The Difference’s between Window 10 s and Windows 10 Pro worth noting

You may or may not have heard about Microsoft’s game changing new entry into the operating system market. The introduction of Windows10s could signal a major step forward in speed and security and help the push the removal of physical servers required for the running of corporate networks.
This will also help businesses move to a greater cloud environment where staff could work from anywhere in the event of a disaster.

Microsoft says “Windows 10 S was inspired by students and teachers and it’s the best Windows ever for schools. It’s also a great choice for any Windows customer looking for consistent performance and advanced security. By limiting apps to those in the Windows Store, Windows 10 S is ideal for people who have everything they need in the Windows Store and prefer the peace of mind that comes with removing the risk of downloading apps from other places”.

However it does address some other issues as well (namely locking down the ability to download anything that Microsoft has not approved, so that it is less susceptible to virus’s and ransomware).

Here are some quick differences for you to consider.

  • You can only install 64Bit software on a Windows 10 S (W10S) device
  • You cannot connect a W10S device to a on premise domain, this could affect some businesses trying to use the device. However it will connect to an Office365 domain (Azure AD) (we will write another blog on this)
  • You can only download apps that are on the Windows store, this of course includes the likes of Office but you won’t be able to load unapproved software. This is a major step forward for Microsoft because it means that this version of software is going to be far less susceptible to virus’s and ransomware (very relevant with the Wannacry scare that we just had)
  • If you are a business that only uses the likes of Office and is totally cloud based then this is a very good device for you to look at.
  • If you do purchase a W10S device with the intention of upgrading it to Windows Pro, don’t hesitate to ask us to check the hardware requirements of Windows Pro first.

Over all we think this is a good step forward for Microsoft, and if you are a smaller business or Not for Profit that needs to keep their costs down (and has simple IT requirements) then this could be the device for you. At the moment Microsoft have the Surface Laptop coming out (start at $1700 NZ) with W10S however there will be more devices from other players coming out soon… Watch this space.

Link to Microsoft windows10s FAQ:
https://support.microsoft.com/en-nz/help/4020089/windows-10-s-faq

Link to the NZ Microsoft Store:
https://www.microsoft.com/en-nz/store/d/surface-laptop/90FC23DV6SNZ/20TL?icid=HP-NavLink1–Surface_Laptop-052317-MSNZ

Why you need a data protection policy

It’s easier than ever to share data and files in the workplace. That’s a huge benefit, but it also raises some issues. Here’s how to handle them.

Understanding the value of your data

All data has value, even if it’s not immediately apparent. But some types of data are more valuable than others. We can break this down into two main types:

Your business data. This is valuable because it contains sensitive information that helps you stay competitive. That includes financial or accounting details, client contacts, project information, intellectual property (IP), staff salaries and so on. If it leaked out then you may lose your competitive edge – and maybe more.

Client data. You might be entrusted with sensitive information about your clients. This could include their IP, some of their financial information, expansion plans and other ‘secret’ data. If this leaked out you may find yourself on the wrong end of a lawsuit, and highly embarrassed too.

Data leaks have seriously damaged many businesses over the years, some of them terminally. Often law-enforcement agencies get involved, for criminal prosecutions.

But there are other risks too. Ransomware is increasingly common. This involves company data being encrypted by hackers’ malware, then a ransom being demanded for the decryption key. Many companies pay up rather than lose their valuable data, but it’s a big price to pay for poor data security.

To help prevent all of this happening to your company, it’s important to have an effective data protection policy.

How are your staff sharing files?

Sharing files and collaborating on projects are vital for many businesses’ operations. But there’s a right way and a wrong way to do it. The right way is to have a secure internal system through which your staff can work freely – but which nobody outside the company can access.

According to Delia Gill, Managing Director of Wellington-based solutions provider IT Engine, there are plenty of examples of companies getting it wrong. “One company allowed each staff member to set up their own personal Dropbox account. This worked until a key employee resigned… taking his password with him.”

It’s important to keep control of accounts within the company. That way, when an employee leaves, you’ll still have access to the data.

Using free online storage accounts is unwise anyway, unless they’re properly incorporated into your IT system. They are often unencrypted, which means that anyone can access your data if they know where to look.

Password planning

Passwords are the gatekeepers to all your data. They need to be strong and secure, and also changed regularly.

Managers need to be careful here. They must respect their employees’ autonomy and privacy, but also need to access leavers’ accounts if necessary. A good data protection policy will incorporate this balance.

BYOD – but keep it secure

BYOD (bring your own device) allows employees to use their own laptops, phones and tablets. If done properly this can save costs and boost productivity.

But if done badly it’s a recipe for disaster. Unsecured devices could be hacked or could infect your IT system with malware. So before going down the BYOD route, talk to your IT provider for advice.

Working from home

Flexible working can increase productivity but, like BYOD, it can also increase risk. No sensitive data should be stored on employees’ home devices, and all logins should be through highly secure channels.

Good anti-malware tools are essential, as are regular updates and security patches. In fact it’s often more practical for you to provide secure laptops for your employees than to let them use their own.

Securing mobile devices

At the very least, every work phone must be PIN-secured so that its data can’t be accessed if it’s lost. Restricting the type of apps installed on work phones is also wise, since many apps have been shown to contain spyware or malware.

“Do a spot-check,” says Delia Gill. “Every so often ask for someone’s work phone and check that it’s secure. If not, that’s a serious breach of security, for you and for your clients.”

Mobile devices are particularly vulnerable to hacking, theft and loss. For this reason they must be properly secured at all times.

