Archive for Tech Tips for Business Owners

Backup? DR? BDR? Explained in nice simple language..

Backup. We all know we should do it.. but how often? And when? Where should it be stored?

Firstly, let’s get one thing straight. Backup is NOT for when you accidentally delete a file. Don’t worry, that often happens! If you re using Windows server your IT team should be able to get the file back in under 5 mins.. if not? Get a new IT team! ( hint: that’s us)

Here’s a mental picture to help decide when and where to backup. Imagine your building burns down. Horrific thought, I know,  but that’s when backups are important! So.. if you re backing up to a tape or external drive, and its left plugged in next to the server – well you may as well never have backed it up!

Your backup MUST be tested, regularly. Ideally monthly, worst case once a quarter. If you don’t know when you last tested your backup, then we can do that for you for a fixed fee.

Your backup MUST be off site. Now many businesses use tape, and it’s taken home each night which is a better bet. But now you want to go out straight from work – so your confidential company data is now lying in a car in town overnight.. not the ideal solution!

Online backups are the best, assuming your internet connection is fast enough.. they happen every night, so you can’t forget. The data is encrypted before it leaves your building, so no one else can see your data. (Not even us!)

Disaster recovery (DR) is getting things back up and running (after the fire brigade have finished putting the flames out.) Granted, you may think you have better things to worry about with your building being on fire – but you need to know two important things:

Who owes you money? and Who do you need to service or supply?

With traditional tapes, you re looking at about 4 days, (on average) to be able to answer these questions.

Our Backup and Disaster Recovery service (BDR) is quicker to get you answers. Much quicker. Like about 4 hours.

We do an online backup every night, we then convert that backup to a virtual machine start the machine up and send you a screenshot of it running. So you KNOW. Your data is safe! How’s that for peace of mind.

If you are unfortunate enough ever to need our DR system, then we can have your staff logging in from home quickly and easily. If you have our hosted phone system too, well that’s just the icing on the cake and your staff can take calls from home too!


So talk to us NOW  on 01207 565950 about how we can help you sleep better at nights, knowing your data is safe and secure, locked up tightly in our cosy little datacentre.. (preferably BEFORE you need it)




NE Solutions were founded in 1999, and have been doing backups as a service since 2002 – we KNOW how to make your work more efficient!

We love the problems most IT businesses hate and we love to talk – offering solutions to the most difficult problems. Give us a call on 01207 565950 or click here and fill in the form to arrange a free consultation.

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Top Cyber security threats to SME’s

Cyber security seems to be a hot topic at the moment. Recent statistics show that 1 in 22 adults in the UK have been a victim of cyber fraud. Worryingly only 4% of UK SME’s have insurance in place to cover against cyber fraud and 80% of UK SME’s don’t have an effective data protection solution in place. The annual cost of cybercrime to British businesses is now an astonishing £34bn.

With this in mind I thought it may be helpful to highlight some of the most prevalent cyber security threats and what can be done to prevent them.

  • Limited security expertise and education

A high percentage of incidents are caused by negligence from employees. In most cases these incidents wouldn’t occur if the employees were well trained on cyber security.

Over 90% of businesses still don’t provide enough (or any) training on cyber security. As new more sophisticated threats constantly emerge training should be conducted on a quarterly basis as a minimum.

  • Poor configuration

Inexperienced or underfunded SMEs often install routers, switches, and other networking gear without involving anyone who understands the security ramifications of each device. In this scenario, an amateur networking guy is just happy to get everything successfully sending data traffic back and forth. It doesn’t occur to him that he should change the manufacturer’s default username and password login credentials.

Where budget allows it’s a good idea to hire a consultant to ensure everything is configured correctly. For smaller budgets as a minimum we’d recommend performing automated vulnerability audit scans as part of your regular network maintenance routine.

  • External Wifi networks

Hotel networks and public wifi hotspots are notoriously poor at blocking viruses, spyware and malware. Attackers often leave a keylogger in public areas to see what falls into their net and laptops which don’t have up to date personal firewall software, anti-virus and anti-spyware can be easily compromised. We’d recommend a strict company policy is in place that workers never alter or turn off defences without authorisation from you or an IT manager. Software is available to ensure this can’t be done by a user without administrator privileges.

