Working from home? Things not to do

Working from home? Things not to do

In the last few months, the ‘working from home’ scenario has become quite common, and it is probably safe to say that it will be the norm for many of for the next few months at least.
For some, it may have taken a bit of adjusting; others perhaps always had a home office arrangement. Either way, under the current circumstances and with cyber criminals taking full advantage at the moment, we wanted to highlight some of the vulnerabilities home working can expose, not just for your employees but for your systems that they may be accessing whilst working remotely.
These are the most common bad practises that are happening more now than ever before.


For work meetings and for keeping in touch with people for sheer sanity during the current lockdown period, you may have downloaded applications such as Zoom or Houseparty. These apps are great in their function and keeping us connected but their security has been brought into question. Especially with Zoom recently as it has been shown that although this is a great app, it’s security hasn’t quite been up to scratch
It’s essential you protect your data by making sure your key business applications, such as Gmail and Office 365, use complex passwords unique to these applications only. Where possible, you should also consider 2-factor authentication: You can never be too protected.
You have to remember that if anyone gets hold of your Google account access, you can be in a world of pain – all it takes is the search ‘‘ and they will suddenly have access to all the passwords you have saved on the many sites you use. 2-factor authentication is not just a nice to have, but is really a necessity.


Many businesses have been struggling to acquire a sufficient number of laptops to allow all of their team to work at home. However, the worst thing you can do is reach for that dusty old laptop packed away in the loft.
Old equipment runs old operating systems. End-of-life systems like Windows-7, are no longer supported with security updates, leaving them wide open with loopholes hackers can easily exploit. Plugging in a Windows-7 PC or laptop at home and connecting via a VPN, is the same as plugging it in directly onsite, posing a huge risk to your entire business network. ensure your employees do not do it. Safer or better to invest in up to date kit than take the risk.


You will probably find that on a day-to-day home PC, the security installed is great for the odd bit of surfing or Ebay browsing, but is often substandard for business use. If you or any of your team are using personal PCs or laptops whilst working from home, it’s important to understand that any connecting device that is not running sufficient anti-virus software, is a weak link in your network security. Ensure your team know the risks involved, flipping from a potentially unsecure site to one of your business systems on the same browser is all that is needed to give you an almighty headache and explaining to clients. Hackers and virus’s are clever and this lockdown and WFH situation is giving them ample time to practise their skills.


Much like the anti-virus weakness, unpatched home working equipment poses a huge cyber security risk. If an unpatched user is compromised, dangerous malware or ransomware could spread like wildfire through your business, encrypting all your data and rendering it useless.
Make sure your patch management solution covers all remote clients and prompt your team to have their automatic updates on.
Familiarise yourself with the common cyber threats to look out for during the COVID-19 pandemic, such as Smishing (Dodgy texts) and Phishing (Email Scams)


If your business doesn’t operate fully cloud-based systems and you and your team members are connecting using a Virtual Private Network (VPN) instead, your need to ensure your firewall needs is A+. Non-industry-leaders can provide solutions but these often cut-corners on your security.
Ensure your firewall is up to the job of offering high levels of encryption between home connections and your head office – you can’t afford to compromise. At Systems Integration we have the knowledge of the level of security that is needed to run these systems, so please feel free to ask for advice.

At Systems Integration we offer more than just IT Support, but we are committed to helping our current and future clients be aware of the risks when it comes to tasks such as working from home. So if you or your business have any concerns in these troubling times, please get in touch and ask – we are more than happy to help.

Business As Normal

Business As Normal

We understand that the IT support we provide to our customers is vital to to enabling them to keep running and providing a service. As one of Swindon and Wiltshire’s leading IT services providers we have tens of organisations depending on our ability to provide a reliable and uninterrupted service, even more so, during through these difficult times. So, in light of the recent developments around Coronavirus (COVID-19), we would like to share with you the measures we are taking to ensure we continue to provide the services our customers need during the difficult time ahead.

For System Integration we are pleased to let you know it is business as usual…If our office needs to be shut to ensure social distancing measures are adhered to, it is not an issue, as all our technicians have the equipment available to sure they can assist you from their homes remotely.
We already have tried and tested Disaster Recovery plans in place to ensure service continuity in challenging times and now that major developments have taken place with the Coronavirus lockdown we implementing those plans.
Due to the nature of our business, a small number of staff will still be able to operate in the field for emergencies but as the majority of our IT infrastructure is cloud based this allows our team to work from anywhere.

