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MPR IT February 2016 Newsletter

by Nicki Dowsett in Disaster Planning, Disaster Recovery, Helpdesk, Hosted phone, Industry News, IT Support, Monthly Newsletter, MPR, SHA1 Algorithm

Welcome

Welcome to the first 2016 edition of MPR IT newsletter. Christmas seems such a long time ago, that lovely time off we all spent with friends and family is a distant memory.  We decided against a January Newsletter as we know how busy everyone is after 2 weeks off.  Emails to be ploughed through and general catch up takes a toll on everyone those first few weeks.  Its now almost time for Valentines day, so here is our first offering of 2016.

Hosted Telephone Systems

Over the last few months we have been increasingly asked if we offer Hosted Telephone systems. This has not been something we have been able to provide, until now.  Working in conjunction with a highly regarded supplier, MPR IT are pleased to have secured a partnership which can offer our clients an all round solution.  Hosted phone systems have a number of advantages to improve efficiency within your business.  They can integrate into your CRM, allowing caller details to appear on your screen, link up with booking systems so confirmation can be instantly sent to your client.  Hosted phone systems are a cloud based option with a set fee per month per user, it is not only time saving when linked to your CRM, it is also more cost effective, no more high phone bills just a set monthly fee.  We also talk about Disaster planning in this newsletter, hosted systems can assist in your plan.  If you cannot access your offices this system can be switched over instantly to your back up plan.    For more information please contact our Sales team on 0800 030 20 30 to discuss how this can benefit your business.

PC & Network Security

Please read our latest blog on Password Security and how to protect both your personal and company information from the risk of being hacked.  Hackers are becoming more and more sophisticated in accessing your information.  Do not be complacent and think you cannot be at risk.  Everyone knows someone that has been hacked in some way shape or form, not just social media but also online shopping accounts.  Now we are increasingly becoming aware of businesses being hacked for bank details and customer information.  If you have one thing to do today that cannot be left till tomorrow – its change your passwords.

Disaster Management Planning

Businesses devastated by 2015 Floods

Businesses devastated by 2015 Floods

Oxfordshire Council Office Fire 2015

Oxfordshire Council Office Fire 2015

Some people in the UK over the last few weeks may have been wondering when Noah was going to appear with his Ark!   You may know that the Lake District is very much a favourite holiday place for Richard and the devastating floods in the North of UK were shocking to us all.  In the past the South East has also sadly been affected by adverse weather, not just rain but wind and snow.  How prepared is your business in the case of such an event or if there is a burst pipe or fire at your offices.  Can your business continue in the situation that your staff cannot physically work in the office.  We have previously posted a blog about Disaster planning, its not just small businesses that can be affected. Last year Oxfordshire Council offices burnt down and it has recently been announced that they will not be able to return to the building.  MPR IT can help to ensure your data is safe and secure and that your staff can continue to work from an alternative location, however it is key that these plans are in place in advance.  If your servers and PC’s are not protected in advance this could have a devastating effect on your business. Contact us to discuss how we can help you plan for the unexpected & make sure your business can continue should the worst happen

 Blog Posts & Social Media

In case you missed it with all those Christmas parties, we issued a blog in December about support ending on SHA1.  What is that you ask?  Check out the blog to see how this is actually important for all web users.

Our first blog of the year is all about how important IT Support is for your business to run effectively.  As an existing customer of MPR you are already safe in the knowledge of how we can support you efficiently and within budget.  However please read our blog for a reminder how life can be without a reputable support company.

Do you follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Linkedin?  As part of our marketing plan for 2016, we will be more active on all forms of social media.  Make sure you follow us for up to date information and tech news.

Database Spring Clean

You may have recently been contacted by either Nicki or Gaby regarding the contact details we hold for your company.  We would like to say a huge thank you for helping us complete the mammoth project of ensuring all the details we hold are correct.  Should you have any changes in staff and would like to remove or add members of staff please contact us so that we can keep our database up to date.  We have in the past been contacted by an ex-employee of one of our customers, trying to get access to information they are no longer entitled too. Please therefore ensure we know of any staff changes that you feel we should be aware of.  If you have not yet responded to our communication please can you do as soon as you get a chance.  Thanks

Tech Team News

First off the team have had 750 tickets raised within the month of January, of these 691 have been completed and resolved.  Tickets include site visits for new installs and so cannot always be resolved straight away. Our SLA response is to resolve tickets within 4 hours and in fact 75% of these tickets were actually resolved within an hour so well ahead of our target for 4 hours.

