Staff Intranet using Google Sites

Google Sites is a little used part of Google G Suite which really deserves more attention. Google G Suite customers can use Google Sites as a ready made document management system for operations manuals, employee handbooks, and regularly used staff documents.

A company wide document management system

Sites allows you to create a staff intranet that is simple to update, allowing employees with Google Accounts to rapidly search and view and download staff documents. The site you build can be accessed by only those employees and/or external parties that you give access. In addition to traditional static content, Google Sites can display many different kinds of dynamic content such as charts, spreadsheets, and forms that are interactive and update in real-time.

Centralised location

Having a centralized location to store important company wide reference information is an asset to improving efficiency. This is especially useful when for employees, but also serves as a consistent resource to all staff, each and every day.

Too often, operations manuals, Health & Safety documents and employee handbooks are filed away only to be seen after lengthy searches through folders and filing cabinets.

Google Sites incorporates powerful search facilities (coming from Google that’s a given) placing documents and resources at your fingertips. Important documents such as expense forms, proposal templates, contact lists, and calendars can be placed front page of your operations site. Staff handbooks and manuals can be organised in logical folder structures and accessed via a clear and simple dashboard.

Dynamic Content

Instead of distributing documents to staff by email, consider placing dynamic content on your operations site. For example, a monthly sales report or a news letter can be placed on the site and a shortcut link sent to all the users. You can even have the data update in real-time by pulling from a Google Sheet.

Google Sites’ Collaboration Features

Group participation and collaboration engages employees in creating content and documenting processes. Google Sites makes collaboration extremely simple, and permissions can be managed either at the site-level or for each individual page. Editing and formatting is as simple as creating a Google Document or working in Microsoft Word.

Colbek Solid State Drive Conversions

Colbek can boost the speed and responsiveness of your laptops and workstations by performing a Solid State Drive (SSD) upgrade. This process involves replacing your computer’s built-in hard drive with a Solid State Drive, featuring recently affordable technology, which uses no moving parts. Among the many effects are much quicker startups and shutdowns, much better responsiveness when opening and closing programs, folders and menus, and therefore an all-round more productive computer.

Who can benefit from an SSD upgrade?

A Solid State Drive can be considered as an upgrade for brand new computers and laptops, of which the vast majority are still fitted with traditional hard drives to save costs. An SSD upgrade should especially be considered if you have slow computers but cannot yet budget for full replacements, as it is much more effective than a RAM upgrade, but less expenditure than an outright replacement if your machine is otherwise in good working order. Both Desktop computers and Laptops are equally eligible for the upgrade.

Sales representatives and field users in particular will benefit from the greatly reduced startup and waiting times, along with increased battery life as a result of no moving parts.

How is it done, and what effect will it really have?

An SSD conversion is done by duplicating the contents of your existing hard drive onto the new SSD. Then, we remove your old hard drive and fit the SSD in its place. The computer or laptop can then be started up as normal with all of your information and settings exactly as you left them, down to the finest details. We return your old hard drive back to you along with your newly SSD-equipped computer.

A computer equipped with an SSD becomes quicker and more responsive. You will encounter far less ‘hanging’ or ‘waiting’ as your computer responds to you, and will boot much faster. You can see a comparison video demonstrating the differences between an SSD and non-SSD scenario here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=STdVrnd1ExE

Our experiences of Solid State Drive upgrades have always been distinctly positive and have resulted in much less ‘computer stress’ for our users. We at Colbek have fitted all of our internal workstations and laptops with SSD’s to prove their worth. Loading times reduced from 90 seconds to 30 seconds from pressing the power button to being fully ready.

How much does it cost and how long does it take?

An SSD upgrade depends on the amount of Gigabytes of storage you have or will need. Approximate prices for a complete upgrade of a single computer, including collection and redelivery, are as follows:

  • 250GB SSD – £150+VAT – Good for general admin workstations and laptops
  • 500GB SSD – £198+VAT – Better for power users of workstations and laptops
  • 1000GB SSD – £328+VAT – Best for very storage intensive workstations and laptops – photos, documents and databases

After booking your SSD Conversion date, Colbek will collect your laptop, perform the conversion and return it to you. A conversion will typically take 24 hours from collection to completion, but we will always use our best endeavours to return your computer ASAP, vastly improved.