Another threat is attackers can put up an unsecured wireless access point showing itself as ‘Free public wifi’. With a packet sniffer enabled if your employee logs into this an attacker can potentially see everything the employee types, including logins, leaving you wide open to a data compromise. We’d recommend users always connect with encrypted connections. If they connect via a VPN this encrypts the data stream so even if an attacker is capturing the data, what they’re receiving is gibberish.

  • Storage media exposure

Backup storage media is often completely unprotected from attack. As a result, numerous security breaches have involved the theft of database backup disks and tapes. Furthermore, failure to audit and monitor the activities of administrators who have low-level access to sensitive information can put your data at risk. Taking the appropriate measures to protect backup copies of sensitive data and monitor your most highly privileged users is not only a data security best practice, but also mandated by many regulations.

  • Malicious Email

Millions of malicious emails are sent every day with intent to damage your business. They’re usually sent in a HTML format which links to a site containing viruses, malware and spyware. One wrong click can trigger a drive-by download and as attackers are becoming more sophisticated in their methods, malicious emails are becoming more difficult to spot.

We’d recommend you implement an outbound web proxy. You can set up your LAN so that all HTTP requests and responses redirect to a web proxy server, which provides a single choke-point where all Web traffic can be monitored for appropriateness. The web proxy won’t catch an inbound malicious email, but if a user on your network clicks a link in that HTML email, that will generate a web request that the proxy can catch. If the user’s HTTP request never gets to the attacker’s booby-trapped web site, your user does not become the victim.

We can provide a managed anti-spam service which has in the last 2 years blocked 100% of viruses attempting to pass through our mail system and 98% of unwanted spam messages.

If you have any queries or concerns about how secure your business is against cyber threats please don’t hesitate to contact us. 


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* Statistics taken from The Telegraph

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Why Should you use a managed IT service provider?

It’s a question I find myself answering every day and the truth is the answer is different for almost every business I speak to. Each business is in some way unique and will encounter completely different problems to another business. With that being the case I thought it would be interesting to share the main reasons we’re told by our clients they find our service necessary

  1. IT costs were constantly increasing and difficult to predict

Using a MSP means you can pass the responsibility of maintaining your businesses IT infrastructure to them. What’s more, a good MSP will be pro-actively monitoring your infrastructure meaning they see potential problems and fix them before they become real problems. Knowing everything is being taken care of brings peace of mind and working with a set monthly fee makes it much easier to budget for than a sudden unexpected and potentially expensive problem.

  1. Complete flexibility

Managed services can be easily scaled up to grow with your business or in more difficult times scaled back to prevent unnecessary expenditure.

  1. Keeping staff productive

Many businesses experience regular network issues where employees are unable to access essential systems to perform their duties. A good MSP minimises downtime so staff can spend more time doing what they do best making your business more efficient.

  1. Difficulty finding and retaining quality IT staff

Finding suitably qualified experienced staff isn’t easy. Once they’ve been found spending money training them with the risk of them leaving is a risk many SME’s can’t afford to take. Sickness is another risk as many businesses will have only 1 IT guy if they fall ill and there’s a problem where do you turn? A MSP can provide you with the best possible IT support without the outlay or risk attached when hiring new staff.

  1. Allow IT staff to concentrate on the bigger picture

The opposite of the above statement many businesses will employ IT staff with specific skills to carry out large scale projects to benefit the business. In many cases there’s delays to these projects as the IT team spend too much of their time on the day to day management of the network. A MSP can work with the IT team to off load much of this day to day management allowing them to concentrate on your project meaning deadlines are achieved and everyone is happy.

  1. Future Proofing

The IT world is changing on an almost daily basis. There are more threats to consider each day and hackers are constantly finding new ways to harm businesses. A good MSP will always be a step ahead ensuring your business is covered by market leading firewall and anti-virus software leaving you to rest easy knowing you don’t need to be constantly updating everything yourself.

