03 443 5499

A cheat sheet to help you make the most of your subscription

Written by: Peter Marshall, Voicecom Technologies

If you have Microsoft 365 for business, we want to make sure you’re making the most of it. You’re already paying for the subscription so why not take advantage of a whole suite of integrated applications that can streamline your workflows?

While remote work has been a key driver for Otago businesses to adapt the way they work and assess the systems they use, along the way they’ve realised that these apps not only offer remote capabilities but also the opportunity to integrate apps and business processes to allow them to better serve customers, streamline work, and improve employee productivity.

Four apps you’re paying for but missing out on

Microsoft SharePoint – SharePoint can seem overly complicated because it can offer so much. But it doesn’t need to be so scary. You can start small and use more functionality as needed or as you grow. Basically, it’s a platform that offers content management and collaboration. It helps with reducing duplicate files, gives you remote access (needed more than ever!) and allows you to work on the same document at the same time. Find out more about SharePoint here.

Microsoft Power Automate – Microsoft Power Automate allows you to automate workflows across applications. You can use it to connect email and instant message alerts, synchronise files between applications, copy files from one service to another, collect data from one app and store it in another, and much more. Templates are available to get you started. Efficiency is key for sustained success across businesses and Power Automate assists this by simplifying workflows with the automation of repetitive tasks.

Microsoft Forms – Forms allows you to create shareable surveys, quizzes, and polls in just minutes. You can then invite others to respond to it using almost any web browser or mobile device, see real-time results as they’re submitted, use built-in analytics to evaluate responses, and export results to Excel for analysis.

Microsoft Planner – A simple, visual, task management app that helps remove chaos from the team collaboration environment. You can create multiple task lists associated with different projects or set up daily to-do checklists.

Other apps to take advantage of.

Microsoft Teams – a chat-based workspace that integrates people, content, and tools into a single platform. Find out more about Teams here: https://ita.co.nz/microsoft-teams-more-just-video-conferencing

Microsoft OneDrive – OneDrive is essentially an online folder system for file storage. Similar to SharePoint however SharePoint offers much more in the way of collaboration. You might use OneDrive to save your personal drafts and then move them to SharePoint when you’re ready for collaboration.

Microsoft Lists – Helps you track information, organise your work and easily share with others. Lists are simple, smart, and flexible, so you can stay on top of what matters most to your team. Track issues, assets, routines, contacts, inventory and more.

Microsoft Stream – Your central destination for your business video content. It’s like an internal, secure YouTube for your business. This is the perfect place to keep things like training videos or marketing content for staff to easily access.

Microsoft Sway – Sway is a cloud only story-telling application similar to PowerPoint but provides more narrative options than a slide show.

Microsoft Whiteboard – A digital version of the traditional whiteboard that allows collaboration and brainstorming with your team in an interactive and engaging manner.

Microsoft MyAnalytics – Uses your data to provide insights into two of the key factors in your personal productivity: how you spend your time and who you spend it with. MyAnalytics takes a look at your everyday work patterns, finds areas that could benefit from your attention, and provides you with the tools to achieve more thoughtful use of your time.

Microsoft Power Apps – If your business needs a specific app to do a specific job, this is what PowerApps can do. Using simplified development techniques and with the help of your IT expert, you can create sophisticated applications using features, procedures, and processes found in Microsoft 365.

If you want to find out more about how any of these Microsoft 365 applications can benefit your business, contact us today on +64 3 443 5499. If you’d like to visit or email us, you can find our details here.

Protecting your business with ESET Security

Written by: Andrew Fergus, IT Alliance

Now, more than ever, it is important to secure your data. Cybersecurity threats to your organisation, your staff and your clients are becoming a regular occurrence here in Otago. As these cybersecurity threats become more significant, it’s really important to understand what they are, and how to do your best to prevent them. So let’s dig in and look at the different types of attacks and one of the most popular options for countering it – ESET Endpoint Security.

So what are the key threats?

Ransomware. This is a type of malware which threatens to publish or block access to your data unless a ransom is paid.

