and if your IT systems aren’t adequately equipped to deal with these extreme weather conditions, you could find yourself in trouble.    

We’ve put together a checklist of precautions to take to ensure minimal downtime for your business. 

HEAT 
Make sure your servers are in tip top condition so they don’t overheat 

  • Keep them clean and dusted out.  If this is something that you don’t currently do, contact us as we can help! 
  • A tidy cab is a happy cab (e.g. using the server room, cabinet to store paper work etc can insulate a server causing a fire risk). 
  • Make sure your servers are not over loaded.  This will ensure they are running at optimum speed, reducing heat production. 
  • Planned power distribution will also help with a reduction in heat, and reduces the risk of fire or electrical overloading. 

LIGHTNING 
Are your servers protected against a lightning strike? 

  • Lightning strikes to your phone lines can travel into your network if they’re not protected. 
  • Lightning strikes on power lines can travel into your sockets and into your systems if not protected. 

POWERCUTS  
Could you ride a power outage? 

  • Make sure you are battery-backed up via UPS (Uninterruptable Power Supply). 
  • Provide constant power to critical systems 

INTERNET BACKUPS 
Would you lose business if your internet was interrupted? 

  • Consider a backup internet such as a secondary 4G device. 
  • Upgrade to fibre to the premise if available.  Lightning cannot travel down fibre lines. 

SERVER BACKUPS 
Protect your information by backing up your servers 

  • If the worst happens, you should ensure you have multiple backup locations and types. 
  • A backup and restoration plan would also assist in an emergency. 

AIR CON 
Is your server room temperature controlled? 

  • If appropriate, an air-conditioned room will allow full temperature control. 
  • Server room monitoring, such as temperature monitoring can also alert you if the temperature does start to rise. 

PLANNED MAINTENANCE 
Maintain your server to ensure prime operation 

  • Keeping your server up to date with the latest firmware can help with internal cooling control. 
  • A regular ‘eyeball’ check will ensure no flashing red lights or other issues that may cause down-time. 

If you would like to discuss any of the above, just give us a call on 03300 020 000  

Get involved in World Environment Day on 5th June

June 4th, 2019 Posted by Uncategorized

With a Green Team now in place at Microcomms, we’re making every effort to make changes, big and small,towards reducing our impact on the environment. 

Wednesday 5th June is World Environment Day and the theme this year is focused on air pollution.  Apart from the obvious health risks, air pollution damages our natural environment and decreases the oxygen in our oceans.   We all have a role to play to keep our air clean and we wanted to share some ways in which you can make changes in your personal and work life,  contributing to a more healthy living environment.

INDOORS

  • Open the window when cooking or using cleaning products.  Good ventilation is the key to avoiding air pollution in the home.  It also helps to avoid the build up of air polluting moulds. 
  • Regularly service your boiler, not only for your own safety, but also to ensure it’s working efficiently, emitting less fumes into the environment. 
  • Think about how you do your cleaning – keep dust levels low, use fragrance-free or naturally scented products.  If you can, switch to mild cleaning products and avoid aerosols.  Mop hard floors regularly to pick up dust and pollutants that vacuuming and dusting might miss.  Even better, steam clean floors to kill bacteria and allergens. 
  • Use environmentally safe paints and cleaning products whenever possible.
  • Consume less energy.  Gas and electricity contribute to air pollution – gas creates fumes when we burn it to heat our homes and electricity produced by power stations burning fossil fuels has the same result.   There are lots of things we can do to conserve energy (lowering our bills too!), such as switching off lights, turning off computers (rather than putting then to sleep), filling the kettle with just enough water for what you need and only run the washing machine and dishwasher when there is a full load.   It’s simply being more conscious about how you do things around the house.  
  • Consider switching energy suppliers.  Choose renewable energy tariffs for your home supply to reduce the pollution produced by power stations.
  • Recycle compostables.  Rather than burning garden waste, which releases gases into the atmosphere, compost them and turn them into food for your garden.  
  • Wood- burning stoves look great and they’re cost, but burning wood produces lots of air pollutants.  To reduce this, consider a Defra – approved stove, use authorised fuel and only light when you really have to.  
  • Eating a healthy diet reduces the risk of developing health problems that can be made worse by air pollution. 

