Can your business afford to ignore this?

Cybersecurity postcodeAre you starting to feel overwhelmed by your IT and data management? Cyber security threats, new regulations and legislation, the risk of hefty fines or data losses. The simplest thing to do is ignore it all or think it’s not relevant to you, but can you afford to take the risk? Businesses need to start taking action,  but where and how do you start to get on top of things and decide what exactly your business needs to do and by when.

Over the next few months, we will be publishing articles to help you sift through this IT and data security minefield and provide you with tools to help you plan what needs to be done.

But first, let’s take a step back for a minute. Although these legislative changes and the impact of cybercrime appear to be totally different, there is one thing that unites them; Security. Crack the security of your IT and data systems and you are halfway there. Protecting your systems and your data from vulnerabilities, both from inside and outside of your business, can be achieved with one robust security solution, which in most cases can be bolted onto your existing IT infrastructure with a minimal amount of disruption.

As an independent business, HBT is not tied to one supplier, enabling us to source the best products on the market for our customers. We are very proud to partner, amongst others, one of the UK’s leading security organisations, Watchguard, whose security products swept the board at the Network Product Guide 2017 IT World Awards.

Following a full assessment of your security requirements, we work together with Watchguard to ensure your business is ready for compliance.

Take action today and register for a complimentary security review
or call us on 02476 867 422 to find out more.

The Who, What and Why of Cyber Security!

Cyber Security is a buzz word in the UK business world right now and one that we recommend youMan hacking into computer take very seriously. But who are these cyber criminals? What is it you are at risk from? Why do they do it?

When HBT is contacted by a business whose computer system has been compromised by an attack, the call is passed to Senior Service Engineer James Hawthorne, who has extensive experience in dealing with results of a computer hack.

James is keen to educate business owners of the dangers as he explains, “Cyber criminals, or hackers, may just want to cause disruption; to have a bit of “fun”, or they may have more sinister motives; to steal your data, corrupt your computer network or gain financial rewards through blackmail or corrupt transactions. They are clever and do what they can to avoid detection for as long as possible. The malicious software they plant (often referred to as malware) will sit dormant on your systems in the day and then spring into action at night when your business is closed and no-one is monitoring your computers. When you come in the next morning, the damage is done.”

James continues, “These malwares come in various shapes and sizes, with different results and consequences. To help you sift through the jargon, we have compiled a list of the most common forms of malware and the damage they can cause.”

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James has listed the four most common forms of security breaches:

1. Viruses – a small piece of code which spreads infection across computers by attaching itself to files.
The Damage? Information can be stolen, modified or corrupted.

2. Worms – wriggling through vulnerabilities with your operating system, worms self-replicate and report back to their original creator when weaknesses are found.
The Damage? Your networks can be corrupted and remote control taken of your computer system.

3. Spyware/Adware – installed on your computer when you open infected attachments or click on corrupted links.
The Damage? Personal information, including passwords can be collected, enabling the user to log in as you to secure sites, such as your bank. This malware can also give someone control of your computer.

4. Trojans – just like the Trojan Horse, a programme you run will appear harmless, but in the background run malicious software without you noticing.
The Damage? Opens a way in to your computer allowing information to be stolen or damage to be caused.

James finishes, “These attacks are all computer generated by the hackers. Each hour hundreds of thousands of computer systems will become potential victims– no-one is safe from attack. To protect your business, you need to have a robust security system in place; one that is regularly updated to protect you against the latest malware attack.”

When did you last review your computer network security? HBT Communications provides a complimentary, no-obligation security review.

Book yours today by calling us on 02476 867 422 or completing our short security review form.

Go VOIP! 5 Reasons Your Business Needs to Make the Change

Launched in the early 2000’s VOIP was hailed as the phone platform to transform business VOIP Telephonycommunication. Unfortunately, poor internet connectivity lead to bad press and businesses were reluctant to make the move away from their traditional phone line connection.

Fast forward to 2017 and it’s a different story. Improved internet connectivity has meant that the transformation within the world of business is beginning to take place.

