Category Archives for Education

How to secure your laptop featured image

How to Secure Your Laptop (Even if you are an IT Novice)

The humble laptop is a powerful workhorse and unsung hero. Work from anywhere and access your files without being restricted to a single location. This convenience comes at a cost though, as there are potential risks you need to be aware of.

Here are some recommendations to put in place to keep your laptop secure.

Keep the Operating System up to date

Updates can certainly be a sore subject for many. That little pop-up window that appears in the bottom-right corner of your screen or the “installing 1 of 50 updates” message that appears just as you are in a rush to leave the office can be annoying. But updates have an important purpose. Each update relates to a bug that needs to be squashed or a security hole that needs to be plugged. Installing your updates daily makes sure that your operating system is as secure as possible.

Set a complex OS password

You wouldn’t dream of leaving your house unlocked but many people seem to leave their laptop or desktop completely unprotected with no password. Take a minute to set a secure password and give your machine an extra level of protection. If you need help, check out our guide on how to set a secure password and keep your passwords safe.

Encrypt your hard drive

If the worst does happen and your laptop is stolen, the decision of whether the thief will try and hack into your machine or simply wipe it largely depends on how easy you make it for them. Setting a password is the first step and encrypting your hard drive is the next step.

This isn’t as difficult as you might think. If you have Windows 8.1 or 10, chances are that your drive is already encrypted by default. Here is how you can check. Some older versions of Windows have an encryption tool called BitLocker. You can find out if your version has BitLocker here.

If you have a Mac with an OS X version 10.7 (Lion) or later, you have access to a built-in encryption program called FileVault 2.

Backup your files

Ideally, your laptop will not fall into the wrong hands. However, if this happens, you want to make sure that you have a backup of all the important files saved on your laptop. Of course, this also applies if your hard drive fails (trust us – it’s more common than you think).

This process doesn’t have to be complicated. There are a number of providers that allow you to save your files to the cloud such as OneDrive, Dropbox or iCloud. You can set these up as a folder on your laptop and simply drag in the files you want to have backed up.

If you are more tech-savvy, you can get free backup software such as EaseUs Todo Backup to do the job for you. This will automatically back up your files to the cloud or an external USB drive on a schedule of your choice.

The simple rule to follow with any backup is to make sure you have a copy of any important files in at least two different places.

By following the above rules, you can be confident that your laptop is far safer than before.

Want to find out more?

This blog article comes from one of the chapters from our ebook – The 7 Simple Steps to Protect Yourself Online in Minutes.

7 Simple Steps Ebook Cover

If you found it useful, why not download a copy now? It’s our jargon-free guide to help anyone vastly improve their online security right away. Even better, you can start implementing the steps right away and you don’t need any technical knowledge to do so.

Christmas 2019 Blog Image

Christmas Opening Hours

We hope everyone has an enjoyable Christmas and New Year. Coretek will be taking a short break for Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Years’ Day and then will be back raring to go for 2020.

Here are our opening hours over the holiday period:

Christmas Eve – Open

Christmas Day – Closed

Boxing Day – Closed

December 27 – Open 9 to 5

December 30 – Open 9 to 5

New Year’s Eve – Open 9 to 5

New Year’s Day – Closed

SharePoint File Restore Blog Featured Image

How do I restore a file in SharePoint or Teams?

File restore is always a vital feature to have. You can never be prepared for that moment when an important document is accidentally deleted, overwritten or even worse, infected by malware.

A common misconception is that by storing your documents in the cloud, you relieve yourself of any responsibility for backing these documents up. That fact is, this simply isn’t true.

Your cloud provider i.e. Microsoft, AWS, Dropbox etc. are responsible for keeping their service online within their SLAs but if you accidentally delete a document, it is generally up to you to get it back.

I say “generally,” because Microsoft have now brought in some additional features in Office 365 to help you out.

The first of these is the recycle bin. This isn’t a new feature but it’s one that many people aren’t aware of. Just like the recycle bin on your Windows desktop, if you accidentally delete a file, you can go in there and restore it.

