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How to create a human firewall against cybercrime in your organisation!

How to create a human firewall against cybercrime in your organisation!

In a previous blog entitled “How Can You Protect Yourself and Your Business from Potentially Costly Ransomware Attacks?” I discussed three ways in which you can protect your organisation. I broke it down into 3 steps that need to be taken to mitigate against the risk of being attacked and infected and suffering data or financial loss;

  • Step 1 – Create a human firewall.

  • Step 2 – Have up to date IT systems.

  • Step 3 – Have good backups.

In this blog I’m going to focus on how you create a human firewall in your organisation because remember, it’s the users who are being targeted by the cyber criminals. These criminals are using a variety of digital deceptions to trick users into opening email attachments or click on compromised links on websites. Today’s computer users, Employers and Employee’s, need to wise up fast and get with the program before your business pays a hefty price!

The Human Firewall?

When we talk about the human firewall we’re talking about computer users within your organisation and their levels of awareness and understanding about the cybercrime threats they face today. The digital world we live in now is vastly different from years ago. No longer can we curiously and carelessly click on things presuming that everything is safe on the internet. The new reality is that there is danger around every corner and as a computer user you need to take responsibility for your actions and be very clear that you know and understand what you are doing when using email and internet! Users must condition their minds to be much more security aware and continually be asking questions;

Who is this email from, do I know the sender? Why have I just received this particular email? Is this website safe, how do I know it’s safe? Why is someone asking me to download something, how do I know that this download is what it says it is? Is it really my boss asking me to transfer money into a bank account? Should I really be doing personal stuff on my company’s IT system and putting my employer’s business at risk?

The first line of defence that the cybercriminal needs to penetrate is the user, it’s the user’s interaction with the email or a link that allows a network intrusion. Only after the initial intrusion will the secondary layers of protection like a firewall and AV software come into play. Organisations must strengthen their first line of defence and this is achieved through security awareness training with the key objective to condition the user’s minds to the new security threats and realities.

Security awareness training

Users do not come to work with the intention of contracting a horrible crippling virus at their place of work and so will naturally be predisposed to being receptive to training in this area. Acquiring basic knowledge of the main cyber threats and an understanding of how social engineering works can make a huge difference in the awareness and ability of the user to be alerted to suspicious activity and to act on it!

Cyber criminals constantly innovate!

It is vitally important that users are kept up to date with the latest threats. Criminals are constantly coming up with new ways to hack your systems either through social engineering or other means. We all know about the Nigerian prince who wants to pay us an exorbitant sum of money for doing very little but next week it will be something different and the week after that something new again.

We’ve touched on social engineering already however its worth considering this point, there is often a huge amount of data in the public domain, on the web, about our organisation and on us as individuals, through social media. It’s not that difficult for a cybercriminal to carry out basic desk research on your company and employees and then use that information, in what is a premeditated and customised attack on your organisation. Information gathered from the web will make the trick even more convincing than usual to get you to open an email attachment or even transfer money to an account.

Randsomeware1How to create the human firewall in your business?

  1. Give your staff “Be Alert to Cybercrime” Security Awareness Training.
  2. Get users to sign off on the training they received.
  3. Ensure your staff regularly receive the latest cybercrime threat information.
  4. Provide users with an easy way to report suspect emails.
  5. Carry out simulated attacks to test your human firewall and record the results.


  1. Develop a 6th “Security” sense when it comes to email, attachments, website links and confidential data.
  2. Slow down! Think first, Act second, not the other way around. Criminals want you to act quickly without thinking about your actions.
  3. Delete requests for personal or financial information or passwords.
  4. Be highly suspicious of unsolicited email! If an email appears to be from someone you know, treat requests made with suspicion and verify authenticity independently.
  5. Shut down your computer at night! You’ll save power and cut off the criminal’s opportunity to have unfettered access to your machine!