How we ensure that our customers IT support is maintained:

  1. Any enquiries submitted by new or existing clients that we recieve through the website will be responded to within 2 hrs.
  2. All our helpdesk Technicians have access to ‘softphones’ and headsets which are installed on home computers, and connected to our cloud telephone system. This will ensure our support staff can continue to answer enquiries via phone as per usual.
  3. Our sales and account managers, although often field based, already have company provided mobile telephones allowing existing and new clients to contact them wherever they are, we can also forward telephone calls from our business telephone system to mobiles.
  4. We already use cloud computers (Remote Desktop Protocol). All our technicians can logon to our cloud computer system from any location and access their desktop and all software they normally use on a daily basis.
  5. Microsoft Teams or Zoom will be used internally so that our teams can communicate and work together as if they were sat next to you for collaboration and content sharing.
  6. Site visits that are non prioity are now postponed, but where possible we will work with you remotely.
  7. We will continue to go ahead with any customer meetings we did have via phone or video conference.
  8. We are experts on remote working and understand that this may be new to some of our clients, so are technicians are on hand to answer any set up questions you may have and to give advice on what systems to use to ensure communication is manitained within your teams

We will be regularly reviewing the government advice regarding COVID-19 and we remain committed to supporting you with the highest level of service. In the meantime if any of you have any concerns or questions then please do not hesitate to get in touch.
Should you need any help or advice regarding remote working for your workforce, please contact us on ​01793 481981
or request a call back via our enquiry form.

Are you making the most of Office 365?

Are you making the most of Office 365?

Office 365 is a software and cloud-based suite which when used correctly, can drive efficiency, increase productivity and encourage collaborative working in the business world. And even though it has been around since 2011, it is amazing to find how little our clients fully utilise all the tools that Office 365 provides.
​Systems Integration have been Microsoft partners for over 15 years and although we have the experience to ensure that we maximise the system it”s potential (after all Office is far more than just Word and Excel), we wanted to ensure that all our clients are also aware of other Office Features that could assist you in maximising your efficiency.

Who needs paper when you have OneNote?

Your paperless note pad. Not only is it eco-friendly, but it also brings formality and structure to your planning, meeting notes, to-do list, and anything else you would normally scribble on a Post-It note.
This interactive tool allows you to type notes, deposit useful articles, and compile documents, but it is also a free-form canvas that allows you to highlight, draw and enter text. The tiered layout enables you to not only organise your notes by project or subject matter but also makes for a user-friendly system to share notes with others.
And with apps for both iOS and Android, OneNote is your paperless, modern-day Filofax that can go anywhere with you.

Missing Facebook, then use Yammer

The perfect social platform for businesses allowing you to share company news, employee achievements, general workplace policies, and useful information for staff, Yammer is your business secure social network only accessible by those with an approved email address.
Yammer can also have a great positive effect on team morale especially in larger organisation environments; news and announcements can be shared easily across sites and even with off-site employees, praise and gratitude can be aired widely, and external news such as traffic incidents that may affect staffs’ journeys can be shared.

Avoid Emails and chat direct with Teams

This is the WhatsApp of the business World. An instant messaging tool that allows you to reduce the number of internal emails you send and receive and get quick answers to quick questions. In our experience, it enables more efficient working and is a great collaborative working tool.

But more than just an instant messaging tool, Teams offers audio and video conferencing calling which will fill the gap as we say goodbye to Skype For Business. It also offers file sharing and live editing among colleagues, and even the ability to integrate additional apps for project management, analytics, staff training, and more!

Allow everyone access with SharePoint

A file hosting application that allows documents to be saved centrally for all to access. Files can also be edited in location and alerts set up to notify anyone who needs to know when an amendment is made.
The idea is much that of a shared drive except SharePoint can be accessed remotely, doesn’t require space on your network and is generally superior in the features it offers.

Turn data ainto opportunities with Power BI

Collating facts and figures from unrelated data sources, from Excel spreadsheets to cloud-based analytic tools, Power BI has the ability to turn records of business performance stats into a coherent visual and interactive insight, that will inform and direct important business decisions and planning.
And, of course, true to Microsoft’s passion for collaboration, your insights are structured into a digestible report that can then be shared with your teams and colleagues.

At Systems Integration we offer far more than just IT support

At Systems Integration, we’re about more than just resolving your IT issues and installing new hardware; we’re here to guide, advise and train our clients to make sure you’re getting the most from your tech, so if you’re running Office 365, make sure you’re using it to its full potential; get in touch and arrange for one of our technicians to pop around and show you the ropes.

Cut Your IT Costs

Cut Your IT Costs

Is your business running on a budget and are you looking to reduce costs?
If so here are some areas of your IT infrastructure which you can potentially save without affecting service.
This month we highlight that IT expenses may not be as fixed as you think and we take a look at the areas where you might reduce costs.

​#1 Software

Does your business use various softwares such as Microsoft Office or Adobe Photoshop. If so, you will probably be paying for a license, if that is the case look at reviewing these software agreements, you can often find cost savings:

  • You may be able to renegotiate a subscription if the provider wants to move you onto to a new offering.
  • You may find that you are paying for software that your employees are no longer using much. Maybe you can reduce or remove it.
  • Perhaps the pricing has changed, and there are now better plan options available.
  • See what substitutes there are on the market in the course of a year, numerous new softwares appear, each increasing the monopoly that was previously restricted to the big brand.

