Business Focused IT Support
Viewing posts categorised under: Microsoft

Living on Microsoft Teams

by Nicki Dowsett in Disaster Planning, General, Helpdesk, IT Support, Microsoft, Microsoft Teams, MPR IT Work, networking, Office 365, Remote working, Software, Training, Uncategorised

Microsoft Teams was originally launched in March 2017 as a planned replacement to Skype for business. By March 2020, Microsoft Teams was used daily by 44 million people. One month later, much of the world was in lockdown and the number of daily users dramatically increased to over 75 million users.

The chances are that, as your team has been working across multiple locations, you have been using Microsoft Teams in your business. We don’t need to tell you that it is predominantly used for instant chat messaging, voice and video calls between employees and customers or suppliers.

MPR and Microsoft Teams

Since March 2020, with staff working remotely initially, and now with a limited staff level physically in the office and others still remote, Teams has been a vital tool in keeping everyone connected.

Daily morning and end of day meetings take place to check everyone is well and also to discuss the activity taking place. Whilst some members were furloughed an end of week meeting was put in place to have a general catch up and keep in touch with everyone. In addition to regular group chat to ask questions and the occasional ‘Dad’ joke from team members.

As someone that has worked remotely for the last 6 years with MPR IT, I can honestly say that with the regular meetings and chat I feel more connected to the company and my colleagues in other departments. Previously, I would drop an email or quick call to someone when I needed something now I see them all daily instead of 3 or 4 times a year when I would normally visit the office.

Click here for a Quick Start Guide to Microsoft Teams or to see the full range of training videos and resources see the Microsoft Teams website. In the meantime here are a few features we have found to be really helpful.

Video Calling Backgrounds

When making a video call to your clients or colleagues you may not want your background to be on display and be looking for a more professional image. Microsoft Teams offer a couple of options to overcome this problem

Blurred background – to avoid people in your video call seeing your home work space, or other people walking around the office you can blur out the background so that only you are on screen.

Virtual Background – a step up from the blurred background is to set up a virtual screen. If you are meeting with clients on video call or in a networking event, choosing a virtual background with your company logo can be more professional than you home or office background.

This can be activated in just a few simple steps: 

  • Generally, you should find the option under your audio and video settings as you start or join a meeting 
  • Click on settings 
  • Check under options 
  • Look for an option to blur your background or choose an image and click on it  

Group videos and Conferencing

Teams Live Events – Microsoft Teams can host meetings from 1-10,000 participants depending on your subscription and you IT Infrastructure. With many networking events, conferences or seminars moving to virtual events you can still easily reach your audience. Within a meeting you can also create individual rooms for different speakers allowing people to more around within the event.

Live Captions – Adding live captions to your meeting can be beneficial for people with different levels of language understanding or for anyone with hearing difficulties. Simply click on the 3 dots in the middle of your screen and speak slowly and clearly into you microphone and the words will appear as subtitles on the screen.

Sharing screens and content -ability to share content or powerpoint presentations with your audience. This is a feature that has been available on many video conferencing services for many years. Simply click on the share tray and choose the application you wish to share.

Recording and transcribing video meeting – Capture audio, video, and screen-sharing activity by recording your Teams meetings. Automatic transcription allows you to play back meetings and search for important discussion items in the transcript.

Follow up – After your event or meeting you can easily share your recording, files and content and chat with attendees as well we rescheduling the next meeting. When all linked together it easy to review previous notes and recording all in one place.

Collaborative Tool

Microsoft Teams is much more than a communication tool, it has many additional features making it an all round collaborative tool. With many additional apps that can be incorporated to share and edit content, plan projects, connecting with your CRM, social media channels, email platforms and live chat on your website. Additional apps are easily accessed through the main teams page.

If you would like to discuss Office 365, SharePoint or Microsoft Teams for your business in more detail please contact us on 0800 030 20 30

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Flexible remote working or back to the office? How technology helps

by Nicki Dowsett in Disaster Planning, Disaster Recovery, General, Hardware, Hosted phone, IT Support, IT Systems, Microsoft, Office 365, Remote working

During the last few months the majority of our team have worked remotely from home. With minimal cover in the office to accept deliveries, or work on hardware. Whilst some of our team have had to carry out socially distanced site visits. All this has taken place with no reduction in level to service for our customers.