For additional information or help with Cybercrime protection please get it touch

PSTN Conferencing with Skype for Business

PSTN Conferencing with Skype for Business

Whether they are a massive blessing or the annoyance of your working day, conference calls with your customers or far-flung colleagues are an essential part of doing business these days. You want this part to go as easily and smoothly as possible, for sure, HCS know this, it is the backbone of the working day for most of us here too!

The good news is for your conference calls, you now no longer need to manage multiple dial ins, or try to connect dispersed groups over various devices. Not only that but if you want your users to be able to call in or out via regular phones in your business over Skype at low costs, we recommend the PSTN Conferencing telephone service. Its easy, quick and cost effective!

PSTN conferencing with Skype for Business add on service gives you a hybrid, new, and modern meeting room solution which will allow you to search for, acquire and assign phone numbers to users so they can make calls to and receive calls from people inside and outside your company. What all this means is not every participant of a conference meeting will need to dial-in using Skype, others can connect to the same conference call using more traditional methods like, landlines and mobile phones for example – That’s quite practical don’t you think!? It also includes local dial in numbers which for many of our customers was one of the primary reasons of moving to Skype for Business as the cost savings realised with the PSTN Conferencing feature was considerable. It really does provide a complete low cost meeting and voice experience.

Sometimes, you just want to be able to do your job with the least amount of hassle as possible and PSTN conferencing with Skype for Business provides the flexibility and convenience to dial in to a meeting from a traditional phone, in addition to the existing ability to join a meeting with a single click on your PC or mobile device.

I’ve said it once but I will say it again, it truly is EASY, QUICK AND COST EFFECTIVE!

Watch our short video here to find out more: PSTN Conferencing with Skype for Business

Call now or email us to get your quotation today:

Tel: 051 595200 / 01 8734120


Leave the file server!

Leave the file server!

Well hello there! For users of a file server, I am delighted to say that the time has finally come whereby I can now happily recommend for you to leave the file server and instead, use SharePoint Online!

The main reason that you should do this, is that on 1st March 2016 Microsoft upgraded SharePoint storage from 10 gigabytes to 1 terrabytes, which is obviously a substantial increase.

Obviously then, 1TB will store a lot of files – a lot more than anyone who has been using SharePoint all along would be used to!

A secondary reason to switch to SharePoint Online instead of continuing to use a file server, is the fantastic new Windows 10. Why? What’s so special about Windows 10 you might ask?

Well – the single biggest complaint from SharePoint users who use SP as a file store is the SharePoint interface itself.  However, with Windows 10, this is no longer an issue, and here’s why:

To eliminate the problem of the shaky SharePoint interface, we do so by mapping a drive to SharePoint. We could do this before on Windows 7 and Windows 8.1, but it was a very flaky feature to say the least. But in Windows 10, it’s not flaky at all. It is rock solid! I have been using it myself for 6 months now and also have a number of very satisfied customers who are delighted to be using it also.

However, if you can’t (or don’t want to) upgrade to Windows 10, all is not lost. So don’t worry! If you absolutely must continue using Windows 7 or 8 then we have a secret third party tool that helps to make this feature work consistently also.

Contact me directly on if you want to know what it is… I can’t give away all my highly sought after trade secrets to my competitors!

HCS can quickly assess your existing file server – call us today to leave yours! Tel:  01 8734120 or 051 595200

Also, remember – Windows 10 is free to download before 29th July 2016. However, after that you have to pay – and we don’t even know how much yet! So you really are better off downloading it NOW and if you end up not liking it, you can just downgrade back to what you had before – simples!

Psssst – If you’re wondering how on earth a mapped drive to SharePoint works, then check out this quick video: Click Here

We are hiring a Helpdesk Support Technician

We are hiring a Helpdesk Support Technician

Helpdesk Support Engineer required for a position on our busy IT Helpdesk based in Waterford.

This is an excellent opportunity to join a successful and growing IT provider with customers and projects nationwide with fantastic career opportunities for dedicated IT support professionals.