Warranty and Guarantee

All Solid State Drives come with a limited 3-year warranty from the manufacturer in the event of failure or defect.
We personally guarantee that an SSD upgrade will produce a significant effect, and be a very worthwhile upgrade for your computer. If you are not completely satisfied with the change, we will refit your old hard drive and provide a full refund with no quibbles.

What do I do when I lose my data – tips for successful data recovery

With the rapid diffusion of data storage technologies as well as increase in the volume of data stored, the importance of data is greater than ever.

Cases Requiring Data Recovery

» When there are no back-ups: In this instance, Ontrack® Data Recovery services use cutting-edge tools and technology to recover your critical data.
» When the backup and restore system fails: Failure is caused by unreadable backups, corrupted data and improper backup procedures. Even when backups are successful, there is a time gap between the last backup and the data loss.
» When the data cannot be re-created: Data re-creation involves a great deal of time and money and increases the chance for user error. In contrast, Ontrack® Data Recovery services provide fast and cost-effective solutions for data loss.

Data Protection Tips

» Store computer equipment in a safe environment: A computer should be in a dry, cool, controlled environment that is clean, dust-free and secluded.
» Back-up the data regularly: Data should be backed up at least once a week with reliable tapes or other storage devices, always verifying that the correct data is saved.
» Use an uninterruptible power supply (UPS): In the event of a surge of electricity or lightning strike, a UPS protects the computer from becoming damaged. In addition, a UPS has a battery backup that keeps the computer running, allowing you to save the data and avoid data loss. If UPS is not a viable solution, a surge protector is also a
good investment.
» Run a virus scan regularly and update it four times a year: Good anti-virus software tests the system for sequences of code unique to each known computer virus and eliminates the infecting invader.
» Be aware of strange noises: Should you hear strange noises or grinding sounds, you should turn off your computer immediately and call an expert. Further operation may damage the hard drive beyond repair.

Physical Damage to Storage Media

Physical damage can manifest itself in many forms including clicking, grinding, spinning or other strange noises. If you suspect physical damage, these tips can help reduce further data loss:
» Do not shake, disassemble or attempt to clean any hard drive or server that has been damaged – improper handling can jeopardise the data recovery process.
» Never attempt to operate any visibly damaged devices.
» Turn off the computer immediately – further operation may damage data beyond repair.
» Do not use recovery software since it may destroy what was otherwise recoverable data.
» Do not place a fire-damaged drive in refrigerator to cool media and do not try to remove hard drive – ship entire computer for recovery.
» Never attempt to dry water damaged media by exposing it to heat. Instead, place the media in a container that will keep it damp before shipping.
Physical damage, no matter what the cause, requires specialised clean room attention.

Non-Physical Damage to Storage Media

» Users may see messages such as “No OS found”, “Corrupt Volume” or may simply be missing files and folders.
» Shut the computer down immediately. The longer a damaged hard drive is left running, the more data that can be irretrievably
lost.
» Do not run “CHKDSK” or “VRepair”.

Tips for a Successful Data Recovery

Perhaps the most important tip is to never assume that data is irrecoverable. Professional data recovery services offer the expertise and tools required to recover data quickly and successfully.

Scam email attachments

Opening a fraudulent email with scam email attachments can, if not caught or reported quickly enough, destroy all your data and that of your company. Having seen what can happen first hand and hearing about many more, we’re all eager to help people figure out what NOT to open. Often, it will be those in admin roles such as sales and accounts who will be the target, and are disproportionately receiving the most malicious emails. To spot the emails to avoid, it’s important to understand how they’re designed to work.

Emails that are full of nonsense are easy to spot. The real nasty ones, however, will be made to look like a standard office environment or notification, such as scanner emails, invoices, statements, overdue bills. They are specific enough to look legitimate, but are vague enough to make you want to know more and entice you to open the attachment.