The team are not only working hard on resolving tickets but also having to do this whilst the office is being re-organised with extra space being created, walls coming down and general mess that comes with all the work involved.  The office desperately needs to be expanded with the addition of a new workshop apprentice joining the team as well as being on the hunt for a new 2nd Line Engineer to join the team.

A number of site visits have taken place during January for the usual reasons of installations and cabling, however we have had to visit several companies as unfortunately security has been breached.  Please read our separate blog on hacking and site security.

Should you have any queries regarding any of the stories in this months newsletter or with regards to the support we provide to your company.  Please do not hesitate to contact us either by email info@mpr-it.co.uk or call us on 0800 030 20 30.

 

 

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SHA1 SUPPORT ENDING IN 2016

by Nicki Dowsett in DNS Web Hosting, SHA1 Algorithm, SHA2 Algortihm, SSL Certificates

SHA1 SUPPORT ENDING IN 2016

For many internet users we simply enter the website address we require and browse – we don’t worry about all the technical information and algorithms going on in the background.  Quite simply we don’t need to know and we access information on the world wide web at our leisure.

There are a number of people in the world that unfortunately spend a lot of time and make money by trying to break the cryptographic algorithms in the back ground.  More commonly known as hackers.  We have all recently seen the news stories of large organisations being hacked and customer details stolen – Talk Talk and VTech being the most recent to hit the headlines.  Hackers are constantly looking at ways to break the system.

SHA1 is one of the most crucial cryptographic algorithms, and has for a long while been the algorithm supported by all browsers.  This is a hash function that can be used to map digital data of arbitrary size to digital fixed size.  In terms for you and me, it basically takes a section of text, computer code or other message and encrypts it to a long string of letters and numbers, individual to that message.  Any slight change to the message would mean a new hash must be generated.  This allows data to remain secure, like a fingerprint the hash must always be unique.  If the hash is not unique the door can be opened and this is when hackers can get access to secure information on banking sites, downloads and websites.

It has recently been announced that in 2016, many browsers will no longer support SHA1.  Its replacement SHA2 will be algorithm supported in the back ground by newer web browsers, however some of the older browsers will not be able to support this new algorithm. It is therefore essential that you ensure your web browser is the latest available version.  This isn’t the first time the algorithm has needed to be updated.  Back in 2008 following a number of attacks on MD5 (a previous algorithm), SHA1 was implemented.  However it took till 2013 to get all browsers to support SHA1 as opposed to MD5.  With technology constantly changing and getting faster SHA1 is now potentially open to attack.  In fact cryptographers have been warning since 2012 the advances of technology means that SHA1 could also be openly attacked.

According to Cloudflare.com  SHA2 is supported by at least 98% of browsers so many of us won’t even be aware of the potential threat.  If you are not on one of the web browsers supported by SHA2 when you try to access an encrypted site you will see the page cannot be displayed error.

We recommend that you ensure you are using one of the newer web browsers.  Should you require any assistance in updating your browsers or have any questions please contact our help desk team.

Additionally MPR IT can offer services relating to your business web site including SSL Certificates (Secured Socket Layer) and Domain hosting on our own DNS servers.

SSL CERTIFICATES

SSL Certificates create an encryption between your web server and your visitor’s web browsers to allow private information to be kept secure without the risk of data being tampered with. They are typically used on sites that have a secure log in area with password protection or where customers buy products directly from your site allowing transactions to remain secure.  When a SSL certificate is used on a website you will see a padlock in the web browsers or the start of the web address will be https://.  This means that only the business that owns the website can access secure data.  Most SSL certificates will only apply to one domain name, however please contact us to discuss your options should you have more than one registered domain name for your business.

NEW DNS SERVER & WEB HOSTING

Many of our clients use MPR to host business web sites on the internet.  In order to do this MPR uses a number of different hosted DNS (Domain Name Server)/Nameservers. A DNS is effectively a phonebook for the internet, maintaining a directory of domain names and translates these to IP addresses.

When you request a site such as www.mpr-it.co.uk it will check the nameservers for the web address, and then grab the I.P (telephone number) behind the name and point you to the “property” the “telephone number” belongs too. (The property being the webserver). This is a brief explanation but DNS “records” are responsible for pointing your businesses email, website, servers etc. to the correct “telephone numbers” of your “property”.

We are able to lease space to our clients to store their web site and any data associated with it.  With the recent installation of a new DNS we are able to offer a more stable and resilient service to our clients, with improved failover, custom branded nameservers and various reporting utilities (on request).

Should you wish to discuss the services that we can offer your business or if you feel that the issues covered in this blog may affect you Please contact MPR IT on 0800 030 20 30 or info@mpr-it.co.uk

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