What you will do:

  • The successful Helpdesk Support Engineers will be expected to deliver remote support to the Company’s client base.
  • Support Microsoft Office 365 & Azure
  • Setup, configure and support Exchange Online
  • Support Active Directory, MS Office and NTFS file security
  • Network support including switches, routers, firewalls and APs
  • Support Windows OS Windows 7, 8 & 10,Server 2003, 2008 & 2012
  • Responsibility to log and manage support calls and escalations

What you need:

  • 3+ years relevant experience in a technical support environment – desktop, helpdesk, deskside.
  • Fluent English
  • Strong Knowledge of Windows Operating Systems
  • Knowledge of AV, UTM and VPNs (experience with Fortinet an advantage)
  • Understanding of networking technologies DHCP, DNS, Routing & Switching
  • Microsoft certification – MCP, MCSA, MCSE, MCITP (an advantage)
  • Experience with VOIP phone systems an advantage
  • An excellent customer service attitude and the ability to interact with customers in a professional manner
  • Excellent communication skills

Salary: Negotiable, dependent on experience and qualifications.

Contact: Send CV to

Microsoft Office 2016 VS. Office 365 – The Differences

information_is_stressLooking for information on the differences between Microsoft Office 365 and Office 2016?Information-Overload

Are you a regular business person and not an IT- trained specialist?

Is Google your best friend?

Are you sick and tired of trawling through various websites on your quest to find out these differences?

If you answered yes to any of the above, then welcome! This blog post is just for you.

Being new to the world of IT Sales myself, I was – until relatively recently – in the same boat as many people who have no idea of the difference between Microsoft’s Office 2016 and Office 365.
Of course, most of us have a general idea of what it gives us – Word, Excel, PowerPoint – our most basic day-to-day business applications that we need to function professionally.

But we (speaking for myself here, of course) usually have no idea of the ins and outs of both Office products – mostly due to the fact that it is so ridiculously complicated trying to find anything out online! There are dozens of pages, filled with conflicting information and technical lingo that (for me anyway), can just whoooosh straight over your head. Being of the Google-solves-everything generation, it’s fair to say that I found this a tad

In fact, upon concluding my search for a definitive list of differences between Office 2016 and Office 365, I couldn’t find any website that could stand up in comparison to the detailed explanations that my colleagues were able to give me.

Leaving the actual advising of customer-tailored plans up to our Microsoft licencing experts, I still wanted to know the basic differences.

It is here in this blog post that you will find that sought-after and definitive list. I should probably add that my expert-in-all-things-Office-related colleagues (*ahem, thank you Simon Collins, ahem*) have given their input along the way… I suppose I can’t take all the credit.

Well, that’s enough pontificating from me! Read on to discover these differences for yourself – enjoy! 
Clodagh Gallagher | Sales Adminstrator at HCS Business Solutions


First things first – what actually IS Microsoft Office?
Microsoft’s Office is productivity software installed on your desktop, laptop, tablet or smartphone. Users pay a one-time fee for the box product, which then gives them ownership rights of the software.

What do I get when I purchase Microsoft Office 2016?
The basic version of Office 2016 (Home & Business) includes Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, Excel, Outlook, and OneNote. Another Office 2016 (Professional) version adds Publisher and Access. Panicking Mac users note: there is a Mac version as well as the Windows version of Office 2016. Panicking Linux users: You can technically adapt Microsoft Office to Linux, but I’m not going into that here.

#sorrynotsorry #whouseslinuxanyway #windowsalltheway #microsoftpartnerhere #whoyougonnacall

What devices can I use Microsoft Office 2016 with?
Purchasing this software allows you to install it on one device only, be this your desktop computer, laptop, tablet or smartphone. To use Office 2016 on all of your devices, you’re better off buying a subscription to Office 365 – more on this a little further on.

So, how long will I be able to use my Microsoft Office 2016 purchase for?
When looking at options for installing office functions on your device, you should bear in mind that all along Microsoft has been releasing upgrades of Office every three years, by which point the previous Office version becomes essentially obsolete. So, purely at a guess, I would say you’re good until 2019. However, that doesn’t mean that you have to stop using the Office version that you bought three years ago. By all means, hold on to it if it suits you – we’re not out of the recession yet, regardless of what those politicians keep saying!

