Blog Archives - HCS
Time to Evolve & Adapt: Technology as an Enabler for Change

Time to Evolve & Adapt: Technology as an Enabler for Change

In a few short weeks back in March the working world changed. Covid 19 turned what was a growing trend into an everyday reality. Workers all over the country set up home offices, requested laptops, network access and headsets to do their everyday jobs from the kitchen table.

Some companies already had remote working policies in place. For others though it was an avalanche.

In the rush to get set up companies used what applications were readily at their disposal e.g. third party file sharing and free video conferencing with no real long term thinking.

Now things have changed. Remote working is set to remain for some time to come and indeed could well become the preferred option for many workers. 83% have indicated they want to keep working from home after the Covid 19 crisis has ended. This week Google announced have pulled out of talks to lease a 7-storey office in Dublin and others will follow suit.

Businesses need to look at their remote working environment with a longer-term strategy in mind.

The Challenge

The greatest challenge facing businesses is a technical one – giving each user the tools for safe and efficient remote working. Delivering laptops to employees is just one part of the problem. Ensuring that they have access to basic applications like email and file sync and sharing through remote desktop access and virtual infrastructures is key. Security is a major concern as cyber criminals take advantage of new inadequately protected devices accessing business networks from many different locations.

IT as an Enabler

IT has a crucial role to play in enabling businesses to operate in this new normal and the early adopters will reap the rewards. Those that move fast to Evolve and Adapt their business will not only ensure continuity but gain a competitive advantage.

  • The cloud is the backbone of remote working. Cloud based applications and services allow employees to access the information they need regardless of their location.
  • Modern communication tools enable remote collaboration in realtime speeding up decision making.
  • Productivity is enhanced through digitally transforming processes via Microsoft’s Power Platform
  • Security is imperative as cyber criminals look to exploit vulnerabilities that the new normal presents.

It is time now to Evolve and Adapt your business.

We adopt a holistic approach to our customers focusing on the current issues but with a forward-looking perspective. Our objective is to solve immediate problems but make sure that your investment is protected into the future. And we always have security at the centre of what we do.

We can help you modernise and evolve into a business that will operate competitively in the here and now plus scale up or down cost effectively in the current fluctuating and uncertain marketplace.

Call us to arrange a review of your business IT with a member of our team.  

5 easy steps to secure your remote workforce against costly cyber attacks

5 easy steps to secure your remote workforce against costly cyber attacks

With tens of thousands globally working from home and likely to for the foreseeable future IT Security is more important than ever. The FBI have reported a staggering 400% increase in reports to their cyber division since the pandemic began. Cyber criminals use a variety of methods to gain trust and entry into inadequately protected networks. Hackers frequently exploit Office 365 via known weaknesses in the out-of-the-box security configuration and with more sophisticated and convincing phishing emails they can lure people to enable their attack attempts.

Cyber protection measures are varied and can be overwhelming. This guide simplifies what you need to do to step up your IT Security. First here are some real life examples of how attacks happen:

Scenario 1. A hacker sends a cleverly compiled email with an attachment or link to a file loaded with Malware and before you know it, you’ve been hit with Ransomware!

Scenario 2. A hacker sends a very official looking branded email, containing a link for you to login to Office 365, but it wasn’t Office 365. Now they have your login credentials and they can login to your account from anywhere in the world. We have seen hackers setup inbox rules to forward emails containing IBAN etc. out to a Gmail account. This can go completely undetected.

Scenario 3. Once a hacker has access to your Office 365 account, they can intercept routine emails e.g. for accounts payable invoices and then change the target bank account numbers to their own and seek payment.

Here is how to reduce your risks by 99%!

1.SETUP ADVANCED THREAT PROTECTION EMAIL FILTERING

Bad actors are constantly finding ways to get in front of your users. You need an email filtering system that evolves as the threats do and filters out all of the bad emails before your users even lay eyes on them. The best email filtering systems use “sandboxing” so that if your users open attachments or links they are first opened or “detonated” in a safe environment before actually opening for the user on their screen.

Advanced Threat Protection should be added to each Office 365 user subscription.

2. SET SECURITY POLICIES & MONITOR COMPLIANCE

It’s worth sitting down thinking about who needs access to what, from where and when. Segregate your users into logical groups e.g. Static Office User & Mobile Users. Then create policies for each logical group. Once these are configured in Office 365, we can monitor them and report on them and be alerted of any changes to them. Unfortunately, it’s not a case of “set and forget”. Settings can change for various reasons and you can’t be sure your policies are enforced if you don’t audit them frequently.

Restricting access to Office 365 from within Ireland and/or setting up multi-factor authentication are two of the most effective things you can do to eliminate hacked accounts.

