Why take an IT Support Contract over Adhoc Support??
Why take an IT Support contract over Adhoc support? This is a question that we get asked frequently. There are a number of reasons as to why an all inclusive IT support contract is a positive step to take for your business. The main reasons being:
- Fixed price service – with no hidden costs
- A guaranteed support desk available 24/7
- Guaranteed service level agreement (SLA) in place – 1 hour call back
- Your business is assigned both a designated business account manager and technical account manager
- We get more involved in your business, helping plan, budget and advise according to your business plans and requirements.
Whilst not everyone feels the needs for a contact, there are a number of pitfalls to an Ad-hoc arrangement. The biggest being there are no service level agreements in place. Other main issues being:
- We operate an “as soon as possible” approach to any support tickets falling into this category
- Unexpected costs can become expensive & detrimental to your budget planning
MPR IT’s Fully Inclusive Business IT Support package, is our most complete and rewarding contract. In fact it is used by 90% of our clients. With a fixed price contract there can be no nasty hidden surprises, for your IT Support. Our contract includes both remote and on-site support for your business, meaning you are safe in the knowledge that a Technical Engineer is on hand to solve any issues. The cost for this service is £30.00 + VAT per workstation per month and inlcudes 24/7 monitoring. This cost per user covers all of your IT support needs – there are no other hidden support costs, allowing you to manage your IT budget effectively.
In addition to workstation support, we are aware that many of our customers are now using Cloud-based servers and storage, therefore server support is not always a requirement and is therefore a separate option. For those business that do require this, there is an additional charge of £82.50 + VAT per month per server, please contact to discuss your requirements.
The Service Level Agreement for an All Inclusive contracts is a 1-hour callback with a 4-hour response along with emergency out of hours cover.
Emmanuel Charbonnel from DAD UK says:
Moving to a “Monthly Fixed Rate” support cost from a “Pay as you Use” scheme has improved our IT support structure in many ways. Firstly, there are no hidden surprises at the end of the month with invoices. We know what our bill will be and can budget accordingly, allowing us to invest in our IT infrastructure during the year.
Secondly, any of our employees can now contact the MPR support desk, which in turn, improves the reaction and solution speeds. And lastly it has resulted in a closer working environment between all employees across our two companies making MPR a true partner
To discuss your business requirements please contact our team on 0800 030 20 30 option 2Read more
Email security and cybercrime – Almost daily there is a story that covers this subject in the news, whether it’s a large global corporation or an elderly retired person. So many people are still unaware of the risks that can be faced with email security.
Here at MPR IT, we have sadly gained a considerable amount of experience in dealing with these threats. We would therefore like to remind our customers of some simple guidelines that you should ensure your staff follow for email security. These include recommendations from the Government Cyber Essentials Scheme. We also strongly advise if you or any employee is concerned they have an affected PC/Laptop – call us asap
- Email Attachments – Never open an email or attachment if you don’t know the sender. If you are not expecting an attachment from a known sender – call them and check they did send you something
- Check email addresses – criminals will set up accounts with very similar email addresses making it easy to trick you into thinking you know the sender email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
- Malware Protection – do you have a robust malware in place? This will stop viruses and ransomware from getting through to your emails and employees
- Access Control – encourage your staff to choose passwords that would be hard to guess and not simply change the number on the end each time it needs to be Password or 123456 are not ever going to be good choices. Also ensure that admin passwords are only given out to members of staff that should have access to these.
- Firewalls – investing in a high end firewall can prevent hackers from gaining access to your systems and to make certain there are no leaks.
- Secure configuration – Is your system configured to ensure security for your organisation. Are all laptops, PC’s and phones password protected? Do files need to be password protected?
- Patch Management – the likes of Microsoft and other operating systems regularly release new updates to their software. Ensure you are fully up to date as these updates will often include patches to ensure your systems are more secure. As hackers become more clever the software providers work hard to identify areas to increase security.
We also recommend you view the following websites
- National Cybercrime Website
- Thames Valley Police – Little Book of Cyber Scams
- Thames Valley Police – Little Book of Big Scams
Whilst the majority of news stories cover ransomware and data being lost or damaged, we have known criminals to spend months watching systems, gathering information and general daily routines. Then with a simple email, that looks to have come from a sender you know they have managed to gain access to your bank accounts and emptied them before anyone has realised. Either way it is extremely costly to your business. Please ensure your staff are fully briefed on email security and the types of scams and crimes that can & have happened. If any doubt or you would like more information please contact us to discuss.
