Councils get connected

Local authorities invest in networking and contact centre technology through IT outsourcing contracts. Helping local councils get connected.

Councils get connected and help the wider community

Cheshire East Council is working with technology service provider Capita to build a wide area network (WAN) to connect more than 500 public services sites. An article published yesterday by Computer Weekly explains all.

The £8m, five-year contract will see council, school, fire service and police operations in the county connected by the network. This is part of the government’s £5bn Network Services 2 framework.

Councils get connected

Councils to connect hundreds of its sites through wide area network.

Why set up a WAN?

A wide area network (WAN) is a data network, usually used for connecting computers, that spans a wide geographical area. WANs are used to connect offices, towns, counties and help councils get connected. WANs are often used by larger organizations to facilitate the exchange of data. A wide variety of industries have embraced WANs with facilities at multiple locations. Increasingly, however, even small businesses are utilizing WANs as a way of increasing their communications.

The benefit of WANs

Although WANs serve a purpose similar to that of local area networks (LANs), WANs are structured and operated quite differently. The user of a WAN usually does not own the communications lines that connect the remote computer systems. Instead, the user subscribes to a service through a telecommunications provider. Unlike LANs, WANs typically do not link individual computers, but rather are used to link LANs. WANs also transmit data at slower speeds than LANs. WANs are also structurally similar to metropolitan area networks (MANs), however provide communications links for distances greater than 50km.

Advantages of WANs

Do you have a wide area network (WANs) at your company? If you have multi sites or operate globally, you probably do. That is because WANs are powerful business tools. They make it possible for large organizations to communicate internally faster and more efficiently. They also make it possible for consumers to enjoy company benefits they could not enjoy in the past.

  • Boosts your privacy: Setting up a WAN allows you to share sensitive data with all your sites without having to send the information over the Internet.
  • Increases bandwidth: Corporate WANS often use leased lines instead of broadband connections to form the backbone of their networks.
  • Eliminates Need for ISDN: WANs can cut costs by eliminating the need to rent expensive ISDN circuits for phone calls. Instead, you can have your WAN carry them.
  • Guaranteed uptime: Many WAN providers offer business-class support. That means you get a specific amount of uptime monthly, quarterly, or yearly as part of your service level agreement.
  • Cuts costs and increase profits: In addition to eliminating the need for ISDN, WANs can help you cut costs and increase profits in a wide variety of other ways.

Disadvantages of WANs

While WANS provide numerous advantages, they have their share of disadvantages. As with any technology, you need to be aware of these downsides to make an informed decision about WANS. The three most critical downsides are high setup costs, security concerns, and maintenance issues.

  • High setup costs: WANs are complicated, complex and expensive to set up.
  • Security Concerns: WANs open the way for certain types of internal security breaches. such as unauthorized use, information theft, and malicious damage to files.
  • Maintenance Issues: Maintaining a WAN is a challenge, no doubt about it. Guaranteeing that your data centre will be up and operating 24/7 is the biggest maintenance challenge of all.

The best solutions for your business

We are unable to predict when businesses will return to normal due to the pandemic. We all must try and operate in the new normal way of business. With staff working from home and some of the team working at the office, which solution is best for you? Make sure your business stays connected, secure and efficient.

Contact the LIS Help Desk to make sure your security is appropriate. Do you have good Firewalls in place, or do they resemble swiss cheese? Use encrypted connections when using online banking. Are your Virtual Private Network (VPN) secure? Our friendly and experienced team will asses your options for connectivity and be able to help you with your telecommunications.

LIS – SECURING YOUR DIGITAL WORLD

#Networking #Telecoms #Business #ITSupport

Driving test website

Driving test website for England and Wales crashes shortly after reopening. DVSA portal had almost 7 million visits in 12 hours when it reopened after several months of suspension.

Driving test website crashes

The BBC reported millions of people were unable to access the site at all or losing their booking part way through the process.

Learner drivers will be unable to book a driving test until Wednesday. Urgent maintenance has started on the website after it crashed at a time of unprecedented demand.

Driving test website

The DVSA said 210,000 driving tests had been cancelled as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Credit: Alamy

The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) said its driving test booking service had almost 7m visits in 12 hours. It reopened after several months of suspension during the coronavirus lockdown.

It said on Saturday that it had taken the service offline until 8am on Wednesday. Increased demand on the site led to essential maintenance to keep the site running.