  1. One company to contact

A huge benefit of using a MSP is the time you save when there is a problem. Most businesses will be using several different software programmes, broadband and telephone providers. When there’s an issue it’s often difficult to identify what’s the cause and precious time is lost making many calls to resolve the issue. One call to your MSP and they can identify the issue and speak to the provider on your behalf to find a resolution.

  1. Disaster Recovery

A worst case scenario for most businesses is hours, days or weeks without the ability to operate or a loss of data. A MSP can help provide a disaster recovery plan where data is backed up in a secure data centre and help have your business back up and running quickly remotely or in a secondary location with access to everything they would use on a day in the office.

Currently we’re offering a 30 day free trial of our support services. Just click on this link  and fill in the contact form and I’ll be in touch. If you’re not quite ready for that but have further questions about our support services or anything IT related just give us a call on 01207 565950 

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Password Strength is Key in Business and Personal Information Security

In today’s technologically driven business marketplace one of most often overlooked points of vulnerability to your business and personal information security is the strength or weakness of the passwords that you define for usage when logging into: your computer network, email provider, online banking, accounting or payroll applications. To underestimate the importance of strong passwords is to leave the door wide open to identity theft and corporate piracy. Your passwords must be a robust combination of all the characters that are available, must be unique for different applications and must not be a word commonly found in any dictionaries, in any language.

How do you maximize your business and personal information security?

We have been conditioned to use weak passwords. For many people the first password we ever needed was for our ATM cards. If this is the case we were limited to the numerals on the keypad 0-9. That simply will not cut it anymore. Malicious computer deciphering programs can run through all of the possible combinations in a matter of seconds. The same types of programs can run through all of the words in the dictionary, plus most common names, in multiple languages even spelled backwards, in a matter of minutes. You cannot have the same password for all of your password needs; if that one password was to get compromised then all of your sensitive private data would be at risk.

How do you come up with strong passwords that you can actually remember, without writing them down where they could be easliy found and used to cause you or your business harm?

A good method is to come up with a phrase that is meaningfully unique to you, and therefore it will be something you will be likely to remember. For example: “I love muscle cars and custom motorcycles” or “Ping golf clubs are my favorites”

Use the first or last letter of each word to create a string or characters, from the example above: “I love muscle cars and custom motorcycles” I could come up with: “Ilmcacm” or “Iemsdms”

Replace one or more of the characters with its numeric position in the alphabet or a special character as in: Ilm3a3m or Ilmc@cm

Add a suffix or prefix to make it unique to each application that you will use it for.

  • For my Yahoo email I could use: YeIlm3a3m
  • For my Chase bank account I could use: CbIl3ma3m

Make sure that your each unique string of characters is at least eight characters long.

Now that you have a strong passwords, that last thing you need to worry about is using them wisely.

Do not write them down on a sticky note and put them under your keyboard or behind your monitor. Do not store them in the file system of your computer.

Do not use your passwords on computers that have open access to the general public, such as those found in Internet cafes, airports or mall kiosks.

Do not enter personal information such as your user names and passwords on unsecured websites.

Do make sure that the computer terminals that you use your passwords on have up to date anti-spyware and anti-virus applications.

Click here to learn how NE Solutions Ltd can help you strengthen your business and personal information security with our Network Security Services for your business in Newcastle, Gateshead, Durham and Hexham.

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How to Recover Your Lost Computer Files – Inexpensively and Easily

We maintain our computers similarly to how we maintain our own health – rarely do we take the time to learn about preventing health complications, and instead work to repair our health once we’ve become ill! We take care of our computers the same way, in that we rarely think about the safety or well-being of our data until something happens that leads to data loss or corruption. And when that does happen, how do you recover your lost computer files?

Have you ever taken a moment to imagine what would happen if you lost some or all of your computer files? Whether you only use your computer for personal reasons; or for school or work, file or data loss can be devastating! Think of all of those family photographs, music files or class assignments! Think of the report you spent weeks working on. Some files can be replaced with time and effort, while others (particularly your photos or home videos) cannot.

Numerous reports tell us that over a third of computer users don’t back up their files; and of those that actually do perform some data backup – 76% of people don’t do it often enough.