Office 2007 was launched a decade ago, and included the Microsoft products – Excel,Word, Outlook, Powerpoint, and One Note. Since its launch there have been significant advancements in connectivity and productivity for many companies. This means that the majority of companies have left Office 2007 behind, and moved to Office 2016 or more likely to Office 365, however there are a few companies still using Office 2007.
Most Microsoft packages are only supported for 10 years and therefore it is the turn of Office 2007, to receive the end of life treatment. Meaning by the end of October 2017 there will be no further:
- Technical support
- Bug fixes for issues identified
- Security fixes for vulnerabilities released
In addition to the end of life support coming to an end, it is important to note Outlook 2007, will no longer connect to Office 365 mailboxes. Therefore users of Outlook 2007 will not be able to receive or send emails.
Microsoft are now urging users of the 2007 version to consider upgrading to the latest offerings. There are a number of advantages to this, not least the fact that support will be ending in a few months time. During 2017, there has been a number of global cyber attacks. People using packages that are no longer supported by Microsoft are at greater risk.
Earlier this year, in an unusual step Microsoft were pressured into releasing a fix for the Wanna Cry virus on Windows 2000. Despite having stopped supporting the package in 2010, they still had a larger number of users, who were subsequently affected by the virus. It is highly unlikely that they will make this move again in the future and are already publicising the end of life for 2007 package, with recommendations to urgently update software. The most popular choice for businesses these days is Office 365. Please see our page on Office 365 for full details on this product.
MPR IT Solutions has a wealth of knowledge and expertise in supporting companies in making the change to Office 365. We have worked with a number of companies to ensure the transition is smooth, & there is minimum disruption to staff. Please do not hesitate to contact us to discuss your options to migrate to Office 365 – whether you are currently using 2007 or another version of the Office Suite.
Disaster Management Plans
Over the weekend, the big story in the news was all about the IT system failure at British Airways. The CEO of BA has released a statement that the systems crashed due to a short power surge knocking out the main servers, unfortunately for the company the back-up systems then failed to take over. This resulted in over 75,000 customers being affected and flights grounded around the world.
When the story first broke, BA did not release much information to the public, no doubt as the Directors were scrambling to find out what had gone so badly wrong. However, this resulted in various speculation such as systems being hacked, no back up servers in place or that this was due to cost cutting by out sourcing IT Support. It would appear, that none of these were the case.
Many people in the IT industry are watching this story closely to understand how this situation happened. With many questions being asked, including:
- Why did the back-up servers not take over?
- Are the back-up systems in the same location as the main servers?
- Are the communication systems such as website and mobile app in the same location?
- What was the Disaster Management Plan?
Irrespective of your IT Support being in house or outsourced these questions should not be being asked. Here at MPR IT, we support a wide range of customers for IT, on both a daily basis and, also with larger projects such as server/network installations and server hosting. With all our customers, we hold the same approach, no matter the size of your company – you need to be prepared for any eventuality. Whilst we have not had to deal with an incident the size of BA’s problems at the weekend we have had to deal with various situations where a company server has gone off line. These include a flood in an office, or a system hack. Essentially the plan is the same – get the company back up and running in the shortest time possible and preferably without their customers ever knowing there was an issue and with the least cost involved. I think we can quite safely say this is going to be very expensive for BA.
Disaster Management Recovery plans are one of the most important things that your business can put in place. The aim of a DMR is to ensure that your business continues smoothly with little or no disruption, and your company needs will differ from that of any other company. The main points that you need to consider are:
- Is your data/server backed up daily?
- Is this back up stored in a secure separate location to the main server?
- Can your customers still contact you?
- Can your staff continue to carry out their duties?
- Can your operation continue and will your customers be affected?
We have written blogs in the past about important it is to have a Disaster Management Plan in place, however the events this weekend have shown that it is not just in the case of fire, flood or bad weather that your company needs to plan, in advance for. In the case of BA it was apparently due to a power surge, that the systems failed. Not as many speculated in the first few hours, that it was due to out sourced IT Support or being hacked with a virus. If you and your company would like to discuss your current Disaster Management Plans please do not hesitate to contact us.Read more
Wanna Cry Cyber Attack – Over the last couple of years, I have spent several hours if not days reading articles on cyber crime and hacking as part of my role here at MPR IT. If you follow us on social media you will also see how this is a hot topic for us and we quite often post news stories of hacks and how you can protect yourselves, I have also written a few blogs on the subject (all of which can be found on our website). So, the breaking news on Friday and all over the weekend of the hack affecting over 150 countries around the world, with some 200,000 machines affected this wasn’t entirely a shock for me. All too often I see stories of both large corporations and small one person business being hit by hacking or ransomware.