It can be time consuming to wade through the jargon and get a true understanding of the business case to switch to a VOIP phone system and so to help we have compiled a list of the top 5 reasons our clients tell us of why they made the move.

  • Easier to budget – A VOIP system is billed as a set monthly fee, giving you peace of mind from a fixed fee which includes all UK phones calls, to both landlines and mobiles. No more nasty surprises at the end of the month.
  • Adds Flexibility – A VOIP system allows you to answer your phones whenever and wherever you are as if you were in the office. You and your team can work seamlessly whether you are at your desk, out on the road, on a beach in the Maldives or in the rainforests of the Amazon, all you need is an internet connection.
  • Unifies Communication – All your devices mobiles, tablets and desktops connected and working together. Unifying communication channels in this way is reaping rewards for many of our clients especially those with employees out on the road.
  • Empowers Employees – The balance between work and life is more important than ever, with 13.7% of workforce working from home (up by 12% from 2005) and 30% feeling that their productivity increased when they work away from the office.  Many of our clients have established a home working policy (ourselves included) and because they have a VOIP system their employees can work from home as if they were at the end of their extension number.
  • Futureproofs Business – Protecting your business infrastructure today and into the future is vital for a sustainable business. A VOIP phone system easily adapts to your business’ needs whether you are expanding or streamlining your operation.

 

Discover more about VOIP and how it will improve your business by booking a consultation with your local VOIP experts, HBT Communications.

HBT Communications is a family business based in the Midlands, we specialise in implementing VOIP systems for SME’s across Coventry and the Midlands. Call us today on 02476 867 422 or email sales@hbtcommunications.com to find out more.

With the end of ISDN in sight, now really is the perfect time to Go VOIP.

Hefty Fines for Businesses If Security Is Not Up to Standard

PCI ComplianceIn an article for Computer Weekly, Jeremy King, International Director at the Payment Card Industry Security Standards Council (PCI SSC) said “Companies, both large and small, need to act now and start putting in place robust standards and procedures to counter the cyber security threat, or face the prospect of paying astronomical costs in regulatory fines and reputational harm to their brand.”

Coventry and Warwickshire businesses accepting card payments have a duty of care to be PCI compliant, currently compliance is best practise, but from 1 February 2018 compliance will be mandatory. The Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) applies to businesses of all sizes and is in place to protect cardholder data.

If your business takes card payments and is the victim of a security breach after 1 February 2018 you will face a substantial fine and security breaches are becoming more commonplace. In 2015 the UK Government’s information security breaches survey reported that 90% of large organisations and 74% of SMEs were a victim of a security breach. This would equate to an estimated total of £1.4bn in regulatory fines.

To become PCI Compliant your business needs to demonstrate your IT networks (both internal and internet connections) are secure and that you have the correct defences in place to protect cardholder data.

HBT Communications, Coventry’s leading IT and Telecoms supplier, provides a complimentary PCI compliance review and will design a security solution to ensure your business meets the required regulations and avoids hefty penalties.

Act now and book your PCI review today. Call us on 02476 867 422

Great Windows Shortcuts!

windows key on keyboardKeyboard shortcuts are great at saving us time, but sometimes hard to find ones that are really useful.

Our MD, Zamurad Hussain has put together his top 4 for you, plus a bonus tip if your device keeps you awake at night:

1. To return to your desktop and minimise all your open windows,  press WIN + D or WIN + M

2. To quickly lock your work PC when leaving your desk, which is best practice in office environments, press WIN+L

3. To quickly switch between open applications, press ALT + TAB

4. For quick access to system  and shutdown options, right click “Start”

5. Does your device keep you awake at night? If you can’t bear the thought of switching your devices off at night try downloading f.lux – it makes the color of your computer, mobile and tablet displays adapt to the time of day, warm at night to help you sleep better.

 

We hope you’ve found these useful. The rest of the team at HBT will taking it in turns to share their favourite tips too, so keep a look out for updates.

We are here to help. If you have any questions about getting the best out of your IT system,
please do not hesitate to get in touch.

 

Don’t Get Caught out by Phishing Emails

Following our recent security post about an Amazon phishing email currently doing the rounds, we have been inundated with questions from business owners about how they can raise staff awareness on identifying these emails and taking appropriate action.