How to restore a file from SharePoint recycle bin

If you delete a file in SharePoint, you can restore this from the recycle bin by following these steps:

  1. Browse to the Document Library that contained the file you accidentally deleted.
  2. From the left-hand menu, select Recycle Bin.
  3. Choose the file in the list and then click on the restore button in the main bar.
SharePoint File Restore Image 1
SharePoint File Restore Image 2

How to restore a SharePoint Document Library

Microsoft have recently extended this functionality to be able to restore an entire document library to an earlier date. This was announced by Microsoft earlier in 2019 and has now been rolled out to Microsoft 365 and Office 365 tenancies.

This feature would be particularly useful in situations where the entire library had become compromised, such as with a malware infection.

Here is how you restore a Document Library:

  1. Browse to the Document Library that you wish to restore to an earlier time.
  2. Click on the cog icon in the top-right to bring up the settings menu.
  3. Select ‘Restore this library’. Note – this option will only appear if you are logged in with an account that has owner permission over the document library.
  4. From the drop-down ‘Select a date’ menu, choose an option of when you want to restore from. If you need to specify an exact date, choose ‘Custom date and time’.
  5. You can then use the slider to choose the date you require.
  6. Finally, choose the exact point you wish to restore from by ticking the relevant time from the list.
  7. Click ‘Restore’.
SharePoint Library Restore Image 1
SharePoint Library Restore Image 2

Conclusion

So there you have it. A couple of ways to restore files in SharePoint that you may not have previously been aware of. Happy restoring!

Password Safety Blog Featured Image

How to Keep Your Passwords Safe

Strong security starts with your accounts. If your accounts have weak, insecure and unsafe passwords that can be easily guessed or cracked then you will be leaving yourself open to anyone walking right into your online life and taking whatever they like.

Here are the steps you need to take to ensure you are keeping your passwords safe.

Have a complex password

Go through all your passwords right away and make sure that they are:

  • At least 8 characters long (15 or more is better)
  • Contain all of the following: uppercase, lowercase, numerical, special character (?!# etc)
  • Much better is to auto-generate a password using a Password Manager (see below)

As an example, “K3*#8ics&LE@%Du” is a strong password. “Password1” is not.

Bonus Tip – Auto-generate your complex passwords using a password manager (see below).

Don’t have the same password for each account

A fairly obvious one this – if you have the same password for every account, someone only needs to guess the password right once to get access to all of your accounts. If you have any duplicate passwords, change these right away.

Bonus Tip – Your password manager can check this for you.

Use a password manager

Unless you have a photographic memory, it’s going to be pretty tricky to remember all of your passwords, especially if you have created unique and complex passwords as recommended above.

A password manager is going to save your life and you will probably wonder how you ever lived without it.

The purpose of a password manager is to safely store all of your passwords in an encrypted form. What’s better is you only need to remember one master password to access all of them. The only downside is that you need to make sure that your master password is very strong and whatever you do, don’t forget it!

There are a number of good options to choose from including LastPass, RoboForm and KeePass.

Don’t save website passwords in your browser

You know that really handy message that pops up in your web browser that says “do you want to remember this page?”. Well, it might be really handy but it’s also very insecure. Stick with a decent password manager to store your website passwords.

Use “forgot your password” questions with care

When you set up a new account, you may be asked to enter additional security questions such as mother’s maiden name, place of birth etc. These are in place in case you forget your password but be very careful when using these, especially if they can be easily guessed or looked up. A much better approach is to skip these altogether and save your password in your password manager so you can’t forget it.

Bonus Tip – use a different “secret” email address for your ‘reset your password’ settings, protected with an extra secure password.

Use 2 Factor Authentication

Some websites will allow you to turn on something called 2 Factor (or Form) Authentication. This is a feature that requests an additional form of authentication, as well as your password.

This is commonly used on online banking websites where you will need to enter your password and an additional code generated from a secure key or mobile phone app. This means that even if someone does guess your password, they will not be able to access your account without the additional code.

Many sites allow you to enable 2FA and there are a number of free apps to choose from such as Google Authenticator.

Want to find out more?

This blog article comes from one of the chapters from our ebook – The 7 Simple Steps to Protect Yourself Online in Minutes.

7 Simple Steps Ebook Cover

If you found it useful, why not download a copy now? It’s our jargon-free guide to help anyone vastly improve their online security right away. Even better, you can start implementing the steps right away and you don’t need any technical knowledge to do so.

By the way, it’s completely free. Download your copy now.

Blog Featured Image Spot The Phish

Can you spot a spoofed email? Play Spot the Phish and find out!

