Business Focused IT Support
Viewing posts from: July 2015

Windows 10 Launch

by Nicki Dowsett in Industry News, IT Systems, Uncategorized

What should you do about the Windows 10 update?

Windows 10 - the last major revision

Windows 10 – the last major revision

We have recently blogged about the new and final major revision of Windows 10.  This is due to be launched in the coming days.  As IT professionals we would strongly advise against downloading the new Windows 10 when it is first launched. From experience we have come across many issues when new updates arrive, and fully expect there to be issues with this new version.  You download it and it’s not compatible with many 3rd party software programme you use or even your hardware such as printers, scanners etc.  Every new upgrade will have bugs, there is no a way around that, but you can save yourself time by being patient and letting others discover the bugs for you, let them be human guinea pigs. Once the bugs have been found Microsoft will then get rid of them. When this process is completed a few times for different bugs and glitches it is probably then the right time for you to upgrade to the new windows 10 without the bugs! Now doesn’t that sound good?

For those of you with windows 7, windows 8.1 and windows phone 8.1, windows 10 is a free upgrade, and for most with a few clicks of your mouse it is downloaded. Now that sounds good to me, because firstly it’s FREE! And secondly I don’t have to spend time trying to install it myself. This then removes two of the biggest barriers to upgrading. The big question is though, can you upgrade? If you cannot see the icon it may be because the PC is not up-to-date, you have ‘windows update’ turned off, or you’re running a pirated version of windows, but as a customer we know that is not the case. For you to be able to have Windows 10 you have to make sure your PC’s are compatible, meaning other windows programmes, 3rd party software and drivers.

Windows 10 Specification

In order to run windows 10, you will need to have the latest version of either windows 7 SP1 or windows 8.1 update.

  • Processor: 1 gigahertz (GHz) or faster
  • RAM: 1 gigabyte (GB) for 32-bit or 2GB for 64-bit
  • Hard Disk Space: 16GB for 32-bit OS – 20GB for 64-bit OS
  • Graphics Card: DirectX9 or later with WDDM 1.0 Driver
  • Display: 800×600

In Windows 8.1, OneDrive placeholders, also called smart files, let you see all of the files in OneDrive, even if the files are located in the cloud and not on your device. When you double-click a placeholder on your PC, the file is downloaded. However, when Windows 10 ships, OneDrive placeholders won’t work because of the upgraded OneDrive software.  Microsoft says it will try to bring OneDrive placeholder functionality to Windows 10 by year’s end. But if OneDrive placeholders are important to you, don’t upgrade until they work with Windows 10.

If your system doesn’t qualify, then you’re going to have to upgrade your hardware before you upgrade your operating system. (Or just buy a new computer with Windows 10 already installed.)

If you want a head start on the upgrade process, you can ‘reserve’ your download. Reserving just means the file you need for the upgrade at the end of the month will be downloaded to your PC ahead of time, to make the final installation quicker. You are still able to cancel the download before launch day. 29/07/15

Microsoft has a habit of pushing people to its latest operating system by ending support for its old operating systems, halting security updates and leaving users potentially open to security threats. If you have Windows 7 or Windows 8, you’ve got years before that happens. Microsoft will keep issuing security patches for Windows 7 until January 2020 and for Windows 8 until January 2023. Even Windows Vista will get security updates until April 2017.

As long as you have all the specifications for Windows 10, then you are eligible to download / purchase it, but there’s no need to rush, to download it free you have a year, and your current windows software will have security for many more years, so take your time to find if it works for you, and especially for all the bugs to be got rid of, let someone else be the Guinea pig for once.

If you have any queries or questions about this new update and our approach with it, please give us a call on 0800 0302030 or email info@mpr-it.co.uk.

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Skype for Business

by Nicki Dowsett in Office 365

Skype for Business

lync-becomes-skype-for-business1

You may have seen our recent blog about Microsoft Lync changing to Skype for business.  This was effectively a re-branding of the current service offered for instant messaging and video calling for the office.  At the time it was said there would be further updates.

Skype has recently announced the next phase of the re-branding, and these programs look to be promising tools for businesses.  With three new programs currently being launched for Technical previews from the 1st of July.  These programs will be part of the suite of Office 365 apps and will require users to use Office 365.

The first and probably the most effective will be Skype Meeting Broadcast, this will work as a similar product to GoTo Meeting.  This program will allow users to hold meetings with up to 10,000 people in a browser.  This will be beneficial for companies that want to hold a company meeting or Town Hall Meeting, without the hassle of travel for all staff members and finding the space big enough to hold everyone.  Saving a business time and money.  It will also allow businesses to hold Webinars with clients on a large scale, so not just viable for internal contacts but also external.