Email Virus Attachments. It’s common for viruses to be sent as email attachments to unsuspecting users, if opened these can potentially infect your whole system with unwanted viruses.

Spyware. This is another type of malware which can steal sensitive data such as passwords, credit card details and commercially sensitive data.

ESET Endpoint Security

ESET is used on 110 million devices, each one sends a feed to head office if it detects an unknown potential virus – this means they can examine it and send out a fix if needed. They send out updates every 2 hours and have a team dedicated to threat security. It also has a negligible impact on computer performance. Meaning your computer wont go super slow. Its testing system has no false positives, so if there is a notification, you know it is correct.

With so many businesses moving their files to the cloud there is an additional ESET product helping keep business safe. ESET Cloud Office Security provides advanced preventive protection for Microsoft 365 applications against malware, spam and phishing attacks via an easy-to-use cloud management console. Eliminate spam from Microsoft 365 inboxes and keep your OneDrive files malware-free.

A Word of Warning for Compromised Data!!

One more motivation will be around from 1st December 2020 with a new Bill from the New Zealand Government, which means that if you are compromised and your data gets taken or lost, you have to notify the Office of the Privacy Commissioner and affected individuals. If you don’t then you could be liable for up to $350,000 per EACH MEMBER of a class action.

So what next for your Cybersecurity?

We recommend using ESET Endpoint Security, this protects your files and network, doesn’t hog your resources or waste your time on false positives – it also mitigates your risk against the NZ Privacy Act 2020.

Bonus tip for those using Microsoft 365

For those of you that have moved your files to the Microsoft Cloud. We recommend turning on 2FA (Multi-Factor Authentication) which is included free with your Microsoft 365 subscription. Also add your Office IP address so it only prompts you for a second authentication every few months when using your office, but still prompts to authenticate when adding new devices or visiting new areas.

If you’d like help choosing the best antivirus & firewall software for your business and help with setting it up, contact us today on +64 3 443 5499. If you’d like to visit or email us, you can find our details here.

How a proactive approach can save you money and mitigate risk
Written by: Phil Strang – Technology Partners

Do you find yourself so caught up in other areas of your business that you tend to only manage your IT when things go wrong or it becomes an absolute must?

This is called reactive IT Management. With it, brings a mountain of stress, disruption and blown budgets.

A proactive approach to IT management doesn’t have to be difficult or expensive. In fact, it can save you money and keep you focused on doing what you do best.

This is where a Managed Service Provider steps in. They’re not just the guy you call in for computer repair, they’re essentially an extension of your team. An MSP is there to support you and ensure the IT side of your business is efficient, cost-effective and low-risk. Let’s look at some of the benefits of proactive IT management and why businesses in Otago might want to move away from a more reactive response.

Preventing blown budgets

Large, unexpected IT bills can often be avoided with a good plan in place. A Managed Service Provider can help prevent the unnecessary cost of fixing things by implementing a plan with regular, scheduled maintenance. Additionally, they can give you the tools to effectively manage your IT life cycle, forecasting hardware and software upgrades. With a fully prepared life cycle, IT budgets can be planned in detail for years to come. Everything from printers to operating systems can be prepared on a tightly controlled schedule. Adopting an IT life cycle is a great way to eliminate unwanted surprises and make the most out of your IT budget.

Productivity / Minimal disruption

There’s nothing worse than when you get halfway through the day and you realise you’ve spent most of it troubleshooting or dealing with an IT issue. Can you imagine how frightening the numbers would be if you calculated the total number of hours lost due to IT-related disruption? A Managed Service Provider’s core purpose is to lessen this disruption and would likely pay for themselves rapidly. An MSP often does routine maintenance outside of hours so when you log in the next morning, you’re good to go! They’re your Clark Kent, unobtrusively making things happen in the background and quickly embracing their capes should anything big arise.

