Beware of printer helpline scam

The National Trading Standards (NTS) eCrime Team has issued a warning about a scam targeting those looking for help with printer problems.The “printer helpline scam” differs from most scams as it requires consumers to contact the criminals directly using fake “helpline” numbers in online adverts in search engines results or social media.
According to the eCrime Team, the criminals behind the scam are gaining remote access to people’s computers by pretending to help them to resolve their technical problems.
Once victims have allowed access to their systems, the criminals are stealing personal information, including bank account details, and infecting computers with malware.
One particular criminal group, which claims to be affiliated with a wide range of technology brands and printer manufacturers, takes control of victims’ computers and demands payment to release them.
Figures from Action Fraud, UK’s national reporting center for fraud and cybercrime, reveal that cases such as computer service fraud, which includes scams such this, have risen by 47% since 2014.
“This printer helpline scam is particularly pernicious because it encourages victims to unknowingly contact the fraudsters of their own accord,” said Mike Andrews, lead coordinator of the NTS crime Team.
“While victims expect, they will receive help with their printer problems, they have in fact been lured into a trap and find themselves at risking of losing money, important personal information and also have their computer security compromised.”

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End of Life for Microsoft 2007 Exchange & Microsoft Price Hike

The Microsoft 2007 Exchange element of MS Small Business Server 2008 goes end of life in April 2017. This means that there will be no further security updates so you need to think about upgrading your server and software now. The replacement for this product is Server 2012 or 2016 with Exchange 2010 or Office 365. Microsoft no longer do an OEM version of Exchange therefore this option is very expensive when combined with Server 2012/2016, in comparison, to the prices paid when purchasing Small Business Server. Intentionally, I believe to drive customers to take up Office 365 because low up- front costs.
However, buyer beware, prices for on premise software i.e. Server 2012 & 2016 are due to rise by 13% on the 1st January 2017 and a whopping 22% on cloud software.
The changes come as a response to the weaker value of the pound, which has dropped precipitously in the months following June’s Brexit vote. Microsoft said that the new prices have been adjusted in order to “realign close to euro levels”.
Microsoft stated “We periodically assess the impact of local pricing of our products and services to ensure there is reasonable alignment across the region, and this change is an outcome of this assessment. These changes are similar to the recent harmonisation adjustments to pricing in Norwegian krone and Swiss franc we made in April 2016.”
“Even after this adjustment, customers across the region buying in British pound will still find our cloud offerings highly competitive,” the company wrote as part of a blog post announcing the changes.
Microsoft also pointed out that existing business customers with Office 365 agreements have price protection on software and cloud services they’ve already ordered, so these will not be affected by the rises of their subscription term, which is usually 12 months.

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Office workers waste more time on slow tech than they spend on holiday

Office workers are wasting time using slow and outdated technology. In some cases, workers are wasting more time than they spend on holiday each year.

Trying to run an office which is as efficient and productive as possible isn’t easy. Many people might think that technology can help us to achieve this, but in the real world, old devices and software that is not user-friendly are forcing people to waste valuable time.

New research from Sharp has uncovered that the average UK office worker wastes at least 21 days each year due to slow or outdated technology, a time-frame which is longer than the paid annual leave of many UK workers.

The survey of over 1,000 office workers in the UK found that this adds up to almost 40 minutes wasted per employee per day, the equivalent of 167 hours or four weeks of dead time every year, costing businesses over £2,100 per employee per year.

The biggest time drain reported was searching for files on a server – 23 minutes per day – thanks to poor search tools. Other routine time wasters include using the printer: seven minutes spent each day waiting for it to warm up; and nearly ten minutes waiting for pages to come out.

This dead time spent using poor office systems and equipment means lost opportunities, lost profits and even lost employees. Almost 80 per cent of respondents said that their workplace is out of date when it comes to technology. And if their office didn’t have such outdated technology, over half of workers (53 per cent) said they would be more productive, and nearly one in seven people (14 per cent) said they would stop looking for another job, suggesting a big opportunity for businesses to improve both output and staff retention.

Contact us for a free survey network survey and let us see if we can boost productivity and moral!

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Downtime hits Microsoft & Google cloud users as the service providers both have technical difficulties

A Microsoft Azure outage left users across the globe unable to access key services for a couple of hours on 15 September because of a DNS (domain name system) malfunction

The problems began just before midday, UTC time, with Microsoft warning users on its Azure status page that they might encounter availability issues when trying to use a range of the company’s cloud services, including SQL database and Azure backup. The company cited a spike in networking traffic as the root cause of the problems, which were reportedly resolved around 1pm UTC time.

Microsoft was not the only cloud provider to run into technical difficulties, with Google Apps for Work users across the US and UK unable to use the service for 90 minutes on 14 September.

This highlights why companies cannot afford to overlook the importance of business continuity when shifting workloads to the cloud.

In a cloud-first world, you do need to have a strategy in place for when Azure, Office 365 or another critical cloud service goes offline. You need to have plan in place to keep operating when your cloud provider becomes unavailable.

For advice in solving this potential problem contact june@yousystems.co.uk

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Congratulate Adam on his new role – Technical Director!