As a company that takes pride in providing the best support and advice to our customers, our priority is prevention rather than cure, although we do unfortunately have experience on the cure as well. Our key guidelines for protecting your systems are pretty simple:
- Ensure you Operating System is the most current and up to date – Microsoft release patches and updates regularly. This particularly virus is targeted towards out of date, older systems. Please ensure your system is fully up to date. If you have any concerns please contact us and we can check this for you.
- Many virus’s are spread through email attachments – NEVER open anything from someone you don’t know or aren’t expecting. If you are unsure about an email or attachment, call MPR IT or the company where the attachment has come from and enquire as to whether it is legitimate.
- Ensure you permanently delete any emails with attachments that you do not need, or where you don’t know the sender.
- Make sure that you have an up to date Anti Virus – MPR IT can check this for you if you are unsure how up to date this is or if you don’t have anti-virus we can provide anti virus software to your company.
- NEVER share passwords with anyone and make sure that passwords you do have are always different. PASSWORD1 is surprisingly still a popular choice – it’s not a good idea as very easy to guess.
- Back up your data daily and store a copy off site securely as well on site. The worst that can happen if data is backed up is that you lose one days’ work, and not everything.
The virus ‘Wanna Cry’ that hit the world on Friday, and spread over the weekend is mainly targeted at Government departments. Where systems are older and the networks are very large, this allows it to spread so quickly, we are therefore not expecting for this to affect many of our customers, however please be assured that our team are prepared and ready to deal with any issues that you may experience.
To our customers with a contract that includes workstation monitoring, we have already rolled out emergency patches to any potentially affected machines. If you do not have a contract that includes workstation monitoring please contact us and we can look to update any patches or we can review your contract to include workstation monitoring should you wish.
Please take this simple advice and pass to your colleagues and get the message out on how to avoid potential cybecrime hacks and viruses. Hopefully one day soon I won’t be spending so much of my time reading articles on cybercrime.Read more
We all know that there is increasingly a huge demand for connections on the move. Almost every device has wireless IP connectivity – mobile phones, tablets, cameras and even TVs. We have come to accept it the norm to have wireless connections in the home, for a wide range of devices. Companies large and small are now beginning to require wireless networks in order for these devices to connect for shared resources, manageability and control. As a home worker, having wireless network is essential for me. My laptop and IP phone are connected to the internet which means, I can work from anywhere in the home. For office based staff having a wireless connection means that your staff can use more tools for the work day. If you have meetings within the office, staff can bring tablets or laptops to any meeting room without the loss of connectivity, it also makes it easier for visitors to present any information with ease.
MPR IT Wireless network design and deployment services offer solutions that range from a simple access point to full coverage for a factory or outside area, allowing for stock control with wireless scanners and countless other scenarios. Using hardware solutions from the likes of Ubiquity, Cisco, Ruckus, LigoWave and many more, we are able to select the right hardware for your wireless network requirements.
We also plan, design and deploy full building coverage solutions for hotels, motorway service areas, pubs and bars. Giving your customers reliable, fast and easy-to-access wireless really makes them feel valued and will ensure a return visit. Our skilled and trained staff have the tools to correctly plan a wireless network deployment, setup controllers and maintain the setup thereafter.
Advantages of Wireless Networks
Small to Large Deployment, One Access Point to 150+
Customisable Portal Pages
Track User details
Collected Marketing Information
All Leading Brands installed and supported
Offices, Hotels, Factories and more catered for
MPR IT were recently contacted by a group of 12 hotels in London, with a 99% occupancy rating resulting in a lot of guests with a high demand for solid and reliable internet connectivity. The hotels were all suffering from poor deployment, and none had any central management for wireless networks, with no way to track guests or provide hotel services via their free wireless internet.
The issues were clearly laid out to us at the start of the project – “Make our hotels internet stable, fast, and importantly give our guests easy and reliable access to our wifi and give us back something we can use to gather data on our guests”
Many of the hotels were not on the latest generation of high speed FTTC service and were stuck on the traditional ADSL 2 lines, which had to be improved where possible without the cost of a leased line.
After an initial site visit, MPR IT developed a package with known hardware that we could roll out to all the hotels, replacing the old unmanaged solutions as we went, and all sites now project a unified brand with a reliable and solid internet services to guests 24/7. To the sites where internet bandwidth was an issue, multiple lines are load balanced allowing for a much smoother and rich user experience.