Knowing your business

Something stops working at the worst of times and you find yourself giving an IT technician your full operational history to help you both connect the dots of where things went wrong. Sound familiar? The great thing about an MSP is that they get to know your business, and more importantly, have a detailed documentation process. The team will get to know your business and you’ll often be dealing with the same technicians who know you and your systems. Having an intimate knowledge of your site’s configuration and a detailed service history means they’ll spend less time troubleshooting and more time working on the job. Familiarity when working regularly on a system means clients are not paying for a technician to relearn the basics for each job or call out. As an added bonus, when you partner with an MSP, the charge is often much less than the hourly rate of one-off call outs.

A practical and trusted approach to technology

In the technology space, there are changes and updates left, right and centre, often leaving you overwhelmed. This leads to you either falling behind with your IT services or purchasing things your business may not need. A Managed Service Provider is across all things IT, so you don’t have to be. You have the option to meet on a regular basis to discuss and review appropriate changes or updates that should be considered to your IT infrastructure. They know what’s happening in the industry and can guide you according to your specific needs. They’re not about telling you that all your computers need to be updated with the highest spec and most expensive models. In fact, an MSP will get to know how you operate with an audit and provide you with a plan on where you can best spend and save money. They’re about plans with priorities and delivering a solution according to budget.

If you’d like to find out more about how a Managed Service Provider can help you move from reactive to proactive IT management, contact us today on +64 3 443 5499. If you’d like to visit or email us, you can find our details here.

Security issues you need to be aware of before considering VoIP
By Jim Carroll

Times used to be simpler when phone lines were just that, but today there are more and more companies moving to the more complicated VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) system for their phone lines. This is in part due to advances in technology, but also partly enforced by telecoms companies like Spark suggesting they won’t support the legacy phone lines in future.

While VoIP can work well in the right circumstances due to potential cost, flexibility and number portability advantages – you do need good IT support. In circumstances which aren’t optimal it can end up being more expensive, more complicated and come with a range of security issues which need to be well thought out. Let’s take a look at the four main security issues below.

Denial of Service (DoS)

Hackers can use automatic phone dialler software which rapidly calls you and then hangs up, this is called a DoS attack and keeps your line busy so you cannot accept or make calls. Attacks like this can severely impact any businesses ability to communicate and can be extremely difficult to stop.

A very recent example is the attack on the New Zealand Exchange (NZX) which shows how vulnerable businesses can be. One way to help protect your communication infrastructure is by using Session Border Controllers (SBCs) which act like a VoIP firewall. This protects your network by using a secure connection between you and your service provider and gives you more control over your VoIP calls and voice traffic.

The man-in-the-middle attack (MitM)

This is where someone can easily listen, divert or even hijack selected VoIP calls by putting themselves “in the middle” of the VoIP signalling path. This can happen when weak or no encryption mechanism is used on wireless access points, allowing unwanted users to join your network just by being nearby.

This can be one of the most serious threats, especially for those in industries where discussing private information is of the utmost importance, such as in legal or health sectors. Encryption and authentication protocols such as the TLS (Transport Layer Security) protocol can help with this.

Poor security protocols and passwords

Without good security protocols and strong passwords, system and user credentials are vulnerable to theft – making it easy to hack into online VoIP systems or phone hardware. This can lead to many issues, two of which include:

• Phreaking – a type of hack which steals a service from a service provider while passing the cost along to another person. Commonly this is when your VoIP account is hacked and someone uses it to make calls which you pay for.
• Vishing – where a legitimate number is hacked and then used by a party to call you and pretending to be from a trustworthy organisation, such as your bank, and asking for confidential or critical information.

To avoid this from happening, make sure you use 2 factor authentication where possible to access your online systems, never use your VoIP phone number or extension as the voicemail password (common defaults) and always change the default admin passwords on web based phone hardware.

Caller ID Spoofing

Most VoIP providers will only allow you to use the caller ID of the lines you own, but some allow any number to be presented on their network which can cause problems. It is most commonly used where a business doesn’t present their main number but might instead present a tollfree number or their main number for customer callbacks.

However this means it can also be used to emulate another party or business with the intent to defraud, cause harm or wrongfully obtain something of value. This makes it important to have a mechanism in place which only displays numbers which have been authenticated.