Adam joined YOU Systems on the 16th of August 2004 as a trainee workshop engineer.  Most of you have watched him develop his career with the company over the past 12 years. It is with great pleasure that I have promoted him from Senior Engineer to Technical Director. 

He has been such a great asset to us all!

adam green

 

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Welcome to our New Trainee Workshop Engineer – Lewis Hill

Lewis joins us on the same modern apprentice scheme as Adam started out on. He is already cutting his teeth on the implementation of a new call logging system. No doubt you will get to speak with him over the forth coming weeks.

lewis hill (2)

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How to get your life back

You may remember the article I emailed out to you on what faster broadband has done for me? It was based on me travelling to the office for just one day a week instead of five. However, this has now changed to one day a fortnight!

The savings made by not travelling to Peterborough from Rutland are now 16 weeks of my life back and a financial saving of £2,226 a year, that well over £11,000 for 5 years.  

As a broadband champion for the Connecting Cambridgeshire programme, I campaigned for better connections for local businesses in Peterborough and was delighted when the new fibre cabinet serving part of Fengate went live in 2015 all be it a lot later than promised. 

The phone extension at home allows me to make and pick up any phone calls coming into the office as if I were sat at my desk and I know that a lot of you have been very surprised by the quality of the line – it is as good as ISDN. I connect to the office via my PC and can work and print as if I am at my desk.

 Working from home is second nature to me. Some of you may not know that I have a long track record in selling vending machines and contract hire for large corporate companies based in Slough, Cardiff, Manchester and Birmingham.  None of them easy journeys from the Peterborough area!  So I have always been very disciplined.  

So what am I doing with my extra time? I now have the time to do regular blogs on the web site and spend more time on our marketing.  I also plan to spend a bit more time contacting you my loyal customers by phone, email and the occasional visit.

 On the home front I get a bit more relaxed time with the animals. Molly the black Labrador takes 45 minutes twice a day to walk and the cows, pigs & sheep take up another 15 to 20 minutes.  I never thought I would be walking 15,000 steps/7 miles a day. 

So what’s the next jump? Video conferencing or Skype!  I am sure that you are not ready to see me without the war paint and in my scruffs – but it will just be a question of time before it becomes the norm!

 If you read the next article it infers that this next phase of technology is well on it’s way to becoming mainstream.   

*** If you haven’t got Faster Broadband yet please let me know and I will check to see if it is available for you. I am still in contact with Connecting Cambridgeshire and they are keen to fill in the gaps of coverage. 

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Five ways to better productivity & well being for homeworkers

More employers have begun to offer a flexible approach to work and more of us are choosing to work from home. No interruptions from co-workers is a big advantage but just as important you need to understand the potential disadvantages.
Do not spend too much time sitting,  make little changes to your day.
Probably the main disadvantage is the time you are sat at your desk can have health implications. Another is typically home ‘office’ setups are not ergonomically sound; long hours computing on the sofa or at the kitchen table can lead to other issues related to back,
One of the easiest ways to get moving is to stand up, it burns extra calories; increases our metabolism, tones muscles and improves blood flow. Or you could make a change to your desk set up by purchasing a sit-stand desk. Take proactive measures to be more active during work time and here are five ways to improve productivity and wellbeing when working from home.
(1) Analyse your workspace
Look at your workspace and devise ways in which you can optimise your sit-stand time. Sit-stand equipment factors in proper ergonomics, but for when you do have to sit down make sure that you have a comfortable chair with proper support for your back.
(2) Have a routine
Routines are good and create a schedule to ensure that you factor in adequate time to stand or move away from your desk. EG set an alarm on your phone at 10am, then stand for 15-20 minutes before sitting down, repeat a few more times during the day. You could even break up work tasks into 45-minute chunks before taking a break to make a drink which increases stand time and also gives you time away from your screen.
(3) Standing is good
Look at your work and do some tasks standing up. If very little can be done standing then consider other ways to break up your day such as standing to make lunch, do an errand, stretch or to go for a quick jog or brisk walk. We can all benefit from a bit of fresh air and vitamin D on the sunny days.
(4) Keep work and leisure separate
Keep your work space separate from your leisure space. Stick to a set a time schedule as if you were working in an office so that you preserve your home time. Logging off at a set time and putting your work away will help you to switch off from work and ensure maintain a sense of work-life balance.
(5) Keeping track of sedentary time
Assess exactly how much time you spend sitting – wearable fitness trackers and apps are all good for this and will provide you with a realistic view of your sitting time, although it might give you a shock to see how little you are moving.
Do not despair if you think you’re spending too much time sitting, start by making small changes to your schedule and working habits. The good news is that wherever your desk resides, studies show, standing up even one more hour a day produced some significant results: 66 per cent felt more productive, 87 per cent felt more energised, 71 per cent felt more focused and 50% experienced reductions in pain (upper back, neck, shoulder). Certainly more than just a few good reasons to make a change.

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YOU Systems IT Support warn Peterborough of rare ransomware worm as highlighted by Microsoft.

Microsoft has posted a warning to users about ZCryptor, a newly discovered ransomware variant which has the rare ability to self-replicate.  Security experts expect future ransomware will follow to become more efficient at spreading to and infecting larger targets.