Most people tend to think computer files are lost only due to catastrophic events – like tornadoes and hurricanes. Don’t forget about slightly more common events, including fire, flood or computer viruses. A computer “disaster” does not necessarily have to be one from Mother Nature, either. Suppose you dropped your laptop down the stairs or spilled your coffee on the keyboard?

Losing personal files is devastating because of their sentimental value – while business owners who rely on content and files can consider the loss of data fatal to their business if they don’t have a data backup plan in place.

Create a Plan to Recover Your Lost Computer Files Before Disaster Strikes

Just like many human health issues can be prevented with proper diet and care, having a complete backup plan in place can prevent disaster from occurring to your precious data. Data backup isn’t as complicated or expensive as you might believe. It is far easier to back up your files to be able to restore them after something damages your computer, than it is to recover them after disaster strikes. Consider a data backup plan to be your computer’s insurance policy!

Picking Up The Pieces

If you’ve already experienced the loss of data and you hadn’t backed up your data and files, you’ll need to use data recovery services to recover as much of the lost information as possible. Data recovery makes it possible to save some of the data from damaged, corrupted or failed storage devices, but it’s expensive, and you may never recover 100% of the data you’ve lost.

Data Backup and Recovery Solution

Your best solution is to use a remote data backup system. This will backup and store your data files and information at regularly scheduled intervals to an online data store accessed via the web. Your backed-up information can then be restored to any computer if your computer’s hard disk fails, or if it has been attacked by a virus, or physically damaged. Some people back up their files to CDs or flash drives – and then keep these storage devices in the same location as the computer. If there is a natural disaster, chances are the computer and the backup copies will be ruined.

Remote data backup services exist for both personal computer users and businesses of all sizes. Prices range from very reasonable to very expensive – based on how much storage you require and other factors. Prevention is the best medicine – give yourself peace of mind with a data backup insurance policy for your computer files.

Click here to learn how NE Solutions Ltd can help you prevent data loss and quickly recover your lost computer files with our Remote Data Storage Services for your business in Newcastle, Gateshead, Durham and Hexham.

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Maintaining HIPAA Compliance with Online Data Storage

Keeping patient records secure and private is the concern of every hospital and health care provider, but they are often overwhelmed with years and years of patient information and the lack of adequate storage space. Destroying these health records in order to make room for more storage is often not an option. Patients want access to all of their health care records, and physicians need them in order to better diagnose patients. Online data storage is a way to satisfy all of these issues.

Using online data storage for these records allows easier access for patients, and offers easier sharing of patient information from hospital to physician, as well as from physician to physician. Storing health records online isn’t, however, without security concerns. Patients, hospitals, and physicians want assurance that these confidential records will remain safe, private, and secure, and will only be accessed by those authorized to do so.

What is HIPAA?

HIPAA or the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 was created in order to protect health information and give patients certain rights regarding their private health information. It also allows for disclosure of health information necessary for patient care. This act specifies safeguards necessary for administrative, and physical and technical handling of patient health information.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services ( HIPAA has many requirements and restrictions. It requires safeguards for:

  • Access Control
  • Audit Controls
  • Person or Entity Authentication

Access control is defined in the HIPAA Privacy Rule as “the ability or the means necessary to read, write, modify, or communicate data/information or otherwise use any system resource.” It should allow authorized users to only access the minimum amount of information necessary to complete job functions. The Access Control specification also requires the implementation of an exclusive user identification or user ID, and immediate access in case of an emergency.

What Type of Security is Necessary?

When dealing with patient records in an office, maintaining privacy and security usually involves storing patient files in locked cabinets where the files can be physically secured and visibly monitored at all times. When you are storing patient information online, certain precautions must be met in order to maintain the same security and privacy guaranteed each patient.

While HIPAA permits patient records to be transmitted over the Internet, businesses will want a service that offers file encryption, authentication and password protection in order to secure the information. Although HIPAA does not require online data storage services to have encryption, it does require that patient information be adequately protected and accessible only to authorized persons. Encryption is the best way to protect that information and ensure authorized access to those records. It is also important to offer backup services in case of a virus attack, flood, or fire. Finally, the service must offer a method of tracking any security breach, as well as the ability to lock out former employees after they have left or been terminated.