OUT AND ABOUT

  • Walk or cycle when possible.  Did you know drivers can be exposed to more air pollution than pedestrians or cyclists?  As well as cutting down the amount of pollution we make, we can reduce our exposure to air pollution and get some exercise too! 
  • Use quieter streets when walking or cycling as it can lower exposure to air pollution by 20%
  • Switch off vehicle engines when stationary (if safe to do so).  This will make the air cleaner for you, other drivers, pedestrians and cyclists. 
  • Regularly service vehicles which not only ensures that they are safe to drive, but also helps them run more efficiently and cleanly.
  • Ensure car tyres are inflated properly.  This means vehicles run more efficiently and use less fuel.  
  • Driving more slowly reduces emissions. 
  • When fuelling vehicles, be careful not to spill any fuel and tighten the fuel cap securely.
  • Hot temperatures and fumes create ground-level onzone – reduce the effect and refuel early in the morning or when cooler, where possible.  
  • Think about travel miles for personal deliveries.  Consider using a pick up point rather than having couriers make special trips to your office or home. 
  • Going abroad?   Research the most carbon efficient airlines using the Atmosfere website which profiles 200 of the world’s top airlines for carbon efficiency and lists carbon friendly tour operators, travel agents and offers top tips on how to travel with a climate-friendly conscience.    For instance, be realistic about how often you need your room serviced.    Changing towels and bed linen is not something we do at home everyday, so why would we do it on holiday?  Just think of all the extra water, electricity and detergents that are used unnecessarily!  It’s easy to get involved in World Environment Day. 

Simply make a commitment to making a change, however big or small, that will positively impact the environment!  Take a photo or make a short film of yourself fulfilling your commitment and post it on social media using hashtags #WorldEnvironmentDay #BeatAirPollution and tag UNEnvironment. 

Together we can beat air pollution!

Meet the team: Emma Noy

May 31st, 2019 Posted by Uncategorized

Meet the Team: Janet Reed

May 20th, 2019 Posted by Uncategorized

Microcomms Offers New Data Sanitization Service

May 14th, 2019 Posted by Uncategorized

Shocking research shows high level of data remaining on used hard drives for sale
Recent research conducted by the Blancco Technology Group and Ontrack, revealed that 42% of used drives sold on eBay were holding sensitive data and 15% contained personally identifiable information (PII).
What’s even more shocking is that the type of information found included high level government information ( scanned images of passports, birth certificates, CVs and financial records), university papers with associated student email addresses, internal office emails from a major travel company, freight company data including shipping details, schedules and truck registrations, school information (student names, photos and grades) and a high volume of photos plus other information from a music store.*

As this research highlights, ensuring sensitive and personal data is adequately wiped from any hard drives that are no longer in use by your organisation is imperative, especially if they are going to be sold on, and here at Microcomms, we have launched a new service that will do just that.

Ensuring adequate data erasure is crucial for organisations in order to avoid the recovery of sensitive and personal information in the wrong hands.

Microcomms partners with global recovery agency to sanitise hardware 
A new partnership with a global asset recovery agency, means we can provide a service that ensures the secure erasure of your data. 

The key benefits of this new service include: 

  • Arranging worldwide collection, dismantling and packing of your hardware
  • Live, round the clock tracking so you know where your data is
  • Erasure of any hard drives using industry standard**
  • Buy-back scheme gives you cash-back for any hardware with a resale value

Get in touch 
If you have redundant IT equipment in need of proper data sanitization, give us a call for further information 03300 020 000. 