Avoid being a victim of these ‘social engineering’ malware emails

1 – Was the email in your Inbox or in your Junk Email? – Google Mail automatically assigns any suspicious emails into Junk Mail. It does this using a multitude of checks and cross-references, and is extremely accurate. If you go looking through your Junk email, use extra caution and be extremely wary of any attachments, as they would already have been checked for suspicious content. Despite everything, there may be an email that occasionally reaches your inbox even though it is a scam email – nothing can ever be 100%.

2 – Do you know who sent the email? – The majority of fraudulent scam emails are sent by unknown senders who are not in contact with you. They may pretend to be from the HMRC, any major or minor bank, or any organisation that is likely to be known to the wider population. Scam emails are targeted at the widest possible audience, after all, so they will design their emails to be as believable as possible by closely copying publicly available materials (brochures, newsletter emails etc). If the sender appears legitimate, hover over their name in the ‘From’ field – often you will see that it bears no similarity to the senders name and often it will be from a foreign country.

3 – Does it make sense that you’ve received the email? – If it turns out that the sender is one of your regular contacts, even that doesn’t mean the email is always legitimate. If someone in your circle of communication has had their security compromised themselves by a scam email, it may be that the virus has sent itself to the full address book list of that person. You wouldn’t think too hard about opening an email from someone you already know, and this is what the authors of the scam emails are counting on. If someone you know has been compromised in this way by opening a scam email, you’ll see why you’d want to avoid being ‘that person’ for all of your contacts, too!

4 – Anti-virus won’t protect you if you’re careless – If you give an attachment consent to open, you are then relying on anti-virus to intervene, which isn’t guaranteed to work – It’s certainly not what it’s there to do. You’re better off making all of your checks first – you’re smarter than an anti-virus program.

5 – Most importantly, recognise that there are people designing emails specifically to trick business and corporate staff – They’re targeting you because they know that by using your computer as an entry point, they can hold business data for ransom for real money, because businesses can usually afford to pay, and will see the ransom as a small amount compared to the potential losses for the business. However, paying ransom money to cyber criminals isn’t even close to guaranteed money well spent . This happens for real, and we’ve encountered it twice, and successfully recovered from it both times. However, this still came at great and needless cost to the companies that were affected, and have resulted in redundancies and even closures for those who had nothing in place.

6 – Call us if you suspect something – If you want to check whether or not an email is a scam, or you are worried that you might have opened a false attachment, we will be grateful for your call.  We’re here to make the situation better for you, and we know it can happen to anyone.

Improve your security with 2 factor authentication

At Colbek we ceaselessly think about removing the potential for stressful scenarios. over the coming months we’re going to showcase and share the technology that can make your professional life more peaceful and prosperous.

First up, Google’s Multi-Factor Authentication. All of our customers on Google can arm themselves with this feature, so read on!

A bog-standard Google account (and most accounts on any system) will depend on two pieces of detail to log in; your username and password. This is fine if you are confident that a) your password is strong and b) your account details will never be compromised. This is hard to guarantee with leaks and database hacks seemingly a regular basis (think recent incidents with TalkTalk and Yahoo leaking millions of account details). If your account details are leaked from one location, hackers and cyber-criminals will obtain these lists and attempt to use them elsewhere in the hope you have a habit of using the same password elsewhere, as far too many people do.

Multi-Factor Authentication, or MFA, takes your account off the easy pickings list. By introducing a mobile phone or security key into the login process, you have a physical defense against account hacks and intrusion attempts using a device that you would normally always have nearby. Nobody can log in to your account without your chosen device, even if they obtain your username and password by other means; That’s a powerful defense against outsiders, but also a valid guard against insiders who may have reason to snoop on internal matters.

How’s it done?

Once you opt in to Multi-Factor Authentication, every 30 days or upon login to an unfamiliar place or computer, Google will request your secondary authentication method. The most common means are to use your mobile phone or a purpose-made security key as pictured in the cover photo at the top of the article. For mobile MFA users, your phone receives a one-time code via text instantly. For security key users, just plug your key into the computer and access is granted.

Does it get in the way?

Not at all! If you are an innocent member of staff and all above board, Google’s MFA will not obstruct and you might be challenged once or twice a month. If you are an anonymous information thief or rogue employee with a thirst for confidential data then it will make your work much, much harder.

Who should use Multi-Factor Authentication?