Final Word

VoIP can be great in the right circumstances but people often jump in without considering the extra complications and security issues which don’t exist with a traditional phone line.

It’s best to go into VoIP with your eyes open and be aware of the risks, then you can use it effectively for your needs. If you’d like help setting up VoIP or improving the security of your existing setup then contact your nearest IT Alliance member.

Local Technology Nationwide

Big-business quality IT for SME’s
By Delia Gill

The IT Alliance are a group of nationwide partners that banded together to offer businesses high-quality, flexible support with a local touch. They are small enough to feel part of your team but backed by a bigger organisation and network of support. It doesn’t matter if you’re located in Otago or on the road across the country, they have the infrastructure set up to ensure you’re covered with all things IT.

Your Local Partner

How great is it that technology allows us to remote in and help clients at the drop of a hat? Although remote support is an excellent tool, sometimes an on-site visit is what you need. After all, it might be a little too much to expect Frank from accounts to troubleshoot why his keyboard isn’t connecting to his docking station, which isn’t connecting to his laptop, which is only connecting to one of his two screens, which seem be missing some cords?…you get the idea!

All of the partners in the IT Alliance pride themselves in providing, fast, high-quality local support. They’re focused on building long-lasting client relationships and working with you to ensure IT is strengthening your business, not obstructing it.

Nationwide Support

As a group of 12 independent IT companies across New Zealand, the IT Alliance work together as a group to deliver products, projects, training and support throughout New Zealand. Regular meetings during the month are held where specialist knowledge is shared among members and then passed onto clients from a local source.

Having partners that can reach the entire country means there are no limitations to servicing your business. Whether you’re travelling and need help, or have staff based around New Zealand, they can provide you with flexibility by supporting you no matter where you are.

Flexible and Responsive

The issue with partnering with a single, large IT company is that you can often get lost in the noise. Partnering with a member from the IT Alliance means you’re getting the benefits of small and local but also the access and knowledge of big and broad. Smaller and local offers agility, with the capability of changing and adopting new technologies at a faster pace, bypassing lengthy procedure. Additionally, you’re not paying a premium to support a single large organisation that has substantial overheads to cover.

Collaborative Knowledge

A collaborative approach is critical with the fast-paced nature of the IT space. The IT Alliance team are backed with a wealth of knowledge and varying specialties. This means they each bring something unique to the table and can share the most important information with each other rather than wading through the sea of updates and changes the industry consistently presents. The core purpose of the partners coming together frequently is to brainstorm, explore all points of view, share experiences, stretch perspectives and challenge the way things are down. All with the objective to ensure the best possible IT solutions are offered to their customers.

If you’d like to find out more about how the IT Alliance works or can help your business, contact us today on +64 3 443 5499. If you’d like to visit or email us, you can find our details here.

July 2020

Managing your staff remotely, working from home

How to Make the Most Out of Working From Home!
Written by: Delia Gill

Due to recent world events, most people have now had the opportunity to try out working remotely in one way or another, especially those who work from Central Otago. It’s also been an opportunity to test out our IT systems when working from home and to see if they’re up to the task of simulating being in an in-person environment.

Pros and Cons of Working from Home

There are of course some professions who are unable to work from home, such as nursing and hospitality. Retail is another where it can be more difficult as you don’t have the luxury of seeing things and trying them on before you buy. Office environments are generally the ones who get on with things from home – but do they do this well?
If you’ve had a team working from home, how do you think this compared to working in an office? Would you give productivity during this time a 5 star rating or a 2?
Some love it so much they’ve committed to full-time remote working teams – but with this extreme there needs to be a strong consideration about the long-term effect on productivity and mental health. The question needs to be asked – do your staff actually enjoy working from home? Usually there are some who love it and others who don’t. Two of the main benefits usually cited are the lack of commute and increased flexibility.
There may be people on your team who don’t enjoy working from home, perhaps they don’t have a dedicated office or workspace, and working from home wasn’t what they signed up for when joining your company. If they feel that they need to work from an office environment to be happy and productive, then a balance needs to be found.

