Posts in Uncategorized

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

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. 

 

 

 

 

The low-cost mini satellites bringing mobile to the world

March 2nd, 2018 Posted by Uncategorized

Large chunks of the planet are still of out of reach of mobile phone signals – billions are still without access to digital communications. But this could change thanks to shrinking satellite sizes and costs.

Lower-cost, space-based mobile phone services will soon be a reality thanks to one firm’s fleet of nano-satellites that will bounce your voice or text signal from one spacecraft to the next and finally down to the person you’re calling.

“People were thinking of using nano-satellites for Earth imagery but nobody had thought of using them for voice or text communications,” says Israeli former fighter pilot Meir Moalem, the chief executive of Sky and Space Global (SAS).

“We were the first.”

His firm is aiming to offer customers mobile phone connections via a constellation of 200 shoebox-sized satellites weighing just 10kg (22lb) each.

Meir Moalem, of Sky and Space Global
Sky and Space Global’s Meir Moalem wants to bring affordable mobile services to the world

The fleet is set to be operational by 2020 and will provide text, voice and data transfer services to the Earth’s equatorial regions – including much of Latin America and Africa – to a market of up to three billion people.

“Affordable mobile services are critical for the economic and social development of many developing countries,” says Mr Moalem, who believes SAS’s nano-satellites will shake up the space-based communications market.

“Our total constellation costs just $150m (£108m). That’s less than the cost of a single standard communications satellite. This is what we mean when we talk of a disruptive technology.”

But SAS is just one of a number of companies with big plans for space right now.

Perhaps the most ambitious is Elon Musk’s SpaceX, which is aiming to build a huge 4,400-satellite constellation offering global internet coverage. It will be using its own Falcon-9 rockets to launch its fleet and plans to have the network operating by 2024.

SpaceX technicians inspecting part of a Falcon 9 rocket
SpaceX has ambitious plans of its own for space-based communications

And OneWeb has an 800-satellite constellation set for 2020, again focused on global broadband, while Google and Samsung are also mulling similar initiatives.

With all these satellites, low-Earth orbit – an altitude of 2,000km (1,200 miles) or less above the planet – is becoming an increasingly crowded space. This could make future launches potentially difficult and dangerous with space debris.

Then there is the issue of finance. Not every planned constellation is going to find the investors with deep enough pockets to back it, though David Fraser, research director at APP Securities, says SAS could be “an attractive alternative option” given its low capital costs. Vincent Chan, professor of electrical engineering and computer science at MIT, believes that satellite miniaturisation and cheaper launch vehicles mean that the “nano-sat is ready to serve the public”.

Such lower-cost infrastructure could bring much-needed mobile communications to the world’s poorer regions, he says, helping to reduce the digital divide.

But, he adds, SAS’s focus on voice and text services rather than broadband internet, suggests that “the digital divide will be narrower but not disappear”.

Artist's impression of Virgin Orbit's Boeing 747-400 carrier aircraft with LauncherOne rocket on inside port wing
Virgin Orbit’s modified 747 will carry a launcher rocket that will blast the satellites into space

For its part, SAS is using a non-traditional method of getting its satellites into orbit. They will be air-launched in batches of 24 by Virgin Orbit, part of Richard Branson’s Virgin group.

Virgin’s modified Boeing 747-400 will fly up to 35,000ft (10,000m), then LauncherOne, a two-stage liquid oxygen-powered expendable rocket, will blast the payload into orbit.

It’s one of a number of air-launch-to-orbit systems under development.

The advantage of launching from an aircraft is that the rocket can be launched in exactly the direction to suit the satellite’s planned orbit. Virgin is planning its first launch later this year, while SAS’s craft will be launched in 2019.

Launch costs will typically be about $12m, much less than a traditional launch, says Virgin. It is “all about helping the small satellite community get into orbit,” says Dan Hart, Virgin Orbit’s president and chief executive more on this at www.suomalaiset-kasinot.net.

Such lower-cost launch services will open up space to “a whole host of communications [and] remote sensing applications,” he says.

SAS has already proved that its communications systems works with three pilot satellites, and is now signing deals with partners in Africa and Latin America – including one of the biggest satellite-communications providers in the Americas, Globalsat Group.

Still from video of a nano-satellite being assembled by hand
Nano-satellites are not much bigger than a shoebox

Globalsat’s chief executive, Alberto Palacios, says his firm’s current customers – in the mining, energy, defence banking, and government sectors – can afford the costs of traditional satellite phone calls.

But he believes nano-satellites are a game-changer.

“Some customers invest several hundreds of dollars in the hardware for a satellite phone terminal and will pay $50 a month for the service. But if you can offer a solution for half of that – then the price can be compared to conventional mobile phones,” he explains.

SAS says it is going for the gap in the digital marketing between existing satellite communications operators, such as Iridium, Inmarsat and Globalstar, and land-based mobile networks such as Vodafone, Telefonica, Airtel and Safaricom.

It is targeting customers earning less than $8 a day.