Phishing may be a term that you are unfamiliar with but chances are, you have either been a victim or know someone who has been.

If you don’t already know, phishing refers to when you are sent an email by someone who is impersonating either another person or company in an attempt to obtain sensitive or personal details about you. It is also referred to as “spoofing” or in the case of trying to target high-level executives, it can be referred to as “whaling.”

A very common example is receiving an email which appears to be from your bank asking you to change your password or confirm your details. Upon clicking the link and providing the details, the fraudster now has access to your account details.

Emails such as this can also be used to gain remote access to your device or to spread viruses and malware.

Can you spot the Phish?

Our email security partners, Barracuda, have come up with a fun game which will test your ability to spot which emails are spoofed and which are genuine. Give it a try now and let us know your score!

PLAY SPOT THE PHISH NOW!

How to secure your email

So, you are now an expert in spotting phishing emails. But what about securing your email account to minimise the chance of getting an attack in the first place? There are several steps to make your email considerably better protected.

Consider 2 Factor Authentication

2 Factor Authentication is a way of making your accounts more secure by asking for an additional piece of information such as a generated code. Many web-based email providers such as Outlook.com and Gmail are compatible with 2FA.

Create a different email for password resets

All the hard work of setting unique passwords for all of your accounts can be undone if someone gets access to your main email account and uses the “forgot your password?” feature to reset them all. Create a separate “secret” email address just for password reset emails and you will be much more protected, especially if this account has 2FA enabled.

Be phishing aware

Firstly, always be on guard if you receive an email from your bank. It may be genuine, but always be more careful before opening or clicking on any links.

Secondly, always check the sender’s email address. For instance, if the email is supposed to be from HSBC but the email address is something completely different, delete the email immediately.

Unfortunately, this isn’t foolproof and this is when the following check “be spoofing aware” comes in.

Be spoofing aware

Cybercriminals have become more advanced and can now “spoof” email addresses. This means that even if you check the sender’s email address, sometimes it can appear to be from the correct person. This is much harder to spot than the more rudimental phishing attack mentioned above.

The first step to counter this is education. Make sure you (and your colleagues) are all aware that emails can be spoofed. Send round an email, direct them to this article or book a quick training session to explain good email security practices.

Secondly, make sure you have internal processes that put additional checks in place. For instance, if anyone is asked to make a payment via email, ensure this is always verbally confirmed by the finance director before actioning the payment.

Thirdly, review the language used in the email. Does this look like a legitimate email? Would the sender be using these phrases? Typos and poor grammar are a dead giveaway, especially if the email is ostensibly from a professional company.

Finally, decent email filtering will be able to reduce the number of these emails reaching your inbox.

Get email filtering

A comprehensive email filtering solution will pay for itself many times over. It not only provides protection against spoofed emails but will also protect your inbox from email-borne viruses and malware. As well as this, email filtering keeps spam in check so you can concentrate on your legitimate work email.

There are a number of options available, we offer email filtering as part of our SecureSuite Email package, which is built on technology from the industry-leading Barracuda Networks.

Set up email archiving

Following the steps above will make a huge improvement in safeguarding your email account but there is another area to consider. What happens if you accidentally delete an email?

This is where email archiving comes in. Think of it as a backup for your emails. Like email filtering, we include email archiving in our SecureSuite Email package. Other popular options include Mimecast.

These tips are taken from the email chapter of our new eBook, 7 Steps to Protect Yourself in Minutes. So if you found these helpful, keep an eye out on our website as we will be making the entire book available for free in the next few weeks.

BETT 2019 Entrance

BETT Show 2019 Review

BETT Show 2019 is now over for another year. We were there so read on to find out what we saw, what we liked and what the future holds for technology in education over the next few years.

If you didn’t already know, BETT is the largest educational IT trade show in the country and one of the biggest in Europe. It is THE place to find out about the latest ICT technology and exhibitors include Microsoft, Dell, Google, Adobe, Smart, Promethean and many more.

This year’s big trend

For anyone who has read any of our previous BETT show reviews, there is always a recurring theme that emerges every year. A few years back iPads were everywhere, more recently “cloud” was the buzzword at every stand.