How to Avoid Pitfalls of Working Remotely

  1. Depending on your family and available workspace situation, you may need to coordinate with a partner for access to an office or workspace area for video meetings – so be aware of this and plan in advance!
  2. It’s easy to go overboard on too many long team conference calls. The best way to run these are quickly and with a structured agenda, get in and get out!
  3. There’s sometimes a lack of trust that employees won’t work as hard from home, so there can be a tendency to book people into more meetings to make sure they’re doing something… however this takes them away from doing real work and can lower morale. You’ll usually get a happier and more productive team member by showing your faith in them.
  4. Video calls are more tiring than in-person meetings, if you book in multiple video calls in one day it can be simply exhausting. Ask your staff what meetings they have booked in and why, try to keep them to 30 minutes otherwise they can end up tired and less productive. Your staff shouldn’t be spending any more than 4-5 hours a day in meetings.

Tips to Make Remote Work… Work!

  1. Try not to socialise on regular video calls as it can take up so much time and get off topic of the agenda, instead try booking in a weekly social call at 4pm on a Friday – the team can have a beer together (if they choose) and catch up on social matters.
  2. Always keep your video ON during video calls, then people can see that you’re engaged with them and haven’t wandered off to make a cup of tea.
  3. Make sure your environment is set up well so that you have privacy to do your work and that on video calls your partner or kids aren’t wandering around in the background.
  4. Record all your meetings so that attendees or those who couldn’t make it can review later. We use Microsoft Teams and have channels set up for meetings so we can keep all of the recordings, notes and tasks in one easy-to-find location.
  5. Make sure you have a good IT support team for when you need help with your IT setup and services, better to prepare and set things up properly in advance rather than wait until things go wrong!

Use Your Calendar

When working remotely it’s more important than usual to use your calendar effectively, including blocking out time to get productive work done – which cannot be overridden by meetings.
In Microsoft Outlook you can even schedule emails straight into your calendar, it’s easy to block out time to do tasks using this method and the email is right there as a handy reference – you can ask your helpful IT person If you need some tips and tricks.

Conclusion

Some love working from home and others need to be around people in an office environment, so as with most things there is a balance to be struck which ensures a happy and productive team.

If something isn’t working with the team, always look at yourself first – the fish rots from the head down! If something is going wrong then ask yourself why and what you could do to improve things first before you consider what others can do. Own your mistakes.
Think about the long-term effect of working remotely and the effect it will have on morale, it can be exhausting if someone is in video meetings all day. Reducing your overhead costs are a great benefit to not having an office, but always put your staff’s wellbeing, morale and productivity first.

If you’re not sure where to start, then get in touch with us on 03 443 5499. We would be happy to help you!

Want to hear more about how else you can proactively manage your IT? Check out our blogs on:
Be Warned About Backups
Strengthen Your Password Policy

There are plenty of options available for video conferencing at the moment, which has been extremely useful with many people working from home in the current environment. Skype, Zoom and Microsoft Teams are some of the big names available – but did you know that Teams can also do much more than just video conferencing?

Here at IT Centre, we like to use it for all of our Microsoft apps and workflows. Meaning it’s the tech equivalent of a swiss army knife which can switch between different bits of kit at a moment’s notice. If you currently have multiple apps, workflows, inboxes and files all over the place… then Teams might just be the all-in-one solution you’re looking for.

Internal Communication

If you are constantly trying to keep up with your inbox and struggle to find that important email, then you are certainly not alone. Many businesses are now using tools like Slack for internal comms which can drastically reduce email clutter, did you know that Teams has a similar function? It’s a quick way to communicate with your internal team or give them a call – some of us have gone so far we’ve eliminated internal emails altogether!

File Storage and Structure

Having multiple locations for files, unorganised file structures, different file versions and not being able to find something is certainly not uncommon. Using Teams allows you to directly integrate with Microsoft’s file hosting service, OneDrive and have all of your files in one place, and also makes file sharing easy with external customers or suppliers.