Educating your staff

One of the most important features of a data protection policy is educational. Many new employees will have no idea about the risks involved when sharing data.

Hacking is now big business, and professional hacking teams will target companies both through conventional hacking methods and by email or even phone call.

By explaining the serious nature of the risks, you can change your staff from targets to protectors, actively looking after your firm’s data.

A policy to keep your business safe

Without a data protection policy your business is flying blind. No policy means no management, no oversight, no real understanding of the risks. So when – not if – problems occur, without a data protection policy you’ll have no plan for dealing with them.

So make sure your employees are aware of the risks and following best practices. Talk to your IT provider about drafting a data protection policy for your company. With their help you can keep your data – and that of your clients – safe and secure.

Helping your IT provider to help you – five top tips

It’s good to know that your IT provider is there to help you if things go wrong. But did you also

know that you can help them to solve your problems faster?

Communication is at the heart of IT, and that includes communicating with your IT provider.

According to Delia Gill, Managing Director of Wellington-based IT provider IT Engine, little things

can make a big difference. Here are five ways in which you can help your IT provider to help you.

1. Provide at least two months’ notice of an office move

There’s a lot to do when a business moves to new premises. From cabling to ISP

notification, fibre connection to server configuration, it takes time to do it right. Two weeks is

not enough!

2. Let your IT provider know before your website team makes any changes

According to Delia Gill, this is often overlooked. If your web-dev team makes some

configuration changes behind the scenes, that could affect more than just the website’s

design. It could take your site offline and even prevent email access. Make sure your web-

dev team talks to your IT provider before they start work.

3. Adding new multifunction printers (to photocopiers)

Modern multifunction printers are highly capable devices – but they need network access to

work properly. The time to talk to your IT provider about this is a week or so in advance of a

new printer being installed. Don’t wait until the printer company technician is on-site and

saying, “I need to reconfigure your network…”

4. Changing ISP

The choice of Internet Service Provider for your business is yours to make. But if you

decide to change – say from Spark to Vodafone or vice-versa – check with your IT provider

first. A lot depends on how internet traffic is routed into and out of your company. Keep

downtime to a minimum by talking to your IT provider before you make the switch.

5. Adding and removing staff

Obviously it’s vital that you tell your IT provider well in advance of a new person starting

work. They will need their own email address and other accounts, which can take a little

time to set up.

But according to Delia, removing staff is the big one. “What happens when staff leave?” she

asks. “What happens to their out-of- office messages? Where are their documents stored –

are they on that laptop that you’re about to wipe? Do you have their iTunes password?

Have they removed their account from all Apple devices? If not done properly, that

expensive work iPhone could end up being bricked.”

It’s also wise to ensure their incoming email is being forwarded to someone else – not

going into a black hole. And just in case things turn nasty, be sure to recover all deleted

items in Exchange and elsewhere. It pays to be prepared.

If you don’t already have a policy to deal with all of this, now is a good time to create one. Just ask

your friendly IT provider – they’re here to help.

Whose (domain) name is it anyway?

Before you decide on a name for your new business, do some research. The company name might be available – but what about the matching domain names?

Starting a new business is an exciting time. First comes the idea, then the planning, then the implementation. But somewhere along the line comes the choice of company name. This might seem like a trivial matter, but actually it’s vitally important:

1. A good name helps boost your brand
Depending on your target market, different names can have different impacts. It’s a subtle factor that’s especially important in niche or trendy markets. Think of the names of craft beer firms, for example, or technology companies. They are meaningful or memorable – or both.

2. The name gives your company continuity
Staff may come and go, but your company remains. Over time you will use your skills to build that company and enhance its brand. Your reputation will – hopefully – get better and bigger. Choosing a memorable name will help keep you in your customers’ minds.

3. The name differentiates you from the competition
You want to stand out, so you need a company name that sets you apart from the crowd. Of course, you’re not limited to trading under your company name. You could trade under a different name as long as you follow the legal requirements. But it makes life easier if the business name by which your customers know you is the same as the name of your registered company. It should be unique.

So far, so straightforward. But there’s a problem when it comes to deciding on a name. That name might be free in the government’s companies register – but what about the website? For example, if your chosen company name is “The Company” then good luck finding a matching domain name! The most commonplace and obvious names are likely to be already taken.

Turning the naming process on its head

All of this means you need to think differently. Instead of deciding on a company name first, you should begin by investigating what domain name options you actually have. Your website and email addresses are vital forms of contact with customers, so it pays to get the domain name right. You can increase your chances of success by:

· checking what’s already registered using a ‘whois’ service such as who.is or whois.net
· asking your staff, partners and even family to come up with ideas
· searching around words and phrases that are similar to those that describe your company

Once you have some ideas, check for associated domains. Using our generic “The Company” as an example, you might want to register thecompany.co.nz, thecompany.org, thecompany.kiwi, thecompany.nz and maybe others.

Delia Gill, Managing Director of IT Engine, the Wellington-based IT solutions provider, says, “We reviewed of over 200 company names when we renamed our business, we found a bunch of great names but the domain name was always taken. When we finally found a name that worked for us we purchased all the names around it, we have over 25 domains now. It didn’t cost much to register them, and the benefit is that we truly own our brand. Nobody can steal our traffic or our business.”

Bear in mind that if you don’t do this, and if your brand becomes famous, there’s a chance somebody else might register those domains and steal traffic and business from you.

Once you have all the relevant domain names prepared, then you can register your company. But be sure to keep up the domain payments. If they lapse you could lose your website – along with a big chunk of your business.

It’s also important to manage your social media account names – but that’s another blog.