Now as restrictions relax, like many business we must now consider the options for staff to continue remote working or a return to the office. We need ensure that this is as flexible as possible, to suit the needs of the business and our staff.

Here are a few key questions that we are having to consider:

  • Social Distancing – is there enough office space?
  • Do staff feel comfortable to be back in the office?
  • Are some staff concerned about mixing with other people on their commute?
  • What if there is a local lockdown?
  • Can it be a flexible and seamless mix between the two?

As a result of using the right technology, these questions can be easily resolved.

Hosted Phone Systems

Hosted telephone systems ensure a professional first impression for your customers no matter the location of your employees or the size of your business.  With a hosted phone system staying connected to your customers by telephone is seamless for remote working or the return to the office – it is very simple to switch between the two. Bringing the ultimate in flexibility, with a minimal initial capital outlay, along with an easy to manage monthly subscription.

MPR IT are highly experienced in both design and deployment of telecoms solutions for residential, commercial and hospitality phone systems. Offering the ability to integrate with onsite services such as CRM or MS Outlook, contacts and caller details automatically pop up when they’re on the phone. Choosing an MPR IT Solutions hosted cloud-based telephone system is the ideal solution.

With the latest connected solutions, we ensure that the design meets your requirements and ensure it is correctly deployed to your organisation and end users.

Office 365

Microsoft Office 365 has changed the way that many companies work over the last few years. A cloud based solution combining collaboration, communication and security tools at an affordable cost for everyone. Your staff can access their email and files anywhere with an internet connection. With 2 factor authentication you can be sure it remains secure.

MPR IT has invested time and resources into becoming an official Microsoft Cloud Accelerate Partner and Small Business Specialist. We are trained in a number of Microsoft Competencies that directly relate to implementing, migrating and configuring your Office 365 solution. MPR IT focus on a smooth and trouble free migration ensuring your business has minimal disruption. Followed up with seamless  ongoing support our team are on hand to advise and solve any problems should they arise.

Microsoft Teams

Superseding Skype for Business – Microsoft Teams was launched in March 2017. In November 2019, Microsoft announced that Teams was used by 20 million end users. Fast forward to April 2020 and 75 million people were using Teams. Integrating with Office 365, Teams is a platform combing communication such as video calls, workplace chat and file sharing and storage.

All the staff at MPR IT have been using Teams over the last 4 months. With daily morning meetings we can connect and be set up for the days task ahead, quick messages or video calls to team mates rather than emails. Having been a remote worker for a number of years, I feel more involved with my colleagues and more connected to the day to day activity within the business.

Flexible working

By using technology systems such as these, the question of enabling staff the flexibility of working either in the office or remotely is much simpler. Staff can connect to their files, email and colleagues through Microsoft and your customer calls can be answered seamlessly.

If you would like more information on more permanent flexible working approach for your staff that wont affect the running of your business please contact us on 0800 030 20 30 or email us sales@mpr-it.co.uk

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Free – Office 365 Migration

by Nicki Dowsett in Disaster Planning, Disaster Recovery, General, Helpdesk, IT Support, IT Systems, Microsoft, MPR, Office 365

Britain and many parts of the world are currently in lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The British Government recently announced that where possible people should now be working from home. Following this we have seen a dramatic increase in requests to set up remote access.

Office 365 package makes working from home so much easier. With Excel, Outlook, Powerpoint, Teams and Word all available through one simple log. Meaning you can connect to your workspace from anywhere that has an internet connection. As someone that has been part of the MPR IT team for the last 6 years and based in Berkshire, I can confirm that being able to connect with the main MPR IT team via Office 365 is seamless.

To support our local small business community we would like to offer FREE migration to Office 365 during the current lockdown due to Covid 19.

For more information on how Office 365 can package can support you and your business please call our team on 0800 030 20 30 Option 1

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Covid-19: Disaster Management Plans

by Nicki Dowsett in Disaster Planning, Disaster Recovery, General, Helpdesk, Hosted phone, Industry News, IT Support, IT Systems, Microsoft, MPR, Office 365

Covid-19 has fast become the hot topic in the media and conversations around the world. Whilst there is still much uncertainty as to how it will affect us as individuals and businesses, it is not something to completely dismiss.