*To read the full research article click here 

**Blancco is certified for data destruction by over 18 governing bodies including NATO, ADISA and the National Cyder Security Centre (British Government) 

 

Meet the Team: Paul Hodgson

May 7th, 2019 Posted by Uncategorized

Microcomms Helps St Petrocs Society to Rebuild Their IT Infrastructure

April 2nd, 2019 Posted by Case Study, IT Services, Networks / Data

St Petrocs work to end street homelessness in Cornwall by providing accommodation, support and advice to single homeless people. The charity has been established for 32 years and has been a Microcomms client for the past two.  Formed at the instigation of the Bishop of St Germans, the charity has considerable support from local churches, local communities and dedicated groups of ‘Friends.’   

Starting over from the ground up
We helped St Petrocs start from scratch with regards to their IT, completely rebuilding the IT infrastructure of the organisation from the ground up. From new servers and network design through to WiFi and software, we’ve enabled the charity to work more efficiently, to save money and improve performance.  We’ve also helped source best pricing, visit pornskill sislovesme step sis lends my cock a hand, ensuring charitable licensing where possible. Security is a key priority for St Petrocs as they hold confidential client data, so installing unified threat protection like Watchguard firewall systems was paramount. 

A key driver for the infrastructure refresh was to increase the efficiency of the staff in terms of their IT and remotely accessing data to assist their homeless clients during all hours, including critical times such as medical or housing emergencies and particularly during times of colder weather. 

St Petrocs Society’s Communications Manager, Dave Brown said, Since working with Microcomms to upgrade all aspects of our IT, our efficiency has improved, which has had a positive effect on the service we deliver.   For instance, a new networking system has meant we are able to update client notes easily and efficiently and as a result our staff are better informed, especially on shift hand-overs, which has meant a better level of service for our clients. 

We have more flexibility in how we work now – our systems are more secure and consistent because our servers aren’t going down and broadband connection isn’t being lost.    It’s great that we now don’t have to think about IT at all and can focus on the job in hand.  If there are any issues, we just call Microcomms to sort it out! 

Dave Brown, Communications Manager, St Petrocs Society

Better wifi means digital inclusion for service users
Another area that has been a real improvement for St Petrocs is the provision of guest Wifi for the clients accessing the charity’s services, in line with digital inclusion. Many government and assistive support is only available online and Internet access can be a challenge.  The free guest Wifi allows for digital inclusion of even the most vulnerable. 

Simon Murley, Managing Director said, “As a Cornish company our commitment to providing support to local social care organisations is paramount. We can see on a daily basis the need and help given to vulnerable people in the county by St Petrocs and we’re grateful to have the opportunity to work with such a fantastic team of committed, caring people.”  

The full range of IT systems and support that Microcomms has provided to St Petrocs includes: 

  • Enterprise Wifi   
  • Cat5 copper and fibre infrastructure  
  • HP Enterprise Networking  
  • Security and Firewall appliances   
  • Dell and HyperV virtual servers    
  • Comprehensive and ongoing IT Support 
  • Private WAN circuits, PSTN and broadband   

For more information on how we can help your organisation update and streamline its IT systems for more efficiency, better security and an all-round improved service to your end user, please give us a call on 03300 020 000.  

5 top tips for keeping your children safe online

December 5th, 2018 Posted by Latest News, Tech Talk

With Christmas just around the corner, many children are sure to be waking up to new tech from Santa on the big day, be it a new computer, smartphone, laptop or games console.   With all computers and gadgets now having the ability to connect online, it’s extremely important that we educate ourselves and our children on how to not only set up our tech safely, but also how to remain safe when doing anything online.  We can’t escape the digital world that our children are growing up in and we certainly don’t want to scare them, so it’s about working with them to give yourself peace of mind whilst allowing them to enjoy their new gadget! 

Here’s 5 tips for keeping kids safe online this Christmas 

Personal information
When setting up user names, it’s best practice to go for something that doesn’t involve any part of your child’s name.  Your child should remain as anonymous as possible online and this would include a unique username, as well as no other info that can identify them, such as DOB, address or telephone number.      

Images and videos 
It’s a good idea to talk with your child about the importance of what they post 
on social media.  Whilst teenagers may not be too worried about what they’re putting out there, as a 
parent you are all too aware of the potential consequences that can occur when information is posted online, especially photos and videos.  For instance, a person’s online profile might affect their chances of getting a job or applying for a course.  