When storing patient information, it is important to stay HIPAA compliant, as the fines for not doing so are expensive. While online data storage for health care businesses guarantee less worry, work, and expense for health care providers, the service is only as good as the security offered. Remaining HIPAA compliant is vital in order to continue a good business relationship with the health care industry.

Click here to learn how NE Solutions Ltd can help you maintain HIPAA compliance with our Remote Online Data Storage Services for your practice in Newcastle, Gateshead, Durham and Hexham.

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Computer Backup Solutions – All Systems Go?

The subject of computer backup solutions has always been a topic of importance when it comes to preserving the data on your computer. These days there are more options available to you in this arena, which can be both a help and a hindrance. On one hand, having more options is helpful because better solutions have been brought to the marketplace from which you can now choose to fit your needs. A hindrance exists in that the multitude of choices might scare off users and cause them to avoid the issue altogether, which can have a disastrous ending.

It does not have to be complicated nor time consuming, so there is no good reason not to tackle backing up your computer.

The Philosophy

We all know that backing up can preserve the information that is stored on your computer, but how far do you take your backup philosophy? It depends on what you can ‘afford’ to lose.

To one computer user, just backing up periodically will suffice. The thought here is that if you lose your data, you can restore it apart from your operating system, and the time that this takes is not a critical consideration. Many home users fall into this category. It makes sense as long as you are not dependent upon your computer for time-sensitive applications and tasks and/or for accessing and retrieving data relative to finances, etc.

To another user this philosophy is not enough. Those who depend on their data and computer for more than just casual personal computing understand that if a hard drive fails, their business is down until they can get it back up and running again. Home users who store irreplaceable photographs and home video on their computers will also fall into this category. A more comprehensive backup plan is recommended to help recover from disasters in a timely fashion.

Computer Backup Solutions Options

There are several ways to tackle backups of your important data:

Built-in operating system options. Microsoft Windows operating systems provide built-in back up capabilities that allows you to back up your documents or files onto external media. Beginning with Windows XP and its Automated System Recovery feature, each successive Microsoft desktop operating system includes the capability to help recover your entire hard drive if necessary. These backup solutions are reliable and provide a built-in way for you to back up your data without having to buy an additional program to do so.

Manual copying onto external devices. You can always resort to the old stand-by method of backing up by manually copying your data onto an external hard drive, USB memory stick or other external device such as a recordable CD, DVD or even a floppy drive if you have one. This is cumbersome, but if you do not have a lot of files, it may be an acceptable solution for you. The pitfalls with this method are that if you have multiple files, you have to make sure you get all of them, and you may need numerous target media to save all of your files to.

Online options for backing up over the Internet. The newest option in computer data backup solutions is provided by online companies that enable backup and restoration of your documents and files over an encrypted high-speed Internet connection to any PC. A small background application backs up and transfers your files to a hosted storage area in a remote datacenter when your computer is idle; however, this is not a comprehensive disaster recovery solution for your entire hard drive. This solution works best when targeted at protecting individual files and documents on a PC or a Mac, and is generally a subscription-based service for which you pay a monthly fee for use.

Making an image of your hard drive. This is a more comprehensive backup and disaster recovery solution generally performed by technically savvy computer users. This option includes using 3rd-party programs to make an image of your entire hard drive, which can then be “re-imaged” in case of catastrophic failure to a new hard drive, providing a hard drive disaster recovery plan. Using this solution, within a short period of time, you can be back up and running with ALL of your documents, settings, programs and EVERYTHING intact, as if the disaster never occurred.

The way to determine the best solution to fit your needs is to ask yourself how soon you need to be back up and running after encountering a disaster, and how much you are willing to pay. If you can wait several days, then a computer back up program might be right for you. If you need your data files immediately, and you have a second computer that you can copy them to, then an online solution might be the best way to go. Or finally, if your business depends upon your computer and its applications and data, then you must have a more comprehensive solution.