This year however, there was no clear standout trend throughout the show, which was surprising. Having said that, one thing that we noticed is that there is a clear shift back towards more tactile, physical tech this year. There were numerous robots, roamers and control devices throughout the arena. On the TTS stand, an off-road programmable robot was negotiating big dirt hills, ramps and bridges with ease. A great way to make learning basic programming fun. Programmable Lego was also very popular in this year’s show, with SAM Labs having some really interesting displays on their stand with elaborate Lego robots and models being used by the pupils.

TTS Roamer

The latest in audio-visual technology

AV is always a big part of the show and we made a point to see what the biggest brands like Smart, Promethean and Prowise had to offer. As for any changes since last year, there have been very little. IFPs (Interactive Flat Panels) surpassed Interactive Whiteboards as the AV standard in schools a few years back and they have been available in various sizes for some time. The new models on offer may be slightly thinner but we saw no noticeable difference from current models.

Promethean IFP

Software highlights of the show

All of the big names had demonstrations on their latest apps and programs for education. Microsoft are putting a great deal of effort into the educational market with Office 365 and Minecraft proving very popular. Adobe had some great demonstrations showing their Creative Cloud apps like Adobe Spark for easily producing video slideshows and Adobe Premiere Rush for video editing. Impero announced their latest update to their classroom monitoring software with a simpler, cleaner interface and new features to help with GDPR compliance.

 

Increase in cost saving initiatives

An interesting change this year was an increase in cost-saving measures and ways for schools to purchase technology on a budget. There were several refurbished PC stands and even budget price projector lamps. Whether this can be attributed to the impending Brexit or a reduction in school budgets, this will be worth watching over the next few years.

 

Our personal highlight

Our personal highlight of the show had to be the DeLorean over at the ClassVR stand, which was an exact replica of the model from the Back to the Future films. This was certainly a head-turner!

ClassVR DeLorean

This year’s BETT show was great fun as always and it was great to see what new technology is out there. See you next year!

Coretek is 20 today

Today is Coretek’s 20th Birthday!

Today is a very special day…it is Coretek’s 20th birthday!

We would like to extend a MASSIVE thanks to everyone who has helped us get to this impressive milestone. From staff past and present to all of our clients, we could not have done it without you!

To celebrate, we are looking forward to having a team day together in the next few weeks so watch our social media to see how we get on. We are also planning something special later in the year to say thank you to our incredible, loyal clients who have played such a big part in helping us reach our 20th year.

For those who are unaware of our “origin story”, Coretek was born 20 years ago when our founder Garry Miller was working as the IT manager of a global chemical company. Frustrated with the lack of competent and reliable IT organisations, he created Coretek to provide a better level of service and to help organisations like his.

From the very beginning, Coretek was built on the promise to provide IT support services with exceptional customer service and technical support expertise as a “seamless extension to your organisation”. The goal being to help people avoid the time and stress of IT firefighting and to provide long-term guidance with the scalable systems to help organisations succeed.

Things have changed a great deal since 1999! Back then the internet and Google were in their infancy, everyone was terrified of the much-hyped millennium bug and smartphones and social media didn’t even exist.

A lot has changed at Coretek over the last two decades too. We have moved office, we now operate our own UK-based cloud environment and are proud to provide support to thousands of users, across 10 countries.

We are still passionate about helping our clients succeed by providing exceptional IT support and services and are very much looking forward to seeing what the future brings!

Safer-Internet-Day-2019

Today is Safer Internet Day 2019 – How safe are you being online? Take the Quiz and find out!

Today is Safer Internet Day 2019. Every year, this represents a great opportunity to open up a dialogue about how to use the internet safely and what can be done to ensure everyone is safe online. This is a global event that helps educate young people and their parents on what steps they can take. According to educational software company 2Simple, this message reached 3 million people in 2018!

Here is the aim of the event, from the official site:

“The campaign’s slogan, “Together for a better internet“, is a call to action for all stakeholders to join together and play their part in creating a better internet for everyone, and especially for younger users.”

So, how much do you know about safety and consent on the internet? The Safer Internet Centre have put together a short quiz that you can take to find out. You can find the test here:

Safer Internet Day Quiz

How did you get on? Did you get full marks? Let us know what your scores are and if you are an e-safety expert or if you need to go back to the classroom!

O365 Encryption Blog Featured Image

How to encrypt emails in Office 365

Office 365 now offers the ability to send encrypted emails, which is a fantastic way of securely sending any sensitive or confidential information via email. Here is how you enable the feature and start sending out encrypted emails in only a few steps.