The spread of Covid-19 is likely to increase over the coming weeks. With schools and businesses expected to be affected, be it due to members of staff/pupils becoming unwell or simply due to an external connection to someone that is affected.

This morning (Tuesday 3rd March 2020), Downing Street released a statement detailing various plans for the worst case scenario. Including a prediction that up to a fifth of the UK workforce potentially being unable to work due to Covid-19.

Disaster Management plans have traditionally been put in place for the scenarios where offices are inaccessible. With consideration made due to fire, flood or bad weather. It is unlikely that the current situation of a global contagion has been taken into consideration. Now is the time to consider and review your disaster management plan.

Catch it, Kill it, Bin it!

This phrase, and the recommendation of regular hand washing is promoted widely. Here at MPR IT, we are ensuring that this message is clear to all our staff members, whether they are office based or engineers visiting clients offices. We have also instructed all team members that should they be concerned they may have come into contact with someone suffering with Coronavirus symptoms, they should inform management and seek medical advise whilst self isolating.

Flexible Home Working

In line with the Disaster Management Plan already in place for MPR IT, all staff members have the ability to work from home and continue to support our clients with no loss of service. This is part of a plan that has been in place for many years. The main purpose of this plan is to ensure that our business can continue no matter what.

Office 365 and Cloud Computing

Software packages such as Office 365, and cloud based CRM’s are becoming more common place. Giving access to email and Microsoft applications such as Word, Excel, Powerpoint and Teams, from any location with Internet connectivity. Giving the ability to create and share documents with chosen individuals.

Telephone Systems

Along with access to documents and files, it is also vital for your business phone lines to be managed. With Hosted Telephone Systems your customers are still able to contact you. Without even having to know you are not physically in the office.

With a range of options and packages to suit businesses of all sizes, we strongly recommend that if you wish to consider the options available to your business, now is the time to contact and discuss with our team on 0800 030 20 30.

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Microsoft Support Ending

by Nicki Dowsett in General, Hardware, Helpdesk, Industry News, IT Systems, Microsoft, Office 2007, Office 365, Uncategorised, Windows 10, Windows 7

Microsoft will be ending support and updates for two of their platforms in 2020. If you are currently using either Office 2010 or Windows 7, it is important to consider your options now.

Microsoft have recently announced that support for Office 2010 will be ending on 13th October 2020. This means that from this date there will be no further extension of updates on this package.

Whilst Office 2010 will still continue to function it does mean that you will be at risk of potentially harmful and serious security risks. We recommend that you look to upgrading to Microsoft Office 365 as a replacement.

MPR IT Solutions are an official Microsoft Cloud Accelerate Partner and Small Business Specialist. This means we are trained in a number of Microsoft Competencies that directly relate to implementing, migrating and configuring your Office 365 solution. We have vast experience in migrating businesses over to Office 365 and ensure minimal disruption to your daily tasks.

Secondly support will be ending on 14 January 2020 for the operating system Windows 7. Available since 2009, there have been a number of updates since the launch, with the current recommended version Windows 10 now on the market. Please see our earlier blog explaining this.

If you are using Windows 7, either on a personal computer or at your business, now is the time to consider upgrading to Windows 10.  However, before you make the move, it is imperative that you consider any 3rd party software programme installed on your pc/laptop and hardware such as printers, scanners etc. as these may not be compatible.  You will also need to consider the hardware resources available, as Windows 10 is a powerful operating system and therefore requires a large amount of RAM installed.

Our team of experts can audit all of your software packages (e.g Sage) and hardware (e.g RAM, printers and scanners) to ensure these are compatible and where they may not be.  To upgrade without taking this into consideration, you may find that it becomes time consuming and more costly to rectify the issues.

For more information and to discuss your options to upgrade either of these Microsoft products please contact our team on 0800 030 20 30 or email sales@mpr-it.co.uk

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Happy 11th Birthday to MPR IT Solutions

by Nicki Dowsett in Audio Systems, CCTV, Engineers, fibre optics, Fire Alarms, Hardware, Helpdesk, Hosted phone, IT Support, IT Systems, Microsoft, MPR, Office Move, point to point wirless, Server cabinet, Software, SQL Server, Structured Cabling, TV Distribution, Web Hosting, Websites, Wireless networks

Early in 2008, three friends – Alex, Richard and Andy became disenchanted by the way IT Support was provided to businesses in Kent and the South East. They felt that customer service and relationships were not a priority and it would result in many businesses bouncing around support companies on a regular basis.