365 Protect is a management tool that enables us to manage, monitor and report on your Office 365 tenancy as well as enabling us to respond to preconfigured alerts.

3. BACK UP YOUR OFFICE 365 MAILBOX, ONEDRIVE & SHAREPOINT DATA

Many people assume that saving their data into their personal OneDrive means it’s backed up. But that’s not strictly true. Even though it’s in the cloud, Microsoft only replicates your data for availability purposes. This means that it takes the most recent file version and saves a copy. If your files were locked for ransom or they were infected with malware, the replicated copies may not be retrievable, or at best, it could take up to 6 hours or more to retrieve just one file. Think about how that may affect your business.

HCS Managed 365 Backup automatically backups up data in your mailbox, your OneDrive and SharePoint.

4. PROTECT YOUR ENDPOINTS

Once the perimeter has been breached, your last line of defence is generally the anti-virus software running on your desktop and server. Traditionally, these solutions work from a known list of virus signatures and rely on a central database for updates. Such solutions have been poor at preventing ransomware attacks and result in significant disruption and cost.

Modern Endpoint Detection and Response solutions are an upgrade from traditional antivirus and incorporate Al learning to detect abnormal activity on each Endpoint. They also incorporate features to “rollback” a ransomware attack and automatically disconnect a PC/Laptop from the network.

5. TRAIN YOUR USERS IN CYBER SECURITY

The bad actors are always looking to be one step ahead. They do this by exploiting the habits of your users and vulnerabilities in the software systems. There is always a chance that they will circumvent the security measures you have in place. Therefore, making your users cyber security aware, is an important part of your strategy to catch what all else fails to.

In addition to all this above you should setup internal controls to follow before making payments online.

Our team of security experts can help you determine what solutions you need to put in place. They will review what you currently have, identify where the gaps are and make easy to digest recommendations to reduce your cyber risk. We speak your language, we don’t over do the tech talk. We understand what businesses need and we partner with the best in IT Security to bring enterprise level, tried and tested solutions that fit businesses of all sizes within their budgets.

Contact us today to have a no obligation conversation with one of our team. 

Why Choose Microsoft Teams Over Zoom

Why Choose Microsoft Teams Over Zoom

Due to the Covid-19 outbreak, employees must now work from home where possible. This has encouraged many businesses to overcome hurdles in relation to maintaining productivity and communication when employees are not in the office.

To enable communication among employees, many are using a Video Conferencing Solution to allow teams to meet regularly. Many are weighing up their options as to what solution works best for them, leaving many choosing between Microsoft Teams and Zoom?

Why Should Your Business Choose Microsoft Teams

Security

Historically, Zoom does not have a trustworthy track record when it comes to privacy issues. Zoom was originally created as a consumer product, which might be the reason they had a poor response to security issues among the business/corporate sector. Whereas, Teams has is developed for the corporate sector and therefore has security and compliance as part of its core offering.

There have been a number of security concerns in relation to Zoom, especially since it has grown in recent weeks. Until recently, a data-mining feature allowed participants to access LinkedIn profile data about other users, without permission.

Integrations

Integration is at the core of any corporate communications platform. It allows employees to work more productively and broadens the potential for the platform. When compared to Zoom, Microsoft Teams can operate with its integrated Office 365 apps and more than 70 Teams integrations.

Unified Communications

Communication excels when you enable Video Conferencing., Instant Messaging and Voice Calls. Enable these various communication channels by embracing Microsoft Teams. Allowing your team to utilise channels that work best for them. If there is no need for a face-to-face conversation an instant message can be jsut as productive, thus saving you team time!

Zoom is primarily a Video Conferencing tool and does not have the same capabilities as Microsoft Teams.

Pricing

In relation to pricing, the most beneficial aspect of Teams is access to the Office 365 suite.

Whereas Zoom has no additional tools in its paid version.

For more on Office 365 pricing and its benefits, contact our team today!

If working from home if your company’s ‘new normal’ then a feature-rich video conferencing solution is essential for maintaining communication with your team.

Book your FREE consultation below!

Cloud Computing When Working Remotely

Cloud Computing When Working Remotely

Due to Covid-19 many employees are finding themselves working from home. This being the new normal for them, it may be difficult for team members to maintain productivity. Although working from home may have some advantages including reduced commute time and the peace of being in your own space, at home workers may also feel they are lacking guidance, direction, social interaction and more.

Did you know an IT Solution can help you overcome these boundaries to productivity?

Cloud Phone Solutions

A Cloud Phone Solution allows your team members to access their desk phone from their computer using a SoftPhone feature or on the go using the Mobile App. A HCS Cloud Phone Solution not only allows your business to be contactable during a disaster but also boosts communication between departments while allowing your business to stop paying over-priced line rental.