Gareth Llewellyn, the DVSA’s chief executive, said: “Coronavirus has severely impacted our business-as-usual operations, including by stopping driving tests in March. Since then DVSA have only been dealing with applications for emergency driving tests for critical workers.

“Following unprecedented demand for the driving test booking system with almost 7m attempts to book a test when it opened, we need to carry out urgent maintenance so people can book tests. DVSA have closed the booking service until Wednesday 26 August and are sorry for any inconvenience.”

When will the driving test website re-open?

The DVSA driving test booking service for England and Wales reopened again at 8am on Friday after being closed since 20 March. The service received 7 million visits by 8pm. This left candidates unable to complete their bookings. Users received an error message when attempting to access the bookings page.

210,000 tests had been cancelled and tens of thousands more were delayed because of Covid-19, said the DVSA. Learners whose tests were cancelled during lockdown were first invited to rebook in July.

Driving tests in Scotland are due to restart from 14 September, but people are not yet able to book a slot.

IT does not have to drive you mad

Don’t let your IT system drive you mad. We are the IT recovery service for when your website crashes and/or you experience computer problems. Contact the LIS Help Desk today and our friendly team will be glad to offer you assistance.

We can fix your problems, suggest upgrades and manage your back up solutions. With a monthly IT contract, the benefits are endless. Can you afford not to work with an efficient, reliable and knowledgeable IT company. We are only one click or a phone call away. With our help you can drive towards your goals without tests getting in the way.

LIS – SECURING YOUR DIGITAL WORLD

#Websites #Internet #ITSupport #Security

Return to work traps

As businesses transition their workforces back to the office, hackers are distributing phishing emails and malicious files disguised as COVID-19 training materials. Return to work traps are becoming more common as cyber criminals take advantage of the pandemic.

Return to work traps take advantage of employees

According to a new report from UK Tech News, criminals are setting “return to work traps”, taking advantage of the training employees need to go through as they return to the office in its new form.

They claim many workers now need to go through various tutorials, webinars and training sessions. Ensuring they are compliant with new workplace rules set up to prevent viral transmission. Sensing an opportunity, cybercriminals are disguising malware as webinar recordings and other educational material, it was said.

According to the report, these new practices are mostly reserved for businesses in North America and Europe, where lockdown measures are slowly being eased up and people are being allowed to return to work.

Return to work traps.jpg

Workers return to their offices and cyber criminals will abuse Covid-19 to spread malware and steal sensitive data.

Open emails and documents with caution

Make sure emails and documents are from a legitimate source from within the company. We are seeing a trend of hackers leveraging household names, such as Microsoft Office 365, to trick employees. One thing is for certain: the coronavirus pandemic is leading us towards a cyber-pandemic.

Protect you staff at home

Organizations are allowing employers to access work-critical information from their homes. This is  a vulnerability as many employers working from home are in need for a VPN (virtual private network). Unconsciously they are downloading software from untrustworthy sites leaving their computers infected.

In addition, the tech support scammers will also emerge, pretending to be trying to fix an IT problem. They attempt to gain control of a target’s computer; and hackers may call pretending to be another department of an organization to get access remote and tricking general staff. On a bigger scale, cyber criminal groups in Russia, China and North Korea were exploiting the growing chaos to target national governments like the US, Japan, and Italy.

While some organizations are using tech to fight coronavirus, attackers are using healthcare organizations as a target. This will be particularly dangerous as those are the most vital among us at the time. A recent example was the ransomware attack against the University Hospital in Brno, Czech Republic. One of the largest COVID-19 research labs in the country, shutting down the entire IT network and causing anxiety to an already stressed staff.

Stay safe. Protect your business

Unfortunately, we do not see cybercrime going away in the near future. Cybercrime has rocketed since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic as many try to exploit people’s fears. IS your  operating system and software up to date? Do you use the latest Anti-Virus and Anti-Spam solutions?

Contact the LIS Help Desk to discuss the most cost-effective solutions for your company. Our experienced and friendly team will make sure you have the correct protection in place. We will carry out an IT Audit and recommend upgrades to hardware and software. Why worry about your IT security? LIS take care of all your IT requirements.