Akua Gwamfua harvesting on her farm in Amankwaatia village, Ghana
SAS’s satellites will help Ghana monitor cocoa production across the country

In Ghana, the company has just signed a five-year deal with telecoms provider Universal Cyberlinks to help government agricultural projects and public services, including monitoring cocoa production across 5,000 buying centres and checkpoints.

“When you travel outside of a city in Africa, often you lose your phone signal because it is not cost-effective to put up phone masts everywhere. That’s where we come in,” says Mr Moalem.

“In the West, we tend to forget that in many parts of the world people are not concerned about high-speed internet, they want to make simple phone calls, texting or money transfers. It’s a basic need.”

Africa is certainly becoming a key market for mobile services. There were 420 million mobile subscribers in 2016 and by 2020 there will be more than 500 million, around half the population, says industry body GSMA.

The future is now – the Cornwall Lecture 2018

February 6th, 2018 Posted by News, Uncategorized

Last night Microcomms had the pleasure in attending the newly realaunched ‘Cornwall Lecture’ at Hall for Cornwall. The very first lecture happened in 1997 with the key speaker Sir Nicholas Grimshaw discussing the future of environmentalism, buildings and global responsibility. Last night the keynote was delivered by Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock MBE, space scientist and co-presenter of ‘The Sky at Night’. The focus was “Innovation – the big picture” focusing on the space and technology sectors.

We heard Dr Aderin-Pocock’s life story, how her ‘desire to aspire’ pushed her through child-hood barriers such as dyslexia, 13 schools and growing up in a world where space scientists were still very much thought of as nerdy boffins with massive brains. It was an inspiring story and very much spoke to the heart of the blossoming space sector here in Cornwall. Our country is known for it’s beautiful natural landscapes, surfing and tourism – it’s not often spoken of as a tech hub  – even though through Superfast, we are one of the best connected places in Europe. We also have a long history of space innovation at mexico vehicle insurance– scientists there received the first messages from the Telestar programme. Cornwall gets overlooked and left in the ‘remedial class’ as Dr Aderin-Pocock put it, because our underlying potential is hidden by what people see on the surface.

At the Q&A session after the lecture, a very pertinent question was asked “If Cornwall wins the Spaceport bid, what will that mean for local businesses? What jobs will it create?”. This was answered by Toby Parkins of Headforwards, who said that if we are successful in the bid, it will be time for local companies to start thinking laterally – what transferable skills do we have to move into this  sector? How can we take the knowledge and expertise that already exist in Cornwall and translate them into commercial space ventures? We may not think we have anything to offer – but many companies do.

This is a really exciting opportunity. Here at Microcomms, we are going to be putting our heads together as a whole team to look at our collective skills and knowledge and look at where we are best placed to work within the market. There are many complex challenges faced by space progress and it will be a mixture of skills and disciplines that work together to overcome them. 

 

UK homes to get faster broadband by 2020

December 20th, 2017 Posted by Uncategorized

Homes and businesses will have a legal right to demand high-speed broadband by 2020, the government has said after rejecting a voluntary offer from BT.

Openreach, owned by BT and responsible for the infrastructure, offered to speed up improvements to 1.1 million rural homes.

The government has promised that the whole of the UK will have access to speeds of at least 10 Mbps by 2020.

BT said it respected the government’s decision.

The government believes the regulatory Universal Service Obligation offers “certainty”.

Under the plan, broadband providers will face a legal requirement to provide high-speed broadband to anyone requesting it, subject to a cost threshold.

‘On-demand programme’

Matt Hancock, minister of state for digital policy at the department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, said on the BBC’s Today programme: “Access means you can phone up somebody, ask for it and then someone has the legal duty to deliver on that promise.

“It is about having the right to demand it, so it will be an on-demand programme.

“So if you don’t go on the internet, aren’t interested, then you won’t phone up and demand this.”

In response to the announcement, BT said: “BT and Openreach want to get on with the job of making decent broadband available to everyone in the UK, so we’ll continue to explore the commercial options for bringing faster speeds to those parts of the country which are hardest to reach.”

‘Right’ decision

Rival firms, which had talked of legal action if the government accepted BT’s offer, welcomed the decision.

Both TalkTalk and Sky said the government had made the right decision.

Tristia Harrison, TalkTalk chief executive, said: “By opting for formal regulation rather than weaker promises with kuchniapolki.pl, ministers are guaranteeing consumers will get the minimum speeds they need at a price they can afford,” she said.

“The whole industry now needs to work together to ensure customers see the billig bredband benefits as quickly as possible.”

Stephen van Rooyen, Sky’s UK and Ireland chief executive, said: “Government have made the right decision by choosing a fair and transparent approach that maintains competition, keeps prices fair and gives consumers a legal right to request broadband.”

Regulator Ofcom said this month that 4% of UK premises, or about 1.1 million, could not access broadband speeds of at least 10 Mbps.

It said poor connections were a particular concern for small businesses, with almost 230,000 unable to get a decent service.

Following the introduction of secondary legislation next year, it is thought it will take another two years before the right is enforced by Ofcom.