After many discussions the three friends took the decision to start a new IT Support business offering a more pro-active relationship with customers, with the aim “To never sacrifice our high level of customer service for growth, we hope and believe that through good customer service our business will become the market leader in Kent.”

In the late spring of 2008, MPR IT Solutions was born in a small garden office with Alex, Andy and Richard utilising their individual skills to provide daily support and installation of network infrastructure. 

With a strong belief that building relationships with customers, understanding the requirements of the business and employees it would give a clearer idea as to how technology can support and help customers to grow their own business.  By offering impartial advice in simple terms and by not being tied to any one supplier means that MPR IT Solutions can ensure that the hardware and software required is the best to meet the individual needs.

11 Years on from the start

Over the last 11 years the business has grown substantially with an annual turnover of £1.4million, employing 24 people and supporting over 250 businesses across the South East.  With a customer base comprising of a wide variety of customers from small home run businesses to large multi-office business throughout the UK and everything and anything in between.   

The team handle over a thousand support tickets each month with 97% closed within an hour.  To ensure that the level of service doesn’t reduce in any way we regularly ask for feedback and are immensely proud that we score 5/5 in 99% of our surveys. A large proportion of customers have been with MPR IT for many years and are happy to recommend our services to other business, it is clear, that the vision initially formed has proved to be a success.

Moving to Henwood Industrial Estate

The new office on Henwood Industrial Estate

Since the time spent in the garden office, MPR IT have moved several times to keep up with the on-going growth of the business and need to expand. 

It was agreed at the end of 2018 that MPR IT would need to consider another move, and so we have recently relocated to the Henwood Estate.  Using our own team of Engineers, we could guarantee the task of fitting out our new home would meet all the requirements we need today and pre-empting any future expansions.  The project to refit the office took about 3 months and involved using our own knowledge, experience and skills.  Once the initial building work was completed the team set about refitting the office from scratch using the skills and services that we offer to our own customers.

With so many changes in technology since MPR IT Solutions was first conceived, it was clear from the onset that our skills and offerings would need to become more and more diverse.  No longer just offering daily IT Support, MPR IT now offers a wide range of services and products, including installation of Structured Cabling Networks, Server Infrastructure, Wireless networks, Point to Point Wireless, Fire Alarm, CCTV and Door Entry/Security systems along with Audio Visual installations.

Training & Encouraging the Team

Since the start of MPR IT Solutions we have employed 7 apprentices supporting local people to learn and qualify within the IT Industry.  We strongly believe that young people should be given the opportunity to learn new skills and the chance to have a career and always open to take on more in the future.  Many of our apprentices have gone on to stay with us and once qualified have become valued field engineers within MPR IT Solutions.   Support is provided for any team member that would like to further their knowledge or qualifications.

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Windows 7 Support Ending

by Nicki Dowsett in General, IT Support, IT Systems, Microsoft, Windows 10


Windows 7 Support Ending

Windows 7 software has been available since 2009, and Microsoft will be ending support for this on 14 January 2020.  This means they will no longer provide any updates, patches or general support to the software.  Whilst you will be able to continue to use this version of Windows, you will be vulnerable to security risks.  With the constant threat of Cybercrime, it is vital that you consider the options available to upgrade to Windows 10.

If you are using Windows 7, either on a personal computer or at your business, now is the time to consider upgrading to Windows 10.  However, before you make the move, it is imperative that you consider any 3rd party software programme installed on your pc/laptop and hardware such as printers, scanners etc. as these may not be compatible.  You will also need to consider the hardware resources available, as Windows 10 is a powerful operating system and therefore requires a large amount of RAM installed. Our team of experts can audit all of your software packages (e.g Sage) and hardware (e.g RAM, printers and scanners) to ensure these are compatible and where they may not be.  To upgrade without taking this into consideration, you may find that it becomes time consuming and more costly to rectify the issues.