LIS – SECURING YOUR DIGITAL WORLD

#Cybercrime #Security #ITSupport #AntiVirus

IT issues affect productivity

Companies are experiencing several challenges at the moment. IT issues affect productivity within the workplace. We are all working  in strange times. Prioritising productivity will help your business succeed during these challenging times.

You’ve spent a significant amount of money providing your employees with the latest and greatest that modern IT has to offer, yet your general productivity levels have stalled out. Obviously, this is a problem with the person using the tool as opposed to the tool itself, right?

So, to help you, we’ve compiled a list of the biggest IT issues that could be affecting the productivity of your business. As well as suggesting some tips on how to fix them.

IT issues affect productivity for remote workers

Computer Weekly wrote an article about how remote workers air long-term productivity concerns. More than a third of the UK’s remote workers claim their home setup needs to be urgently revamped. As they need to ensure they can remain productive throughout the duration of the Covid-19 coronavirus outbreak. This pandemic has caused problems as IT issues effect productivity. Due to the amount of home workers not being able to access the same technology as in the office.

IT issues affect productivity

One of the biggest mistakes that business owners make usually involves assuming that any tech-related issues are actually people-related issues.

Q: I’m struggling to communicate with my colleagues

A: With most people still working remotely, communication and collaboration need to be front of mind. You can no longer lean over to ask someone a question. Nor can you easily meet a colleague for a coffee or meeting. Instead, all communication relies on technology. If you don’t have the right tech in place to facilitate effective communication, your business will suffer. Group projects will take longer, errors will occur, training will become less effective and important tasks may get overlooked.

Invest in effective communication tools. Applications like Microsoft Teams allows colleagues to connect with each other (and external professionals) via chat, audio and video functions. Colleagues can also collaborate on group projects together and the platform will automatically link to Microsoft Outlook, meaning calendars can be synced.

Q: I keep experiencing the same IT issues and there’s no one there to help!

A: Reoccurring IT issues will stunt the productivity of your business. Moreover, if your IT support provider is unreliable and unresponsive, it will take unnecessary amounts of valuable time to solve these issues. IT downtime will cause frustration and prevent employees from completing important tasks, which, overall, will be a significant and unnecessary cost to your business. IT issues affect productivity not just for colleagues working from home but the whole team.

Partner with an IT support provider that you trust and don’t just settle for the cheapest option. In the tech industry, cheaper rarely means better. Technology underpins every aspect of your business, so you need to make sure that your IT support partner is delivering genuine value for money. We’d also recommend an IT support partner who can suggest and implement effective cyber security. This will make sure your business is safe and secure.

Q: I’m stressed at work! I have lots to get done and don’t have the right tools to do it

Employees aren’t satisfied with the systems, platforms and technologies that are in place to help them do their job. During such challenging times, you need to ensure that working life is as stress-free as possible for your employees. For optimum productivity, your staff need to be happy and satisfied with the tools available to them. The happier the employees, the better the customer experience. This ensures a more productive business with greater the profits.

A: Use employee feedback software to gain anonymous employee insights and identify issues within your business. Employee feedback software provides your employees with a platform to raise their concerns in confidence. As such, you can discover what is or isn’t working about the tools and systems that you have in place.

Q: I can’t access my work and now I have to start again!

If data is not backed up or stored effectively it can be extremely difficult to recover. Staff will be required to re-do tasks. Wasting valuable money, time and effort.

A: Cloud computing will transform the security and accessibility of your data. Storing data in the cloud allows you to access it from any device, at any time, provided you have a strong internet connection. With a cloud based system all your data will be back up securely. Employees can access their documents using a separate device and secure login. This is especially useful when working remotely.

Q: Our tools and technology aren’t suited to the needs of our business

Ask yourself, are the tools, technology, systems and applications in place really best suited to the needs of your business? Slow PCs, broken servers and reoccurring IT issues will inevitably lead to IT downtime and reduced productivity. Are you fully utilising your CRM systems? Or are there areas where they fail? Are your staff having to complete things manually, because technology is failing to do so? Could you automate a process?

A: Speak to your IT support partner, as you will undoubtedly benefit from professional technology consulting. Implementing the right technology and automating processes will improve the overall productivity, efficiency and success of your business.