Department Groups

Everyone has access to what they need in Microsoft Teams by setting your team and only having access to what’s important for you – split these up by department or otherwise as suits you. Then you can interact with your colleagues however you need to based upon the large array of apps and workflows available. For example, you might want to hop on a quick call with a member of the admin team, share some private documents with management or your marketing team might want to set up a quiz to share with your customers.

One-Stop-Shop

If that wasn’t enough, you can also use Teams to book your meetings, keep track of them in the calendar, run live webinars for up to 10,000 people and integrate CRM and customer ticketing apps. Basically it can be used as your one-stop-shop to replace the multiple different apps you are currently using, with multiple logins and varying integration capabilities.

If you feel disorganised, have files here there and everywhere and want to centralise it all to keep them in one place securely in the cloud – then Microsoft Teams might be the answer for you. It will help you centralise your files, communications, email addresses (across multiple domain names) to become more organised.

If you’re not sure where to start, then get in touch with us today on +64 3 443 5499. If you’d like to visit or email us, you can find our details here.

The simple why and how of passwords for Kiwi SMEs.

Small to medium size kiwi businesses are increasingly being targeted by unscrupulous hackers, and cyber-criminals which often leads to loss of confidential data, intellectual property and can result in considerable business disruption. Poor password security is one of the key methods these cyber-criminals use to gain access to your systems. We want to highlight some of the fundamental threats you’re facing and guide you through implementing a strong password policy for your business.

Why kiwi SMEs are vulnerable

According to the 2020 Data Breach Investigations Report, over 80% of breaches within hacking involve brute force or the use of lost or stolen credentials. You can see the full report here. The problem is the vast amount of people still using weak or compromised passwords, leaving kiwi SMEs vulnerable.

Why are smaller organisations being targeted these days? Cyber-criminals are not just after big corporations with substantial funds. They are looking for the easiest hack which means focusing on smaller, easier targets is often the strategy. Sometimes smaller enterprises can be identified as not having strict policies in place across all aspects of the business. Larger corporations have entire teams working on policy and procedure or dedicated IT teams consistently managing potential threats. As a Managed Service Provider, we want to help make sure you’re just as covered as these larger businesses. We suggest you establish and implement a strong password policy that employees can refer to.

Password checklist

So, we all know we’re supposed to use “strong” passwords, but what does that mean? We’ve come up with the simple acronym ‘CLOUDS’ to help you remember the most important things to think about when creating passwords:

Characters – Use at least one of each of; lower case, upper case, number and a symbol (e.g. #) or a space
Length – A minimum of 8 characters and ideally 10.
Obvious – Ensure your password is NOT obvious like a birthday or your family and pet names. Hackers can find these details through things like social media.
Unique – Think of something new each time. Do not use a slightly altered version of old passwords. Your old passwords may have been hacked from a website and sold on the dark web.
Different – make sure you use different passwords for different accounts.
Set – The most basic rule; set your own passwords. Leaving the default set up by your IT support is unsafe. You’d be surprised at the huge number of passwords that are simply not set at all.

Remembering your new passwords

Your intentions are good when coming up with the most uncrackable of passwords but now you find yourself continuously hitting the ‘forgot my password’ button and going through the tedious and time-consuming process of a reset. It sounds all too familiar doesn’t it?

We’re moving towards a world where thumb prints and facial recognition technology will alleviate the need to remember a collection of passwords but until we reach that point, we need a reliable solution to remember our passwords. Considering a password manager program is a good option. This gives you the option to store all your passwords in one place and when you’re signed in, they can quickly populate your details when logging into various platforms. There are numerous safe and reliable password managers so ask your local ITA member which one they suggest to suit your needs.

Alternatively, some people use encrypted documents, for example, password protected Excel or Word documents, while others use the ‘remember password’ facility of their web browser. If you use your web browser, make sure it encrypts the passwords and remember you need to log-off if you share computers or leave it unattended. All of these are good options and can help you move away from physically writing down passwords which can be risky and affect business continuity if you lose access to the physical copy.