Work with your child to explore different games, apps and social media channels and choose the right  privacy settings for each.   Them about what kinds of images and videos are acceptable to post online.  
Explain that once they’re out there, they’re out there and can be very difficult, if not impossible to  retract completely. Things can be deleted, but it’s still possible that somebody may have downloaded  an image/video already.   

Adding parental controls to devices is one of the easiest ways to keep children safe on line

Not everybody is who they say they are 
Remember, it’s easy for people to pretend to be somebody else when they’re behind a keyboard.  To stay safe, the rule of thumb for your children is, if they don’t know them, don’t interact with them.  And If somebody tries to befriend them or asks to meet up in person, they need to leave that site, app or game and tell an adult straight away.   

Parental controls
If you have younger children, one of the easiest ways to ensure the kind of content  they see online is to set up parental controls.  This can be done on most devices and allows parents to set filters, so their children can only view suitable content.    An innocent search by your child on You Tube for instance, could throw up some less-than-innocent results, if parental controls aren’t in place.  

Restrictions
Make sure you put restrictions in place on relevant games, shops and apps so children aren’t able to spend your money willy-nilly.  Most games and apps encourage in-app spending to buy extra lives or to enhance characters and some shops allow purchases at the click of a button, so be sure to logout and  Keep your password safe!  You can also add restrictions to your internet browser so you can block your  children from particular websites. 

Talk with your child about what games and apps are appropriate for them

And finally…

We believe one of the best ways of keeping your child safe online is to talk with them openly and regularly.   You might find it easier to approach the subject as a family, discussing in general what’s appropriate and  what’s not.   If you think something needs addressing specifically, you can talk to your child on a one to one basis regarding a particular topic.  They may argue that their friends are using particular apps or games, so be ready to discuss your reasons why you don’t want them to engage in the same content, but also listen to your child’s reasons why they think it’s ok.  A good discussion views the topic from all angles, but ultimately you should do what you think is appropriate in keeping your child safe.  

 

Check Out Our Top Five Tips on Data Safety

October 30th, 2018 Posted by Latest News, Uncategorized

Our Five Top Tips to Keep Your Data Safe 

Data safety has been in the news a lot recently with high profile businesses such as Facebook and Google falling victim to data hackers.  As a result,  around 30 million account holder details were accessed because of flaws in Facebook’s code and a bug in Google+ API.  This meant that third party app developers were able to access data of not only users, but also their friends. 

So how can you protect your data from not only being accessed and harvested, but also from cyber viruses which can be devastating to your business? Same as you can today protect yourself from online frauds, using the online payments with the most innovative Fully-Verified account verification. 

 

Here’s our top five tips to keep your data safe on and offline.  

 

1.Schedule regular backups using the 3-2-1 backup rule.  This is a great start to securing your data and backing up your files. 

  • Make 3 copies of data.  Keep the original file and make 2 extra copies. 
  • Use 2 different types of media.  It’s a good idea to store one on a hard drive and the others on external storage systems, such as a removeable data stick. 
  • Store 1 offsite.   There’s still a risk of more than one copy being wiped out if they are stored in the same place.  Therefore, it’s good practice to store a third copy in an offsite location, like the cloud.   

 

2. Security Applications 

  • Antivirus:  As the name suggests, a computer virus ‘infects’ computers with software designed to replicate itself by amending other computer programmes and inserting its own malicious coding. This can bring down systems and destroy or distort data by spreading from one computer to another.   To prevent this from happening, we strongly advise that you install antivirus software on your computer and choose one that will continually scan for viruses (as they can attack at any time), rather than one that requires you to manually scan. 
  • AntiMalware:  Malware is also malicious software, but encompasses more than a virus because it also includes, computer worms, spyware, adware, ransomware, trojan horses, keyloggers and other malicious software.  Malware is intentionally designed to cause damage to a computer, server or a network.  Anti-malware software prevents, detects and repairs programming of such attacks.   There is different anti-malware software available, but Malwarebytes is a next-generation for Windows antivirus replacement and the first of its kind for home users.  It includes four independent technology modules:  anti-malware, anti-rasomware, anti-exploit and malicious and fraudulent website protection. 
  • Updates to your servers and clients:  Ensure that your servers and clients are updated to aid further protection against cyber attacks.  Regular updates mean better security.  