The second is Public Switched Telephone Network or PSTN Conferencing.  This function allows for users of Skype for Business to hold a meeting within Office 365 via land line or mobile.  A great additional tool to the Skype Meeting Broadcast for anyone not able to connect via a browser.  This is currently only being previewed in the US but should be available in the UK in the near future.  Something for us to look forward to.

The third part of this phase is Cloud PBX with PSTN Calling.  This program will allow users to effectively use Skype for Business as a traditional phone system.  You will be able to receive and make calls via Skype in the traditional manner and to manage these calls with the option to place calls on hold or transfer to a colleague.  This is currently only on preview in the US and will use voice technology of Skype for Business and will run on the Azure OS.  They expect this to be available worldwide by the end of 2015.  It will require a configuration option to allow users to use existing phone lines to link in with the Azure OS and phone systems so will involve an amount of set up to be operational.  However this is an interesting step forward in terms of communication.

At this stage of preview/testing period the trials are only available to selected end users, however it is promising to see a new phase already in the pipeline such a short time after the re-branding of Lync to Skype.  Microsoft are clearly planning to move a step ahead in terms of programs and tools to assist businesses work more efficiently with less travel and time spent away from the desk, whilst still having a small personal touch of video conferencing.

Personally for us here at MPR we prefer to meet our clients on a face to face basis as we find this is the best way of keeping in touch with our clients, however there will always be occasions when a simple phone call is not enough and the advantage of the video conferencing will be beneficial with clients that can’t get away to meet us.  Additionally the instant messaging feature is great to ask a quick question which may not need a full email or phone call.  With Skype for business a video call can allow you to share your screen and present documents, this is a great tool for us when offering support to our clients.

For more information on how Skype for Business or Office 365 can benefit your organisation please contact us to discuss your options.

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Ransomware – CryptoLocker

by Nicki Dowsett in Uncategorized

Ransomware – Cryptolocker

In simple terms this is a version of ransomware based on holding users to random for their data.   Malware is installed on your system through spam emails and will hijack your data, then hold you to ransom by demanding payment to release the data.  Chances are you will never see your money or your data again.

How this works

Using social engineering, CryptoLocker will trick the user.  A Trojan email will be sent to you with a Zip file and ask you to open this with a password that is included in the email.  Once the system attempts to open the files, CryptoLocker will take advantage of Windows default behaviour by hiding the real malicious file and installing this on your system.  It will save itself to a folder in your user profile with a key register to make sure it runs every time your computer is started.

Once installed it will generate a random key for each file that it encrypts, the only person with the key is the person that has sent the Trojan email and only they can decrypt it to open your files.  Once it has encrypted all your files, it will pop up a message on your screen asking for a ransom to obtain the key and a time limit for you to pay.

Cryptolocker pop up warning

Cryptolocker pop up warning

How to ensure you are not affected by this

Essentially this is down to the individual.  The one main rule everyone should follow is ‘Never open an attachment from someone you don’t know’.  Following this rule is the first step to avoid any virus, not just CryptoLocker.  The second key rule to follow is ‘Regular and consistent back up of all files’.  This means that you will effectively only lose the data that has been created since the last back up e.g the night before. The third and quite possibly one of the most important rules ‘Never pay up’.  By paying these ransoms you are effectively letting them win.  Scams such as these and many others will only continue if people pay up.  It becomes a source for a large amount of income and encourages these scammers to come up with new and wonderful ways to scam people. Make sure that your Operating system is regularly updated to ensure that any fix/patch from Windows is installed in your system to avoid any infiltration.  Operating systems are regularly updated to combat any new virus threat as they become known.

Rules:

  1. Never open an attachment from someone you don’t know
  2. Regular and consistent back up of all files
  3. Never pay up
  4. Make sure that your Operating system is regularly updated.

 

As time has gone on and Operating Systems have been patched for these threats, we are now starting to see variation on Cryptolocker and it is now often seen as CrytpowallIt is essentially the same threat, however sticking to the above rules you are more likely to escape this threat.

We have had a number of cases of this being reported to us from companies.  If you have any concerns for your current email filtering and virus protection, please contact us a matter of urgency to discuss your options.  It is easier and more cost effective to protect you from virus threat than it is fix the problem.  If you become a victim of any virus it will not only be costly to fix, you may lose valuable data and work time.

 

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