As a rule, if you or your company would suffer grave consequences as a result of an email account breach or leak, MFA should be on your to-do list.

Does Colbek Systems use Multi-Factor Authentication?

We certainly do; it’s mandatory. With Multi-Factor Authentication applied to our accounts, we can be assured that our Google accounts are robust and secure. Adding a physical safeguard to our cloud-based Google accounts gives us peace of mind that we have done everything we can to avoid the embarrassment and turmoil of an information leak. As per the article title, using MFA means life is a little more peaceful.

I’m convinced – now what?

We’ll always be up for a chat; If you already deal with us then just send us an email or give us a call! If you don’t already deal with us, just contact support@colbek.co.uk any time.

Daniel Lee – Colbek Systems Technician

Out of Office is easy with Google G Suite

Did you know that if your company uses Google G Suite services (formerly Google Apps) as most of our customers do, you can set your email Out of Office responder days, weeks or even months in advance? In Google, Out of Office email responders are known as Vacation Replies and they can be set to automatically activate and deactivate so you don’t forget in the inevitable whirlwind of work before escaping on holiday.

If you’re using Google Mail (gmail.com) let us know and we’ll send you a quick guide on how to do it.  If you’re using Microsoft Outlook to read your emails then unfortunately you can’t set them within Outlook; you’ll need to go to google.com and set it there. You can set it by following our guide, or reading it straight from the source here. All you’ll need to know is your Google username and password.

Remember, this auto responder is completely automatic once it’s set and does not require your computer to be powered on to work. If you struggle you can drop us a line on 02476397070 or email us at support@colbek.co.uk and we’ll be glad to help.

Make your company GDPR compliant

12 steps to take right now to help make your company ready for GDPR

This checklist highlights 12 steps you can take now to prepare for the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) which will apply from 25 May 2018.

1  Awareness

You should make sure that decision makers and key people in your organisation are aware that the law is changing to the GDPR. They need to appreciate the impact this is likely to have.

2  Information you hold

You should document what personal data you hold, where it came from and who you share it with. You may need to organise an information audit.

3  Communicating privacy information

You should review your current privacy notices and put a plan in place for making any necessary changes in time for GDPR implementation.

4  Individuals’ rights

You should check your procedures to ensure they cover all the rights individuals have, including how you would delete personal data or provide data electronically and in a commonly used format.

5  Subject access requests

You should update your procedures and plan how you will handle requests within the new timescales and provide any additional information.

6  Lawful basis for processing personal data

You should identify the lawful basis for your processing activity in the GDPR, document it and update your privacy notice to explain it.

7  Consent

You should review how you seek, record and manage consent and whether you need to make any changes. Refresh existing consents now if they don’t meet the GDPR standard.

8  Children

You should start thinking now about whether you need to put systems in place to verify individuals’ ages and to obtain parental or guardian consent for any data processing activity.

9  Data breaches

You should make sure you have the right procedures in place to detect, report and investigate a personal data breach.

10  Data Protection by Design and Data Protection Impact Assessments

You should familiarise yourself now with the ICO’s code of practice on Privacy Impact Assessments as well as the latest guidance from the Article 29 Working Party, and work out how and when to implement them in your organisation.

11  Data Protection Officers

You should designate someone to take responsibility for data protection compliance and assess where this role will sit within your organisation’s structure and governance arrangements. You should consider whether you are required to formally designate a Data Protection Officer.

12  International

If your organisation operates in more than one EU member state (ie you carry out cross-border processing), you should determine your lead data protection supervisory authority. Article 29 Working Party guidelines will help you do this.

If you need help with any aspect of the new GDPR regulations please contact us at Colbek Systems on 024 7639 7070.

 

GDPR and loss of data

Loss of data on laptops and USB sticks

The General Data Protection Regulation replaces the EU’s 1995 Data Protection Directive, and comes into force on the 25th May 2018.

It has been developed to strengthen and unify online privacy rights and data protection for individuals within the European Union.

The Regulation requires organisations of all sizes to adopt a new set of processes and policies aimed at giving individuals greater control over their personal records. Much of this will involve writing new processes and manuals, retraining staff and updating systems to accommodate these new procedures. Other steps involve practical measures, such as employing encryption where data is exposed to risk.