Can you break that down for me?
Sure! So right now with the release of Office 2016 you can still use any old Office version already installed on your PC, but you won’t have any of the 2016 updates or improved features.
Also, if you buy a new PC, you’ll have to buy a new Office 2016 if your old Office is a version older than the 2010 version. Office 2010 and 2013 are both transferrable to your new PC from your old PC.

So if Office 2013 is transferrable, and I have an older version but wish to get a new laptop, can’t I just buy Office 2013?
No, unfortunately the easing-in period for Office 2016 is over. Office 2016 was brought onto the market in late 2015, and Office 2013 was out of stock with retailers by January 2016. If you want a new Microsoft Office, you will be buying Office 2016.

Can you explain why I personally may be better off buying a subscription to Office 365?
Of course, but first let’s define Office 365.productivity_suite

Office 365 is a suite of productivity applications from Microsoft that you can access from any device, anywhere. In comparison, you can only access Office 2016 from the device that you install it on!
Additionally, Office 365 applications are constantly being updated to include the latest Office features and functionality, so you never have to upgrade your Office applications again, saving time and money on installations, management and licence reporting.

I already know what Office 2016 gives me – so what specifically do I get with Office 365?
The products included really depend on the Office 365 package that you purchase. To make a long story short, Office 365 is an online subscription service that provides email, shared calendars, the ability to create and edit documents online, instant messaging, web conferencing, a public website for your business, and internal team sites-all accessible anywhere from nearly any device. Panicked Mac users – don’t worry, as with Microsoft Office 2016, Mac and Windows are both available within an Office 365 subscription.

so_difficultI don’t get it… Can you break down everything that Office 365 entails?
I can tell you the names of the applications, but to explain all of the applications here would take up a blog post of its own! You really are better off speaking to one of our Microsoft licencing professionals to determine what you as a customer need out of your own plan.
But essentially, you have: Office, One Drive for Business, SharePoint, Skype for Business, Sway, Delve and Yammer.

Is there a specific Office 365 plan for me and my Office needs?
At HCS, we can talk you through eight different Office 365 subscription plans and our Office 365 experts can help you choose the right Office 365 plan for your Office needs. The plans are as follows:

  1. Exchange Online Plan 1            5. Business Premium
  2. Exchange Online Plan 2           6. Enterprise E1
  3. Business Essentials                   7. ProPlus
  4. Business                                      8. Enterprise E3

So… How do I know which one I need?! #stillconfused? #don’tworry #storyofmylife
Well, let me put it to you this way – nobody will be able to tell you better than our Microsoft licencing experts, so I should probably leave that bit to them! All you have to do is pick up the phone… Go on!

If you have the notion that you need some sort of an informed idea before you go ringing them (you don’t need it, believe me – they will be only too happy to talk/walk you through everything), then below is an example of a typical Office 2016 VS. Office 365 customer dilemma.

If you are more like me and prefer to learn as a blank slate, ready to consume knowledge from people in the know, then skip the next bit as it’s not very interesting (apart from a picture of Ned Flanders).


A Typical “Office Options” Customer Dilemma

The basic boxed product (i.e. Office 2016 Home & Business) costs €225.
A commonly used Office 365 subscription is Business Essentials @ €50.40 per annum (this includes online mail and OneDrive for Business).

Users who buy this often need to also purchase Office 2016.

lovemynewlaptopSo, let’s say you have bought a nice laptop for yourself. To go with it, you subscribe to Business Essentials above and stick with it for… Let’s say three years.

Right, so now you have your lovely laptop and after three years, you will have paid a total Business Essentials subscription of €151.20, plus your once-off €225 for Office 2016 for a total three year cost of €376.20.

“Grand!”, you may say. But hold your horses there you little Speedy Gonzalez – remember that we have fast forwarded to the future and it is now Easter 2019! Microsoft have released their (I’m projecting here) Office 2019 to the market. Well?! What are you going to do now?! Must you buy Office 2019 just to get the new features and upgrades?