 

Microsoft Teams

When working from home communication may suffer and employees may come to miss their usual daily social interactions.

Microsoft Teams allows your employees to connect and quickly message each other, or alternatively use the Teams Video Chat feature to hold a meeting with all the benefits of a Face-To-Face meeting.

Embrace Cloud Computing

Cloud Computing is an essential tool for remote teams. Using Microsoft Office 365 employees can access apps and documents anywhere from any device.

Bespoke SharePoint Solution can allow departments to collaborate simultaneously on documents. To learn more about how a Bespoke SharePoint Solution could benefit your business, contact our productivity experts today!

Want To Learn More?

As Microsoft Gold Parters HCS Business Solutions are recognised experts in providing businesses with unique IT solutions to allow teams to Work Smarter With IT!
Boost Collaboration When Working Remotely

Boost Collaboration When Working Remotely

It can be difficult for a business to create a productive, engaged environment when employees are working remotely.  Creating and maintaining a positive atmosphere can be a challenge as employees working remotely may face their own individual challenges throughout the workday, all of which can impact collaboration amongst teams. Below we have compiled a list of tips that a company can adopt to encourage communication and collaboration while working remotely.

1. Create A Collaborative Space

Creating a space where team members can effectively communicate and collaborate is greatly important for employees who are working from home. Microsoft Teams is an effective tool that many businesses who utilise Microsoft Office 365 have access too. Using Teams employees can create specific channels to host conversations amongst specific team members or dedicated to specific projects. But remember collaboration is boosted when employees get along with each other, so why not create a ‘just for fun’ channel where employees can share non-work related aspects of their workday. Not only does this boost collaboration but it also helps create a friendly atmosphere that positively benefits the company culture.

2. Create A Remote Collaboration Communication System

Communication is critical when operating a business. Without communication, collaboration cannot truly flourish. Poor communication can cause the failure of essential projects. To encourage collaboration, employees must be given the tools to communicate efficiently. These tools can involve:

Email: This can be used for more in-depth conversations with teams, that employees may need to refer back to.

Instant Messages: These are ideal for quick interactions and when asking urgent questions.

Video Chat: Although nothing can compare to a face-to-face meeting, a video conference allows team members to communicate with the benefits of a face-to-face meeting from anywhere.

Voice Over IP (VoIP): A VoIP solution is an ideal solution for employees who need to be able to access their office phone and mailbox when not in the office. Using a Cloud Phone Solution your team can use the Softphone feature and Mobile App.

3. Embrace Cloud Computing

Cloud Computing is an essential tool for remote teams. Using Microsoft Office 365 employees can access apps and documents anywhere from any device.

A Bespoke SharePoint Solution can allow departments to collaborate simultaneously on documents. To learn more about how a Bespoke SharePoint Solution could benefit your business, contact our productivity experts today!

Want To Learn More?

As Microsoft Gold Parters HCS Business Solutions are recognised experts in providing businesses with unique IT solutions to allow teams to Work Smarter With IT!
Efficiently Work From Home With Office 365

Efficiently Work From Home With Office 365

Employees across the world are suddenly finding themselves working from home due to the recent Covid-19 outbreak, leaving many businesses scrambling to maintain productivity and enable employees to work remotely.

Although many businesses use Microsoft Office 365 few are using it to its full potential. To help you, we have put together some tips and tricks on how to get the most from this suite of tools.

Keep In Touch With Teams

Teams is a key tool when working remotely. It is essentially a repository for all files and communications for a team working together. You can use it to create individual workspaces for each project or team, host audio or video meetings (people who don’t use Office 365 can still access these meetings using a special link), files can be shared and more.

Microsoft Teams is basically an all in one solution for managing and working with a remote team.

Access Apps Through The Cloud

The core of Office 365 is, of course, Word, Excel and PowerPoint. While working remotely employees can access essential files through the cloud. Allowing employees to edit documents together or provide comments and feedback. Excel and Powerpoint offer the same capabilities, allowing teams to streamline documents and reduce clutter in folders.

Outlook and Calendar

Outlook is most definitely the feature of Office 365 that almost all people would utilise throughout their workday. Using Outlook you can easily access and manage your emails.

The calendar feature allows you to organise virtual meetings at a time and date that suits everyone.

OneDrive

OneDrive is Microsoft’s cloud storage solution. This is an ideal solution when teams want to store and share large files back and forth.

Enable Your Team To Efficiently Work Remotely With Office 365

Although the above features are just a selection of the many apps that can be used to ensure productivity. HCS Business Solutions are Microsoft Gold Partners and recognised experts on implementing Microsoft Technologies within businesses.