Is it necessary to regularly change my passwords?

Most experts no longer recommend having to change your password every six months as it hasn’t proved to improve security. However, we do suggest if you have old passwords that you bring them up to date and change these every couple of years. Furthermore, always change your passwords immediately if there are any indications they may have been compromised.

Protecting kiwi SMEs

The best thing you can do is implement a strong password policy for your employees. Have them use the ‘CLOUDS’ checklist when creating passwords and encourage using a password manager. Make it part of your policy that passwords are updated when an employee moves on to ensure your systems remain secure.

The trick to having strong passwords that pass the ‘CLOUDS’ test, is NOT having to remember them. Use one of the techniques above to do the heavy duty remembering for you. Copy and paste as required. Just remember your login password and your password manager password – don’t write those down anywhere!

Recent growth in remote work locally here in Central Otago as well across New Zealand and around the world has seen an increase in the number of these cyber-attacks and has left businesses vulnerable. Across the ITA we continue to see heightened targeting of clients which is why it’s critical to review or implement your password policy immediately. If you have any concerns in this area or want to find out more about keeping your business protected and secure, contact us or your local ITA member.

IT Centre is a founding member of the NZ-wide IT Alliance – www.ita.co.nz

Check out the links below for a contact near you.

Let’s Pivot to remote work! But wait… how?

The environment in which we operate has significantly changed over the last few months. Businesses have been driven to embrace remote working. There has been no better time to question the efficiency of your workflows and systems. A business simply needs to have online functionality and the ability for staff to continue to work remotely. The need for increased collaboration and file sharing amongst teams is essential, which is where SharePoint can offer an excellent solution. How? Read on..

Reducing duplicate files

Are your documents and folders in a bit of a mess? Don’t worry, it happens to the best of us! With the change of employees, each individual has different ideas on how to organise filing systems, so yours has likely evolved into a mix of conflicting folders and duplicates. Have you ever collaborated on a document, emailing it back and forth until you eventually find yourself so confused as to which document is the most up to date? Yes! We have all been there. Working remotely means that now, more than ever before, we have a huge need for collaboration. This means that the same mentality needs to be embraced with your document management system. SharePoint allows you to have one central location where your documents are stored, categorised, updated and backed up. You can set up permissions so that others can access and update. No more version 2.1.5.0, saved on everyone’s drive!

Capturing version history

SharePoint gives you the ability to capture version history. You no longer have to spend time hunting for the latest version of the health and safety policy! This not only helps reduce the number of duplicate files but it offers a history of who has last worked on the document. Having access to older versions can sometimes be a lifesaver. This means that if a colleague accidentally deletes some information from an older version when updating, you can still gain access to the previous version with a click of a button.

Access from any device or location

Accessibility is key. You might be working from home, stuck up north or down south, or perhaps on a family outing and work suddenly needs urgent attention. SharePoint allows you to jump on your laptop, tablet or other device and instantly access all of your work files. Quick, easy access has never been so important and can ensure as little downtime as possible.

Collaboration – being able to work on the same doc at the same time

The strong need for collaborative tools has increased, especially with a workforce that is frequently operating online and remotely. SharePoint allows users to collaborate by working on the same document at the same time. Additionally, you can easily create and customise your own intranet. Fancy right? This provides the perfect platform where you can share and manage content, knowledge, and applications to empower teamwork, quickly find information, and seamlessly collaborate across the organisation. Not to mention, bring your team together!

Better Security

One of the most common concerns about embracing cloud platforms is the security of your data. We need to change our perception about having everything stored onsite and having ‘physical’ control. A company like Microsoft has an entire team continually working on the safety of their platforms so perhaps it’s time to embrace cloud options which can give your business the leap forward. You do also have control. Backing up your data, and implementing multifactor authentication are two key steps to helping keep your data safe. What does this really mean?  Backups: using a third-party provider to back up your data is essential as Microsoft only manages the security of its platform… not your data!. Multifactor authentication makes it harder for anyone to hack or steal your data. It is a simple system whereby you might, for example, be required to enter a password as well as a text message code using an authorising app.