I see you shaking your head. “No way, that’s too expensive!” you say. And you’d be right! – #downwiththatsortofthing.

So no, let’s say you don’t do that. Let’s say, in the spirit of true economic pragmatism, you ignore Microsoft and their dinky upgrade and you wait until (still projecting here) the launch of Office 2022.

You will now have spent twice the €376.20 that you had three years ago, but now you really will have to buy the new Office, (because at this stage you have bugs galore and nothing is running smoothly anymore and it’s just giving you headaches and its making you write run-on sentences).

nedplzstopIn stark contrast,  your friendly neighbourhood annoyance John (insert Ned Flanders mental imagery of your choice here) has gone with the Business Premium licence and OH, is he hi-diddly-ho annoying you.

John’s subscription to Business Premium has given him your Business Essentials PLUS Office 2016, and then Office 2019, and then Office 2022.

At €126 per annum, John has instead opted to keep things simple, and in 2019, when you were being fiscally responsible and forgoing the new Office 2019 upgrade, Ned – sorry, John – was laughing all the way to the bank. Over three years, John has spent €378 to your €376.20. But – he has benefitted from continual Office upgrades through his subscription for the annoying little bugs that you have been struggling with and as a subscription, the Office apps can be installed on up to five devices for this user. John installed it on his PC, laptop, tablet, home PC and smartphone, because he’s savvy like that.

It’s basically a win/win. If you’re using your noggin, why would you do anything different?

For the sake of a little under two euro, you too could have the benefit of continual upgrades to your 2016 Office features. Be like John, be smart!

However, sometimes it’s just easier to let other people be smart for you – which is why Microsoft Licencing experts exist. After all, we know you’re brilliant, but you can’t be expected to know everything about everything, all of the time. At HCS, our licencing experts will work with you to get the best plan for your needs.

But don’t just take this newbies word for it – go talk to one of our Microsoft licencing experts TODAY! They’re really nice, I promise.



…I still don’t know if I should purchase Microsoft Office 2016 outright or subscribe to an Office 365 plan!
Not a problem, you can call one of our Microsoft licencing experts on 051 595200 to discuss what the right course of action is for you and your company. Hopefully, you are now at least equipped with the knowledge that Office 2016 and Office 365 are two completely different products!

Windows 10 Should I upgrade or not?

Windows 10 Should I upgrade or not?

Windows 10 FREE upgrade from Windows 7, 8.0 and 8.1 is available until 29th July 2016. After this date you will have to pay for the upgrade (price unknown as of yet) or the alternative is to buy a new PC/laptop with Windows 10 pre-installed. So should you upgrade or not?

While Microsoft will declare many new features and benefits around functionality, speed and security which for majority of users is irrelevant the single reason to upgrade in our opinion is Windows 8.0 or 8.1. Windows 8.0 and 8.1 is not a pleasant experience for the business desktop user due to its metro style interface and the removal of the start button. Windows 8.0 and 8.1 was more tablet focused and forget about the business desktop user.

Windows 10 however solves this and puts the business desktop users back into the user experience again. The Windows start button is back and while its more modern than Windows 7, Windows 10 in our opinion combines the best of Windows 7 and 8 to give a singular device wide experience for every user including desktop, laptop, tablet and mobile.
In our opinion if you are using Windows 8.0 or 8.1 you should upgrade to benefit from a better desktop experience. If you are using Windows 7 then it’s a matter of preference.

What you need to consider before upgrading?

While system requirements for Windows 10 is minimal for a modern desktop PC, you need at least 16GB of free disk space. The most important thing to consider are the applications you run and do they support Windows 10? (eg. Sage, Quickbooks, Dynamics etc..)

Test Windows 10

If you have a number of PC’s to upgrade on your network HCS recommends upgrading 1 pc to start with as a test. Work with Windows 10 for a period of time to ensure every application or peripheral device that your company uses works as expected. After a successful trial roll out to all other users.

If you want to upgrade to Windows 10 and need help, speak to your account manager at HCS today or contact



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