 

3. Secure your perimeter:  Simply put, don’t let anybody access your data who shouldn’t be able to!  You can ensure your cyber safety which includes network security, wifi security and multi-factor authentication, by working with a company like WatchGuard.

 

4. Redundant Systems 

  • Duplicate servers – cloud or physical 

Do you have a have a system ready to go in the event of a disaster?  If not, we highly recommend that you do so if the worst happens, business will run as usual.  A physical server could be located on your site or replicated elsewhere (subject to bandwidth and other’s requirements). A cloud server could be serviced through Microsoft Azure or located at Microcomms and leased.  Not sure where to begin?  Just give us a call and we’d be happy to talk it through with you and check this out offshore trusts 

 

 5.Testing, Testing, Testing 

  • Regular testing of disaster recovery (DR) plans to ensure they work as expected  

To ensure that you can recover as expected from a disaster, it is critical to test the plans and processes that have been put in place.   By testing the DR setup regularly, you can test everything is working, should you ever need to use it.  If you don’t have a DR plan in place, your data safety could be it risk.  Microcomms can help you plan, set up and test your DR plan, ensuring you understand what processes to follow if/when the need arises.  

If you have none or only some of the above in place, it’s definitely time to review your cyber safety and we can help you with that.  Give us a call to discuss implementing regular health checks on your computers and systems by one of our skillful engineers.  What’s more, book by end of November and we’ll do it for FREE (up to 5 systems), and we’ll include a recommendation of improvements to be carried out in December.   

Don’t delay…get cyber safe today!  Give us a call on 03300 020 000. 

 

 

 

 

Microcomms ongoing commitment to support mental health in the workplace

August 28th, 2018 Posted by Latest News, News

Here at Microcomms, we believe that the biggest asset of our business is our staff, so it’s important that we continue to value them and create an inclusive environment which supports their mental health in the workplace. 

 

We continually train and develop our people and strive to provide them with the best working environment we can. Whether it’s a ping pong table for a board table or crossfit for all staff twice a week; we are committed to healthy bodies, healthy minds and the wellbeing of our staff and their families.

 

The Health and Safety Executive’s Health Priority Plan

This is in line with the Health and Safety Executive’s Health Priority Plan which includes work related stress as one of the three key focal areas that need attention.   This represents 37% of all work- related ill health issues, and is the second most commonly reported cause of occupational ill health in Great Britain.  Check out sourceoutcode.com/white-label-web-development-outsource/agency/”>sourceoutcode.com outsourcing service. It accounts for 45% of all working days lost due to ill health.   Mental health in the workplace is important! 

 

Through their priority plan, the Health and Safety Executive are looking to see an increase in the number of employers taking a proactive stance to manage work related stress, through the management standards approach and improve mental health in the workplace. 

 

Our commitment to employee wellbeing

As a proactive employer, with a genuine interest and concern in our staff’s wellbeing, we manage work related stress through the Management Standards approach.   We have trained some of our staff through the Adult Mental Health First Aid two-day training. 

 

Our Operations Manager, Janet Reed recently attended the internationally recognised Mental Health First Aid training course, delivered by Healthy Cornwall. Head of Operations, Paul Hodgson is also planning on attending the course.  The course covers important topics such as identifying signs of issues, how to offer and provide initial help and how to guide someone towards appropriate treatment.  It also helps attendees to better understand the stigma that exists around mental health, help stop ill mental health from getting worse, preserve life where a person may be at risk of harm and promote recovery of good mental health.

 

With staff on hand to recognise any early symptoms of mental illness amongst our employees, it’s hoped that we can prevent a downward spiral of ill health and support our staff in regaining their mental health.