Why Upgrade to Windows 10?

Windows 10 was released by Microsoft in July 2015, and is now one of the most common used pieces of software on the market.  With many similarities to previous incarnations, it is very user friendly and easy to navigate with a number of enhanced functions.

  • Cortana – Windows 10 comes with Cortana, a voice-activated personal assistant. Cortana can set reminders, inform you of the weather, search the internet and much more.
  • Live tiles – Customisable, live tiles on Windows 10 allows you to have a personalised experience. Just about anything can become a tile, from websites to apps and the tiles can then be resized and moved around as required.
  • Continuum – For a seamless user experience, Continuum lets you carry on working from desktop to tablet and back again. This helps to create a modern, flexible and fluid working style as expected by today’s workforce.
  • OneDrive – OneDrive is Microsoft’s cloud storage service which is built into Windows 10. It lets you sync files across PCs and OneDrive devices.
  • BitLocker – BitLocker helps you keep your files safe while BitLocker Go gives you the same functionality while you’re on the move.  It features:
    • Sign in with face or fingerprint – a fast, secure way to sign in
    • Lost or stolen device – remove confidential business information immediately
    • Windows Information Protection – control how employees use business data
    • Windows Defender Antivirus – protects you against malware threats

Windows 10 combines the Windows you already know and adds great improvements you’ll love. Technologies like InstantGo1 let you boot up and resume quickly. And Windows 10 has more built-in security features than ever to help protect against malicious software.

Contact our team today on 0800 030 20 30 option 2, or email sales@mpr-it.co.uk to discuss the requirements for upgrading to Windows 10.

 

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Brand New Service: Tech-as-a-Service

by Nicki Dowsett in General, Hardware, IT Systems, Microsoft, Ransomware, Software, Surface, Tech-as-a-service, TV Distribution, Uncategorised

Tech-as-a-Service

MPR IT Solutions provides premier versatile IT solutions and support for businesses in London & the South East. With 10 years in a highly competitive industry, we have a wealth of knowledge and experience. Listening to our clients is key to providing the high quality of support that our clients find invaluable and unmatched.

Feedback from our clients informs us that with the fast-moving pace of technology, ensuring an office has the latest and most efficient hardware, can be both time consuming and costly. After listening to the feedback we have researched the industry to find a superior solution for this predicament. We are now pleased to announce that we are able to offer a new service, called Tech-as-a-Service, through our trusted partner TechData.

Tech-as-a-Service allows you to combine your hardware, software, and services into a single solution. Giving you access to the latest technology, optimising your IT budget, and simplifying your invoicing with simple monthly payments.

The key benefits of using Tech-as-a-Service include:

  • Predictable, lower costs
  • Access to the latest technology and employee experience
  • Unburdened IT and day-to-day management
  • Flexibility to add or remove technology hardware according to demand

Hardware Example:

The one-off total cost for the hardware and labour would be £13,104.00. By using Tech-as-a-Service you can spread the cost over 36 months, including interest you would make monthly payments of £401.00.

Look at how this breakdown can optimise budgets with an affordable and straightforward subscription:

  • £401.00 per Month
  • £92.53 per Week
  • £13.21 per Day
  • £0.62 per Seat per Day

Software Options

In addition to hardware we can also offer software services for your business. Our team of experts regularly review the market leaders in all solutions that we offer and work hard to ensure that we are providing the best services to our clients. Recommended software packages include:

Tech-as-a-Service can offer subscriptions to these packages over 36 months as opposed to making it more cost effective and affordable, meaning your business can benefit to the best products on the market.

To find out more on how Tech-as-a-Service can benefit your company, please contact our Sales Team on 0800 030 20 30 option 2 or email sales@mpr-it.co.uk

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End of Life – Office 2007

by Nicki Dowsett in General, Industry News, IT Support, IT Systems, Microsoft, Office 2007, Office 365, Outlook 2007

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.

 

 

 

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Wanna Cry Cyber attack

by Nicki Dowsett in cybercrime, Disaster Planning, Helpdesk, Industry News, IT Support, IT Systems, Microsoft, Password Security, Ransomware, Uncategorised, Windows 10

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.

Map of Wanna Cry affected countries

Extent of countries affected by Wanna Cry in Red

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.

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