We have put these 5 tips together to help you.

  1. 1. Check the Sender’s Email

At first glance the sender’s email may look like it’s from your bank or one of the retailers you buy from on-line, but on closer inspection of the actual email address you can often spot irregularities. All the big-name brands will have an email address consistent with their website address – it would never be from a Gmail or an outlook account for example.

Phishing email
  1. 2. Check the Email Content

Carefully read through the email content; look out for spelling errors or poorly written content.

 

  1. 3. Search for the Email Subject Line

If you are still unsure about how genuine the email is, you can copy the email subject line into a Google search. If it is a scam email, there may be others affected who have posted something helpful on-line. There are specific websites who report on such scams to inform people about potential risks.

 

  1. 4. Contact the Business

The scammers will not always use big names when sending out a scam email; small businesses can be victims too. It may seem genuine with an invoice or an order form attached. Opening these attachments can open a can of worms. If you have any doubts about the authenticity of the email, give the company a call. This will also make them aware if their business is a victim of the hackers so they can put measures in place to limit damages.

 

  1. 5. If in Doubt – Delete the Email!

The important thing to remember is that if you have any doubts, do nothing – do not click on any links and do not open any attachments. Report the email to your IT department or your IT supplier and delete it. It’s better to be safe than sorry.

 

We have created a poster which you can display in your staff rooms and kitchen areas. Please get in touch if you would like us to send you one.

We also offer a complimentary security review to assess how secure your IT systems are and identify any potential risks. Contact us today on 02476 867 422 or email sales@hbtcommunications.com

Back-Up or Pack Up – Your Choice

In our experience, backing up data and files is one of those tasks on the “do it tomorrow” list! Isfrustrated business personthat true in your business? But take a step back – what would happen if there was a fire in your premises or your computer system was hacked? Would your business survive without being able to access files, product and financial information or customer data? In a survey of small businesses carried out in the US it was reported that 40% of SMEs believe that losing their data would result in their company going out of business*. That is quite a scary statistic and a situation that can be so easily avoided.

Here are our top 2 recommendations for data back-up:

1.       USB Stick or External Hard Drive

Are you running just one or two computers? Using a USB or External Hard Drive to copy across your files is a quick and easy way to create a back-up. This is a manual process and so it’s handy to set a calendar reminder so you don’t forget to do it regularly. All you need to do is copy and paste your files and let it run in the background whilst you get on with other things. Keep a track of back-ups by creating a folder for each backup using the date, such as 20170331Backup.  We advise that you keep these devices off site for extra security.

2.       The Cloud

There are many options for backing up to the cloud. Microsoft, Google and Dropbox all provide safe and secure cloud storage solutions. Some applications allow you to continually sync your devices, so your files are always up to date without you having to think about it.

Using the cloud, your files will always be stored off site and so long as you have an internet connection, your files can be quickly accessed or restored. There is usually a nominal charge for using a cloud solution. Most organisations charge monthly which avoids you needing to make a big financial investment. The cost usually depends on the amount of storage space you need, but one thing we know for sure is that this monthly fee pales into insignificance compared to the cost of losing all your business files and data.

Your preferred choice for back-ups will depend on several factors; what do you need to back up and how often, do you need to include emails, do you need a manual or automatic process in place?

HBT can provide help and advice to guide you on the best approach to keeping your business information safe. We also offer a secure and robust automated back-up and recovery service.

Let us take care of everything; giving you peace of mind that if the unthinkable does happen your business is prepared and can be quickly back-up and running.

For more information or to book your complimentary back-up consultation,
please contact us today by calling 02476 867 422 or sending an email to sales@hbtcommunications.com

 

 

*Source: http://investor.carbonite.com/releasedetail.cfm?ReleaseID=847106

 

Businesses are saving 50% on their telephony costs with IP vs traditional ISDN

Is it time for you to make the swap?

