21st Birthday Featured Image

Happy Birthday to Us!

Coretek have just had our 21st Birthday! A massive thank you to our amazing clients, staff and partners who have helped us achieve 21 years in business. We couldn’t have done it without you!

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.

Windows 7 end of support

Windows 7 support ends next week

By now you are probably fed up with the numerous articles, tweets and warnings about the end of support for Windows 7 but just in case you aren’t aware, we have put together this quick blog post to keep you updated.

Find out the details regarding the change and what you need to know if you still are using any Windows 7 machines.

When does Windows 7 support end?

Windows 7 support ends on 14th January 2020. Yes, support ends next week!

As Windows 7 was released in 2009, the operating system is now over 10 years old. Microsoft has introduced three newer Windows iterations since then (Windows 8, 8.1 and 10) and due to its age, Windows 7 has now reached end of support.

In most instances, a company stopping support for such an old product would hardly cause a stir but as Windows 7 has been an extremely popular release, there are many people who will be affected. According to a survey carried out by anti-virus giant Kaspersky in late 2019, there are as much as 38% of people still using Windows 7.

What exactly is covered under Windows 7 support?

What exactly does end of support mean? Well, Microsoft sums it up quite nicely as follows:

“[The] end of support for Windows 7 will be January 14, 2020. After that, technical assistance and software updates from Windows Update that help protect your PC will no longer be available”

Although Windows 7 was released in 2009, Microsoft still actively works on the product by fixing any issues, including patches for any security vulnerabilities that they find. This will cease once the product reaches the end of support date. In addition, if users have any issues with Windows 7, Microsoft will no longer offer any assistance.

Can I still use Windows 7 after the cut off date?

Yes, Windows 7 will not magically stop working on 15th January. It will function much the same (at least initially) but you will need to be prepared for the security and reliability issues that will be inevitable with the lack of updates.

What risks are there to continue using Windows 7 after the cut off date?

The main risks are related to the lack of software updates, in particular, those that cover the security of your PC. Without these, your computer will be at a greater risk of viruses and malware than with a supported version of Windows.

There is also a legal side to consider. If you process your client’s data, you have a responsibility to keep this data safe under both the Data Protection Act and GDPR and again, Windows 7 could pose a potential risk here.

Thirdly, as aforementioned, there is the risk that if you need help with Windows 7 or run into any problems, Microsoft will not be able to help.

Will the Windows 7 end of support affect Office 365?

Having Windows 7 could potentially cause issues for Office 365 users following the cut off date. Microsoft guarantees Office 365 will only work correctly on supported Windows versions. Therefore, this will not cover Win 7.

Their recommendation is for any Office 365 users to upgrade to a supported version of Windows.

What options are available to upgrade my Windows 7 PC?

The general recommendation for most people is to upgrade to Windows 10. This is Microsoft’s latest operating system which has been in use for around 5 years and is widely considered to be the best version of Windows since Windows 7. As it uses the familiar Start Menu, the learning curve for current Windows 7 users should be fairly minimal.

When it comes to installation of Windows 10, you have two main options; either a fresh install or an upgrade.

The advantage of a fresh install is that this is the cleanest option that does not leave any old files behind but is more technical and will require all files to be backed up beforehand.

Upgrading is a more straightforward process that will provide the option for you to keep all of your files (although it is still recommended to back these in just in case).

It is worth checking that your PC meets the Windows 10 minimum specifications before upgrading. In reality, you will need to double most of the minimum specs to ensure that Windows 10 will run adequately.

If you have any questions regarding the end of Windows 7 support, please get in touch.

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 IT Consultancy Hampshire

Did you know Coretek offer IT Consultancy Services for organisations throughout Hampshire?

What is IT Consultancy?

Consultancy is the process of hiring an expert firm or organisation to provide trusted advice or insight on a particular area of speciality. This can be for an individual project or to offer advice on the organisation and its processes as a whole.

Why do I need IT Consultancy?

In IT terms, consultancy is a vital service for almost any organisation because IT can be a minefield and a having experienced and trusted guide can help you navigate through – ensuring your IT meets your business goals. A good IT consultant can offer an alternative viewpoint and bring new and fresh ideas to the table that you may not have previously considered in-house.

How can Coretek help?

Qualified and experienced, all our consultancy staff are highly skilled in multiple disciplines (Infrastructure, Hardware Platforms, Systems Integrations and Platform Management). They have developed their skills from the ground up, from first-level IT support through to 3rd line, up to project management and systems consultancy.

We are very proud of our team because they understand the importance of running an efficient IT system, making sure the solution is right for your business not just because it’s the latest buzz or nice to have but because it’s what you need.

Being located just outside Southampton in the beautiful New Forest, we are ideally situated to help provide consultancy services to companies, schools and charities throughout Hampshire and to the surrounding counties.

If you would like to see how our Step-By-Step approach works, head over to our IT Consulting Services page.

Finding an IT partner that you can trust is not an easy decision but here are some of the reasons to consider Coretek.

We have over 20 years’ experience

We have over 20 years’ experience in the IT industry and are an established name in IT services across the South of England.

We have a proven track record

We have a proven track record in helping companies fulfil their potential – like Horizon International Cargo who have gone from a modest-sized company to an International Freight Forwarder with offices across the globe. Read our Client Stories for all of our successful Case Studies.

We are trusted by local businesses to multinationals

We are trusted by local businesses right up to globally established household names.

If you have any questions about how Coretek can help you, please get in touch, we would love to hear from you.

Congratulations to Jason on his epic charity bike ride!

Our Senior IT Technician, Jason Wakeling, recently undertook a mammoth bike ride for charity.

The challenge in question was the SSIT Big Bike Challenge which took place this summer.

Riders travelled over 200 miles through several counties across the south, starting and ending in Salisbury.

Here are some of his eye-watering stats:

Jason travelled over 322.12km (200.15 miles)
The cycle took a total of 13hrs 14 minutes and 39 seconds
His average speed was an impressive 24.3kph (15.1 mph)
Top speed was a blistering 75kph (46.6mph!)

Finally, he burnt 12158 calories (which is equivalent to 47 Big Mac’s!!!)

The bike ride managed to raise a considerable amount for the Southern Spinal Injuries Trust, who help people with a spinal injury live a full and independent life.

You can follow the exact route Jason took here:

Coretek Website Mockup

Our new website is now live!

If you have headed over to www.coretek.co.uk recently, you will have noticed that we have a shiny new website!

Our old website was over 4 years old and no longer fully represented the company and what we stand for. The new site has been redesigned from scratch with a more modern design which is responsive and faster.

We wanted to convey a more personal feeling to the site which would help our current and future clients get to know us a little better. To help with this, we have included professional photos of us and our office, rather than the stuffy stock photos that are common throughout technology sites. You also can find out a little more about each member of the team in our new ‘Meet The Team’ section.

The website content has also been fully rewritten to provide up to date information about our company. this includes a new Services section, which has details on our specific services such as project services, IT support, consultancy and managed services.

Finally, we have included information on what is really important to our company and what makes us unique, including our history, vision, customer stories and core values.

Check out the new site over at www.coretek.co.uk, we would love to hear your feedback!

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.

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