#2 Hardware

Your current hardware may be underused, need refreshing, or have lost productivity. Look for opportunities to run applications on less expensive devices, or link together several computers to replace expensive server equipment. Standardising platforms can also significantly reduce IT costs while providing consistency. It is also known that older equipment can actually hinder productivity – if an extra £300 spent now saves your technicians 3 – 4 weeks across the year, then it will be money well spent.
Alternatively, if you are using managed IT services from firms such as ourselves, whay don’t you ask for an audit and see what new equipment is on the market, quite often you will find newer models available at the existing price of your current equipment.

#3 Cloud Computing

One way to cut IT infrastructure costs is to move to the cloud. You may be able to run software on the cloud for a fraction of the cost. Moving data backup to the cloud to replace an on-premises server can also cut costs, not to mention the utility savings from not having to power the replaced components.

  • Even if you’re already in the cloud, you can explore whether you are on the best available plan for you and consider:
  • Are you paying for more storage or resources than you need?
  • Are you taking full advantage of mobility and scalability features?
  • Are you duplicating on-premise and cloud-based services?

#4 Internet Services

Your employees need to be online; you’re not going to cut out internet services. However, you may be able to control costs:
Should you buy modems or routers instead of renting them from your provider?

  • Consider the internet speed in your plan. Do you need that level of service?
  • Do you knwo your internet speed? Is slow internet speed costing your company money when, in fact, you’ll be more efficient with an upgrade?
  • Are you able to bundle services to find cost savings?
  • Are you in a position to renegotiate your plan? or are there cheaper options available?

#5 IT Staff and Services

Employing an IT department can eb very costly. You can never get one technician, after all what happens during holiday times, do you simply stop? Then there are pensions and NI contributions to consider on top of the salary. But you can avoid infrastructure costs and the hiring expenses onsite by outsourcing. Often your business can pay a set monthly fee or go on a pay-per-use model to gain services such as:

  • IT help desk support
  • security
  • disaster recovery
  • backup

Currently Systems-Integration offer all these services and more as part of our many tailor made IT support Plans

#6 Utilities

Don’t overlook the costs involved in powering your IT components. Review your utility bills to identify trends. Can you save money by turning off equipment? Is there a better plan available with a competing service? Should you renegotiate the terms of your existing plan?

Time for a Technology Audit

Ultimately, the best way to identify specific areas to cut your IT budget is a technology audit.
Your IT needs are always changing, and the technology evolves, too. Many businesses add expensive components or systems with “room to grow.” New tools get added on as needs arise. Your use of certain technologies may expand or shrink.
An IT expert can provide an overview of all the software and services you use, and of bills related to your IT budget to find areas to streamline or cut altogether. It may seem counterintuitive to pay money in an attempt to save money. However, an outsider’s perspective can provide fresh insight into the “way things have always been done” and help you see new opportunities for consolidation.
Let Systems Integration help you meet your financial goals. Contact us today

Shopping Safely Online

Shopping Safely Online

Now that Christmas is out the way, you may be planning on doing some online shopping in the New year sales. But can you be sure that what you are being us genuine and where you are buying from is legit?

With online shopping fraud peeking over the Xmas period with 15,000 victims losing +£10 million being stolen or lost in the UK alone, you do need to ensure that when you are taking the online plunge, you do it with care.

To try and ensure you stay safe when you shop online, we have compiled a quick list of shop safely tips for our customers.

shop safely tips

  • Firstly, and most importantly, prior to using any online portal that asks for your bank details, ensure it has secure payment pages. Secure pages are identified with the ‘https’ and the padlock symbol at the start of the web address. Now, what some people do not realise is that any site now matter how reputable, could have recently added an app or widget, that is not secure. If this is the case the https and padlock will be missing, so always check, even if you have used the site before.
  • What the ‘https’ does, is secure your connection, unfortunately it does not protect who you choose to connect too, so even though we have highlighted that you should always check whoever you connect too, it is always advisable to use the reputable retailers. A TV on may seem like a great deal and be £100s of less than the asking price on Curry’s, but there is probably a reason for that…
  • Where you make a purchase can also make a difference, never use public wifi. There are people out there can access a wifi’s history and if your card details are on there, they will find them.
  • Use the right payment method – When using Ebay, use Paypal and wherever possible use a credit card to make payment as opposed to debit card. Credit cards offer greater security and if someone ever cracks your debit card details, they can then access your bank, which will hold all sorts of treasures for a hacker.
  • Social media is now the in thing for hackers, if you se an advert for something that is to good to be true, it probably is. Always do as much research as you can if you plan on buying something from an advert that you have seen online. Funnily enough this happens more with fake sites being made to sell small things cheaply. Why? Because people tend to not worry about or chase up a lost £5. For the fraudsters that are selling 1000’s of these things online at £5 but never sending them, this is an easy buck.
  • Simple things that you hear all the time like; always have different passwords and never ever, ever enter your PIN online are some of the wisest words spoken. If someone accesses one of your cards, if they can access them all, it will be a nightmare.

We are sure that these simple tips are nothing new to our clever clients, but we just want to make sure that you people never have to deal with the hassles of changing bank details or chasing money, because of a simple oversight. From the Systems integration team, we hope you have all had a great Christmas and hope you enjoy shopping in the New year sales on line safely.

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