HBT has been selling IP telephony solutions to satisfied customers for over 10 years. Over that period save money with IP phonesthe communications industry has collected data on savings achieved by businesses operating in all sectors of the economy. Now the scores are in, the savings evaluated, and it makes impressive reading. By moving from traditional (ISDN) lines to a hosted (IP) solution

  • 96% of business confirmed savings
  • Average amount of money saved on telephony costs per business 35%
  • 1 in 4 business cut their telephony costs in half (50% saving)

Telecoms is often seen as an unavoidable cost of running a business, with no options to improve or save money. But now with hosted solutions, you do have a choice and you can reduce the telephone overheads and monthly costs that are impacting your profitability. By moving to a hosted solution as well as saving money you improve reliability. On average, 4 in 10 businesses with traditional phone systems have a loss of service of up to 8 hours during a 12-month period. Any loss of service is critical and not what a dynamic, customer focussed business needs.
Hosted telephone solutions have been implemented in every sector of the UK economy, so it is likely that some of your competitors are already enjoying the advantages of

  • Cost savings
  • Improved reliability
  • Flexibility
  • And the knowledge that they have an up-to-date telephone solution that can grow and adapt with their business.

If the statistics above hHBT Communications Phone Systemave not convinced you, we hope this date will; 2025. In 8 years’ time BT will switch off your current (ISDN) system, leaving you with no communications at all. Already, BT has removed all funding to ISDN, so there is no development and minimal maintenance. Find out more.

So why delay? Contact HBT today to take the HBT challenge.

The HBT challenge estimates the savings you can achieve by switching to a hosted telephone solution.

Why wait to save money in your business?

Did you know that Telephone Hacking is costing UK businesses millions of pounds each year?

Silent thiefThis type of hacking is failing to hit the headlines and many businesses are unaware of the dangers and the fact they are victims; the thieves are clever and will do what they can to keep from being detected.
How do the Telephone Hackers steal money from your business?
Telephone hackers will identify weaknesses within your phone system, breaking in through vulnerable voicemail boxes. Once they have gained access to your system, they re-route calls to pass them through a premium rate number.
As a caller, you are completely unaware that anything has changed; the dial tone stays the same and the call quality is unaffected. Call amounts are kept small so the crime can remain undetected for months. However, these small amounts add up to a significant sum and unless you check each item on your phone bill regularly you may never spot that your hard-earned profits are being stolen from your business.
HBT is working closely with businesses just like yours to protect them from this growing crime. Our team of security experts will advise you and your team on best practice and has access to the latest technologies to keep your phone systems secure and safe from vulnerable and costly attacks.

We can provide you with a free Telephone Security Health Check, simply email security@hbtcommunications.com or call us today on 02476 867 422.

Stay safe. Stay protected.
Contact HBT Communications today to book your Telephone Security Health Check.

7 Budget planning tips for your IT and Telecoms for 2017

Do you need to look at reducing your overheads in 2017? Read our top tips on how your can reduce 2017your IT and Telecoms costs.

1. Consider moving to a hosted phone system and benefit from a zero phone billing solution and this includes call to mobiles.

 
2. Explore hosted IT applications to avoid expensive and disruptive software upgrades. Cloud applications are continually kept up to date. This also saves on hardware costs and maintenance

 
3. Implement an energy saving policy and encourage staff to switch off equipment at night and enable automatic sleep mode if computers are unused for 10 minutes.

 
4. Look out for upgrade deals such as HBT’s free handset offer. This allows you to improve your phone system with NO capital outlay.

 
5. Cashback deals are available to give you money back on your old equipment, so don’t assume that upgrading means you have to just throw your old equipment away.

 

6. Review your mobile phone bills – being tied in to a long-term contract and mandatory phone upgrades are becoming a thing of the past. Look out for flexible sim-only business mobile packages. HBT works closely with a number of leading mobile networks and is able to provide sim-only, roaming network packages that won’t tie you down and give you value for money.

 

7. Don’t just stick with what you know / your current supplier, moving providers is much easier than you think so shop around for the best deal for your business. A new year is a fresh start and a chance to take a step back and review your costs.

 

We’re inviting you to #ChallengeHBT to see how much money they can save you –
simply complete this short form and we will do the rest!

Alternatively if you would prefer to speak to someone, please give us a call on 02476 867 422