Reporting a data breach

It has always been a concern if your data is lost or stolen.  The thought of someone getting hold of your business data is a real worry.  Under the new GDPR regulations it’s even more of a worry as the lost or stolen personal data is a data breach  and must be reported within 24 hours to the national authority and also to the affected individual so that they can take the appropriate measures.

This is not necessary if the data involved in the breach has been rendered unintelligible to anyone unauthorised to access it.  A lost or stolen laptop or USB stick need not lead to a penalty if it has been encrypted with a validated product.

Colbek offer a number of encryption solutions including Full Disk Encryption, Removable Media Encryption, Endpoint Encryption Go Portable Encryption, File and Folder Encryption, Mail Encryption, Text and Clipboard Encryption, Virtual Disks and Compressed Archives, Encryption Key Management.

Call us to help prepare for GDPR and minimise the risk of losing your important data.

Encrypt your hard drive for peace of mind

Encrypt your hard drive for peace of mind

One morning you may turn up to work, only to find that your offices have been broken into during the night and nearly all of your computers are gone. Or perhaps you’ve left your laptop at the cafe, and an hour later you come back to find that it’s disappeared, lost forever.

You can replace your equipment, sure, and your data could be retrieved from a backup (depending on circumstances), but would it concern you to know that whatever you had on that laptop could be easily viewable by absolutely anyone that cared to look? It could be hours or days from the initial break-in or misplacement until you are made aware of it, and in all that time, your equipment is in unknown hands. Not only that but would you also be responsible for reporting this potential data breach to a governing body and forced to notify everyone that might be affected? With the upcoming GDPR regulation coming in to force in the EU, almost every business will be governed by new rules that hold you much more accountable for data security.

These are all problems we have considered, and we have a robust, all-encompassing solution – Full Disk Encryption.

Full Disk Encryption is a security technique whereby your computers become impenetrable at rest and completely inaccessible to anyone but the right people. This means that should you be a victim of theft or lose your equipment, the one thing you don’t have to worry about is where the data may end up. You may still have to notify people, but instead of that notice being a stark warning that they may likely be exposed to potential identity theft, you will instead be able to declare that the data was encrypted and very unlikely to be accessible by any third party, turning a potential disaster for your business and reputation into a demonstration as to how seriously you take your security and that of your business customers.

If you would like to investigate implementing Full Disk Encryption across your business, please contact us at any time on support@colbek.co.uk or 02476397070. All our customers holding Support Contracts will also be reviewed on a personal basis in the first half of 2018 for Full Disk Encryption.

7 WAYS ORGANIZATIONS LOSE CLOUD DATA

7 WAYS ORGANIZATIONS LOSE CLOUD DATA

Google and Microsoft are focused on fixing their own mistakes. But they’re not responsible when you make a mistake — or when a malicious act stops your business.  A cloud based email system is highly robust but there are some instances which can affect your business.

Human error

Employees inevitably delete the wrong email, contacts, or critical configurations.

Illegitimate deletion requests

SaaS providers will honor your deletion request without question. They have no way of knowing if it’s a hasty (or malicious) request and they are not responsible for any unexpected results.

Programatic errors

Otherwise known as sync errors, those powerful tools designed to streamline business processes can ruin critical data in a flash — with no undo.

Hackers

Whether through technical means or social engineering, aggressive individuals and organizations are constantly inventing new tactics for getting to your data.

Malicious insiders

Employee action is involved in up to 23% of all electronic crime events.   A disenfranchised employee can cause untold damage to your data.

Malware and viruses

Rogue software can spread mayhem with programatic efficiency without an active attack from a hacker. Many malware programs and viruses emerge from existing code after hibernation, making them especially hard to defend against.

Ransomware

Beyond a typical cyberattack, these forms of industrial-scale extortion are becoming increasingly aggressive and expensive.

Colbek Systems can provide you with an efficient backup system for your emails and data.  Don’t let loss of emails or data stop your business.  If you would like to investigate implementing Full Email and data backup across your business, please contact us at any time on support@colbek.co.uk or 02476397070.