The ransonware worm that can initially infect targets through traditional phishing schemes, macros or fake installers, but also has the ability to place autorun files on removable storage devices. This means the ransomware can spread itself to other machines on portable storage devices, rather than relying on more targets to fall victim to phishing, according to Microsoft.

It is thought that ransomware will become self-replicating and that ransomware worms are part of the natural evolution of malware. This is part of a broader trend to focus on spreading beyond the initially infected host in order to cause more damage.

Microsoft suggest that the new ransomware worm just affects the older versions of Windows. Microsoft’s first suggestion for users to protect themselves is to upgrade to Windows 10. While experts generally considered this to be good advice, because Windows 10 has better security features some tests have found Zcryptor to function in exactly the same disastrous way.

YOU Systems IT Support team would still suggest moving to Windows 10 now given the fact that it is still free to upgrade from Windows 7 and 8. It wouldn’t be a preventative measure in this case however, it is an operating system, which is constantly reviewed with security updates so likely to offer more protection in the long term.  

Just make sure you take regular backups of data to external sources, being wary of an emails you are not expecting, disabling macros in Office, and avoiding websites that are known for being malware breeding grounds such as illegal music sites.

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The Biggest Mistakes Business Owners Make When Sourcing IT Support in Peterborough and How to Avoid Them

So, along with all the other hats that you wear you are also landed with the job of overseeing your organisation’s network.  What was once 1 or 2 computers and a printer has now grown and so has your dependency on them! You now have 5 or 6 and maybe a server and when they go wrong you have staff siting around which you are paying doing nothing!

When you get stuck you call a friend in who comes after work but you feel unhappy about taking up his spare time and he is not always available and you can sometime wait a few days.  Or maybe you are with a company that you are not happy with – you feel that you are not getting the service you are paying for.

But you are frightened of change! Better the devil you know scenario? Well this guide is to help you find the right IT provider for support by making you aware of the pitfalls.

5 Simple checks to make sure you find the right IT Support Provider in Peterborough.

1 Not checking what’s covered by the contract

Currently you have paid your money for your maintenance contact but every time you contact your support company you receive a bill. Nothing you call them for seems to be covered and you get those annoying little (or not so little bills)!

Make sure you check:

  • Parts are covered with in the contract
  • Server and workstation software support is included in the contract (Microsoft SBS 2011, Microsoft Server 2012, Symantec Back Up Exec, Microsoft Windows & Office) to give a few examples.
  • Check that your antivirus and malware packages are included
  • All call outs, labour and travel time are included
  • Get a list of what is not covered (i.e. installing new equipment or upgrades). Find out if there is a reduced charge for this type of call if you are a contract customer.
  • Is loan equipment supplied free of charge if required

2 Being tied in to a long term contract by not reading the termination clause   

You are not happy with their service or you have had a cheaper quote. However you go to change provider and you have been told that you can’t cancel because you have not given the correct notice period.

It is standard in the computer industry that maintenance companies have a clause that states that you can only cancel the contract by giving 90 days’ notice prior to the anniversary of the contract otherwise it rolls over to another year.

  • Check the small print
  • Negotiate an amendment before you sign.
  • Check it’s just an annual agreement
  • Ask for a three month trial

3 Paying too much

 You seem to pay a fortune for a service you hardly use and when you do use it there are additional charges.

  • Decide what cover you really need
  • Approach 3 companies for quotes (you can get them to quote by email – there is no need to see their sales person who will take up your valuable time).
  • See if you can yet a deal when changing i.e. 15 months for the price of 12

4 Response is Slow

 You call out your current provider and you have paid for a 4 hour or 8 hour response but you are not getting it.

  • Check that you have critical equipment covered on a 4 hour response with a guaranteed fix or replacement time
  • Get references from their existing clients – ask for a list of clients the same size as you and pick 3 and ring or email them for a reference.
  • Ask about the response and fix times – are they happy with the service?
  • How long have they been a client?

5 Quality of the engineers

When you call out your existing company they take 3 or 4 times to fix what you consider to be a simple problem. When you ask the engineer for an explanation he rattles on in a language you cannot understand.

Ask for a free health check before committing to a contract & speak to the engineer. Do you get on with him – does he speak in plain non tech language.

  • Are they Microsoft qualified?
  • How long have their engineers worked for them? This will give you an idea on happy their staff are and how experience they are.
  • When you speak to their current clients for a reference ask about the quality of the engineers. Do they get the same engineers each time and how happy are they with them?
  • Check they are insured. Do they have public liability insurance and professional indemnity cover? If they have an accident on your site are they covered under their own insurance rather than yours? If they are negligent are they adequately insured?

Giving access to your IT equipment is a big deal. You need to make sure you give this responsibility to the correct company. By doing your homework initially you will choose the correct provider and be able to build a long and lasting relationship with them.

If there is any other information you would like or if you require a quote for IT Support in Peterborough or you have a question which is not covered in my report then please feel free to contact me.

June@yousystems.co.uk  or 01733 56900

 

 

 

 

 

 

June Titterton-Fox

 

 

 

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