Click here to learn how NE Solutions Ltd can help you protect your critical business data with our Remote Data Backup and Storage Solutions for your business in Newcastle, Gateshead, Durham and Hexham.

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Is the iPad Useful as a Mobile Computing Device for Businesses?

Some businesses have jumped on the iPad wagon and are finding creative ways to use the iPad as a mobile computing device. For example, the Global Mundo Tapas restaurant in Sydney, Australia uses the iPad as an interactive menu. There’s a budget airline, Jetstar Airways, using the iPad for in-flight entertainment, rented for $10 a flight. A luxury sedan by Hyundai comes with an iPad instead of a user manual. Other than these extreme cases, how can an iPad be used to increase productivity or convenience by the average business owner?

Conventions and Workshops

Do you travel to conventions and workshops for your business? Many people bring their laptop to these events. While laptops are of course very convenient compared to a desktop pc for traveling, the iPad weighs less and could be even more convenient if you’re traveling from room to room at a convention or workshop. These events are also often designed for networking – so you’re not just sitting at the table all day, glued to your laptop. The smaller, 2 pound iPad could be slipped into your purse or a small bag while you walk around the room, or even carried in your hand for easy access as needed, but without being cumbersome.

Flights and Traveling

It’s true a laptop can go on a flight with you, but even the smaller netbooks and laptops add to the weight of your carry on bags and can be frustrating when in the small seats of the plane. If you’re sitting in coach, you know every time the person next to you has to get up to use the bathroom you’re trying to balance the laptop and whatever else you happened to have out in your hands with turbulence knocking you around the aisle. The iPad could be slid into the pocket of the seat in front of you if you have to get out of the way for the passenger next to you – it’s about the size of a magazine.

The same holds true on trains, in taxi cabs, or as a passenger in someone else’s car. Just don’t try to use your iPad while driving, yourself.

Presentations & Sales

Do you travel to client offices to give presentations? How sleek would it be to whip out your iPad and give a sales presentation or demonstration? Apple reports that iPads can connect to the majority of projectors, so you could even broadcast that presentation over a large screen for a larger audience if necessary.

Replace Your Briefcase

Sure, the iPad has a word processor and spreadsheet. Those are always useful for business people. It would be much more convenient to read and edit documents on an iPad over your iPhone while on the road.

But what about the stack of magazines and newspapers you lug around with you in your briefcase? You could have all of your reading materials ready for you on the iPad and skip the briefcase. Use it as an ebook reader, newspaper subscription, and file storage and you’ve literally got everything at your fingertips. With the use of third party Apps, there’s little you can’t do with the iPad for as a mobile computing device for your business.

Click here to learn how NE Solutions Ltd can help you get the most out of your iPads, Smartphones and other mobile devices with our Mobile Computing Services for your business in Newcastle, Gateshead, Durham and Hexham.

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When Is Your Business Ready For Managed IT Services?

If you are a small business owner and considering whether or not Managed IT Services will benefit your company, the answer is almost always- yes. There is little doubt that most small businesses can benefit from Managed IT Services, yet that in itself does not always justify the cost of bringing on a third party provider. Accepting that Managed IT Services Providers can offer solutions to common problems found in small business operation, the real question is: when does it make sense to switch from in house IT solutions to the next level which includes Managed IT Services?

There is a good chance if you are already considering Managed IT Services the time might be near when you are ready to make the switch. Small business owners do not have the luxury of a never ending IT budget, therefore it is very important to recognize when your current IT management is no longer cost effective. For most small businesses this occurs when the business grows to the point of needing either a contract with a local service provider who is “on call” for IT needs or hiring a full time IT person to remain on staff. There is of course another option for small business owners to consider and that is hiring a Managed IT Services Provider to oversee their IT needs.

If you are still unsure that your business is ready for the switch, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do you find IT costs are continually increasing?
  • Is it difficult to find and retain quality IT staff?
  • Is your network and workstation performance and speed decreasing?
  • Are your employees spending more time dealing with IT issues than focusing on job they have been hired to perform?
  • Do you have problems with viruses, spyware and other security issues that could threaten the confidentiality of proprietary information?
  • In the event of a natural or man-made disaster, would your network be at risk? Would recovery be a concern?
  • Do you find network downtime is increasing?