The way we do business has dramatically shifted. The damaging effects of a worldwide pandemic means we need to embrace technology to help us ride this wave of change. If you’re ready to make the move to more efficient and collaborative and secure document management, we can help get you started. You can pop us an email or give us a ring. We would be more than happy to walk you through the process in plain English! 

IT Centre is part the IT Alliance, a group of like minding companies working together around the country to bring better value and services to clients.

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Why back up your Microsoft 365 data

It’s fair to say that within the Central Otago business community, COVID-19 has really pushed our business into the cloud. Whilst Microsoft provides powerful services within Microsoft 365, it is important to note that comprehensive backup of your Microsoft 365 data is not one of them. Of over 1,000 IT Pros surveyed, 81% experienced data loss.[i] This can be from simple user error to major data security threats like ransomware. The misconception that Microsoft fully backs up your data on your behalf is common and could result in damaging repercussions which is why it’s important to know what areas you are responsible for.

Don’t assume your data is backed up

Have you thought about how your Microsoft data is backed up? “The scary reality is that even though sensitive cloud data is stored in Office documents, an estimated 76% is not being backed up[ii]. In fact, IDC states that 6 out of every 10 organisations still don’t have any form of Office 365 data protection[iii].” Microsoft’s core focus is on infrastructure and maintaining uptime to users but when it comes to data protection, this lies with you.

How might this hurt Central Otago business?

Users accidentally deleting files is all too common. If a file or email is accidentally deleted, Microsoft makes this recoverable for a short period of time. If you go looking for something a few months down the track and realise it may have been accidentally deleted, you’re unlikely to recover this. If you do not have your own automatic back up and the recoverable period has passed, your file will be permanently deleted.

An even greater threat, if you are made vulnerable by any hackers or viruses, again your data is at risk of being lost. Malware and viruses can do serious damage to your business. Not only is your company reputation at risk, but the privacy and security of internal and customer data as well. External threats can find their way in through emails and attachments and you can’t control users accidentally opening these. Having a reliable antivirus is essential but having back up is critical in the case of a serious breach. Regular or automated backups will help ensure a separate copy of your data is uninfected and that you can recover documents or emails quickly with limited downtime.

What does shared responsibility really mean?

Microsoft runs under a shared responsibility model. But what does that really mean? Microsoft data backup will protect you from events such as natural disasters that affect their data centres, hardware or software failures on their part, power outages, operating system errors, etc. Their key focus is on availability and uptime, not your data. This means you are responsible for your Microsoft 365 data including email, OneDrive and SharePoint. It is your responsibility to ensure your data is protected from human error, malicious activity, misconfigured workflows, hackers, and viruses. Basically, Microsoft will ensure availability and access but your job is to protect your data with reliable backup systems and multifactor authentication.

A simple solution to protect you

The solution really can be so simple, cost-effective and provide you with ultimate peace of mind. You’ll need to set up a backup solution via a third-party system. With the move of more company data to being stored in cloud platforms like Onedrive and Sharepoint, this data is no longer covered by business local backup systems as they were when data was located on a file server. It is essential when moving to cloud-based storage systems and when investing considerable amounts in the cloud system setup, to have an automated backup.

Having a backup of your Microsoft 365 data mitigates the risk of losing access to important emails, documents and files for all your users. It is critical and will fill the gap between long-term retention and data protection. We can help in getting this set up for you. You send us a quick email here or you can give us a ring. We would me more than happy to chat this through with you in plain English.

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Multifactor Authentication
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References:
[i] Veeam customer survey, September 2019 3 IDC: Why a Backup Strategy for Microsoft Office 365 is Essential, 2019
[ii] Veeam customer survey, September 2019 3 IDC: Why a Backup Strategy for Microsoft Office 365 is Essential, 2019
[iii] Veeam customer survey, September 2019 3 IDC: Why a Backup Strategy for Microsoft Office 365 is Essential, 2019