The outcome is a much improved service and guest complaints have stopped overnight about the internet and wireless.
The custom capture portal that is presented to guests delivers offers ad incentives when they sign in to the wireless portal, this has increased the direct bookings they are taking, cutting their costs to the booking agencies dramatically.
For more information on how MPR IT can help your business implement a wireless network please contact us for a consultation on 0800 030 20 30 or see our main wireless networks page.Read more
How Secure is your data?
I spoke to my friend this morning, her Facebook account has been hacked. She is experiencing strange statuses being posted on her account. My instructions to her – change your password asap. She doesn’t know her password it is stored on her devices so whenever she wants to go on to her social media she just loads the page or app. However someone out there knows her password. I asked if this was the same password for her email account, online shopping accounts and anything else. Her response – probably!! I could not stress enough to her to get on line as soon as she went home to get it all changed, and don’t save passwords on devices.
You may think well it’s only social media they can get into – that’s just the start. We are becoming increasingly aware of the number of people and business that are being hacked. Here at MPR IT we have been made aware through speaking to contacts within the industry and also our customers that more and more people are being hacked. I personally have read an article that in parts of the world there are crime organisations that employ computer experts solely with the intention to hack accounts. It starts with just £1 being taken from a bank account with amounts increasing. The bank sees that you have paid the recipient previously so aren’t concerned. Then sometime later you notice a considerable amount missing from your account and its too late. The money cannot be retrieved. We have previously written a blog about Ransonware such as Crypto locker, it is reported that over the last year over £1.5 Billion was made through this software.
My dad is forever calling me with “I got an email today from a bank that I have never had an account with saying I need to reconfirm my details”. Every time I say the same thing, ”Dad, don’t even bother opening these emails, delete them immediately”. Yet he still questions it time and again. These people that hack our computers and accounts are relentless. They will bombard thousands of people with these type of emails. If they get one person that responds it is still a result for them.
If you get such an email and you think it could be from an account you have such as Paypal or Itunes, please disregard the email. The chances are it is not from Paypal or itunes. These companies will never ask you to reconfirm any information. If you do happen to click on the link you will be taken to a website that looks identical to the true page. If you are in doubt the best thing is to close down your browser completely and then open a new one, go to the true site and check your details.
We have come across incidents where hackers have accessed the network and monitor the goings on within your internal emails or emails to customers. They use the information of how you work and replicate this. One example we have come across is that a company has emailed Joe Bloggs a customer the bank details to pay an invoice. 5 minutes later Joe Bloggs got an email saying sorry I gave you the wrong account. Please make payment to this account. That second email did not come from you but Joe thinks it did. 2 months later you are chasing him for payment and he is adamant he paid. He did – to the hackers. Now both companies have lost a considerable amount of money – never to be seen again. The banks and Police are powerless as this money has been spread across multiple accounts throughout the world.
We recommend that you follow our simple rules and change some small ways in which you work – follow up emails concerning payments or bank transfers with a quick call. Did you get my email? If anything changes I will call you. Any time you think your PC is behaving weirdly – close everything down, disconnect the internet, turn your router & switch off. It won’t just be your PC but the whole office affected. Then contact MPR immediately to get assistance. The longer you leave the network connected the more damage can be done. Not only will they steal money but to hide any trace of the hack they will wipe everything and I mean wipe everything from your systems, we have seen blank laptops with not even an operating system left. This is more money lost as it will be costly and time consuming to rectify and keep your business running. Another rule is to make a regular back up of your data daily. This means only 1 day of work is lost and not an entire business.
Please also see http://www.nationalcrimeagency.gov.uk/crime-threats/cyber-crime/online-threats-to-consumers for any further information.
The Password Rules
The hackers are becoming more sophisticated – we have heard many stories, whether you think they are urban myths or not they need to be taken seriously. We cannot stress strongly enough the following rules:
Never write down or store a note on your PC with your passwords.
Make sure every password is different for each log in you have.
Change your passwords regularly, and randomly not – on the first of every month.
Choose a password that is not obvious – your birthday or PASSWORD is not & never will be secure
Never ever open an email from unknown address
Never ever open attachments from an unknown address.
Back up your systems daily
Ensure you have a reliable anti-virus and malware system in place this will help to slow them down
Any sign of anything untoward shut down PC, and Internet Router and switch
Call MPR IT for immediate assistance.Read more