If you answered yes to one or more of the above questions, then your business is ready for Managed IT Services.

Now that you have determined Managed IT Services are right for your business, the next challenge is finding the right provider of these services. This is a decision that should not be made lightly or rushed as the wrong provider can end up costing your company more money than your current situation. Before you begin the search for a Managed IT Services Provider you should first consider your IT budget as well as issues or problems you want to be addressed. It is important to remember that Managed IT Services are not a one-size-fits-all type of solution to business problems. Each business and industry has their own issues to contend with and a qualified Managed IT Services Provider will work with you to find the solutions that will benefit your company the most. If a potential provider is more intent on selling you services and not listening to the needs of your business, move on to another provider who is willing to listen to your concerns and offer customized solutions that address these needs. The point of outsourcing your IT management is to save money while freeing up time to focus on other business operations. For this reason it pays to put forth the effort to find the best Managed IT Services Provider to oversee your technology needs.

Click here to learn how NE Solutions Ltd can help you benefit from Managed IT Services for your business in Newcastle, Gateshead, Durham and Hexham.

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6 Password Tips to Protect Against Business and Identity Theft

Ah, those pesky passwords. If you work in the corporate world or in an office, you have one for your PC/Network and, unless there is a password synchronization application that combines them, you probably have more than one for other applications. Add those to the ones that you have for your home Internet, your banking and other websites that require passwords, and before you know it you have a nightmare on your hands in trying to manage them. How easy a target are you for business and identity theft?

Part of the frustration has to do with the different requirements for password formatting. Some systems only require four characters, some require eight. Some need a combination of alpha and numeric characters and others do the same with the addition of a few capital letters thrown in for extra security. It can be positively maddening.

The worst thing you can do with your passwords is to place them in a text document which can be accessed on the hard drive of your computer. Your files are vulnerable to business and identity theft- even if you think they are not. If someone is intent on finding them, they can. Even if you place them into a password protected document, those can be cracked, too.

Writing them down has its own vulnerabilities, too, and there are varying opinions on this practice. If you do write them down on a piece of paper, put the document in a locked location whether it is in your home or at work.

Here are 6 tips on how to handle your passwords to protect against business and identity theft:

1. Make them complex. People who use easy to remember or short passwords are inviting disaster. Use a little imagination and pick a password that is very difficult to attach to your life. Stay away from birth dates, phone numbers, house numbers, or any other number that is associated with your life.

2. Keep passwords unique. When you change your passwords, make them unique from each other. Do not use the same password on all of your sites. If you do, then you are open to having every site that you have a password to being vulnerable to hackers to log on and steal your identity, money or destroy your reputation.

3. Be obscure. Use a combination of letters, numbers, capital letters and special characters if possible. The more you do this, the more secure your passwords will become. Create an alphanumeric version of a term you can remember. Using this technique the word “Spaceship” becomes “Sp@ce5h!p”.

4. Change regularly. This is the singular tip that can save you if you do not heed any of the other tips. How often should you change your password? How secure do you want to be? The frequency with which you change your password will determine how secure you are from becoming a victim. The more often you change it, the better you are. The longer you leave it the same, the more vulnerable you become. Three months is a good cycle for a password, but certainly if you fear for the security of your identity, then a monthly change is not out of the question.

5. Password-protect your PC. Be sure to give your PC a password on power-up. This will help protect your files unrestricted access to your PC.

6. Password-protect your wireless home network. If you have a wireless home network, be sure to password protect it as well. Use the same principles above in order to secure your wireless network. This will prevent others from accessing your connection and using it maliciously to hack the personal or business PCs and laptops you and your family use at home.

Finally, there are password programs that can help with this important task, but the best advice is to start with the tips above right away. Password software can be useful as an organisational tool, but it is no match for using sound methods to manage and make your passwords difficult to crack.

Click here to learn how NE Solutions Ltd can help protect you against business and identity theft with our Network Security Services for your business in Newcastle, Gateshead, Durham and Hexham.

Posted in: Tech Tips for Business Owners

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