Q: Our technology works for us now but won’t be able to cope in the future

Outdated technology can be a major IT issue. Relying on technology because it ‘does the job now’ and overlooking its weakness will stunt your business’ growth in the future. You need to align your IT strategy with your business goals, so that technology will facilitate success, not limit it. Whilst business growth may not be at the forefront of your mind during these challenging times, you still need to plan and prepare for success in the aftermath of the pandemic. Don’t let technology and an ineffective IT strategy be the thing that holds your business back and leads to productivity loss in the future.

A: If you’re unsure of whether your current IT strategy is limiting business growth, contact the LIS Help Desk. At LIS, we’re passionate about digitally transforming businesses, so that they can use technology to thrive. We can make sure your IT issues affect productivity are fixed as quickly as possible.

Our experienced team will regularly review your systems. Make sure your  security is up to date. As well as suggesting upgrades to your software and hardware. We look after your IT systems, making sure your team are more productive.

LIS – SECURING YOUR DIGITAL WORLD

#ITSupport #Networking #Business #Telecomms

Microsoft’s new phone

Why is Microsoft’s new phone over £1,000?

Microsoft’s first Android phone, the Surface Duo, is coming on September 10, the company announced Wednesday.

The Surface Duo costs £1,070. OK, let’s just stop there for a second. What? That’s about the same price as a tricked out iPhone 11 Max. Yes, it’s expensive. No, people probably aren’t going to rush out to buy it. But the price and phone make sense for a few reasons.

First, it’s a dual-screen device. Microsoft described the phone as “a major new form factor,” in a blog post. It is essentially a folding tablet, which is also a phone. Each of the Surface Duo’s two screens are 5.6-inch displays that combine into a tablet-like 8.1-inch display when unfolded. It has a single camera that supports recording 4K video.

Microsoft’s new phone

Open two screens and open new possibilities. Surface innovation comes to a dual-screen mobile device,
featuring the best of Microsoft 365, every Android app in the Google Play store, phone calls, and more.

Is it a phone or an iPad?

So, if the phone is really an iPad mini that folds … and is also a phone … now we’re getting into £1,070 territory. The hinge works both ways, so you can close the phone like a book or open it fully so it’s a double-sided phone. It’s also super thin, has what could be one of the best screens on any phone. (Here’s an excellent synopsis of all the ins and outs of the Duo from our colleagues at CNN Underscored).

Second, Microsoft is promoting the Duo as a productivity device. It’s a Surface, after all — the same brand it uses for its high-end computers that are all about showcasing Microsoft’s software, including Office and Windows. Microsoft said it optimized the entire Office Suite for the Duo, helping people make video calls (super important now), and get their work done on the go.

Finally, the Duo is probably a showcase device. Like the original Surface, Microsoft is probably showing more what can be done than trying to convince millions of people that they should buy a Surface Duo. The original Surface got a ton of things wrong (Microsoft took a $1 billion write-down on the product.) But it got one big thing right — the two-in-one laptop-tablet idea was a winner. Microsoft stuck with the idea, listened to feedback, perfected it over time, and Surface is now a successful product with an avid fanbase.

Are you going to order one?

Pre-orders for the Microsoft’s new phone The Duo are available starting Wednesday. Available at Best Buy, Microsoft’s online store and AT&T, which owns Warner Media, CNN’s parent company. It’s the first Android phone from Microsoft, after it slowly stopped supporting its line of Windows phones.

Foldable phones have had their challenges in the past, such as when defective units of the nearly £1,500 Samsung Galaxy Fold were shipped out to tech reviewers, who discovered broken screens and hinges in their coverage. Samsung delayed the April launch of the device to September in response.

Despite that flub, several foldable phones have made it to the market, including the Galaxy Fold and Galaxy Z Flip. Chinese brands like the Huawei Mate X and Oppo Reno 10X Zoom are also on the market, but not sold directly to US consumers in official stores.

Telecom Business Solutions

Telecoms can be a complex challenge for organisations which don’t have the in-house knowledge and expertise to ensure they have the right systems and infrastructure in place.

Contact the LIS Help Desk to discuss your requirements. If you need a new phone line for home or business and low cost phone calls, a VOIP solution, maybe a mobile phone provider that can give you a better connection, a super fast fibre broadband supplier or even a leased line for guaranteed fast speeds. We have it all, and they’re all delivered to you with our impeccable IT support.

LIS – SECURING YOUR DIGITAL WORLD

#MicrosoftDuo #Telecoms #Business #ITSupport