What is email encryption?

Email encryption is a way of protecting the contents of an email message. This utilises technology such as TLS (Transport Layer Security) to achieve the encryption.

Why would I want to use it?

Email encryption is not necessarily required for every email that you send (although this is possible to configure), this functionality is particularly useful for sending out sensitive information such as passwords, login details, sensitive company information, intellectual property and finance details. The email encryption protects the contents of the email and prevents the recipient forwarding the email on or copying the contents out of the email.

How do I send an encrypted email in Office 365?

The process of sending an encrypted email in Office 365 is actually very simple and doesn’t require any particular technical knowledge. Here is the process of how to send your first encrypted email.

Outlook Web App

If you access your Office 365 email via the browser using the app, follow these steps.

Make sure you have the Outlook open and click on New to compose a new email.

 

 

As long as email encryption has been enabled for your tenant, you should see a Protect button.

 

A grey bar will appear informing you that the email is now protected. If you wish to change the level of protection, click on the Change Permissions link.

 

 

You will have various options for protection, including Encrypt. If you simply want to encrypt the email, this option is fine. However, if you require additional security in addition to the encryption such as stopping the recipient forwarding the email on, these options are also available.

 

 

Here is a useful guide on the differences between the various settings: http://www.slashadmin.co.uk/exploring-the-new-office-365-email-protection-and-encryption-options/

Outlook 2016

Users of the Outlook 2016 application will need to go through a slightly different process. Again, encryption will need to be enabled by your system admin or these options will not be visible.

Start by clicking on New Email to compose a new email.

 

 

In the window for the new message, click on File and Properties.

 

Step 2a

 

Click on Security Settings…

 

Step 3a

 

Tick the checkbox for Encrypt message contents and attachments.

 

 

Compose and send the email as usual.

 

How do I enable email Encryption for my company’s Office 365 account?

As mentioned, this functionality will need to be enabled in your Office 365 admin settings. Not all versions of Office 365 offer this functionality. According to Microsoft, these versions are eligible:

“Office 365 Message Encryption is offered as part of Office 365 E3 and E5, Microsoft E3 and E5, Office 365 A1, A3, and A5, and Office 365 G3 and G5.”
https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/office365/securitycompliance/ome-faq

If you are unsure if you are covered under your subscription, consult your MSP or pop us an email and we can point you in the right direction.

To enable email encryption for your Office 365 account, you will need to sign into your Office 365 admin portal as a Global Administrator. From here, you need to enable the Azure Rights Management. This is straightforward and the steps can be found here.

Note that if you signed up for your Office 365 subscription from February 2018, this may already be enabled by default.
https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/azure/information-protection/activate-service

Once the above has been completed, all of your Office 365 users should be ready to go. Happy encrypting!

Wordpress Gutenberg

Are you ready for the biggest ever change to WordPress?

Do you use WordPress for your business or school website? If so, you need to be aware of a hugely important update that’s coming tomorrow, 6th December 2018. It’s called Gutenberg and many are saying this is going to be the biggest change to WordPress ever seen.

The Gutenberg update (also known as update 5.0) is a complete overhaul of the WordPress editor, with a new layout and new features such as blocks that you can use to build pages and posts.

Yoast have put together a very lengthy post, which explains the Gutenberg update in detail.

If you would rather get stuck in and see it for yourself, you can try out a demo of the new editor here: Gutenberg Live Demo.

So, what do I need to do to prepare for Gutenberg?

Firstly, the most important thing is to check that your plugins and in particular, your themes are compatible with the update. We recommend contacting your theme provider to make sure that it is compatible with the new update and if there are any other considerations you need to be aware of.

Should I update to Gutenberg right away?

Yoast have put together a good article on this too, but in summary, it is probably worth holding out to let the initial bugs come out of the woodwork and perhaps wait until the next update.

Should you update to WordPress 5.0?

What if I don’t want to update to Gutenberg yet?

If you aren’t sure about this change, WordPress have you covered. If you would rather stick with the old editor for now, you can download a plugin that will switch you back. You can download this here: WordPress Classic Editor.

Are you moving to Gutenberg or are you staying put? Reach out to us here or social media, we are very interested to hear your thoughts.

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